Sunday, December 17, 2017

My Everyday Life [Weeks 47-50]

I apologize for being MIA, but I am working two jobs and studying for an upcoming exam! I'm finally taking a little late night break to relax and blog.

Here's what the past three weeks looked like:

Thanksgiving 2017! Gee, what do vegans eat? I had a good meal full of diverse items!
Love being an auntie!
Auntie duties during Conner's baptism.
Post yoga shot. Loved trying a downtown yoga studio for a month.
First day of my new full-time job.
We're pretty similar in our ping pong skills. Craig won that night.
Totally love the Roxy shoes I randomly ordered on Black Friday. I got a pretty good deal. Needed some new athletic shoes and then I found these for half off too.
Before the temps dropped, I was walking twice or three times a day on breaks at work. I miss it!
Loved this kombucha beer!
I won two tickets to a Christmas lights and desserts Milwaukee Food & City Tour and took mom!
Always wanted to get to the brick and mortar store of Indulgence Chocolatiers! This chocolate and wine pairing was delicious, of course!
The lights at Ziedler Square are beautiful.
I wish Santa really existed and would bring me one of these. I put it in my cart as a joke to tease Craig.
 Nightstand shot as part of the #12daysofbookstagram challenge I participated in on Instagram.
Never finished this book before I had to return it but I love the author's podcast. I'll get back to the book sometime.
 Lunch with a former colleague and one of my favorite restaurants.
First night at my 10 hour a week library job. I checked out these books and read them as I waited for my shift to begin.
"Librarian" Lisa. Ha ha. I'm not really a librarian, just a shelver but I LOVE it! I am so glad I took a part-time job doing it.
Never thought I'd be taking an insurance class, but that's where I spent four days of last week. My brain hurts from studying this weekend. I have an exam this week and I am not so confident about it right now.
Loaded up on caffeine and a snack at Walgreens before heading to class. Saw this Softer Than Brittle product on the VegNews Instagram page. It was amazing!
One of my colleagues bought all of us stockings and treats as a surprise. We were all so appreciative!
Egg nog and a movie on a Friday night. I still haven't finished watching the movie, but I plan to soon.
 YAY! Haven't made anything from it yet but the recipes look delicious.
A green smoothie to try to prevent me from getting sick. I had a sore throat all morning. By that evening, I was feeling much better.
I don't like to eat out a lot but I took advantage of being near a Whole Foods by eating there two out of the four days I had class. I tried their vegan pizza and liked it.
I also tried my first poke bowl last week. It was so fresh and tasty. I am now craving them. So glad a new poke place is opening up about 10 miles away from us. I could also try to make this at home.
Hooray, I'm all caught up. Wish I had more time for blogging but life is crazy lately, especially with the holidays coming up. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: Late October through late November

I'm one book away from reaching my reading challenge goal of 31 books for 2017! I haven't read as much as I had hoped to recently, but with winter here and  lots of time indoors, I hope that changes. Here are the last three books I read. 

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have read nearly all of Brown's books and I love her work. I read this book really quickly and walked away with some good messages. It's kind of hard to describe the message, so I will share this quote from a book summary: "True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” 

Brene wants the reader to think about the following: 1) People are hard to hate close up. Move in. 2) Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. 3) Hold hands. With strangers. 4) Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart
Yes, sometimes doing these things can be really difficult but I think she is trying to get readers to at least try to accomplish them when they can. 

And here is another quote that appears in the book multiple times: "You are only free when you realize you belong no place—you belong every place—no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great."-Maya Angelou 

Everyone should read this book and then read it again (which I'd love to do again in the future). It is timely and has an excellent message that we all need to hear. I gave it a 4 out of 5 mainly because I felt like she could have expanded on certain topics a bit more or provided better examples in some parts of the book.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was my book club read for the month and we just had an excellent discussion last week! 

I really enjoyed Picoult's writing style, the plot, and the different character perspectives. I also appreciate that she tackled a very tough and timely topic (race) in this way and it made for a very interesting book club talk. The story was sad, but overall, I walked away with a new perspective and still think about the book quite often. It reminded me of how I felt about reading Evicted. Good books should offer a new perspective on the world and provide empathy for people in your life like the characters you read about in books. I highly recommend this book! Go get it from your local library or independent bookstore and read it!

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Smith shares stories of how humans look for meaning and find it in every day life. It could be through their religion, community, work, volunteering, and so much more. She believes there are four pillars in every day life that relate to meaning: 

1. Belonging: being in relationships where you are valued and you value others
2. Purpose: using your strengths to serve others
3. Transcendence: your sense of self fades away and you feel connected to a higher reality. (For me this comes from looking at paintings or being in nature)
4. Storytelling: the story you tell yourself about yourself. 

My favorite story was about a Vietnam War veteran from Milwaukee who had PTSD and was heading down a negative path in life. He turned it around when he started a coffee shop named Dryhootch and he found meaning and purpose from running this business. He also found a supportive community and connected with other fellow veterans. 

I enjoyed the message this book had to offer and it made me think about my own path to finding meaning in life. I find it through volunteering (even feeding baby birds made me feel like I had so much purpose and meaning); being a wife, cat mom, daughter, sister, friend; work, blogging, and more. Smith says that finding meaning takes effort and I agree. It changes from year to year or even month to month. It has a different definition for each of us and that's ok. 

Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 46]

The week started out with a crazy for avocado kitty yelling at me because he wanted to lick the shell.
 A delicious breakfast full of nutrients because I had a job interview later that day.
Any guesses where my interview was? It's a part-time job in a place I visited a lot as a child and still do as an adult. I was offered the position later in the week!
 His and hers pasta. The pesto from Trader Joe's was delicious!
I was pretty sad and angry on Tuesday. I got into a battle (in Spanish and English) regarding what land was ours vs. a condo development behind us. I am glad I spoke up because I knew we owned part of the woods behind us and the developer wanted to tear them down up until our property. In the end, all that matters is that a few phone calls later, I took care of business and our trees are still standing.

It may seem silly to some that I got upset, but the woods are a natural barrier and home to so many animals I love. The privacy they offer are one of the reasons we loved this house. We have so many varieties of birds, hawks, squirrels, turkeys, possum, deer, and other animals that show up back there.
I made a new friend at a conference two weeks ago and she recommended this PBS series. It was really good!
 All lined up and waiting for me to come out of cleaning the bedroom and bathroom.
 We took a trip to Chicago yesterday!
A warm cup of coffee and a few snacks hit the spot after we got off the train.
 We took a bus to the Shedd! It was our first time there.
 So many cool creatures to check out!
Including this guy. Between his open mouth, head, and orange color, it just reminded me of Trump.
 That was a shark behind us!
 I love frogs and we saw some pretty tiny ones yesterday. This one was so pretty.
We had a late lunch at Native Foods Cafe! It's a plant-based restaurant and I was in heaven with the selection. The fact that I could eat whatever I wanted made it really hard to choose a meal.
I decided on the Native Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado club sandwich with a giant side salad (which I proudly finished). Craig had a delicious meatball sub! I was very impressed with our meal and wish we had one closer.
Our last stop in Chicago was the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. This was my second or third time there and I have been talking about getting back there for years. 
Craig says I just wanted to get mulled wine, but that's not true! I like how the vendors, sights, and smells remind me of the amazing Christmas markets I visited in Switzerland when I lived there. 
 I also love that they have vendors come from Germany and other parts of the world!
I'm just getting things in order around the house today because I start a new job tomorrow! I am naturally nervous, but excited!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week! Pardon a turkey and eat veggies instead. :)