Add It To My (Super Random) List

By skipping Mondays I lose my opportunity to recap my weekend. If you were curious, I had a good one 🙂 Fun fact: I spent every weekend in February out of town. First Cleveland, then San Antonio, then Columbus, and then Cleveland again last weekend. Some trips for business, some for pleasure. This weekend Kayla and I visited Aubrey and her fiance Alyssa because Aubs is recovering from surgery and we went up to celebrate her transformation and keep her company. (You can follow her story/creep on her here. She’s #InstaFamous)

life_as_louise_favorites

In an attempt to stay hip and trendy I’m trying to keep track of the fun link-ups that go on in the blog world. I managed to jot down the schedule for the Add It To My List link-up with Lauren and Bre, so here we are.

Firstly, these three products were recommended by other bloggers:

I’m easily influence by others… I went out and bought this stuff immediately because I was in the market for some quality polish and comfy shoes for work. (The polish remover is cruelty-free & I needed that toiletry in c.f. form.) All three have my seal of approval!

Bamboo bedding…
Two years ago my grandparents gifted K and I some bamboo bedding. GUYS- we fell in love with it immediately. They’d bought it from Marshalls, so obviously I’ve never come across it again. Then last week this idiot (me) remembered Amazon exists and I have a Prime account. So I ordered some sheets. (How many pairs of sheets do you have for your bed? We have two. I always have to be on my laundry A-game, especially when I peel the sheets right before vacation and make the bed for the dogsitter, then come home and remember that now both sheets are dirty and I’m too exhausted to do laundry.)
I digress. Bamboo sheets are the softest and most comfy sheets ever. Go get some.

On to another random thing…

Go make this recipe:

One-Pan Veggies & Sausage

sausage-bake

I made this last week and it was a hit (with all two of us). It’s crazy simple- the “hardest” part was chopping all the veggies. We had rice with it. (I also made Brussels sprouts separately because they looked so good at the store and K doesn’t like them so I couldn’t mix them in. But then he ate some so…. that was a minor victory in my kitchen.)

(I’m pretty sure I took this recipe and another one (this!) from Nadine’s Pinterest!)

. . .

This fall K and I are planning to visit Disney. I’ve been there a handful of time, but I’ve never planned the trip. (I was a child and/or a band student on prior trips.) Kyle has never been to the happiest place on Earth, so I’m hoping to show him a good time. I’m looking for tips, tricks, and advice right now. I know how to “do” Disney, but any reminders or travel tidbits would be helpful. 🙂

Enjoy these last two days of February!

signatureEat, Drink, and Be Lauren

The Galentine’s Blogger Exchange

Happy Thursday, my friends.

The link-up for this post (with the beautifully talented Mattie & Olya) is scheduled for tomorrow, but by now we’re all aware that I switched my posting-days to only include Tuesday and Thursday. (Jury’s still out on how I’m liking that… )

galentines-exchange

To begin, I sent a package to Miss Maryrose in New York. (It shipped out a little late, but it should’ve arrive by last Friday. Plenty of time but my apologies, nonetheless!)

In return, last week I was greeted at the door by two packages- one in the shape of a book (😄!!!) and one from Uncommon Goods. Once I ripped gently cut them open I discovered that my gift-er was Ashley from Bits & Pieces of Me.

galentines_1

Ashley sent me Yes Please by Amy Poehler as well as this little note:

I love that this book was on your wish list, because it’s been on mine as well! I hope you enjoy it! -Ashley

galentines_2

She also sent me a beer + food pairing dish towel (from Uncommon Goods) that’s been on my wish list for quite a while. The colors (which are a little skewed from my filtered picture below) look great with our kitchen!

galentines_3

. . .

galentines_4

Thank you so much, Ashley!! And thanks to Mattie & Olya for hosting ❤︎

signaturegalentines-exchange

End of the Year (Book) Review

Whoopsies- so much for M W F this week… I had yesterday off (hopefully you did, too!) so I’m a day late with this post!

I’m combining everything bookish today… Linking up with Steph and Jana but also using this survey format from Jamie and stealing the graph idea from Emma.

So hold on to your hats, folks…

What_I_Read_blog

Number Of Books You Read: 25
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

*Last year I read one book. I set a lofty goal for 2016 and didn’t meet it, but I’m very glad to have read 25 books.

 

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

Cress [Marissa Meyer] & Orphan Train [Christina Baker Kline]

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Harry Potter & the Curse Child [John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, JK Rowling]

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Secret Daughter [Shilpi Somaya Gowda] – I didn’t think I’d like this book or connect with it, but it was really enjoyable and it has stuck with me.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read?

Probably The Lunar Chronicles. Sorry guys, haha.

 5. Best series you started/sequel/series ender of 2016?

You can probably guess…

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Probably Marissa Meyer. I’m excited to start Winter and then get her new book, Heartless!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Royal We [Heather Cock & Jessica Morgan] – I hardly ever read romance or books set in our decade.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/un-put-down-able book of the year?

Orphan Train – Not necessary an action book, but I couldn’t put it down.

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None… Very rarely do I re-read books. Just the HP series & Alice in Wonderland.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?

Ray_Bradbury
The art wraps all the way around the cover.

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Tina Fey in Bossypants. Is it cheating to use a real person? Whatever; I love her.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

Peter Pan [J.M. Barrie] – I liked his occasional disregard for the 4th wall.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

None of them really. Wench [Dolen Perkins Valdez] was the toughest/one that stuck with me most.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

Bossypants. I’m ashamed that I still haven’t read the handful of comedian autobiographies that are on my TBR list.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

I should keep a book journal where I jot this stuff down… but I don’t.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

The Queen’s Army at 18 pages & Cress with 560 pages.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

I’d say Orphan Train was the one that kept surprising me and taking me down paths I didn’t expect.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Amory and Milo (Death Wear a Mask/Murder at the Brightwell [Ashley Weaver] )

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Carswell & Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles)

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Witches [Roald Dahl].

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Many of my picks come from other blogger recommendations. If y’all hadn’t suggested The Royal We I’d have never read it! (Thanks, guys!)

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Carswell. Or Wolf. Ha. (The Lunar Chronicles)

Reviews of my favorite books ( Cress and Orphan Train ) can be found here and here.

And here’s a list of all the books I read in 2016 with links to their reviews.

Let’s end with some graphs:

book-genre

book-review
I think I was generous. In hindsight there was at least one book that deserved 1 star.

book-source

So there ya have it. Next year I think I’d like to tackle 40 books. That roughly 3 and one third books per month- seems manageable.

What are your reading goals for next year? What was your favorite book of 2016?

audielou.com_signature

Life According to Steph

The Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange

Through blogging I’ve “met” some pretty fun people. Two of those ladies are Olya of The Siberian American and Mattie of Northwest Native! When these ladies shared the details of their Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange on their blogs I was all about participating.

blogger-exchange

Similar to their Valentine’s Day swap, the exchanging was anonymous and conducted through elfster. A few days after I sent some goodies to Nikki in Texas I received a package in the mail from a nameless Elf! (Turns out it was from Jess of To Sparkle Punch!) I’m so glad I participated because I got exactly what I’d wished for!

xmas_blog_swap_1

. . .

xmas_blog_swap_2

. . .

xmas_blog_swap_3

A week or so after the package came (and Mattie revealed to me who my elf was), I got a Christmas note in the mail from Jess! Since she’d sent the goodies via Amazon she wanted to get in contact somehow to wish me a Merry Christmas! So sweet!

xmas_blog_swap_4

Thank you so much for the Christmas gifts, Jess! And thanks for hosting, Olya & Mattie!

audielou.com_signature

What I Read… November 2016

I’m finally linking up with Steph and Jana for ‘Show Us Your Books’ (tomorrow ) and I’m so happy about it! I started doing book reviews at the beginning of this year and I’m ashamed that it’s taken me this long to join everyone for the best book-day of the month  🙂

What_I_Read_blog

If you’re new here this is how it works: I review the books in the order I read them. I start by summing up the book in a sentence or two, then I tell you why I picked it.  I share what I thought about it and whether or not I’d recommend it (and why)! Each book has a star rating:

Book Rating

So let’s jump in! (Images linked to the GoodReads page.) I finished two this month… *face palm*

Fairest by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★/5 fairest
Summary: Queen Levana is the evil queen, but even she has a backstory that may explain why she is like she is. Was she always “bad” or did something happen that shaped her path? | Why I Read It: This is #3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles and my brother & sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday. | What I Thought: I haven’t seen Maleficent, but I imagine this is similar in that it gives a back story to the “evil queen.” Levana didn’t have it easy and I thought I might go into the fourth and final Lunar novel with some understanding for her because of a touching back story. I didn’t gain much sympathy for her, but I loved the story all the same. I don’t think you were really supposed to feel sympathy- I think this was just an explanation to her violent tendencies. I also really liked putting more pieces into the puzzles of other characters like Cinder and Dr. Erland
You Should Read It Because… you’re making your way through The Lunar Chronicles and this comes next. I wouldn’t skip this one- it’s satisfying to see things come together.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez || ★★★/5 wench_book_review
Summary: Set in the mid-1850s, this is the story of four black slave mistresses and their struggle with loyalty, love, freedom, and family. The women come together each summer at Tawawa House, a northern resort in Xenia, Ohio where slave masters bring their “wenches” for vacation. The story is based on a real place and time in our history. | Why I Read It: I picked it for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: I don’t typically pick out books about slavery or the Holocaust because I hate that humans are capable of such cruelty. That said, we will repeat our history if we don’t educate ourselves. I’m floored that this place existed. This story was hard to read. There was no happy ending, similar to the fate of most slaves in the 1800s. Just on the brink of the Civil War, this story makes you question whether or not you would risk it all (including your life or the lives of loved ones) and make a break for freedom or if you’d continue to live under the thumb of a white tyrant. And if you did choose to stay because of family or loyalty or out of fear, would you have had the strength to survive? It’s a heartbreaking look at a heartbreaking time in history.
You Should Read It Because… you’re fascinated by human behavior and/or the pre-Civil War time in history. This book isn’t easy to read. It’s not PG.

Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge:
|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
|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.

Starting strong with a solid 15 points. Lol.

Still working on The Joy Luck Club. Haven’t had much time to read lately.

Can’t wait to see the other posts in this link-up!

audielou.com_signature

Life According to Steph

Currently…

Holy Moly, it’s December. And just like that 2016 is almost out the door! Lately I’ve been posting lists and reviews but it’s been two months since I’ve done a “currently” post. Since this lines up so nicely with Kristen & Gretch‘s What New With You link-up I figured why not!

Currently

Eating… pizza & leftovers. After botching two of the last HelloFresh dinners we received I decided that I could just as easily meal plan and make my own foods. But… I haven’t done the meal planning part yet so we ordered pizza on Monday and went out to dinner on Tuesday. Whoops.

Drinking… tea and coffee and hot chocolate! As the temperature drops I begin to crave warm beverages. My brother gave me a coffee maker (he had an extra, I guess? ) so once I buy some coffee I’ll be brewing it at home! (Right now I wait until I get to work or swing through a drive thru.)

Reading… The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. A friend recommended it & it’s one of the books I chose for the #SCWBC16. I just started it on Tuesday so I don’t have much to say about it yet…

Watching… as a couple we’ve been sitting down and watching The Voice. We also saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last Saturday. On my own I binge on American Housewife, Superstore, Speechless, The Good Place, and, of course, Miss Fisher’s!

Listening to… allllll the Christmas music. My favorite Christmas music genres (that’s a thing, right? ) are choruses, orchestras, and anything pre-1950. Also, acapella groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser.

Feeling… patient. I don’t want to rush the Christmas season. I don’t want to lose my temper with holiday traffic. I don’t want to waste lazy nights or squeeze my eyes shut on hectic days. When I’m not feeling patient I’m trying to will myself to feel it  😉

Giving… to some of my favorites this past Tuesday. I’d live in a cardboard box if I gave to every single animal organization that I follow so I have to take turns. On Tuesday I opted to give back to the rescue that raised Enzo (Paws & Prayers). I also “sent” honeybees through the ELCA to a family in need across the globe. (I’m not sharing this for a pat on the back- I just wanted to share some worthwhile charities.)

Loving… all the packages on my front porch!! I love coming home from work & seeing that so-and-so’s gift has arrived! I love planning and buying and wrapping gifts for people! This week I got/am expecting packages from Amazon, Shutterfly, Wild Cedar Co., Carter’s, & Uncommon Goods.

Hating… the weird limbo that I find my life hoovering in. I try to be grateful for all moments and all seasons of life, but right now I feel like I’m sitting in an intersection and there’s something new and exciting down every street…. but I can’t quite pick a direction yet. (It’s as vague in my head as I just made it sound right here. Sorry.)

Looking forward to… Christmas! It’s my favorite time in the church calendar and I’m so excited to give gifts and nom on holiday foods and bask in the glow of trees and fireplaces.

Dreading… bills, early mornings, dirty rooms, mounds of laundry… all the things that accompany my fortunate life. Really I should be thankful for luxuries & utilities to pay for, a job to set an alarm clock for, and a warm house and comfy clothes to clean. #perspective

Praying for… the violence and hate to stop. The OSU stabbings were heartbreaking. I’m also praying for all the people & animals avoiding fires in the south. That’s so, so terrifying. And I’m praying for the folks in ND that are freezing to death because they believe so strongly in their cause. I don’t want to see this country become (more) cold and hateful. This country needs empathy.

Planning… a baby shower sprinkle for my best friend! She’s due in February with a boy (last time it was a girl) and I wanted her to have the opportunity to get some little boy clothes and toys. Plus, I love any excuse to spoil a mother-to-be (round #2)!

So what’s new with you?

*Thanks for hosting, Kristen & Gretch!

audielou.com_signature

What's New With You