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Review: The Hurricane

Posted by Jen in Book Reviews |
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The Hurricane
The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I only just discovered Hugh Howey last week and tore my way through his “Wool” series. (I have been on a YA dystopian genre kick lately.) Next on the list was The Plagiarist and then The Hurricane.
The Hurricane is definitely not in the same genre as the others, but I really loved this one. His descriptions of the storm were incredibly real and the surreal feeling that came in the aftermath of the storm was spot-on. I was excited to discover that Mr. Howey can write for a number of different genres and is able make each and every one of them a ‘page-turner.’
This one is going on my Favorites list.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV, Happy Holidays, Parenting, Spiritual Life |

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here already!  I’m so very very VERY excited.  This is my favorite time of the year.  Thanksgiving is just the beginning…then we have the entire Christmas season to look forward to.  Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas trees, Christmas Carols, twinkly lights, mall Santas, Salvation Army bell ringers, eggnog, very special Christmas episodes on our favorite TV shows, Advent calendars, presents, family visits, snow (hopefully!), decorations…wheeee!  There is no other time of the year like this one.

Last year we didn’t get our Christmas decorations up until the middle of December.  That bummed me out so much that I made us keep them up until the end of January to make up for the late start.  :)   This year, though, we started early. November 21st was our decorating day and the house looks beeeeaaaauuutiful!  (I’m hyper-excited, can’t you tell?)

As for the rest of life – it’s all going so well.  The college savings fund is growing at a slow, but steady pace.  My new interest in tapping into my creative side has been a lot of fun.  I’m currently playing around with scrapbooking and some creative writing.  I don’t have much drawing talent, but scrapbooking is kind of like doing a web layout on paper.  I don’t really have to draw anything – thank goodness!  Digital scrapbooking is fun, too.  I am using a program by Serif, called Digital Scrapbook Artist.  It’s a really fun and addicting with a ton of free designs to use.  The creative writing…well, I’ve actually read a lot of books on writing and journaling recently, but I haven’t actually spent too much time doing the actual writing.  This is typical of me though.  I spend weeks and months preparing for a task before I actually do it.  :D   I’m getting there…

Meghan is feeling so much better these days.  The doctor finally determined that she was probably suffering from a flare-up of her previous sinus infection.  That is why she was getting daily headaches and low-grade fevers.  Her previous antibiotic didn’t quite clear it up and it was getting progressively worse during the past 2 months.  Her energy is back now and she doesn’t seem to feel quite as miserable as she did a few weeks ago.  Hopefully, this is the beginning of a positive upswing.

Speaking of positive…I have also been reading some pretty interesting books, which have been giving me a much more productive and positive view on life.  It kind of started with one of Judith Orloff’s books about positive energy. That led me to some books on living “in the now” (Zen-type books) and then I switched over to Steve Covey’s books (The 7 Secrets of Highly Effective People) and ended up reading a little bit of Bruce Lipton and finally moved on to Wayne Dyer.  His books focus on positive affirmations, higher energy living, service to others, etc.  I’m kind of taking a bit of everything and filling in the gaps with some of the beliefs – including the Christian beliefs from my childhood – and the habits which have worked for me in the past.  The final result is…well, I’m not sure yet.  I’m definitely a lot less worried these days and I feel a lot more centered and enthusiastic about all the little twists and turns my life is taking.  I no longer see my problems as “problems”…they are “projects.”   I forgot where I read that, but for some reason that really stuck with me.  Labeling them like that can put a positive spin on those situations which normally cause us stress.

So – all in all, it’s been a good couple of weeks here.  I cannot wait to enjoy the rest of this holiday season.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Enjoy your holiday! :-D

Feng Shui, H1N1, V

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV, Friends & Family, Health Nuts |

Hmm – I just saw the message that WordPress has updated to the next version.  I’m a little leery about doing the upgrade right now.  The last time I did that, I had to go through all my posts and delete a bunch of odd little characters which were randomly inserted throughout my blog.

So, I have taken a break from my marathon of blog posting.  I knew that would happen.  I’m still tweaking my schedule a bit here and I haven’t been quite as diligent about sticking to the schedule I actually make for myself each day.  It’s a work in progress…always.  :)

So, my brother, Chris, is out in California now.  He just started his new job yesterday.  He’s loving the weather and actually found a few old high school friends nearby so that made the transition a little easier.  So far, the jury is still out as to how he is going to like this new job.  His boss is a bit of a micromanager.  Christopher has been his own boss for the past year of so and to suddenly have someone looking over his shoulder again can be a little rough.  Our family tends to be the “I can do this all by myself” kind of workers (for better or for worse!) so I am really hoping that it doesn’t cause too much stress for him.

It’s been quiet here without him, definitely.  He is missed.  :(

On a positive note, I think we have finally decided what to do with his apartment downstairs.  We are going to turn the living/kitchen area into a library/rec room. We have books stored in various bookshelves and drawers and closets all over the house and we thought it might be nice to have them in one central location.  I’m going to be in charge of “Feng Shui-ing” the room to make it cozy for reading and relaxing.  My brother did not appreciate Feng Shui.  At all.  I’m actually not sure if what I do is actual Feng Shui, but it’s all about removing the clutter and filling the room with happy, positive things.  Nice lighting, comfy chairs, lots of pillows, etc.   His bedroom and bathroom will just get a good cleaning so that it can be used as a guest room.  (For all those guests we NEVER have…lol.  It’s good to be prepared, though.)

Meghan stayed home from school today with her fever and sore throat.  The nurse called twice last week to get me to pick her up from school, but Meghan really wanted to try and stick it out, so I let her stay.  She only had a 99 fever both of those days with a bit of a scratchy throat.  Yesterday, though, we finally gave in and I picked her up early and took her home.  The truth is, the school is becoming filled with sick kids and even though her illness seems to be pretty mild, I don’t want her catching anything worse.  In a few weeks the school will be getting a shipment of the H1N1 vaccine and I signed her up for it.  I’ve decided not to take the chance of her getting that flu.  I had a friend who just recovered from it and she said it was the toughest battle of her life….and she is not a sick person usually.  I did request the vaccine version that is Thimerosal-free, but I’m not sure if that’s even available from her school.  We’ll have to just wait and see.

So, the new V is on tonight.  I hope it’s good.  I have the old mini-series on DVD and I watch it about once a year.  It’s a little cheesy and dated, but I still love it.  I’m a sucker for a good “us vs them” storyline.

The Reading Bug

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV |
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I’ve been bitten by the reading bug.

I used to be quite the voracious reader back when I was in high school and throughout my college years.  (The college years when I was 20 or so…not my current college years.)
I really don’t know what happened to my reading habit along the way.  I think the main issue was that I  found myself spending more time online and giving myself less time to do other things.  My school, my job, and my play were all done at the computer and the computer is a time-sucker.
I also found myself beginning the “art” of multi-tasking.  I would work on my laptop and watch TV at the same time.  I would listen to music and browse the internet.  It was like I didn’t know how to do only one thing at a time.  I was unable to sit still long enough to do just one thing – like enjoy a good book.  Reading requires a quiet mind and a “single-tasking” environment.  I stopped being able to do that.

Soooo…as I mentioned in a few recent posts, I have been trying to make a few changes in my life.  I am trying to discover new things, experience a little more and most importantly…slow down and enjoy “the now.”  I have actually borrowed books from the library to teach myself how to do this.  I am learning how to schedule my time better, quiet my mind, enjoy the present moment and not always feel like I have to do two (or twenty!) things at once.  It’s funny how I have to learn to do this again.

These days, I’ll take my tea and sit outside in the morning for 10 to 15 minutes  and just focus on what’s happening outdoors and not think about any of the tasks or projects I am working on.  (That probably sounds a little silly or something, but you have no idea how hard it is for me to turn my mind off…I’ve seriously been needing this for a loooong time.)  :)

After that quiet time, I am then prepared to face the next part of my day.  My mind is clear and little more focused.

This all leads back to the reading bug.  I now give myself a nice half hour to an hour before bedtime to read, which has actually helped me sleep a little better.  I keep a book in the car and I’m actually giving myself extra time to get my appointments so that I can sit and read in the waiting area.  (To actually be a early for my appointments is an new and wonderful thing.  :lol: )  I find that I can actually pay attention to a book again without my mind drifting to other tasks.  All in all, this has been quite a positive change…and one that doesn’t cost too much money either.  My library is small, but it has enough books to keep me busy for a while.  I’ve also been marking my calendar for all the library book sales in the area and I just joined and have 3 books headed my way.

My next step is to find a few fiction authors I like.  I’ve been sticking with mostly reference books, self-help books, health books, and biographies, but I would like to try some fiction. I’ve liked Michael Crichton (R.I.P) and John Grisham in the past and I am a sucker for some of my daughter’s YA fiction (Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot.)  I’m ready, however, to try some new authors and new genres.  I guess I’ll start with some of those best-selling fiction book lists and see what catches my eye.

Well, it’s definitely bedtime here for me.  I’m off to read and then take a restful visit to dreamland.  :)   G’night!

A Trip To The Library: Part 2

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV |

Well, it was time to visit the library again.  I can’t believe how small our library is.  It still has enough books to keep my busy for the next year or two, I think.  I’m excited because they have a sidewalk sale this Saturday.  I found about 15 books at their last sale in September, so I hope I’ll be as lucky again this time.  I’m definitely going to open my mind up to the idea of trying some new genres and topics for reading.

I returned 2 of my previous books: Someone Like You and Good Calories, Bad Calories.  I didn’t get around to finishing Someone Like You.  I really thought I would like it. It was a fun, fluffy YA book, but it didn’t hold my attention.  The movie “How To Deal” was inspired by it and I like that movie, but the book just didn’t keep me interested.  I don’t think it was the book’s fault…it definitely was me.  I might try it again in the summertime when I’m running out of chicklit to read by the pool.

Good Calories, Bad Calories was…wow.  There was a lot of info in there.  It was filled with medical studies and explanations about the misinformation that has been passed around for the past few decades.  What truths are we supposed to learn from this book?
1) Fat doesn’t make you fat and
2) Simple carbs are very much responsible for weight gain in most individuals due to the rapid increase of insulin in our bloodstream.   I knew all of that, but it was interesting to see how and why the diet industry keeps changing their tune over the years.

Which books did I pick up this time?

Well, I renewed my Positive Energy book by Judith Orloff.  I wanted to read the first half of the book again.  I actually felt inspired by this book.  It delved a little into the scientific side of the energy connecting all living beings and it also focused on the spiritual side of living in the moment.  I was raised to be very wary of anything that would fall under “New Age” philosophy, but I think I have learned to loosen up and go with my gut a little more when it comes to trusting the information I read.  After reading the book, I definitely came away with some insight as to how I can learn to slow down and focus inward.  I have learned to really pay close attention to my 15-month-old niece and how she interacts with her world.  To babies, there is only “the present.”  They don’t worry about the future and they don’t get depressed or stressed thinking about the past…they are in the moment.  I think I definitely need to relearn that particular state of mind.

In addition to renewing Positive Energy, I picked up two new ones:

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation

I used to work in a law office and one of the attorneys there would make fun of  the fact that I was a bit of a “comma whore.”  My law briefs, my legal correspondence…they would all be filled with lots and lots commas.  I love grammar, but I will be the first one to admit that I am a little rusty on some of the rules.  Those darned commas…I could swear they belong in a lot more places than they actually do.  Well, this book is quite entertaining in its pursuit to teach us proper punctuation.

The second book I borrowed was:

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

It was meant to be a supplement to the Positive Energy book, but I started reading it and I don’t think it’s quite what I was looking for.  It’s a little bit “out there.”  I don’t know.  I’ll try to finish it and see what I think when I get to the end.

October Already?

Posted by Jen in Books, Movies & TV, Daily-Dallies, Health Nuts |
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I could swear it was the beginning of September just a few days ago.
Did you ever see one of those spiral wishing wells in the mall where you put in a coin and watch it swirl around and around until it falls through the hole in the middle? At the top, the coin’s path is big and slow. As it nears the bottom, it gets shorter and shorter. This is what I think is happening to time, in general. It seriously feels like everything is going by so quickly! Does anyone else feel that way? Is it just because I am an adult? Do kids not feel this, too? Or is it because the world is just set up to deliberate and fast-paced now? The slow pace of the 1980s are no more. Or maybe this is something that can be explained by physics. Is time actually speeding up? Is that possible?

Okay, too many questions. It’s 1AM and my brain doesn’t really feel up to questioning Life, The Universe and Everything at 1AM. So, let’s focus on the mundane before I head to bed.

Mundane musing #1: I am loving the weather these days. Cool and crisp and it smells so clean outside. The leaves are turning red and orange and yellow and I am enjoying every day of autumn so far.  Fall and spring are my favorite seasons.

Mundane musing #2: Okay, so…I watch General Hospital. The soap opera. I seriously didn’t plan on getting attached to this show, but my grandma temporarily came to live with us a few years ago and I joined her when she watched. After she left, I kept watching because those darned storylines just suck you in…and they NEVER END.

GH's Lucky Spencer

GH's Lucky Spencer

Anyway, my favorite character on the show…the one who kept me watching all these years – Lucky Spencer – is being replaced. The current actor (Greg Vaughan – see pic on the left) is being replaced by the one (Jonathan Jackson) who originated the role years ago. This makes me sad. The old Lucky was the teen Lucky. The current Lucky is our grown-up Lucky. It’s embarrassing how this bothers me. I mean seriously. I thought my soap opera/fan girl days ended when I was in college. I guess a little bit of frivolous distraction never really hurt anyone, but…I’m irritated by this casting change and think maybe it’s time to wean myself off of GH.

Mundane musing #3: I am attempting to switch from glasses to contacts. My first trial pair of contacts were scratchy and blurry. My second pair are comfy…and blurry. I am starting to worry that my astigmatism is going to prevent me from actually making the switch to contact lenses. I’ll be really bummed if that happens. As it stands, I usually don’t have to wear my glasses unless I am watching TV, but I have found that everything looks a little sharper and darker when I wear them all the time, so I thought it would be nice to switch to contacts. I go back to the eye doctor on Monday to try another pair. Third time’s a charm…I hope!

Okay, I seriously need to get some sleep. I’m not tired, but I will be hurting tomorrow morning if I don’t head to bed now. G’night all!