May 31, 2013

Promises to Keep by Jane Green

Promises to Keep by Jane Green is another book I picked up from the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble. The story centers around two sisters who love each other yet could not be more different. One, Callie, is a grounded wife and mother of two who is a successful photographer while the other, Steffi, can't seem to remain in one place, at one job, with one man for any span of time. Since Steffi feels like she has finally found her calling as a chef, Jane Green interspersed delicious recipes after many of the chapters in the book. It is difficult to write a decent synopsis without giving too much away which would be an injustice for this novel. All you need to know is that Promises to Keep is a wonderfully written tale of two sisters and their love and devotion to each other. As a disclaimer though, if you're an emotional reader like me, I would read the last few chapters with a few Kleenex on hand. It's a worthy summer fiction read.

May 29, 2013

Your Journey

I don't know about you, but these words ring so true in my life. I think I need to begin reminding myself of this... often.

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Please thank a soldier today for their service. My brother is a captain in the Army, and I never fully appreciated our military personnel until someone I loved began putting his life on the line for me, you and everyone else in our nation. Regardless of whether you agree with our country's military strategy, thank a soldier. They fight for us, and they never seem to get the recognition they deserve. So on Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for all those who have served and given their lives for us, thank a soldier who continues to put you and our nation above themselves.

May 24, 2013

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I received State of Wonder by Ann Patchett in my Christmas stocking this past year. The story revolves around a Dr. Marina Singh, a pharmaceutical researcher, who is sent into the Amazon to try to find her colleague who has gone missing and is presumed dead. To find him though, she must face a woman from her past that she has tried to forget and deal with the emotions that go along with remembrance and forgiveness. Singh encounters all sorts of obstacles just trying to get to the Amazon and even more once she arrives. State of Wonder kept me turning the pages and wondering what would happen next. It is definitely a worthwhile read if you enjoy (not-so-distant) science fiction.

May 17, 2013

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande presents what a checklist is, what it is not, and how checklists have improved the quality of performance in many different industries. From surgeons to pilots to world health outreach, Gawande outlines how checklists can be implemented and even includes a checklist for making checklists. Don't let the seemingly boring subject matter fool you - this is an entertaining book that will no doubt open your eyes to how you run your every day life as well as how various industries choose to operate. If you're looking for an easy yet intellectual non-fiction read, this is most definitely a book that should be on your (check)list.

May 16, 2013

Sewing Spaces

Not many people I know have enough room in their house for a dedicated sewing space, but a girl can dream, and I'd take any of the rooms below.

                                                               Modern Home Office by New York Architect Incorporated

                                              Eclectic Home Office by Santa Ynez Media And Blogs Going Home To Roost

                                                      Eclectic Home Office by Vancouver Media And Blogs The Locker

                                                                       Spaces by Other Metro

May 13, 2013

Spicy Chick-Fil-A Cows

I couldn't believe what I saw driving down the highway the other day. Firefighting Chick-Fil-A cows that go up on a billboard! They were huge! So I did what any rational person would do and took pictures as I drove past.  :)

May 10, 2013

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

I picked up Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah from the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble, and it is hands down the best bargain book I've ever read. It's actually one of the best fiction books I've ever read. Winter Garden is the story of two sisters and their very different lives. As their ailing father passes away, they are left to deal with their eccentric and distant mother who has promised to tell them a story that will forever change their lives. It is a gripping tale of love, healing and the possibility of redemption even after years of hurt. I have lent this book to countless people for them to read, and I highly recommend adding it to your reading list and library.

May 9, 2013

Up by Jawbone - A Review

This is not a sponsored post. I simply have this product and want to share my opinions of it.

I purchased my UP by Jawbone three months ago. I'd been wanting a pedometer for a while, but I had yet to find one that fit my qualifications. First and foremost: it couldn't be a clip on model. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I cannot stand things clipped on my pants. It bothers me and makes me feel unprofessional. Plus where do I put it when I wear a dress? Some models you can clip onto your bra, but I have never been one to stash things in my bra nor it is cavernous enough in there for me to forget it's there. Actually, that was really my only qualification - I wouldn't be forced to clip it onto my pants or where it somewhere it doesn't belong.

When I read about the UP I was intrigued. It's a bracelet? That tracks my steps, and my sleep, and is a place where I can log other activities and my food? Of course, you have to use the app for most of that, but the app is free and has a great user interface. After reading more about it I knew that I wanted it, but due to it's decently high cost ($130) we decided I would think about it for a few weeks. If I still wanted it after that time I could get it. (Sometimes I have a tendency to really want things, but a week later I couldn't care less. We put this policy in place to counteract that. Lars has the same rule for himself so it works out nicely.)

Now that I've been living daily with my UP for two months, here are some observations:
  • I am often amazed by how few (and sometimes how many) steps I walk in a day. It's not as easy as you'd think to get in the recommended 10,000 steps. If I'm working all day at my desk even if I work out 45 minutes I sometimes don't get in all of my steps. On the other hand, I volunteer at a hospital in town, and there are days I'll walk all 10,000 steps in one three hour shift. It just really depends. 
  • I usually walk and strength train for my exercise. The app has about 15 various exercise activities that will satisfy most people's tracking needs. If you do some obscure form of exercise just know that you might have to choose "other" for tracking your daily exercise.
  • I love the food tracking aspect of the app. Yes it takes a bit to add your foods to the food library, but if you're anything like me you often eat the same things (at least for breakfast and lunch) so it's not that difficult. It's been interesting to see how the nutritional value of the foods I make at home once I put the recipe ingredients into UP.
  • On the food aspect, my main issue is that the app sets your nutritional daily values for you without really taking anything into account but your height, weight and gender. It has my daily carb intake set to what is in the middle range of a low carb diet. I am not on a low carb diet so when I look at my overall day, it always tells me that I'm over my carb limit. 
    • To be fair, on days I eat a decent amount more carbs than others I have noticed that I don't feel on top of my game. Although I still eat more than 100g of carbs a day, I feel better on the days I don't eat 250g of carbs. I might not have noticed that without my UP tracking it.
  • You have to press the button to put it in sleep mode so I've forgotten a few times, but it is amazing to have data validating a good (or bad) night's sleep.
All in all, I am very satisfied with my UP, and I would definitely purchase it again.

May 8, 2013

Envelope Clutches

I'm currently obsessed with envelope clutches. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks that a normal-sized clutch is just too small. I mean, how am I supposed to fit all my essentials in a bag that barely fits my phone and some chapstick? An envelope clutch easily solves that problem and fits everything I could possible need.

Envelope Clutches

May 7, 2013

Pushing Motherhood

I know that each one of us are at different stages in our lives, and I'm in the stage where it seems like everyone around me is getting pregnant with their first, second, and even third child. We're in a day an age where sometimes motherhood chooses us when we least expect it, but we're also have so much more control over when we choose to have children than women did even just fifty years ago. The question that plagues me (and maybe some of you) is when is the "right" time? I know, I know. There's never a right time, but we still try to get as close to that ideal time to begin motherhood as possible. What has resulted is a nation of women who are delaying motherhood (for better or worse), and that's the idea behind the aptly titled documentary "Pushing Motherhood".

FILM SUMMARY: Pushing Motherhood is a documentary about Sybil and Linda, best friends on the road to becoming mothers later in their reproductive lives. We follow the two women as they unpack the reasons why they waited so long, and discover both the costs and benefits of deferring motherhood into what medical professionals call “advanced maternal age.”  (from Kickstarter

I personally can't wait to see the film, and I hope they're able to receive full funding to complete production. What do you think? Are you waiting or did you choose not to delay motherhood?

May 6, 2013

Window Design

I've been seeing a number of interesting and beautiful window designs lately. I'm a total sucker for great windows - whether it's leaded glass, stained glass, or just a different design. I love natural light!

                                    Traditional Living Room by San Francisco General Contractor Upscale Construction

                                                Contemporary Entry by Chicago Architect SPACE Architects + Planners

                                           Spaces by South San Francisco General Contractor Dijeau Poage Construction

                                                  Traditional Kitchen by Saratoga Springs Design-build Witt Construction