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Reading on the Go!

I started this post a few weeks after my wedding. I thought that I might share a couple of my pre-wedding reads (none of them had anything to do with weddings) and then 4 months passed. Even though that whole concept doesn’t make sense anymore I’m doing it anyway. I’ve also started graduate school (while working full time- my classmate from Germany says I’m crazy), and  I’ve managed to cram a few books in. Basically, everything I read was worth the time. Saying that, I didn’t want to just brush them off and just list them on the 2015 Bookshelf. Here are some short reflections on my reads.

Pre-Wedding Reads:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony DoerrAll the Light

I’m making my husband read it. He’s going to read it and he is going to love it. This book was beautiful to read. I’m a huge fan of World War II novels and Doerr did not disappoint. He crafts his book just as the locksmith crafted the neighborhoods for his daughter, with care and attention. While the novel starts off at a leisurely pace, the lives of these strangers begin to collide and the reader will be completely engrossed until the end. Yes, some parts read slow but push through because it really is worth it.

Boss

Bossypants by Tina Fey

This book really helped me get my head on straight before the big day. Tina made me laugh, cry (from laughing), and think (while laughing). The book isn’t so much a continuous memoir as it is a collection of stories. Tina’s thoughts and experiences presented me with a new lens to view my own accomplishments and goals through. Afterwards, I felt a lot more confident about where I am and where I’m heading. Sometimes, you just have to do it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingMindy

Mindy is as big of a Tina Fey fan as I am. She hilariously compares the two of them throughout her book, but reading them side by side unveiled how different they truly are. Both women are very humorous, resourceful, and intelligent. Mindy’s memoir, however, has a lot more pause for her analysis of a situation. It’s more organized and thoughtfully conceived. While still funny, Mindy has an undertone that makes you take everything with a grain of, what I call, serious salt.

BloggessLet’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

I’m going to see her and it’s going to be incredible. Jokingly, I refer to Jenny Lawson as my spirit animal. Throughout the novel I’d wake up my husband to read him sections. He would nod, respond with, “She’s you!” and promptly return to dreamland. Her perspective is one of a kind. I particularly recommend this to my friends battling chronic illness. It’s not too hard on the brain but is incredibly inspiring and funny. Lawson is a well-known blogger who has her own health struggles. Her humor inspires me to wake up and start fresh. Her second book, Furiously Happy just hit the shelves, so if you love her there’s more to read.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret AtwoodHandmaid

This is one of those books that I never had assigned in high school and also never came across in college (but should have read independently at some point). Basically, it needed to be checked off my list. After my reading I can definitely see how this would have caused a stir when it was published, and some parts of the story still call forth foreboding feelings. It’s well written and I don’t think it could have ended any other way. The ending was just right and I do recommend taking this novel for a spin. It wasn’t my favorite but it was valuable.

Everything Else:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, book 1) by Tana French

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My mind was blown. Not only was the case complex and challenging but the perspective was raw with characters and their relationships evolving radically throughout the novel. Part of the stark perspective stemmed from the personality of the first-person narrator who filters the entire experience. Be warned, this novel is very murky and very realistic. The language is also dense and incredibly well-crafted. French’s style is unable to be replicated. It’s not to be picked up for a bit of light reading.

Would you like a summary of my Macroeconomics textbook? Because it’s ruling my life right now and that’s what else I’ve read.

Okay, I lied, I did manage to get in Bardach’s 8 Steps (which I do highly recommend if you’re interested in public policy).

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Giving a Voice to Invisible Illness

I participated in this incredible project where a group of individuals across the United States and Canada read a poem. We tried to shed a little light on the invisible illnesses, diagnosed and undiagnosed, that we deal with every day. You can learn a little more about each of us here. Many thanks to Leah Holstein (who has a second blog about all things Disney because she’s awesome) and Catherine Richardson for crafting the poem and bringing us all together.

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If Anything Else Breaks…

How I would typically describe my job: Rarely boring or mundane.eow

Now, the fact that I don’t get bored is a major bonus. If there’s one thing that makes me cranky and irritable, it’s boredom. I have a list of things I want to do rather than sit on my ass staring at a white wall for 8 hours, so if I’m at work I want to be doing something. In this respect, my facilities job is absolutely brilliant for my personality. One day is never identical to the next (this isn’t to say we don’t have our down time- I’m pretty sure I could have gone screaming Christmas carols down the hall on Christmas Eve and nobody would have heard me), but it’s still contained in an organized combination of tasks, which I then create lists and spreadsheets for. It really appeals to the crazy organized side of me. Can you say color coding? However, there are days, days when I’d really like to take all of my beautifully organized and labeled folders and CHUCK them at the next thing that breaks. Or the roach I just saw crawl across the floor. But that’s why I write. So I don’t get roach guts on my folders.

The Week of the Urinals: Have you ever had a multi-floor urinal clog? It’s not pretty. Flooding is involved and a lot of cleaning is required. It makes your typical clog look like a walk through the park and suddenly Drain-O just isn’t cutting it. Call in the big guns.

clog

Code Name Mr. Jingles: There be mice. And roaches. They might be in your kitchen or cubicle. We apologize but alas there’s a bulldozer destroying The Everything outside, so they’re going to come in here. It’s also below freezing, where would you run?

Calling for Comfort: This is a constant struggle but you have 2 options. Would you prefer Dante’s Inferno or the Arctic Tundra. Your choice.

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Cry Me a River: No, really. There’s a river coming from the kitchen down the hallway. I’d recommend lifting your feet and potentially rowing your way to a pal’s office.

The Great Flood: Your wall looks a little wet. That’s because our neighbors upstairs have an overflowing toilet and it’s dripping down the walls. 4 floors worth of them, but don’t worry there won’t be any mold. At least, none that you can see.

Every day is an exciting new adventure and I promise I never laugh at your misfortunes. Okay, maybe I laugh a little bit, but it’s not my fault. Schadenfreude is a real thing.

ul

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In Spite of the Day

twyk

Throw what you know!

So lately, I’ll admit it, I’ve been feeling a little empty inside. Yes, I’m happy and busy working, applying to go back to school, planning a wedding, and keeping my animals from destroying our home. But it still feels like there’s something missing. I feel like everything I’m doing is just for me, and maybe my fiance, but the point is that everything is circling around my universe. It’s strange. In college I connected with so many organizations where I could volunteer through Phi Sig, my sorority.

Most of my volunteer work was with Camp Kesem (shout out to CK GW!!), which is an AWESOME camp for kids whose parents have cancer. If you’ve never checked it out, you should. Students raise all of the funds to send these kids to camp and then staff and run the entire program. I was a counselor and let me tell you, I met some of the most amazing little human beings.

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And just like that, when I start spewing facts and stories and just getting excited, I know what’s missing. What am I saying here? I need to get out there and find a place that wants me, aiding an organization I believe in. I’ve applied to be a volunteer at a local shelter (shout out to Operation Paws for Homes!) and am so excited to get started this week. I actually discovered them along with a bunch of other fantastic organizations on Great NonProfits. You can check out what’s in your area and get involved. I was personally torn between a program for veterans and an animal rescue. The veterans organization I found was really incredible and focused around therapeutic fishing, which (if you’re interested) you can check out here. However, Since I know absolutely zero about fishing, I thought I’d probably be a source of frustration rather than any sort of aid. I think I’ll have to stick with donating to Wounded Warriors and helping the FRG whenever possible.

What sparks your interest?

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I’m Tired and I Don’t Want to Cook!

From the time I leave my front door in the morning to the time I get back, approximately 11 hours have gone by. The temptation to give in and dial that handy dandy delivery number is so tempting. It probably doesn’t help that my natural cooking abilities are limited to putting noodles in water and boiling. My fiance has most definitely suffered from my attempts at “gourmet” cooking, aka the balsamic green beans gone wrong.
pan

So here’s what I have! A short list of tips that have pushed me into cooking more and dialing my favorite Indian restaurant less.

1. Think Before You Buy- My fiance and I now create a list of our week’s meals before hitting the grocery aisles. A lot of times I’ll scan through the papers, see what’s on sale and create my meals off of the best deals so I’m saving money and making myself accountable for what goes in my cart. The important part is including every element. Don’t just write “chicken,” put down Italian seasoned chicken breasts with green beans. This will help you remember other items you may need to pick up in order to make the meal. No excuses.

2. Mix It Up- It’s crazy to believe that everyone has the energy every night to be Rachel Ray in the kitchen. I know I just can’t pull that off. I might add in 2 meals a week that are fairly labor intensive, sprinkle in some mid-level stuff and then always keep an easy meal within the rotation. This is absolutely key because plans are made to be foiled. By giving yourself the ability to adapt to unexpected changes you can move that eggplant parmesan to Wednesday and throw in 2 slices of fish with some chopped up potatoes and commence running around or collapsing on the couch in exhaustion until it’s done.

3. Delete Dishes & Browse Often- You could use 1 dish or 3. I’m far more inclined to cook if there’s only one dish involved. The chaos that can ensue in the kitchen is contained and the clean-up time is lessened. And that makes me happy. Look out for recipes you might enjoy on pinterest, but don’t be fooled by some of the sites that advertise their recipes as “few ingredients” and then list spices that you’ve never even heard of before and ask you to do a rain dance at precisely 5PM. Easy recipes do exist. Some of them I find online, but I’ve found quite a few in cookbooks. In fact, Cooking Light has been a GREAT resource. I highly recommend it.

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And if it takes a little wine to get dinner made…well, Wegman’s has great sales. Cheers!

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