What I’ve Read

For those of you who have been around awhile, you know that I’m working on reading 100 books for my 101 in 1,001 challenge. So far, we’re 495 days in (almost halfway!) and I’m at 63 books, so I’m well on my way to finishing up early.

I’ve read a ton of good books in the last few months, so today I thought I’d do a quick list of all the books I’ve read so far this year – I’m always looking for good book lists, so hopefully this will interest someone!

So, here’s what I’ve read from January through May:

1. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

2. House of Night: Hidden – P.C. Cast & Kristen Cast

3. Insurgent – Veronica Roth

4. Blaze – Richard Bachman

5. Vampire Diaries: Hunters: Moonsong – L.J. Smith

6. Vampire Diaries: The Hunters: Destiny Rising – L.J. Smith

7. Uglies – Scott Westerfield

8. Middle Ground – Katie Kacvinsky

9. Twins – Caroline B. Cooney

10. Arena One: Slaverunners – Morgan Rice

11. Walking Disaster – Jamie McGuire

12. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

14: Someday, Someday, Maybe – Lauren Graham

15: Dead Ever After – Charlaine Harris

16: The Truth-Teller’s Lie – Sophie Hannah

So far I think the best one I’ve read this year has been the most recent one – The Truth Teller’s Lie. It was not what I expected it to be, and it was one of those books that you just can’t put down. The worst? Twins. Don’t even know how it ended up on my Kindle, but it was quite possibly the worst book I’ve ever read in my life…the only reason I even finished it is because I have a strange, overwhelming compulsion to finish every book I start, no matter how much I hate it.

Other than that one book, though, I’d definitely recommend all of the books I’ve read so far this year! As you can see, my taste in books varies pretty greatly, with a slight emphasis on cheesy young adult novels. What can I say? I do enough thinking during the day at work – I like to indulge a little when I’m reading!

What have you been reading lately? I’m always looking for recommendations!

Summer Bucket List

I have a few project-type posts waiting in the wings for me to write about, but since Friday is the last day of school for me (!), I thought today was the perfect day to write up a quick bucket list (like I did last year) of what I’d like to accomplish this summer.

It can be so tempting to spend my entire two-and-a-half month break doing nothing but watching Mad Men and sleeping, but I’m determined to accomplish at least a few things this summer so I don’t feel like it’s entirely wasted.

So, here are 10 things I’d like to do this summer, in no particular order. Just like last year, several of the items are pulled from our 101 in 1,001 list, and others are just things I’d like to do.

1. Finish head chairs for the dining room.

Ugh. This one is just embarrassing. We started working on these last summer (and have owned them for who knows how long) and it just keeps getting put off. But I am GOING TO FINISH THEM THIS SUMMER.

Yes, the yelling was necessary. It’s going to happen. I swear it.

2. Watch lots of movies.

Corey and I are creating what is going to be an amazing media room in our garage, and I cannot wait to use it. It’s going to be fabulous. Now that it’s almost done (seriously – we’re hoping to start moving furniture in there this weekend!), I’m getting more and more excited to settle in and watch some movies on our giant projector.

3. Make our bed every day for a month.

I love having the bed made, but since Corey and I typically wake up at 5:00 in the morning for work, it just doesn’t happen on a regular basis. I’m hoping we can get in the habit of making it every morning over the summer, and then maybe that will carry over into the school year. There’s just something about a nicely made bed that makes the whole room feel more put together.

4. Start replacing window treatments throughout the house.

We just got our new windows installed last week (more on that later!), and we had to take down all of our window treatments on the windows we were replacing in order for them to install ’em. Now that we’ve already got half of them down, I’d like to start working on upgrading the blinds and curtains throughout the house. I hate the ugly white blinds that we have on all of the windows, and I’m getting tired of most of our curtains. I’m hoping to start getting some of them replaced and updated this summer so all of our windows aren’t either naked or ugly.

5. Rip up the carpet downstairs (!).

Corey and I have finally made some decisions about what we want to do in terms of flooring throughout our house, and it looks like we’re actually going to be able to get started on it this summer. My goal is for us to get the majority of the downstairs done at least – we’ll see how it goes!

6. Have professional photos taken of us.

Corey and I aren’t great about taking photos of ourselves together, and the last time we really had any done was at our wedding two and a half years ago. I love having professional photos of us, and this summer we plan to get some taken. We’ve only ever had them done for our engagement and our wedding, so it will be nice to have a set of photos that are “just because” photos!

7. Spend lots of time outside.

This was one of my goals last summer and it didn’t really happen. There’s just something about 100+ degree weather that makes you want to hide in your house where there’s plenty of air conditioning. But I’m determined to spend some more time hanging out in the fresh air this summer – at the pool, at our favorite flea market, or just in our backyard. That’s kind of the whole point of summer, right?!

8. Spend at least 3 Saturday mornings garage-sale-ing.

Corey and I haven’t been to many garage sales since we moved back into the Austin area, and that’s just sad. Especially considering there are at least 2 or 3 in our neighborhood every weekend. I’m hoping this summer we’ll make the time to drive around and find a few good sales to check out – there’s just something about garage sales that makes me happy!

9. Eat at a restaurant owned by a celebrity.

This is one of those silly items on our 101 in 1,001 list that I’ve just always wanted to do. There are a couple celebrity-owned restaurants in Austin, so I don’t think it would be too tough for us to check one out for dinner one night!

10. Spend plenty of time relaxing.

I know I said I want to accomplish a lot, but I definitely want to make sure to spend as much time as humanly possible relaxing, too. I’m lucky to have such a huge break from work, and I want to take advantage of it! So, if there’s an entire week where I want to do nothing but lay on the couch and re-watch/analyze every episode of Mad Men and wonder why I love Don Draper so much, then I’m not going to let myself feel guilty about it.

And that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this summer! The first part of my summer is going to be pretty full with work for grad school, but I’m hoping to finish that up by the end of June and then I’ll have the rest of the summer to relax – let’s see how much I accomplish!

Do you have a summer bucket list?

Favorite Books of 2012

As part of my 101 in 1,001 list, I’ve challenged myself to reading 100 books over the 1,001 days. I’m way ahead of schedule and ending up setting a new personal goal to read 52 books in the first year – which I managed to do, but just barely. So, needless to say, I’ve read a lot of books over the last year or so!

I read very few books last year that I didn’t like, and I’d even go as far as to say I loved most of the books I read. But, as I was looking back over the list of books I read in 2012, there were a few that clearly stuck out to me as the best of the best. So, today I’m rounding up the five best books that I read last year. Enjoy!

– Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire: This one is totally cheesy, not particularly well-written, and completely and hopelessly addicting and wonderful. This was one of those books I thought about all day long and couldn’t wait to get back to once I put it down. There’s a sequel coming out later this year, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t way more excited than an adult woman should be about a book clearly meant for someone much younger than me.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: If you haven’t heard of this book yet, you’ve probably been living under a rock all year. It was very dark, twisted, and completely insane, and I loved every second of it. This book was not at all what I expected it to be, and it was definitely another one that stayed on my brain for quite some time after I finished reading it.

Room by Emma Donoghue: I’d been wanting to read this book for a while, and I’m oh so glad I did. This is the kind of story that should be beyond depressing and, at times, it is, but the author manages to make the story so engaging and interesting that you don’t spend the whole book bawling (though, I most certainly cried a time or two). I love, love, loved this book and it’s one that I can see myself reading over and over.

Divergent by Veronica Roth: This is another way-too-young-for-me book, but this series is SO GOOD and I’m SO ADDICTED. I recently read the second book in the trilogy, Insurgent, and I’m eagerly waiting for the third one to be released. This story is so fascinating and unique (if you can consider a dystopian novel in a sea of dystopian novels unique) and I’m crossing my fingers that they end up releasing a movie because I’m obsessed with this whole story!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: This book was so different, and strange, and wonderful. The writing was incredible and this was one of those books that drew me in so much that I could vividly picture every detail in my mind as I read it. Absolutely wonderful.

And those were my top five books of 2012! I read a ton of books last year and thoroughly enjoyed most of them, so saying these are the best is a pretty big deal. I’ve already read some pretty amazing ones so far this year (Life of Pi, anyone?) and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for me!

What were your favorite books of 2012?

(All images via Barnes & Noble)

In 2013, We Will…

Like I mentioned yesterday, Corey and I aren’t really huge on making official New Year’s resolutions. They generally fail, and I’m not very good at remembering whatever it was I originally resolved to do. But, we’ve been working on a 101 in 1,001 list for the past 11 months, and in the spirit of the new year I wanted to designate a few items that we’d really like to cross off the list in 2013.

I guess you could call these our New Year’s resolutions – I’m just calling them our list-of-crap-we-want-to-get-done. Either way, I’m hoping it all gets accomplished next year!

1. Go on a “staycation”

This is one that’s pretty much for sure going to happen. Corey’s mom got us a stay at the hotel where we got married for Christmas, and we’re hoping to use it sometime within the next few months. It’s in a part of town that we don’t get to visit very often, and I’m looking forward to going back and visiting – we never actually got to stay there together when we were getting married, so it will be the first time we’ll get to spend a night there with one another!

(Photo by She-N-He Photography)

2. One year, watch all Oscar-nominated films

This one was written a bit ambiguously, but the intent was for us to watch all films nominated for Best Picture. Usually we haven’t seen half of them and are so confused about what the big deal is! This year, all of the films that are likely to be nominated are movies that we would really, really like to see, so I’m hoping this will be the year we take care of this – we may not get them all watched before the awards air, but we can definitely do it at some point!

3. Replace our washer and dryer

I’m not sure if this is one we’ll manage to get done this year or not, but I sure would love to! Corey and I have big plans for the tiny little laundry closet off of our kitchen, and I dream of them every time I have to do a load of laundry. It would be awesome if we could get a new washer and dryer at some point this year so we can kick off the makeover of this sad little room!

4. Get rid of all of the ugly lights in our house

We had so many awful lights when we moved in that it was almost overwhelming to even think about replacing them. But, we’ve made some significant progress on getting some prettier lights in our house, and I have high hopes that we can finish it out over the next year!

(One of our updated lights!)

5. Finish head chairs for the dining room

I’m so embarrassed that this is even still on the list. As I told you guys, I started on these chairs way back in August and…they’re still not finished. They’re close, though, I promise! Things got crazy once school started, and then the holidays hit, and well…they’re just not done. But I swear they’ll be finished before 2013 is over!

I’m hoping we accomplish way more than 5 of these goals over the next year, but these are a few that I really want us to focus on! As always, you can see (infrequent) updates to our 101 in 1,001 list, as well as the list itself, over on the 101 blog. I’m feeling good about our chances of actually finishing it so far!

And, with this post, I’ve officially posted something every day for the entire month of December. Whew. Are you sick of me yet? I have a feeling you might be, which is part of the reason that I’m making this my last post for the next week or so. My break from work is shorter than usual this year and I only have a couple of days left to soak up the freedom before it’s back to work for me, so I’m going to take the rest of this week off to relax, sleep, and watch more television than I’ll be willing to admit! I’ll be back bright and early next Monday morning, though, so keep an eye out!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What are your goals for 2013?

101 in 1,001: Update

Well, 2012 is almost over and 2013 is upon us. Can you believe it? A few of my kids at school were telling me before the break that they refuse to let go of 2012 and that they’ll never write 2013 on any of their papers – I had to laugh and agree, not because I don’t want 2013 to be here, but just because it always seems to take me until June to remember to put the new year!

I figure since it’s the end of the year, it would be the perfect time to re-visit our 101 in 1,001 list (which we started February 1st of last year so, while it wasn’t necessarily a set of New Year’s resolutions, it’s pretty close!) and see how we did. Tomorrow I’ll be looking at the list again to  chat about some of the things we’re hoping to accomplish in 2013! We aren’t big on making official resolutions, but since we’re already working on this list, it can’t hurt to designate a few things we’d like to knock out over the next year!

So, let’s see what we took care of this year:

21. Finish watching Lost
25. Spend an entire day together with no technology
31. Try the dog park again

32. Get a kitten (we got a puppy instead!)
38. Join a church
42. Have a dinner party
49. Sponsor a child during Christmas
52. Visit a farmer’s market
53. Start recycling

62. Get our garage completely clean and organized – I have to laugh at this one, because our garage is a disaster again. But, it was clean for a while!
66. Learn more about my camera and become very comfortable with it
67. Learn how to use Photoshop (didn’t learn Photoshop, but learned enough about editing photos that I consider this taken care of!)
68. Get at least one paid sponsor
69. Host a giveaway on the blog
70. Learn enough about coding to do basic edits on the blog
71. Add a house tour/layout page (see it here!)
74. Blog daily for a month (31/31) – technically this isn’t finished, but it will be tomorrow so I’m counting it!
75. Research and purchase another lens for our camera (got one for Christmas!)
76. Purchase a tripod (another Christmas present!)
77. Reply to at least 3 comments for every blog post I write for a month
78. Be featured on a large-scale home décor blog (See it here!)

81. Replace my car
86. Learn how to use (and be comfortable with) my Cricut (My personal goal)
87. Get a job I’m happy with (My personal goal)
88. Create at least one item I would be proud to sell online (My personal goal)
90. Create a piece of art I’m proud to display in our home (My personal goal)
97. Join an intramural sports team (Corey’s personal goal)

There are also a few things on our list that are in progress – either we’ve done part of it and haven’t finished the rest, or it’s something we’re actively trying to complete. Here are the things that we’re started on but haven’t completed:

5. Go on 3 vacations (1/3)
10. Spend at least 10 days exploring parts of downtown Austin we’ve never seen (2/10)
11. Go to at least 5 Austin events (1/5)

13. Master at least 10 new cocktail recipes (1/10)
20. Try 10 new local restaurants (4/10)
22. Watch 20 classic movies that we’ve never seen (1/20)
39. Try at least two new recipes a month
41. Spend time with Audrey & Kyle at least once a year (1/3)
84. Read at least 100 books (38/100)

So, all in all that makes 27 items completed and 9 items we’ve at least started on. Not too bad for the first 11 months! I love having something like this, because I sometimes feel like we don’t really accomplish much throughout the year – but looking back at this it’s clear that we got quite a bit done that we wanted to!

Do you have a life “to-do” list? What did you accomplished this year?