Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Anne With An 'E' // Reading the Classics

Much like The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is a book that my mom always wanted me to read as a kid. I don't know if it is because she loved the book, or because her middle name was "Anne with an 'E'" as well ... but I never got around to reading it as a kid.

FINALLY in 2014 I read it, and I can honestly say that it was one of the cutest books I've ever read. I loved every page of it.

Anne of Green Gables is about a young orphan girl who is adopted by a middle aged woman named Marilla and her brother Matthew. They were hoping for a young man to help on the farm and with the house, but instead they get Anne. Anne is imaginative, red-headed, and very romantic. She's always coming up with dreamy names for things, and giving everyone and everything some sort of very dramatic backstory. Not quite what Marilla and Matthew had in mind.

Most of the book chronicles Anne's adventures at Green Gables and in Avonlea. Some of which are make believe, and others of which are real. She always seems to be letting her imagination run away with her, often resulting in hi jinx. Much of it is also centered around Anne's friendship with Dianna, another little girl who gets swept away in stories. Then of course there is Gilbert, who mercilessly teases Anne about her hair, calling her "carrots". Let's just say, Anne knows how to hold a grudge.

I felt like I could absolutely relate to Anne as a character. I always felt awkward, gawky, and ugly as a kid, so I too took everything very personally. I also, had an avid imagination, and a flair for the dramatic. I was always inventing some kind of romantic story in my head. I still do this. :) Though, I am decidedly less dramatic than I was at the age of 10. - probably good, right?

I found myself laughing to the point of tears while reading situations in the book where Anne is particularly worked up, because I can 100% imagine the situation and identify with it. It was excellent fun to read.

Again, like with The Secret Garden, I loved all of the flowery descriptions in the books. It probably helps that a lot of the natural elements are personified as if Anne were describing them, they were even more imaginative than the ones in The Secret Garden.

I also have to appreciate a book that leaves you feeling happy, leaves you feeling hopeful about the world and the people in it. It's very wholesome and cheery. Sometimes you just need that, you know?

I can't wait to someday read the rest of the books, I can only imagine that I will love them just as well, and enjoy reading the rest of Anne's story.

It also makes me want to go back to the Maritimes more than ever, and make to to PEI this time.

Have you read Anne of Green Gables? What did you think?

Have you read a book, where you felt you were exactly that character at one time or another?

Happy Reading!



Monday, September 28, 2015

Snapshots of Minneapolis in the Fall // September 2014

Last September we bought tickets to see Bastille (again..), and took it as a reason to take a little weekend getaway. We spent lots of time with our friends Emy & Matthew, and got to explore the city a little more.

It's almost feeling like fall here, so in the meantime I thought I would recap our trip!

Our drive was sunny and gorgeous. The further North we drove, the prettier the trees and temps were!

When we got to Minneapolis we spent a day out exploring with Emy & Matthew. We (finally!) got to visit the sculpture garden at The Walker, and then the Guthrie Theatre's observation deck. It was all GORGEOUS. We also had some good meals... though I don't really remember where! : /

There you have it, a great fall weekend in Minneapolis. We were lucky that we got to see our good friends, and that we'd already seen them in April for Junk Bonanza. We were pretty spoiled, and I won't lie, I've been missing them!

See more pictures from this day, here. How cute are they?!

Have you guys ever been to Minneapolis?

What is your favorite fall destination? 

Thinking of planning a trip to Minneapolis or St. Paul? Check out other posts here: Coldplay 2012, Junk Bonanza Day 1 2014, Junk Bonanza Day 2 2014



Friday, September 25, 2015

Fall Bucket List // 2015

Wednesday marked the beginning of fall! Hooray! Onward to cooler weather, layered outfits, and lots of baking. Not to mention the leaves!

Here are 25 things on my Fall Bucket List, what's on yours?

eat cider donuts
drink cider
go to the pumpkin patch
DIY costumes with Kyle
have a Halloween party
chili & game night party
see Crimson Peak, it looks gorgeous and terrifying all at once!
bake treats and give them away
find the perfect moto jacket and buy it!
address some lovely fall themed envelopes for my samples
get my stationery website up and running
go camping
play in the leaves, or at least crunch them
iced pumpkin juice - KC's been reading Harry Potter... :) 
go to a cool evening football game
carve pumpkins
make pumpkin pie
pick apples, make a pie
make pie crusts for the holidays and freeze them (#allthepie)
work on some scrapbooking pages
read witchy books
go to the renaissance festival
finish season 2 of Witches of East End... and then cry because it's over :( :( :(
view the trees from somewhere up high
decorate some fall or Halloween themed sugar cookies

I realized along the way that I have SO many movies I want to watch this season... I'm making a separate post for those, stay tuned, if you are into that kind of thing.

What do you want to do this fall?



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Have you Heard? // Vance Joy - "Dream Your Life Away"

If you saw my Prom post, then you know I'm crazy about Vance Joy. You've probably heard "Riptide" on the radio or a commercial... well, the rest of his album is AMAZING too.

I love the mellow sound, romantic lyrics, and the way his songs pick up speed about 3/4 the way through. 

I put his song "First Time" on my Simply Summer Vol. II mix. Well here is another one for you, this is one of my favorites "Georgia".

Ok, so here's another one.... this one reminds me of fall.

And lastly, maybe my all time favorite.... Emmylou.

He's currently touring with Taylor Swift, so if you happen to have 1989 tickets, you get the bonus of seeing him as well. :) UPDATE: We got last minute 1989 tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GAH! So we got to see him again, and Taylor Swift! eeeeee. #poptart

I'm loving his two new bonus tracks and the song from the "Paper Towns" soundtrack.

If you happen to love his music too, consider getting tickets, his tour is going on sale now or soon depending on where you live. He has already had to add double shows in at least 5 cities due to demand! :) He is wonderful live!

KC folks, presale starts 10/1 through his site, he's playing at The Midland in February! 

What have you guys been listening to?



Monday, September 21, 2015

Books Lately // Literary Ladies Final Summer Linkup

August just FLEW by! Wow, and we are halfway through September!

So far I have been doing a lot of bridal show prep for September, so I didn't have as much time for reading, but I did manage to finish the literary ladies summer reading challenge! Whoop whoop! Thanks for breaking me out of my reading rut girls!

Here's what I read since my last post:

1) Elixir by Hilary Duff

I had originally put Hilary Duff's book True on my list under the celebrity category. I realized after discussing in comments that I really needed to re-read the first two books in the trilogy first. So I re-read Elixir, and purchased the other two books used to read soon. :) Elixir follows Clea a 17 year old, travel photographer / politician's daughter. She comes home from a trip and begins to edit her photos realizing that a mysterious man is in EVERY picture that she took. She looks back through older pictures and he is in those as well. She then starts having extremely realistic dreams about this guy, and in each one she is a different woman. Each dream takes place in a different time period / place as well. From 1920's Chicago to Renaissance Italy. Clea then vows to figure out exactly what is going on, and who this guy is. It's an interesting story, and it ends on a cliffhanger. I remember enjoying the second one as well, so I am excited to read it again and finally finish the series. This is by no means great literature, but I really like this book. It combines travel with the YA fantasy/romance genre. That's pretty spot on for me.

2) Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

I have seen this book all over pinterest, and now goodreads (beyond obsessed!) for quite a while.... but once I started hearing what people thought of it I knew I needed to read it soon! I got it on e-reader library loan, and I read it in just two evenings. I could not put it down! The story takes place in regency England (Jane Austen time period) and centers around Marianne, a young woman who's mother has recently died, and consequently her father has gone to France. Marianne is stuck in Bath with her grandmother and tiresome suitors (the description on this guy... visible cringing and squirming on my part!), while her older twin sister is in London being introduced into society. She gets and invitation to visit her sister and her friends at an estate in the country. Marianne gladly accepts, and her grandmother vows to give her her inheritance, provided she can become a proper young lady during her visit. On the carriage ride over, a terrifying encounter has them stopping at an inn where Marianne meets a mysterious and arrogant man. Though he may not be as arrogant as he seems... and interesting mix of Mr. Darcy & Mr. Wickham. I'm not Austen obsessed, I love them, but I haven't really read any other regency set pieces... but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Go get it, now! :)

3) The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help has been out, and popular, for quite a few years now. I finally picked it up at a thrift store this year. I figured if I was going to read something about Kickass Females, this would be a great one right? Well, it is. I love historical fiction, and I LOVE this book! It follows two African American maids, and one young wealthy white woman during the 1960's in Mississippi. It is written from the perspective of each of the three, and follows them as the two tell their stories about being maids in white households and the other records, edits, and sends the stories away in hopes of publishing them, and sparking change. For some reason, I especially love reading books that take place during the civil rights movement. This one was no different, and it really opened my eyes to how the relations were, especially in the upper class South at that time. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about American history a little more, or to anyone who enjoys a well spun piece of historical based fiction. This book is really wonderful, it left me feeling both wrecked and hopeful. That's talent.

4) The Selection by Kiera Cass

 I have heard the premise of this series described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. I have to say after reading the first book that's pretty accurate, but certainly more The Bachelor. :) I half wondered ahead of time if they were meant to battle to the death over the prince. Baha, not so much. This book was really easy to read, fluffy... if you will. But, I read it in less than 7 hours... so it's plenty intriguing. I'm excited to finish the trilogy, and also to read The Heir... because... I do want to know what is going to happen. Sorta spoiler below... 

Was anybody else like, "OH NO HE DIDN'T!!" when Maxon stationed Aspen outside of her room?! Gah.

5) The Elite by Kiera Cass

Well, after reading the first book in a day, I had to go buy the other two. I stayed up later the next night and finished the Elite... #cantstopwontstop Ok, so the second installment is a lot more twisty-turny, which is good. The first, while entertaining, was fairly predictable. Now I'm wondering how things will end up, and what else will happen that I don't expect. Not getting enough sleep though, so we'll see about reading The One... in one day... haha

6) The One by Kiera Cass

So... I definitely started this book the day after I finished The Elite... and I successfully did not stay up all night finishing it. That said, I did read a lot of it, and I still stayed up pretty late.... BUT sleep is good. :) I finished this the next weekend. I have to say that this one definitely focused a lot more on the dystopian society than the other two. Less fluff for sure. Maxon and America were driving me bonkers though, it's just like, "SAY WHAT YOU ACTUALLY FEEL!" - I kinda hate that. KC and I are unusually good communicators, so it's probably a personal issue. baha As I continued to read, in the rising action, I was so over them acting like children. I get it, it makes it more dramatic for readers, but they were a hot mess. Interesting series, will probably read the next one at some point.

(COMPLETED!) Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge:

I manged to finish the challenge! I shifted some things around, re-read one, and changed a lot of them, so here we go!

1. A YA book (mandatory!) - check

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

2. Non US Author  (mandatory!) - check

The Witch's Daughter - Paula Brackston  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

3. A book that was recommended by a blogger  (mandatory!) -check

The Kitchen House by 
4. A book that has been on your TBR list for a year or more - check
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 

5. A book with a kickass female character - check

Etta - Gerald Kolpan  The Help by Kathryn Stockett    

6. A book that is or will be a movie (or TV show) - check

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter

7. A book written by a comedian or celebrity – or even a memoir if neither of those are your jam. - check

True - Hilary Duff - I loved the other two. :)  Elixir by Hilary Duff - I had to re-read so I could finish the series!

8. A book with a one word title. - check

Son - Lois Lowery  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

9. A suspenseful book – a mystery, a thriller, a book about revenge! - check

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins  Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

10. A book about Summer, with Summer in the title, or in any way related to Summer because this is a Summer challenge! -check 

Summer - Edith Wharton  Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen - My initial pick was too short!

Currently Reading:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- for Plucky's bookclub! I am determined to participate in the discussion this time! :)

Have you guys read any of these books?

Did you participate in the Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge? Did you finish?

Did you read The Selection Series? What did you think?

I just want to give a big, huge, thank you to Kristen, Kari, and Kay. Without this reading challenge, I would still be stuck in a non-reading, less engaged, life rut. Seriously, this was MUCH needed. :) :)



Thursday, September 17, 2015

2015 Goals // I Didn't Have Any Until Now...

Oh you guys, sometimes I think you can be too busy to know what you want. Does that make sense?

I know you all are probably tired of hearing about how not fun Jan-July were for me, I'm tired of typing it... but August gave me some time to think and breathe, and come up with some new goals, that I am actually excited about.

Before now this has been the only year I haven't posted any yearly goals, so here you have my 2015 goals. Some of them can't count for the whole year, but I'll start keeping track now.

Here we go!

1) read 50 books
2) visit 3 new states
3) start selling my invitations and hand lettering
4) completely clean out the bedroom and closet
5) start saving money, intentionally, ideally $1000 per pay period
6) have fun cooking again
7) learn to make a new dessert
8) send more than just envelopes in the mail (packages, gifts, etc.)
9) do yoga again! Ideally 3 times per week at least.
10) get back to work on my scrapbooks
11) watch 12 classic or cult classic movies
12) take 5 classes, workshops, etc. related to invitation design and lettering
13) focus on KC and I's Christmas traditions, and make more
14) blog at least once per week
15) buy a moto jacket
16) start learning my DSLR
17) host a clue themed party
18) see a play or musical
19) plan out 5 legitimate date nights
20) plan some kind of party for just the girls in my life :)

Some of these are probably a little ambitious, some of them are half done, others aren't that specific. But you know what? I'm just happy to want to do things again. :)

It's good to challenge yourself, and to be easy on yourself. It just depends on the season. I'm working on balance.

What do you hope to accomplish through the rest of the year?

How are you doing on your 2015 goals so far?



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary // Reading the Classics

The Secret Garden is probably one of those books that your mother hoped you would read as a kid. And maybe, like me, you preferred devouring the entire American Girls series. Can anyone relate?

I find myself all of a sudden wanting to read those books that are classics for kids. Whether they be old or new. Hey, I finally finished Harry Potter in college! Recently I've been slipping older classics into my reading list, and I am really enjoying them.

Most recently I read A Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett as part of the Literary Ladies Summer Reading Challenge. The story follows Mary Lennox, a young British girl in India, who is found among her household who has died of a cholera outbreak. (pretty grim start for a children's book, huh?)

Mary is described as ugly, mean, and unhappy. She's selfish, rude, and unwilling to help herself. This is entirely a product of her environment. Her parents were also selfish, and ignored her a great deal.

When she is found alive, she is sent to live with her nearest relation, her uncle Archibald Craven, at Misselthwaite Manor in the English countryside. She moves into the house, and quickly learns that it is much different at Misselthwaite than it was in her home in India. She is soon left to her own devices, made to care for herself, made to entertain herself. She makes friends with a maid in the house, Martha, and her brother Dickon as well. That is when Mary takes an interest in the outdoors, and in herself.

She begins to run, to play, to spend time outdoors. She makes friends with a robin, and Dickon. Mary begins the search for the hidden secret garden on the grounds of Misselthwaite. As well as what is behind the terrible noises and screams in the night.

Along the way Mary finds much more than a Secret Garden, she finds purpose and enjoyment in her life.

I had seen the movie many times as a child, and I hadn't remembered the story very well. Reading it was very fun. I liked how Mary's character wasn't loveable at all, but once she decided to care about herself she became pretty, healthy, strong, and filled with purpose. All of a sudden becoming much  more likeable.

I enjoyed the sweetness of childhood. Reading this book certainly brought back memories of playing outdoors in the summers, making believe with my sister, picking flowers in our yard etc. It is fun to remember what it is like to be a little girl. And maybe even more fun to read it as an adult...?

I also really liked all of the description of the moors. I'm a sucker for really good description in a book. It makes me want to see it in real life, and also to read Wuthering Heights. ;)

I would like to go back and watch the movie again now, I think I would have entirely new thoughts on it.

Have you read The Secret Garden? As an adult or a child? What did you think?

What were you favorite parts of being a kid? Did a book ever bring back those memories for you?

Happy Reading!



Friday, September 11, 2015

Snapshots of Train & Those Nights When the Universe is Against You // July 2015

I mentioned in this post, that before we knew my parents were moving away, we had bought my mom concert tickets to see one of her favorite bands, Train.

She, and my littlest sister OE flew back to Kansas for the show. It was really nice to see them, and made it seem like we would continue to get to see them a lot even though they live far away now. :)

We met at the concert and listened to the opening bands Matt Nathanson and The Fray. Both openers were really good! We spent a lot of The Fray's set running around trying to get drinks, and ear plugs, and t-shirts, but it was easy to hear and see from the concessions.

Matt Nathanson was a goofball. He was cracking jokes, and had a lot of commentary that was really funny. It was a good way to be as the first opener. Plus it was entertaining families and others who were already waiting for Train. :) I kind of love some of his music, and he is coming back to KC to play at a bar... maybe we'll go out for that show!

I used to think I hated The Fray's music, but it turns out it's now nostalgic, and that I really do like some of their new stuff a lot. :) Has this ever happened for you guys with a band or artist?

We got settled, and before too long a woman working for Train came out to ask Olivia if she wanted to sing and dance with Train and a bunch of other kids on the stage! WHAT?! That's so crazy. She shook her head and went back to playing Fruit Ninja.. bhaha. When mom heard, she was like OLIVIA, My FAVORITE BAND! You said no?!? hehe

Train came on and their performance was awesome. They sang lots of songs from a bunch of their albums, it was so fun to hear them live, the sound of my childhood car rides. :) We all sang and danced, and had a good time.

I may have shed a tear or two during 'Drops of Jupiter' ... there's just something about hearing a song you love live after loving it for so long. Also, let's keep in mind that this was my year up until (and after) this night....

We were taking my mom and OE back to my grandma's to stay, so we took our time leaving to let some of the traffic get out of the park. We got in the car, exited the park, and a family of raccoons promptly ran out in front of us. We didn't hit them, but it was very hard to see as the park didn't really have streetlights throughout.

We stopped for some waters and ice cream for the ride home. We get ready to take our exit, almost miss it, then get hit by a car... we've never been in a car accident before then. At this point it feels like after months of chaos the universe is trying to tell us something... we just don't know what....

We exchange info, call the police, they won't come to where we are, so they tell us to drive to the nearest police station. We do, and they tell us we're in the wrong place and give us bad directions to the next one. We finally find another one, and get it all taken care of. By this time it's about 2 AM, and I feel so stressed and also awful that this is how my mom's special night turned out.

We make it almost all the way back to my grandma's house, exhausted, so stressed out, when we are coming down a hill on a country highway, and there is a man with his dog walking IN THE HIGHWAY. At least no one else was on the road, and we were able to swing wide around him and get into the other lane.

It was so stressful I cannot even tell you. We've never had any driving situations like this alone or together, and all in one night, with passengers, we manage to have them all. Ugh.

So, I may have cried... because after the busy year, new job, craziness in Alaska, my family moving etc. I had nothing left to keep myself from doing it.

Bottom line: The concert was amazing, I'm glad we had that experience as a family, though we missed you dad! The end of the night and the whole year surrounding it so far sucked. But August, seems to have turned things around. Hoping so much that it stays this way!!!!!!

The next night we got pulled over for the first time for not signalling when a two lane turned into a one lane, but then signalling to make the turn immediately after. Keep in mind, country road, 2 AM, no traffic, new set up for the lanes... He gave us a warning, I'm sure he just wanted to make sure we weren't drunk. I get it, it's his job. But holy cow you guys.

We thought this was the end of the bad stuff, but then we went to Florida.

I can safely say that I have never ever ever been so happy to have an August in all my life. Thank goodness for 'fall'.

Have you ever seen a band that you've loved for a long time live? What was it like?

Have you ever done something like this as a family?

Have you ever had an especially bad year? How did you get past it?

All for now.



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Snapshots of Wasilla & Talkeetna, Alaska // July 2015

I hope you all had the loveliest Labor Day Weekend! We had a laid back but fun weekend, and I may have made another wall collage....

Anyhow, on to the travel stuff. :) I recently posted my pictures from our time in Anchorage, while we were in Alaska we also took one day to drive North, and another to drive South. Normally for us, a day of driving 8 hours or so is "nothing" and we can get 3-4 states away from home. We're road trip pros. In Alaska, driving anywhere takes forever and a day. Alaska is two times the size of Texas after all. So when you look at the map, just know that from Anchorage to each of these places would be the same dot, yet 2-3 hours in between. 

On our trip North, we visited Wasilla, where the Iditarod Headquarters are located, and Talkeetna, a hippy, outdoorsy, flight base town where a lot of planes shuttle people out to Denali. Wasilla seemed like a fun halfway point to Talkeetna, and since we had gone dog sledding on our honeymoon, we thought it would be fun to learn more about the dogs and the Iditarod. Talkeetna does not recognize traditional local government, and has named a cat their "mayor". No joke. His name is Mayor Stubbs and he is 15 years old. Clearly something I needed to see. :)

In the photo of us above Denali and the National Park are behind us... not that you can see them. : / 

We drove about half way up to Denali from Talkeetna, it was another 2ish hours to get all the way there. Though it wasn't dark, we weren't crazy about driving farther away from Anchorage since we were staying there for the night. The view was gorgeous, next time maybe we would go all the way out. It's hard to say. We aren't the most outdoorsy of travelers, so that seemed like a pretty extreme place to try first.

Our day North of Anchorage was quirky, scenic, and filled with furry friends. The towns were small, and quaint. I am glad that we got to see the documentary on the Iditarod, it was really eye opening and interesting. The people at the headquarters were SO nice. In Talkeetna we didn't really meet anyone who seemed very interested in us. The waitress at The Roadhouse was super abrupt... and almost rude. I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt, but it wasn't very welcoming.

Eat: We ate at The Roadhouse, mostly because of the abundance of breweries in Anchorage, which is probably good, most nights our coworkers wanted to eat at breweries. The food was good and the pie was excellent, the service was not, but maybe we caught them on a bad day. I don't even remember where we ate lunch...

See: The view! Mayor Stubbs, Husky Puppies, Denali National Park.

Shop: There were a few gift shops in Talkeetna, lots of local art and photography. The Iditarod gift shop was cute. It had lots of books that seemed like they would have been really interesting. Nagley's just for the experience, it's part grocery store, part drug store, part antique display... it's a lot of things going on. It was where we found Mayor Stubbs. 

Do: Iditarod Headquarters (free!), you can even pay a really small fee (like $10) to ride with the sled team. In the summer they have wheeled sleds, in the winter there is snow... obvs. We skipped out, having done it before, but these are real sled dogs! See the puppies, and the documentary/memorabilia inside. Nagley's Store. Denali National Park.

Favorites: Husky puppies... clearly.  And the documentary, after 30 minutes I felt so much more educated on the Iditarod and sled dog life. It's very interesting.

Overall this was not my favorite day of the trip, Talkeetna was oddly unfriendly and it was very overcast that day. Though I would definitely recommend the Iditarod Headquarters. :) 

Have you been to Alaska's upper peninsula before?

Have you ever been dog sledding?

Previously: Anchorage

Up Next: Seward & Kenai Fjords National Park

Thank you for reading!