Currently

Happy Thursday! And happy belated Valentine’s Day, friends! 💗

What are you currently doing/feeling/looking forward to? Here’s what’s going on with me!

Reading… to distract myself. When we fly I engross myself in books to distract me from my anxiety. I finished Girl Waits With Gun on our last flight. I’m still working on Dead Wake. I’m about to start Three Dark Crowns.

Eating… out very often. Trade show season drops us in new hotels and cities so we get to check out the local cuisine. This week it’s guacamole and steak and so many good veggies!

Drinking… mixed drinks. And also coffee. And tons of water. #TradeShowSeason

Feeling… proud of myself. After lots of prayer and some serious self-talk, I managed to get on a plane and fly without totally freaking out. My palms got sweaty, but I didn’t death-grip K’s leg and my stomach stayed out of my throat. Haha.

Wishing for… a new president, a world without school shootings, no homeless dogs.

Thankful for… our fabulous dog sitter/house sitter. I feel so good knowing Ly and E are being loved on when we leave.

Planning… a vacation. It kind of sucks because by the end of spring we are sooo traveled-out, but our five year anniversary is in April and K has agreed to go on vacation. (Whew!) I’m trying to find some place interesting but relaxing. Bonus points if we can find a direct flight 😉

Loving… Kyle. We didn’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day, but we were together all day. We’re together all day, every day. I couldn’t spend this much time with anyone else. He’s the best (and the most annoying sometimes, lol).

Praying… for God to take my worries and for our travels to be safe and uneventful. Also praying for those hurting from tragedy, sickness, financial struggles, etc. I can’t stand these shootings. Every week, guys. Multiple times a week, in fact. WTF. (In addition to praying I’m also voting, donating, volunteering, etc. I think you should pray for the guidance and opportunity to help and remedy the pain people feel- not just hope it gets better for them.)

Excited about… K’s birthday (nothing planned), being home for a few weeks (nothing planned), the *hopeful* slowness of March (nothing planned), & a food and wine night in Cleveland with my favorite gals next Friday.

Ok, your turn! Tell me what’s new with you! What are you excited about?

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What I Read…

February has not been a good reading month for me, but fortunately I finished four books by the end of January.

I’m all over the place with ratings today but nothing drops below a three. Maybe I’m too nice? Or maybe I’ve just been good at picking books this year. I don’t know…

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
★★★/5
When Scarlet joined Robin Hood & his merry men she buried her secrets, her identity, and her long hair under her hat and took on the roll off Will Scarlet, thief. When Scarlet’s past suddenly catches up to her she’s forced to make a decision: run or fight.
This book should’ve be right up my alley. It’s been on my TBR list forever & when Alexandra sent it to me this Christmas in our blogger gift exchange (thank you!!) I finally cracked it open. Unfortunately, there were three big things that irked me. First, I hate love triangles. Second, there was SO much self loathing. Damn. Everyone has demons, but geeeez. Third, and most irritating of all, the entire book was from Scarlet’s p.o.v. and she used very poor grammar to imitate English peasants. As a coping mechanism, I forced my brain to correct it while I was reading. Scarlet was a bad ass character, though, and the story itself was very quick and interesting so overall it was a decent YA Robin Hood retelling.
Should you read it? Maybe… keep in mind it’s YA and it needs to be your kind of story.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
★★★★★/5
In his second year at Hogwarts Harry can’t stay out of trouble. With a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher wreaking havoc on his life, Harry tries to continue his studies, catch the snitch, protect his friends, and solve the mystery of the sinister Chamber of Secrets.
Harry Potter reviews are weird because I love these stories so much. #biased CoS isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I love that you can get lost in these stories like you’re falling into an old memory stored in a diary. 😉 This book reveals a little more about the Weasley family and their way of life. And I’m obsessed with the illustrations in all these editions.  Also, if you’re familiar with the stories, some foreshadowing and “Easter eggs” appear that support future story lines. I love how Rowling weaved the books together. This was obviously a reread for me.
Should you read it? Yep, but only after The Sorcerer’s Stone.
*I shared my thoughts on this book last Thursday!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
★★★/5
The Hygge (hoo-ga) trend is sweeping the nation & this book dives into the titular traditions, lifestyle, and behaviors- further proving why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.
I am a skeptical person. While I like the idea of happiness and coziness throughout the home (as hygge represents), I took issue with the author making broad, general statements about Denmark and the Danes. I’ve never been and I don’t really have any Danish friends, but they ALL can’t possibly be candle lovers and bread bakers, right? The book was informative about hygge, but not without sounding a little… uppity? arrogant? I’m not sure… Again, I’m skeptical and cynical so I didn’t enjoy the *voice* of this author. (It wasn’t an audiobook- I’m referring to his textual tone.) You might like it- it just wasn’t for me.
Should you read it? No, not unless you’re really interested in this new millennial craze 😉

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
★★★★/5
Evie Elliott is stunned and excited when her brother Will & his best friend Thomas leave England to fight in WWI. Letters travel to & from France for four grueling years as the threesome and their friends and family keep in touch during those dangerous years.
Halfway through the book I decided it was three star-er… then the last 80 pages happened. The entire story was told in letters and telegrams. I haven’t read a book like that in a while. I loved all the friendships and relationships. I loved the slow romance and the build to the final year of the war. There were big gaps in letters and heartbreak and happiness- pretty much everything you’d expect in a WWI romance novel. I cried at the end, too. Big surprise. Lol
Should you read it? If you’re a fan of historical fiction, specifically wartime romance, then yes.

Erin’s Challenge has been progressing…

|5 points| Freebie: The Murder on the Links (Christie)
|10 points| Starts with the letter L: Last Christmas in Paris (Gaynor)
|10 points| Has a (mostly) red cover: Girl Waits With Gun (Stewart)
|15 points| A character’s name in the title: HP & the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
|20 points| From this list: Three Dark Crowns (Blake)
|20 points| “House” or “home” in the title: The House of New Beginnings (Diamond)
|25 points| Author’s first & last name begins w/ the same letter: Renegades (Meyer, M)
|30 points| Originally published in a different language: The Hangman’s Daughter (Potzsch)
|30 points| Most of the action takes place on a form of transportation: Dead Wake (Larson)
|35 points| A character suffers from a debilitating illness: Finding Audrey (Kinsella)

Up to 65 out of 200 points.

Linking up with Steph & Jana again! What’d you read this month?

Life According to Steph

Thoughts While Rereading Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets

*Hedwig’s Theme plays while the words in this post float into focus*

If only, right? Anyway, if you caught my last post like this you know that I’m rereading the HP series as the illustrated versions are released. (Also, I’m taking my time. I know they’ve already released #3 and I’m just finishing the second one. I know, guys 😜) So anyway, I’ve collected my thoughts on The Chamber of Secrets because I know you’ve been dying to read them.

*No true spoilers, but there’s alluding. Just FYI

The movie makes the escape from the Dursley’s house much more dramatic than it actually is…

Fred and George (F&G) damn near figure out the whole mystery in Chpt 3.

You learn SO much more about the Weasleys in the books.

Lucius Malfoy actually behaves like a father in the books (but also like an ass).

I found myself reading with vigilance during the exchange with the Malfoys in the bookstore.

There’s a lot more fist fighting in the books, lol. I like it.

Prof. McGonagall will always be my favorite professor.

The scene from the movie with Neville fainting during the Mandrake re-potting didn’t happen in the book, which makes more sense to me. He had a knack for herbology. The movie makes him look like a doofus in everything but that wasn’t true.

Lockhart in incredibly infuriating. Like Umbridge, we all know someone who behaves that way and it makes them hateable in a relative way.

I feel like Jo was making a very pointed statement about the Slytherin house when she pointed out that there were no females on their quidditch team (and 3 on Gryffindor’s).

The way F&G fight for what’s right, regardless of who or what they’re defending, makes me love them so so so much.

I’d have liked to see the Deathday Party portrayed in the movie. Ha.

The dueling scene is way more comical than the film gives it credit for…

I wish they’d have included the Dursley’s Christmas gift to Harry in the movie.

The comparison of Hermione to McGonagall is 👌 perfect.

Malfoy’s a right git. He speaks so openly about killing Mudbloods. He makes the movie version likeable. Grrr…

In the book Tom has motive to report the heir… It doesn’t show that in the movie.

I forgot the spider hunt is actually Ron’s first time in the Forbidden Forest. 

The sadness in the Gryffindor common room after Ginny is taken is so heartbreaking. (highlight for name)

I think Harry & Ron should’ve gotten some credit for at least trying to put the dangerous tasks in the adults’ hands…

Things explained in this book: Hagrid’s umbrella, the broken vanishing cabinet

I loved the handful of things alluded to- especially in regards to horcruxes.

I watch the films all the time when they’re on TV but I haven’t read the books in year. I know a lot of this was comparisons to the movies. It’s just strange (and sometimes sad) to see what they left out.

If you’re wondering if I’ll ever stop fangirling for the Weasley twins or praising McGonagall’s name the answer is NOPE. Also, I’ve said it a million times but these illustrated books give me all the heart eyes. I can’t wait to crack open the third!

So what’re your thoughts on The Chamber of Secrets? How about the film?

The Roaring Swinging Fabulous Groovy Blog Collaboration | The 1910s

I’m so excited to kick off this series with Alexandra! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I love that we’re sharing some of our top picks with you guys! Even if you’re not into h/f I’m hoping that some of our suggestions strike your fancy 😊

After you scroll through mine pop over to Alexandra’s blog and see what she recommends!

On the first Tuesday of the month, February through November, we’re highlighting books & films from/about specific eras that we recommend! (Television shows, too, sometimes!) There’s no commitment or link-up during those months on your end, but in December we’ll host a recap/link-up for the entire year!

Before I launch into some 1910s recommendations I wanted to share a conversation I had with K…

K: So… you’re sharing recommendations on your blog for each decade?
Me: Yeah.
K: As in… “Recommendation #1: Don’t get on the Titanic.” ?
Me: No, dear. As in book and film recommendations set in the decade.

He’s a total goof. Anyway, on to those recommendations.
Please note that the dates indicate the setting, not the publication.

B O O K S

(1900) The Magician’s Nephew [C.S. Lewis] kicks off The Chronicles of Narnia and is technically set in the 1900s. Potato Potato. (That phrase doesn’t translate well to text.) I think the Chronicles can get boring if you read them in a row without a break, but I really like this first book a lot.

(1911) While Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie) the play was written in 1904, the book wasn’t published until 1911, so it counts. I love diving into classic fantasies (Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, anything Roald Dahl). I found this book to be fun and whimsical (although it didn’t age well p.c.-wise).

(1914) Last Christmas in Paris (Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb) is written in letters and telegrams. It’s a slow historical fiction burn (with no sultry romance, lol), but it was enjoyable and quick to get through. Definitely recommended for those who enjoy war romances.

(1914) I’m 100 pages into Girl Waits with Gun (Amy Stewart) and it comes HIGHLY recommended by Jana. I will be finishing it soon because it keeps sucking me in.

(1915) Right now I’m reading Dead Wake (Erik Larson), a nonfiction microhistory on the events surrounding the sinking of the Lusitania. Sometimes nonfiction books bore me, but Larson writes the truth in a very dramatic and entertaining fashion. I love that I’m learning about sea life and the war and Europe (and how they tie together) all in one book!

M O V I E S

(1910) I doubt that I need to go into detail about the magical joy of Mary Poppins, right?

(The movies category is weak on my blog for this era. I don’t watch a ton of war movies, but obviously anything WWI would fall into this category. Do YOU have any suggestions for ME?)

B O N U S !

I’m a big ol’ fan of Downton Abbey. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (PUN INTENDED) but I think it has a great pace with plenty of ups and downs that keep you coming back for new episodes.

On the shelf…

I’ve heard great things about The Alice Network (by Kate Quinn). I bought it from Amazon months ago and I still need to read it. I know it’s set in the 40s, too, so if I read it by May & enjoy it I’ll bring it up again!

The Girls in the Picture (Melanie Benjamin) has been on my TBR shelf for a while. I actually think it’s all queued up on my Kindle. Anyone read it?

Admittedly, my post is light on recommendations for this era. (Alexandra‘s isn’t, though!)

Hopefully some of these selections appeal to your history-loving heart! In March we’ll be foxtrotting our way through the 1920s! We hope you’ll join us!!

But also… if ever transported back in time, don’t get on the Titanic.

Coffee Date on a Cold Rainy Morning

Good morning 😊 It’s a little dreary and damp this morning but our drinks will keep us warm. I’m linking up with Kristen & Gretch today to share what’s new. Grab some coffee- let’s chat!

At the start of 2018 I was sick for nearly two weeks. Being sick is so frustrating. After having my throat swabbed and blood tested, I was told it was just a common virus and they couldn’t prescribe any drugs. Infuriating. “Take Tylonel and cough drops for a few days,” they said. More like overdose on Nyquil and pray to the healing goddesses for my lung capacity to come back 😑 Whatever. I’m grateful it’s gone now. After I finished complaining I’d ask how you’re feeling. If you said anything less than “Great!” I’d probably slide away from you. No offense.

Things have been stressful lately 😟 Not my story to tell, but we’ve just had a troubling few weeks. As far as schedules go, January was a slow month for K and I, but things are about to pick up for the next 3 or 4 months (at least). It’s a challenge to juggle professional and personal strife. If we were having coffee I’d ask how life in general is going for you. I hope you’ve have a happy 2018 so far.

On a brighter note, I asked forced two of my best friends to buy concert tickets with me to see Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion, and Thomas Rhett this summer!! (Thanks for the heads up, Laura!) I AM SO EXCITED. We’re seeing them in Columbus so we can pre-game at Kayla’s, uber to the stadium, and uber right back! Easy, cheap, and safe! Have you seen any of these artists live?? I saw Kenny last year and OD the year before that, but I’m SO EXCITED to see them again! Any (summer) concerts in your future??

Speaking of music, I really like Taylor Swift’s album Reputation. It feels good to just turn it up and jam. No shame, friends.

Guys… I’m the weirdo who’s GLAD for some snow before spring turns the whole country icky. (I hate spring… allergies and thunderstorms (which give my dog fits) and mud and the smell of dirt. BLEH.) Are you suffering from the winter blues? I wouldn’t judge you if you said you were ready for spring.

Before we start reaching for our coats and scarves I’d remember to tell you a funny little story. While two of my best friends live hours away, my other bff and her husband and two kids live a short walk away. We moved to her neighborhood in the fall and pinpointed that her house was on a hill a few streets away. Last night we turned off all our lights and she flickered hers off and on and then I did the same. I can’t tell you how hard I laughed at the nearby hillside lighting up and going dark. Totally silly and juvenile, but I love that I have framily so close.

Sigh… my coffee is growing cold. Is yours?

Last but certainly not least, Alexandra and Rachel have been driving the Gratitude Train over at Year of Gratitude since the start of 2018. Every Friday they have a guest contributor and tomorrow it’s me! Pop over there and get a rare Friday dose of me if you want to 😉

What's New With You

The Roaring Swinging Fabulous Groovy Blog Collaboration

Hi ya! What a blog title, right? At the end of 2017 Alexandra from Simply Alexandra suggested we go in together on some kind of blog collaboration. I love Alexandra & her blog so I was 100% up for that. After brainstorming things we both love (which were endless, honestly), we settled on books/entertainment and 1900 eras.

the roaring blog collab

So here’s what we’re up to. On the first Tuesday of the month, February through November, we’re going to highlight books & films from/about specific eras that we recommend! (Television shows, too, sometimes!) There’s no commitment or link-up during those months on your end, but in December we will be hosting a recap/link-up for the entire year.

Essentially Alexandra and I are flooding our blogs with recommendations 🙂

So before we kick this off, here’s a super short Q&A just to introduce (or reintroduce) Alexandra & I!

What would readers typically find on your blog?
Alexandra: As a lifestyle blogger… anything is fair game! You can expect to see a lot of goal-setting, book review, and travel related posts… as well as posts about things I’ve been up to with KC and our mischievous kittens.
Audrey: Everything. I write about books and movies, my dogs and my life (like owning a house, being married, all that riveting stuff), a few travel posts or trip recaps. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a feisty political rant.

Have you always loved history or historical fiction?
Alexandra: Oh gosh yes. Do you remember The American Girl books? Or The Royal Diaries series? I was all about those. I read every. Single. American Girl book just so I could get a Felicity doll for my 10th birthday. BEST DAY EVER! I’ve always loved historical fiction and period dramas. 🙂
Audrey: Always. I love that history is a long, true, dramatic, romantic, adventurous story. I’m with Alexandra- I had the American Girl Dolls and read the books, too. (And Felicity was my fav!!) I think that history is fascinating and foretelling. I wanted to study it in college, but I didn’t want to teach so I chose a different major.

Which era is your favorite?
Alexandra: Oh gosh, this is tough. I love so many of them for so many different reasons. I think that I have to choose the 1930’s though. I find that a lot of my favorite time periods (or stories from them!) have to do with really really hard times, and strong people who made it through them!
Audrey: I enjoy the fashion and movies and cars from the 1940s and 1950s. Some of my favorite music comes from the 40s. I likes films from the 60s, too. If I had to pick one, though, it’d be the 1940s.

Which era is your least favorite?
Alexandra: The 80’s I think. There are just not as many things I can appreciate that came out of the ‘80’s. I don’t love the music, movies, etc. (Obviously this does NOT include the people born then!)
Audrey: Honestly, I dislike how certain things define eras…I don’t like anything Gatsby or poodle skirts or Woodstock-y or neon/leggings. Do you know what I mean? But to answer the question, I dislike the 70s.

Check back on February 6th for our first round of recommendations! We’re setting our sights on the 1910s for February!

Best Christmas Gift EVER

We spend a lot of money on dogs throughout the year… between vet visits, food, new beds, medicine, noms, and toys these dogs want for nothing. As a special treat for ourselves this Christmas, we bought Lylee and Enzo dog DNA tests. NO REGRET, guys. We found Wisdom Panel 3.0 kits on Amazon (on sale!) and they’re 100% not sponsoring this. The results were both amazing and surprising.

The hardest part is swabbing your dogs cheek for 15 seconds twice. OOF. Enzo just laid there but Ly wasn’t a huge fan. We got the job done, though.

So we submitted our kits between Christmas and New Years and the results were emailed to us this past week. Not bad.

Ok… On to the results. Any guesses first??


Lylee

K and I pinpointed Ly as a husky-boxer mix and that’s usually what we tell people. Turns out she’s got quite a bit of dog in her… (but also we weren’t wrong).

The test goes back to her great-grandparents. There’s a potential for 8 different purebreds. Turns out Ly had seven purebred grandparents and one mutt.

She’s an equal part staffie, shepherd, boxer, husky, (American) bulldog, chow, & lab. And then a misc. mutt mixture.

Wisdom Panel

Lylee’s results weren’t too surprising. I think I was most surprised that there isn’t MORE husky and boxer in her. I assumed she had some pit (American Staffordshire Terrier & American Bulldog). I wasn’t expecting Chow Chow, but I totally see it now.

Appearance: In my opinion, Ly is built like a husky/shepherd. She has a square head and slight under-bite like a boxer/pit, though. Her fur is thick and she’s got endurance and strength for days. I imagine the yellow coloring come from the Labrador Retriever.

Personality: I could go on for weeks about canine personality. I think it’s fascinating. Lylee is probably one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever met (holla’, German Shepherd) but she’s also incredibly headstrong (boxer, chow, husky). She’s not necessarily territorial, but she’s extremely bonded to us and Enzo, and she definitely only chooses to listen when she admires the human talking to her (chow). She’s energetic, hyper, talkative, an escape artist (husky), and a digger. She also loves to play fetch (lab) and she can sniff out any toy. Many of these breed descriptions said she might not be good with other dogs- especially those of the same sex. BINGO. They also said she is potentially great with children. Not so much… lol.

Overall, it’s kind of reassuring to know why Lylee is so bonded/protective of us and why she tends to dislike other dogs. I knew there was some boxer and husky in her, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that she’s got purebred pit, too. Obviously we love her regardless of the results, though.


Enzo

We thought Enzo was some kind of whippet/border collie/weimaraner mix. Or even a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever mix.

So. Wrong. I’m almost upset over Enzo’s results. I feel bamboozled.

I love all dog breeds the same- I’m just confused about E’s results. I mean, he’s more of a husky than Lylee is! I 100% see the beagle. The other two purebreds perplex me.

My best guess is that those mixed-breed ancestors have some small terrier in them (like a Russell) and some sighthound (like a whippet). Honestly… I just don’t know. Haha.

Appearance: After getting E’s results we googled beagle-husky mixes and beagle-shepherd mixes. I guess he looks similar to some of those dogs. I’d say his small size and floppy ears and face structure is pretty beagle-like. We think the husky ancestors had to be brown/tan huskies, not black/grey ones. Enzo has NO black fur or skin and we known black is a dominant color in dogs, so we’re fairly confident in our assumption. Enzo is muscular but I don’t know where that comes from. I guess the mixed-breed plays a large part in E’s appearance.

Personality: Enzo is the sweetest soul in the world. He has a laid back personality and he’s ridiculously good with other dogs and children and almost everyone. He’s the least aggressive dog in the world BUT he does love to give chase (husky?). Also, if we’re on a walk and a scary-looking unfamiliar stranger (hood up/baggy clothes/has a quick or aggressive walk) gets too close to us Enzo will keep his eyes glued to the person (typically male) and growl  at him. It’s super out of character for him but he’s done it multiple times so it’s not a fluke. E is extremely bonded to us (esp me). He was a dream to train and he still lives to please us. Whatever he is, I feel like he got all the best qualities of those dogs.


Kyle is obviously pumped. He’s been walking around the house calling the dogs “my two pretty huskies”, lol. I’m happy to know what the dogs are but it doesn’t matter one bit. Haha. Our dogs will always be mixed rescue dogs 🙂

If you’ve ever thought about doing a DNA kit for you pup, I say DO IT. Especially if you can get a kit while it’s on sale!

But also- did you guess right??

* It completely got past me that Wisdom Panel is a Mars Inc. company. Mars is not a cruelty-free company. If you decide to DNA test your dogs, do more research than I did and spend your money in a way that keeps your soul happy.