October 22, 2020

Looking for New Projects

Thanks so much for the suggestions on my last post! I'm going to start adding them to my library queue and hopefully I'll find some that capture my attention. Today, I just continued with a book I'd listened to on a walk earlier this week--'Dear Wife' by Kimberly Belle. (Amazon affiliate link)

I'm not sure why I stopped listening to it after that walk, because today I found it to be really good! I even had that feeling at the end of my walk that makes me want to continue walking just to keep listening. So far, it reminds me very much of 'Gone Girl' and I loved that book. The narration is great, too.

I feel like I am writing WAY too much about books lately! My life has been pretty mundane, though, after a short bout of total chaos. Books are pretty much the most entertaining part of my day lately. Hahaha! I wake up and then go for my walk within about 30 minutes (I've even been walking in the dark lately, just because I hate sitting around waiting for the sun to rise).

My walks are about 85 minutes, so I get a lot of listening time in. And that means I'm going through the books quickly. Other than Noah's desk and Laura's shelves, I haven't been working on any projects--and I want to!

Jerry and I REALLY need new nightstands, and I decided that tomorrow after my walk, I'll go to Lowe's and get the materials to make them. Even though lumber is expensive right now, I really want something fun to work on. When I was feeling super overwhelmed, Jerry told me I should just buy some nightstands, but the affordable ones are made with such cheap materials. I can make them with much better materials for (slightly) cheaper. 

I'm not going to be using someone's building plans to make these--I just sketched out what I want and I calculated all the measurements--so I hope that they turn out okay! I'm going to try to document it well so that if they do turn out, I can make a tutorial.

Speaking of Lowe's, today I was paying some bills online and I noticed that on our main credit card (the one I pay bills with and then pay off in full each month) we have a ton of "points" that I hadn't seen before. When I noticed them today, I saw that we could exchange them for gift cards... 1,000 points is worth $10. One of the gift cards available was for Lowe's, and I had 9,300 points to redeem! So, the nightstands should be fairly cheap after using the gift card. I love when things like that happen :)

Something else I've been wanting to do lately is sew something! I was gifted a bunch of cute fabric earlier this year, and I bought a serger that I've used it a few times, but I haven't really made much use out of either (I think I was tired of sewing after making a trillion masks). 

I really want to make something fun now, though. I asked the kids if I could make their Halloween costumes but they didn't want me to :(  I miss when they were little! I remember spending so much time working on these costumes in 2009:

My mom always used to sew Halloween costumes for me, so I wanted to do it for my kids. Unfortunately, they only let me do it a couple of times through the years because they were particular about what costumes they wanted to wear.

I don't think there is going to be trick-or-treating this year because of COVID (yes, my kids are at the age that most people would probably consider too old to trick-or-treat anyway, but I love seeing teens doing it--it's harmless fun before they have to start being an adult!). I told the kids I'd put together a clue hunt/scavenger hunt with candy if they want to invite some friends over in lieu of trick-or-treating. 

Now that I really want to focus on losing weight, I'd like to pick up a long-term project that I can work on. When I'm having fun doing something DIY, the time flies by and I don't even think about eating!

October 21, 2020

Scary Movie Marathon Fail

Jerry and I just got done watching The Roast of Donald Trump from way back in 2011. The weather felt so nice outside that we opened up the garage doors and sat in the "man cave" to watch. We'd watched it back in the day, but it was so much funnier now! ;)

Jerry and I had planned on having a scary movie marathon today (we've actually only watched one so far, hahaha! We started at noon and it's now 8:00 PM). He's going up north tomorrow, and he was off work today, so we decided to have a lazy day and watch horror movies.

We started with the 2019 'Child's Play' (I'd actually never seen the original one, and never had interest in it, but we watched the new one to kind of poke fun at it). Then we decided to go out to the garage to watch another, but when we got out there, I ended up putting a coat of paint on the shelves I made for his sister and that's when Jerry turned on 'The Roast of Donald Trump' for us to watch.

Joey came out there with us and curled up on the couch. He looked so sweet!

The shelves for Laura are finished and Jerry will be able to drop them off to her on his way up north tomorrow. I really like how they turned out!


Help! I need a good audiobook. The last week or so has been so hard for me to get motivated to go out the door for my morning walks because I just can't seem to get into a good audiobook.

I've been loving the thriller/suspense genre for walking, and I had just finished two books by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: 'You Are Not Alone' and 'An Anonymous Girl'. 

Neither of those ended up being oh-my-god-you-MUST-read-this-NOW books, but they started out with something exciting and then they were fast-paced throughout the book and held my interest throughout. That's what I need! I want to listen to a book that moves quickly so that I can get engrossed within my first walk.

Over the last week or so since I finished those, I've tried to listen to several other books: 

'Chasing Fireflies' by Charles Martin
'Confessions on the 7:45' by Lisa Unger
'Face of Death' by Stella Gold
'Stranger in the Lake' by Kimberly Belle
'Dear Wife' by Kimberly Belle
'The House We Grew Up In' by Lisa Jewell

I actually did finish another book after the Greer books--I listened to 'Three Days Missing' by Kimberly Belle (which is why I tried the others by Belle). 'Three Days Missing' was just okay. It started out with some excitement, but then it kind of fell flat for me and I had a hard time even wanting to finish it.

So, I'm looking for recommendations! The problem is, the narration can make or break an audiobook for me. I might LOVE a particular book if I'm reading it, but listening to it with the wrong narrator can make me not even want to give it a try.

That's how it is with my current listening, 'The House We Grew Up In' by Lisa Jewell. I tried another of her books a while ago--'Then She Was Gone'--but I didn't like the narration of that one, either, so I only made it about three minutes into the book. Those are books that I'd probably enjoy if I read them instead of listened to the audiobook version. 

My audiobooks are my lifeline when it comes to doing my morning walks. It's what I look forward to! So I really need to find a good thriller with a great narrator.

Now, Jerry and I are going to watch another scary movie now, although I'm not sure what one... this decision usually takes longer than the movie itself! (I can't really call this a movie marathon if we only watch two--that's just sad! hahaha)

October 20, 2020

Walk Streak: Day 100!

I'm just going to do a short recap of exercise this week. I had no idea that it's already 9:45 PM! Here is my "progress photo" for the end of four weeks of my Cookies Fall Hard Challenge.

I'm wearing heavier clothes now, because of the colder weather, so it's harder to see any difference. I may pick a more form-fitting outfit to wear every Tuesday morning in order to see any changes better.

The weather was pretty rainy for a few days this week, which made me tempted to skip my morning walk; but Joey is SO used to going that I just didn't have the heart. Also, I'm on a long walking streak... 

Today marks 100 days of walking a minimum of 80 minutes per day! The first 75 days, I walked 45+ minutes twice a day; and ever since then, I have walked in the mornings for 5+ miles (taking roughly 85 minutes, give or take). A few times, I've walked even farther--my longest being nearly 8.5 miles.

Even when I was running regularly, I never had a run streak like this. I didn't really believe in run streaks (because of fear of injury). Even now, if I was running, I would definitely take rest days. But with walking, I don't feel I need rest days. I just walk very easy sometimes when I feel I need to.

A couple of days ago, I was out for my morning walk and as I approached the last half mile or so, I just had this spontaneous feeling of wanting to run. So, I started running. It felt a little awkward, considering I had Joey on a leash and I hadn't run in a very long time so my legs felt rusty. However, I felt MUCH better than I expected to.

When I got home, I saw that my pace was about two minutes per mile slower than I'd thought, hahaha. It was 11:45-ish. I could have sworn I was running at about a 10:00 pace, considering it was only half a mile.

Yesterday, it was raining for my entire walk. When I looked outside in the morning, I was so mad that it wasn't just sprinkling, but raining. I was already freezing and the thought of walking in the cold rain sounded miserable. But Joey was more than ready. I just decided to go and get it over with. 

(You might be wondering why I don't just go later in the day... I feel like I have to do it in the morning or I won't do it at all. Besides, the forecast predicted rain all day anyway.)

After a mile and a half or so, I started walking faster--knowing that the faster I went, the sooner I'd be done and out of the rain. Then it occurred to me to try running for a mile. So, when my watched beeped that I hit two miles, I started running and I ran until I hit mile three, and then walked again. Call me crazy, but I actually decided to run my fifth mile as well! I don't know what came over me.

I think I did it partly to see if I could, but partly because it just sounded good to me. It's so weird! I still prefer walking for sure, but if I ever get the urge to run a little, I'll go for it. I felt really happy with myself when I was done.

My pace was slow--12:15-ish for each of the miles I ran--but just the fact that I was able to run them (and still feel good!) was a big deal. I think that all of the walking definitely helped me.

I'm super excited to have hit 100 days--I wasn't aiming for it, but now that I have this streak going, I just don't want to stop :)

October 19, 2020

RECIPE: Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites

Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bites

Last year, while I was grocery shopping, I "happened to be" walking past the ice cream aisle and I saw a seasonal flavor of Ben & Jerry's: Pumpkin Cheesecake. Jerry loves cheesecake and pumpkin pie, so I thought it sounded like something he'd like. I bought two pints (because I wanted to try it too, of course!)

IT WAS DELICIOUS. HEAVENLY. I can't even describe it! We loved it so much we went back to the store to get more, and it was sold out--in a single day. We were super bummed, and this year, we've been looking forward to it again. We had a lot of trouble finding some, but eventually found it at Target. It was just as good as I remember. I bought two pints, and then I vowed I'm not buying any more this season.

However, that's what made these little babies pop into my head. Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bites! I made them for a Winers get together several years ago. They are perfectly bite-sized for party food, and they taste like pumpkin pie and cheesecake swirled together. I topped each with a tiny squirt of Reddi-wip. 

It makes a HUGE batch--72-ish mini's. You could also make this into one big cheesecake in a spring form pan, or single-serve with regular size muffin pans. (You would have to adjust the baking time.) I used a mini-muffin pan for these and some autumn-themed mini muffin cups.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bites

4 (8-oz) packages light cream cheese, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 cup white sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp cinnamon (plus some for garnish)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
cooking spray
Reddi-wip for topping


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a mini muffin tray with the muffin liners, and spray each one with a tiny amount of cooking spray.  Put 1/2 teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs in each liner, and pat down with the back of a spoon or your finger--you don't have to press hard, just press enough to flatten it out. 

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs one by one and process until smooth. Remove 1-1/4 cups of the batter, and then add the rest of the sugar (1/4 cup) to that, mixing well. In the remaining batter, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg and combine until smooth.

To fill the cups: 

Alternate layers in each cup--a tiny bit of pumpkin batter, then the white batter, then one more of the pumpkin, then one more white. This should fill them almost to the top. Using a toothpick, swirl the white batter into the pumpkin batter just enough for it to swirl the colors together--don't mix it.

Put the baking sheet with the cups full of batter into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 12-13 minutes--they will still be soft. As soon as you take them out, use a butter knife to remove them (with the papers still on) from the pan and let them cool. (The tops will sink down a little.)  Refrigerate at least 2-3 hours (until cold) before serving. Using the aerosol can of Reddi-wip, put a tiny dollop on top to fill in the little well that forms. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

These can be frozen--I froze my leftovers and ate one a couple days later, and it was still heavenly, if not more so than the first day! Makes 72 bite-size cheesecakes.

October 18, 2020

Would You Want to Be a Celebrity? (a writing prompt)

 Jerry and I had a very interesting discussion about celebritydom today. I can't remember exactly what sparked the conversation, but it turned into about 90 minutes of talking about what it would be like to be a celebrity, why they are so "special", what exactly constitutes a celebrity, etc. And would we want to be one?

I want to preface this by stating very loudly that I, in NO way shape or form, consider myself a "celebrity". However, I could relate to a lot of what we talked about because I've been called a "celebrity" numerous times by blog readers who don't actually know me. In emails, in person, in social media comments, etc. 

I promise that I am not trying to throw myself into the ranks of "actual" celebrities. But like I said, I can relate to some of the things that I imagine celebrities go through.

I've never been a big "celebrity geek" in the sense that I see them as these mythical beings that I'd love to meet and get autographs/selfies, etc. I tend to think of them as ordinary people who have very public jobs, and therefore, they get recognized. It's very hard for me to see them as anything other than ordinary people. What makes them more special than Joe Schmoe next door?

Sometimes I laugh when I get an email from someone who begins by saying something about my being a celebrity, because I'm usually home on a Saturday night in my pajamas with my laptop and a cat on my lap. And honestly, I think that "real" celebrities have a lot of those moments, too. I think that people imagine that they have these super busy, glamorous lifestyles where they are always doing something super fun.

Which brings me to my next point. I would NEVER want to be a "real" celebrity because once you are well-known, you can no longer have an ordinary life. I can't imagine going outside my home and having paparazzi take photos of me all the way to the grocery store where I simply want to buy some groceries and go home. It would be so stressful not being able to go anywhere without being recognized--the movies, the mall, a sporting event, your child's school play, a friend's wedding, etc.

When I think of celebrities, I think of actors and musicians, mainly--pop culture icons. I think of them as people who wanted to do something they truly enjoy and they happen to be good at it. And when you choose that profession, you get a whole lot of baggage with it, even if you don't want that. 

I LOVE when I am out somewhere and the occasional person recognizes me from my blog and they stop to say hello and introduce themselves. It's so fun to meet new people that way, and it's happened all over the country--so crazy to me! But it's very few and far between. I just can't imagine being a celebrity in the sense that EVERYBODY recognizes you and swarms you, drawing even more attention.

Celebrities are scrutinized for everything they do--from what they name their babies to where they go on vacation to what kind of diet they eat. And their bodies! Their bodies seem to be under microscopes--who gained weight and why, who lost weight and how, who is looking anorexic, and who is looking like they've binged their way up 100 pounds.

I feel scrutinized by my body already, because of the topic of my blog and how my blog came to be, and it's hard. Most people are so nice! But to be a "real" celebrity? They get so much more feedback via the media that I wouldn't be able to take it.

I imagine that celebrities have a ton of pressure to live up to certain expectations, too. Having to be careful about what they say and how they act in public. Also, the issue of who to trust--meeting new people would be scary, because what if that person decides to post photos or talk about your conversations publicly? It would be very hard to trust anyone at all who hasn't been in your life for a long time.

Anyway, I think the answer to the 'Would you want to be a celebrity?" is obvious from this post... NO, I would not. I feel like it would be too much pressure, stress, not enough privacy, fulfilling expectations from others, and living up to certain standards. I also think it would be lonely. Sure, you may have other celebrity friends around (and friends/family from years back), but making new friends would be difficult.

That said, here are some celebrities I've met. I am including these people as "celebrities" because they are well known in their niche. If you aren't a runner, for example, you may not know who Shalane Flanagan is. But if you are, it's a pretty big deal!

Kerry Sanders - Kerry is a news report from NBC who interviewed me in Key West for a segment on the Today Show. He was very nice and made me feel comfortable talking on camera.

Dr. Oz - I met him in 2009 at a small women's health convention. I saw him walking alone to leave, and I went up and introduced myself. I really loved watching him on Oprah. He was so kind! And then I met him again in 2011 when I was a guest on his show. He'd changed so much and didn't interact with the guests at all during commercial breaks. He didn't seem interested in the show. It was sad, really. I was invited on the show a second time, but I declined after he show turned into the "Lose 20 pounds in 10 days without diet or exercise!" type.

Ted Gibson - Ted was a hairstylist for What Not to Wear (the TV show) and he's the one who styled my hair for The Dr. Oz Show. He was SO sweet and I simply adored him.

Frank Thomas - I was a HUGE White Sox fan way back in my early teens, and Frank Thomas was my favorite player. I met him and got his autograph before a baseball game. (I have no photo of this)

Justin Verlander - Another baseball player. He played for the Tigers, and my brother Nathan and I raised the most money for his charity several years ago (thanks to all of YOU!). We were given tickets to a suite to watch a game, and Justin came in momentarily to meet us (and several other people). He seemed like he was there simply out of obligation, which was disappointing--I'd hoped he'd thank us for raising so much money. (Again, no photo--Justin requested no photos)

Bart Yasso - I was really excited about meeting Bart! He's known as the "Chief of Running" among runners, and has run in just about every race you can imagine. I even got to roast marshmallows with him at the Runner's World headquarters. I'd been invited to a blogger's event there. I've actually met him a couple of times. He is SO kind and funny, and he pretends like he remembers me ;)

Shalane Flanagan - Shalane is an elite runner who was the first American woman to win the NYC marathon. I met her at the Runner's World event and she was super nice. She's very soft spoken. She said her favorite post-race meal is a huge juicy burger and a beer.

The Hardy Boys - I had no idea who these guys were (they're professional wrestlers) when I met them at the Detroit airport, but I was a junior in high school going on a class trip to Washington DC. The boys from my class started getting SO excited and taking pictures with them. Even though I didn't know who they were, I joined in for a photo. 

Jordan Knight - From New Kids on the Block. This story is funny and embarrassing at the same time. In roughly 2008(?) I went to Michigan City, Indiana with my mom, sister, and my mom's friend. We were at a casino, and a band was going to start playing on a small stage. We sat down for a moment, and then I saw someone in my peripheral vision to my left.

I turned and not even three inches from my face was some random guy. He smiled and tilted his head in a goofy way. I gave him a weird look, then turned around to look the girls with a "What a creep!" look on my face. Audrey, Jeanie's friend, started laughing and asked me if I knew who that was. I told her no, and she explained it was Jordan Knight from NKOTB. Hahaha! He continued to walk and went up on the stage to perform with the band. (No photo for this, unfortunately)

Adam Grant - I have to include him, even though it's so hard to think of him as a celebrity in my mind, and here is why. No idea if any of you know who he is, but he's a multiple NY Times bestselling author for self-help/inspirational books (I haven't read any) and a podcaster. Interestingly, he was also one of my very best friends from the time I was 15 until about 19. I met him online (in an AOL chatroom... remember those?!) and he lived in West Bloomfield, MI--about an hour away from where I lived. 

After chatting online and on the phone for some time, my mom let me meet him in person, and we became close friends after that. We were JUST friends, but he was the first boy to actually buy me flowers--a dozen yellow roses--simply because I'd never gotten flowers before. Sweet, right? He was super smart and had his sights set on Harvard (which he was accepted into, of course). We used to drive back and forth to see each other pretty frequently until he moved to Boston to go to Harvard (he graduated high school in '99, and I graduated in '00). 

My friend Stacie and I even flew out to Boston when Adam was a freshman and we stayed in his dorm room for a few days to visit. Looking back, I think it's pretty cool--I stayed in a Harvard dorm room! I didn't think it was a big deal at the time. (By the way, he could do the coolest card trick I've ever seen to this day--it was called the 654 Club. He was very interested in magic, and we even saw David Copperfield at the Fox Theater in Detroit together.)

We emailed a bit until roughly 2005 or 2006, and then lost touch. A few years ago, I saw his face pop up on my Twitter feed, which I thought was odd because I wasn't following him. It turned out that someone I followed retweeted him--so I checked out his profile and learned that he's pretty famous. I tried getting in touch with him again, but he hasn't responded to any of my attempts. He was a really good friend, so I'm bummed that we can't catch up, but judging by his bio, he's insanely busy. And has no time for a little old non-celebrity like me ;) 

For the life of me, I can't find a photo of Adam and me right now, but here is a picture I took of him and Stacie in Boston:

So, while I don't really think of Adam as a celebrity, I think it's like that for most celebrities--I think that they are ordinary people who just happen to do a job that makes them stand out from the rest. Whether they love or hate the fame, I guess it comes with the territory! 

And here's a question for YOU... would you want to be a well-known celebrity? Are there any celebrities you're dying to meet? :)

October 17, 2020

Saturday Night Photos

Just when I expected everything to get LESS stressful, today wound up being kind of crazy. Having teenagers is tough! For so many reasons. I don't like to write about their personal stuff here on my blog, so I'll just leave it at that. Everything is fine--it just feels like more work having teens than it did having babies!

Anyway, to make a nice, light-hearted post, I figured I'd just share some pictures--interesting or not ;) (As always, any links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through those links, I may get a small commission. But that is not why I post about products--honest!)

We've been getting more interested in board games lately, and Jerry and I really like this one called Codenames Duet (it's the two-person version of the original Codenames). We also bought the Codenames Deep Undercover, which is an "adult" version--but we really didn't like it. I like the original much better.

We have several board games, but most of them require a group of people:

Clearly, we love the game Guesstures (the link is to the new version, so I can't say if it's as good). I have THREE of the original versions! It's been a favorite game since the very first version came out (I remember playing it as a kid with my family on vacation). It's such a great game and I was worried it was going to die sooner or later. So I bought two more from garage sales. The one in the box was still brand new (sealed in plastic--I was curious if it was actually sealed or if someone had done it themselves).  As a family, our favorite is still Wits & Wagers.

Anyone have suggestions for more games? I'd like to have a game night soon with 4-6 more people. If you know of a great game, let me know!

This photo made me crack up. A long time ago, I used a bookshelf to create a "cat hotel"--I painted it white, put brick contact paper on the outside, carpet on the inside floors (three shelves) and I made some cutouts on the sides for the cats to look through. I did various shapes and sizes. One of them I did was a freehand cutout of a cat head. Duck's head fits perfectly!

Speaking of Duck, the kittens are getting so big! Duck was NINE POUNDS the last time I weighed him, and Chick was eight pounds. Phoebe only weighs eight pounds, and she's 11? 12? years old. The kittens are going to be BIG cats. Especially Duckling, because he is a hoover when it comes to food.

Here is Chicklet--I love the little patches of long gray hair he has behind each ear!

I was sitting on the couch, trying to write a blog post, when Chick decided it was more important for him to take a nap where my laptop was sitting. I had to move my laptop to the couch on my right and try to type sideways--so inefficient. But I couldn't bear to move him!

Same situation here with Duck. Little Duck is SUPER pesty when he wants to cuddle. It doesn't matter what I'm doing, if I stop petting him, he takes his whole head and pushes it under my hand until I start petting him again. I just give up doing what I'm doing and give in to him ;) 

And both boys, looking so grown up! Duck on the left and Chick on the right.

After going to the dentist last month, and learning I had two cavities, I freaked out about getting them filled. I HATE dental work--it's a huge fear of mine (possibly because of when I broke my jaw?). Anyway, the hygienist told me that I brush my teeth too hard and it's bad for my gums. I admit, I do tend to brush really hard. After Jerry and the kids went and learned they have cavities as well(!), the dentist suggest that we buy an electric toothbrush. 

I never really thought much about buying one--what can it really do that is so special? But I will do anything to avoid more dental work, so I found what looked like a good one on Amazon. I was shocked at how powerful it is! It has a sensor to alert you if you brush too hard, too, which is good for me. 

By the way, you have no idea how hard it was to take this picture, hahaha. 

This is the one we bought. The price wasn't too bad ($50), but then I realized I had to buy extra heads for it, which added $30 to the cost. At the very least, it should come with two! 

So far, I really like it! I actually find it kind of fun to brush my teeth. And I do feel like my teeth are cleaner. Now I'm just hoping that I can avoid any more dental work.

We've had some really great fall weather lately, and one of my favorite things to do is sit out in the garage (in this case, in my pajamas) and read a book. I open both of the large garage doors so the fall breeze comes through. I can still people watch when people run/walk/bike by. And the squirrels know when I'm out there, so they come up to the door and watch me until I give them a walnut.

I CAN'T get enough of my new sheets! I hate sounding like a walking commercial for ANY product, but when I love something so much, I can't help but talk about it. I really like the new mattress and I've been sleeping much better on it, but the sheets have a lot to do with it, too.

I'd had Brooklinen Sateen sheets for a few years and I LOVED them. With the new mattress, I decided to get new sheets as well, but this time I chose the percale fabric (because it supposedly feels like the cold side of the pillow). They feel so fantastic! I have a duvet cover and this cheap but amazing comforter on Amazon, and my comforter feels so fluffy and comfy all the time. And it doesn't make me too hot. I can even sleep with my weighted blanket over it sometimes. 

(If you are looking for new sheets and want to try them--they have free returns for 30 days!--here is a link you can use to get $25 off. And for referring you, I get 1,000 reward points worth $25 as well.) Yes, they are expensive, but as I get older, I realize how important my sleep is--and these sheets are totally worth it to me!

(I really do apologize for sounding like a commercial--I cringe in my head when I write it.)

I've been thinking about this for the longest time, and I think I'd like to build something like this for my living room wall. I won't do the shiplap, but I like the shelving. It would create much more space than we have now, and I think it would look awesome. However, the cost of lumber right now is insane, so it's something that'd have to wait for a while, anyway. It's just fun to look :)

Finally, here is my "progress photo" for today. Even though there really isn't any progress to show!

October 16, 2020

What I've Been Reading, Watching, and Listening To

Another version of "What I've Been Reading, Watching, and Listening To". I've never read so much or listened to audiobooks like this, so it's actually getting hard to keep track of! I have been obsessed with audiobooks while I walk--that's what motivates me to keep going each day--and I've been reading daily for at least 10 pages.

I prefer to read thriller/suspense novels, which is what I read most of. But I'm pretty open-minded!

Here is what I've been reading, watching, and listening to lately... (links are Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through the link, I may get a small commission.)

Here is my Goodreads account--I try to keep up with it!


'Every Last Drop' by Sarah Robinson

My sister recommended 'Every Last Drop' by Sarah Robinson, saying that it was one of the best books she'd ever read. I immediately bought the Kindle version and started reading it the next day. It's about a woman who has a glioblastoma, the same type of brain tumor/cancer that my friend Spencer died from last year.

I won't get into it too much because I don't want to spoil anything, but the book is inspired by the story of Brittany Maynard, a woman who chose to end her life via the Death With Dignity Act in 2014. (Death With Dignity is a physician-assisted death for people with terminal diagnoses--there are a LOT of hoops to jump through, so it is not something taken lightly). 

I don't get into political issues on my blog, but I would love to see Death With Dignity available in every state, and while I found this book to be a little over-the-top and "fluffy", I like that it helps explain why people may make this choice when facing a terminal illness. 

'Delay, Don't Deny' by Gin Stephens

I read this a second time, simply because I feel like I'm ready to work on weight loss and I wanted a refresher on Gin Stephens' way of intermittent fasting. It's a great book! I think I may re-read 'Fast. Feast. Repeat.' by Gin as well. 

'Lying Next to Me' by Gregg Olsen

Again, I don't want to spoil this book by saying too much. But it's a murder mystery that starts with a man witnessing his wife's abduction and being unable to help. Throughout this whole book, I kept thinking I knew the "whodunnit" and all of that, but I kept changing my mind. The end wasn't a total shocker by that point, but it definitely kept me wondering throughout the whole book!

I'm currently reading 'Girl Gone Mad' by Avery Bishop

I am enjoying this one, but I'm not very far into it. From the synopsis, it sounds like a Lifetime movie--definitely something I'd enjoy, haha!


'How to Die in Oregon'

I'd seen this documentary before, but after reading 'Every Last Drop' about the Death With Dignity Act, I wanted to watch it again. It's a documentary about "real life" people who have terminal illnesses and who choose to end their lives with a medication prescribed by their physicians. It follows them to the end, and it's very eye-opening to see a disease progress so rapidly and terribly that they choose to hasten their deaths.

'The Secret: Dare to Dream'

Again, my sister recommended this. She suggested it to both my mom and me, so I ended up going to her house (at 6:00 AM!) for a movie date. The movie was very good! It was your typical "feel good romantic drama" that is very predictable, but leaves you feeling warm and cozy inside.

Also, I am definitely familiar with "The Secret"--I remember when Oprah did a show about it. I created a vision board and the only thing I put on it was People magazine's "Half Their Size" cover. I wanted to lose the weight so badly! And it wasn't long after that when I started losing the weight.

'Brothers and Sisters'

Jerry and I watched this show a long time ago, and we loved it! We'd forgotten all the details of the drama, so we decided to watch it again. We only watch a few episodes a week, but it's a great drama. It makes me wish I had more kids! Hahah. And grateful that I grew up with three (awesome) siblings. 

'American Pie: Girls' Rules'

This movie was terrible! I have to say, American Pie holds a special place in my heart. It was THE movie of my generation. I graduated in 2000, and the characters in the movie graduated in 1999, so we were pretty much the same age. American Pie pushed boundaries of teen movies like no other movie had before, so it was a pretty big deal.

I'd hoped that this "girl" version would be just as good--but it was awful. The acting was bad, the storyline was bad, and it just felt like it was "trying too hard" to be like the original American Pie. Nothing can stand up to American Pie! 

I'm bummed, because this had SO MUCH POTENTIAL but didn't live up to it.

Listening to

'An Anonymous Girl' by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I am totally obsessed with Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I can't say that their books are out-of-this-world-amazing (I actually only give them a 3-4 star review on Goodreads), but listening to them on my walks has helped me walk what feels like a million miles. I think what draws me in is the guessing game--am I right about the whodunnit or what is happening?

For 'An Anonymous Girl', I was SO SURE that I had it figured out from the beginning. Then I kept changing my mind toward the second half of the book. By then, I really wasn't sure of anything anymore. When it finally came to the end, I wasn't blown away (which is why I don't give it five stars) but I enjoyed the book enough to give it a good review. 

'You Are Not Alone' by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Another Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen book. This one made for one hell of a drama/thriller based on a ton of misunderstanding between the characters. Again, I kept changing my mind about what I thought was going on. This one was very "out there" and unlikely to happen in real life, but I still enjoyed it. I liked it enough to make me look forward to my daily walks, that's for sure! It was so hard to stop listening.

'Buried Deep' by Margot Hunt

This was just a random download when I had an audible deal (like $7 a month for three months). It was a short listen, and I can't say it was earth-shattering, but it definitely kept me interested. If I don't like the narrator of an audiobook within the first 60 seconds or so, I can't listen to it. It doesn't matter how good the book might be! I enjoyed this one, though--a quick murder mystery.

'Man's Search for Meaning' by Viktor E. Frankl

I was having a VERY bad morning one day, even feeling slightly suicidal (questioning why I'm even here, what's the point of my existence, etc.), and I decided to download this book to listen to on my walk. My therapist lent me the book a while ago, and I skimmed it, but didn't fully read it. 

I wish I had! The first half of the book is about Frankl's time in various concentration camps during the Holocaust. I found this fascinating, and I felt guilty for even feeling upset about my own "problems". Because I have a hard time reading/listening to "self-help" type books, it was hard to concentrate on the second half of the book.

However, I did get a few bits and pieces out of it that really helped me while I was feeling depressed. I started to really question my personal "meaning" for being here and it made me want to make more of an imprint in my life. 

I don't typically read (or listen to, in this case) "classic" books, but this one made a difference for me.

'The Cuckoo's Cry' by Caroline Overington

This book was another impulsive (free) download while I had my audible trial. It was a short novel that actually takes place during the COVID pandemic. Without any spoilers... a young woman appears on an older man's doorstep claiming to be his granddaughter that he'd never met. She immediately moves in with him, due to the pandemic, and you are left wondering about whether she's telling the truth or not. I questioned myself constantly during this audiobook! Whether you predict the ending or not, it's a good listen.

I'm kind of impressed with myself for reading and listening to so many books lately! It's actually getting hard to keep track of, despite my Goodreads account. I love that I can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the library! 

Have you been reading/watching/listening to anything good lately? Please share! :) 

October 15, 2020

My Longest Walk in Probably 10 Years

First, let me just say that this was a really pointless goal. I have no idea WHY I made it a mission to walk every single street in a nearby neighborhood, but one day it just popped into my head and I've attempted it a few times. I felt like it should be easy. And then when I missed a couple of streets, I became determined to do it.

As I'm walking, it's so hard to remember what streets I already walked. My memory is bad as it is, but considering I've been walking that neighborhood every single day for a few months, it's hard to know if I remember seeing each street that day or a previous day. I didn't want to map it out ahead of time, because the whole point was to try to do it spontaneously.

I also didn't allow myself to turn around (for example, walk a short portion of a street and then turn around because I already did the rest of the street). This meant I had to circle blocks on several occasions just to make sure I walked one side of it. 

Each time I've attempted to do it, I've walked over six miles (the entire perimeter is roughly one mile). When Jerry got home this morning, I showed him my map from a couple of days ago, pointing out the couple of spots that I'd missed. He laughed and joked that I would always miss a tiny little portion of a street, even if I walked 10 miles.

I took it as a challenge, and decided that today was the day I was going to do it. I got dressed and ready to head out, and it started raining. I really didn't want to walk in the rain! So I looked at the forecast and it said that the rain would stop in 10 minutes. Good enough.

So, Joey and I headed out in the rain. It wasn't pouring, but it wasn't just sprinkling, either. I tried to think of a strategy to cover all of the streets. It got confusing after a while! I know the streets SO well from walking them so much, but without looking at the neighborhood from above, it's hard to picture where I am.

Anyway, it never stopped raining... the entire time we walked. I was embarrassed walking down some streets, because I knew it was my second or third time going past those houses. People must have thought I was nuts--walking in the rain past their houses over and over.

All of this is just leading up to say that I did it! Today, I walked every single street in that neighborhood. It took such a long time, too--nearly two and a half hours! I walked 8.42 miles total, with an average pace of 16:46/mile. I can't believe I walked that much for some dumb mission that really didn't mean anything. But I was so excited when I uploaded my run and saw that I'd not missed a single street.

I'm not sure what they consider "slower" and "faster"... I don't feel like walking a 16:46/mi pace is slow, and that's what the majority of my walk shows. I'm curious to know what it's based on, though. 

Now that I completed that goal, I'll probably just continue walking the perimeter of all the neighborhoods. It's a five-mile loop and I can do it totally mindlessly while listening to an audiobook. 

I realize this post is incredibly boring, but it's all I've got today! ;) 

October 14, 2020

A Trip Down Memory Lane

A shopping trip, that is.

A few weeks ago, my mom called me to tell me she bought me something at a garage sale... the board game MALL MADNESS!! I was SO excited, to say the least. When I was a kid (maybe 10?) my friend Shannon and I played Mall Madness all the time. We loved that game!

Not too long ago, I wrote a post about vintage board games that I loved, and I included Mall Madness. I had the original 1989 edition back then. The one my mom bought was the second edition (released in 1996). Even though the editions were slightly different, playing the game made me so nostalgic!

Yesterday, I opened up the battery compartment and hoped that it wasn't ruined from having batteries in it for so long. It didn't look very good; the batteries had leaked and the conductors were a little rusted. However, I spent some time cleaning it up and I inserted new batteries. It worked great!

My mom bought the game for only $5, and I was shocked to see that it wasn't missing a single piece. I was excited to put it all together, and then of course once it was set up, I just had to play it. So I recruited Jerry, Noah, and Eli, and we played my first game of Mall Madness since the early 90's. Everything about the game was just as I remembered!

So many memories! Jerry actually said he liked the game. The kids weren't as thrilled, but I expected as much ;)

I have been LOVING the fall weather we've had lately. I've been heading outside early in the mornings with Joey for our walks, and I like being able to wear sweatshirts or a fleece jacket. This morning, we happened to be walking along the lake during sunrise. Look how pretty!

When I got home, I went to Wal-Mart to return some things and I went to the Habitat for Humanity Resale Store (looking for nightstands). No luck on the nightstands. (I really want to build them, but they would be so expensive!) So I went home to work on the shelves I told Jerry's sister that I'd make for her.

She'd sent me a picture of some IKEA shelves (the kind with the little cubbies) and asked if I could make something similar (32"x32"x16"). I was excited to have a project to work on! I went to Lowe's yesterday to buy the materials and today I got to work on it.

I had Lowe's cross-cut the plywood (a 3/4" x 4' x 8' board) into thirds. Then I just had to rip each one of those into thirds on the table saw. I had planned to make nine cubbies, but I thought they'd be too small, so I made six instead.

I used my Kreg pocket hole jig and wood glue to put it together. That's as far as I got today. I still have to add the backing onto it, sand the heck out of the whole thing, caulk, prime, and paint it. But I'm glad that it's working out so far! I get nervous making things for other people.

I may be able to finish it up tomorrow. I'd like to make one of these for myself, too--it's so much better quality than the cheap ones I have from Target or Wal-Mart.

Speaking of wood, Jerry sent me this meme and I thought it was so cute!

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