Friday, May 15, 2015

Blogging for Books: Flipped by Doug Pagitt

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I chose this book because it basically lies outside of genres that I would normally gravitate to.  While I can't say that I hated the book, I can say that I disagreed fundamentally with mostly everything that Doug Pagitt had to say.  


There are a couple of main problems I have with this book:
1. I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person, but there were times during my reading where I was left pondering, "Uh. What?"  I just didn't "get" some of the points that Pagitt was trying to make.


2. This man stated that he was a pastor.  Maybe it's not very open-minded of me, but I feel that this pastor has missed the main point of the Gospel and what Jesus was trying to say.


I understand that Pagitt's point is to "flip" the traditional thinking of God and religion, and depending on your belief system this book may be wonderful or horrible to you.  There were some ideas that I did agree with.  I do feel that we should not be trying to hide or live with "If/Then" thinking.  God does not want us to simply do good in the hope that he will do something good for us.  That's not the point.  Bad things still happen to good people, and it's not necessarily God "punishing" them for their choices.  Sometimes bad things happen from bad choices.  Sometimes bad things just happen.  But I do completely disagree that we should just do whatever we want where ever we want with whomever we want.  We SHOULD be trying to live Godly lives based on Jesus' example, knowing that we will NOT ever be perfect because we're human.  We WILL make mistakes, and that's why we have a God who offers forgiveness when we mess up.  


While Pagitt didn't directly say anything like this, if we are ALL in God, does that mean it's okay to murder others, or live a life of addiction, or abuse your spouse or children?  It just makes me question his point.  Shouldn't those people be ashamed of their actions?  Shouldn't they want to repent?  
Overall, I felt that Pagitt wrote well, but I just can't get on board with this flip.



Sunday, May 3, 2015

Influenster Vox Boxes

I've recently received two VoxBoxes from Influenster.  While it's always cool to get free products to try, these last ones have featured one product each, and frankly, they've been a little weird.

First, I was selected to try Carefree Acti-Fresh pantiliners.  I'm sorry, Influenster, but making a big deal on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media about pantiliners is just too much for me.  I mean, for goodness sake!  My DAD has Facebook.  I don't know, maybe at thirty-two-years-old talking about feminine hygiene products for the whole world to see shouldn't bother me.  But it does.  No one needs to know my business about my business.

The next VoxBox I received from Influenster featured Purina One Cat food.


I received a small bag of Purina One Smart Blend cat food: Chicken & Turkey flavor.  I also got some information about the food and a coupon for a free bag.  

Now, I find this VoxBox a little weird, because I am not a cat.  I am also not a pet psychic, so I'm not sure how well I can rate this product.  The idea is that you gradually incorporate this bag of cat food with your current cat food and make the #OneSwitch.  I did do this, but the problem is that I have two cats.  By the time I could use the entire bag, there still wasn't enough to fill their bowl, and I'm a busy person who hasn't had time to get the other bag yet!


So this is the best that I can do.  I was filling up Allie and Abbie's water and food bowls on the kitchen counter like I always do.  Immediately after I poured some of the Purina One into the bowl with the other food, Allie was into it.  Was she hungry?  Or was it just that irresistible?  I don't know.  But it does seem like both of them gobbled up the food much more quickly than usual throughout the week.

Now, will I make the complete #OneSwitch?  I don't know for sure.  My cats are pretty happy with most food that I give to them.  Brand name cat foods tend to be very expensive, and while I love my fur babies, if generic is good enough for me, it's good enough for them.  You know?

But I will certainly be willing to use my coupon and let them have another try!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

March & April Books


This year is really flying by!  I'm glad that I was ahead  of schedule for my Reading Challenge for the first two months because I didn't manage to get much reading done this month!

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I LOVED this book! I listened to this one on Audible, and I loved the narrators. They had two different narrators: one for Jacob at "90 or 93" and one for Jacob at 23.

I enjoyed that the story shifted between Jacob's present and his past. The narrator's voice for Jacob at "90 or 93" reminded me of my grandfather at times....so much so at times, that it brought tears to my eyes!

It was fascinating to learn about circus life as Jacob himself does. And I loved the parts with Rosie, the elephant, since elephants are my favorite animal!

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Seriously, I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Thank goodness for Audible, or I would never get to "read" these days.  The best thing about this book is that Ellen narrates it herself.  It just wouldn't be right if she didn't.  It was a pretty quick listen, and it was fun!







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 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

I finished this on the last day of March.  I have really started to enjoy listening to fiction on Audible.  I have a tendency to pick books that I judge would be heavier reads.  They're fascinating to listen to.

This book was really amazing.  As a teacher, I cross paths with students who have all different types of needs, and this book was striking to me.  It was interesting to follow the point-of-view and logic of this 15-year-old boy.



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Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

This is my only book for April.  I have been so insanely busy.  Again, if it weren't for Audible, I'd have nothing to say here.

I LOVED this book.  I mean, I get that it's the trendy book and all, but I really did love it.  I hadn't really heard anything about the plot or seen the movie prior to reading the book.  I was actually genuinely shocked by the twists and turns of the plot, and now I really need to see the movie.  (And the fact that it stars Ben Affleck doesn't hurt....I'd probably still watch it even if I hated the book.  But anyway....)

So there you have it.  My most recent "reads."

I apologize that I have been missing from Blogland lately.  Not so much that I haven't written, but I literally haven't even had time to keep up with all of YOUR blogs!  This is the first Saturday I've had free in a while, and I figured that I had better get something done in this blog space.

I have lots more books on my to-read list including TWO that I need to read and review: one from Blogging for Books, and one from Micah at Unabashedly Me!  Hopefully, I'll find some free time soon!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

February Books

I'm going to attempt to write this post on my iPad for a couple reasons:
1. I don't feel like getting off of the couch to get the computer
2. We switched our internet provider, and now, I can't get our printer to wirelessly connect with the computer. So the computer is currently upstairs attached to the printer with a USB. See #1.

I'm so confused with how I feel about blogging these days. I miss it, but not enough to find a way to work time to write into my schedule. I try to make time to read my favorite bloggers on the weekends, which doesn't allow me much time to write....

Anyway, this post is about the books I've read in February. I managed to get 3 more books in this month, too!  You can read about my January books here.


I would like to note that at this point, I abandoned writing this post on my iPad before I threw it across the room.  Perhaps, if I had stuck to just typing and added the pictures later, I would've had more success.  lol

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The Life of Pi by Yann Martel 
This was my Audible purchase from the month of January.  I get my Audible credit on the 24th of each month, so the books always take me into the next month.  It seems to be helping me with my reading schedule!  Anyway, this is the first book that I have listened to that was not a comedy book or nonfiction.  The book started off a little slow for me at first, and I was wondering if I was even going to like it.  The more I listened, the more the story drew me in.  I gave it 4 stars, and now I want to see the movie version.

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Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
This is the second book in The Lunar Chronicles series.  After being a bit unsure about the first book, Cinder, (which I read in January) when I began reading it, I was enthralled in the story by the end and ready to read the next book.  Scarlet is better known in the fairy tale world as Little Red Riding hood.  She meets a street fighter named Wolf, and they embark on a journey to find Scarlet's missing grandmother.  Along the way, they catch up with Cinder, and more of the tale unfolds.  I enjoyed this one from start to finish, and I now I'm eagerly awaiting the third book, Cress.  (I'm so glad I'm a teacher.  Thank God for Scholastic book orders!!).  I gave this one 5 stars.

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The Thirteenth Gift by Joanne Huist Smith
This month, I was excited to receive my first Blogging for Books book!  I had read a review of this one on Kristin's blog, and I decided to try it out for myself.  Overall, the story has a great message.  It is a beautiful story of a Christmas miracle that begins to heal a family's pain from the loss of their husband and father.  Unfortunately, the writing of this book didn't feel natural to me.  The story could have been told as a short story or article, rather than in an entire book.  I think the impact of the story would've been the same without being an entire book.  I wasn't thrilled with the ending that abruptly shifted from the 12th gift to the 13th gift as more of an epilogue than part of the story.  The author also doesn't directly state what exactly the 13th gift.  It seems to be left to the reader to determine.  My inference is that the 13th gift is the tradition of giving and bringing healing to families who have experienced loss.  I would recommend this book...especially for Christmastime.  It is a quick read.  It's just not one that I will be reading again.  I gave it 3 stars.

So what have you been reading lately??


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How It's Going...2015 Goals

I thought it would be good to try to take time each month and reflect how I'm doing with my goals for this year.  It should help to keep me on track and see where I need to step up!



Health & Fitness
~Continue to work out at least 3x a week. I'm giving this a positive.  Last week, I had to miss my Tuesday Zumba workout because we decided to change our internet provider and they were coming to install that day.  I would've gone if I didn't have to be home.
~Find online videos to do yoga or pilates at least 2x a month (on weekends or non-gym days).
I have found some resources.  I just haven't actually done anything about it yet.
~Add healthier foods to lunch 2x a week.  I bought some baby carrots and even some low-cal mozzarella cheese sticks for my lunches.  I also found these really yummy granola bars by Kashi that are low-calorie with a good bit of protein, and they're really good.  So that makes my between school and the gym snack much healthier!
~MEAL PLAN! I'm going in between here.  I'm getting better.  It is SO nice to come home and either already have dinner ready (crock pot or bean pot recipes) or to know what I'm going to make.  I usually pick up what I need on the weekend or on Mondays.  I just want to keep working on this until it's a full-blown habit.
~Complete an obstacle race.
~Run a 5k.
I'm ok with these last two being completed.  These are goals for later this year.  For starters, it's winter here.  It's cold, and there's nothing really going on in our area anyway.  In addition, I have specific races in mind which aren't held until later.

Reading
~I set a reading goal of 30 books for 2015.
A work in progress, that I also don't expect to be done.  If you read yesterday's post, I'm at 3 books for the year.

Blogging
~Blog at least 2x a month.  Big fail on this one.  I set this goal on January 2nd, and sat down to write some posts for this week on February 1st.  Whoops.  Ultimately, it doesn't upset me.  I need to prioritize, and as much as I enjoy blogging and reading others' blogs, it just doesn't fit on my top priorities right now.  However, I WILL achieve this for February because I've already written two posts when this one is finished!

Overall, I'm happy with my progress on my goals so far!

How are you doing with your goals for 2015?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Book Review: January Books

It is my goal to read 30 books in 2015, and so far, I'm off to a great start.  In January, I read 3 books.  According to my challenge on Goodreads.com, I am have completed 10% of my goal, and I am one book ahead of schedule.

When I shared my book review of Reshaping it All, I actually did a vlog!  I thought it would be fun and easier to continue to do those.  That has turned out not to be true for me.  Alas, I think it may end up working best for me to just share all of my books at once for a monthly reading update.


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Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly
I listened to this one on Audible.  I really enjoy listening to audio books on my commute to and from work.  It makes me feel like I'm still doing something productive during my driving time.  I did not like this one as much as I liked Killing Kennedy, but I still really enjoyed it.  It was fascinating to hear the history behind the Lincoln assassination.  What I liked least was that a few chapters droned on about Civil War battles and issues, and I didn't feel it was specifically relevant to the story of Lincoln.  Don't get me wrong, I actually do like learning about Civil War history, but I just didn't feel it was necessary or specific to the story being told.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer
I got a bit out of control when I was placing my order for our Fall Book Fair.  When I very quickly used up my $50 from our PTO, I took to using my bonus points and money to spend on my next Scholastic Book Order.  Cinder is the first in a series called The Lunar Chronicles.  I certainly love my YA fiction, and it's no secret that I'm a big fan of fairy tales, so this seemed like something I should try.  I was able to score the first two books in the series from the book order.  (Cinder and Scarlet).  At first, I wasn't so sure I could get into this Cinder is a cyborg mechanic in New Beijing in a world centuries after ours.  The more I read, the more the story began to grow on me, and I couldn't put it down.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
This was another Audible purchase.  My tastes on Audible tend to lean toward nonfiction and comedy.  I can't seem to bring myself to listen to fiction, fantasy, or other genres yet.  I also feel compelled toward these comedy memoirs because everyone seems to love them.  I feel like I should read them.  After reading Tina Fey's Bossy Pants and Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Having Fun without Me? And Other Concerns, I decided that LISTENING to these is the way to go.  Since I haven't been super familiar with any of these women other than I know who they are and some of their biggest work, I found that reading their books didn't impress me.  I needed to HEAR them tell their stories.  Listening to Amy Poehler tell her story was wonderful.  The audio book was a super fun recording of her story including a live reading of the last chapter of the book.  She had a few other celebrity guests and even her parents record parts of the book with her.  It was fun to hear about her life and career.  The book is definitely funny because I'm pretty sure Amy Poehler couldn't write a book that wasn't.

I also gave this one 4 out of 5 stars.  

I am currently working on 3 different books.  I normally don't like to do this, but here's how it happened.  I started reading The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (the second in the Maze Runner Trilogy).  Scott took it to work to read and lost it.  So I had to order a replacement.  In the mean time, I read other books.  Then I finished Cinder and started reading Scarlet.  Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of free time for reading these days, so that's slow-going.  BUT I also have my monthly credit from Audible, and I have lots of time to "read" in the car.  So I am also listening to The Life of Pi by Yann Martel--the first fiction book I'm listening to!  You can keep track of what I'm reading and my progress on Goodreads.  I'll certainly have something to share with you at the end of February! 

What are you reading lately?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Well, Hello There, 2015!

Do you realize that we have reached the year that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to in Back to the Future II?

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Well, Doc, we do still need roads in 2015, and I don't have a Hover board yet either.  I guess I'll get over it.

So anyway, I had a moment of inspiration that caused me to grab the lap top and write a real time post for you all.  I thought I'd start by sharing a few of my top posts from 2014.

My Top 5 Posts from 2014
1. To Stitch Fix or Not October 6th- 573 views (P.S. I had a friend sign up for Stitchfix, which gave me an extra credit so I got a fourth one.  It was a hit!  I actually bought the whole box, and it wasn't insanely expensive either!)
2. I Need Your Help April 26th- 254 views
3. Live & Learn Thursday: Buffalo Chicken Dip February 6th- 229 views
4. *sigh* February 27th- 214 views
5. Why I Failed the #100HappyDays Challenge July 22nd- 174 views

If you've been around here for awhile, I have mentioned that I don't like New Year's Resolutions.  I think I've discovered is that I don't like them because they're unrealistic.  People start out their years with resolutions to completely overhaul their lives, and while the intentions might be good, the ideas are almost impossible to achieve.  I'm sure there are people out there who make and keep resolutions, and kudos to them!  For me, I've decided that rather than swear off "resolutions" completely, as in the past, I want to set goals.  I know a lot of the bloggers I follow have done the same thing.  So here are some of my goals for 2015:

Health & Fitness
~Continue to work out at least 3x a week.
It seems that every time I think I'll get in 4 workouts, something comes up.  I always say I'm not designed for more than 3 workouts a week!  haha  
~Find online videos to do yoga or pilates at least 2x a month (on weekends or non-gym days).
~Add healthier foods to lunch 2x a week.
My current plan for this is to start having baby carrots as a side instead of chips (even though, I do portion control to stay within my calorie limit).  I also want to have grapes or nuts for a snack or dessert.
~MEAL PLAN!
I need to to this.  Since Scott found out that he can't have gluten our "pull it from the freezer and throw it in the oven" sort of meal planning doesn't quite work.  Plus, with my work out routine, there are times that I need to have dinner cooking in a crock pot or something planned that's quick for when he works nights.
~Complete an obstacle race.
Scott and I have plans to do one this summer!


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~Run a 5k.
This goal surprised me when I came up with it.  I HATE running.  But now that I can run a mile on the treadmill without feeling like I will die, I want to push myself.  :-p  

Reading
~I set a reading goal of 30 books for 2015.
Since I read 27 in 2014, I thought that was reasonable and possible.  You can see my 2014 books here.  You can also follow me on Goodreads to see what I'm reading.

Blogging
I had a hard time with blogging in 2014.  I am busy, and I value my downtime.  This often means, I just don't feel like typing...even though that's not hard work or anything.  But I don't like disappearing completely.  So I did set a small and manageable blogging goal.
~Blog at least 2x a month.

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope that this year is better than the last!

What are your goals for 2015?

(By the way, have you entered my giveaway for Reshaping it All by Candace Cameron Bure?  There's only 4 days left to enter!)

 
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