What I Read… April & May 2016

I am a pathetic blogger reader. To be quite honest, I don’t understand- I used to be an all-star. While in high school I went out west for two weeks and I started/finished four books- all at least 250 pages (one that was +400 pages). Granted, I had a lot of down time and the alternative to reading was watching Homestar Runner videos with my brother, but still… one book in two months is pathetic.

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Per usual, here’s the reviewing system:

★- terrible | ★★- I finished it but it was a struggle | ★★★- not bad, not my favorite | ★★★★- a good read that kept my interest | ★★★★★- I’ve already bought the book for my collection & I’m recommending it to everyone

I’ll also tell you why I read it, what it’s about, and whether or not you should read it. The book images link you back to their GoodReads pages.

Alright, let’s do this.

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Exposure to a Billionaire by Ann Menke|| ★★/5
I received this book for free from the author through Kay & Kari & Kristen‘s Literary Ladies book club. (All opinions are obviously my own.) This book was not my favorite & probably contributed to my lack of reading this month. (Excuses, excuses…)

It’s written in a first person p.o.v. and tells about the fabulous, jet-setting life of Anna St. James, a personal flight attended for Stuart Manning- one of the richest men in the world. I will give this book credit for its descriptions of foreign countries and cities and experiences… but that’s all. It was a lot of retelling- similar to reading a journal. Anna was annoying and her description of her wealthy friends was obnoxious and repetitive. The actual author was a flight attendant and I feel like this was one of her flight-daydreams in novel form. I felt it was uppity and impossible to relate to. I didn’t find myself liking any of the characters, despite Anna’s repeated lines about how the pilots were “like brothers to me” and Stuart and his wife “are like my family.” No. Just stop. The ending was so fairytale-y and bad. I need some wine because this book was so cheesy.

I’m curious to see what other bookclub-ers said, but I would not recommend this one to you or anyone. Sorry guys… (It looked/sounded like it had such potential!)

. . .

Right now I’m doing a reading challenge via Google Drive with some friends in Arizona. They’re going to kick my butt…
Erin’s Read My Books Challenge starts Wednesday and lasts a month & her summer challenge categories are going to be posted soon! I’m excited for another challenge. I’ll post my selections on Friday!

Currently Reading: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs for my Google Drive challenge 🙂

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Open Letters

Hi ya 🙂 I’m trying something new today & linking up with Julie from A Hopeful Hood for a few short Open Letters!

. . .

Dear Baby Brother,
Thanks for visiting home so frequently this month. You’re helping Mom, Dad, and I live in our state of denial about your college graduation and upcoming wedding.

no

. . .

Dear Make-Up,
Thank you for providing coverage when I blush. I am a blushing fool: when I’m overwhelmed or when I’m anger or when I’m in a conversation with someone new… It’s so annoying. But you- you darling blend of cream and paste- you cover up those burning pink cheeks and make me look like a normal, calm, functioning adult. So thanks.

. . .

Dear AMC,
Thank you for playing old episodes of The Rifleman on Saturday mornings. It’s my adult version of Saturday morning cartoons and I’m so obsessed. It reminds me of John Wayne movies that my dad and I watch/ed together.

. . .

Dear Legs,
I feel like I owe you a love letter… I’ve put you through so much these last three weeks with 5am workouts and jogging on a treadmill. Honestly, I didn’t have much faith in you (shin splints, weak ankles, tight calves) but you’ve been the real MVP these last few weeks and I’m proud to call you my legs.

. . .

Dear Stomach,
You could learn a thing or two from my legs. See how my calves are shaping up and slimming down? Feel free to follow suit.

. . .

Dear Jo (the bachelorette),
How do you not get a bad vibe from Drunk Canada and Douche-y Realtor? This is my first time really watching The Bachelorette so maybe you’re supposed to keep the guys that you feel would make the absolute worst husbands/friends/humans…? I’m not 100% sure how this works.

wtf

. . .

Dear GOP,
Four months ago y’all were like, “No Tr*mp. We don’t support Tr*mp!” but now that he’s the only red fish flopping on the beach you’re all like, “We need to rally behind this monster man!” Nothing says politics like flip-floppers. Have some self respect.

. . .

Thanks for hosting the link-up, Robyn & Julie!

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A Hopeful Hood

High School Reflections

Last weekend I attended my high school alma mater graduation ceremony to watch my cousin receive her diploma. After listening to the graduates give some speeches (which were insightful and smart) I decided that I’d pen a little letter to the graduating class on my blog this week. Then I changed my mind. Then I found this post by Kelly Lorene & I was inspired.

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pre-college, marriage, and adulthood Audrey… bold necklace choice, kid.

What kind of student you were in high school (popular, nerd, sport obsessed, choir, etc)?
I spent all four years of high school living in the band room. Socially that might’ve made me a nerd… but I never felt like I couldn’t say hi to the “popular kids” or partner up with a non-band kid in the science lab. I had a core group of best friends in band but I had many friends outside of the music world that played sports, sang in the choir, or participated in other activities.

About your school. Was it private? Public? How many in graduating class? Mascots? School colors?
I attended a public school. I think there were about 230 kids in my graduating class. Unless they were super new or in and out of the building, I knew everyone’s name. (I assume everyone knew me, too.) Our school colors were/are red & black and we were “The Quakers.” Yep… like the guy on the front of the oatmeal box.

About some of your favorite memories of high school or what stands out the most. Any teachers? Specific classes?
I think all my memories center around band and band trips. I remember my first WGI World Finals experience. I remember marching in a parade in Disney World. I remember visiting the “Top of the Rock” in NYC. For most of high school I had three best friends and I have so many memories with them. Those are bittersweet since we’re not really friends any more.

A piece of advice you would pass on to your children or any child entering high school.
I would advise them to be nice. Teenage years are hard and when I think back to moments that I’m not so proud of it’s the times that I was unkind. Be nice to your friends and the kids that aren’t so popular. Be nice to teachers and administration and your parents. If all the fish in the sea aren’t being nice, swim the opposite direction and show some kindness. Also- these four years are meant to be fun and educational. Pay attention in biology. Break curfew once or twice. Learn how to do laundry on your own. Take these four years of child-adult limbo and learn a few lesson.

A piece of advice you would pass on to your children or any child exiting high school.
To be 100% honest, it gets harder from here on out. But it’s also so rewarding. Whether you go off to school or the military or join the workforce or start a family- work hard and show some grace (toward yourself and others) and don’t be afraid to treat yourself. The world will try to convince you that you’re not good enough: as an employee, as a mother, as a boss, as a father. You are good enough, but you have to work for it. Surround yourself with good people. Strive to make a difference. Don’t forget to breathe.

Quite frankly, those questions were more fun than a letter 🙂 How would you answer them?

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Trying to Be Nice

Let’s get real today. There are women in this world who we’d all “love to hate.” Of course, in all actuality, we have no reason to dislike these women- they’re kind, beautiful, honest, friendly, and- in some cases- God-loving. On top of that they’re usually ridiculously creative and they always have the perfect messy bun. Their coffee is always warm and abundant and in a cute little mug that reads, “Stressed, Blessed, and Coffee Obsessed.” Their children are adorable and polite. Their rescue dogs are the perfect blend of Australian shepherd and husky, and their husbands bring them gorgeous white flowers on a random Tuesday to display on their Pottery Barn desk.

You have someone in mind right now, don’t you… Maybe it’s Joanna Gaines. Maybe it’s another blogger. Maybe it’s someone you know in real life. Regardless, it’s a woman who always seems to have it totally put together. And even when she doesn’t, there’s a beautiful smile on her face and she’s asking you what’s going on in your life and how can she help.

So often I wish I was that woman. I wish that I could look at my mantel and just know that a copper bucket with an old wooden spoon and two small succulents would fit perfectly. I wish that I could apply my make-up at 5am and still look like a put-together adult by 3pm. I wish that I was quick to offer grace and mercy to others, instead of the sarcasm and judgement that tend to fly from my lips.

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I’m not trying to get down on myself today… I have quite a few qualities that I’m proud of. They could all use some perfecting, but I like to think that goes for everyone. It just seems like these “perfect” women never slip.

I know that’s not true, but when they do slip they don’t bring anyone down with them. They’re not vengeful. They’re not nasty. They’re not hurtful. Those are three things that I know I can be and have been in the past. Those are the traits I’d like to weed out. As of late, I’m consciously trying to delete the words “jealous” and “hate” from my vocabulary. Do I wish I was participating in the trip/experience/etc. that you are? Yes. But more than that I am genuinely happy that you are getting to have that vacation. Instead of saying, “I’m so jealous of you” I’m trying to say, “I’m so happy for you!” And I’m really meaning it.

Personally, my faith plays a role in this change, too. In the past I’ve never uttered or typed the words, “I’ll pray for you.” But I’ve said it a lot lately- and then I really have prayed for those people. I told K a few weeks ago that I often pray for him. You don’t have to be religious to be nice; it just tends to go hand-in-hand for me.

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I don’t believe that I will ever master effortless beach waves. My dogs are a weird mix of under-bite boxer and scrawny whippet. (Which I wouldn’t change for the world.) I hope that my future kids will be polite, but I don’t think they’ll ever sport a top knot or keep a cardigan on for more than a minute. (It’s too hard to climb trees in a sweater.) I’ve been drinking coffee for +3 years and I still can’t figure out how to keep it warm.

But that’s ok. These things don’t bother me; I don’t feel a need to change them.

I’d like to be nicer, though. I’d like to extend understanding and grace to those who deserve it- and more importantly, those I would have formerly felt don’t deserve it. People won’t stop being rude and nasty, but I can change my reaction. I can stop that cycle of anger and judgement. I can say “thank you” to the waitress who made us wait 20 minutes to order our drinks. I can smile politely at the scowling woman in Wal-Mart who’s shooting daggers from her eyes at me for no reason. I can refrain from gossip. I bet Joanna Gaines doesn’t gossip.

I’m not in the business of comparing myself to others- really, I’m not. But when I see traits in other people that make them shine brighter (inside and out), I tend to gravitate toward that behavior or outlook or lifestyle. It’s my path to self-improvement.

Then again, if anyone has the secret to perfect hair and well-behaved dogs I’m open to that, too… Just saying.

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I’m Officially Working Out & Hell Has Frozen Over

I didn’t want to jump the gun so I gave myself two weeks to get into the swing of a 5am workout before talking about my new morning routine here. It’s not that I thought y’all would judge me if I failed… it’s just that I wasn’t quite ready to be held accountable. I guess I’m feeling confident now. Then again, if you follow along on SnapChat or Instagram you saw my complaining documentation on Day 1. (And if you don’t, maybe you should 😉 instagram link & snap name: audie_lou )

Anyway, two weeks ago K and I signed up for gym memberships. We’d been taking about it for a while, but we didn’t want to budget for the monthly payments and we had a lot going on and blah blah blah. Yep. Excuses. So at the start of May I signed us up and we’ve been to the gym three time a week for the last two weeks. We don’t have lofty goals; we’re just hoping to get in shape and lose some weight/building endurance along the way.

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Please keep in mind: we’re both total rookies. I’ve had a YMCA membership before & I’ve spent a very very small amount of time in my college workout facility, but overall I have never had a gym routine. K spent some time in the weight room with his students when he was a drumline instructor, but it’s been a while. While I’m super on board with yoga, time at the gym isn’t my favorite. Following this weird trail of logic, I also hate 5am. (Actually, I hate anything before 8am unless we’re leaving for vacation.) Since K and I are both guaranteed to be free at 5am and I already hate the time/task at hand, why not commit the hour to the gym?

All of that to say: Here are some thing I’ve noticed and/or learned since we’ve started working out.

I’m not as sore as I thought I’d be. But I promise that I’m putting in the work! We both start with some specific-muscle-weight-lifting-machine-things to target our arms/legs/core (depending on the day), and then we do about 30 minutes of cardio. Usually I walk/job because I have my eye on some 5Ks.

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I just feel better. And I don’t really dread it like I thought I would. And mornings have become a teensy tiny bit easier. I don’t know or like this new woman I’m becoming. HELP.

The right playlist makes all the difference. My favorite songs with the right tempo for running are All My Life by the Foo Fighters, Victorious by Panic! At the Disco, Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira, and of course All I Do Is Win by a whole bunch of people (and beautifully lip-sang by Emma Stone (skip to the 5:30 mark)… which I think of every time it comes on).

My body feels ready to wake up in the morning & ready to rest at night. Before we started to keep these ungodly hours I was a loyal night owl. College groomed me to get all my stuff done at night with the promise of sleeping in in the mornings. Unfortunately, that promise goes away once you start adulting. Now that we’re waking up at 5am and being active we are both more than ready to hit the sack by 9pm.

I crave water (and also coffee). I promise I’m on the path to healthy… but I will never abandon coffee. That said, I don’t crave the sugary drinks I once inhaled. I’m good with my four main liquids: water, coffee, tea, and wine. (Yeah, yeah. I still love sweet wine.)

I feel the urge to eat better. Ok, let’s not get crazy. I still love donuts and ice cream and McDonald’s cheeseburgers… but I also find myself ordering salads and stocking the fridge with fruit and being conscious of what I cook. That feels like a win.

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Bonus lesson: Our dogs are growing up. As most know, Ly and Enzo sleep with us but are crated during the time we’re at work/out of the house. Since we’re only gone for an hour and they’re still fairly sleepy anyway, we’ve been leaving them loose while we’re at the gym. We trust Lylee to be loose when we take Enzo places, but we’ve never left him at home uncrated. So far nothing has been destroyed. #KnockOnWood

So there you have it. Yes, waking up and sweating still sucks so, so much. But I guess there are at least seven positive realizations or lessons to come out of this madness. Two weeks down, only the rest of our lives to go.

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This was an actual conversation after I finished lusting over Chelsea’s Hawaiian trip:
Me: Ugh, I’m going to start planning a Hawaiian vacation right now!
K: You can’t.
Me: What? Why? You said you wanted to go! I can at least plan it…
K: Not until we have our beach bods.

(Do you have any tips to make this more enjoyable, haha? Also, PLEASE list some of your favorite workout jams- I need more variety!)

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Good Stuff on a Wednesday

Happy Wednesday, folks. Are you having a quiet week? I am, surprisingly… Our weekends are totally bonkers this month, though, so calm weekdays are a blessing.

I’m a little early to Chelsea‘s Friday link-up party, but I have a story, some photos, and a few blog posts that I just can’t wait to share!

S T O R Y
I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that my husband runs his own company. He sells all over the US, but the majority of our materials come from local shops and companies. There are a few businesses that he ends up visiting every week multiple times a week, and they know his name and his employees.

He was driving past one of those businesses last week and saw that they’d posted something new on their outdoor sign. It read something like, “Thanks to the person who hit our cat and didn’t stop.” I don’t know what it’s like in those big cities, but us small-town-folk love our pets, especially our shop dogs & cats. K had met the cat (Oliver) on multiple occasions and knew that he was primarily an inside cat- apparently he’d slipped out.

K stopped by their shop the next day to order some materials (and drop off the sympathy cookies I made for the employees) and heard the story: A customer came flying into the parking lot, drawing all the employees out of the building, and pulled from his truck a box with the deceased cat. He saw him lying on the side of the road, recognized him, and brought him to the business for a proper burial (which he got). The employees were obviously heartbroken and felt the best way to honor their fallen furry co-worker was to adopt another friend from the local humane society. They couldn’t choose and came home with two new babes.

The husband sent me a photo
The husband sent me a photo.

So in the end, Oliver’s death gave a new home to two little kittens (one of whom was christened “Oliver” by the humane society! Fate!)

P H O T O S
I mentioned last Monday that K and I took some anniversary photos with our tree. Have I elaborated about the tree here? I feel like I have but maybe not…

Well, if not I’ll give you a one-sentence-rundown: On our first anniversary we planted a tree on my parents’ 75 acre property (where we hope to live near some day) and we promised to take a picture with the tree every year to document our little family.

A progression of our photos...
A progression of our photos…

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We got a little artistic this year…

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And Kayla captured some candid ones (which I LOVE)…

Blog Photo 2

. . .

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Thank you to my best friend Kayla!! She’s our official family photographer 😉

B L O G S (that you should check out…)
This week a few ladies talked about some really important or informative stuff. I encourage you to visit:

And that about sums it up on this fine Wednesday. Chelsea’s link-up actually happens on Friday so you have plenty of time to take note of something good, write about it, and link up with her!

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Tell Me Something Good Friday!

Nothing But Bloopers

Technically it’s an India Monday… but I’m going to mix it up and share some laughs with you instead!

Last Wednesday I posted about my favorite movies from the 2000s. One of those movies was Talladega Nights, which led me to a random Youtube search which led me to a bloopers reel. And then I spiraled down the long dark tunnel of bloopers.

Some of these are so funny I almost threw up laughing. #NotKidding

A lot of these are crass like the movies/shows from which they came… and all of them curse… so if you’re not into that kind of comedy then you should probably skip today’s post. (I totally understand- some people just don’t like it!) If this is your cup of tea then please enjoy a few giggles on this fine Monday!

TALLADEGA NIGHTS blooper reel

Best part: The little kids face at 1:37.

BRIDESMAIDS blooper reel

Best Part: Anything with Jon Hamm, especially 2:27. He looks like such a funny man.

CHRIS PRATT (Parks & Recs)

Best Part: All of it. I cry through this entire video. It’s just plain gold.

Ok. My abs are so sore now. Back to real life. (You’re welcome!)

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