Happy Halloween!

Welcome to my favorite day of tricks and treats, little goblins! How people hate Halloween, I’ll never know. I love the mystery and spookiness and trickery and deliciousness of this day! This weekend we hosted our 4th Annual Halloween Party! This is the fastest event-to-blog turnaround time I’ve ever had, but I wanted to share our party in honor of Halloween! ICYMI, our theme for 2016 was Back to the 1990s!

If you’re new(ish) here check out previous years: (I didn’t document 2013) | 2014 | 2015

Essentially it’s a photo dump with some commentary  🙂

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I always invite guests via Facebook, but there’s just something about a tangible, festive, mailed invitation. This year I used ’90s font & TV characters.

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I did some really simple foods this year. I figured ’90s meant high fructose color syrup and other goodies we all used to find in our Lisa Frank lunchboxes. The Fruity Pebbles Treats were a simple rice crispy recipe (1/2 cup or a stick of butter, 6 cups of mini marshmallows, & a box of 11 0z-ish fruit pebbles) and the Dunkaroo Dip was half a cup of yogurt, half a cup of cool whip, and a box of funfetti cake mix! I also had a bowl of fruit roll-ups, gushers, and fruit-by-the-foot!

Now for the best part: ’90s Costumes!

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Lylee wanted to be Ariel (even though The Little Mermaid came out in ’89) and Enzo decided to be a Ninja Turtle- Michaelangelo to be exact. I had a different costume planned, but K asked me to be the Dottie Hinson to his Jimmy Dugan (A League of Their Own).

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Per usual, our guests were amazing. Our friends Dana & Jamie came as Chuckie Finster & Tommy Pickles (The Rugrats) while Kayla and Daniel kept up the Nickelodeon theme as competitors from the Red Jaguar team (Legends of the Hidden Temple).  Our friends & dogsitters, Elizabeth and Daniel, showed up as Jessie and Woody (Toy Story)!

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My brother is a DIY Halloween guru. He and Christina showed up as popular ’90s games (even though Operation came out in the ’60s… ha). Xtina was a Sky Dancer– she even had a string! My friend Kayla came as herself… from 1990. Ha! She had a hospital bracelet that stated her name, d.o.b., sex, and birthplace, as well as a pacifier and bib! My in-laws also fit the theme and showed up as a perfect Peggy and Al Bundy (Married with Children).

We had a handful of other guests that didn’t dress up, too. I love getting all our friends together and I’m so glad our friends could make it- especially the ones that were party-hopping that night or drove +1 and a half hours! (Thank you so much, guys!! ❤︎)

After the party we usually have one or two people stay the night; this year it was Fred, Christina, and Kayla. The following morning is always one of my favorites. I make some kind of pancake breakfast and then people lazily make their way out. K and I spend the whole afternoon snacking on leftovers, napping, and watching the race. It’s a perfectly cozy day.

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Did you do anything fun or fall-ish or Halloween-y this weekend?

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What I Read… September & October 2016

I decided to combine September & October books so this post was actually worth your time. I feel like I’ve been super lazy this week post-wise with a shameless plug on Monday and a new book challenge on Wednesday… I’ll try to be a little more meaty next week. Ha.

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September was rough. I didn’t read very much because I just wasn’t home much. Plus, with yoga at 5:30am M, W, F I was going to bed early and trying to squeeze other things into my evenings. October was a little better. We had a trip planned so I got some reading done while on vacation!

Book Rating

So today you’re in for 5 book reviews. Lucky dog. Pictures linked to the GoodReads page!
(Let’s be friends!)

The Elite by Kiera Cass || ★★★/5 the elite
Summary: This is the second book in the Selection series. (I recapped the first one here.) America is now one of six girls competing for Maxon’s heart & the crown. Of course things aren’t easy when you mix in rebel attacks, frosty in-laws, and former lovers. | Why I Read It: I enjoyed the first book in the series. | What I Thought: The love triangle was less obnoxious in this one, but America’s personality became a little wishy-washy; she relied on others to give her confidence (i.e. Maonx, her dad, Aspen). That irked me. I enjoyed some of the twists and revelations in this book- the rebel attacks and formerly undisclosed history of the country surprised me a few times. I liked it enough that I’m moving on to book 3.
You Should Read It Because…  you enjoyed The Selection and you want to see how America survives as an elite contender.

Cress by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★★/5 cress
Summary: This is the third book in the Lunar Chronicles. (Cinder and Scarlet are the first two.) This book introduces Cress- a Lunar shell who’s good at hacking and hellbent on helping Cinder & friends take down Queen Levana. | Why I Read It: I’m making my way through the Lunar Chronicles. | What I Thought: Well… I mentioned this book a lot on the blog while I was reading it (and it was 550 pages so it took a while). So far each Lunar book has been better than the one before it- I loved Cress. I loved the friendships and the romances and the adventure. It moved at the right pace and had action mixed with strategy. It was perfect.
You Should Read It Because… you enjoyed Cinder & Scarlet. Honestly, this series reminds me of HP a bit because the friendship and good vs. evil elements are so strong. Strong characters question themselves and the lines are sometimes blurred. I really like this series.

Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★/5
Summary: A short story about thirteen-year-old (Captain) Carswell Thorne. | Why I Read It: According to this site it was next in The Lunar Chronicles. | What I Thought: It was the right story about Carwell’s past to share with readers because we got to see what kind of family he came from, how he behaved in his formative years, and who he is when no one’s looking. It was entertaining to see a very small part from Cress elaborated upon.
You Should Read It Because,,, you’re making your way through The Lunar Chronicles and this sheds a little light on Carswell.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie | ★★★/5 peter-pan
Summary: Do you really need a summary of Peter Pan…? Three children are whisked away from their beds by the forever-child, Peter Pan. This is the story of their adventures in Neverland. | Why I Read It: I own the book but I’ve never read it. Banned Books week gave me the push I needed. Plus, I love comparing the book version of stories to their movie counterparts or spin-offs. | What I Thought: I think all classics should be taken with a grain of salt, ha. If you’ve seen the Disney movie and Hook then you’ve essentially got the gist of Peter Pan. It’s a little darker than Disney (per usual) and it tends to have little regard for the fourth wall occasionally. There’s a very big focus on “mothers” and a very… dated perspective on women. But, again, it was written in 1904 sooo……
You Should Read It Because… you enjoy classic literature and you want to get lost in a child’s fantasy novel.

The Witches by Roald Dahl | ★★★★/5 the-witches
Summary: While on vacation a young boy & his grandmother stumble upon England’s most feared, devilish, grotesque predators: Witches! | Why I Read It: I try to read one spooky/Halloween-ish book every October. Plus, I’m a fan of Dahl and his storytelling. | What I Thought: Once again, I struggle with “reviewing” classics (and I consider Dahl to be a classic author). This is a kids book, so the writing is fairly basic. That said, Dahl is an amazing storyteller and I was intrigued the entire time. I loved the little sketches throughout the pages, and the description of the witches and their menacing beahvior was so silly and fun- definitely spooky for a little kid. I bought the book because A) I found it for $2.50 at my local bookstore and B) I want this on my shelves for when we have kids and they have the same creepy interest in Halloween/fantasy that I do.
You Should Read It Because: You enjoy children’s lit. and you’ve got a few hours to spend on a creative, masterful 200 page novel.

. . .

And thus ends Erin’s Reading Challenge for me!

| 5 points | Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages: Cress by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Read a book that starts with the letter “R”: The Royal We by Heather Cocks
| 10 points | Read a book with five words in the title: The Lady of The River by Philippa Gregory
| 15 points | Read a book that has a (mostly) blue cover: The Selection by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | Read a book with twins as characters: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | Read a book from this list of books made into movies: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
| 25 points | Read a book set in a country you have always wanted to visit: Death Wears a Mask by Ashley Weaver (England)
| 30 points | Read a historical fiction book: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
| 30 points | Read a music related book: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
| 35 points | Read a book originally published over 100 years ago: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 

So I ended at 125 out of 200 points. I’ll take it. (I promise I’ll complete this challenge one of these days, Erin!)

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Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge

Next week Erin’s Book Challenge will end and Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge will start. (And in January Erin’s next challenge starts, I believe!!) Though I’ve yet to complete one, these challenges keep me motivated and engaged with my reading.

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Since Megan’s challenge starts next Tuesday I wanted to share pick out my books here! Check out her page for all the details & rules. (Essentially books w/ more than 150 pages, no repeats per category, & reading must occur between 11/1/16 and 1/31/17.)

|5 points| Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long: The One by Kiera Cass
|10 points| Read a 2016 finalist for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
|10 points| Read a brand-new release: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
|15 points| Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
|15 points| Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
|20 points| Read a modern retelling of a classic: Winter by Marissa Meyer
|25 points| Read a book with an alcoholic beverage: The Whiskey Affair by Raymond Armstrong
|30 points| Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name: Tender Grace by Jackina Stark (*last name- HAHAHA; yeah right)
|30 points| Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects: Etta Place by Gail Drago & Etta by Gerald Kolpan
|40 points| Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book: After Alice by Gregory Maguire & The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory.

I did surprisingly well during Erin’s challenge. I believe that I’m getting back into the swing of things as far as recreational reading goes (though I’m still only reading two or three per month). These past few months I’ve been reading some books that aren’t on my challenge lists, which is a step in the right direction  🙂

Some of these are already in my possession or sitting on my nightstand so I’m all set for November 1st! Have you read any of these books? What’d you think of them?

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On the Road Again (w/ A Grateful Heart)

Last Monday was my birthday & I was bombarded with 15 texts, two phone calls, +60 Facebook posts, and a ton of blog comments & snaps & tweets wishing me a happy day/week/year ❤︎ I am so grateful for my community & tribe & environment.

Today we’re home from 4 days at the beach. We started the trip with a visit to the Circleville Pumpkin Festival in southern Ohio with my brother & sister-in-law. Then K and I hung out in Myrtle Beach for a while. And last night we got to reunite with our fur kids. It was another fantastic weekend.

Since I’m quite tired and keeping this short, I figured I’d drop a few links to my Twitter, Instagram, & SnapChat since I haven’t done that in a while. If you don’t follow me there you should  😀

Tweet Me on Twitter!
Follow along on Instagram!
Check out my snap story as audie_lou

Have a great Monday!

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A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

 

Nine.

I started dating Kyle nine years ago today. I was 17 years old and a totally different person than I am at 26. I was smaller (sigh, haha) and less stable and more dramatic and less sure of myself. I look at 17-year-olds now and think, ‘You’re such a little baby.’

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If it doesn’t come across clearly in other posts, let it be known that I absolutely love my husband. I love him more now that I did nine years ago. And this post might come off as bragging, but I don’t know how to express my pride for him any other way. (And I think it’s really important to be proud of your significant other.)

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Kyle is the kind of guy that would rather spend four years building a business than buy a lottery ticket and make a million that way. (Of course, we’d absolutely take a winning lottery ticket if you’ve got one…) He’s the kind of man that doesn’t shy away from crying babies. He’s the type that doesn’t stand for abuse- whether it’s a human or an animal. He hangs out with my grandpa and takes the time to go to breakfast with the men in his family. He prides himself on a perfectly grilled steak and wants to share his excess with those who really need it. He knows that sometimes I just need quiet time to get lost in a book, but he still badgers me to come and watch TV with him because he likes being in the same room as me.

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He’s clever and kind, witty and hilarious, observant and thoughtful. He is my favorite human on the planet and I feel so lucky that I get to do life with him. We’re both stubborn and arrogant- we argue and get annoyed. He still hasn’t figure out the mystery of the clothing hamper or how to clean up his facial hair from the sink (and he gets annoyed that I bite my nails and leave my keys in the unlocked car), but I will have those fights over and over again, forever and ever- so long as they’re with him.

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We’ve done a lot, but I know we’ve got so much more to do and see and experience. I’m so happy to co-pilot this life with Kyle. And if you’re looking to do life with another human I hope you find someone that compliments you as well as my husband does me. It makes life so sweet and full and fun ❤︎

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Silly Songs with Audrey

(Did you get that? It was a Veggie Tales reference #lame Hahaha.)

Today is my Friday and, in celebration of that, I’m sharing some of my favorite jams that define my life, courtesy of Alyssa‘s Back to Blogging non-challenge challenge!

I’ve seen Kathy and Nadine do this already and I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything, but they’ve inspired me  🙂 I’ve settled on a solid five.

How I’ll Always Be  [Tim McGraw]

“I’m a little more beer bottle beer joint than a fancy bar | I’m a little more sitting up high on the road than a little car | I’m a little more bust ya back than take it for free”

“I’ll always be a fan of ol’ stray dogs and guitars playin’ | One room churches, back road walks and front porch swingin’ | Sunset skies, bonfire nights, I love the simple things | That’s how I’ll always be”

. . .

Grey Street [Dave Matthews Band]

“Oh look at how she listens | She says nothing of what she thinks | She just goes stumbling through her memories | Staring out on to Grey Street”

. . .

Feel That Fire [Dierks Bentley]

“She wants to wear my shirt to bed | She wants to make every stray a pet | And drive around in my truck with no place to go”

. . .

Caught Up In You [38 Special]

“So caught up in you | Little girl | That I never wanna get myself free | And baby it’s true | You’re the one | Who caught me, baby you taught me | How good it could be”

*Can we please just appreciate how 80s this video is?? Hehe

. . .

Crazy [Ben Rector]

“Last night was crazy, yeah we tore it up again | Kicked off our shoes and went to bed by 9pm | We were balling and Netflix | We turned it up to ten | Last night was crazy”

. . .

I have always been a huge music person, and there are a million songs that I just love, but I wanted to limit this post to ones that I really felt define my life. Our couples song didn’t make the list this time (I’ll Be by Edwin McCain), nor did the song I walked down the aisle to (Baby Blue by DMB). Both great songs, but not necessarily life-defining  🙂 (K is also upset I didn’t share You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate because I tend to sing it loudly when I drink a little too much.)

If you haven’t already done the link-up, what songs define your life?

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Birthday Vibes

Today, twenty-six years ago, I was born. My mom was 27 years old and my dad was 25. Now I’m in the middle of that.

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Do you ever sit and wonder what makes us us? I am fascinated by human behavior & thought. When I was a child a waitress was just a waitress, but now I look at people I interact with every day and wonder what their family is like, what do they do for fun, do they have dark secrets, why are they here and where do they want to be? It’s insane that each and every one of us has a complicated, diverse, unique web of coding that makes us (and our lives) so radically different. Even my brother & I are different despite the same upbringing. I don’t know- I just find it really interesting.

So today I officially have 26 years of life under my belt. That’s not much to a 76 year old, but a six year old would find me pretty ancient. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not doing much right now. I’m not climbing a corporate ladder, I’m not tracking my ovulation for babies, I’m not working toward a degree, I’m not planning a wedding or a vacation. I’m just kind of existing today. Surprisingly, I’m ok with that right now.

It’s odd to try to track how I got here… If my parents hadn’t made me march high school band I wouldn’t have met K. If I hadn’t joined an independent drumline and met a girl named Kelsey then we wouldn’t have Lylee. If we’d have listened to our realtor and not gone through our house (b/c it was in an old flood zone) then we wouldn’t be where we are and we wouldn’t have been ready for a second dog and Enzo wouldn’t be ours. Life is so darn weird. I’m sure there are missed opportunities that I’ll never  know about, but I’m pretty thankful for the taken opportunities thus far.

I have nothing witty or smart to leave you with today; I’m just reflecting on my existence. I’m very grateful to have been born to my parents. I feel so blessed to have been gifted a brother. When I think about the string of events that led me to K I honestly want to cry. In conclusion, I’ve just had a very nice 26 years.

I recognize that people are born into different situations. I know that some people make poor decisions or have tragic things happen to them. I know that my life could turn in an instant. So as a birthday gift to me, I ask you to do something nice today- whether for yourself or someone else. And extend a little grace when dealing with frustrating people and situations. Maybe pick up an extra bag of dog food when you’re at the store and drop it by your local shelter. Or just take 5 minutes out of your day to think about the things that make you happy.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Now I’m off to work with a birthday coffee in hand ❤︎

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