Monday, January 30, 2012

"Reads Is Fun" -- 2012 Reading List

My kindergartener is learning to read. He's not there yet, but he gets closer, less frustrated, and more enthusiastic every day. It is thrilling! Another parent tipped me off to the clever and easy-without-being-stilted Elephant and Piggie beginning readers by Mo Willems. After finishing one of these readers the other day, Bub was so excited he made and handed me the sign below.
I'm keeping it forever.

For almost 37 years, reading (or being read to) has been a consistent source of joy, comfort, inspiration, knowledge, FUN and more. Because I believe most good things are even better shared, I will continue to track my reading here at NTB. Check the Booksburgh link in the lefthand column if you ever want to know what I'm reading. I update this list/post throughout the year. Once I get the site up and running, please check booksandcarbs.com if you want to know what I'm thinking about what I'm reading.

For previous years' reading lists, follow these links: 2010 List 2011 List

2012 Reading List
The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore
(hardback -- won in a blog giveaway)

Loose Diamonds ... and other things I've lost (and found) along the way by Amy Ephron
(library book)

I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections by Nora Ephron
(library book)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
(audiobook)

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe
(audiobook)

11.22.63 by Stephen King
(audiobook)

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
(hardcover)

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese
(hardcover)

Wifey by Judy Blume
(library book)

An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer
(library book)

Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler by Wade Rouse
(paperback -- won in a blog giveaway)

Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe
(ebook)

Ali in Wonderland and Other Tall Tales by Ali Wentworth
(library book)

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
(audiobook)

A Good American by Alex George
(audiobook)

Delicacy by David Foenkinos
(library book)

Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart
(ebook)

You're Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black
(library book)

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
(library book)

The Anglo Files by Sarah Lyall
(audiobook)

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche
(paperback)

The Perfectly Imperfect Home:  How to Live & Decorate Well by Deborah Needleman
(library book)

The Red Book by Deborah Copaken Kogan
(library book)

Bringing Up B├ębe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
(library book)

Arcadia by Lauren Groff
(audiobook)

Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison
(audiobook)

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margo Livesey
(audiobook)

How It All Began by Penelope Lively
(audiobook)

Julie by Catherine Marshall
(audiobook)

Old Filth by Jane Gardam
(audiobook)

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband by David Finch
(library book)

A Surrey State of Affairs by Ceri Radford
(library book)

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews
(audiobook)

The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
(audiobook)

The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
(audiobook)

A Thousand Lives:  The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres
(audiobook)

No Place Like Home: A Memoir in 39 Apartments by Brooke Berman
(library book)

Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen
(audiobook)

The Ugly Sister by Jane Fallon
(audiobook)

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey
(audiobook)

The Invitation by Anne Cherian
(library book)

Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
(hardcover)

Lucia's Progress by E.F. Benson
(paperback)

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
(library book)

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty
(audiobook)

The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
(audiobook)

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
(audiobook)

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
(hardcover)

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?  by Jeanette Winterson
(hardcover)

Some Assembly Required:  A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott
(audiobook, CDs from library)

Canada by Richard Ford
(audiobook)

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
(library book)

The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher
(audiobook)

Sense and Sensibility* by Jane Austen
(audiobook)

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag:  A Memoir of a Life Through Events -- the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert
(library book)

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
(hardcover)

Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski
(audiobook)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
(library book)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
(audiobook)

Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons:  Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox by Greg Fitzsimmons
(audiobook)

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty
(library book)

I Feel Bad About My Neck:  And Other Thoughts On Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
(hardcover)

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin
(hardcover)

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher
(library book)

Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
(playaway audio from library)

Girl Walks into a Bar ... Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle by Rachel Dratch
(library book)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
(audiobook)

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
(audiobook)

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
(library book)

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
(audiobook)

What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill
(audiobook)

Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox
(library book)

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
(audiobook)

Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld
(library book)

My New American Life by Francine Prose
(audiobook)

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
(audiobook)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
(hardcover)

Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin
(hardcover)

But I'll Be Back Again by Cynthia Rylant
(paperback)

The Blue Bistro by Elin Hilderbrand
(audiobook)

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall
(audiobook)

Northanger Abbey* by Jane Austen
(audiobook)

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
(audiobook)

The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
(audiobook)

Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures by Emma Straub
(library book)

Dinner:  A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
(library book)

Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad by Dan Zevin
(library book)

The Horse Dancer by Jojo Moyes
(audiobook)

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
(audiobook)

Lady Fortescue Steps Out (Poor Relation) by Marion Chesney
(audiobook)

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
(audiobook)

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
(audiobook)

Charlotte Fairlie by D. Stevenson
(audiobook)

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathon Tropper
(audiobook)

UPDATE on 12/31/12 -- This year's list is officially CLOSED.  I have a couple of partially-read titles, but I won't count them until I finish them ... next year.  I notice a HUGE drop-off in my reading of books in print (or ebooks) once the school year started.  Audiobooks are a lifeline for me, but I hope to read more "book books" in 2013.  Despite the fact that so many library books are on this list, I want it known for the record that I am still buying books.  I'm just not reading them since I get so many good ones from the library and then prioritize reading them before they are due.

Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks are downloads from audible.com and all ebooks are from the Kindle Store.  One of these days I will figure out how to borrow downloadable audiobooks from the library.

*indicates a re-read

Please stop back again. I welcome book suggestions in the comments. Please share what you're reading!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Flickr Ticker

Just a quick note for all the tens of longtime NTB readers. One of these days I will return to actual writing on NTB. I love Real Women of Pinterest and Pinterest-ing, but every week when I realize that I haven't posted anything at all since the last RWOP, I feel kind of sad. I just can't ever get caught up these days.

Moving along though. I made some pretty cute thank you notes for my son's birthday that involved a group photo and THANK YOU ! spelled in cool and colorful letters, printed on full sheet labels (my very favorite office supply) and then cut and stuck to cards (the blank kind you can buy at craft stores like Michaels). But all of those are sealed in envelopes. No photo evidence -- oops! The project was aided by this awesome collection of letters on Flickr that I was alerted to by several pinners. Check out the collection. Endless possibilities for what you can do with these little letters: custom name stationery, quotations, name tags, place cards, any kind of word art you can imagine. I will say that the quality of some of the images does not hold up when they are large, but there are hundreds of choices for each letter so you could probably find the right letter for any project you're envisioning. Promise you'll be a rule follower though and respect the wishes of Leo Reynolds, the person behind this Flickr collection, who asks that you not "favorite" the images or use them for commercial projects.

I can't share the real final product since it's now in the hands of the USPS, but I took a photo of two full sheet labels of letters. The top sheet was the layout I used for cutting, but I rejected that particular sheet because I tried to use "fast draft" on my printing settings and the quality suffered. I biffed on the sizing on the bottom sheet (look at the awesome quality!), but I'm sure I'll find something to do with those thank yous one day.
This next photo captures some cardstock notecards with a simple "thanks." Easy peasy.
Apologies for not making these photos horizontal, but I just didn't have it in me.

My sister LAP has stepped in once again to share a RWOP project. One of the first things I pinned in the early, heady days of Pinteresting was this link for melting your own heart-shaped, rainbow crayons. Though I continue to hoard old and broken crayons, I've never attempted the project. Some vague thoughts of hot wax and big mess seem to be stopping me. But LAP nailed it! Check out her final results ...
Her tips: Soak the crayons in warm water for several minutes before attempting to peel the labels off. When you take the crayons out of the oven, they will seem all melty and you will fear that you messed up. You haven't! Carefully, oh so carefully, take your tray of crayon molds and pop them in the freezer for about ten minutes to harden. [Note to self: make room in freezer for the molds ahead of time.]

Cheers to my sister, always spreading love!

Okay then, bloggers, please link up your Pinterest-esque projects (art, food, decor, etc.). Real Women of Pinterest everywhere who don't blog? Send me your pics so I can share them: mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

Please visit the links below for more RWOP inspiration.





Wednesday, January 11, 2012

RWOP: Do you need anybody?

Hello, is this thing on? Real Women of Pinterest, can you hear me? Truth is I don't have any of my own Pinteresting to share this week. We're still getting back in the swing of things after the holiday "break," and I'm not sure how much Pinteresting I can justify when I still haven't managed to get our tree taken down. Thanks to hubby traveling and a DVR filled with the premiere of the new season of Downton Abbey, I have started wrapping up our ornaments, but there's still a ways to go. Plus, I need to help JJ, our Elf on the Shelf, returning to the North Pole this evening, to craft a letter explaining why he hung around an extra two weeks in the same spot where he was spotted Christmas morning and reminding the kids to listen to their mom and dad, say their prayers, and be kind.

Lucky for me, I have awesome people who answered my call to share their Pinterest-inspired projects. Check them out!
First we have a fun, kid-friendly art project. The Pinteresting mom, my sister LAP who is a valued NTB contributor, wrote, "The J, N, and B are on display on the window ledge in our stairwell. ... I used painters tape to make their first letter (I was not ambitious enough nor did I have large enough canvases to do their full names). The girls painted and once the canvases dried, we peeled off the tape. Voila...masterpieces! (or something like that)." I can see this project being used with a large shape as well -- a heart for Valentine's Day, a bird because I dig them, a shamrock ...

LAP had another offering as well: "The 'est 2002' was a trial for the Popular Pinterest pin that says 'use glue and paint over using any solid color.' I just used regular old Elmer's brand, but my suggestion is perhaps doing two layers of glue? I feel like mine is a little hard to read, but I still have it hanging out on my bathroom sink next to my soap and lotion (because I know you were wondering.)" I like the idea of trying this project with an inspirational word, perhaps "enough" since that is one of my themes for the year.
A dear friend of my family has a preschooler who requested "dolls of her teachers" for Christmas. Since such dolls aren't readily available at Toys 'R Us and the like, I am so excited to share her totally awesome creative solution: photos on magnets that can be moved around on a cookie sheet. I've been jonesing to try the much-pinned cookie sheet magnet board project, but I think this project takes that to the next level. It would be fun to think about what sorts of kids activities/games could be made with magnets and cookie sheets. There are probably multiple pins of such already. Maybe next week.
Last, but surely not least, is some Pinteresting from a high school friend who is a talented photographer and a pop culture guru. Inspired by a Pinterest pin (she sent it to me, but I'm too tired for any more links right now), she crafted alphabet printables (like the one above) as holiday gifts.

By next week, I promise, the tree will be down and I'll have something cool of my own to share.

If you've done any Pinteresting, please link up below or send me pics of your projects: mep AT nottobrag DOT net.

I get by with a little help from my friends.






Monday, January 9, 2012

Enough Already, Already Enough

So I'm tearing myself away from the BCS Championship game to jump back into blogging. Such a sacrifice -- HA!

A New Year's Resolution post is a tradition here at NTB. If you fancy, you can check out my resolutions for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. Or, you can just read one of those previous resolution posts and get the gist of them all. Let's not say that I fall short of my resolutions so much as that I recognize that I am a work in progress. I'm okay with that.

Okay, I just looked up last year's post so I could do the links above and found this very quote: "I'm a work in progress, and I'm okay with that." How's that for being a broken record or, better thought, how's that for knowing myself? Last year's post (which is kind of a good one, NTB) also includes mention of Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project. And, well, wouldn't you know it, this year's resolutions are inspired by a quotation that came my way, thanks to Gretchen Rubin.

I'm signed up for daily Happiness Project Moment of Happiness emails. Each morning in my inbox, I have a thought about happiness waiting for me. The one I woke up to the day after Christmas really resonated with me:

"Enough is abundance to the wise." --Euripides

Perhaps a thought I would have been wise to ponder earlier in the month before I began the yearly attempt to try to buy, wrap, do, cook, bake, give, and enjoy it all. And, yes, sure, I have enough stuff and, thankfully, always have had. Without knowing the original context of this passage from Euripides, I'd also like to reflect upon enough as abundance in other ways as well.

As a reforming perfectionist, anxiety addict, and guilt junkie, I spent many years being hard on myself, focusing a bit too much on what else I could do, had not done yet, or could have done better. Having children has probably forced the change in me more than anything, but I am learning to believe that I'm already good enough. I'm doing the best I can and that's enough and more than enough.

I'm not talking about settling or lowering expectations or dreaming smaller so much as I am about just living ... doing what I can for now -- hoping for tomorrow and the next day while enjoying this one as much as I can. I suspect that enough is abundance for those who can appreciate their lives exactly as they are.

I can honestly say that I am happier and more content than I have been in years. I love my husband and he is truly my partner, teammate, and supporter. We have three healthy and (mostly) happy kids. After a long two years of trying and failing to sell our home (we have responsible renters in there now), we were able to move into a new home. We are slowly making it our own and are truly falling in love with the neighborhood and community that surrounds us. There is something very comforting about knowing that we are going to be right here for the foreseeable future.

This life is good. It's enough and more than enough for this moment, and I'm confident that it will expand and change as I need it to.

I wanted to make resolutions that were sort of concrete and also ones that honored the spirit of enough as abundance. And in that spirit, I am still easing into most of these.

* There's a whole house here to organize, decorate, and clean. Resolved for now: try to keep the island clear and make my bed most days. These are two tasks that I think could be a foundation for a larger "outer order leads to inner calm" plan.

* There are about fifteen or twenty pounds to be lost. Resolved for now: weigh myself every morning and record the number. Go from there.

* Try twenty new recipes this year (noted: the old MEP would have resolved something unreasonable like "try two new recipes a week" or "eliminate all carbs except whole grains" and then beat herself up/chucked the whole thing when that goal was not met).

* Feed Pinterest addiction. So, I have my notebook but Pinterest just takes it all to the next level. I think for several years I kind of forgot how much I love to make stuff. Large and small creative projects just make me happy. Toward that end, I'm going to continue with the Real Women of Pinterest posts on this blog. Stay tuned.

* Stop going on iphone Solitaire benders. Enough already in the traditional, non-abundant sense. Just sort of sad or, in the words of my moody-these-days kindergartener, just "lame."

* Gather ye friends' cell phone numbers. Two phones ago, I did not transfer my numbers when I got a new phone. Thus, even now, my cell phone contact list is woefully incomplete. Reality is that most of my friends are busy with kids, careers, or both and it can be tough to find a time to chat when one/both parties isn't being whined at or pulled toward some mess or emergency. Sending and receiving little text messages brightens my day, and I want to do more of that.

* Launch my book blog. Yes, there's part of me that knows I need another website like I need a hole in my head. But, I've had ideas for booksandcarbs.com (a website devoted to my life's pleasures) percolating for a while now and I'm eager to get started. No timeline yet, but I'll keep reading and eating in the meantime. You can trust me on that one.

Okay then, that's enough for now. I wish you happiness and health this new year and the peace and content that comes with believing you are already enough. Because you are.

Any resolutions for 2012? Please share in the comments. Are you my friend? Email me your cell number because it's probably not programmed into my phone.
 
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