Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Though I've always loved reading, work and digital distractions had me leaving new books to languish on a shelf for months, sometimes years. I really fell off the wagon (more like "fell off the library cart") after H was born. Recently, he's become increasingly more excited about reading and his newfound love of books has rekindled the spark for me, too.
For my six 2016 New Year's Resolutions, I set #4 to read at least one (non-children's) book a month. I'm pretty on track with that goal and I thought the height of beach/poolside reading season might be a good time to share some of what I've recently read. Hopefully I can also use this post to solicit your recommendations for what I should read next!
1. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest by Stieg Larsson
I actually received the full Millennium Trilogy as a Christmas gift back in 2011. I have no idea why it took me almost 4 years to start the series, but I finally read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo this past November. I then picked off this book and its predecessor, The Girl Who Played With Fire, in January and February. A common complaint for this series is that all three books move somewhat slowly in the beginning, but I think they're worth the extra effort. I'd recommend sticking through the deliberate character/plot building to more thoroughly enjoy and understand the nuance behind the faster moving "action" portions of these books.
2. For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
I accidentally left my first copy of this book in a United seat-back pocket on a layover in March and should have taken that as a sign from the reading gods. Instead, I picked up a copy from our local library and slogged through the final 300+ pages a few months later. I spent the remainder of the book waiting for the magical moment when I'd finally connect with story. A war novel, a revered author, a literary classic - this book had so many ingredients needed to make a delicious story, but sadly I spent 480 pages trying not to spit it out.
3. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
Ahh, this was a tough one for me. My love for To Kill A Mockingbird runs too deep for me to objectively critique Watchman as a stand-alone novel. I was excited to catch up with Scout and the gang, but found myself wanting to catch the first train out of Maycomb after I was halfway through the book. One good thing that came out of this experience? I'm no longer sad that Lee's list of published novels is so short.
4. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
So. Many. Tears. I'm not usually a sappy love story kind of gal, but this book kept popping up on a bunch of recommended reading lists so I finally broke down and put in the library hold request. After picking it up, I let it sit on our kitchen counter for about a week, then devoured it in a day and a half. This book is a good contender for a comfortable beach/pool/camp chair - but our family room's sectional suited me equally well if you're in need of a rainy weekend read.
5. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
Overall this was an entertaining story, but I often cringed at the protagonist's actions and had difficulty respecting her character. Though I typically consider book versions to be superior to their movie counterparts, I'm curious to see this one on the big screen. I wonder if Hollywood made "Rachel" any more likable than she was in written form. I'd also just like to shove some popcorn in my face.
6. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
I had a fun time convincing the librarian that yes, indeed, I wanted to request a hold on *gasp* a Young Adult novel. After that little exchange, I quickly learned my username and password to request holds via the online reservation system. Now I can proudly read age-inappropriate materials without navigating a stare down by Judgey McJudgerton, librarian extraordinaire. On to the book... Despite a somewhat annoying writing style, Liars redeems itself by being a great story with an even better twist (and lots of golden retrievers).
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple*
*What should I read next? Please post your recommendations below!
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
This past Sunday marked six years of wedded bliss for Chad and I (because "bliss" is exactly the right word to describe parenting a threenager). To celebrate, we hired an overnight sitter and snuck away to Kennebunkport for 18 hours of FREEDOM!!! Er, I mean romance...
We kicked off our wild and crazy night by cruising downtown KPT's shopping district. Though the shining sun drove temps up into the mid-50s, most of the outdoor decks and patios we passed sat empty. Overall, the town felt pretty mellow without the warmer weather crowds that tend to clog up the sidewalks in-season.
After enjoying live music from that evening's entertainer and after properly stuffing ourselves with amazing food, we headed back up to the room to retrieve our coats before braving the outdoor fireplace. The hostess from One Dock Prime armed us with cozy blankets as we headed to the dark sundeck. We pulled the white armchairs up to the edge of the hearth for our final stop before hitting the hay.
The next morning, I had big plans for us taking the Inn's beach cruisers out for a little tour around town. However, the call of the breakfast bar and the reminder that we had a kid at home waiting for us won out over a ride. We checked out around 9am and headed north, with me already plotting our next trip to KPT.
How we picked the Kennebunkport Inn...
Neither Chad nor I travel frequently enough for business to have amassed enough loyalty points to make it worthwhile for us to actually be loyal to any of the major chain hotels. We typically book rooms based on a mixture of TripAdvisor reviews and eligibility in the Hotels.com Rewards program, as was exactly the case for this trip. It would seem relying on the feedback of strangers to lead you to your ultimate home away from home might be a little dicey. However, we've worked out a pretty flawless system of sifting through the reviews to decode the hidden truth of what a place is really like. This strategy has resulted in us staying in some pretty awesome accommodations that we may have otherwise overlooked.
Would we stay at the Kennebunkport Inn again?
Absolutely! The location was perfect - walkable to everything in downtown KPT with a slice of water views from the sundeck. We stayed in a "Classic Room", which was definitely tight, but perfect for one night. We would have to upgrade to at least a Deluxe Room if we wanted to stay here with offspring in tow. Honestly, we will likely never stay here as a family because the Inn is without H's required amenity - a pool! However, I could definitely see us visiting the Inn again for an easy overnight getaway in the near(ish) future.
Thursday, January 14, 2016
I'm not really much of a New Year's Resolutions kinda gal (as evidenced by the fact that we're already 2 weeks into 2016 and I'm just posting this now). However, this year I felt compelled to write down a few things that are maybe better classified as "goals" rather than traditional resolutions. Without further ado, here's what I'm hoping to achieve in twenty-sixteen...
1. Learn how to use camera on manual mode
Our DSLR is getting a little long in tooth and I'd love to upgrade in the next couple years. However, it's kind of hard to justify buying a new camera without having ever been fully functional with our current model. I've dug around online and managed to rustle up the user manual. Now I just need to read it. Perhaps that should be my first assignment for goal #4?
2. Paint one room in the house myself...
...with a paintbrush, not my checkbook.
3. Get out of town one day a month
I find that even day trips help to temper the wanderlust/cabin fever that creeps up whenever I've been in one spot too long. It doesn't take much - a quick jaunt down to Kennebunkport, or lately - Saturdays spent on the bunny slopes of Mt. Abram. If it's outside of my normal weekday routine and doesn't consist of actual errands (looking at you, Target), it'll do.
4. Read one book per month
Technically I read at least 2-3 books a day. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!, Learning to Ski With Mr. Magee, and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site are just a few of the titles covered this year. As much as I enjoy the pictures, sometimes it's nice to read a book with just words (especially one that's more than 40 pages long).
5. Print/organize my photos
I take LOTS of pictures. Heaps of them. While many of them should be deleted within 5 seconds of having been snapped, there are actually quite a few decent ones in the mix and there are even more pictures that are attached to amazing memories. Unfortunately, they usually end up in one of a few photo purgatories I maintain - the bulging "Camera Roll" on my iPhone, a folder minefield on the family MacBook, my underutilized external hard drive, and a smattering of random downloads on my work laptop. This year I'd like to do a big purge then actually implement an organizational system for the remaining and all future images. If I can find the pictures I'm looking for, then maybe I'd also finally get around to filling the modest collection of empty frames I've amassed. I should probably take care of that before our kid starts thinking the stock photo couple are out-of-state relatives and he wants to know why they never come to visit.
6. Start running (again)
There's a sub-goal for this one, too - I want to start running again completely for myself without any events to train for, no matter how strong the lure of a free, ill-fitting race t-shirt gets.
I have a bad habit of running for a few weeks, thinking "this time, I'm going to stick with it!", and then signing up for races I never complete. Please don't let the 2007 Chicago Marathon and the 2013 NYC Marathon fool you into thinking I'm a legit runner. I promise I'm a poser. I get on a kick once in a while, buy a bunch of new gear, then burn out after a few weeks and retreat to the couch to lick my wounds (which may or may not resemble cheesy Doritos dust). At least most of my orphaned entry fees of the past have gone to good charities, right??
So there you have it - six things I hope to accomplish in the 366 days of 2016. Except it's the 14th and there's only 352 days left. Maybe "be on time" will make it onto my 2017 list (but probably not).
Friday, August 21, 2015
Ahh, August in Vegas. It's that special time of year when even the tiniest of breezes feels like a hair dryer is being blasted in your face. But more importantly, it's show season for the apparel industry.
This past week was a blur of trade show booths, steakhouses and Starbucks kiosks. Eastland exhibits at both FN Platform and Capsule, so I put in some miles bopping between locations. Every time I cruised past a booth with 4" stilettos, I further appreciated my gig with a comfort casual footwear company.
For this season's trip, I stayed at The Linq - a "new" hotel on the strip (it was the Imperial Palace in its former life). I was a little leery of the accommodations after a cursory glance at the TripAdvisor reviews. The reasonable room rates seemed to scream "Bed Bugs!", but I was pleasantly surprised by just how nice the hotel actually was. I'm also happy to report that there were no signs of bugs of any kind and I'd definitely stay there again.
There was also a snazzy full length mirror in my room that begged for mirror selfies. Each morning I documented that day's OOTD as I headed out the door. Thankfully I have a pretty failproof formula for trade show style:
Step 1: No tight waistbands. There's a group dinner each night and I need room for food. (lots and lots of it)
Step 2: A pair of my favorite Eastlands. (obvi)
Step 3: My trusty Transport tote. It's even more of a bottomless pit than my stomach. (almost)
J.Crew Factory Shirt (similar here) // J.Crew Factory Linen Skirt // Madewell Transport Tote // Eastland Sasha Loafer
J.Crew Factory Cotton Dress // // Topshop Tusk Necklace (similar here and here) // Eastland Hickory 1955 Sandal
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Madewell Linen Blazer (similar here and here) // J.Crew Factory Printed Petal-Sleeve Top // J.Crew Toothpick Jeans // Cole Haan Lena Mid-Heel Pump (similar here and here) // Topshop Tusk Necklace (similar here and here) // Michael Kors Watch
Do you ever get so wrapped up in the "busy" of day-to-day life that you sometimes forget to stop and take a breath (or a drink)? Chad and I recently realized that the insanity of the winter holidays, coupled with a spike in work commitments, had somehow overshadowed our complete lack of date nights in 2015. Technically, we hadn't had a proper date night since November 2014 (a whopping 5 months - oops). So when we found out one of our favorite sitters was going to be home from college for a few days, we quickly scheduled a mid-week night out in the 'burbs.
We kicked off our wild and crazy night with drinks in the newly renovated bar/lounge at the Royal River Grillhouse, then moved on to dinner and live music for Acoustic Wednesday at Gather, and ended with a nightcap at the Foreside Tavern before calling it at 9:30pm (it was a school night, folks). Our pseudo pub crawl through suburbia reminded us that eating out can actually be a restorative experience (especially when you're not having to pick up a stack of sugar packets that a tiny human hucked across the room). I think we should probably get another date night on the books before the next 5 months slips by.
Hey, Chad - you free in August?
Hey, Chad - you free in August?
Friday, April 10, 2015
*This post was originally supposed to happen a week ago, but I made the rookie mistake of peeking at the 10-day forecast before hitting "publish".
So here we are. A little further into April than I'd like to be, but with low temps above freezing and no daytime flurries in sight. I can finally confidently make the proclamation that I am on STRIKE! No more wool sweaters and no more heaviest coat in my closet. These articles of clothing (and any of their foul weather brethren) are hereby banished from further wear until October.
Bring on the sunshine, green grass and backyard BBQs. Let's do this, Maine.
Monday, March 23, 2015
Willard Beach will forever hold a special place in my heart. For 2.5 months after we first moved to Maine, but before we closed on our current home, we were nestled in a 1970's ranch just one house up from the sand. The beautiful bay window in the front living room was a perfect place to perch with our then 4 month old nugget. It was so peaceful sitting in the sun, watching huge oil tankers glide by. At least until the peace was broken by a passing dog, setting Miller off into a loud (and unappreciated) barking frenzy. Did I mention that Willard is the most popular dog-friendly beach in South Portland? That bit of local bragging rights meant the stream of beach-bound furballs was pretty constant, as was Miller's bark.
Still, whenever the thermometer crept above 30, I'd load the nugget in the Baby Bjorn, grab a bundle of plastic grocery bags for you-know-what, then hit the beach. Miller would alternate between romping with his furry brethren and jumping into the icy water, often emerging with sand-encrusted furcicles hanging from his undercarriage.
On Saturday we took advantage of temps in the high 30s and welcomed spring like only Mainers can- with a snowy family stroll on the beach. The sun wasn't shining and a formidable layer of wool socks and Bean boots stood between our toes and the sand, but it was a perfect day by the sea - complete with the first furcicles of the season.