What I’m Reading Lately

Last week we (me, Bobby, Kurt) took a road trip up to Canada for our summer vacation. We drove up through Boston, into Portland ME, and hopped on an overnight ferry cruise to Nova Scotia before trekking further up to Prince Edward Island where we spent a few peaceful days relaxing.

With all the driving and ferrying I had plenty of time to read. Here’s what I’ve been reading both on my Kindle app (for iPhone/iPad) and real paperbacks.

astonish me maggie shipstead

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I read this on Kindle. It is a ballet story that follows young dancer Joan throughout her life as she moves from being a professional ballerina to being a mom and wife and all the drama that comes in between. She has a brief and passionate fling with a Russian dancer in her early days that follows her throughout the story.

Review: As soon as I got into the book, about 2 chapters in, I couldn’t put it down. I did ballet growing up and ballet stories have a special place in my heart. Very well written and a very engaging story. Even if you don’t love ballet you will love this book. (I will admit that in the beginning of the book, when I wasn’t really sure what direction the story was going to take, I was slightly paranoid that some horrible tragedy was going to happen – thankfully it didn’t.)

flirting with french by william alexander

Flirting with French by William Alexander. Another Kindle book (which I started on the subway). A true story in which William sets out to master French, the ever-elusive language of romance… it turns out to be harder than he thought.

Review: It took me a few days to read this but once I got going I couldn’t stop. I too would love to become fluent in French, but it is massively difficult. Admittedly, I haven’t put in the effort that William has. If you like languages you will love this.

missing mom book joyce carol oates

Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates. I picked this up simply because I miss my mom. I got it in paperback at a store in Charlottetown, PEI. This is a story of a woman, Nikki, who loses her mom tragically and suddenly when she (Nikki) is 31. It follows Nikki over the year after her mom’s death as she grows and changes and her life continues on.

Review: This was my first book by Joyce Carol Oates and it will not be my last. What a beautifully written (descriptive but not flowery) and engaging story. I couldn’t put it down.

paris key book

The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. This was sent to me as an advance copy (paperback) and comes out tomorrow (Sept 1). Genevieve Martin moves to Paris after separating from her husband and her uncle dies (it’s her mom’s brother; her mom passed away when Genevieve was a teen) to take over his locksmith shop. She learns about her family’s history while figuring out who she is herself.

Review: I loved the writing and the story. I am a sucker for Paris. I’ll have to check out more of Juliet Blackwell’s books.

What are you reading lately?

November Goals; Pure Yoga Review

Back at the end of June, I joined a yoga studio in my neighborhood. It’s a beautiful studio – Pure Yoga, owned and operated by Equinox – and I go fairly regularly. The studio is in the basement levels of a building on 86th street, but the lack of natural light is not even noticeable. The facilities are absolutely beautiful and the showers…

(Source)

…Are to die for. This photo doesn’t do them justice.

Anyway, I wanted to highlight the studio because it’s included in some of my November goals. Here we go:

  1. Go to 15 yoga classes this month. (I wanted to make it 20, but I am going to be traveling for 1 week and I don’t think 20 is doable.)
  2. Floss once a day (night). I floss but sometimes I miss a day.
  3. Try 3 new restaurants. Bobby and I eat out a lot – but we tend to go to the same places over and over again.
  4. Try 3 new dishes at restaurants I already go to.
  5. Go to a yoga class on my business trip (to… India! More later.).
  6. Stay healthy during holiday/family gatherings. For me this means making the difficult decision – bread, wine, or dessert?
  7. Test and then make a new recipe for Thanksgiving dinner (this year it’s sort of potluck-style).
  8. Read 2 books.

What are your November goals?

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions are tricky. It’s great to want to make a positive change in your life, but if you bombard yourself with expectations at the beginning of the year, it’ll probably be nearly impossible to follow through on all of them. That goes for any time of year I suppose. If you have all these resolutions and have trouble realizing them, it might make you more likely to abandon them all and give up. And that is not what we want.

Maybe it’s time for a new way of thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. What about 12 resolutions, but instead of starting them all on January 1st, you start a new resolution each month (and try to keep up with the old ones as you add the new)? On January first, start with one new intention – it doesn’t have to be hard; maybe it’s even better to start with your easiest goal to give yourself some confidence for the harder ones ahead. (See below the lists for my own resolutions plan.)

Here’s a list of ideas to get started:

Food & Fitness Resolutions

  1. Ditch diet soda (and artificial sweeteners in general).
  2. Eat less. (Makes you live longer.)
  3. Go to a yoga class 2-3 times a week.
  4. Get out for a 20 minute walk every day. Take a friend or family member.
  5. No eating or snacking after dinner.
  6. Eat breakfast daily.
  7. Cut back on caffeine (1 cup a day!).
  8. Eat less grains and sugars.
  9. Eat more organic and local food.
  10. Eat more salads.
  11. Only have dessert once a week (but make it good).
  12. Do 5 sun salutations each morning when you wake up.

Mental & Social Resolutions

  1. Read more – a book a week? (Or at least 30 minutes a day, if the book is too long to read in a week.)
  2. Hang out with friends twice a week.
  3. Laugh often.
  4. Go to the movies, a concert, or another kind of show – 3-4 times a month.
  5. Stay hungry. Stay foolish. (What does this mean to you?)
  6. Join a credit union. (Going “local” for finances.)
  7. Track your spending and then find a way to save $100 each month (that’s just $25 a week, less than $5 a day).
  8. Meditate for 5 minutes a day (option to increase time on a weekly or bi-weekly basis).
  9. Go out on a date once a week with the husband. (Get dressed up!)
  10. Give away old or unused clothes. (Or any other items you’re not using.)
  11. Donate time to charity.
  12. Organize one area or room of your home each week.

My plan is to pick one from each list each month and stick with it. For the first month I’m going to do Food Resolution #1 (ditch the diet soda and artificial sweeteners) and Mental Resolution #1 (read a book a week). I already broke Food Resolution #1 by having diet soda yesterday and no-sugar-added ice cream (I think it had Splenda) at a dinner party, but I’m counting today as my start because I didn’t come up with my lists until today.

My book for the week is called Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson (who also wrote A Walk in the Woods) (my dad got me the book for Christmas). The title may sound boring, but it is in fact packed with juicy tidbits about the evolution of American English as well as a much needed refresher on US History (I have forgotten most of what I learned in APUS). Did you know that the word dime (as in 10 cents) was originally supposed to be pronounced “deem”? It came from the French word disme, which meant “a tenth”.

I will leave you with this delicious salad that I bought at a little deli near my apartment for lunch today:

It has a mesclun-ish base, grilled chicken, roasted veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant), mushrooms, diced beets, and sauteed fajita veggies.

What are your resolutions? Do you have multiple, or do you stick with one?

Five Things Friday – from France!

Bounjour again from Paris! We are here until Sunday in the wee hours of the morning. (We leave around 9ish France time which is 3am NYC time.) We’re having a lovely time and I will be sure to post more pictures soon. Today I wanted to share some things.

  1. Clare is giving away a t-shirt. It ends tomorrow (6/11) at midnight.
  2. I am in love with cutoff jean shorts. I just saw two today – on Little Tin Soldier AND on What Would a Nerd Wear. I cannot resist any longer. I will have to pick up a pair of thrift shop jeans when I get back to the states and hack away.
  3. On a friend’s recommendation I recently finished reading this book: The Philosopher and the Wolf. The book is memoir-ish and follows the lives of Rowlands (the author) and Brenin (the wolf). Rowlands, a “snarly misanthrope”, writes about what he has learned about the human animal by observing the wolf. I hesitate to say “his” wolf, as Brenin seems to have been just as much an owner of Rowlands. A wonderful book, with incredibly intelligent insights into the nature of us “apes”.Side note: The friend is Bobby’s best friend from middle school and high school – they were in school together from 6th or 7th grade all the way through the end of college. He was Bobby’s best man and Bobby will be his; his fiance was my bridesmaid and I’m going to be hers in November. She was my freshman roommate and then the next year we met Bobby and his friend. They started dating a year after we did 🙂
  4. Last week I saw Midnight in Paris (Minuit a Paris) with my cousin, and then saw it again last night with Bobby here… a Paris. It is possibly my favorite Woody Allen movie. Go see it.
  5. Catacombs were so cool. Over 6 million (six millione, en francais) sets of bones now lie underneath the streets of Paris in out of use limestone mines.

That’s it for my 5 things. What a fun way to share juicy little tidbits. What are your things, and what are you doing this weekend?

This weekend for us – tomorrow we are going to go museum hopping and then Sunday we are headed back to the states. And Monday it is back to work. This week has flown by.

Weekend Link Love – 05.01.2011

Bloggy Stuff – Recipes, Health, Fitness.

Nail Polishes… (These are just a bunch of colors that caught my eye.)

Randoms – Books & More.

What are you loving right now?