DIY Heating Pad

I am not the most crafty person. I want to be. I have memories of home ec class in high class, and how it was the worst experience of my life. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but the sewing, the patience, the good-natured people: it was all too much. That’s why it’s pretty surprising that I not only have a sewing machine, but successfully made something – a DIY Heating Pad!

I wouldn’t have even considered taking up, or trying to take up sewing, if it hadn’t been for my mother-in-law. She sparked my interest in learning how to sew. Then, my sister-in-law (see a pattern here??) showed me the clothes she makes and how (relatively) easy to is to make beginner items and I thought to myself, “let’s give it a try.”

Which is why I started with what I would describe as the easiest sewing project ever – the DIY Heating Pad. Why is it the easiest? Because your basically sewing a rectangle. It’s pretty tough to mess up!

DIY Heating Pad

Items Needed:

  • Sewing machine (obvs, though you could hand stitch, I suppose, but that sounds like torture)
  • Pins
  • Fabric – 1 yard of 100% cotton, aka something that won’t start on fire in the  microwave
  • Thread that matches your fabric, if that’s important to you
  • Rice

Steps:

The steps are wicked easy, but I’ll outline the process I followed to the best of my ability.

  1. Buy fabric
    I went to Joann Fabric and had a field day looking at all the different fabric. That store is like Target for crafty stuff. I could have bought way more, but limited myself to just a few pieces of fabric to get started with, as to not terrify my husband. I bought 1 yard of this pretty purple and pink fabric.
  2. Decide on size of your DIY Heating Pad
    I knew I wanted a long rectangular heating pad, so I cut my fabric approximately 14 inches x 20 inches.
    What I liked about this is I really couldn’t mess this up, again because it’s a rectangle, so don’t fret too much if it isn’t perfect.
  3. Pin
    Fold you fabric “pretty side to pretty side” (lingo I’ve picked up from other blogs) aka so the underside/ugly side is on the outside. You are going to pin 2 sides, leaving the last open to insert rice. See picture below.
    4. Sew
    It look me awhile to get my sewing machine set up and I’m not an expert at trouble shooting this. Luckily, there were no tears. But once you figure this out #criticalthinkingskills, sew the 2 sides that you have pinned. This should leave you with a rectangle that is sewn on 2 sides, with 1 side open to put the rice in.
    5. Get the rice!!!!
    First, turn your heating pad inside out so the pretty side is on the outside. Then it’s time to put in the rice. I ended up using about 2.5 cups of rice, but again, do what feels best for you and your heating pad needs. I use my heating pad on my face when I have migraines, so I wanted enough rice to be able to spread out in my heating pad, all over my face. Make this work for you!
    6. Finish sewing this bad boy.
    This is where things got…tricky. Mostly, because I am not the most skilled hand sewer. But hey, I’m learning!!!! Finish sewing the last open side of your heating pad. You skilled sewers can probably accomplish some of this with your sewing machine, and hand sew the end. As you can see in my pic below, the last few inches of mine got a little messy. It happens #noshame

And here’s the finished product!!! I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for starting and finishing my first product. I almost gave up when I couldn’t immediately figure out how to use my sewing machine, but am glad I didn’t. I have a lot of skills to learn and a long way to go, but I really enjoyed making something for myself, that I can use. Yay!

So that’s that! Hope this is helpful. If not, Pinterest has tons of pins on how to make this, so I’m sure one way or another, you’ll find a way to make a DIY Heating Pad!

Are you crafty? Do you sew? What types of projects do you like to make? Tell me in the comments below!

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7 Tips to Prepare For Your Advocare 24 Day Challenge

Hi friends! I am gearing up to start an Advocare 24 Day Challenge in the next few weeks. I’ve done four other 24 Day Challenges, and am looking forward to resetting myself, health-wise. As I begin to plan for my upcoming challenge, I wanted to share my 7 tips to prepare for your first Advocare 24 Day Challenge!

7 Tips to prepare for your Advocare 24 Day Challenge

7 Tips to Prepare For Your Advocare 24 Day Challenge

1. Get familiar with the 24 Day Challenge. This will be my third challenge, but my first time using the brand new Herbal Cleanse System. This means learning about the new and improved Cleanse Phase (which has some changes I’m looking forward to and will recap for you in the upcoming weeks!) and re-reading information on the Max Phase. I know I love the products, but I also know I like to be prepared and knowing what to expect. Knowledge is power and it will go a long way in setting up a successful 24DC!

2. Make a meal plan. In my experience, having a meal plan is key. Start by making a meal plan that outlines your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for the upcoming week. My meal planner outlines seven days, but really, planning five days at a time works best for me (how am I supposed to know what I’m going to want to eat in a week?!).  Before the 24DC starts, go to the grocery store and make sure you have the food you need on hand. It’s much easier to stay on track when you have the food you need to properly fuel you!

3. Say goodbye to processed foods. This is tough, I know. But you will have the best 24DC experience and results if you say buh-bye to processed foods. “Processed” means different things to different people and you can decide what it means to you. For me, ridding my diet of processed foods means incorporating as much fresh food as possible. I don’t eliminate ALL processed foods – I love having oatmeal during the Max Phase and will sometimes snack on Triscuits (there a few varieties with three or less ingredients), but for the most part, I try to stay as fresh as possible. 24 days is not forever – it is a totally reasonable amount of time to make changes (and to be honest, after 24 days, many of those processed foods don’t even taste as good as you remember!).

4. Make a fitness plan. You are getting ready to do the 24DC. You have made a meal plan and completed your grocery shopping. Now it’s time to think about fitness. Everyone is in different places and having a fitness plan doesn’t necessarily mean buying a gym membership and going nuts for 24 days. Instead, make a plan that works for you. Plan to walk 60 minutes each day, pop in a workout DVD or to try one new Pinterest circuit workout each day. Commit to movement – any movement! The 24DC is meant to help jumpstart a lifestyle change – making fitness a priority should be part of that change!

5. Don’t do it alone. I’ll be the first to admit it – doing the 24DC on your own is tough. My biggest challenge while on the 24DC (pun intended!), is that Jason doesn’t do it with me. He still refuses to give up his beer and coffee, despite my urging that it’s ONLY 24 days! It’s hard to make changes in your lifestyle when your partner or family isn’t behind you. But that doesn’t mean your alone! Find a friend or family member that wants to make the change with you. Or find a community – I’m part of a Facebook group with over 1,900 fellow challengers who always provide support and are willing to answer any questions you have. It’s great to have a community to go to!

5. Stay away from the scale. I know it’s tempting. It’s tempting for me! But the best way to get discouraged is to track your progress every day and feel like you’re not seeing the results you want as quickly as you want. The 24DC says it for a reason – weigh and measure yourself before your challenge, on Day 11, and Day 25. And remember – the scale is NOT everything! Make sure to take your measurements (I saw much bigger results with my measurements than with the scale, FYI!). And each body reacts to change differently, so remember that there are many ways to measure success that are not directly tied to the scale!

7 Tips to prepare for your Advocare 24 Day Challenge

6. Buy extra Spark! It took me maybe a week into my first 24DC to see I needed more Spark – and fast! Spark is delicious and provides the perfect amount of energy for during the day. Once you Spark, you really can’t stop! The #1 thing I hear from challengers is that there is not enough Spark to last through the entire 24DC. So make sure you have enough to get through the challenge – or buy a variety pack to figure out which flavor is your favorite!

7. Remember your “WHY.” Your “why” is the reason behind why you are doing the 24DC and it’s different for everyone. It might be because you want to lose weight. It might be that you’re ready to cut out sugar and processed foods. It might be because you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time! There are millions of reasons behind why you chose to do a 24 Day Challenge. Figure it out, write it down, and remember that why when it gets hard. When you want to reach for a cookie or have a drink or are feeling a little unmotivated. Remember what inspired you to make a change in the first place!

Phew! That ended up being longer than I expected, but these were all things I’ve thought about this week as I’ve gotten ready to start my 24 Day Challenge. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a full challenge (I did a mini-challenge this winter), but I am so ready to hit the reset button and start making progress towards my goals. I’m so excited and can’t wait to share my progress with you all!

Note: This post was originally posted on my original blog, Racing Bananas (which is no longer around). 

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Advocare Cleanse Phase Review

Note: This post is originally from Racing Bananas, my old blog. I’m bringing over to KimBocko to share my Advocare 24 Day Challenge Results, since I get so many inquiries about it!

I’m really excited to jump right in and share with my Cleanse Phase review of the Advocare 24 Day Challenge (24DC). The Cleanse Phase of the 24DC is the first 10 days. This part of the challenge is a cleanse, where you’re helping remove toxins from your body and getting set up for the second part of the 24DC, the Max Phase. When I think “cleanse,” I think of drinking liquids only and fasting. This was not the case at all! I ate three meals per day, plus two snacks and felt fantastic!

Advocare Cleanse Phase Review

Cleanse Phase Details:

Days 1-3:

  • Upon Rising: 1 serving Spark mixed with 20 oz of water + 2 Catalyst, wait 30 minutes
  • Fiber Drink mixed with 10 oz water + 2 more 16 oz glasses of water, wait 30 minutes
  • Breakfast + OmegaPlex pills
  • Morning Snack
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Snack
  • Dinner + OmegaPlex pills
  • Before Bed: Herbal Cleanse tablets

Days 4-7:

Days 8-10:

It sounds like a lot, but I really didn’t find it cumbersome. I made myself little ziploc bags with what I needed for each day and kept my checklist with me so I knew what I needed to take when. So onto what I thought about the Cleanse Phase…

Cleanse Phase Review:

Pros:

  • I don’t constantly feel hungry. Especially since I kind of lost control over the past couple of months, I reached a point where I was always hungry and thinking about food. So far, I haven’t once experienced those “hunger pains.” I eat every 2-3 hours and feel satisfied.
  • Energy! After getting through the withdrawal stages, I found I had a ton of energy! I woke up earlier than usual and felt energetic all day. I hear that the Max Phase gives even more energy (which is true so far!), so I am accomplishing so much  more!
  • Spark! So this goes alone with energy, but OMG Spark! It’s a sugar free, 0 calorie drink that provides the same amount of caffeine as coffee. I love it! I love starting the day with it and to be honest, it makes me feel more energetic and less “weighed down” than coffee does. I actually think I’m going to keep up with Spark and cut out coffee after the 24DC is over (words I never thought I would say!).
  • I no longer feel bloated. Before the 24DC, I woke up every day feeling bloated and just, “large.” I haven’t had that bloated feeling since I started the 24DC! Instead I feel “light” and my stomach feels normal – not too full!
  • TMI Alert: I’m not gassy anymore! I’m a pretty gassy person, which can be a bit embarrassing. Seriously though, I think I farted less than 5 times (if that!) during the Cleanse Phase! Probably more than you wanted to know, but it’s true!
  • No migraines. I suffer from chronic migraines, which can be a bit debilitating at times. I experienced a few headaches, from what I assume were sugar and caffeine withdrawal, but not blinding migraines. That was an incredibly pleasant surprise!

Cons:

  • Cravings and Self-Control! Giving up sugar and coffee cold turkey was hard. There were a couple of days where I just wanted to give in and binge – but I didn’t. Especially since last week was one of the most stressful weeks at work ever, all I wanted to do was sit at my desk and eat chocolate to help calm myself. But I stayed strong and am thankful I did, because my body feels amazing! For me, I had to ask myself if I was really  hungry or if I was experiencing a craving – every time, I wasn’t hungry. This is a change, but one that I’m going to have to keep employing in order to live a healthy life.
  • Cost. Yes, the 24DC is expensive – it was a chunk of money to put out without knowing how the challenge would go or if it would even work! However, I feel better and I’m spending less money on eating out, Starbucks, and junk foods like chocolate. Oh and no alcohol means no money spent on happy hour!
  • I did experience a bit of a breakout. I couldn’t figure out why, because I was eating healthier, however I found out online that breakouts can occur during cleanses because it’s your body’s way of releasing toxins. So that made sense. It’s already begun to clear up, which is also nice!
  • The Fiber drink. Ugh. Just ugh. This is literally the most disgusting thing I’ve ever drank in my life (ask Lindsay, I would text her in the morning about how I hated – #blends are the best!)! But I choked it down and you only have to drink it 6 times during the 24DC….

Progress so far:
Lost: 7lbs
Lost: 8.75 inches

To be honest, I was shocked when I got on the scale and measured myself after the Cleanse Phase. That’s a pretty hefty transformation to take place over 10 days, but when I think about it – I took on healthy eating habits and started incorporating exercise more regularly into my diet as well. So, these results aren’t as far fetched as they seem (and as an FYI – inches lost includes inches from different places on my body – shoulders, hips, waist, thigh, etc).

Overall, the 24DC has been an awesome experience so far. Today I’m on Day 14 of the 24DC (and 4 days in the Max Phase) and cannot believe how much energy I have. As someone who always feels a little tired, I feel like a brand new person. It’s great!

I’ll recap the Max Phase when the 24DC is over, but I can tell you that for me, I have found a system that is truly working. If anyone is thinking about Advocare and has any questions at all, let me know! I know I had tons of questions before I was ready to check it out (seriously!), so it’s nice to be able to chat with someone who has gone through the 24DC to hear their experience! I hope you find this Cleanse Phase review helpful!

Your Turn!

  • Ever done the Advocare 24DC? How did it go?
  • Interested in learning more about it? Let me know!

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Links I Love

Happy Saturday! After a morning of coffee, reading, a 1.5 mile walk with Hoss, and filing our taxes (ugh), I wanted to share a few of my favorite links from around the web this week!

Links I Love

Links I Love

37 Of The Most Heartbreakingly Beautiful Lines In Literature  I’m a sucker for quotations and this is a fabulous list. My favorite book, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, is featured!

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

This couple created a 75-foot mega bed to sleep with their pets. Because who wouldn’t want to snuggle with their furry family members?! This looks like a dream to me (plus all the space!!).

20 Cheat Sheets For When You’re Trying To Eat A Little Healthier A great round-up of cheat sheets – I particularly like the coffee protein shake graphic, since I’ve been working to perfect my Vanilla Shakeology + coffee shake in the morning.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms Good tips. I don’t agree with all, but some good ideas to think about, like read one book per week and define what happiness means to you (which is a very interesting question that has got me thinking…).

When Your Greatest Romance is a Friendship This is an intriguing read from the New York times about a friendship between an older woman and younger man. Sometimes romance doesn’t mean sexual romance, but something a little different.

“That night, I had an odd realization: Some of the greatest romances of my life have been friendships. And these friendships have been, in many ways, more mysterious than erotic love: more subtle, less selfish, more attuned to kindness.”

What are you reading lately? Share your links below!

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Meet The Family!

Once upon a time, in a city far away…

Just kidding.

Since we’re getting to know each other around here, I wanted to take time to introduce you to my family.

Meet the Bock Family

The bearded one is Jason, my husband. The furry one is Hoss, our pup. We’re a family of three, right now.

Jason and I met a few years ago when we were both living in Madison, WI, our home state. After a whirlwind few months of falling in love, we were somehow picking up our lives and moving to Minnesota to start an adventure together. Jason started grad school, I began a new job, and a month later we were engaged. Phew!

Kim and Jason Wedding Pictures

A year later, on October 10, 2015, we got married in Milwaukee. It was the best day and I’ll spend a whole post remembering it soon. A week after we were married, we adopted Hoss from the human society. Our buddy completed our family, but also put us through a whole lotta hell as we all got acclimated to our new lives.

Sleepy Hoss dog

That’s the past three years in a nutshell!

This past fall, Jason and I bought a house just outside of the Twin Cities metro area. We have a big yard for Hoss to play in, a nice patio for when it (hopefully!) gets warm out, and a place that we can call our own. We miss being so close to family, who still live in Milwaukee (about 6 hours away), but we also like the home we’re building here in Minnesota.

So that’s a ridiculously brief introduction to my family. You’ll be seeing Jason and Hoss around here from time to time, so I wanted to make sure you had a proper introduction.

Where are you from?

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Quick Lit . March 2017

Ah, books. I promise, I’ll start writing about other topics soon (like my family, my new interest in sewing, or my upcoming trip to England!!!). But today is a Quick Lit link-up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Here is a look at what I’m reading in March…

This Is The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I’m reading this collection of essays slowly. After reading Commonwealth last month, I decided I am going to become an Ann Patchett complete-ist and read all of her work. This came up first at the library. A bit different from what I’m used to, but still intriguing. There are also ties to Commonwealth and her upbringing, which I love!

Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend

I loved this book! This was a Book of the Month Club pick from last year (like a year ago) but it finally felt like the right time to read it. If you like stories about friendship, history, and adventure this novel is perfect. It’s just over 300 pages, so a quick read, and I couldn’t put it down.

Enchanted Islands

Here I Am by Jonathan Foer

Sigh. I have such mixed feelings on this. Overall, I liked the story about the Bloch family and their family dynamics. But…it was too long. I listened to the audiobook (Ari Fliankos narrated and he is amazing) but I found myself wanting it to end sooner. So, mixed feelings on this one.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

I feel like you had to be living under a rock if you haven’t seen the cover of this book on Instagram!! This is a debut, YA novel which typically isn’t something I would rush to get. But the audiobook came in at the library so I figured I would check it out. I’m about 1/3 of the way through and am intrigued. I’m being reminded why I don’t always love YA books (angsty teens) but the Caraval game is definitely intriguing. I’m looking forward to how this plays out!

This is a quick look at the books I’m reading (and listening to!) lately. I’ve also finished Pines by Blake Crouch and am finishing up Stranger in the Woods and can’t wait to share my thoughts with you later this month!

What are you reading lately?

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George Saunders at the Parkway Theater

George Saunders is amazing!

Ok, let’s back up. Jason and I went to see George Saunders speak about his new book, Lincoln in the Bardo, at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis last Wednesday. The event was hosted by Rain Taxi (check them out because they are amazing) and was more than I hoped it would be.

George Saunders

Picture courtesy of Rain Taxi

It’s funny because I wasn’t super familiar with Saunders until I heard of Lincoln in the Bardo earlier this year. Jason (my husband, a writer, and general writing aficionado) is quite familiar with his work, particularly his short stories. When I mentioned wanting to attend this reading and book discussion, I didn’t have to ask twice!

We live about 40 minutes outside of Minneapolis, so after I got home from work Jason and I drove into the city and enjoyed dinner at Town Hall Tap before the event. Note: Town Hall Tap was amazing – it was packed, but there were a variety of beers on tap and our dinner was incredible. I had the Rachel (a spin on the Ruben), and it was in my top sandwiches I’ve ever had. I would go back in a heartbeat!

KimandJason George Saunders

George Saunders and Lincoln in the Bardo

I had never been to the Parkway Theater before, but it was smaller than I expected (at least for an event with George Saunders). But its coziness led to the feeling of the event.  Eric Loberer, Rain Taxi’s editor, led off the event with some words about Saunders. Saunders then began, talking about his journey of writing what we now know as Lincoln in the Bardo. Did you know it took him 20+ years to write this bad boy? Wow.

His opening was followed by a reading. Until last week, I wasn’t familiar with the formatting of the book. I knew it is centered on Abraham Lincoln grappling and dealing with his son’s death. I knew there were ghosts. But I didn’t realize the book is written in a semi-theater/play format. Regardless, the reading was great. Rain Taxi arranged for local talent to play various characters, which added a richness to the reading. I haven’t read Lincoln in the Bardo yet, but I’m excited to dig into it.

The reading was followed by a discussion. Full disclosure: this led to me being infatuated with George Saunders and wanting to read everything he has ever written #notastalker Seriously though, he is so engaging. I always have the fear that writers won’t be as engaging in person as they are in their writing, but this definitely wasn’t the case. Saunders is reflective and funny and engaging and honestly, I could have listened to him talk for hours longer than we had. He’s dedicated to his wife, he is a writer that works hard and often, and he has a humor that makes him seem not so — untouchable.

George Saunders autograph

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a literary event and I’m so glad that we left our comfort zone for a fun evening. Hearing Saunders speak reminded me about why I love books so much – they aren’t necessarily a story alone on an island, but rather a piece of work that’s representative of the writer who put time, sweat, and love into its final piece.

Have you ever been to an event with an author? What were your thoughts?

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Book Review – February 2017

In 2016 my goal was to read 60 books over the course of a year – I ended up reading 62. I didn’t set a goal for myself in 2017, but am way ahead of where I was last year. I can’t tell if it’s the caliber of books I’m reading or just a general love of throwing myself into the world of fiction, but I’ve been reading a lot lately. Hence, the monthly book review beginning now! In February, I ended up making it through a whopping 8 books. #proud

In reviewing my February reads, three of the books I read are written by women of color and one takes a deep look at a transgender child and her family. One of my goals for the year is reading outside of “comfort zone” (or rather books written by those who have had different experiences than me) and I’m proud of the progress I made this month.

Monthly Book Reviews

February Book Review

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Wow. I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite realize that this entire book was written in verse. Part of me wishes that I listened to the audiobook, rather than reading it. Regardless, it was fantastic. As someone who typically shies away from anything that possibly resembles poetry, I was immediately drawn in to Brown Girl Dreaming. It was emotional and telling of Woodson’s life and provided me a perspective into a world of which I do not have much experience.

4/5 stars 

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

This is book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, after hearing it raved about over the last year. When I saw it at my campus library, I grabbed it and devoured it in a few short days. It’s about family dynamics, and love, and race and prejudice. It’s beautifully told and the characters were well-developed and relatable. I smiled and cried and I questioned the world around me. It’s on the shorter side and a quick read – I’m glad I finally got to it!

4/5 stars

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

I feel like you had to be living under a rock to not have heard about Behind Her Eyes and the SHOCKING, TWIST ENDING! Seriously, January hit and I felt like I couldn’t escape this book. It was featured on Book Riot, Book of the Month Club…everywhere! I’m not sure I would have picked it up so quickly, but my mom bought it so I immediately borrowed it.

Overall, it’s an engaging mystery/thriller. I enjoy an unreliable narrator, and I felt as if I couldn’t quite trust Louise and her actions or her perspective of the events unfolding around her. The book jumps from past to present and kept me engaged. I thought I figured out the ending, but the reviews are right – it shocked me at the end. Great thrill factor!

3.5/5 stars

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

OMG. This is the first Ann Patchett book I’ve read and it’s made me want to read every other book she’s ever written. Commonwealth, by far, was the best book I read this month. And that is coming from someone who had very high expectations after how well it was reviewed last year. Basically, it’s a story about a family – but then it’s so much more. The story was engaging – it felt real yet not something that would happen in my world. I felt as if I knew the characters, and they could be people who are in my life. It was a beautifully written novel, with a story that was well-developed.

5/5 stars

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

I read this book as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. First, the cover is beautiful – it’s bright orange and I love it. But I don’t think I would have picked this up unless it was recommended to me. I am not very knowledgeable about the transgender population. This book opened my eyes, not necessarily to knowing every single fact, but rather the need to be understanding and open to everyone you meet. The book opens upon a family, much like a family I’m sure you know in your life – they are loving and they fight and they fiercely support each other. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the world Frankel created and considered my own views along the way. I cannot recommend highly enough!

5/5 stars

Version Control by Dexter Palmer

I wanted to like this book. I was so excited when it popped up in my library queue. The mixture of sci-fi and time travel and a family tragedy – it seemed like the perfect fix. But as much as I wanted to love it, I….liked it? Tolerated it? I felt like it was trying to be too much – sci fi and a novel. It dove into the science but also wanted to appeal on a lovey-dovey romantic tragedy level. I feel as if it would have committed to one genre, it could have been much better. Instead it was broad and gave me a little bit of everything, but not much of anything.

2.5/5 stars

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

I’ll be honest – this book has been on my TBR for quite some time, but I avoided it. For some reason, the premise of the book didn’t quite connect with me. I was wrong. This is the story of two sisters, born in Africa, who are forced into two different lives. The novel traces each sister’s family lines and provides a sweeping and emotional telling of their experiences. I devoured this book – I read it in just a day or so and was sad it ended so quickly. It’s short (just around or under 300 pages) and quickly read.

5/5 stars

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Finally, the only audiobook I listened to in February. In my defense, this book is like 19 hours long!! That being said, it was worth the time I devoted to listening to it. First, Ari Fliakos is an amazing narrator and I’ve already begun listening to another book he narrates because he’s so amazing.

More thought, this is just a good book. It’s sweeping – it spans just over 40 years and is told through multiple perspectives. The story is told slowly, yet well, and pieces together a mystery of what happened to a family. There’s no shocking twist, but rather the slow unraveling of figuring out what happened in the past and why it’s important in the present. I loved it and recommend it.

4. 5/5 stars

February was an amazing reading month (as you can tell by my lengthy book review!) and March is already shaping up to be pretty great as well. If you’re interested in learning more about any of these books, below are their Amazon pages.

What did you read in February? Did you have a favorite (or not-so-favorite) read?

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Links I Love

It is impossible to read everything on the internet. Also, I would never want to read everything that is on the internet. Yikes, talk about terrifying. That’s why I like to share links I love each week on the blog – it’s a way to share fun, interesting, and informative finds that I’ve found over the past week.

Links I Love

Books Paired with Chocolate via Read It Forward
Because books + chocolate are the best pairing ever. Just in time for the post-Valentine’s Day chocolate sale!

Successful people share 11 ways to make 2017 your most productive year yet via Business Insider
I’m always looking for tips and hacks to be a bit more productive in my work and personal life.

Hillbilly Elegy’ made J.D. Vance the voice of the Rust Belt. But does he want that job? via the Washington Post
I read Hillbilly Elegy earlier this year. This is an interesting read on Vance as a person and his views, particularly his political views.

In other news…

I received a Stitch Fix this week. I ended up keeping one of the five items sent to me. I’ll post a picture later, because the shirt I kept is adorable!

A lot of my holds at the library came in this week. So, I’m going to reading a lot over the next two weeks (but what’s new!!). I am currently reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett and cannot put it down. I’m looking forward to digging into my next book this weekend!

Library Books

What are your plans this weekend? Reading any good books?

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Favorite January Reads

I didn’t set a goal for how many books I want to read in 2017, however I must say I got off to a great start this year. In 2017, I finished 9 books, which is way above average. I’m not sure how I managed to read so much, but I’m proud of the progress I made. Plus I read some amazing books. I’m not going to recap every book I read (you can find the full list here), but wanted to share my five favorite January reads.

The Circle

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

I got this book through Book of the Month Club (which I adore) late last year. I held on to this book like an amazing piece of chocolate, waiting to read it until I could slowly read and enjoy it. It met every one of my expectations. The characters were well-developed, the plot was intriguing and complex, and I could not put it down. Plus, the writing is superb. I highly recommend this book. (And if you haven’t read Rules of Civility by the same author, do so. Now!).

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

After the events of the election in November, I bought this audiobook on the recommendation of everyone (well, NPR and the New York Times). I don’t think this book provides any sort of special insight into the mind of Americans. But, I still enjoyed it. The book, narrated by Vance, is a memoir, richly and intricately told, describing his life growing up in Kentucky and Ohio. The ending felt a bit rushed, but overall, I enjoyed this as an example of a life different from my own.

The Circle by David Eggers

I am on the Common Read Committee at the university I work at and this book is one of our contenders for 2018. I have not read any David Eggers prior to The Circle and had mixed expectations going in. It seems people either love or hate his work. I really enjoyed The Circle. It was an easily read, quick paced book that provided the reader a variety of questions to consider regarding the role technology plays in our lives. The ending was interesting – I think people will love or hate it – but I liked it for staying true to the narrative of the story overall.

So You've Been Publicly Shamed

You’ll Grow Out Of It by Jessi Klein

This audiobook was phenomenal. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for most books written by a celebrity talking about their lives. Many of these books, often but not always written by white comedians (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Chelsea Handler, Mindy Kaling to name a few) provide a comedic view to the happenings of life. I enjoyed Jessi Klein’s book because I felt like I could relate to her stories. Her writing is accessible and humorous. She provided insights that weren’t repeated in similar types of books.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

I also read this book as part of the Common Read Committee. Our focus is technology and this seemed like a clear contender. I enjoyed it and was honestly a bit horrified by it. The thought of having my life overturned by one bad decision is terrifying. One lapse in judgement, one joke that I think is funny but someone else doesn’t – well, there were too many examples in the book of people impacted by this. I think the point of the story is don’t be so quick to judge. Remember there is a person behind the tweet or the post, and they probably had a lapse in judgement. This was good and made me think about how I conduct myself online, consciously or unconsciously.

Looking for more recommendations? Head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy to see others participating in today’s Quick Lit!

What books are you reading that you’ve loved lately?

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