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

Confessions

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

  • If I had no qualms about my health, my food groups would be bagels, burritos, pasta and pizza. Or, perhaps more accurately: carbs, burritos, and beer.
  • My hour-long commute really, really wears on me. Especially since I also end up driving long distances on the weekends more often than not.
  • I try to listen to audiobooks but fear I’m too picky about the narrator’s voice.
  • I feel all panicky if I leave my giant water bottle at home, but I rarely drink more than a quarter of its contents.
  • I feel awkward and uncomfortable wearing dresses/skirts on regular days (even at work) and am jealous of people who do so cutely.
  • I have never had a car that wasn’t silver or maroon and both want to keep that streak going but also am really over silver and maroon cars.
  • When I think too much about eating meat, I get really grossed out.
  • I understand the rules of chess, but the strategy completely escapes me. This makes Dan sad, because he’s really good at chess and has tried to teach me so we can play together.
  • I never buy food or flower-scented candles. I like them in other people’s homes, but I can’t deal with them in mine.
  • I have never, ever dyed my hair. Sometimes I feel like I missed my chance to dye it crazy colors, and then I wish I had lived it up in a more stereotypical way. (But it is kind of fun to shock hair stylists by telling them about my virgin hair.)

Books: 2011

  1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  2. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness D’Orczy
  3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  4. Blackout by Connie Willis
  5. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
  6. Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
  7. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. Three Fates by Nora Roberts
  10. Room by Emma Donoghue
  11. All Clear by Connie Willis
  12. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
  13. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
  14. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  15. Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
  16. The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond
  17. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  18. The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie
  19. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
  20. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
  21. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  22. Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
  23. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  24. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  25. One Day by David Nicholls
  26. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  27. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  28. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  29. Fallen by Lauren Kate
  30. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  31. Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts
  32. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
  33. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
  34. Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
  35. Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  36. A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin
  37. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
  38. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  39. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
  40. Drought by Pam Bachorz
  41. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  42. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
  43. Ape House by Sara Gruen
  44. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  45. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  46. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  47. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  48. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  49. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye
  50. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
  51. Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
  52. The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout

Well I certainly came down to the wire with my books this year. Looking back at 2010’s list, I really didn’t remember that I read so much last year. 52 books as a goal was a perfectly reasonable one for me, until my new-job-related exhaustion meant I pretty much didn’t read at all from the middle of September through the beginning of November. When I started my new job, I was 18 books ahead of schedule, and by early October, I was already behind. I rounded out the year with a lot of audiobooks, which both helped me feel like I was reading again, and also helped my progress toward my goal. The funny thing is that I don’t really think not being a librarian or being in a library every day really affected my reading progress, more getting used to a new routine, and not reading at lunch made a pretty big impact.

But what were my favorite books of the year? I was SO excited for A Dance with Dragons, and even though I was afraid to keep reading for fear of my favorite characters meeting untimely ends, the book was fantastic and although it was a bit slow at times, it lived up to my (high) expectations. The Bosspyants audiobook was amazing. I read a lot of YA as predicted, but my far and away favorites were Across the Universe and If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman. Gossamer was also so charming that I still think about it a few months after finishing it.

Another part of my goal (that I admittedly forgot about until I re-read last year’s post just now) was to read two classics that I hadn’t read before. And imagine that, I actually accomplished it despite forgetting about it. I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time this year (… I know. Especially since Jane Eyre is my very favorite, so it’s not like I’m afraid of books from that era.) and loved it so much more than I expected to. And I also read A Brave New World, which was only one of two books I was assigned to read in high school but didn’t actually read (the other being Crime and Punishment, which I started but just didn’t finish), a big deal for this book-loving rule-follower. I still think there are way, way too many classics that I haven’t read, and I’d really like to fix that.

So what will my 2012 reading goal be? I toyed with not having a goal at all, but I don’t know if that’s really in me. I should probably make my goal a bit lower, just because I haven’t been reading as much as I used to… but I don’t LIKE not reading as much. So my official 2012 reading goal is to read 45 books, with the full intention to completely crush that goal. I will also read at least three more classics that are new to me, including another by Jane Austen.

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

Books: 2010

  1. A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
  2. A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
  3. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  4. Key of Light by Nora Roberts
  5. The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  6. Key of Knowledge by Nora Roberts
  7. Key of Valor by Nora Roberts
  8. The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
  9. The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan
  10. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
  11. Rising Tides by Nora Roberts
  12. Inner Harbor by Nora Roberts
  13. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan
  14. Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
  15. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  16. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  17. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  18. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  19. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  20. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
  21. Bite Me: A Love Story by Christopher Moore
  22. Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts
  23. Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts
  24. Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
  25. Heart of the Sea by Nora Roberts
  26. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
  27. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
  28. A Trip to the Stars by Nicholas Christopher
  29. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  30. The Umpire Strikes Back by Ron Luciano
  31. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  32. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  33. Fire by Kristin Cashore
  34. This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  35. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  36. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Stieg Larsson
  37. Insatiable by Meg Cabot
  38. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  39. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  40. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
  41. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  42. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  43. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  44. Practical Demonkeeping by Christopher Moore
  45. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  46. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  47. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  48. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
  49. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
  50. Night World Book 1 (Secret Vampire, Daughters of Darkness, Enchantress) by L.J. Smith
  51. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
  52. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
  53. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling
  54. Matched by Ally Condie
  55. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
  56. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
  57. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Last year, I resolved to read more than 40 books, and I think it’s safe to say that I definitely managed to do that. 2010 was a year of reading like a maniac, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a while. (In fact, the last year I read more than 50 books was the 2007, the year I took that YA lit class in library school, which had me reading 33 books over one semester.) I seem to normally hover around 40 books in a good-reading year, 25 in a bad-reading year, so this year feels really good.

The highs in books this year were of course the last two books in the Martin series, the Percy Jackson series, Maggie Stiefvater’s two YA novels, the Passage, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (seriously, read it), the Millennium trilogy, and of course the Hunger Games series, which totally rocked my socks. I also read a whole lot of books I’m not exactly embarrassed to have on my list, but… it’s not like I’m going to brag about exactly how many Nora Roberts books I read this year. (Although I will stand behind my assertion that there’s a time and a place for a purely predictable story with an absurdly happy ending. I have never been one who thinks that everything one reads needs to be literary, smart, or educational.)

And considering the fact that I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series from the beginning (spurred by the first half of the Deathly Hallows movie, naturally), it’s interesting that I haven’t actually read books 1-4 since before I started keeping track of my reading (so, 2004 or earlier). I read books 5 and 6 in 2005, 6 and 7 in 2007, and in 2009, I read book 6 once and book 7 twice. Not that anyone cares about that other than me, but it explains why it has been so enjoyable to re-read the series from the beginning.

Anyway! So what will by book resolution for 2011 be? I want to stick with the read-like-a-maniac thing, so my goal will be to read 52 books in 2011, and to read at least two classics that I haven’t read before. So I’ll leave this post with a question: what’s your favorite classic book? Mine is Jane Eyre; I collect copies and re-read it every few years and just love it. (Interesting too, since I haven’t yet been able to get through a Jane Austen novel.)

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

30 Before 30

Even though the change in Official List Name Style makes me cringe a little, I wanted to make this year’s list a little different. Three years in a row of birthday lists means three years of accomplishing some pretty awesome stuff, but I think I can go one more list-driven year, and then I’ll be ready for something different. The previous two lists were spontaneously written on the eve of my birthday, but I’ve been working on this list in draft form since the beginning of June, trying to come up with concrete, fun, perfect things. I’m really excited about the year to come, and I think 29 will be full of some pretty great things. Isn’t that the whole point?

  1. DO NOT start another daily photo project. (Really. I mean it.)
  2. Add some colors to my converse collection, and take pictures of the adventures I have in them.
  3. Go swimming.
  4. Play miniature golf.
  5. Shoot more film. (Or, stop being afraid to try the Polaroid.)
  6. Make homemade pizza. (Making my own pizza dough is extra credit.)
  7. Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  8. Go through my clothes and shoes really honestly and donate what I don’t, won’t, or can’t wear.
  9. Enjoy now instead of worrying and planning for things that aren’t here yet.
  10. Cook something (or several somethings!) in my newly inherited crock pot.
  11. Get new glasses.
  12. Make garlands or paper flowers to hang in my apartment.
  13. Keep learning how to cook new things.
  14. Work on organizing my grandmother’s old photos.
  15. Decorate the blank walls in my living room and bedroom.
  16. Go on a fancy date.
  17. Spend at least one day at the beach (and not the kind of day where I’m wearing jeans).
  18. Go on a picnic.
  19. Play with sparklers.
  20. Try to tame the mess contained in the Black Hole Closet.
  21. Make a photo book out of Project 365 photos.
  22. Get a tattoo.
  23. Make a change.
  24. Knit something.
  25. Don’t spend the year worrying about turning 30.
  26. Eat at Harold’s.
  27. Do something completely touristy. Extra points if it’s local and therefore embarrassingly touristy.
  28. Wear heels more often.
  29. Bake something just for me, without an occasion.
  30. Consume beer samplers as often as possible.

(28 Things To Do While I’m 28)
(27 Things To Do While I’m 27)

Things I Want To Tell You About

  • Gold Bond Hand Sanitizing Moisturizer. I work with the public. I wash my hands a lot. I use a lot of that alcohol-based hand sanitizer. My hands are always, always, always crazy dry. I wash my hands, I put on lotion. The non hand sanitizer style Gold Bond lotion has really saved my hands from true horrors this winter. So I finally tried this new stuff, and I know this is super geeky, but it just makes me so happy. It gets the job done (while preventing me from thinking too much about how germy my workplace is), smells good, and it feels like I just put lotion on afterwards. Awesome.
  • Every few months, my lips get monstrously chapped. Sometimes I blame it on my allergy medicine, but that’s just a guess. It’s horrible; not your standard-issue chapped lips. They feel tight and then they crack and peel and flake and when it gets really bad, it’s like it spreads around the perimeter of my lips. And I have tried Every. Damn. Lip Balm. There Is. Burts Bees, straight up Vaseline, the new Neosporin super healing one, everything. And nothing really works, and I’m left just waiting it out. Well! I finally found the answer. And I am sharing it not because I think you care about my chapped lips, but this has been such a magic solution that you might want to know, too. It’s Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and I bought it in a pack of two 0.35 ounce tubes that are more chapstick-sized. My lips got really bad on Monday, and by Thursday they were back to normal. This is unprecedented. And amazing. And not even expensive! Also, it’s not medicated so it doesn’t sting, and it doesn’t smell or taste like anything. Hooray!
  • I finally joined listography, after long coveting the books and just loving that they even have a website. I added a link to the sidebar with what lists I have going now. Since writing lists features heavily on my 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 List, I thought it would be fun to have them over there. I may actually transition my books read/to read/movies seen lists over there exclusively, but I’m not sure yet.
  • And finally! I added the most current links from my delicious page in the sidebar, as well. I used to just star items in Google Reader, but I am not fond of the methods Reader offers for getting back to the items. Plus, I like that delicious allows me to just tag any site on the web. I’ve been using this for links I want to refer back to – recipes, craft ideas, wishlisty things, but mostly things I actually want to do or make or try, rather than just things I think are pretty. So in case you’re interested, that’s over there too.