34 before 34

It hit me about a few months ago that I had completely forgotten about my 33 before 33 list. I suppose impending parenthood can sort of take over your life in that way. That list wasn’t a total bust, but because I forgot about it so thoroughly, I don’t think it’s really fair to consider it done. Some years, I plan my lists for weeks ahead of time, but today is my 33rd birthday, and I still want to do all those things I thought up last year. So I decided to start a new list for my new year. The first 19 items are from 33 before 33, and the rest are new or just slightly revised for this year. When I turned 32, I was a newlywed who had a lot of high hopes, and adding them to a list helped me feel a bit like they weren’t as crazy as they felt. Now I’m 33, and we bought that house and I had that adorable baby, and I need a list like this more than ever, as I’m learning how to be BOTH the new me who’s a mom and the old me who really needs to create. So here we are. And even if I forget about this list by January, I think it’ll be a pretty good year.

  1. go on dates with Dan
  2. host a party of some sort (dinner party, housewarming, football party) for more than 4 people
  3. shoot at least one roll of film each with the AE-1, instax, polaroid
  4. make a wedding album
  5. make wedding albums to give to our parents
  6. visit the ocean (at least 5 times)
  7. walk across a bridge in NYC
  8. visit a new local brewery
  9. make pom poms
  10. eat at Pete and Elda’s
  11. make quote wall art
  12. crochet a giant scarf
  13. get another tattoo
  14. hang a photo gallery wall in our new place
  15. go to a Patriots game with Dan to celebrate six years since our first spark
  16. make a new dessert
  17. get a sewing machine
  18. and sew something simple
  19. make a wreath for each season (summer, fall, Christmas, winter, spring) for our front door
  20. decorate the living room and the dining room
  21. write in a paper journal three times a month
  22. blog more
  23. learn how to be a mom
  24. try NOT to overthink things so much
  25. go on a photo excursion (by myself or with friends)
  26. thoroughly purge my closet (again)
  27. start building a new wardrobe
  28. collect more bracelets for an arm party
  29. grow out my hair
  30. plan an awesome first birthday for Benjamin
  31. eat healthy food and exercise (and okay, also lose weight) to really stave off diabetes
  32. keep up with Project Life and Ben’s baby album
  33. choose a positive outlook even when things are hard
  34. laugh more. feel the wind. go for walks. read books to Ben. savor the snuggles. tell Dan how awesome he is. love big. breathe deep.

(Pregnant) Confessions

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two) (Confessions Three) (Confessions Four) (Confessions Five)

  • I still feel guilty that I didn’t really have any morning sickness.
  • I didn’t have a magical moment when the + showed up on the test after which I was consumed with love for my unborn baby. It was something a little more like stunned disbelief.
  • I still feel mostly gobsmacked by the whole thing.
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about ice cream and seasonal Reese’s peanut butter cups. (Seasonal ones have a much better peanut butter to chocolate ratio.)
  • I’m inordinately terrified that my feet will swell and never go back to their original size. Size ten is PLENTY large enough, baby. (Think of all the converse!!!)
  • I don’t seem to be having stereotypical cravings, but obsessions with certain foodstuffs that burn hot and fast, and after they’re over, I want NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with said foodstuff. (The now-unappealing list includes pumpkin squash ravioli frozen dinners and strawberry Newtons, most notably).
  • In the last week, the baby’s kicks have gone from gentle little rumbles to shockingly strong actual KICKS that often make me gasp out loud. But the new strength means Dan felt one from the outside for the first time, and that was kinda amazing.
  • I’m still caught off guard by people being extra kind and taking care of me (when my sister- and brother-in-law each grabbed an elbow walking through an icy parking lot; when a friend walked me back from lunch to make sure I got past all the ice safely). Not because it’s weird that they’d be nice, but more that I forget, a little, that I need to be 50x more careful.
  • I am surprised that I haven’t had too many overly emotional sobfests (which is not to say that I haven’t had any). I have been SUPER irritable, though.
  • I really, really, really miss beer.

Books: 2013

  1. In the Woods by Tana French
  2. A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene
  3. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
  4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green
  6. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  8. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  9. Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  10. The Twelve by Justin Cronin
  11. What to Expect Before You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff
  12. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  13. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
  14. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
  15. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  16. When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman
  17. The Likeness by Tana French
  18. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  19. Wool by Hugh Howey
  20. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
  21. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey
  22. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  23. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  24. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  25. Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  26. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  27. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  28. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  29. Blue Dahlia by Nora Roberts
  30. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
  31. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen
  32. Black Rose by Nora Roberts
  33. Red Lily by Nora Roberts
  34. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  35. White Cat by Holly Black
  36. Birthright by Caragh O’Brien
  37. The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen
  38. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  39. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  40. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  41. Faithful Place by Tana French
  42. Virals by Kathy Reichs
  43. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Looking back on the books I’ve read this year is something I really enjoy, even though it’s hard to believe we’re here already. My reading goal for 2013 was to read 39 books (my average number of books read since I started keeping track back in 2005). I’m happy to say that I squeaked past that goal with 43, largely aided by a week of intense reading on our honeymoon in June, and a hefty audiobook consumption once I went back to a very lengthy commute in September. I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have come close if it hadn’t been for the audiobooks this fall. My side goals were to read one classic that’s new to me (I didn’t do this or even remember it was on my list, honestly) and five novels meant for adults that weren’t mass market fiction. I’m surprised and kinda jazzed to report that I read nine adult fiction books AND two nonfiction books. Reading YA is definitely my favorite (with a healthy dose of romance novels for good measure), and I’m okay with that. But the adult novels I’ve read this year were some of my favorite books of the year. I listened to eight audiobooks (Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane was spectacular – read by Gaiman himself. Kathy Reichs’ Virals wasn’t really a super awesome story, but Cristin Milioti’s narration was some of the best I’ve ever heard). I also re-read three books (The Passage, Across the Universe, and Delirium) as refreshers before reading sequels, which I generally like to do.

The books that I read in 2013 that I would recommend most highly are some pretty amazing books: all three of Tana French’s books were so refreshing and dark and un-put-downable; The Age of Miracles was a YA novel that tells the story of what happens during an epic natural disaster; The Passage and The Twelve are truly epic doorstops of books but so very, very gripping; Eleanor & Park was a super charming, sad love story; The Fault in Our Stars was just unforgettable.

I’m not sure it’s very smart for me to set a reading goal for 2014, what with the whole baby showing up in late May business. I think it’d be short-sighted of me to expect that my reading habits will remain unchanged once a newborn is in the picture. But I also can’t see myself NOT reading. (Feel free to remind me of this as you laugh at me this summer.) So! My goal for 2014 will be to read 30 books. We’ll reconvene a year from now to see how crazy that notion is.

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005

Good Things

  • pink fuzzy slippers from the moment I get home until I get into bed
  • turning down all invitations for this weekend, which qualifies as good (rather than lame) because it means we will have all weekend to make some house progress (unpacking and rainbow-ifying books! maybe possibly setting up the craft room! figuring out the 15 paint cans the previous owners left us in the garage so we can paint over the patched hole the couch made in the basement staircase!)
  • I’m reading SO much lately. (I especially loved Birthmarked. And am cautiously optimistic about Allegiant, which I’m about halfway through.)
  • the smell of fall leaves
  • looking SO forward to a sleepover with two of my best girls in a few weeks
  • dark, moody nail polish
  • the soon-to-be mine orange Filofax. Organizing nerdery, here I come!
  • coming home to the porch light on (because Dan gets home from work earlier than I do)
  • thinking up ways we can decorate our new place for Christmas
  • and how we’ll (maybe) (hopefully) get a real tree for the first time ever this year (while also finding a Place of Honor for the Little White Tree of Legend)
  • and how I keep telling Dan that I’m going to “decorate the SHIT out of this place for Christmas” and he looks at me veeeery warily

Confessions

(Confessions One) (Confessions Two) (Confessions Three) (Confessions Four)

  • My car is almost always full of clutter and at least two empty diet coke bottles. It’s not dirty… but there’s always extra stuff floating around. It only gets worse the longer my commute is.
  • I find it next to impossible to be far away from windows during thunderstorms. I want to look outside, BE outside to hear the thunder, see the lightning, feel the gusts of wind.
  • Triscuits go best with cheddar cheese. Ritz are the preferred crackers for peanut butter. I do not prefer to eat cheese or peanut butter with other varieties of crackers.
  • I always put my left shoe on first.
  • I don’t understand why the internet gets so excited for pumpkin spiced things in the fall. I can’t stand anything pumpkin-flavored (except my mom’s pumpkin bread, and even then, only sometimes).
  • The last 5 shirts I have bought have been polka dots, NOT stripes.
  • I keep buying colored jeans, with the rationale that they are nicer as work pants, that I’m tricking everyone by not wearing blue jeans and therefore looking more work appropriate… and only realized recently that yellow or bright pink pants aren’t really what most people would consider “professional” attire.
  • I haven’t taken my camera out for a real photo walk in months and I feel awful about that.
  • As much as I love slippers and cozy sweaters and giant scarves, I am really not looking forward to the giant chunk of the year I’ve come to think of as the “Elizabeth’s always cold” season.

The Before

  • The week before buying a house feels a lot like the week before getting married did. My brain is full of static, basically. I can’t stop saying how WEIRD everything feels.
  • Because less than 24 hours before we sign all of these papers and hand over a gigantic check, I still can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that we’re really buying a house.
  • I have had a series of hilarious, sitcom injuries this week – falling up the stairs at work and making the loudest clatter EVER, stabbing myself with the un-attached legs of a Lack table, slicing my finger open pretty nicely with a potato peeler.
  • We finished packing last night, finally, after emergency box deliveries care of my brother and parents, and one last trip to Lowe’s for the really big boxes. I kinda don’t care that we packed everything but our solo cups, even if it means our food options amount to take out.
  • The vodka tonics have been flowing. I’m concerned that the guys at the liquor store are starting to notice how often I’ve been there in the last two weeks.
  • Dan told me last night that even though we sorta hate it, he’ll also kinda miss our apartment. Because it was the first one that was Ours.
  • I’m irrationally worried that I’ll mess up all those signatures – I’m really not very good at signing my new name yet.
  • But all in all, it seems like things are poised to go smoothly, so keep your fingers crossed that they do. I definitely will be. And I just can’t wait to start this part of our lives.

33 Before 33

I have a bad habit of getting myself into long-term, big-scale projects. Often. I’ve never been one for new year’s resolutions, but there is something about having a yearly or daily project (or hell, just one that’s numbered) that motivates me like nothing else. This quirk is why I have completed four years of Project 365 (whining about it heartily by the end), and probably a little bit of why Project Life appeals to me so much. I have a weakness (or compulsion) when it comes to neatly stacked, numbered lists, and even when I need a break, I can’t seem to stay away from this style of project for very long. So after a few years off, I decided it was time to bring back the birthday to do list, last seen when I was 29 with my 30 Before 30 list.

Having these lists to guide me as I approach a new year has been such a great thing; I really think that if you strike the right balance of silly, small things and big, maybe scary things and things you’ve always wanted to do but just never got around to, it’s a recipe for a really great year. I have done some really fun things thanks to these years of lists, and sometimes I just need a list to push me that extra inch toward a goal. So I’m bringing back the list, with this one: 33 Before 33. In the past, I have obscured the big stuff in vagueries (“make a change” or “take a risk or two”)… but it’s not like it’s a secret to anyone (on the internet or in real life) that there are some Big Life Things that Dan and I want to get rolling on this year. Somehow, putting them on this list (and on the internet) in black and white make them feel more within reach. Less like we’re talking about some other people who are going to do adult-sounding things. If that makes any sense.

Or, the short version: I get majorly sentimental about projects and birthdays and numbered lists. And here’s the list of things I want to do while I’m 32:

  1. make a blanket that I get to keep (I made a granny square blanket for Ben)
  2. send random happy mail to friends
  3. go on one date each month with Dan
  4. host a party of some sort (dinner party, housewarming, football party) for more than 4 people
  5. shoot at least one roll of film each with the AE-1, instax, polaroid
  6. make a wedding album
  7. make wedding albums to give to our parents
  8. buy a house! (we did it!)
  9. paint a room in our new house (extra credit for stripes and/or chalkboard paint) (Ben’s room!)
  10. get a grill and use it
  11. visit the ocean (at least 5 times) (1: Cape Cod, August)
  12. walk across a bridge in NYC
  13. become a mother
  14. visit a new local brewery
  15. learn how to cook new (healthy!) meals with Dan
  16. finally own an Expedit bookshelf from Ikea
  17. get a cat!
  18. make pom poms
  19. eat at Pete and Elda’s (for my brother’s birthday in December)
  20. make quote wall art
  21. get rid of the large quantities of clothes that don’t fit
  22. crochet a giant scarf
  23. get another tattoo
  24. celebrate our first anniversary
  25. focus on today’s moments instead of worrying about tomorrow’s
  26. hang a photo gallery wall in our new place
  27. go to a Patriots game with Dan to celebrate five years since our first spark (done!)
  28. make a new dessert
  29. find awesome, reliable, go-to places to eat in our new town
  30. get a sewing machine
  31. and sew something simple
  32. make a wreath for each season (summer, fall, Christmas, winter, spring) for our front door
  33. choose hope instead of letting stress win

And in case you like to go back in time as much as I do, here are my previous birthday lists:
30 before 30
28 Things to Do While I’m 28
27 Things To Do While I’m 27

A New Look

So! I have been bored by the look of this site for a while, but until a few weeks ago, had no ideas or inspiration for how to re-imagine it. I knew it had to be stripe-ier, more colorful… and more current. Here’s what the site has looked like since about August 2011:
oldlook
Which was fine, but I have wanted something jazzier for a while. Luckily, stripes are not above my (very mediocre) Photoshop talent level.

Here’s the new look, if you’re viewing this from a feed reader:
newlook

Pam helped me out with some social media icons, which I re-colored. I updated the About page a bit, and added sidebar links to my current and recent projects (Project Life, my 52 weeks of no color photography project for 2013, as well as older projects like 30 Before 30 and Handmade52). I have also added links to a few of my favorite posts from years past, since I enjoy reading those on other blogs.

I overthink this blog, sometimes; I know I’m not a big fish, and I mostly write for myself. But just like Project Life is worth the energy because it’s about preserving memories, writing here is worth it for me for the same reason. And having a look I’m jazzed about just makes me want to be here more. And I really do want to be here.

Wedding Wednesday: Tidbits

  • trying to remember to keep taking deep breaths
  • realizing the hugeness that is our project to write our own vows
  • irrationally afraid that I’ll break my arm in the next 11 days
  • looking forward to visiting Grandmother tomorrow (she said she has something for me for the wedding; what could it be?)
  • belatedly (too latedly) wondering if I should have planned to get myself a sweater or wrap or bolero or something
  • grinning when I realize I can actually start to picture everything coming together
  • still amazed at how no big deal it was to apply for our marriage license today
  • kind of tired of driving all over the county to find the random things we need
  • marveling at the fact that we can say “our wedding is next week”
  • figuring it’s probably time to write the lists of what we need to bring to the brewery for the reception (and what I need to pack to bring to the hotel for the rehearsal and the wedding itself)
  • hoping I can handle being the temporary guardian of several important “something old” and “something borrowed”s.
  • living in fear of the day the ten day forecast becomes available
  • feeling a lot calmer than I thought I would at this stage in the game
  • secretly trying on my wedding band in the evenings
  • trying to get used to my new name but feeling silly practicing my soon-to-be signature
  • gathering photos for my makeup and hair trials on Friday
  • anticipating a weekend of crafts and diy projects
  • really just in disbelief and amazement that this is all really happening.

Books: 2012

  1. Secrets to a Healthy Metabolism by Barbara Emmerich
  2. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
  3. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern*
  4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  6. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay*
  7. Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse*
  8. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  9. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer*
  10. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer*
  11. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown*
  12. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer*
  13. An Off Year by Claire Zulkey
  14. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer*
  15. At Home by Bill Bryson*
  16. Birthright by Nora Roberts
  17. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach*
  18. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
  19. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
  20. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  21. Every Day by David Leviathan

Well. Let’s just start off by saying I didn’t even come CLOSE to hitting my goal of reading 45 books (and three classics) during 2012. I know that reading almost two books a month is a perfectly acceptable amount of reading to do in a year. Especially a year in which I had a two+ hour daily commute for 8 months, and oh yeah that whole planning a wedding business. (Having a tv in the bedroom during 2012 also really cut into my before-bed reading time.) In the 8 years that I’ve been keeping track of my reading each year here on the blog, I’ve read 23 books, 24 books, 51 books, 44 books, 40 books, 57(!) books, 52 books, and 21 books. My average, then, is 39, but I’ve read a total of 312 books since the beginning of 2005. In these 8 years, I’ve read the Harry Potter series and the Game of Thrones series all the way through twice each (and I actually thought those numbers would be higher, to be honest).

Even though there are good reasons, I can’t also say that I’m not disappointed in my reading this year. Almost half of the books were audiobooks, and it’s not like I’m proud to have finally read all of the Twilight books (even if they kept me engaged during my long commutes for many, many weeks). The best books of the year were by FAR Night Circus and Divergent, which I’d recommend so highly. I really loved the Art of Fielding, too, and Gone Girl was good if a little … bleak for my taste.

Still, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have a reading goal for 2013. I definitely want to get back to reading like a fiend, even if it’ll take a little adjusting. My goal is to get back up to my average, and read 39 books. I will read at least one classic that’s new to me, and at least 5 novels meant for adults (as opposed to YA, and mass market fiction like Nora Roberts definitely doesn’t count). Here’s to the new year, and lots of new books!

In Previous Years…
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008
Books Read in 2007
Books Read in 2006
Books Read in 2005