40 Before 40 – Update the Fifth

I am very nearly halfway through the year. I feel like my life is settling down into a great routine. Work is going decently. I’ve gotten to spend time with so many friends over the past few month. Alvie is mostly fantastic, and although I miss him when we’re not together, we’re really having a good time when we are together. I hardly ever even feel the need to verbalize my desire to sell him to a traveling carnival anymore (although last night’s bedtime pushed it a bit…kid was wiped out, and a tired Bean is a cranky Bean).

So much trouble, this one...

So much trouble, this one…

I feel like I’m not getting a ton of things checked off my list, but I also feel like I don’t care that much. (Not letting arbitrary goal failure get in the way of my happiness is a life-time goal.)

In the last month…

  1. Host a wine tasting – I had a rosé garden party on the 16th, and it was fun. Pink wine, pink foods, and plenty of people. I failed to take a single picture of anything except the cheese spread.
So many new cheeses for my "drink pink" party!

So many new cheeses for my “drink pink” party!

  1. Become a proficient knife thrower (i.e. hit the target more often than not) – I’ve been practicing! I’m getting pretty adept at getting all the knives to stick to the target! Next…accuracy.
  1. Get back into my DIY habits – I made an utterly fantastic balsamic & vanilla fig jam over the weekend with figs from my tree. I got about two pints of jam and kind of made up a recipe based on other recipes I’d found. It was pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to the next bunch of figs ripening so I can make a larger batch and also write down the recipe as I go. 🙂 My grapes are starting to purple, so there will be some grape jelly in the future, too!
Happy figs, bubbling away!

Happy figs, bubbling away!

  1. Try a new (to me) cheese each month – this continues to be a resounding success. I’m sure I’ve tried at least twelve new cheeses by now, but you know what? I’m going to just keep on keeping on with this one. #overachiever
  1. Get better at self-care. That means eating regularly; exercising regularly; sleeping regularly – this is really coming along. I was averaging well over 9K steps a day by mid-week last week (and a whopping 17K last Thursday) before my poor feet rebelled and became a disgusting, blistered mess. They’re better now, so I’m ready to start getting my mileage back up there again. The walking every day is either benefiting or benefited by my increased sleeping. I’ve been getting an average of 6.75 hours of sleep/night for the last two months! The one area that still needs so much work is the eating. I need to eat regularly (once/day is not regularly) and more healthfully. I started strong today. Overnight oats with bananas and PB for breakfast, homemade dolmas and a peach for lunch…now I just need to keep it going.

In case you care, here’s the history…

Remaining Goals (bolded goals are irrevocably scheduled, italicized ones will likely happen in the next 45 days, and underlined ones are in progress)

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Go ice skating
  3. Go to a book signing
  4. Go to the local nude beach
  5. Take a barre class
  6. Take a dancing class
  7. Take a cooking class
  8. Throw pottery (on a wheel)
  9. Try a pole dancing class at the studio down the street.
  10. Do a boudoir photo session
  11. Do a fun thing with Bean every day of his summer vacation.
  12. Take the Bean fishing
  13. Whale watching
  14. [Redacted]
  15. Become a proficient knife thrower
  16. Become passable in Swedish
  17. Develop a habit of meditation
  18. Learn 100 ASL signs
  19. Perfect the homemade pie crust.
  20. Read one prize-winning (any major prize) book each month
  21. Run a 5K, a 10K and a half marathon. Bonus: run something longer!
  22. Take a good photo and pay to have it framed
  23. Write 150 blog posts
  24. Get a stamp in my passport
  25. Give a $100 tip on an inexpensive meal
  26. Feel good about my fitness level and appearance
  27. Get better at self care.
  28. Meet three ‘in the computer friends’ in real life. (I’m looking at you  Cat, Elizabeth, and…[insert your name here!])
  29. Publish my first book

I need to make some pie, meditate a bit, get my PSM to the west coast, and start running again…

Moving Right Along

Just over a month ago, I set some goals for the next 30 days…in the interests of honesty, transparency, accountability, and the desire to have something to blog about, I’m reporting in.

The goals:

  1. Write work to-do list and cross off everything that’s feasible; procrastination is not a reasonable excuse – I’ve made excellent progress on this. I’m whittling away at my work to do list, and it’s looking more reasonable and less terrifying!
  2. 30-45 minutes walks every day/evening I don’t have my Bean. That means tonight, tomorrow night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (I have him 7 nights of every 14, in a 5 on/5 off; 2 on/2 off schedule). Try to do something active on weekends when I do have Bean. – This has been hit or miss, but definitely better over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been hitting my step goals way more often than not and have been walking on the trails at work once/week.
  3. Bed by 11 on school nights. No excuses. No watching Criminal Minds on the kid’s iPad in bed. That’s cheating and doesn’t help with the insomnia. – FAIL! I’m definitely still up after 11 most of the time, although my insomnia isn’t nearly as bad as it was earlier this year.
  4. Stop hitting snooze. Once you’re up with the alarm, start moving wake-up earlier. – Yeah. No. See #3.
  5. Start writing again. – I’ve done more blog posts and was on a really good writing roll at the end of June/beginning of July. Sadly, that’s slacked off again. I am recommitting to getting better with that starting today.

 

Goals for the next 30ish days:

  1. Bedtime. For real. Eleven PM.
  2. Wake up time. For real. Six AM.
  3. Blogging – 3x/week (include a minimum of two book reports/month)
  4. Writing – 750 words/day MINIMUM. (I prefer 1000). I promised my platonic soul mate and first reader that I’d finish my current WIP by the time I leave for South Dakota (2.5 weeks – eminently doable) so that I could start edits on the second book in the other series (she’s read the first). I will send that book to my PSM by 9/19, so help me Freya.
  5. Keep up with the walking and maybe go just a little bit further.

 

The Gentlemen Approve

The Gentlemen Approve

 

Three Things Thursday – Healthy Living Edition

  1. Since last I mentioned that I’d shifted my mindset from making goals to living my life like a Nike slogan, things have been looking (mostly) up. I’ve increased my steps per day, I’ve hit my minimum of 250 steps/hour goal more times, and I’m logging movement a lot more often. What I’m not doing is putting this all in a spreadsheet and agonizing over percent increases and averages and whether or not today’s efforts will alter what I need to do tomorrow. So yay! for more movement and less spreadsheet OCD.
I think I deserve five gold stars for NOT spreadsheeting this...

I think I deserve five gold stars for NOT spreadsheeting my movement. *****

  1. I have been making a huge effort to have healthier eating patterns. I do not actually like to eat most of the time. My number one reason for wanting to be a vampire is so that most of my bodily functions would cease. My least favorite function (besides the fact that my nails and body hair JUST KEEP GROWING MY GOD WHY WON’T IT STOP!) is the digestive system. I asked my PSM earlier if she thought I could subsist on a 95% liquid/5% cheese-based diet, but she didn’t think that would improve my opinion of my digestive system. She’s probably right. So anyway – I’ve been trying to get in more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and a little bit less melted cheese and fermented grains and fruit. You know what? I’m sure this is healthier, but my body sure isn’t digging this sudden change.
How do I not have these socks already?

How do I not have these socks already?

 

  1. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Pokemon Go, I’m sure. I’m not usually an early adopter of such things because they are a little silly. I am, however, very susceptible to peer pressure and I was getting tired of taking care of my imaginary animated cats in the Neko Atsume game, so I thought I might as well venture forth and look for imaginary animated creatures in the great outdoors. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but I have captured a half-dozen Pokemon creatures and gotten in a lot more steps (and earned the jealousy of my four-year-old who doesn’t understand why I won’t buy him Pokemon cards when I’m playing Pokemon without him. #parentingwin)

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Book Review! The Staff and the Blade

This is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read. Ever. Full stop.

“The Staff and the Blade” is the fourth book in Elizabeth Hunter’s “Irin Chronicles.” The first book in the series – “The Scribe” – is the very first book I read of Ms. Hunter’s…it was totally my gateway book. I’ve not regretted a Hunter moment since.

The Blurb

Warriors. Lovers. Enemies. Legends.

Their union became pivotal in Irin history, but to understand Damien and Sari’s ending, you must go back to their beginning. Four hundred years ago, a young singer and a hardened warrior met and loved each other, but their life was torn apart by violence.

Love. Desire. Grief. Betrayal.

No matter how much pain and anger stain their lives, bonds in the Irin race cannot be abandoned. Damien and Sari will never truly leave each other, because those who are destined cannot be ignored.

DREAMS: Damien of Bohemia was a legend content to live in obscurity. Weary from a century of human and Irin bloodshed, he took shelter among those who would not question his silence or the martial spells he wore over his body. Until an earth singer of raw power and no delicacy came to the village where he hid. Sari of Vestfold wasn’t intrigued by the mysterious warrior or his moody silences. And she wasn’t interested in listening for the whisper of his soul. Even when those whispers promised a connection that could tie them for eternity.

GHOSTS: A new posting in Paris during Napoleon’s reign leads Sari and Damien back to familiar faces and the Council politics Damien has tried so hard to avoid. But the Irin world has changed in the two hundred years since their mating. The singers have become more isolated. The scribes are more martial. And the Grigori flood growing cities and lay in wait. When Sari’s sister envisions the future, she sees emptiness, chaos, and a darkness that threatens to overtake their world.

MEMORIES: Hidden from Irin society, the Irina have learned to take their revenge on the Grigori. They answer to no one. They ask for no mercy. And forgiveness? That’s the last thing on anyone’s mind. Two hundred years after the Rending, Damien and Sari are thrown together to face a new threat, a girl who might be key to the healing of the Irin race. If they can survive the anger and grief that has separated them for two hundred years.

VISIONS: The Irin and Irina are together again. Society is being rebuilt. But what do you do when the foundation of your world has crumbled? Where do you go when all the boundaries have been redrawn? For Damien and Sari, charting a new path into the future means confronting the demons of the past. They’ve forgiven each other, but can they forgive themselves?

The Cover

tsatb cover

The Review

This review is one of the hardest I’ve ever written. Not for the usual reasons (those being that I’m really searching for the nice bread in the criticism sandwich), but because this book was so very good that I’m not sure how to really do it justice. Anything I say has already been said better by my PSM (if you can manage to ignore the seabug salad).

BUT, since I’ve already started this blog post (about a hundred times), I might as well give you my thoughts.

I received this book as an ARC a few weeks ago because Elizabeth is awesome that way. I tore through it in one sitting, going seriously short of sleep that day (a fact that the author does not seem to feel badly about at all).

I knew from the opening scenes that Elizabeth wasn’t going to go easy on my emotions. It’s a story of unbelievable pain and loss and violence and tragedy and yes – the occasional stubborn idiocy. I’m not going to lie, people. There were times that I wanted to step into the book and give the main characters a good shake (or maybe a swift kick in the pants).

This is more than just an epic love story. This is also a tale of some epic grudge holding (albeit somewhat justifiably).

Sari is still new to her role as official Singer for the Irin when she meets Damien – a warrior with more than a couple of centuries under his belt. They’re not new characters, so anyone’s who’s read the series has a general idea of what’s going on with them, but the opportunity to delve into their relationship, into their feelings, and into their reactions to the events that shape not only them and their love, but their entire people is priceless.

I was a little concerned that Sari would be an unsympathetic character (my worries were fed from outside), but in my mind, her reactions were justified and Damien was the one who needed the larger ass kicking. Fortunately for him, his beloved is not only willing, but able to provide it.

Reading through the Rending was heart-breaking. I felt for each and every person going through that in a way that hadn’t been quite real when it was presented as a past even in the earlier books.

The universe that Elizabeth Hunter has spun for Damien and Sari (and Ava and Malachi and the rest) is intricate and wonderful and perfectly balanced. There is never a jarring detail that pulls me back out of my willing suspension of disbelief. She looks closely at the flaws and the virtues to create well-balanced, realistic, and not always 100% likeable characters. This is a gift not given to every author and watching it unfold (and get better with each book) is marvelous thing for a reader.

The Verdict

Five hundred stars. My only real complaint is that I cannot read it again for the first time. When I finished, I was bereft. Now I’m jealous of every one of you who gets to experience the tumultuous lives of Damien and Sari for the first time.

Buy it:

 

 

 

Fuck it Friday

I don’t even have more words for today. Just done with this shit. Instead of saying more words, I will allow google mined pics to illustrate my attitude about today.

fuck it

 

allergies

 

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turn-us-off-on-again

 

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