Friday, January 23

On My Nightstand: Books on My List This Year

One of my resolutions this year is to read one book a month. Last year I only read six books, but still, aim for nothing and you'll hit it every time, right? 

1. Harry Potter Series
Always. Well, the first time I read the Harry Potter books I was 21. I have a lot of lost time to make up. This is only my second time reading the books, and it's been so much fun. It certainly motivates me to get to bed at a good time, so I have time to read. Especially now that the suspense is really picking up. The Order of the Phoenix is one of my favorites of the whole series, so it's a great start to the new year.
I got this book for Christmas, and we've been nearly inseparable since. With John and Sherry's help, I can't wait to tackle more projects around our new house!
I discovered this book after watching Susan Cain's TED talk on the subject. I loved her talk so much, I think her book will be great. It's been on my list for quite some time, but I'm planning to make that change this year.
Also based on a TED talk, this time by Brene Brown, I also recieved this book for Christmas. I can tell it will be one of those books I'll have to read slowly, to savor it and take it all in.

I bought this book on my ipad, and started reading it last year. It's a truly fascinating look at the culture of innovation built at Google. This book is a little more business than pleasure, but I'm looking forward to finishing it.
This one is definitely more work related for me, but I just started reading it on my ipad over Christmas, and it's mind-blowing. 

I suppose I should add some parenting or baby books to the mix! I'm not really sure where to start on those ... any ideas?

What's on your reading list? Any books you recommend from last year? Leave a comment below!

Friday, January 16

This Year . . .

This year needs to be different. 

When I look back over 2014, nothing really stands out. It feels like a dark, stressful, rushed, frustrated, and tired blur. I don't even have to look at my resolutions for last year to know I didn't accomplish many of them. 

I spent so many long hours trying to finish a project at work - all to realize at the end of the year that it was out of my control. I neglected my family, friends, and all the things I enjoy, really all for next to nothing.  

I feel like last year was a waste. Yes, we paid off some debt, we bought our first house, I got promoted, we're now expecting our first baby - but while we passed so many milestones, I didn't take the time to enjoy them and let them sink in. Looking back now, I'm saddened. 

This year, beyond just checking off my resolutions, I want to end in a better place than when I started. Better spiritually, relationally, emotionally ... all around healthier, happier, and more satisfied because I've spent my energy on what really matters in life and what refreshes and refuels me. 

This year is going to be really hard. I'm having a baby in July, Lord willing. And my dad is getting deployed this spring, to Liberia, to provide security at the Ebola camps. Talk about scary. 

And who knows what will happen in the next 12 months that I never anticipated. But this year, I want to be present for it, even the hard things. 
I want to take time to feel happy, to do some things that make me happy, and to take care of my health and family. I want to take time to grow. And to just be. 
JJ Heller puts it well, per usual, in her new song. 

I do have a list of "resolutions." But it just boils down to one thing: making 2015 a better year.

Do you have resolutions for this year? Or a word or phrase that's your focus? Share it in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 13

The Christmas Crafts I Did Make

As I started taking down my Christmas decorations yesterday, I realized that I never posted which of the Christmas crafts on my list I accomplished. So yes, we're halfway through January, but we're supposed to honor the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all year, right?

1. Something involving a deer and gold glitter. 

Fail. I was intimidated by the deer, and couldn't make up my mind what to do with it. 

2. Something involving book pages and pinwheels. 

Success! I made a book page Christmas tree. Here's how: 
  1. Fold your book pages like an accordion. Then, shape them like a fan, and attach them to each other to form a full circle. As you make more circles, trim the edges to create smaller and smaller layers. Eventually, bend the accordion in half, and then create your full circle. Fold and trim until you have enough layers to form a tree-like shape.
  2. Pour some glue on a paper plate, and pour some white chunky glitter on another. Dip the edges of each layer in glue and glitter, and allow them to fully dry.
  3. Then you'll need to attach the layers together. I used a small scrap of paper between each layer for more surface area. 
  4. Let it dry, and you're done!

3. Something involving cones and fancy paper. 

Success! I wrapped styrofoam cones in gold glitter paper (which also made elegant wrapping paper).

4. Something involving a big chalkboard. 

Fail. I'm still looking for a big chalkboard on Craig's List, but I'm also trying to talk Brian into making me one. 

5. Something involving bottle brush trees, and more glitter. 

Well, I didn't end up bleaching or dying any bottle brush trees, but I did find some sparkly ones at Target that light up. So, close enough.

I also made those white Christmas trees with cones and not-fancy paper - coffee filters, actually. 
Here's how: 
  1. Fold each coffee filter in half, and starting at the bottom, glue each filter to the cone, layering and overlapping them. I used Elmers glue, but a hot glue gun would probably be faster.
  2. Pinch the top filter to form a nice tree point. That's it!

And here's the final Christmas mantle: 

Wait, four stockings? 

Yep, I'm so creative, I made a person. Merry Christmas!