Friday, March 20, 2015

Books of 2015-- Part 1.

I've read some really great and some not-so-great books this year so far.  And yet, I haven't talked about many of them at all!  So here are the first five books of 2015.

GoodReads Synopsis-- Lara Lington has always had an overactive imagination, but suddenly that imagination seems to be in overdrive. Normal professional twenty-something young women don’t get visited by ghosts. Or do they? When the spirit of Lara’s great-aunt Sadie—a feisty, demanding girl with firm ideas about fashion, love, and the right way to dance—mysteriously appears, she has one request: Lara must find a missing necklace that had been in Sadie’s possession for more than seventy-five years, because Sadie cannot rest without it.  Lara and Sadie make a hilarious sparring duo, and at first it seems as though they have nothing in common. But as the mission to find Sadie’s necklace leads to intrigue and a new romance for Lara, these very different “twenties” girls learn some surprising truths from and about each other.

My Thoughts-- I loved this book!  Sophie Kinsella is hit or miss for me, and this was a spot-on hit.  Lara and Sadie were so hilarious together.  I laughed so hard at this book.  Five stars.

GoodReads Synopsis-- As a boy, Will Klein had a hero: his older brother, Ken. Then, on a warm suburban night in the Kleins' affluent New Jersey neighborhood, a young woman -- a girl Will had once loved -- was found brutally murdered in her family's basement. The prime suspect: Ken Klein. With the evidence against him overwhelming, Ken simply vanished. And when his shattered family never heard from Ken again, they were sure he was gone for good. Now eleven years have passed. Will has found proof that Ken is alive. And this is just the first in a series of stunning revelations as Will is forced to confront startling truths about his brother, and even himself. As a violent mystery unwinds around him, Will knows he must press his search all the way to the end. Because the most powerful surprises are yet to come.

My Thoughts-- Gone for Good is easily my favorite stand-alone Harlan Coben book.  So many twists and turns.  Just when you think you've figured it out, the ground shifts again.  But yet, it's not at all outrageous.  Harlan Coben walks that line expertly.  Five stars.

GoodReads Synopsis-- Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.  Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

My Thoughts-- Oh gosh, this book was horrible.  Only by sheer will did I manage to finish it.  It was just ridiculously depressing, and the story just compounded sadness upon sadness.  And just when you think it can't get any sadder, it does.  Most of my time reading this book was spent wishing it was over. I don't remember the last book I read that was so depressing and hopeless. However, it did have a somewhat satisfying ending, so it gets an extra half star because I'm a sucker for a good ending.  One and a half stars.

GoodReads Synopsis-- Helene Zaharis's politician husband keeps her on a tight leash and cancels her credit cards as a way of controlling her. Lorna Rafferty is up to her eyeballs in debt and can't stop her addiction to Ebay. Sandra Vanderslice, battling agoraphobia, pays her shoe bills by working as a phone sex operator. And Jocelyn Bowen is a nanny for the family from hell (who barely knows a sole from a heel but who will do anything to get out of the house).  On Tuesday nights, these women meet to trade shoes, and, in the process, form friendships that will help them each triumph over their problems—from secret pasts to blackmail, bankruptcy, and dating. Funny, emotional, and powerful, Shoe Addicts Anonymous is the perfect read for any woman who has ever struggled to find the perfect fit. 

My Thoughts-It took me a while to get into this one, but it really picked up about midway through. The second half was fantastic! Such a cute story about four women who have nothing in common but their love for shoes.  Four stars.

GoodReads Synopsis-- Dr. Marc Seidman awakens to find himself in an ICU, hooked up to an IV, his head swathed in bandages. Twelve days earlier, he had an enviable life as a successful surgeon, living in a peaceful suburban neighborhood with his beautiful wife and a baby he adored. Now he lies in a hospital bed, shot by an unseen assailant. His wife has been killed, and his six-month-old daughter, Tara, has vanished. But just when his world seems forever shattered, something arrives to give Marc new hope: a ransom note. The note is chilling, but Marc sees only one thing-he has the chance to save his daughter. He can't talk to the police or the FBI. He doesn't know who he can trust. And now the authorities are closing in on a new suspect: Marc himself. Mired in a deepening quicksand of violence and deadly secrets-about his wife, about an old love he's never forgotten, and about his own past-he clings to one, unwavering vow: to bring Tara home, at any cost.

My Thoughts-- Another great Harlan Coben book.  I sounds like a broken record at this point, but he's just so great at writing twisty, turn-y thrillers, and this one was no different.  Four stars.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend Update.

This weekend was a great weekend, and once again, I can't believe it's Monday already!  On Friday, I went to see Cinderella with my friend Stacy, and it was fantastic!  Lily James is just adorable.  And the mice were so cute!  There were some things that were different from the cartoon version, but it was still wonderful.  I don't know how comfortable these glass slippers would be, but I really wouldn't mind seeing them on my feet...
After Cinderella, I came home to watch the ACC tournament.  Friday night was a great night-- my Tar Heels beat Virginia, and Duke lost to Notre Dame!

Saturday, I cleaned my house, ran some errands, and read some of Big Little Lies.  Saturday was also my mom's birthday, so Donny and I had dinner with her and my dad, then they came back to our house for birthday cupcakes and the ACC tournament final.
Yum!
Donny got her some wine, which they promptly enjoyed, and I gave her a mani/pedi and lunch date on yours truly.  Can't wait for us to enjoy this one!
Sadly, my Heels lost the final game on Saturday night.  But it was a great tournament for them after a rough last few weeks.

Sunday, we had a great morning in Church followed by lunch and more cupcakes for the birthday girl at my grandmother's house.
After lunch, I worked in the yard for a bit while Donny did school work.  Then, I spent the evening reading Big Little Lies.  I don't know why, but this book is going really slowly.  The more I read, the more I like it, but it's taking a while to get into.  I am anxious to get to the ending, which I hear is amazing.

I also did join doTERRA as a consultant this weekend, and I'm pretty excited about it!  I'm sure I'll be blogging more about it in the coming weeks once I get more informed about the products, but in the mean time, if you need any oils or want to know more, let me know!  You can also check out the doTERRA catalog here.

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Currently.

I know, I've been a bad blogger recently.  But I don't handle not having a full-time assistant very well.  I've hired our office receptionist to be my assistant, but until we get a new receptionist for the office, she has to do both jobs.  Meaning, I also have to do both jobs.  Between the two of us, we're doing all three jobs.  Plus, I was in trial last week.  So it's been rather hectic.  And when I get home, all I want to do is sit down and not use my brain anymore...  So, please forgive the sporadic posting for a while until I can bring my fingers to type more when they're not necessary for a salary.

Currently, I am:

Looking Forward To: Going to see Cinderella and celebrating my mom's birthday this weekend!
Playing: Tennis again!  It's been over a year since I've played competitively, but I signed up for a league again.  We start next week!  

Cooking: I made some delicious chili on Sunday, which has fed me lunch all week!  I also made this Chicken Lazone on Monday night and served it with roasted potatoes.  But do yourself a favor and serve it with pasta or rice.  The sauce needs something to soak it up.

Drinking: Water and one diet coke a day.  Nothing special.

Reading: I started Big Little Lies this Sunday, but I haven't made much progress in it this week.  I'm also listening to Caught by Harlan Coben on audiobook, and it's fantastic, like all of his others.
Wanting: A weekend with no plans.  But I don't think March is going to give me one of those. 

Enjoying: My first night this week with no plans and nowhere to rush to.

Waiting: Until tomorrow afternoon to go to Ulta to earn some triple points!

Wondering: What the finale of Empire will bring next week.  I'm a little sad there won't be any more Taraji P. Henson on my television, but I just NEED to know what's going to happen!

Loving: That March Madness and baseball are here!
Hoping: That some folks from work will take me up on my invitation to church on Easter.

Marveling: At how fast this year is already flying by!

Needing: A pedicure so bad.  My toes are NOT ready for flip flop season.

Following: My WeightWatchers guidelines really well.  Down 5lbs!

Noticing: How warm it's getting and starting to get excited about another poolside summer!

Thinking About: signing up to be a doTerra ambassador.  I love essential oils and want to get a discount myself, but I really don't want to be a pushy direct salesperson.  I hate feeling pressured to buy stuff that I don't want because someone that I know is selling it.  But the discount...
Feeling: Productive.  I've been really busy and exhausted, but I've also gotten so much work done and helped so many clients.  I much prefer being busy over not having anything to do.

Thanks to Sarah for the categories that I borrowed today! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February Rewind.


My grandmother's birthday celebration.

1.  Last week, I became assistant-less again.  The girl I hired last October is having all sorts of personal issues and basically just decided that she couldn't come to work anymore.  So now I have to hire and train ANOTHER new person...  Know anyone who wants to work in a law office in NC??

2.  I read 11 books in February.  There were some really great books that I just couldn't stop reading!  
3.  We finally got our big snow this month, and it was beautiful!  After missing it last year while we were in Texas, I was really excited to see a pretty white blanket on the ground this year.
4.  I chopped more than 5 inches off my hair, and I LOVE it!  It's so much easier to manage, and it still looks cute when I curl it.

5.   My Patriots won the Super Bowl!

6.  I got kind of obsessed with Justified and have been binge-watching it from the beginning before I start the final season, which is airing now.  It's just so smart and good.

7.  I started WeightWatchers again this month, and it's been really, really great.  You can read more about why I went back here.  If nothing else, I'm just so much more aware of what I eat.  No more mindless snacking or picking up a bite here and there.  It's great accountability, and it's working-- down 5lbs in three weeks!

8.  I got a big raise this month, and I'm really excited about it.  I was pretty profitable in the last half of last year for my firm, so my draw was adjusted accordingly and a lot more than expected.  I don't know why I worry when it's been proven over and over in my life that God will always meet our needs.

1. Earl gray tea-- I can't stop drinking it.

2.  Empire-- Donny and I are loving this show.  Taraji P. Hinson is amazing, and her chemistry with Terrence Howard is off the charts.

3.  Dove dry shampoo-- how did I ever live without it??

My songs this month were highly influenced by the Grammy awards, which introduced me to some new favorite songs from some old favorite artists.

1. Glory by John Legend and Common-- I literally cannot stop singing and listening to this song.  I've been a huge fan of John Legend for a while, but this is just over the top good.

2. My Heart is Open by Maroon5 and Gwen Stefani

3. By the Grace of God by Katy Perry

4. Just a Little Bit of Your Heart by Ariana Grande

5. Dark Horse by Katy Perry

6. Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

1. Getting settled with a new assistant.  It's going to be another big transition, but 

2. My mom's birthday is this month, and we should have a fun celebration for her.

3. Cinderella comes out this month.  I'm planning on going to see it with some of my girls-- should be a blast!
4.  This is a great month for sports-- March Madness is always of of my favorite times of the year, plus baseball starts this month!  In fact, the Yankees' first spring training game is today.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What I'm Loving Wednesday.

Happy Wednesday!  This morning, I'm at home with my cup of tea looking out over my snowy, white yard.  It's my second day working from home, so I barely remembered it was Wednesday!  Fortunately, I did come out of my snow fog to remember to link up with Rachel and Jodi to talk about what I'm loving this week.

Snow days-- I know that a lot of the country is sick of snow, but here in NC, this is our first taste of it this winter!  And I couldn't have been happier about two days at home in the middle of the week.  I wish we got a little more snow and less ice to make my picture prettier, but oh well...
Harney & Sons Earl Grey-- I've been drinking a lot of hot tea lately, and this one is my favorite.  I can't stop drinking it!  I like mine with a little sugar and lemon, and it's absolutely perfect.  
Also check out the teacup that Donny bought me for Valentine's Day!
Dove Invigorating Dry Shampoo-- I've tried a few different types of dry shampoo, some expensive and some not. But this Dove dry shampoo is hands-down the best!  It leaves no white residue, and is only $4!  Not only does it soak up the oils, but it adds volume to my hair.  Even my fourth-day hair looks fantastic thanks to this!  LOVE.
Weight Watchers-- As you guys know, I've tried to eat paleo since my first Whole30 last January.  What you really don't know is that I failed at eating paleo more than I succeeded.  During my three Whole30s, there were several breaks of protocol until I just quit the last one because I wasn't close to following it.  For the last year, I would eat strictly for a period of time and then binge on whatever I wanted (usually Zaxby's and cupcakes...).  So, after a year of being on and off the wagon constantly, I decided to go back to what has worked for me in the past-- WeightWatchers.  It's a totally different  food philosophy than paleo, but it's so much easier for me to manage.  I still really believe the science behind why paleo is the superior choice, but I just didn't have the discipline to stick with it consistently.  Having the structure of WW makes it so much easier for me to stick to.  I've already seen success on the scale in the last few weeks!
UNC/Duke Gameday-- Tonight my Tar Heels will make the eight mile journey to Durham to play the Duke Blue Devils.  It's one of the two biggest games of the year, and I'm so excited for it!

Hope you're all having a great week!

What I'm Loving Wednesday

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend Recap.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that three years ago today, I walked off a plane at Love Field where Donny stood in baggage claim with an engagement ring.  It was one of the biggest and best surprises of my life, and I'm loving that I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.

But back to this past weekend...  Friday, I made the decision to cut more than 5 inches off my hair!  It hasn't been this short in years, and I'm kind of loving it.  It took me less than 20 minutes to dry/style my hair after washing it yesterday morning, when before it took almost an hour.  LOVE.
Friday night, we went to dinner with April and her fiance Dave.  I'm so glad that I've been hanging out with April and Jen more recently.  We went months without seeing each other at the end of last year, but we've seen each other every other weekend for the last several.  I couldn't be happier to be reviving those friendships.  

Saturday, I don't think I even went outside, which is a little sad because it was such a nice day.  But I stayed in and read my books and watched some Justified.  I'm listening to Pronto and physically reading The Typewriter Girl.  And I've got to say that I'm having trouble loving them both.  Pronto is a little slow at the moment, and The Typewriter Girl is just so difficult to read and comprehend.  I'm looking forward to finishing both of them.

Sunday was my grandmother's birthday, so we all had lunch out and went back to her house for birthday cake!  You'd never guess that she's nearing 80 years old...

Sunday night, I watched the Grammys.  I don't remember when I started watching awards shows, but apparently I do now.  The Grammys are always great because the music is SO good and not as crazy as other shows.  And I was impressed last night.  

First of all-- the fashion.  One great thing about the Grammys is that you get more creative dresses than, say, The Oscars or Golden Globes.  But again, nothing outrageous like the VMAs.  Cutouts were clearly this year's trend, as was seen on many dresses.  These were some of my favorites of the night:

Clockwise from top left:  Iggy Azalea, Kat Graham, TSwift, and Katy Perry.
I'm not a Taylor Swift fan, but her dress was fantastic.  And Katy Perry's red carpet purple bob with that sparkly long-sleeved dress-- gorgeous.  Iggy's blue column dress with the strategic cutouts made her look curvy and fabulous.  Loved Kat Graham's whimsical and fun but sexy gown.  

Despite the music numbers being mostly slow ballads, they were all also fantastic numbers.  Some of my favorites were Katy Perry, who took a huge risk, replacing her signature fun and flash for one of the most powerful vocal performances of the night on "By the Grace of God."
Seriously-- Adam Levine can do no wrong.  Moving past some horribly off-key misses from Gwen Stefani, their duet "My Heart is Open" was wonderfully emotional and beautiful.
And the best of the night went to John Legend and Common's duet of "Glory," which gave me goosebumps.  John Legend is one of the most gifted musicians of our time, and the combination with Common's uncommon (no pun intended) rap style is nothing short of powerful.  
But the night belonged to Sam Smith, who truly deserved it with all the quality, beautiful music that he created last year.  Good for him.

How was your weekend?

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