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Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb12: celebrating the successes of 2012, honoring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013. December is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest dreams for the new year.

Day 9What was the best book you read in 2012, and why?

9361589-1The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was one of the best books I’ve ever read, period.

It’s a sweeping, dark, gothic novel about a fantastical, moving circus called Le Cirque des Rêves, which is announced only by the tents that fill the skyline of whichever city they’ve set up in and which disappears without notice just as quickly. What makes this circus unique is that it’s open only at night and the acts aren’t slights of hand or what we think of as magic, but actual feats of supernatural skill completed as a competition behind the scenes.

The characters are richly drawn, the plot is seductive, and the writing is phenomenal. I liked the book so much that I assigned it to my students as outside reading. Most of them loved it as much as I did.

Go pick it up, you’ll only be sorry once it ends and you don’t have more pages to read.

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This month I’m participating in 30 Days of Thanks (#30DaysofThanks) by writing a blog post about 30 things I’m thankful for. To join in, go to the link above. The best part is, you don’t need to have a blog or even be on social media to take part in the project; you just need to be thankful. I can’t wait to see how my life might change by spending the 30 days in November giving thanks for things in my life — every single day.

Today I am thankful that my sister and I found some time in our busy schedules to slip away and go to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower before it left theatres.  If you didn’t get to see it, do.  If you haven’t read the book, read it.  Go buy the soundtrack, it’s fantastic.  Or, if you want, just go listen to it on Spotify:

The movie was beautifully done.  I think it helped that the novel’s author, Stephen Chbosky, wrote the screenplay and directed the film, too.  As much as I loved the book, I think this film might have been even better.  Although that might have been because the actors were so endearing.  It was truly one of the best movies I have seen in recent memory.

Afterward, LC and I went to Starbucks for a bit of an afternoon pick-me-up, and to take advantage of their “buy one holiday drink, get the other free from 2pm-5pm deal”.  I treated myself to a Grande Skinny Peppermint Mocha for 130 calories.  It was a delicious treat.

Weekends like this one, where my sister and I get to spend a lot of time together (we lounged around for much of the day yesterday, too) are all too rare, making them all the more precious.  I’m so grateful that my sister is my best friend and that she and my nieces live right next door.

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This month I’m participating in 30 Days of Thanks (#30DaysofThanks) by writing a blog post about 30 things I’m thankful for. To join in, go to the link above. The best part is, you don’t need to have a blog or even be on social media to take part in the project; you just need to be thankful. I can’t wait to see how my life might change by spending the 30 days in November giving thanks for things in my life — every single day.

Outside the sky has turned gray and the clouds are  showering everything beneath them with rain.  It’s my kind of day!

I’m thankful for a rainy Friday afternoon with nothing on the agenda but a strong, hot cup of coffee and a great book.

{Sure, I have loads of essays that I could be grading, but how often do days like this come around?  I’ll get back to those essays tomorrow, I promise}.

I’m currently reading The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, and I have been captivated by both the story and the way that she writes.  Very engaging!

As for the coffee, my favorite is Caffe Verona from Starbucks, and luckily I have lots of K-Cups to keep me going all day.

I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to spend a quiet afternoon.  I’m grateful that I have the time to do it.

Now it’s time to cuddle up with Sofi…

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This month I’m participating in 30 Days of Thanks (#30DaysofThanks) by writing a blog post about 30 things I’m thankful for. To join in, go to the link above. The best part is, you don’t need to have a blog or even be on social media to take part in the project; you just need to be thankful. I can’t wait to see how my life might change by spending the 30 days in November giving thanks for things in my life — every single day.

It probably comes as no surprise, but I absolutely adore books!  And not just the classics that I teach to my students, which I do love, but chick lit, memoirs, non-fiction, young adult, best sellers, and everything in between. Books open me up to new worlds, many of which I will never have the chance to discover in person, which is why I love to keep my reading list varied.

My love of the written word is why I became a teacher.  In fact, my first teaching experience happened when I was just a girl.  I was in my room, at the chalkboard hanging on my wall (what, you didn’t have a chalkboard in your room?!), teaching my sister to read, along with all of our stuffed animals.  She’d  get so frustrated when I called on Freddie the Frog instead of her!  Luckily, I’ve gotten better about the way that I call on students.

I’ve always got a book going, and sometimes more than one.  The dawn of eBooks has made this even easier, which is why I love my Kindle.  I have over 100 books loaded on it at the moment, which makes my heart smile.  I was just mentioning to my dad today, that I probably have more books than I can read over the next 5 years, but I am always on a quest to find the next great book.

Reading makes me a better writer, a better thinker, and a better person.  It opens my mind, frees my soul, and surrounds my senses. I’m grateful that I have the benefit of books in my world.

source

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FMM: Bookworms

(Don’t forget to enter my bra giveaway before tonight’s deadline!)

This weekend flew by again, didn’t it? The time change is always an adjustment for a few days, but I am really looking forward to the longer hours of sunlight. This weekend I had to proctor the SAT, which always shortens my weekend considerably, but the extra money is nice to have, so it’s a tradeoff.

Since we had one less hour yesterday, I was bound and determined to get everything accomplished, so I hit the ground running and started my errands right away. No lounging with coffee and the news as I usually do. I got everything done and then some, as evidenced in my clean and organized closets: (click on any photo to enlarge)

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I can’t explain how nice it is to be able to see all of my shoes again, and to have them all matched up.  Not to mention that the top shelf of the closet has clothes that are folded, and not just tossed up there.
20120312-101443.jpgOver the past week and through this weekend I also spent some time making a few small changes to my diet. I’ve completely given up creamer in my coffee, which is a major step for me. Even though I was using sugar free Coffeemate, I know all those spoonfuls added up. Plus, what is “non-dairy” creamer? Lots of chemicals that my body just doesn’t need. Speaking of chemicals, I also made the decision to give up Crystal Light, which I was drinking by the pitcher every day. Sure, it helped me get my water in, but doesn’t it amount to the same thing as diet soda? It has aspartame, too, and if it’s not good in diet drinks, it’s not good in my water, either. So from here on out, my water is going to be flavored with lemon, cucumber, and decaf tea. The other thing I decided was that it was time for me to use up all of the food I’ve been stockpiling in the cabinet. I had quite a few Medifast shakes, drinks, and bars in the garage that I need to use. Same thing with the Bariatric Choice soups, pastas, and bars. I’m going to incorporate them into my daily meals, not eat them exclusively. That way, I won’t get stuck in a food rut, but I also won’t waste food. (Although the Medifast takes some getting used to, and I’m having some stomach issues with it, so I may end up throwing it out, because it’s not really worth it).
It’s time for FMM, though, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

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If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section at: www.alltheweigh.com so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts.  Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

FMM: Bookworms 

  1. How often do you read for pleasure?  I always have a book or two going at once.  I read every single day for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Are you currently reading a book?  If so, which one?  I’m reading You Don’t Sweat Much for a Fat Girl: Observations on Life from the Shallow End of the Pool by Celia Rivenbark.
  3. Do you subscribe to any magazines and/or newspapers?  I used to subscribe to a TON of magazines, but in today’s digital age, I’ve cut down to getting paper copies of just Self and Eating Well.
  4. Do you prefer reading traditional books or using an e-reader?  I always thought I’d hate digital books, but I have to say, I’m a convert.  I buy e-books almost exclusively now.  The only exception is if it’s an author that I really love that I want to add to my vast collection of books on my bookshelf.
  5. How often do you go to the bookstore?  I never go to the bookstore anymore.  I used to go to Borders all the time, but then they closed, and it’s so much more convenient for me to buy my books on Amazon or get them from the library.  Though I will say, if I’m out shopping near an independent bookstore, I will always pop in.
  6. Do you read at the gym? Absolutely not.  It slows down my pace on the machine and prevents me from fully understanding what I’m reading.  Lose-lose.  Music is much better for my workouts.
  7. Have you ever been a member of a book club?  I used to be the head of a book club, but we disbanded after about a year.  I do love being in one, though.  Maybe we could start a virtual book club?
  8. Do you wear glasses when you read? I don’t really need to…yet.
  9. Has anyone read the Hunger Games? I have read it, even though the genre is far from my norm.   At first I was staying far from it, because I hate jumping on the bandwagon of books, but then my friend gave it to me, so I HAD to read it, and I’m glad I did.  :)  I was captivated by the vivid descriptions and some of the character development.  I will say that the first book in the series was the best.  Book 3 felt very rushed and somewhat lacking.
  10. What is your favorite thing about reading?  There’s nothing I don’t love about reading.  The quiet, the escape, the learning…I have been an avid reader since I first learned to read.  Since it’s also my job (teaching English), I guess that’s a good thing.

Now it’s your turn to share. Don’t forget to go back to Kenlie’s blog to link up in the comments!

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For the month of December, I’ll be participating in #WEverb11. Each day gives a new prompt, each of which is a chance to reflect and look forward.

December 13: Read

What article or book changed your outlook on an issue or life? Contributed by Melinda.

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As many of you know, I was completely devastated when I lost Lulu in March of this year. A few weeks after her death I read A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron, and it helped me heal like nothing else could. Here’s what I wrote about the book in my Goodreads review:

I started A Dog’s Purpose right after my 1-year old dog Lulu was hit and killed by a car, and I have to say that reading it has really helped me get through her death and the loss and emptiness that has come with it. The book is told from a dog’s perspective, and it actually gave me a lot of insight (even though I know it’s fiction). The author consulted with lots of dog behavior experts, including Cesar Milan, and so I think he was able to capture life from a dog’s perspective perfectly.

It has so much to say about what life is really about and that we should appreciate all the simple pleasures and quite moments because we’re experiencing each of them for a reason.

This book is for anyone who loves dogs, and it has truly offered me a huge amount of comfort.”

What I didn’t write at the time is that the book’s premise is that dogs are reincarnated to continue their purpose on earth. So, while one dog might be killed unexpectedly or before their time, they get “another chance” to fulfill their true purpose as they come back to earth with all the knowledge they had in their first life. In the book, the main character (the dog) comes back as many different breeds, each time learning a bit more about what his true purpose is.

It may sound weird, but in many ways, I think that Lulu helped me find Sofi. Sofi was born four days after Lulu’s death, and something drew me to her breeder’s webpage. Sofi also seems to have an innate wisdom about her; she’s definitely a much smarter dog that Lulu ever was. Not that I think Sofi is Lulu reincarnated; I just think that because of Lulu and all that I learned about being a dog owner from her, I was better able to train Sofi. Although Sofi really did start off much smarter. Plus, just look at this cutie:

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In any case, this book was the perfect thing for me to read at the time, and it did help me deal with a really significant loss (and guilt associated with it) that I was experiencing.

What have you read that completely changed your point of view?

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If you’d like to join in on the daily writing prompts, go to WEverb11, sign up for the email notifications, and join us! Or follow along on Twitter using the #WEverb11 hashtag!

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Today was one of those days when I’m just happy to be alive!  I haven’t felt this content and “smiley” in about a month, so it’s a welcome change.  Sometimes it’s important to just appreciate the simple pleasures life brings us, which is exactly what this post is all about.

One of my recent goals was to spend more time with my friends and today I met one of my best friends, Di, for coffee and to catch up on the past month or so of our lives.  Di and I talked about everything – Lulu’s death, her ex, my sister/nieces, her kids, taxes, my weight loss, her work, my work, lap and surgery, being (almost) 40, and how excited I am about Sofi (whichever puppy she may be). It was so good to catch up, and we both said we wanted to make sure that we got together again soon.

Now, normally I wouldn’t celebrate potential sun damage, but I was just happy it was sunny enough today for me to get a bit of a color.  I NEVER burn, but I guess the sun was just intense where Di and I were sitting.  The day started out overcast, but as we sat there for 3 1/2 hours, the sun came out in full force.  The nice thing is that this mark will be gone by tomorrow morning. The sad thing is, so will the sun: the weather forecast is calling for morning showers.  Ugh.  But “April showers bring May flowers, right?”

Pandora!  I absolutely love this new Lenka radio station I made about a month ago.  Lots of A Fine Frenzy, Kate Nash, Adele, and even some Jason Mraz.  Having music in the background just makes any other task more manageable, to me.  This afternoon I’ve been grooving to this music and making dinners, doing laundry, changing sheets, and blogging.  I’ve been using Pandora for the last 3 years or so, but I’ve noticed that it’s becoming more popular lately. Do you use Pandora?  What station do you love?  I’m always on the lookout for new music.

My sister picked my nieces up from their old house today (they spent their week off with their dad) and she brought home a bunch of lemons from her old Meyer lemon tree in the back.  Thankfully, my sister shares!  I love the way that lemons brighten up everything from fish, to salad dressing, to water.  I can’t wait to use these all week.

In keeping with my Scrumptious Sunday, I did a little bit of make-ahead cooking today.  I was starving after my coffee chat with Di (it was 2pm!) so I decided my Lean & Green was going to be a late lunch.  I’m so glad I did that because now I have 4 other meal replacements to enjoy throughout the course of my reality-tv-watching Sunday evening.  I made ground turkey taco salad today, and have enough seasoned turkey for two more salads.  I also baked a piece of salmon that I’m planning to have with asparagus tomorrow night.  So, 3 other meals ready and waiting for me.  Friday the rain is finally supposed to end and I’m hoping I’ll be able to bbq some chicken.

I’ve been reading A Dog’s Purpose for the last 3 weeks, but today I got some solid time to read quite a bit of it, and I love it.  I started it right after Lulu died, and I have to say that reading it has really helped me get through her death and the loss and emptiness that has come with it.  The book is told from a dog’s perspective, and it actually gave me a lot of insight (even though I know it’s fiction).  The author consulted with lots of dog behavior experts, including Cesar Milan, and so I think he was able to capture life from a dog’s perspective perfectly.  This book is for anyone who loves dogs, and it has truly offered me a huge amount of comfort.

While my official weigh-in isn’t until Wednesday, I am confident to report that since Wednesday I have already lost the 3.6 lbs that I gained last week.  I have been following Medifast strictly since then and it is definitely paying off on the scale.  I’m thrilled that a bit more effort on my part is going to pay off.  I should hit my mini goal in no time at this rate.

And, finally, I’ll end my Sunday Smiles with new photos of flowers that I’ve put all around the house.  I’ve never considered myself a great floral arranger, but lately I’ve been impressed with the way I’ve been able to display all the flowers we have in our garden.  I wanted to make sure to cut lots of flowers today because of the rain in the forecast for this week.  The flowers make me feel like I’ve brought a bit of springtime into the house and that definitely makes me smile.  Enjoy!

Cala Lillies are my favorites, and I love the way this looks in my living room.

Basically the same bouquet as last week, but the lighting was different and made the roses look almost florescent.

My favorite bouquet of the week. The vase matches the bathroom perfectly, the freesia smell heavenly, and the colors - gorgeous!!

How was your weekend?  What did you do that brought a smile to your face? 

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