Recent Reads, 15/40: Jellicoe Road


Fun fact: I stayed up until 4 am Tuesday finishing this book. I was exhausted, but I knew I could do it.
Do I regret it? A little, because I hate staying up late/sleeping in late and missing time I could spend on my day off not sleeping…but, whatever. Worth itttttt.

Okay, so Jellicoe Road (which also goes by On the Jellicoe Road, according to Goodreads) was book 15 of this year.
I had never heard of it, but a friend of a friend (or a friend of mine who I’ve only met a couple of times but feel comfortable talking to because that’s what social media does…crazy world today, eh?) had suggested it on a book group page on Facebook. It was on sale and the description was intriguing enough that I went for it.

Jellicoe Road is the story of Taylor Markham, a seventeen-year-old girl who was abandoned by her mother and brought to the Jellicoe School by a woman named Hannah, who provides the only adult interaction she has. When Hannah suddenly disappears, Taylor finds herself faced with piecing together her past, trying to find where Hannah could’ve gone, and dealing with the territory wars between the Jellicoe students, the Townies, and the Cadets who train nearby.

There’s a lot that goes on in the story, and I feel like the more I say, the more I’ll give away. When I first started, I was super confused and felt it was a bit slow. I looked through some spoiler-free reviews on Goodreads and was relieved to see someone say that pushing through is totally worth it. I completely agree. It is an intense and emotional book…I was close to tears around the end but I was also exhausted. Pretty sure I would’ve really shed some tears had I not been up so late. Taylor Markham’s life has been…rough. But one of the great things about life is that, sometimes when all is lost, you finally find what you’re looking for.

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend pushing through to read it.
It should be mentioned that it won the Michael L. Printz award, in good company with some awesome past and future winners and nominees.

P.S. I’m really glad I had the Kindle edition. The book is Australian, and I needed the dictionary quite frequently for some of their slang terms. I always seem to luck out with the books I read on Kindle.


VA Beach


Last Saturday, we went to Virginia Beach as part of my little getaway.
We had such a great time. For starters, the beach mostly felt like ours because we were in a quieter part. Secondly, we brought food to eat on the beach. Last, the water, which would normally be a bit frosty this time of year, was perfect!

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Cucumber and Mint sparkling water. Seriously, put cucumber in anything and it’s like…HELLO!
Maria made this pasta salad and I was craving it on the way home. YUM.


I’m looking forward to going back and spending more than one day at the beach.
There are very few things better than the sound of waves crashing.


Recent Reads, 13&14/40: Thinkin’ Outside the Box


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts about my 2014 Book Challenge, I’ve been behind ever since I “read” this book for about a month. I am still behind, but I definitely wanted to make up for lost time. I don’t want to make the challenge feel like a chore instead of something that I love to do, so there’s no pressure to finish. Still, I found a couple of shortcuts that helped add some books to my list!

Book 13, Just One Night, was actually a short story, the completion of two novels I read before (Just One Day and Just One Year) which both ended the same way…frustratingly! I’m glad that Gayle Forman put together this little ending. It was sweet.

Book 14 was One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak. I’ve wanted to read it for a little while and seized the opportunity to snag the audio book for free as a way to not go crazy on my 6+ hour drive (alone) to Virginia last week! It was the best idea. First of all, look at how many people read with BJ Novak! Lots of people I like. Also, the fact that there are lots of short stories means I was constantly entertained and didn’t have to listen super hard so that I wouldn’t miss something important in a full-length novel (especially during a drive I’ve never done before). I laughed out loud at a lot of these (and I really wanna snag the hardcover copy for my personal library), but they were also very sweet, sad, and poignant at times. I highly recommend this book!


Project Life: May Layouts

Another month of 2014 is, literally, in the books.
This month felt a little harder to work on and I know why.

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Aside from my birthday, May was a fairly quiet month so I didn’t have a ton of photos (like I usually do) to go through.
On top of that, I worked a lot more with the vertical Project Life pocket pages (Design D) which means that both sides need to have the right kind of photos and cards. It did eventually work out, but the Sunshine Core Kit, as much as I love it, doesn’t really have horizontal cards to work with. I am able to turn some of them on their sides, and some of the journaling cards are grids, but it just doesn’t feel the same. I previously worked with Design G, which has space for both vertical and horizontal photos. I ran out, but I have to say that it was probably a more favorable way for me to incorporate portrait style photos. Still, it is fun to think outside of the box and this allowed me to work with some cards from my Studio Calico Project Life kit (Camelot, from last month). I know I’ve said this before, but it’s hard for me to stray from the core kit I’ve dedicated myself to this year. I want everything to be cohesive, but the cards I get are so great, I would be crazy NOT to use them!


Another new addition to the book is the use of the Design J pages, made for 4x4 Instagram photos. I love using these, small as they are (they look more like inserts than parts of the story I’m telling), because I think that 4x4s are the cutest prints and I have a lot of memories in my IG feed. I look forward to using these more next month.


Since I didn’t have a lot of photos, I used some snapshots of texts from Brad and Maria, really nice ones about life and encouragement that I’ll be glad to have saved in the future. The last couple pages of my month always seem to be a mish-mash of photos taken throughout the month. My first ice cream cone of the year, my usual bedside set up, some work stuff I’m proud of. On the bottom photo, you’ll see that I used two journaling cards that are designed to be horizontal, and they were from my Studio Calico kit. Luckily, they flow with the design cards from Sunshine (even though they are turned on their side, it still looks good). Mix and matching isn’t so bad after all!

When I went to put my book back in the bag I carry everything around in, it was SUPER HEAVY. And I’m only 5 months in. I think I will be able to finish the year with this album, but there’s a good chance a bookshelf won’t be able to hold it…unless it’s on the bottom shelf. I didn’t think pictures could be so darn heavy. You live and learn. I’m happy to do these random event layouts, but next year I might do a photo-a-day or a a layout for a week instead. It might keep everything in order a lot better than printing 50+ photos every month and feeling the need to use most of them.


A Trip to Virginia

I’ve been wanting to go and spend a legitimate weekend with Maria since she moved out to Virginia two months ago. I really wanted to go with Brad, but he’s been traveling for work and this past weekend worked perfectly this month, so I went for it. It’s always a little nerve-wracking for me driving somewhere new on my own…especially a place that’s over 5 hours away. I was nervous but, luckily, the drive is actually quite easy. Not a lot of twist and turns. Traffic for sure (since you pass by Washington, D.C.), but it was pretty straightforward and enjoyable.

I left on National Donut Day…a.k.a. FREE DONUT DAY! I also had a coupon for a free coffee so it was excellent.


A seriously beautiful day for a ride.


My ETA was 2:45 but I ended up getting there closer to 4, thanks to traffic.
I love their welcome mat…come on, how cute?!


Attention to details: Maria got cute flowers for my arrival.


Maria took me to a cool new movie theater to see The Fault in Our Stars and this was what we walked past on our way to the cinema. There was an outdoor concert happening and couples and families with little kids were all over, enjoying the music and each other’s company. It was awesome.


The theater we went to, Paragon, has power reclining “leather” chairs, a tray for food and a cup holder for your drink (which can be beer or wine, which they sell there as well). We had one beer as we waited to enter the theater, but we didn’t get anything else. That stack of napkins was for crying purposes only and I STILL didn’t have enough. Damn.


On Saturday, we went to Virginia Beach and had an awesome time. I have pictures on my DSLR that I’ll share later.


Our view during dinner on Saturday.


Sunday, we headed to Richmond and stopped at the Bacon Festival being held at the Farmer’s Market. We got Chocolate Bacon popsicles, interesting but perfect in the heat. We did some touristy shopping and got food at a small chain, Mellow Mushroom, a pizza place that was delightful.


We finished Sunday with drinks and music on the porch/balcony. It was such a perfect evening, comfortable and warm.

I left yesterday around 5:30 pm to beat the traffic.
I didn’t get home until about midnight, but I didn’t have to wait in long lines. Smooth sailing.

I am so sad to be back, but I am ready to start planning my next trip. Brad needs to head down there, so I think we will pick a weekend in the next month and hopefully stay down there a little bit longer. I’d like to be able to go to the beach for an extra day or two. Thank you so much, sis, for entertaining me this weekend! It was much needed.
Love you!




Thanks to the birthday piƱata, I have been on a huge sugar kick lately. Dangerous. I usually pride myself on not having a bit sweet tooth (not that I don't love dessert!), but that's kind of gone away. I've been picking at the bag of candy for the last few weeks. So many Airheads, Sour Patch Kids, and Lindt truffles.
Boring...I pretty much alternate between coffee and water. I haven't been drinking alcohol lately, although a recent glass of Cupcake Chardonnay had me relaxed and giggly after a long Saturday evening shift. There aren't any particular cocktails, beers, or fancy smoothie/coffee drinks stealing my heart lately.
As you know, I normally post my Recent Reads on the blog. Book 13 of the challenge was a super short story, the ending of a couple of other books I read in the past year or so. I posted it on Instagram, so you can check out a quick bit about it there. I've moved onto Jellicoe Road for book 14.
Considering I've been watching Tuesdays on FOX for years now, I'm kinda bummed that I only just got into Raising Hope now. It was just cancelled this year, so that stinks, but at least I'll have 4 seasons to treasure. I don't know what it is, I just find this show cute and silly and enjoyable. It's on Netflix, if you're interested!
Songs I love right now are: Sia's Chandelier, Tune-Yards' Water Fountain (check out the performance on Jimmy Fallon!), and Lana Del Rey's West Coast (her new album will be out in less than two weeks!!).
I am dying over everything Ashley Goldberg creates, but I especially love the stamps.
You can put a piece of her work on everything, from cards to Project Life cards!


Recent Reads, 12/40: The One and Only


For my 12th book, I read the latest release from one of my favorite authors’, Emily Giffin.
Emily Giffin wrote Something Borrowed, which you’ve probably heard of
(itwas made into a mediocre but enjoyable movie), among others. This is her 7th book.

I have enjoyed every single one of Giffin’s books, but this one was the biggest letdown. I’m sure it’s because I had expectations since she’s consistently entertained me, but wow…it was not good.

Shea Rigsby lives for college football. She attended Walker University in Texas and is the type of person to say “we” when referencing a game. We won. We lost. We’re doing good. So on. The book begins at a funeral. Shea’s best friend Lucy’s mother has just passed away after an illness, and it sets off a chain of events that have her debating what she should be doing with her life. All of this is intermixed with her personal and professional life as she gets a new job as a reporter on the Walker beat (in which she must remain objective, a hard thing to do for her) and dates the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. Still, she can’t seem to find happiness as she fights feelings for someone unexpected.

I’m not a football fan…I don’t watch games ever, I have a very vague idea of how it works (VERY VAGUE), and I’ve never been a sports person. So, it had that against it from the start. Shea also managed to be a very unlikeable character throughout the book. Instead of wanting the best for her, caring about her well-being, I felt she was very selfish throughout. I wasn’t rooting against her, but I couldn’t root for her, either. I wrote this post just a few hours after finishing the book and I feel a complete disconnect. It didn’t stick with me. Meanwhile, there are moments from previous Giffin books that I read a few years ago that have stuck with me. I’ve always admired Giffin’s ability to completely suck me into the scenario. Whatever the main character is going through…unrequited love, the temptation or guilt of infidelity, an uncertainty in life…I’ve felt it. She was always that good. I understand maybe wanting to distancing yourself from the formula, but the formula worked for her. So far, this has the lowest rating of any of her books on Goodreads, and I had to give it two stars. It was readable, so I didn’t want to completely bash it, but it left me wanting more. I was waiting for a climax that never really came, or felt anti-climactic.

If you’re an Emily Giffin fan, I know you’re gonna read the book. You have to! Maybe you’ll like it…I just didn’t.
I really hope whatever she works on next is as good as her previous work.