Thursday, December 31, 2015

Let's Bust A Recap : 2015

Well, it is New Years Eve and sad to say, I still have 126 pages to go in TR. It just ain't gonna happen, folks. But let's take today to focus on what I did accomplish, shall we?
My original list consisted of 30 books. I ended up reading 13 books this year. 5 of those 13 were not even on the original list. So apparently, I was a little too ambitious for my own good. But I'm pretty happy with what I accomplished. There were some pretty serious reads in there. Let me remind you:

Persuasion by Jane Austen : completed 1/12
This was a re-read and not on my original list. But in my mind, I substituted this for Sense & Sensibility which was on the original list.

I had three works by Shakespeare on my original list and this was probably the shortest of the three, but I'm feeling pretty good about being able to say I read anything by Shakespeare this year. I mean, did any of you read any Shakespeare this year? 

This was definitely one of those "serious reads" I was talking about. When I finished this one, I remember thinking that if I read nothing else this year, I'd still be pretty proud of myself for making it through this one.

Definitely a re-read and definitely a comfort read. I love Little Women. I certainly needed this after finishing up Vanity Fair.

Another re-read, but somehow, it felt like the first time. This might have been my favorite read for the year.

Probably my most unexpected read for the year. This book was not even on my radar, and I kindof happened upon it totally accidentally, but I'm so glad I did. Also, I felt very current reading this book seeing as most of the books on my list are forever old.

One of my least favorite reads of the year. Probably in future, I will just refer back to my recap of it for the quotes that really stood out to me. Or I'll only read the final chapter.

Um, do I need to say anything about this one? It was everything I wanted it to be. Technically, this wasn't on my original list, but really, it was. I just didn't know what the name was going to be, so I couldn't exactly write it down. I can't wait for the next one in the series. (Not pictured above because it's out on loan, of course.)

I'm giving this one the Most Emotional Read award. Even though it was a re-read, it's just so special reading about your own family.

Another of my favorite authors and she definitely did not disappoint with this one. It might have been my favorite from the Sons of Encouragement series....okay so maybe Jonathan was my real favorite....or Caleb. Okay fine, I can tell you with certainty that Aaron and Amos were definitely NOT my favorites. So there.

For sure the worst thing I read this year. How depressing. I will never read this book again.

Think Dog! by John Fisher : completed 9/5
This was probably the most practical thing I read this year. It definitely helped us in our dog-ownership and hello, we got another dog after we read it. So....

For sure the coolest thing I read this year because MY BEST FRIEND WROTE IT! It's not pictured above because I don't have a physical copy yet, but you better believe it's on its way!

So there you have it. I also read through the New American Standard Bible this year which, truly, is the best reading accomplishment there is. I try to read through the whole Bible on odd years, and I just finished yesterday--a whole day early. I think I underestimated how that would affect the rest of my reading for the year. I also wasn't anticipating two dogs which I'm most assuredly factoring in to this equation. 

All in all, I think my first year with a legitimate book list went well. I read 9 books that I had never read before, and I now have a more accurate way to gauge how many books I should put on future book lists. Speaking of which, I'll be posting my 2016 Book List soon so stay tuned and Happy New Years Eve!

Did you complete any reading goals this year? How about 2015 resolutions? What are some of your resolutions for the coming year?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas to Us!

Oh yes. Yes we did. Let me introduce you to the newest member of our little brood. Because apparently, one bundle of crazy just wasn't enough for us.
We've dubbed him Major. Although at this point, he doesn't seem to understand that he ranks lower than Colonel. He's a Labradoodle and just about the sweetest thing ever. P.S. Don't let the photos deceive you, he's only about half the size of Colonel.
We picked him up from the airport Sunday night, and immediately realized he fears nothing. When we picked Colonel up, he had to be physically removed from his crate. When we opened this little guy's crate up, he was ready to explore everything
We love him. And after a few hours of seriously questioning everything he knew to be true about his world, Colonel loved him, too.
And even though I have doubted the sanity of bringing a new, un-trained, stinky little puppy into our home only about a billion times since Sunday night and have already been bemoaning the return to perpetually dirty floors and unpleasant odors, I have to admit, it's awesome that Colonel has a little playmate. They wear each other out and keep each other company which is exactly what we wanted.
Our first few attempts at a family picture. Oh boy.
All in all, I think we'll keep him.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Kindred Spirit!

Happy Birthday, Caroline! I love you forever!
Cruise ~ January 2015
~The Special One~

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy Birthday to my Best Friend turned Sister!

Happy Birthday, Lyndsey Annette! I love you forever!
December 1995
High School Grads ~ May 2006

Friday, December 11, 2015

Casual Fridays

Basically all I have for you today are links. Because let's catch up on our Link Love, right?

- USAF Band WWII Holiday Flashback : Definitely the best link for today so if you don't have time for the others, just watch this one. Also, why am I never in these places when these things happen? I mean, really, why aren't the streets of Winter Haven just filled with talented singers and dancers whenever I go out? I don't think it's an unrealistic dream.

- Classic Dance Scenes Mashed Up to Uptown Funk : Stop it. If you're going to waste hours of your life creating something that's ultimately not very important, please do things like this. It's awesome. (This was also a very close second to our first link. If it wasn't currently Christmastime, this one might have won.)

- Outdo One Another in Showing Honor : Because this is just really good. That's all there is to say about that.

- A Hallelujah Christmas : I love this. I want a CD of it. 

- Heavenly Joy on America's Got Talent : This kid. If you don't want to watch all 6+ minutes of this, just skip to 4:10. I can't even.

- Mad Face Baby : You're welcome.

Oh and here's a picture of my little laundry buddy on a pile of dirty towels. Isn't he just the cutest? I think so anyway. Happy Friday!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Let's Bust a Recap : Ravensboro

So my BFF Christina participated in and completed the NaNoWriMo Challenge last month. For those of you who don't know what in the world that means: November is National Novel Writing Month, and there is an internet challenge open to any aspiring writers who desire to participate to write a 50,000 word novel. 

And my girl did it. And not only that, she let me read it and bounced ideas off me as she was writing it. And speaking as a completely objective third party outsider with absolutely no personal interest in the matter (NAME THAT MOVIE), I have to say, her book was really good. I think she has a real shot at getting it published.

Ravensboro follows the adventures of three siblings as they discover their magical heritage after the sudden death of their parents and their subsequent attempts to defeat the evil schemes of a wicked foe. I would classify it as a young adult fantasy. 

Christina did a great job of weaving this compelling plot together and writing it in such a way that leaves the reader eager for more. She created quirky characters that I immediately fell in love with and a few odious ones that I wanted to see go down. There were several days throughout the month of November where I was nagging her to send me the next installment because I was dying to know what was going to happen next. I even got my husband to read it, and he loved it, too. (And he's not the type to throw away compliments, so that's saying something.)

And lest you think that 50,000 words isn't a real book, here are some other novels that have approximately 50,000 words:
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (46,118 words)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (50,061 words)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (50,776 words)
  • The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (52,000 words)
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (56,695 words)
Be on the lookout for Ravensboro by Christina J. Volpe, coming to a bookstore near you soon. I'm sure of it.

Christina, way to go! You are awesome. I'm looking forward to your next book. When you're totally famous, I can say I knew you when. 
Circa Summer of '07

Friday, December 4, 2015

Casual Fridays

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I have discovered the PhotoGrid app. Aren't you lucky?
I have been a busy little worker elf this week decking all our halls and turning our little home sweet home into a Christmas Wonderland. Don't you just love this time of year?
Here are a few of my favorite ornaments. Cody and I like to assemble and decorate our Christmas tree while watching White Christmas, my favorite Christmas movie. We started this tradition our first year of marriage, and it makes getting all the decorations down and dusting them off something to look forward to. Despite all the rockin' around the Christmas tree, I have managed to make a little bit of progress in TR this week. Slow and steady wins the race, right?
And since this is a blog about books, I decided to share a few of my all-time favorite Christmas books with you. Which I also like to decorate with. You can not go wrong with any of these. Starting from the top left:
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Gift of the Magi adapted by Penelope J. Stokes
The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
The Candymaker's Gift by David & Helen Haidle
The Candle in the Window by Grace Johnson
Alabaster's Song by Max Lucado
Anyway, the cards have been mailed, the halls have been decked, the weather is even cooling off a little, and I'm almost done with the shopping already. Time to slow down and remember why we we're celebrating.

"And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 
And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"
Luke 2:7-14 (KJV)

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Do you have a favorite Christmas book or song or ornament?

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Progress Report & Some Vocabulary

Well, y'all, it's the very last day of November. Can you even believe it? Christmastime is officially here. Cody and I are busting out all the red and green decorations we can find today, and my Christmas cards are all addressed and waiting for me to go buy cute Christmas stamps so they can fly all over the world to people I love. I thought it fitting on this the last day of November to pop in here and say hi. November has been my worst blogging month yet, though to be fair, I did warn you that the posts would be getting more sparse through the end of the year.

Anyway, I am still hung-up on Theodore, and truth be told, I haven't read so much as two pages of it since we've been back from North Carolina. But I am determined to finish him off by the end of this year. I am currently on page 587 out of 816 pages. This book is as big as my head.
See. I'm not even kidding. It's like a textbook. 

While I was making serious headway on this beast during vacation, I jotted down a few unfamiliar words I came across, and I thought I'd broaden your vocabulary today before we head into the most wonderful time of the year.

Our first word is bellicose.

bellicose (adjective): demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight; hostile

This word jumped out at me on page 466, and since then I've noticed it several more times which makes me wonder if page 466 wasn't the first place it made an appearance. Theodore Roosevelt was certainly a bellicose man, so it's definitely an accurate descriptor. 

Our other word today is imbroglio. Isn't that just fun to say?

imbroglio (noun): an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation

I came across this word at the top of page 582, and it was actually within a quote from Roosevelt himself referencing a mess he was in with Japan during his second term as President. I think it's a super-fun word, and really, why don't we use words like imbroglio anymore?

So there you have it. Two new words and a little update on my progress in TR. Are you trying to finish any hard books by the end of this year? How about any fun ones? Had you ever heard the words bellicose or imbroglio before today?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Casual Fridays

Well hello there! It's been a while, and frankly, I don't have the slightest idea where to begin so I've decided to grace you with another Photo-Prompted Post. But first, an update on the Pumpkin Predicament of 2015: I am happy to report that last Thursday, Cody took me to Coldstone (the one in Lakeside for any likeminded people who are distressed by the deplorable lack of pumpkin-y goodness), and they had pumpkin ice cream. And y'all. It was to die for. I got graham cracker cookie crust mixed in, and I'm pretty sure I heard angels singing. Loved it. Also, I bought a pumpkin pie from Publix. Because I can always count on Publix, hallelujah. And on Tuesday night, my parents took Cody and me to LongHorn for my birthday, and LongHorn is currently serving a pumpkin spice lava cake which, although I didn't actually order it, looked amazing. I'm feeling a lot more optimistic about life.

Anyway, on to our Photo-Prompted Post. 
First up: my Gracie girl is in college. And we got to visit her a few weeks ago. I can't talk about how much I love her and how proud I am of her without crying, so instead, let me just tell you that she took us to this place called Steel City Pops. They sell gourmet popsicles made from all-natural and local ingredients. And I had a pumpkin popsicle. (Are you so sick of hearing the word pumpkin yet?) It was amazing, and I wanted to try every popsicle on the menu (except for the smoked fig with cheese....too weird even for me). We had a blast visiting with Grace, and her new school and town are beautiful. We will definitely be going back soon. If not for Grace, then for those Steel City Pops. Holy moly.
Our quick visit with Grace was actually a pit-stop on our way to North Carolina for family vacation. Fun story: I was driving when we crossed into North Carolina, and as soon as I saw that beautiful welcome sign, I pulled off the highway. There was this steep--and I do emphasize the word steep--road leading up to a gated community right before you passed the sign. So I crawled up this hill, did a little U-turn, pulled off, and was quizzed by my husband on the proper direction to turn the wheels when we're parking on such a steep incline. (I passed the test, by the way.) We almost broke our necks running down this slippery hill, snapped a couple pictures, then we huffed our way back up to the car, during which I almost lost my flip-flops several times. We jumped back in the car, pulled back onto the highway....and almost immediately passed an entire parking area for what I can only assume is a place for crazy people like me who want to take a picture in front of the state welcome sign. My poor husband was just shaking his head. Bless. Welcome to North Carolina.
My family is the best and we know how to vacation. Here we are playing Golf late into the night. This photo really represents an entire week of fun games, the most memorable of this trip being Family Feud. (Good answer!) Even though we're extremely competitive people, we love each other and have a blast playing together, although to the casual observer it might seem more like one death match after another. And speaking of death matches, my biggest triumph in the realm of family games this year was definitely sustained during a game of Rack-O in which I completely annihilated my mom and two of my sisters. Fun times.
The leaves were all turning and the fall colors were gorgeous. We don't get any of that down here in Florida (what we do get is 70 degree weather in November--praise Him!) so we took all the opportunities to take pictures with that beautiful backdrop.
A sweet lady from our church sent all these cozy, handmade, stocking caps up with my dad for all of us to enjoy throughout the week. And let me tell you, we were grateful for any warm thing considering we're pretty much all tried-and-true Floridians and those temps were dipping down into the 40s all week. Also, have I mentioned my family is the best?
Personally, one of my favorite things about vacation (and probably the only thing in this post relevant to the actual purpose of this blog) is having time to read. I did some major damage to Theodore, but still wasn't able to finish it. I was seriously hoping to knock it out completely but apparently that was wishful thinking. As far as my reading goals for the rest of 2015 go, my only one is to finish this dang book. Vacation also affords my loving family members numerous opportunities to make fun of my hermit-like tendencies. While everyone else was out shopping or hiking or doing who knows what, I was holed up by the fire, reading a biography of a dead president. And loving every second of it. 
While I was snuggled up inside reading to my heart's content (#introvertsunite), my boys were out exploring and adventuring. I really don't have much else to say about this photo except I love those two with all my heart (the one in the hat especially). 
Last week, I got to take my BFF Erin and her firstborn to Busch Gardens. Since Cody and I have annual passes, I got a free day-pass for a friend during the month of November because of my birthday and I'm so glad I got to take Erin and her daughter. And there's a brand-new baby rhino! The first time Cody and I had BG passes, we got to watch a baby rhino grow up throughout the year. Now that we got passes again, another new rhino was born. Coincidence? I think not. Busch Gardens should just give us free annual passes for the rest of our lives, amiright? Anyway, call me a nerd if you must but I'm excited to watch this little rhinoceros grow. It's amazing how big they get so quickly.
And in case you missed the multiple times I mentioned it, I got older this week. But it was fairly painless thanks to this amazing guy. He had the six days leading up to my birthday off, and he really spoiled me. Those six days included dinner and a movie and Coldstone, new ChapSticks galore, a date night to Old Town, the new Cinderella movie on DVD, a full-body massage, more presents than any one girl should get, and all his love and affection (just to name a few). I couldn't be more blessed.

And I think that's about it for this post. Good catching up with you. Let's do this again soon. What have you been up to the past month?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Happy Birthday to Our Other Sweetheart!

Happy Birthday, Shallot! We love you forever, sweet girl!
I'd like to take today to direct your attention to the right side of your screen (if you are viewing my blog on your phone, you're going to need to scroll down to the bottom and change to the web view). Have you noticed that Compassion box? As you can see, I share a birthday with our darling girl Shallot. She lives in Uganda, and today, she turns 8 years old. We love her dearly and pray for her consistently. We write her letters, and she writes us back. I would encourage you to consider sponsoring a child in need. You will change his or her life for the better and fall in love in the process. We hope to be able to visit Shallot one day, but we may never get to hug her this side of Heaven. If you have questions about how this all works, I would love to talk to you more about this amazing ministry. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

For the Love of FALL, Y'all!

Listen guys. I realize it's been a little quiet around here. And before it got quiet, we wandered deep into the pumpkin-y realms.

But today, I have a bone to pick with the free world. Or maybe it's just the state of Georgia. I'm not entirely sure.


And I'm so not okay with it. 

Over this past weekend, Cody, Sarah, and I traveled up to Georgia to say our last goodbyes to my brother and sister-in-law before they make a giant move to Japan. (Caroline, we didn't really say goodbye. We said, "We're coming to Japan all the time now." Because we are.) Anyway, back to the point of this post. At two different establishments over the weekend, I was told that all the pumpkin had gone away. I won't name any names--cough*CRACKERBARREL*cough*DAIRYQUEEN*cough--but I was extremely disappointed.

And here's the real kicker: when I asked about specific menu items (pumpkin custard from Cracker Barrel and the pumpkin pie blizzard from DQ), the response I got as to why these items were no longer being served was, and I quote, "Well, we only serve those things during fall-time."

Excu' me, miss! What?! Last time I checked, winter does not begin until December 21st. Since when is November not "fall-time"?? Friendly reminder: after Halloween comes THANKSGIVING (not Christmas) and it's supposed to be Pumpkin Heaven, okay?

I can't even.

Someone--anyone--please tell me where I can get a pumpkin fix like, yesterday. I'm desperate. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pumpkin Carving 2015

Happy Friday! We have finally made it to 2015 in our Pumpkin Carving saga. This year we had a curious puppy who was in on the fun. I decided to carve our initials in a heart (you know, like you might on an old tree or something), and Cody decided to turn his pumpkin into a globe of the world. And rather than carve it out, he actually peeled the pumpkin so that it literally glowed. He definitely upped his game this year in a major way. 
October 17, 2015

Happy Halloween!

What's one of your favorite traditions?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pumpkin Carving 2014

Well, sad to say we royally derailed documenting last year's Pumpkin Carving toils. We didn't take any before or during photos. We decided to do classic faces last year, and I loved how my pumpkin turned out. The middle pumpkin was a joint effort in which I cleaned out the pumpkin and Cody carved the faces. He's such a pro. Seriously. Wait till you see what he did this year (tune in tomorrow if you're interested). And since I've been anecdotally including the different homes we've lived in, this was our first year in our current home sweet home.
October 31, 2014