Happiness: 100 day project (day 67)

This week I had the opportunity to help a photographer friend, taking several natural photos with the theme 'faces/portrait' for a project.  

I can't share the photos yet but do have a few candid snapshots worth sharing. 

Memories.... when I was a little girl I was on a magazine cover and billboards throughout Minnesota. I need to dig up the billboard photo!

I'm going home this weekend and know my Dad has it hanging on the wall.  Funny story behind the photo... a story for another day but one I promise to share.  

My 100 day happiness challenge: I'm making good progress, with only three items left on my list.  I have had to take a break from french, a life balance decision.  I REALLY want to learn 100 words and start talking/watching movies without relying on subtitles.

Happiness: 100 day project (day 60)

In the late 90's I met a gal who honestly smiled ALL the time... so much that I noticed it.  The gal looked just like Olive Oil (from Popeye), with a big smile and a lightness to her.

I thought to myself 'I should try that!'

I started smiling at cashiers, wishing them a great day etc... then getting the courage to embrace this approach with everyone I interact with, guess what?  This was a life changer.  I was no longer plodding through the daily activities of life but engaging with people.

Some people get confused by a kind gesture as small as a smile. Others smile back.

My favorite person to smile at is a cashier, following  up with a few small words.  It seems so unexpected that someone is nice to them and they tend to look up with an odd expression.  A delayed smile.

Happiness: a dinner party

If you live somewhere with four seasons I'm sure you have been teased with warmth one day and something less than ideal the next.  Last week we had 80 degrees for two days, followed by 50 and rain.  Today it's going to be 65 and sunny!  Bonus... no wind.  I have a nine mile run planned and hope to finish the book I started two weeks ago.

Dreamy dinner parties: I have been daydreaming for months, planning a summer dinner party with candles, wine, flowers, good food... and dessert!

With the power of pinterest and a good imagination I have been thinking about the people who might come to one of my dreamy dinner parties.

Would you come?

I'm dreaming of a casual mid-afternoon get together on a warm sunny day, 75 degrees, no wind, flowers in bloom, candles, and music that can be heard only when the talking drops to a lull.

Happiness: 100 day challenge (day 46)

I took this photo just before announcing my happiness project. Unplanned, I stepped out of my car after driving to meet a friend. She was standing next to me when I said I have to snap a photo of my wellies, and it's from the same day as the photo on the banner. Good FUN!

I love it when I log into pinterest and amazing quotes just happen to be there for me to read. I heart this phrase... it's so true.

Fitness: Last week was my lowest mileage since last fall, 20 miles.  With our son in town for only three days I spent every minute with him... it was an amazing weekend.

What did I just do?!  I dropped AWP off at the airport and on the way home I signed up for a half marathon... in 27 days.  I will be in Minneapolis May 2-5 to see my family, and have a few friends running the event so I decided to join them.  I haven't run longer than 4 miles in a year  so this will not be easy.  I usually run 3-4 and walk the rest as part of my 'be outside' commitment to myself.  Wish this crazy gal good luck!

Happiness: 100 day project (day 39)

I'm 40% through my 'creating happiness' challenge today - whoop!

I want to share another conversation... my friend doesn't know I blog so no worries about her reading this and if she did read it I know she wouldn't be upset.

We are both in our 40's, she has a personal trainer, I have running shoes.  She's had at least five procedures (including lipo/tummy tuck at size 2), I'm embracing aging.

Friend: I like women (on the boat) to notice that I take care of myself
Me: I don't remember you getting in water when we boated with you
Friend: I don't
Me: Why don't you let yourself wear a tank and shorts one day to take the pressure off dieting?
Friend: I would get SO hot!
Me: Is there much difference between a tank/shorts and a bathing suit?

Books: March Reviews

I've become fascinated with cookbooks. This genre has morphed into books with recipes, stories, knowledge sharing, and amazing photography.

I read three novels in March, and a few other books for review (below).  I'm discovering what's available beyond the novel on NetGalley, a good experience.

Reviews in this post: 8
Favorite Novel: The Good Daughter
Favorite Cookbook: Madhouse Cookbook
- now that my work project launched, I hope to shift back to posting reviews as I finish books.... fingers crossed!

2013 Stats: Novels read this year: 8
Books reviewed (all genres): 18

Have you read any of these titles?  A few wonderful books to share.

The Good Daughter: Her fortieth birthday is right around the corner, causing Kit to consider some wilder notions, like skipping right past the love and marriage to raising a child all by herself . . . A girls’ weekend away is just the reprieve Kit needs from school, Mr. Wrongs, and life-changing decisions. It’s there that she meets a man who’s dangerous; a man who challenges who she thought she was, or rather should be.

Review: Another good story!  Jane writes books about real women, exposing insecurities, strengths, family issues, friendships, etc...  I gave my copy book one in this series to a friend who doesn't read women's fiction, she loved the book, we talked about Meg.  I gave her my copy of The Good Daughter to read! So while I recommend Jane's books, having someone who doesn't read this genre love it is great testimony.

I can't wait to discuss The Good Daughter with Jane, and the Manic Mommies Book Club on April 3.  

My goodreads rating: 4 stars
Review copy from the author

The Comfort of Lies:The intertwining and heart-wrenching stories of how three women come to terms with the decisions they've made and those yet to make will touch you and stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

Review:  I saw this book everywhere, getting praise from fellow authors. This is another good story about a gut wrenching decision and the aftermath.  Well written and a page turner.  This is a good vacation read, weekend read.  Book clubs will enjoy it (there's a lot to discuss).  

My goodreads rating: 4 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

The Great Gatsby:  The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Considered Fitzgerald's best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair.
The timeless story of Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan is widely acknowledged to be the closest thing to the Great American Novel ever written.
Review: I'm nervous to share my thoughts of this book!  I didn't love it.  The language and sentence structure was wonderful... but with so many characters in the book it was to know who was talking to whom.  I'm glad I read it though, if only to experience Fitzgerald's writing style. 
My goodreads rating: 3 stars
Personal Copy

Madhouse Cookbook: packed full of delicious food that addresses one of the most challenging problems experienced by busy parents: finding time to cook meals for their family. The recipes are simple, easy to shop for and quick to make, with shortcuts and prepare-ahead tips. There are three chapters – ‘Monday to Friday Survival’, ‘Busy Weekends’ and ‘Cling onto your Social Life’. These chapters feature recipes for every meal and eventuality, including weekday kids’ teatime recipes that will go down a storm, dinners that will wow your friends, and Sunday lunches to make the most of those precious moments of relaxation with your family.

Review: I made a recipe from this cookbook over the weekend, loved it!  It was so easy and I had the ingredients in my pantry.   I highlighted several others that I can't wait to make.  

My husband seems equally excited since we have making quesadilla's tonight.  It's a fun twist on an old favorite.

My goodreads rating: 4 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

New York a la Cart: Divided into neighborhood sections (Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, the Boroughs, etc.) New York a la Cart will spotlight the best of the Big Apple's cart cuisine, profiling 50 vendors and including their most popular recipes. 

Review: I LOVE this book.  It's an amazing mix of NYC food cart history, spotlighting neighborhoods, top food carts and sharing some recipes.  I liked this book so much that I bought several copies (which arrived today)! I know a few people who will really enjoy the stories - the recipes... run, quick, get a copy!

My goodreads rating: 5 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

Eat your Vegetables: A collection of eclectic vegetarian and vegan recipes for singles as well as lone vegetarians in meat-eating households, from the beloved Washington Post editor and author of Serve Yourself.

Review: The subtitle is was got my attention, recipes for one!  I have been a vegetarian for thirty years, am always looking for new, simple recipes with good flavor.  

When meet someone and they tell me they are a vegetarian, I tend to ask them a few questions to understand what vegetarian means to them.  I'm not trying to judge, I'm just interested (and it's a good conversation starter).  Over the years I have met countless "vegetarians" who eat fish, and/or chicken.  According to this book 3% of Americans call themselves vegetarian, but 8% polled never eat meat.  I'm not sure is I believe that 8% of this country doesn't eat meat but it's facts like this that intrigue me.

This cookbook has a good mix of simply and more complicated recipes, both in taste and preparation skill level.  This is another book that I have ordered,  I can't wait to read the stories and try a few new creations.

My goodreads rating: 4 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

Life and Health:
5 Days to Clutter Free: No matter how cluttered and disordered your house, professional organizer Sandra Felton and time management expert Marsha Sims encourage readers to transform their homes from chronic disorder to beautiful and organized. 

Review: Do you remember the TLC show where a team of people come into your home and spiff it up? This book follows that concept, recruiting people to help, making piles to give/throw.  I think I was expecting something different with this book and because I'm an organizing 'junkie'... I didn't learn much.  

Here are a few tips that I noted: fall in love with an organized life, done is better than perfect, there's something called emotional based clutter, try to resist excuses to keep things, be practical, give yourself a ten minute tidy.  

When building lists, it's helpful to use four quadrants: Go, Call, Do, Buy

I know a few people who could use this book!  Sadly, giving it might end some friendships though since it would come across as judging.  I've made a strange observation over the years... messy, clutter loving people feel judged and are always providing excuses.  I tell them "just own it, it's okay to be messy".  Messy and dirty are different. 

My goodreads rating: 3 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

Is it me or my Hormones: Marcelle helps you understand how the right diet, exercise, supplements, herbs, and psychological support, occasionally complemented with bioidentical hormones, can free you from hormone disruption.

Review:  In this book, they talk about the struggles to maintain good hormonal balance while providing suggestions for healthier estrogen metabolism, hormonal imbalance  It's a good all around book, I think I might buy a copy since a few friends were asking to borrow it.  It will be good to have this book on the bookshelf.  

Knowledge bytes:
Sleep is extremely important
Beware of GMO's (eat organic)
DHEA is a must

My goodreads rating: 3 stars
Review copy via NetGalley

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