2015 Reading Challenge

I thought when I graduated college that I would finally read all the books that had been sitting on my shelves gathering dust for four years. Since I would no longer be rushing to meet deadlines, write papers, and go to classes, I just knew I would have ample time to finally read for fun.

Here I am, over two years later, and I’ve read one book. One.

Grant it, it was the Russian beast that is Anna Karenina, but I still don’t want that to be the only reading I do for 2015.

Enter The 2015 Reading Challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy (<–what my blog wants to be when it grows up).

2015 Reading Challenge Graphic

I love that it only has 12 books on it, which seems doable even with a busy schedule, and I love that it’s flexible enough that I can find a good fit for most of the categories without purchasing a book.

The first category is, “A book you’ve been meaning to read.”

Although I have several books I’ve been meaning to read, I decided to go with Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest by W. H. Hudson. Mainly because I had already started reading it and needed to motivate myself to not take six years like I did reading Tolstoy.

Written in 1916, the book is about a man who flees his home country after attempting a revolution and finds himself living among the natives in Guyana, where he forms a relationship with a mysterious “bird girl”. (that’s all I know right now, I haven’t finished it yet!) 🙂

Why did I choose this book? I didn’t. Before my husband and I started dating, he asked me to feed his dog while he went out of town to visit family. He brought this book back for me as a gift because it was A) old and he knew I loved old books and B) it sounded like an interesting story.

At this point in his life, the only reading he did involved sports articles and Facebook updates, so it meant a lot to me (and still does) that he took the time to find something I might like.

So far, I love the language and the characters in this book. It’s simple enough to follow, but challenging enough to keep me engaged in the storyline.

My goal is to finish it by the end of the month. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

What good books have you been reading lately? Have any of you read anything by W. H. Hudson?

~Red~

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To the Woman Who Gave Me Everything

When I look at the many, many blessings I have in my life today, I can’t help but credit them all back to you.

I’m happily married to my best friend, but only because you taught me what true love really looks like.

I have a beautiful home, but only because you reminded me that a home has less to do with fancy furnishings and more to do with the love found within.

I have a job that I love, but only because you encouraged me to follow God’s leading in my life and not settle for anything less than His perfect will.

I have real joy, but only because you showed me everyday how to find the good in everyone and everything around me.

I have a deeply rooted relationship with God, but only because you were a constant example of His love to me.

So, thank you, Mom.

And Happy Birthday to the most wonderful person I have ever met.

~Red~

Monday Musings

Few things in life sneak up on me quite like Mondays. No matter if our weekend was jam-packed with activity or full of nothing but coffee drinking and Netflix (my favorite kind), Monday always comes before I’m ready for it.

This weekend was a perfect mixture of fun and relaxation. It started with dinner with friends at one of our favorite hibachi restaurants. I don’t care how old I am, I will never stop laughing at the onion volcano and the guy peeing on the fire. Gets to me Every. Single. Time. Afterward, we got coffee and browsed through Barnes and Noble. Hubs is in grad school working on his teaching degree, so I quickly lost him to the education section.

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#gradschoolwidow

Saturday, my mom, brother, and his wife came to our house to have lunch with us. My mom’s birthday is tomorrow, and she loves nothing better than hanging out with all four of her “kids”. Sometimes I think she likes the in laws better though….not sure how I feel about that.

I made chicken soup using some random ingredients I had on hand and baked these garlic cheddar biscuits, which fit the cold rainy day perfectly. Hubs said it was the best chicken soup he ever tasted. He loves me though, so I wouldn’t take his word for it.

Yesterday after church, we ran some errands before coming home for spaghetti and salad. After lunch, we sat around watching Hallmark movies on Youtube (because my mother is slightly completely obsessed) while Hubs did homework. We were in the mood for a snack later, so I made a simple fruit dip with cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla extract (full recipe here). My husband might have done a happy dance over this one and even ate all of the fruit instead of just eating the dip with a spoon. Small victories are still victories.

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Served on my new dishes I got for my birthday! It doesn’t look pretty, but it tasted great!

Even though Monday snuck up on me, I’m actually really excited to start this new week. Today is my friend’s first day at her new job, which just happens to be at the same university where I work!  Here’s to a life filled with biffle lunches, google chats, and work picnics that double as biffle dates! Can’t wait!

What were some of your weekend highlights? I’d love to hear them!

Friday Favorites #1

Can you plagiarize a theme? I read so many blogs that include a Friday Favorites theme, but I always have fun reading those posts and want to participate! So, if I’m breaking blogger code, please tell me. I don’t want to be kicked out of the club on day two…even if I did invite myself.

Anyway, here are some fun tidbits from this past week that are making me smile.

  1. Surprise Date Night…with a side of Bleu Cheese!

Friday’s are date nights at the White house, and my sweet hubby planned a surprise for me last week! He took me to my favorite restaurant, even though he doesn’t like it, and we shared one of my all-time favorite appetizers. They serve their spiral potato chips with crumbled blue cheese and their house bleu cheese dressing on top, and man oh man is it delicious. We had so much fun that night, but that’s typical on date night….and every night for that matter. What can I say? He’s my best friend!

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I don’t have a picture from Friday, but this is from a baseball game we went to this summer. So much fun! More people came. I promise!

  1. The Office Finale – “NOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Ok, yes, I know The Office ended back in 2013, but we didn’t get around to watching it until a few months ago. After some serious binge watching (no judgement here, folks) we finally finished. Even though the show suffered big time after Steve Carell left, it still left me in tears during the final few episodes. I mean, how can you not love Jim and Pam? So, so good.

Jim and Pam Quote

*sniff*

  1. Well Hello There Old Friend

Fall. Is. Here. Even though temperatures are still reaching the low 80s on most days, the mornings are cool and crisp, and it’s obvious that true fall weather is on its way! I love this season for so many reasons but here are some big ones:

  • Cardigans. Scarves. Cardigans. Boots. Cardigans. Enough said.
  • October is my Birthday month! Hubs always makes a big deal for my birthday, and I can’t help but be all giddy about it.
  • The leaves are changing! We live in the mountains, and there is just nothing better in my opinion than mountain views in the fall. I start paying really close attention right about now because the leaves seem to change overnight, and I don’t want to miss it!

October Quote

Plans for this weekend include another date night and a birthday lunch for my mom and me. Let the festivities begin!

Feel free to share some of your favorite things lately! Let me know that I’m not the only one who gets irrationally attached to fictional characters…

TBT to That Time I Channeled Wordsworth

As a former English major who’s spent more time with fictional characters than most normal people, I often have difficulty with reality. So when presented with an assignment during my sophomore year in college to create a “Wordsworthian moment” and find something beautiful in something ordinary, I wasn’t worried at all. I did this on a daily basis to keep my idealistic worldview intact, so I was confident I could breeze through this.

Rebel against reality. Read more books.

This was my plan: have my friend meet me before classes at a pretty spot on campus to eat homemade muffins, drink coffee, and watch the sunrise. I already had my response written in my head; that’s how confident I was that this would be the quintessential Wordsworthian moment.

Unfortunately, what I didn’t realize is that a healthy dose of reality is often necessary to create such an ideal situation. For example:

  • If you forget to make muffins the night before, you will oversleep and have to ask your friend to stop at McDonald’s on her way to campus.
  • If you fail to check the weather forecast, chances are it will be gloomy and gray, and you won’t be able to see any sunshine at all, much less the sunrise.
  • And, if the sun rises in the east, it’s a good idea to make sure you aren’t facing the opposite direction. #fail

Instead of having the perfectly crafted Wordsworthian moment, my friend and I ended up laughing hysterically while eating our greasy fast food breakfasts on a damp, cloudy morning. And we had a blast. So much so that we recreated it the morning before graduation.

Wordsworth

Top: Sophomore Year ; Bottom: Graduation Day!  (please forgive the old cellphone picture quality!)

I learned something that day that I’ve never forgotten, even five years later (kudos to you Dr. Thomas).

I learned that ideal conditions aren’t necessary for an ideal moment. Looking back, some of my favorite memories come from times when reality was just plain ugly, but we found ways to create our own joy.

And that’s what this space is all about: taking time to enjoy all of the western sunrises on all of our cloudy days.

~Red~