Saturday, July 04, 2015

Friday Five: 4th of July

Happy Saturday! Yes, I know... I'm a day late for Friday Five, but in my defense I wasn't around a computer yesterday and, well, now I have pictures! This week's theme is the 4th of July. Don't forget to visit Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia to see their plans! 

I'm in the middle of my 4th, but I've already done everything I'd planned to do. I think I'm going to lay around tonight, eat a nice dinner (currently being prepared), and watch something. Maybe some grocery shopping if the store is open. Yawn! What I did to celebrate the 4th (on the 3rd and the 4th):

Mmmm cake.
My pal lives downtown and had some folks over for a cookout Friday night. The hostess made the best flag cake. After dinner we walked over to...

Red White & Boom
Downtown Columbus does their fireworks on the 3rd. It's a big deal. So thankful my friend had a primo parking spot for us and that we were able to walk down to the fireworks in under 5 minutes. I haven't been in a few years and it was nice to get back without having to deal with the normal chaos.

Ran 10.4 miles
My training schedule had me at 5 this morning, but my running buddies are gearing up for a full and I plan to run with them until I can't handle the distance. My training group was canceled, but a few of us went out on our own to get in 9. After we turned at the halfway point the police had closed the bike trail (for fireworks setup) and we were rerouted into the middle of a July 4th race! We couldn't get off the course (police kept telling us we couldn't!) until we hit a nearby high school. The detour added some milage (and hills!), but the weather was amazing and I was feeling great. I was worried about a long run, but I could have kept going. Gotta love runs like this.

Good run!
Finished my Jost Running 100 Miles of Summer challenge
My 10 miler pushed me over the 100 mile mark for Jost Running's 100 Miles of Summer challenge. It took me 7 weeks to hit 100. I think the deadline is mid August, so I'm feeling good considering June was a low milage month.

Wandered around our garden / went to lunch / took a nap
Since I've been home I've showered (duh), took some photos in our garden, went to lunch for some shrimp pasta and wine, and took a 45 minute nap with Tobias. While I celebrated my 4th yesterday, it's been a pretty great Saturday so far!

How's your 4th shaping up?

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Books of June 2015

June was a pretty good month. We went to North Dakota, ran a 5k (which I guess I should recap), saw Alex's family, went to a few Columbus festivals, and made some minor house progress. I had a lot of freelance and regular work last month and that seems to be the case for July, too. 

I'm not sure what happened with reading in June, but I definitely slacked. I'm going to blame the books. Only one of them kept me up reading at night. The others inspired lots of phone time. 

Finished June 14, 2015
A God in Ruins
by Kate Atkinson

Review: 3 / 5 
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. 

I'm in the minority on this book. While I think others will love it (and see many folks already do) it took me weeks to finish and now that it's over I'm equal parts relieved and angry. Kate Atkinson is a great writer. Her characters, dialog, and settings are all top notch, but unfortunately I hated the ending of this and Life After Life

I think I can only review this with minor spoilers: (stop reading if you care! They're minor, but they mention the plot!) While I zipped through some of the more exciting passages about Teddy's WWII experiences, I could never find the point. I kept wondering why Ursula saved Teddy in Life After Life (I assumed this from the ambiguous ending and fact that Teddy got his own book). But ultimately why did it even matter? The final Teddy chapter of this book was ridiculous. And I usually love author's notes, but in this case it felt like Atkinson justifying her actions. If you're going to have a zinger of an ending (blargh) then let it speak for itself! I understand her decisions / her direction / what it all "means," but ultimately it felt like a waste of 500 pages. 

Again, this was a bit of a slog for me, but a well-written novel that I think many others will enjoy. I don't often like gimmicks, and this fell flat for me.

Finished June 21, 2015
In the Unlikely Event
by Judy Blume

Review: 4 / 5 
First off, I love Judy Blume. 

Second, my review: I've read so many multi-perspective novels with newspaper clippings as chapter intros this year, but in the case of In the Unlikely Event this device works well. I tore through the book and couldn't believe I'd never heard of the events. Reading about part two and three were completely nerve wracking. (I've had a fair number of plane crash dreams over the years and it always freaks me out.) 

Unfortunately, the final act (or at least part four) seemed rushed and kind of came out of nowhere. I'm not sure I like how quickly things changed- especially with Rusty. Was it all a device to get Miri to fly home 35 years later? Surely that could have been accomplished via "college" or some career choice. 
I would have given this a 5 had it ended after part three. (Could still have the flash forward.) Judy Blume is so good at teen girl perspective.

Bonus (above): an exchange between Judy and me on twitter in 2013 about this book! 

Finished June 28, 2015
Brutal Youth
by Anthony Breznican

Review: 3 / 5 
From the glowing reviews on the back (from a few of my favorite authors), I expected this to be amazing. And for some odd reason, I thought it was a dark comedy or private school satire. (It wasn't.)

Overall: entertaining. But the entire story constantly felt like a set-up for a big moment. "Hey, see that clue I dropped? It'll be important later!!!" "THIS IS A BIG BUILD-UP TO AN EXPLOSIVE FUTURE SCENE" Guess what? The ending to almost every storyline was super predictable. In fact, I kept thinking, "ok when are we going to get to X," which was pretty distracting. 

There were some standout scenes, and I really liked Davidek and Hannah, but overall it wasn't as great as its cover art and blurbs.

Finished June 30, 2015
Finale (Hush, Hush #4)
by Becca Fitzpatrick

Review: 2 / 5 
First off, these books are ridiculous. They're a direct result of the Twilight and True Blood thing a few years ago. (I enjoyed reading Twilight as entertaining fluff. The last three movies were crap). The Hush, Hush series has an odd premise, but I liked the first book. As it continued, I realized I enjoyed hate-reading these (complete with eye-rolls) more than I actually enjoyed the content. It's also an excellent source of content for a YA pitfalls or anti-feminist literature blog!

Honestly, I think this series would have been better if the main character were in her twenties. There are so many scenes where she has to skip school or convince her mom she's staying at a friends when she's grounded (or has just been kidnapped), which present annoying continuity errors. Or makes her mom look stupid. (Let's be real: her mom might be the dumbest character in all of YA.) Plus, Patch seems so much older than Nora and not in a sexy way. Kind of in a "Why are you a pervert, Patch?" way.

Anyway, this book: The final battle scene was exciting, but gosh there did not need to be four books. What even happened? SPOILER: Also, love how she left the cemetery to get some instead of checking to see if her best friend was alive! (Or mourn her other best friend for more than one minute!! He died FOR HER.)

- - - - - - - -

As always, these reviews were ripped from my Goodreads.

What did you read in June? 
What are you reading now? 

What I'm looking forward to:  I just reserved seven books at the library for my upcoming trip to Canada. I hope I can find a quiet spot –away from the mutant bugs – where I can plow through them all! 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Five: Ten Years Ago...

It's time for Friday Five with Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia! I skipped last Friday's Things that Make Me Happy (I think I've covered that a few times), but I'm back with Five Things I was Doing Ten Years Ago. I've enjoyed seeing the host's posts and hope you check them out! 

2005. Ten years feels like forever. I don't look back at high school and college as the "glory days," but it is nice to reflect upon (and appreciate) a time when I didn't have many responsibilities! I was always busy with organizations, school, and work, but college busy isn't the same as life busy! 

School: I was finishing my junior/senior year at Ohio University in Athens. As a result of my full course schedule, AP credits, and my 2004 summer study abroad, I could graduate a full year early. I finished my final class in July 2005. Finishing a year early was awesome, but I had no idea what I would do after graduation! 

DZ house and Court Street (I lived above a Wendy's)

Housing: My year was divided into three locations: my sorority house (Delta Zeta), a month-long stay at an apartment uptown in Athens (while I finished three summer classes), and my parents house. I only lived with my parents for a few months as I looked for a full time job, but I spent afternoons lounging by the pool and learning how to cook some ambitious meals. (A skill I rarely use.) 

The Kennedy Museum of Art is located in an old asylum

Work: From September 2004 thru September 2005 I was "Multimedia Design Assistant to the Curator of Education" at the Kennedy Museum of Art. It was my on-campus (paid) internship. I loved that job and would have worked there forever if they'd let me. I was able to design interactive kiosks and an entire gallery room for the exhibit at the time, From Sheep to Loom. In face, one of my first websites ever is still online! In October 2005 I found a job at tracermedia, which is where I still work today! I've performed pretty much every role under the sun here (minus heavy development), so at least it isn't boring. 

High school BFF // With the OU Bobcat // my sorority twin (+ roommate), my big, and me

Social & Personal: Many of my friends were still in school during the fall of 2005. I saw more of my high school friends over the summer and spent time with my friend Linda on the Ohio State campus (close to home). Luckily, my sorority big graduated a year before me and was in the area. And when I started at tracermedia, I met a BFF who would one day introduce me to Alex! 

I dyed my hair a ton during this time. I also chopped it off in 2004 and spent the entire year moaning about wanting my long hair back. While walking around campus was a decent workout, and I occasionally went to the gym, I can't say I worked out very much. I tried to run, but it was normally an unpleasant experience...

What were you up to 10 years ago?

Monday, June 15, 2015

June: Life Currently...

Photos from my instagram

Reading I finished Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins, which took forever. I'm currently reading Judy Blume's In the Unlikely Event and Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican.

Listening While running: the Archers omnibus, while commuting: lots of alternative 90s/00s music (I found a new radio station). I just reserved Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance on audiobook.

Watching Gilmore Girls. STILL. I'm up to season 5 and I know something's going to mess with Luke and Lorelai and ... ugh. I've also been watching HBO and HGTV in hotels, which feels slightly luxurious. Getting ready for Orange is the New Black and the last half of the current season of Game of Thrones.

Wearing sundresses. There's nothing better than throwing on something as comfortable as pajamas and looking instantly put together.

Eating + Drinking see the pulled pork mac and cheese and the saison in the blue cup above (from Whole Foods and Granville Brewing). We went to Digfest [Drinks in Grandview] on Saturday. After volunteering for set up, we were rewarded with plenty of free drink tickets. One of my favorite festivals of the year.

Exploring we just returned from North Dakota (trip summary post to come). Alex and I have been converted: don't save it for your last or second-to-last state; it's gorgeous!

Making messes - currently trying to focus on one project at a time and the house is not the priority for me. Alex, on the other hand, tiled the bathroom. We're one step closer to being finished!

Feeling content. Nothing's as crazy/terrible as it was this time last month.

Planning a trip to Alaska in August or September. My last state beckons... plus we have airline miles to use!

Working on freelance illustrations. I finished my major project and need to move on to some hand-drawn sketches for a book. I was banished from the house yesterday and went to the local library to get work done. It was amazing and I need to do it more often!

Wishing I could stay home and read all day. Maybe have someone organize all my junk so I don't have to.

Remembering to focus on one thing at a time. I'm a great multi-tasker, but at the moment I have too many large, daunting tasks and they were too overwhelming to juggle concurrently.

Loving the sunshine. It's a bit humid–and actually pretty rainy today– but when it's sunny and there's a breeze it's heavenly. Also loving the relaxed pace of the past two weeks. I'm sure the vacation helped.

Looking forward to a day off (I know, I just got back!). I'm working four day weeks this summer, but I'm not sure what day I'll take off... Taking advantage of my slow down in work and trying not to look forward to how busy I'll be in the future.

How's your month?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday Five: Favorite Summer Activities

Happy Friday! I have a two-day work week, so I'm feeling pretty good. We got back from North Dakota a few days ago and work's been very easy. Lots of waiting on the client. Anyway, I'm back with another Friday Five link-up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia! This week's theme: Five Favorite Summer Activities

Trulben, Germany in June 2014

1. Travel
I am a broken record on my love of travel! I love seeing new places and tend to take most of my trips during the summer as my work load is usually much lighter. As I mentioned, we just returned from North Dakota. We're headed to Canada in July (Alex's family's yearly trip) and possibly Alaska in August/September. We have some airline miles to use! :)

Ontario, Canada

2. Water sports
I don't really swim (something I'm looking to remedy this year. I even bought a TYR one piece - on super sale), but I love being around water. Favorite activities include canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.

Left: near Mohican State Park, Right: Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills

3. Hiking and camping
I like hiking year-round, but we tend to get out more during the summer. I don't really like camping in the winter or rain, so I'll say summer is the best time for backwoods camping. I prefer hiking into camp vs. drive-up campgrounds. I like being away from people and deep in nature! I figure if you're going to do it, do it all the way.

Columbus skyline at last year's Arts Fest and me with a turkey leg at Comfest

4. Festivals 
I tend to ignore Columbus-y events during the winter, so it's nice to get out in the summer and remember what a cool city we live in. Upcoming events include Arts Fest and Digfest this weekend, Comfest in late June, and Ribsfest in July.

Favorite patio beer of 2013 and my hot dog legs, white wine, and a book last year

5. Reading and drinking outside 
I'd do this all year if I could, but the sunshine, our anti-gravity chairs, and my killer runner tan lines have encouraged me to get outside more.

Additional Note: What makes #2-5 difficult? Mosquitos. I am a bug magnet. Alex got 2 bites in North Dakota and I got 16 on just one leg. Ugh. I have an anti-mosquito jacket that works wonders, but on super hot days I need something else. Any recommendations beyond heavy duty DEET bug spray?

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