“Where Have I Been?” or “Life (School) Happens”

This may be a long post as I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do. First, I want to say to anyone still checking out my blog: thank you!!! Second, I did not fall off the earth/suffer an illness/forget about blogging/stop bullet journaling/forget my WordPress password/etc. We all know life happens to the best of us, including me. To pick up where I left off last time

The biggest change is that I decided to go back to school instead of trying to find another office job where I would be unhappy. I didn’t anticipate that calling to make an appointment with the school the last week of March would end up with me starting classes the first week of April. While it may look like a snap decision from the outside, it is something I had been thinking about for over a year, and 12 weeks in I have not regretted the decision. I feel like I am where I need to be now, and heading in a direction I need to go. 🙂

So far I have chosen not to work while attending classes, but that will need to change within a few months as my unemployment benefits aren’t unlimited (unfortunately). I’ve already put some thought into where I want to apply, so it’s just a matter of feeling “ready” to add work to my life with school. I do already have a college degree, but the first time school was my job and I didn’t have a home, significant other, or cats to care for (or bills to pay) so this time is a different experience. I’ve made improvements to my time management since April, but I want to be sure I have a handle on it before I try adding anything else.

In addition to school, we had planned and budgeted to attend PAX East 2016 in April. (See my highlights here.) Since part of the trip had been booked already and the rest had money set aside, we went. One benefit of having started budgeting late last year is that we already had a buffer and a plan. The past couple of months Andrew has had more hours at work, so that’s helped to make up the difference between what I was paid while working and what my unemployment is. We’re not paying off debt with “gazelle intensity”, but our 4 walls are more than taken care of. (Just don’t tell Dave Ramsey I’m taking out student loans…)

I’m still doing couch to 5k! I haven’t actually completed the program yet, but I’m still working at it. I’ve reached the point where I don’t want to miss one of my 3 weekly sessions of jogging/walking, and I’ve even decided to add in a bit of additional fitness.

I’ve been trying to make sure not to forget self-care–or just taking a break in general. I like getting things accomplished as much as the next person, but especially with homework my brain can get fried.

My bullet journal… That may have to be its own post. Habit trackers always end up being a fail for me because, well, they just do. I try putting too many things on it and it becomes a source of guilt (the opposite of its intended purpose). Toward the end of the month, I always seem to have restlessness about moving from my Arc to another notebook. I tried two different notebooks I already had in April and ended up back in my Arc. I bought some Martha Stewart lined paper for it (aqua!) so I’ve now decided my bullet journal stays put at least until that is used up. I would prefer grid paper, but I have crappy (thin) copy paper at the moment and got tired of printing (and cutting and punching) my own and then every pen bleeding through. I’ve already started setting up July in the Arc, so I am delaying the decision of a new notebook until further notice.

I think that’s all for this time, readers. I don’t want to put a novel up here. How did Spring treat you? Are you ready for July yet?

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Best Books Read in 2015

I thought I’d do a quick post about the best books I read last year. I put together a list, but wanted to highlight ones that everyone wasn’t already talking about (though I’ll mention those too). Here they are (in no particular order):

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid

I truly enjoyed reading this book. Since Santa didn’t bring me an Amazon gift card, I’m waiting (forever) for my library to get the ebooks so I can continue reading the series. (I think I recommended them for purchase through the library app? I’ll have to check on that…)

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head… by Dan Harris

I don’t normally go for non-fiction, but this was a great read. It got me more into the idea of meditating, and might have even introduced me to my favorite meditation app–Headspace.

Bellwether by Connie Willis

I mentioned this one before, and it’s another one I truly enjoyed. I want to read more from this author.

White Cat/Red Glove (The Curse Workers #1/2) by Holly Black

I didn’t realize this series was YA when I started it, but that’s a good thing as I don’t typically read YA books. The audiobooks are read by Jesse Eisenberg, and I found them really great to listen to in the car. Now if the library would purchase book 3 so I can finish the series–argh!

The Graveyard Book, Volume 1, by Neil Gaiman

Occasionally, Andrew receives books to review (in addition to all the games and peripherals), but he doesn’t really read. I decided to make this my first Neil Gaiman read since it was already in the house and it was good. I need to borrow Volume 2 from the library.

As for the ones that everyone was talking about, I read and would recommend: The Maze Runner series (James Dashner), Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn), Ready Player One (Ernest Cline), The Martian (Andy Weir), The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo), and The Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins).

After writing this out, it looks like I have a good start to my reading list for 2016. I managed to finish off 36 books last year–one graphic novel, some comics, some started before the year began–and I’m hoping to read at least that many again this year.

Have you read any of the books mentioned? What made your top books of the year? What are your “must-reads” for 2016? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to follow the blog, and find me on Twitter and Instagram for more content. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

What I Read (November 2015) + A Bonus

Welcome to my November reading recap! I didn’t knock too many things off my list this month, but here we go.

First up, I finished listening to Red Glove by Holly Black (Curse Workers #2). I’m really enjoying this series, and I’m (im)patiently waiting for my library to decide to purchase the audiobook for the third/last installment. These have been read by Jesse Eisenberg and he’s fit the narrator very well. I highly recommend audiobooks recorded by him, and will be looking out for more.

After I finished Red Glove, I started on The Kill Order by James Dashner, the prequel to The Maze Runner series. This was an all right book, but I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the rest of the series–probably because none of the characters are included in this part of the “history”. I want to try out some of James Dashner’s eventually.

I FINALLY finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I don’t know why I couldn’t get through this book faster than I did. There are tons of both positive and negative reviews about this book. The negative ones seem to revolve around the language used. While it did drive me up the wall at times, I chalk this up to a cultural difference. I can look past this because in the end, I found the plan for sorting through one’s belongings useful. I haven’t implemented the plan yet, but I certainly feel less overwhelmed about the process because I have a plan.

I started and finished The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This was a pretty interesting book, but I was torn about the shifting perspectives it was written in. I didn’t mind hearing the different characters’ experience of the situations, but when the time also shifted, it got a bit confusing. All in all it was a good book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys mysteries.

At the very end of the month, I started reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I hadn’t gotten too far into it with only 2 days of the month left. 😛

Other books on my to-read short list include: The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey); The Highly Sensitive Person (Elaine N. Aron); Get Organized! (Colette Leigh); Moneymalism (Madison Bradford).

And now…

BONUS!!!

My favorite podcasts for book recommendations:

Pop Culture Happy Hour – Good for much more than books, but always an interesting discussion

The Worst Bestsellers – Funny hosts and guests, plus appearances by cats

Bellwether Friends – Sadly on hiatus, but still good general media recommendations

And that’s all I’ve got on reading for November! Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of the books I’ve mentioned or have any to recommend. Also, let me know if you find the podcast recommendations useful.

Be sure to follow my blog, or find me on Twitter and Instagram for more.

Have a great day! 🙂

October 2015 Recap

Time to look back on the past month, see what got accomplished, and determine what needs more focus for the new month.

First I’ll look at planning. I had much more restlessness in my bullet journal than I cared to. After the initial setup for the month, I changed again, then saw another idea at the end of the month I wanted to try. So I set up a trial of the last setup for the last week in my arc notebook, and used two last week. My cleaning and self-care routines got a bit thrown midway through the month (I was going off a medication and had some side effects to deal with). As a result, I’ve changed both my monthly spread and my weekly spread to help me have a better planning month. I’m also working on a budget in my arc notebook.

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I’ve used the supplies I got from Jet Pens some, but not a ton. So far I’m liking the fountain pen I got, and the Acroball multi-pen writes much better than the last pens I had bought. I may invest in some more of them if I find I need more than 3 colors of ink.

Andrew and I continued with Cycle 2 of the 17 Day Diet, and then moved on to a combination of Cycles 3 and 4. From the middle of September (when we started) until October 19th, Andrew lost 11 lbs and I lost 7–enough to make a difference in how our clothes fit, and to get us into better eating habits.

I didn’t make a lot of progress on the knitting projects I posted about before. I think the only project with noticeable progress were the socks, which are now ready to have the heels knitted. Instead, I caved and started a project with the Zauberball I purchased at the knitting retreat in September. I’m making the Foolproof Cowl so I can use as much of the yarn as possible.

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I don’t feel like I’ve done as well with reading this month, but I think it’s because I listened to more books than I read. I finished: The Death Cure [The Maze Runner #3] (James Dashner); The Martian (Andy Weir); White Cat [The Curse Workers #1] (Holly Black); You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Felicia Day). I didn’t end up finishing I Am Legend or Neurotribes. The “other stories” in I Am Legend just weren’t my cup of tea, and Neurotribes ended up not being what I thought it would be. I’ve started The Kill Order [The Maze Runner #0.5] and Red Glove [The Curse Workers #2]. I still need to finish The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

That’s all I’ve got to recap from October. I plan to participate in the Instagram #planwithmechallenge (hosted by Kim and Jessica) again this month, so I may incorporate some of those prompts into this month’s blog posts.

What I Read (September)

I got my reading mojo back over the summer, and I’m trying to hold onto it. After all, I have a huge TBR list. 😛

This month I knocked a few off the list. Here are my thoughts.

Getting Things Done (David Allen) (Abridged Audiobook): The constant references to entering your information in a PDA really dates this book. I’ve heard of the GTD system for years, and was familiar with the basics, but hadn’t read the book before. Some of the principles in the book don’t apply to me (mostly the work applications he uses as examples), but I enjoyed getting a refresher on staying on top of things. I do use elements of this system (your brain is not the most efficient storage device–just write it down), and it would be useful for anyone who hasn’t heard of GTD before to learn about this productivity system and see if there are any useful parts that could be implemented. However, I wouldn’t recommend the audiobook. There are so many GTD sites out there. Seriously.

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline): Video games of any kind are not my forte, but I’d heard a ton of positive reviews for this book. Some of the gaming references went over my head, but I enjoyed the pop culture references and the world built in this book. I definitely want to check out other books by Cline and the film adaptation.

Bellwether (Connie Willis) (Audiobook): This was a recommendation from the Bellwether Friends podcast (currently on hiatus :/). I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I ended up really enjoying it. Except I wanted to slap one of the characters in the book. Really hard. I’m glad I read/listened to it, and I’m looking forward to other books from this author and ones that the hosts have recommended.

The Miracle Morning (Hal Elrod): I decided to read this one after seeing an overview of the concept on Lifehacker.com. It was a good book, but I honestly could have done without the “personal development guru” attitude that came across in the writing. (Dude, you wrote the book, stop promoting yourself on every page.)

17 Day Diet Essentials (Dr. Mike Moreno) (Audiobook): Since Andrew and I decided to give this diet a try, I thought it was worth consuming at least part of the book and not solely relying on a blog (not from the author) to get my information from. Not having read the text version, I can’t make a comparison, but the audiobook definitely gave enough of an overview to answer any lingering questions I had. The author reads it himself and answers some FAQ’s at the end of the recording. It also comes with a great PDF supplement that can be downloaded with food lists and other useful information.

Currently Reading: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Marie Kondo), I Am Legend and Other Stories (Richard Matheson) (Audiobook), The Death Cure [The Maze Runner #3] (James Dashner)

Up Next: The Martian (Andy Weir), NeuroTribes (Steve Silberman) (Audiobook), The Highly Sensitive Person (Elaine M. Aron, PhD)

Thanks for reading! 🙂