Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Club {2}

Well, we are all alive. Barely.

It has been a stressful and terrifying week for a lot of people in the Spokane area. Last Tuesday there was a terrible storm that knocked out power for 90% of the city. For most people, power was restored within 5 days, but many are still in cold houses, and will be eating out for Thanksgiving. The stress of the week caused us to cancel our Thanksgiving trip, and we are pretty bummed. However, the uncertainty and fears that come with being without power in the dead of winter - worrying about damage to our house from the storm, constantly wondering when the pipes would burst from the cold, and wearing the same outfit every day - was just too much for us to handle on top of packing for a road trip. So, we are home for the holidays.

One of the only things you can do to escape the stresses of life in a power outage is to read. This is why I thought now would be an appropriate time to list all my favorite books I've ready over the last few months. Hopefully you have some camping equipment on hand, just in case you are reading in the dark like we were.

Me Before You. This book came as a recommendation from my coworker, and it is deeeeeelightful. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, you will also love this. The protagonist is such a refreshing character, and I had a hard time putting the book down. There is a sequel called Me After You, and I will be reading it ASAP! In fact, I already have my name on the waitlist for it at the library.

Luckiest Girl Alive. A lot of people are comparing this book to Gone Girl. The danger of doing this is that you keep reading, expecting the same Gone Girl twist. News flash: it never comes. Which is good! No one likes a copycat! There are still surprising events, but not the same shocking plot twist that happen in Gillian Flynn's novel. The main character in Luckiest Girl Alive is not so likable on the outside, but her inner monologue reminds us that people always have a reason for behaving the way they do. I appreciated the themes covered in this book, particularly from her high school experiences, and I think this is a relevant read for the issues we face in today's chaotic world.

Just Mercy. This is a nonfiction book every American should read. When someone from the Pacific Northwest talks about racism in the United States, we have NO idea what "racism" really means. We can read articles online and hear stories in the media, but we never really understand without witnessing firsthand what goes on in our world, EVEN TODAY. This book is just...the best. Read it now. Especially if you are white.

Maude. This book is a biography written by Maude's granddaughter Donna. At first I was a little turned off by the voice of the book, but soon realized it was written as if Maude herself was telling me these stories firsthand. This amazing woman went through everything: World War I, the Spanish Influenza, the Great Depression, World War II, and so many other important historic (and personal) events. Despite these hardships, she presented herself with grace. She is an inspiration to Woman, and her strength is inspiring. I wish I could have known her. I hope you own a Kindle/iPad, because the e-version of this book is much cheaper than the paperback.

Wild. Another nonfiction, but this one is an autobiography. I think most people have read this book, but it is worth mentioning here just in case. I love stories of redemption, and I love hiking, so this book was a good read for me. Although I do not agree with all the life choices she made, I am inspired by Cheryl Strayed's resiliency. Heck, I don't even think she agrees with all the life decisions she's made! This story encourages you to find your true self through deep reflection and nature. Along this same genre, I also read Into the Wild. However, I do not list this second book as a "favorite" here because I feel Christopher McCandless had a mental illness and/or personal trauma that lead to his decisions, and ultimately his death. The poor kid needed help, and instead chose to withdraw. Please know that Wild and Into the Wild are very different stories.

The Language of Flowers. I'm starting to see a pattern in modern literature: brokenness and redemption. This book has these same themes, but with flowers. It is another delightful read about love and life. The main character uses flowers to convey her emotions, and I loved learning what each flower represents.

Chestnut Street. Good ole Maeve. She just had a way of writing delightful books. This is a collection of stories from people who live on Chestnut Street in Dublin, Ireland. Although each chapter focuses on a different character (as many of Maeve's books do), I loved hearing about each person's story, and always wanted to know more. I had a smile on my face at the end of the story, which is never a bad thing when it comes to reading.

A Shift in the Air. Wow, this list is getting long. But we are ending it with a goooood one because everyone needs a little werewolf erotica in their lives. The Elemental Shifter Series is certainly entertaining, and don't worry, it is not raunchy romance like Fifty Shades of Grey. There is more story than there know...werewolf sex. I do not feel bad for saying this, because I think the author would say it too, her first book in the series is not as good as the second book. So why did I read the second book after reading a mediocre first book? Because my friend edited it! Which is obviously why the second book is so much better. Duh. Despite these facts, the first book isn't really that bad. It just isn't as well written as the second, which means it's already better written than Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyway, if you are looking for a fun read, or if you are a closet romance novel enthusiast, you should definitely try this series.


That's probably enough for now. As I mentioned, I have my name on the waitlist for a couple books at the library, but I am always taking suggestions. Suggest away!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween this year was one to remember. I wish I could go back and experience the day again, and I would not change a thing. Not even the windy and stormy weather.

Jeff had to work in the morning, but he managed to find the last pumpkin available on the South Hill before heading out for a couple hours. We carved our pumpkin, lit candles, played catch, roasted pumpkin seeds, took a nap, and watched Curious George. When Jeff got home we ate pizza, then snatched a ton of candy. We decided to go trick-or-treating with Everett's cousins this year. It was helpful for him to go with other kids, especially ones he knows well. They were incredibly patient and helped him at every house.

Dropped the spoon inside the pumpkin and is pretty disgusted by the texture.

I finished Everett's costume a few days before Halloween, which gave him plenty of time to get used to the idea of wearing it. The last two years he wanted nothing to do with costumes. Now that he has some autonomy, I let him decide what he wanted to be, he watched me sew the costume, and we tried it on once a day "to make sure it still fits."

Everett was adamant about being a lion. Since I needed a pattern stat (no time for shipping), and since Joann's was having a sale on patterns (only $1.99 per pattern!), I had to get a little creative with what they had in stock. I settled on Simplicity 1351 and made a couple adjustments.

Using the raccoon template, the body of the costume was pretty much the same, but obviously I did not need to put a mask on the hood, as this was where the mane would be going. I also skipped the tail part, as lions do not have raccoon tails. The mane was created with strips of felt, looped then sewed down. I wanted to use a fleece fabric for this part, but could not find the shade of orange I wanted. Se la vie.

At the end I felt kind of lazy. I am pretty sure I skipped all the hardest parts of the pattern (face applique, tail), but this was what he wanted, and you have to give the people what they want. E was incredibly cozy on the cold, autumn day. AND I spent less than $20 for the whole ensemble. Thanks Joann's! 

Speaking of Halloween and cold weather, what's the point dressing little girls in princess costumes? They either end up freezing, or they have to wear a jacket over their gown! I guess having a warm Halloween is one benefit of living in the southern half of the country.

Costume 2014 / Costume 2013
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