2016 Reading, By the Numbers

Get ready for a slew of year end posts! Tis the season, I suppose. First up are some stats on this year's reading:

2016 books read: 51 
(for comparison purposes: 2015: 52, 2014: 40, 2013: 62)

Male authors: 25
Female authors: 25
Compilations: 1

Fiction: 39
Nonfiction: 12
Memoirs/autobiographies/biographies: 7

Classics: 7

Novels set primarily abroad: 13

Books taught: 7

Books for book club: 4

Graphic novels: 1

Audiobooks listened to: 11

Books Purchased: 41(ish)

Books that would earn 2 stars or less: 3

Thoughts on the Matter

I am a tiny bit disappointed that I read just one little book less than last year, but considering how busy I was at work and at home the fact that I still managed to finish an average of 4.25 books a month is probably something be a little proud of. I would like to read more books set internationally next year, as well as nonfiction texts. As a whole, though, I am pleased with the scope of my reading and the fact that out of 51 books I only was really unhappy with 3 of them. 

Beauty Products I'm Loving

I know, I know, I'm not a beauty blogger (not even close), but I like to occasionally post about products I'm loving. For some reason my husband and son don't like to discuss these things with me. So, to share the wealth, here are a few things that are saving my skin right now in the cold, dry temps:

Giorgio Armani Liquid Silk Foundation
Previous to this bottle, I had used this brand's Designer Lift line, and it was fine but I kept hearing rave reviews about the Liquid Silk version so when my bottle ran I out I bought this one instead. As it turns out, it's worth every damn penny and is much better. My skin looks smoother and more uniform than it ever has. I'll use this stuff as long as they make it.

Philosophy When Hope is Not Enough
I have super dry skin and it's been really bad lately, so I returned to Philosophy after many, many years of using Cetaphil. A little bit goes a long way and my skin's flakiness and dullness was gone within two nights of using this cream.

It's a 10 Miracle Leave In Conditioner
I also have dry hair that has been colored and heat-styled for years, so this little bottle has brought back a ton of moisture lately. My stylist used it last time I was in and I was shocked at the change in texture it provided. 

Trader Joe's Coconut Body Butter
My skin is basically impossible to moisturize in the winter (I can't imagine if I lived somewhere that was actually cold), so I picked up a tub of this stuff (less than $5!) when I was at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. I don't think it's any better at moisturizing than any other lotion I have tried but the scent and texture is the best. It isn't greasy and the smell is pleasant in the best way (not overpowering at all). 

Vaseline Lip Therapy
I know, this one is lame but my lips were trashed between the heater, being sick, and running outside. I have bought six tubes of this stuff and have stashed them in my car, every bag, my desk at work, and each bathroom. Sawyer is now obsessed as well. 

I have a Sephora gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so I'm sure I'll be back with another one of these posts soon. Sorry? 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

After a short break I am finally back! Link up, link back, say hi!

1. I took Sawyer on his first real hike today- he did almost three miles on his own, half of which was uphill. He was such a trooper and loved stopping to jump on rocks and collect little twigs. I look forward to many more in the future.

2. Kate's post on the most widely listed best-of-books is money, guys. She put it up a few weeks ago, but I'm just now catching up with life. Check it out.

3. Speaking of fellow bloggers, Brie is having her baby today! Stop by and wish her luck. Rory had a little one recently, too. You girls are all drinking the same water... 

4. It's so nice to be off for many, many reasons, but being able to cook legitimate dinners that require actual time has been downright satisfying. Last night I made this Roasted Tomatillo Chicken Enchilada Casserole last night (an old favorite of ours, but a bit labor intensive with all the roasting and food-processing) and tomorrow I am going to brave Slow Cooker Cabernet Beef Short Ribs with Mascarpone Polenta (as long as my bag of uncooked polenta arrives from Amazon on time, since my grocery store was out...). 

5. I don't usually get sentimental about celebrity deaths- I'm too emotionally detached to get super sad about people I don't know. But Carrie Fischer? Damn. Too soon.

6. After doing book talks with my students the week before finals, I was convinced by several students to read The Glass Castle, The House on Mango Street, and A Long Way Gone, all books I should have read but do not. 

7. I am currently about 70 pages into Brit Bennett's debut The Mothers and am thoroughly loving sassy Naomi and the intricacies of the Upper Room Chapel. 

8. I have to admit to being a little sad about packing away Christmas. This year was one of the best yet- having a toddler that is incredibly excited about every little aspect just makes the holidays that much better. We've had a lot of fun and it's been really special to see everything through his eyes.

9. I just finished listening to Lauren Graham's memoir Talking as Fast I Can and, in honor of Princess Leia, will start Carrie Fischer's The Princess Diarist next. Graham's was incredibly fun and super high nostalgia wise for Gilmore Girls lovers like myself.   

Nonfiction Nagging: Hillbilly Elegy

By about nine the night of the election I was sitting on the floor with a glass of wine, Halloween candy, glued to my phone in disbelief. Two hours later I was in bed, in tears, wondering what would come of our nation, economy, and global position. I'm still devastated and truly fearful for many populations, and even my position as a public school educator, considering certain cabinet appointments. Nonetheless, I am generally not a complainer (exception: sleep deprivation), so I started thinking about things I could personally do. I made my sporadic donations to Planned Parenthood monthly. I bought Sawyer nearly $100 worth of books on diversity so that I could start age-appropriate conversations with him now. I made my students aware that my class was a safe place and I gave them opportunities to write to vent their feelings, one way or another. I also worked to educate myself and adjust my thinking, which included becoming better versed on things like the filibuster (clinging to that sucker), the actual powers of the president (more limited than some think), and current policies that might impact my students are aren't in the country legally. I watched TED Talks, I read articles, and I tried hard to be empathetic. I also picked up a copy of J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy in an attempt to understand where those in the Midwest and South were thinking when they voted their typical red way. 

I'm not sure if I really learned anything factually new, but Vance's voice was likable and I rooted for him throughout. We know that the areas in question are predominantly uneducated, poor, proud, plagued by addiction, highly religious, pessimistic, and just plain desperate. Vance talks about how they are quick to blame the government for their misfortunes, but are slow to commit to steady jobs or providing stable home environments for their families. Vance is a product of the system and while he is sympathetic to the plight of the region, he also doesn't sugarcoat the fact that he holds them responsible for not pushing themselves to change. He also points out the cyclical nature of poverty, debt, minimal education, abuse, neglect, and all the other afflictions that plague these so-called "hillbillies." 

One thing that this did reinforce for me, though, was that I live in a bubble. Sure, I grew up in a household that struggled financially for almost my whole childhood, dealt with a father who was bipolar and ended up killing himself, had to help with my mom with my siblings in excess, and saw others in my household cope in various negative ways with our circumstances. But now? I have an advanced degree, a savings account, like-minded friends, and am in charge of my life. I am also white and live in California. I like my bubble and am incredibly thankful for it, but it limits my perspective. I have never lived in a home where abuse (physical, emotional, or of substance) is the regular. I have always seen the value of education and was never prevented from pursuing whatever my heart desired. I have never taken out a payday loan or had to sell my belongings to pay a utility bill. I have never spent excessive amounts of time with people who are racist. This book reminded me that there are so many factors that contribute to how people think and how powerful circumstance and environment is. If you have lived in a family that has endured generational poverty, haven't been fortunate enough to benefit from familial stability, didn't graduate from high school, and have turned to drugs then your way of thinking is going to be far different from mine. 

It's hard. 

But the next four years will be hard, and even harder if we don't stop to consider the opinions of others. And that goes for folks on both sides of the aisle. 

So, please, read Hillbilly Elegy, no matter where you're at politically. Sure, JD Vance's position is unique and he might not be the most authentic voice for all hillbillies (he was incredibly smart, had grandparents that constantly saved his family, and had it in him to eventually attend Yale Law), but still, the thought-provoking nature of the memoir is plenty.

A Christmas Weekend

Christmas is over. Womp womp womp. This holiday season flew by this year, partially because I so busy and partially because of a bad cold/double ear infections that zapped some of my energy for a week. It was still so much fun, though, and this weekend was icing on the cake. Saturday we took Sawyer to see Sing in the theater and then I did a ton of baking. And yesterday we stayed home and my brother joined us later for dinner. Now that we don't travel for the holidays like we used to, we are pretty steadfast in our insistence on just staying home (it's awesome). Here are some of our highlights:

[I don't decorate like crazy, but I love this little shelf]

[Sawyer will miss our tree terribly]

[the definite star of the morning- a train table!]

[I've been running outside! Twice in three days]

[the best sugar cookies ever- and I had a helper!]

[it's been quite chilly for Southern California]

[my husband knows me well- books for Christmas]

[the sides are the best- so that's all I made for Christmas dinner]

[I have gotten some quality reading in this weekend- finally]

Merry and Bright

I am happily on Christmas break now, so there will be posts comin' at you soon! In the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy, safe, relaxing holiday. 

Fun Find

This popped up on my Facebook Feed and I knew I needed it (at $35 with a 10% discount for signing up for emails it would make an affordable last minute gift for a book lover, too!):


Pop Chart Lab has created a list of 100 books we all "should" read and you get to scratch off the cover when you've covered that title. I'll probably put it in my classroom behind my desk somewhere (hello, tax write off) so that the kids can use it for book recommendations as well. I'm sure I'll disagree with some of their choices, but the whole thing just seems like a lot of fun. I can't wait until I have time so that I can look at all the other cool things they have on their site! 


Prescriptions taking: two

Papers to grade: a million

Presents to wrap: two healthy-sized stacks

Holiday outings to partake in: a few

Pages to read before Wednesday book club: 465

Christmas projects to conclude: three

Baking recipes to make: four (?)

Good nights of sleep in the last ten days: none

Work days left until vacation: five 

Nervous breakdowns had: ZERO

This is my way of saying that things have been super quiet around these parts because I am way in over my head, between work, home, and catching a nasty bug on top of everything (excellent timing, universe!). Nonetheless, though, I am in this blissful state of denial that has me thinking everything will be fine and it will all get done (maybe it's the prednisone...). So, let's go with it. I got this. Alllllllllll of it. 

Those that were looking to participate in Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts last Wednesday, I apologize! I had a fever and went to bed at a super-geriatric time of night... I'll be back next week with the link-up! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hey!

1. An old student stopped by the other day, one who I only had for a little while a few years ago, and she said that recently dropped a ton of cash at the bookstore on titles I had recommended. OHMYGOD SOMEONE HAS LISTENED.

2. Recently one of my friends and colleagues kindly bought Sawyer something and I mentioned to another one of my friends that I felt bad because I feel like I am never spontaneously thoughtful enough. She looked at me like I was crazy and listed some things to prove I was wrong. Her thoughtfulness about my underestimated thoughtfulness made my day. I am so lucky to surround myself with kind people. 

3. The other night I had a dream that I was going to IB training for work in Iran (but of course!) but got stuck in Turkey and was having trouble leaving because my tickets were wrong, but they weren't and I had no reason whatsoever to be in Istanbul- it didn't say it on any of my boarding passes. I think all my dreams can just be interpreted such that I have control issues.

4. Important reminder lesson based on extensive social media observations: parents embellish their children's developmental milestones like crazy ("so and so was potty trained at xx months" when you know it was more like xx, or "so and so could read by two and a half" when you know that would be really unrealistic based on, you know, cognitive development theories). It's fine, parents are proud, but using their posts for comparison purposes is stupid. *ahem, self, ahem*

Who am I kidding? Sawyer is two and a half, can read Tolstoy, knows how to drive a stick shift, and is fairly proficient at Mandarin (!). 

5. I know this is probably lame, but I have started using the guided breathing on my Fitbit at night and it has helped me go to sleep so much faster. Maybe because it's really effing boring laying there in the dark matching your breathing to circles. Nonetheless, I'll take it. 

6. Speaking of my beloved Fitbit, I have also started using it to count calories this week. I used to use something else sporadically, but I have found that since I have my Fitbit app open all the time to obsessively check data, this is easy. Pros: it allows you to set weight goals and sets up your calorie allowances based on this, it matches your burned calories to consumed calories, and the charts are handy. Cons: there isn't data for macro and micro nutrients, which is actually a huge disadvantage (200 calories of something nutrient-dense like quinoa and veggies is way different than a candy bar). 

7. How are there only two more weekends before Christmas? Augh! This weekend we are going to take Sawyer to Downtown Disney to check out the decorations and people ice skating and then Sunday is my husband's birthday so will probably go out to lunch or something along those lines. I'd also like to bake and eat my body weight in Christmas cookies and have to find time to grade a few hundred papers.

8. I need to start rereading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Shadow of the Wind asap for book club. I have a hard time getting motivated to reread things, but I am also a diehard "you must finish/reread the book before book club" rule follower. I read it a really, really long time ago, but I do remember loving it so very much. I'm sure I'll be happy I had a second time around.

9. Scott took Sawyer's Christmas card pictures the other night and they turned out SO CUTE. He has a beard covering his face (spoiler alert, haha), so maybe I'll bend the rules and post one. They're that great. 

December, Plus November, Revisited


It's six in the morning and I am the only person up in my house- Sawyer woke me up at 5:30 to tell me that a hangnail hurt and then went back to sleep (seriously), but I couldn't settle myself back down. Sigh. So, here we are. What better time for some quiet blogging? Or something like that... I am a few days late on this post, but that's because December is in full swing here! Before I talk about my goals for December, let's revisit November. If you're new around here, I use these posts as a way to keep myself accountable for being happy, productive, healthy, and sane. 


1. Watch 10 TED Talks- Yes! Finally! I'll be doing a post on my favorite ones soon.

2. Not screw up Thanksgiving- Yes! I think, in terms of the food, this was my best one yet. I made a few subtle tweaks (between the brine and cooking my turkey upside it literally fell of the bone it was so moist... yup, still hate that word), as opposed to trying anything crazy new, and it was for the best.

3. Track core workouts- Nope! I will revisit this one soon.

4. Run a 5k I'm happy about- Yup! I ran one at UCLA a few weeks ago and I was able to run the entire time, despite the hilly campus. I will never be fast, but I was consistent and was even able to kick it into high gear for the last quarter of a mile.

5. Attempt to potty train my kid (but be okay if it doesn't work out this time around): Yes! We worked on it during Thanksgiving break and he was doing decently, but then had some tummy troubles for a few days that weren't conducive to the process and then, just like that, break was over. Christmas vacation is coming soon, so we will try again then. He's a little boy and he is barely two and a half, so I am not sweating it. 

6. Christmas shopping started: Yup! And almost done!


1. Stay 90% on track with my grading calendar- The semester ends on the 23rd and I have every single day mapped out in terms of what I need to grade to get it all done and not have an Everest-sized pile waiting for me during finals week. So far I have been on it!

2. Run an average of three times a week- (Or 13 times this month) Things have been a little inconsistent in the work out category for me, since I've been so busy. I need to remember that a twenty minute run in better than nothing at all.  

3. Finish my 2016 year-in-review book- This is going to be quite the feat, since the only work I have done on it has been uploading my January pictures to the site I use. They usually have really great deals for the New Years, though, so I need to catch up so I can take advantage.

4. Send out our Christmas cards- My husband will hopefully get the pictures taken and edited today, I can order the cards tonight or tomorrow, and then send them out by like the fifteenth. It's later than normal, but that's life.

5. Enjoy the season- I want to make sure we do a lot of fun Christmasy stuff, but also have time to enjoy being at home together and with the house I just finally decorated. 

November Reviews

Happy December! I have never really been a Christmas person, but this year I'm excited. I am also extremely excited for December 23 when I will be off work for sixteen days and will hopefully read a few books. Meanwhile, here are November's reviews:

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
571 pages
In Foer's third novel he writes about the Bloch family, comprised of Julia, Jacob, and their three sons. Their imploding marriage is paralleled by a catastrophic earthquake in the Middle East; each faces a disastrous event (Julia's discovery of some scandalous texts between her husband and another woman, the Middle East a series of earthquakes), and then the need to process, cope, and recover. Both the Bloch's and Israel must reassess who they are and what they want long term; decisions must be made regarding a course of action. It's definitely a character study, though, and one that spans decades, which I know isn't everyone's cup of tea. It's also raw and graphic at times, which can be uncomfortable but is still some people's reality. People masturbate, die, are obsessed with computer games, text or say ridiculously sexual things at times, and deal with constantly defecating dogs. 

Verdict: I enjoyed this book; after eleven years Safran can still write fiction. There were some issues; I thought the pacing at the end was a bit sloppy and I wished for more time devoted to certain characters. I also thought his young sons were a bit too articulate, thoughtful and informed, but I guess you could make the whole nature/nurture argument. I think that this is a departure from his other works, though, both in length and even content, and I know that's not what some readers are looking for. 

I think part of the reason this book appealed to me is that I am well aware of the risks you take in your marriage when you have kids- Julia's section most acutely connects to this motherhood conundrum. You want your children to come first, but you have to be so careful or you can easily lose track of yourself (and marriage) in the daily rigamarole of domesticity. 

I also appreciated the look at Judaism and religion in general; he did not wear rose-colored glasses by any means- the inner-conflict was palpable. But there was still this sense of duty, obligation, and connection that I myself don't have to a belief system. I am not interested in feeling this way personally, but I find faith on a psychological and anthropological level interesting.  

*I had wanted to do a whole post on this beast, but... life. 

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington
286 pages
I am going to review this one in more detail this weekend, so I'm going to cheat a little and just say that this self-help sort of book is about, well, how to sleep.

Verdict: I appreciated the solid science research, but was bored by the history of sleep and some of the more obvious tips. Again, more to come.

"Master Harold"...and the boys by Athol Fugard
60 pages
This is my third time (for work) reading Fugard's play about a South African white young man and his relationship with two of his parents' employees, Sam and Willy. Hally struggles with race, his relationship with his parents, and what kind of man he will grow into. 

Verdict: I love the simplicity of no acts, one setting, and really just three characters. The story is about a "world without collisions" and whether or not the true nature of humanity is conducive to living without conflict. 

917 pages

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back say hey!

1. I have revolutionized my way of living- I made a grading calendar. Why have I not done this before? I assign certain assignments to myself to grade and input each day so that things are now in much more manageable chunks. I'm still behind, but feeling like I am only responsible for so much on each day helps. I'm on day three and I'm actually ahead. 

2. Sawyer sleeps a million times better than he used to and since the time change he has been sleeping later in the morning to (he used to wake up before he needed to and now he's barely stirring as I go in to get him). Unfortunately, after crappy sleep for a few years now I can barely go two or three hours straight without waking up or becoming very restless. I don't want to take anything medicinal because I still need to be conscious in case he needs me and I typically end up really groggy when I have taken things in the past. After reading The Sleep Revolution and doing some additional research I found that tart cherry juice is a natural producer of melatonin and that some studies have shown it's effectiveness as a natural sleep aid. Last night I drank two ounces an hour before bed and slept for almost five hours straight. I don't know if it's a fluke, but I will definitely be trying it for a few weeks to see if it works. I have the data from by Fitbit to help me out, which I know isn't perfect but it's a least good for comparison reasons.

3. Speaking of my Fitbit, my husband got me the Charge 2 for my birthday and it's so much better than the Flex. It's not too big and the information it provides is a dream come true. 

4. I just started Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and am so far really interested. I thoroughly acknowledge the fact that I am comfortable and happy in my liberal, progressive, Californian bubble and need to see how others live in the US. 

5. This weekend we are in full Christmas mode! Friday night we are putting up the tree and Saturday I am taking Sawyer to a Breakfast with Santa event at Pretend City in Irvine. That night we are going to head to The Mission Inn in Riverside to check out their huge light display and then on Sunday we'll do some baking and more decorating. There are only three more weekends until Christmas weekend and I work up until the twenty-third this year. Womp womp. Holidays are SO much more fun with a toddler. I used to sort of see Christmas as a means to a break (which is still great and I can't wait for), but now it's all about the fun activities we can do with him during December. 

6. Sawyer is super obsessed with BB-8 from Star Wars and has likes to say hi to the inflatable one that's on display at Target for Christmas (we go to Target very often, so this has happened numerous times). Scott and I are vehemently opposed to lawn inflatables (sorry-not-sorry), but we decided that we'd compromise and get on for the backyard so it's not visible from the front but then Sawyer can enjoy it whenever he wants from the sliding glass door. 

7. I started listening to Laurent Graham's new memoir Talking as Fast as I Can and it's been the perfect cure for the sadness following being done with all the new episodes. 

8. I know that I'm not going to Vegas for two and a half months but I am already SO excited (my mom and I are going to a concert and my brother, who is probably too young for me to keep up with in that city, might come along as well).

Thanksgiving Break

[still so proud of my lattice work]

It's been pretty quiet on the blog, but in real life this week has been busy! I am fortunate enough to have the whole week off, which thankfully sort of took the edge of the mounting stressors I'd been trying to ward off. 

So, here's a lot of pictures and a few words:

[85 going on 60- this guy is a beast]

The weekend break started we had an 85th birthday party for my grandfather in Brea. My brother and his girlfriend drove to my house and we drove to Orange County together, which made the drive more enjoyable. There were lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins there, so it was nice to catch up and for them to see crazy Sawyer. We also hit up Chelo's Creamery on the way back in The City of Industry, which is one of the few places that that has rolled ice cream. It was good, but I think it's more of a novelty thing that will fizzle out.

The next morning my brother, his girlfriend, and I drove up to UCLA to do a 5k that is a charity run for The Special Olympics. This year it ended rivalry week with USC, so when you sign up you pick a school and your fees are in their pot, adding a layer of team competition to it. I ran it about thirty seconds or so faster than my goal, so I was definitely pleased. And, despite the numerous hills, I ran the entire time and had no pain, so I definitely entertained some half marathon fantasies on the way home.

I was able to see many friends while off, which made things even better. A good friend and I have the same birthday, so we left our little guys at home with their dads and had breakfast the weekend before. I met another friend with her little girl for lunch, got to spend a few hours with our friends from out of town that came home for the holidays, and then was lucky enough to see a few students-turned-friends. 

[chicken and waffles for breakfast; I think I need to try ones with better chicken...]

After talking Santa up extensively, I took Sawyer to see him the day before Thanksgiving. We rehearsed it many times:

Me: What are you going to say when you see Santa?
Sawyer: Hiiiii.
Me: And then you can stand by him and when they take a picture what do you say?
Sawyer: Cheeeeeese.
Me: And then what?
Sawyer: M&Ms
Me: Yeah!

I got this parenting thing in the bag. Obviously. It worked and I have an adorable picture of him, smiling, holding his own stuffed little Santa that he insisted taking next to the real deal. 

There was lots of food. Like "afraid to step on the scale" lots of food. It's Thanksgiving. What can you do?

As previously mentioned, I hosted Thanksgiving, which meant two days of cleaning and cooking. Everything turned out well and my oven burns are minimal, so we'll call it a win.

I finished Jonathan Safran Foer's book, Here I Am, which I enjoyed for various reasons and will discuss soon. I am also about half way through Arianna Huffington's nonfiction, The Sleep Revolution, and I am fairly confident my brain is turning to mush because of my horrible sleep situation. I somehow miraculously watched the entire four episodes of the new Gilmore Girls, and the ending made wanting more. I ran, I cross stitched, I graded far too few papers.

So, tomorrow we head back into the final four weeks of the semester and I am determined to jump back on the productivity train that I was riding before break started, so that it's not two in the morning the night before grades are due and I'm in the fetal position weeping. Because that would never happen.  

I'm also excited to get Christmas going around here! I had wanted to put up our tree today, but Sawyer napped late and I was trying to get things tied up. Next weekend will be Christmas-heavy, so, see above comment on me getting it together. ASAP.

Hope everyone had a  great holiday! 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hey!

1. Thanksgiving prep is in full force, over here, so things will be a tad shorter than normal. I am hosting my husband's parents and his sister's family of four, plus our three and my brother. I have done far, far bigger, so while I still need to make sure the house is clean and the food is made this isn't too crazy. I am doing the turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and then pumpkin and apple pies. It makes sense for the host to do the first three things, and the others I don't mind (I love making pie, actually). Right now the bread has been dried and cubed for the stuffing and there is a pie crust mixing as we speak. There are still a few more things to do... ha. 

2. Some subtle things I am doing differently: making extra pie crust to attempt fanciness, seasoning the heck out of the bread crumbs prior to drying, adding in a mac and cheese dish, and using a new brining recipe for the turkey. I'm also going to take a run up a long, tall, hill before the morning kicks off, so I might die before all of this can come to fruition. 

3. I am trying to push through the last season of The Gilmore Girls before Friday and I don't think it's going to happen in time. I'm horrible at binge watching- I've gotten through six episodes in the last two months, but it's not like I've never seen them before.

4. My new obsession: following super-talented embroidery artists on Instagram. I follow very few strangers/celebrities/places, but their work is truly inspiring so I am making an exception.

5. A few food bloggers, like Joy the Baker, have started "Coobook Clubs" and I am soooooo jealous. Basically, they get together with a group of friends and divide up recipes from the same cookbook and have themselves a dinner party with all new-to-them dishes. Someday, one day, eventually, I will make this happen in my life, with my friends.

6. I got a flu shot for the first time ever on Monday (I know, I'm horrible, but I just put it off... Sawyer always gets his, though!) and my arm is sore, has a huge bump underneath, and is start to get a bruise the size of golf ball. But of course. It's worth it, right? 

Have a lovely Thanksgiving, guys! Remember, it's one thing to shout your gratefulness out on social media, but make sure to do something about it. Donate to charities! Call your grandma! Give that person that irritates you a tad a compliment. Nonetheless, enjoy and eat!


Once in awhile I post about things I'm loving- gotta share the wealth, right? Here's a hodgepodge of things I'm slightly obsessed with right now:

Oversized Coffee Cups 

Target has super cute, affordable ones, but I always like the occasional Anthropologie splurge. I picked the "C" one up with my 15% off birthday coupon this month:


ASICS Gel Kayano-22 Running Shoes

I still regret my temporary leave from ASICS. These shoes are made for my flat, over-pronating, deformed feet- I feel like I am walking on a cloud. I haven't even moved over my orthotics from my old Mizunos back to these.

Reese's Stuffed with Pieces

Move over Hi-Chews, there's a new, fattier, more delicious, favorite candy around here.

Target's Christmas Line

Sawyer and I have a problem... Target has the CUTEST Christmas decorations this year. Most of our purchases have been $10 or less (the ornaments for $3 are perfect for the bottom 1/3 of my tree where they at risk for toddler hands and large dog tails), but this little guy did find a new home:


Albero Spanish Rose from Trader Joes

Obviously this isn't one I recommend to my readers under 21... But, anyway, if you are old enough to drink, this is super cheap from Trader Joe's, but it's good after dinner on the couch while trying to keep your eyes open for an episode of Gilmore Girls. Let me add that I am no wine connoisseur. At all. 

Your Daily Mix from Spotify 

I am late on the Spotify train- my husband subscribed and he signed me up sort of against my will and now I LOVE it. I noticed these mixes based on your recent listens and they're a great way to hear favorite songs and discover new ones (like Empire of the Sun, who I am loving for running).

Top Ten Tuesday- Thankful

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie related to Thanksgiving, so I'll just stick to some bookish things I am grateful for:

1. Escapism: Sometimes life really sucks and it's nice to have something to escape into. Sometimes life is really awesome and it's still nice to have something to escape into.

2. A shared language: I love discussing books with people- my husband, my colleagues, my students, my friends. 

3. Buying them: There is always, always a thrill that comes with purchasing new books, whether they arrive on my doorstep or I pick them up at the store. It doesn't even matter that I won't get to them, most likely, for months.

4. Learning: You can of course learn a great deal about humanity and culture from from fiction, but I also love the educational power of a well-read non-fiction text.

5. Travel and exploration: Books let you try out new destinations and hobbies before committing. 

6. Reading with my son: I love that Sawyer loves books and we read every single day at least once. It has helped develop his vocabulary and has already been a vehicle for teaching him important things.

7. Cognitive benefits: Countless studies have shown that reading helps your brain stay active and sharp for years to come.

8. Readings: While I don't get to attend nearly enough anymore, I love attending author events. Hearing the rationale behind the writing process and seeing the people behind the books is the best.

9. A Career: There are days my job drives me crazy, but my love of reading was one of the primary reasons that I became a teacher. Sure, I made a pit stop teaching elementary first, but I always knew I'd be a high school English teacher. And here I am.

10. Lessons in empathy: Readers are generally more empathetic people; reading allows us a glance into the psyche of others that are different than us, allowing empathy to be developed. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[oh what? It's 70 degrees? Clearly sweats weather]

Hi there. Link up, link back, say hey!

1. I am reading Jonathan Safran Foer's newest book and at one point the characters' lives are described as a sort of intro for a script. It made me think, what would my home and life be described like? It's sort of disturbing, but also fascinating. How do outsiders see us? Our dwellings?  

2. Speaking of the book, Here I Am, I am about half way through and am liking it. I know that there is a pretty wide range of opinions on it, but so far I'm not regretting my choice.

3. If we're going to be honest, I am having a hard time getting out of  my post-election funk. But here's the thing- I don't necessarily want to be done with it. I am not okay with the fact that I have students who are fearful for their families, friends who are worried about being mistreated because of their race or sexual identities, and family members nervous about the future of their disability/social security/insurance. When we become complacent we might as well become accepting.

4. Some ass stole my credit card number over the weekend and now I am waiting around for a new card. It's so annoying and I feel like there is a hole in my heart right now. I am also waiting on my new driver's license. If neither come soon I will have to start using... what's that word again? Oh yes. Cash. Or the bartering system, I guess. 

5. I had a very detailed dream the other night that me, my mom, and my sister were in Vegas and I hand't made hotel or restaurant reservations ahead of time and there was nothing available. I was frantic in my dream and I woke up very disturbed. What does it mean? I never, ever, ever fly be the seat of my pants when it comes to travel or fine-dining. I obviously must be having control issues... What else is new? Ha.

6. I took Sawyer to get a flu shot today and he took it like a champ. He hasn't cried for a shot since his newborn days, but given his growing opinion on life in general, I wasn't sure how he would react. He glared at the lady, said "ow," got up, told her "bye bye" and then bent down to kiss his thigh where the shot was as we walked down the hall. 

7. I just finished rereading Athol Fugard's "Master Harold"... and the boys for work (I promise I am punctuating that correctly, it's a stylistic nuance of importance, if anyone is concerned) and my students seemed to appreciate the cultural relevance today, despite the book being set in 1950s South Africa. 

8. I am glad Rory reminded me to pick up Hillbilly Elegy- I need to understand...

9. I am trying to buckle the eff down this week and grade essays like a crazy woman. I think I have gotten somewhere over 100 done in 2.5 days and tomorrow I might have to head to Starbucks after Sawyer is in bed to finish what I wanted to before Friday, since that is the start of our Thanksgiving break (ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod it's almost heeeeeeere). I won't be caught up, but I had a goal and I want to make it, dammit.

10. 75% of Target shopping trips end in Christmas decor being bought. It's totally Sawyer's fault.