Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bookworm 3.0

It has been some time since I have documented my latest reads, so I think I shall use today to do that.  If I can remember what, exactly, I have read. . . 

1. The Fever Series by Karen Moning

I have previously mentioned this series and am doing so yet again.  If you want to dive into a world of Fae and other sort of mysterious beings, read this!  It has made my all time favorite series list and nothing can ever seem to top it.  Once you start reading this series it will be hard to put it down.  Moning is excellent at keeping you on your toes which can lead to 2 a.m. reading benders that make the 6 a.m. alarm an unwelcome nuisance.  

2.  The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman by Margot Mifflin

I have always been interested in the history and stories of Native Americans.  This books tells the story of Olive Oatman (obviously), who was taken by a tribe of Native Americans who eventually traded to the Mohaves whom she lived with for four or five years before being introduced back into white society.  During her time with the Mohaves, they tattooed Olive's face and it is speculated they accepted her into their tribe as one of their own.  Reading about her life was incredibly interesting.  I believe there is some show or movie regarding her story.  Could be interesting!

3.  The Road by Cormac McCarthy

This book was suggested to me by my sister-in-law.  She said it was the scariest book she had ever read, so of course I was intrigued.  This book is about a father and son who are trying to survive in post-apocalyptic world.  I don't believe we ever learn what really happened, but fires burned much of what once was and people have turned into homicidal cannibals.  This father and son duo are working their way to the coast where the father has hopes that life will be better there.  The have multiple encounters with other people in which the son reminds his father how to be compassionate and, well, human.  This is a dark book and a haunting read, but was definitely worth my time.  Thank you, SIL, for the suggestion!

4.  I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb

This was an okay book about a set of identical twins and their trials in dealing with one-another.  Thomas is a paranoid schizophrenic and Dominick struggles to come to terms with his brother's changing mental condition.  Many reviews said it was a book you couldn't put down, but I wasn't overly impressed.  It was just alright.

5.  The Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver

This was an interesting series.  It wasn't as gripping as The Fever Series, but I still struggled to go to bed at a decent hour after picking it up.  In this dystopian society, it is believed that there is one cause of all irrational behavior, violence, etc. - love.  Lucky for them, they found a cure.  Essentially, a lobotomy.  One you reach a certain age you are to undergo the procedure.  Sometimes, people are 'infected' before they get the procedure and have to have the procedure early which often leads to insanity or death.  Then there are the people who escape to the Wilds.  Lena, the leading lady, has much to learn from those she encounters and has to decide for herself what her path will be.  I questioned whether this series would be worth my time at first, thinking it sounded cheesy, but it was quite good.

6.  The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

I have written about Divergent and Insurgent before, and in October of 2013, Allegiant was released, which is the third and final novel of the series.  I was very into Divergent and Insurgent, but found Allegiant to drag on a bit.  I'm glad that I read it so that I could have closure on the series, but was not a fan of some of the happenings.  This series is definitely worth your time.  It is set in a dystopian society whose structure begins to crumble.  It has many strong female characters, which I enjoyed, and offers many characters that you can love or love to hate.  

7.  World War Z by Max Brooks

Meh.  I liked the movie better.  The book jumped around to many peoples' experiences and I generally like to be able to follow a certain character throughout a book.  Wasn't bad, but not my favorite.

8.  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Great book.  If children have that certain something, they are sent to training at a young age.  At training, they learn how to fight.  Ender was one of those special kids and proved to be the best, moving up in the ranks quickly.  There is a twist in the book that everyone said I wouldn't see coming, but I figured it out.  Still worth your time though.  

I know I have read more, but I can't remember them all. . . 

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Healthy Lifestyle

I want to be a bit smaller than this and TONED!
I'd take that tan back, as well.
Though it was a depressing task, I had Ben take 'before' pictures as a reference point in my fitness/health goals.  I also took measurements of my waist, thighs, arms, hips and "gut".  (The gut is not a typical measurement, but one I added in for my own benefit.).  O, and I weighed myself.  The pictures, measurements and weight will not be making an appearance on this blog until I have awesome transformation stats to post, but I think it was a good step to acquire those in order to track my progress and see the difference my lifestyle change is making.
I'm changing up my normal gym routine that I have used in the past.  I used to just hit whatever cardio machine caught my fancy and park it there for an hour each day.  As a friend told me, that accomplishes you getting "skinny-fat", aka skinny, but still squishy.  I want to be thin and toned, therefore, I'm hitting the weights!  I've downloaded the app on my iPhone and browsing through programs and different workouts on there that I can try.  I have always been intimidated by weightlifting, so this is a big deal to me.  Yesterday, I even crossed into the free weight section of the gym! Woot woot!  
Along with my fitness goal, I also want to start eating healthier as well.  I keep track of what I eat daily on the MyFitnessPal app and was disappointed to see the percentage of fat and carbs to the protein my diet.  I essentially have no idea what I'm talking about when it comes to all that jazz, so I'm going to start doing my research.  If you know any good books or blogs, please let me know!  
In other news, it's cold.   
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Our Lives in Photographs: Growth in Dubai

December 2011/January 2012

June 2013
Above are two pictures in front of the fountains at the Burj Khalifa take about two years apart.  I just thought it was interesting to see how it has progressed.  The second is a little blurry of Ben and me, but you get the idea. 
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New Year. New Goals.

I hate New Year resolutions.  They tend to be something we are passionate about for a week or two, maybe even a month, and then they fall by the wayside.  I am, however, a fan of goals.  Is there a difference?  Yes, in my opinion.  A resolution often times seems to be something that we expect instant gratification from (at least that's how I see it).  A goal requires work, determination and change.

In our first house as a married coupe.
Xmas 2013
That being said, I have a few goals for the year 2014.

1.  I have truly failed at maintaining this blog since our return from Dubai.  I want to remedy that.  My goal is to eventually be back to posting at least once a week.  There is no reason this goal cannot be met considering at some point during my weekends you can find my butt parked on the couch catching up on Grey's or watching some other movie/show that is taking away precious minutes of my life that I will never get back.  (Grey's is so worth it, though.)

2.  Ben and I have both agree to do the 52 week challenge this year.  This is where you have a money pot that you add to each week of the 52 week year.  Week 1 - you add $1.  Week 2 - $2.  Week 30 - $30.  So long as we remember to put the amount in each week, this is a completely reasonable goal and an easy and great way to save money.  Hawaii 2015 here we come!

3.  True to many peoples' New Year resolutions, I have a 'lose weight' want.  But this is a goal, remember?  Not a resolution.  My goal is to become more active, fit and healthy.  Since our return from Dubai we have struggled to find the room in our finances to cover the cost of the gym.  We have decided that this is something important to our health and happiness and a gym membership is a must.  We tried a couple gyms, made a decision and went with it.  Now we need to work on making going to the gym a habit as well as something we look forward to.  I'm excited to get back into shape, feel fit and sexy, and to be able to wear alllllllll of my jeans again!  

4.  As new home owners, Ben and I have man projects we want to complete.  A few that I would like to accomplish this year are as follows:

Organize the garage
Organize our storage closets
Organize our pantry
Paint our bedroom(s)
Print, frame, and hang wedding and engagement photos
Frame and hang prints/pictures we have purchased in our travels
New couch, area rug and TV stand for the living room

I'm sure the list could go on if I sat and thought about it, but these are where I would like to start.  I was able to pick up a few frames from Michael's during their 50% off frames sale AND I had an additional 15% off coupon, so I'm well on the way to completing that goal!

$180 worth of frames for $70!!!! O YEAH!
5.  As I have discussed before, I have only completed an AA, not a BA.  I won't be able to accomplish the goal of obtaining a BA this year, but I could at least start the process.  Not only would having my bachelor's make me a more desirable hire, but it will make me feel more accomplished.

6.  Since we are living back in the States, and in Iowa for that matter, you have to be willing to seek out new adventures.  They don't just plop down at your feel like they do if you are abroad.  Therefore, it is my goal to explore our State and country more, look for new adventures in the familiar.

Those are a few of the goals that I (we) have for the year.  We have also made a few goals between us as a couple that we will be working to accomplish.  All of our goals are attainable. All of our goals will help to make us happier, healthier and more rounded.

 It should be a wonderful year!

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