Books I Read in November

The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick

This Christian romance book is based on the cheese-tastic movie Fireproof starring Kirk Cameron!  Silliness aside, this book takes you through 40 days of "dares" to go through, each one reminding you of a certain Biblical principle on marriage and the way to treat your spouse.  I read through this book with my Bible study girls, and we didn't let our husbands know that we were Love Daring them, which was sort of fun and sneaky.  Everyone can use a nice reminder every once in awhile of what a gift from God your marriage is and how important it is to take the time to care for it the way you must in order for it to fulfill its purpose, so it was fun to go through these dares, and I might pick it up again every few years!

Reached by Ally Condie
This is the third and final book in the Matched/Crossed series, a favorite of mine from the dystopian theme currently taking over young adult books.  I can't say too much about the plot without just spoiler-alerting the first two books, but here's what I can say:  While the first book followed only Cassia's point of view, and the second followed Cassia and Ky, this one follows all three of our main characters:  Cassia, Ky, and Xander.  I actually really enjoyed the constant changes in perspective, as the three of them were often in completely different places working on completely different missions, sometimes not even knowing where or what the others were doing.  I also just realized that I can't remember how this book ends, even though I just finished it a week ago, so that might be a good indication that I was somewhat disenchanted by the plot, but, like the previous two books, I find the prose absolutely enthralling.  It reads like poetry or a song, and the author's choices of what she includes and what she very purposefully leaves out is so intriguing.  Hey, Hollywood:  I know we're already started on the movies of Divergent, but let's do this series next!


Sewing 101: New Tutorials on Shrimp Salad Circus

My Sewing 101 series of simple-to-sew tutorials continues over on Shrimp Salad Circus! Here are the most recent three that are up and ready to make:
Two different options for pockets to add to your Super Simple Skirt!

An infinity scarf to keep your neck cozy - also a great holiday gift if you're going handmade this year!

A matching set of a hat and gloves recycled from a sweater (the sweater I used got accidentally *cough Scott put it in the dryer cough* shrunk).

Happy sewing!


The "Things We Must Do Before We Leave The City" List

Scott graduates in less than 6 months (how did four years fly by so fast?!) and so our time in New York City is drawing to a close.  We've done a good job of being both residents and tourists in this city, but now that we only have a few months until we leave, the panic of "Did we do everything we want to do?" is setting in.  We've created an NYC bucket list of all the things we've been meaning to do, and hope to get them all done in the next 6 months!

Things we've done before but want to do again:
Things we've never done but must:
  • Visit the Morris-Jumel Mansion - a bit of American history in our very own neighborhood
  • Grant's Tomb - I can't imagine I haven't at least passed by this memorial before, but just not known what it was.  I've heard it's awesome.  (edit:  did it!)
  • Saturday Night Live - Camping out all night is now my only remaining option to get these tickets... (edit: did it!)
  • Go hiking upstate - unfortunately, this will likely involve the hassle that comes with renting a car...
  • Go to Montauk
  • Kayak on the Hudson - will have to keep this one in mind for when it warms up in the spring!
  • Sleep No More - We're seeing this in the next month, I hope - just have to pick a date!  (edit:  did it!)
  • Roosevelt Island Tram (edit: did it!)
  • Please Don't Tell - shhhhhh....
Vague things that we just want to make sure to do enough of:
  • More trips out to the other boroughs (I've only been to the Bronx once!)
  • Eat at more of our neighborhood restaurants - I normally make 6 of our 7 weekly dinners, and when we go out, it's usually to celebrate with friends somewhere downtown, so we need to make it a priority to do some local eating!
  • Hang out below the numbered streets - I get scared down there without the numbers to guide me!
  • Sporting events - We'll be going to at least one more NBA game, but I'd like to hit up an MLB game too (edit:  Brooklyn Nets game)
  • Embracing New York nights - there's really nothing like being in this city well past your normal waking hours
Think we can get all this done in a mere 6 months?!  I hope so!  I'll be revisiting this list each time we get something marked off!


Mini Minnie

My co-worker's daughter is 1) adorable and 2) obsessed with Minnie Mouse, so for her second birthday this weekend, I was pretttttty excited to make her a little Minnie costume!  A mini Minnie!

I've sewn shoes for babies before, but never any clothing.  The verdict:  I might be addicted.  How are children so stinkin' tiny?!  That skirt is actually MORE than a full circle - it's a 540 degree skirt - and it still took me no more than a half yard of fabric to make it.  I CAN'T HANDLE HOW PRECIOUSLY SMALL THAT IS.

So, if you have a child that wants to be Minnie Mouse, mail me a onesie and I'll get this bundle of adorableness back to you ASAP.


Diary of a Surgery Recoverer: Back to Normal

It's taken longer than I ever expected or wanted, and I'm still feeling pain that I wish wasn't there, but this week, things went back to normal after my surgery 6 weeks ago today.

I returned to work.  I made us homemade meals for dinner.  I let my body feel tired, but I didn't let it ruin my day.  I took the train downtown and met up with friends around the city (some whom I haven't seen in many, many years) and talked and laughed and stayed longer than I expected and dreamed up plans for my future and encouraged the future dreams of others.

I'm not completely well yet, and at this point I occasionally find myself wondering if I ever will be, but more importantly, I'm catching up with life.  The healing part I'll leave in God's loving hands.

I've learned a lot of things these past 6 weeks about the way my body works and how I'm the only person who can really tell what it needs me to give to it.  I've been more bored than I ever thought possible.  October 2012 will forever be the lost month of my life, and good gracious, did I watch a lot of television.

But this morning, I cooked and baked for the Thanksgiving meal we're sharing with friends tonight (truth:  I made 4 dishes, 2 of which were utter failures).  Scott's out riding his bike, and it's a gorgeous, sun-filled day.  We watched the parade from the comfort and warmth of our couch.  I'm wearing a new sweater and I slept well last night and I like my hair today.  We've called our grandparents and told our families we love them.  And I'm thankful for all of those things, along with a million others.


Holiday Shopping - Blog Style

Amy from The Charming Blog had a pretty darn genius idea for the holidays:  She had an open call for shop owners across the blog world, and then assembled all kinds of items + discounts in one really, really cute online magazine.  See:
Look how cute!

Click here to go check it out!  Not only is it a catalog of all kinds of gifts for the holidays, it also has articles with recipes and DIYs and is just pretty adorable to look through in general.

And keep your eye out for a little Dottie Adele on page 12!

There's also a discount for my shop all month in connection with The Charming Holiday Magazine:  10% off with the code CHARMING10.

P.S.  Have you started holiday shopping yet?  Every year, I think I'm really going to get on it and be completely finished by Thanksgiving, yet here I am, not having started at all...


A Sweater and a Haircut

The good news about this sweater I just made is that it feels exactly as comfortable as it looks.  I looooove it.  Quick, simple < 2 hour project.  Win!

The best part is that the sleeves have these very, very tiny polka dots.  Actually, they aren't even polka dots; they are itsy bitsy teeny tiny zig zags.  How fun is that?!

Fabric - sweater knits from Fabric.com
Pattern - used this tutorial from Cotton & Curls 
Haircut - courtesy of myself in the bathroom mirror


Dear Dan Stevens

 Thank you for having hair that looks like that.
Thank you for loving your cousin and dancing like you did with Mary and the time you said "I could never despise you" and basically just murdering me with romance on Downton Abbey.  Also, thank you for fighting Sir Richard Carlisle that one time on the parlor floor.  It was the best/worst thing ever.
Thank you for coming to America for a Broadway run in The Heiress with Jessica Chastain who is so pretty and totally deserved your extended stage kiss (did you notice the way the entire theatre held its breath during that part?) and even with you speaking in an American accent and being somewhat of a scoundrel (maybe? - it's up for debate), I still wanted to run my fingers through that hair.

But really.  You were incredible.

(Dear Brittany, Thank you for this most perfect of pictures.)


Diary of a Surgery Recoverer: Day 32

Sitting on the couch and not on the bed...moving up in the world

At this point, a month after surgery, I'm happy to say that my life and activities are slowly returning to normal.  I can do whatever I want around the house now (except for lifting things, like the laundry basket) and I'm increasing my exercise very gradually with walks every day.  It's been confusing, to say the least, trying to figure out how much activity I can/should tolerate, but it feels like I'm healing up now.

Turns out, recovering from your recovery period is kind of brutal!  On Sunday, I did two chores:  washed some dishes for about 20 minutes, and did some ironing for about 30 minutes.  After both, I was so tired, I had to lay down for about 3 hours!  It was pretty much the same after our little Long Island trip on Saturday.  It's exhausting building your stamina back up!

In other news:

- After much internal debate, I bought Taylor Swift's Red.  It's a really sad album.  I like it, but she was really feeling lots of feelings when she put this one together.

- I finally finished The Magicians.  I still don't know how I felt about it.

- Last week's The Walking Dead destroyed me so thoroughly to my core I'm not sure I'll ever get over it.  I'm scared to watch Sunday's episode.

- Friday:  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.  I'll see it because I like to finish what I've started, but I'm ready to be finished with that craziness.

- When I'm cleared for exercise again and get the A-OK that I'm all fixed up, I think I'm going to try swimming and yoga, two forms of exercise I don't really have much experience with.  Anybody out there a swimmer?


Let's Go Flying

This weekend's mini-adventure took us to Farmingdale, Long Island, where Scott cashed in his birthday present (from July...) for a mini-helicopter lesson!  Steve from Louis Fly Academy taught him the essentials and took him up for his flight.
(Could we even have asked for a more beautiful sunny day?)
After Steve walked him quickly through the parts of the helicopter and the controls, they went up for about a 20-minute flight.  I didn't get any pictures of that because I got sent back to wait in the office (they didn't want just a random woman hanging out on the runway by herself...weird), but Scott had a great time!  We spent the train ride home discussing where we would store our future personal helicopter.
20 years from now...this will be us posing in front of our real life personal helicopter.


I Crocheted Again

Just like the last two times I attempted to knit and crochet, I went into it this project with knowledge of only the most basic stitch and no plan.  Previously I came out with two too-short scarves (though I really do wear the knitted one all the time).  This time I came out with a "scarf" that was about the size of a large potholder, so I stitched the two ends together in an attempt to make it a cowl of some kind.  Really, it's too short for that too, so let's just call this one a "neckwarmer."  And if that wasn't a thing before, it is now.
As you can see, I'm not even really sure how I can wear this thing.  However, crocheting has been a great way to pass the time during recovery, and the color of this is so pretty, so I shall endeavor to find a way to make this thing work.

P.S.  It's some really thick yarn from the Martha Stewart collection, and I really like it because it made it go so much faster!


Diary of a Surgery Recover: I Left the House!

Big news:  I have done some kind of activity outside of the house on 4 of the last 5 days!  All of them left me feeling exhausted, I had to spend hours laying down to recover from each of them, but still, after three straight weeks hardly leaving the house at all, it was needed.

FRIDAY:  My friend Lynn flew in to town from Oklahoma to run the Marathon.  Before they announced that it was cancelled, we went to the expo to pick up her race stuff.  At the time, we were so pumped!  Then about 5 hours later, the announcement came, and then we got sad.

SATURDAY:  We doubled down on Broadway shows:  Annie for the matinee, Jersey Boys for the evening!

SUNDAY:  I was really too tired to even dream of going on any downtown adventures, and Lynn wanted to run at least a little in the city, so we headed down to Riverside Park.  I laid on a blanket under the bridge and read while she clocked 6 miles.

MONDAY:  Did not leave the house.  Or the bed/couch for that matter.

TODAY:  Voting, duh.  Walked in at 10:01, walked out at 11:01 on the dot.  One hour:  not bad.

My progress in healing is much slower than I wanted or expected, but I do see a return to work in my near future!  My TV watching will surely suffer, but I guess I'm okay with that :)


Book I Read in October

I'm a little ashamed of myself for only managing to read one book in the month of October, considering that for about 2/3 of the month I've been laying in bed recovering from surgery!  I actually have started two other books (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Magicians), but just haven't found much motivation to finish them, but I'll try to power through!

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
 If I was only going to read one book, I am so glad this was the one!  Told in the form of letters written by Charlie, a high school freshman, to a mystery person that we never meet, this book (a very short read) spans his freshman year of high school and a million ups and downs within that year.  All we know is that Charlie admires this mystery person because they "didn't sleep with that person at that party when they could have."  And thus begins our look into Charlie's mind and the slightly off-kilter way that it works.

I found this book to be immensely important as a young adult novel.  It tells the story of a high school experience from a perspective that is too often overlooked.  Charlie is an outcast struggling to find his place, but as you read his personal letters you find that his struggle is unique in that it is felt so deeply it becomes dangerous.  Charlie's a weird kid:  his reaction to most situations is crying, he doesn't understand simple social constructs, he sees and experiences things but lacks the ability to comprehend them as they are happening, and yes, he's a wallflower (and one could argue probably falls somewhere on the autism scale).  But I absolutely and completely loved that Chbosky chose to put this high school experience down on paper.  It is largely opposite from my own high school experience on the surface, but the deep running feelings of confusion and loneliness and out-of-placeness are something we've all felt at least an inkling of at one point or another.

Additionally, I have wanted to read this book for a long time because it is often banned from libraries.  I wrote my senior thesis in college on the dangers of banning books from our schools, so this is an issue I feel extremely strongly about.  I once was included on an e-mail thread from a former boss discussing with a school board how Perks should be removed from the school library.  Here was the kicker:  Not one of the adults included on the thread had ever read the book.  Because they had heard that it contained mentions of child abuse, rape, masturbation, and homosexuality (without any idea of the context of those mentions), they deemed it worthy of their censorship.  I have huge issues with this that could fill a 30-page college paper (literally, as I have already written it), but here's what I concluded when I read this book:  It is a heart-breakingly beautiful depiction of a teenage boy struggling violently with personal issues and searching for a place where he can fit, and that story could not be less dangerous to a high school student. 

I've seen lots of other bloggers who have read this book and given reviews that are basically the opposite of mine, but I adored it.  If you've read it, I would love to hear your view!