Archive for September, 2011

A Books Review

Posted on September 21, 2011. Filed under: Hobbies |

One of my sorority sisters invited a few of us to join her book club that meets monthly for wine, goodies, and discussion. I love books – always have. I find it so refreshing to be able to talk about them with my closest friends. You can learn even more about your friends by their reactions and insights.

 I attended my first book club meeting at the end of August where we discussed The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

The Paris Wife is historical fiction about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hattie, and the years they spent in Paris together. Not everyone in my book club liked it. Some people said they just couldn’t get into it and it started pretty slow. I had a fair understanding of Ernest Hemingway, his life, and his death. So I knew going in that this book wasn’t going to be a happy story.

I really appreciate how the author wove in her own story through factual events and relationships. She did her research. I have always viewed historical fiction with awe. It’s intriguing to me because if it’s done well, the reader cannot separate what was true or what was a creation of the author. Historical fiction brings real people to life with scenes and dialogue even if it isn’t completely factual.  And props to the author again. Even though I knew how this story would end, the way McClain delivered the ending brought tears to my eyes.

If you like Americana and books written by authors from the 1920s and 30s, you’ll enjoy this peek into Hemingway’s first marriage.

For September/October, we are reading S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep.

This psychological thriller has a similar concept as Momento. Because of an accident, a woman wakes up everyday and cannot remember much about her life. She re-sets. At the recommendation of her doctor, she starts journaling everyday and hides the journal from her husband in an effort to gain some of her memories back. What follows is a horrific discovery of clues and deceit.

This book is such a page turner and you don’t know which characters to trust, even the lead protagonist. The author is genius in his placement of quasi-clues. I say quasi because you don’t even realize they are clues until you get near the end or finish the book entirely. The main character has some serious flaws, but you cannot help but feel pain for her and her situation. Yes, this book was dark. But it was more suspenseful than disturbing.

If you like suspense or psychological thrillers, you will like this.

For the holidays, we decided to pick lighter fare since we’ll all be preoccupied with family and holiday parties. We are reading The Hunger Games trilogy.

 I know, I know. I’m way behind on this craze. I think I was planning this little shindig wedding of mine at the height of Hunger pandemonium. I just started the final book of the trilogy today. I can already tell you that The Hunger Games are right up there in the world of Harry Potter for me. That’s saying something. Of course, nothing could match Harry, but they come closer than any other book I’ve read. Sorry Twilight peeps.

I can’t offer a full review yet since I haven’t finished, but they’re amazing and so difficult to put down. The series is based in post-apocalyptic America, a communist nation known as Panem divided into 12 districts that have a specific industry – manufacturing, coal, agriculture, etc. I found this handy map of Panem created by Maria Rizzoni:

Because District 13 revolted against the Capitol (the capital district of communist leaders) hundreds of years ago, Panem holds the annual Hunger Games to remind its citizens who is still in control. Each district sends 2 representatives, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death. Whoever wins will win wealth for themselves and lifetime of security. They will also win food for their district for an entire year. I can’t get into it too much without giving it away, but the plot is thicker than the Hunger Games itself. Strong themes are politics, survival, loyalty, humanity, power, society, and sacrifice.

The books are a quick read because they were written for a young adult audience. However, the themes translate to adults and are probably better appreciated by a more mature audience. I recommend these for anyone who likes a good book. It’s got love. It’s got sentimental backstory. It has a survival of the fittest theme. And it’s great for anyone interested in social or political science.

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Life Lessons Learned from Our Lake Weekend

Posted on September 19, 2011. Filed under: Newlywed, Travel |

About a month ago, we rented a lake house with 3 other couples on Lake Burton in the north Georgia mountains. It was so much fun! We boated around the lake all day Saturday, rode the Ski-bob, floated/swam in the lake, and laid out on the dock. At night we played card games and roasted marshmallows. It was such a nice getaway and a great time spent with friends. However, as a newlywed and lifetime lake-goer there are always lessons to be learned …

Life Lesson #1: For the sake of your marriage, don’t drive on unfamiliar, windy mountain roads that wrap around a body of water in pitch black. Come to find out I wasn’t the only one with white knuckles and rapid breathing out of our group of couples. All my girlfriends wanted to kiss the ground when they got out of the car. I never once said anything to Adam. Well, maybe once. But he could still hear my sighing and see me gripping the dashboard with one arm and the door with the other. Apparently, it wasn’t helpful. And driving on curvy roads in the dark makes the drive seem 3 times longer than it actually is.

Life Lesson #2: Speaking of a longer drive…Don’t trust your out-of-date GPS to get you to your backwoods destination in North Georgia with no cell phone service. It would be easy for me to blame Adam on this one. He’s the one that didn’t want to pay $50 to update my Garmin. Alas, I should have just printed out some maps or something. We ended up turning off the highway on the other end of the u-shaped road our house was off of. We had to drive 5 mph for 5 miles on a dirt road with ruts, no light and steep cliffs. It was scary. It was frustrating. We thought we were almost there. We had no cell phone signal to call to see if we were almost there. The gas light came on. Bugs the size of softballs were colliding with our windshield. We could see the erratic flight of a couple dozen winged rodents. And our patience was already gone.

Life Lesson #3: Don’t suck any lake water up your nose. The brain-eating amoeba may attack. I don’t mean to be insensitive. I think 3 people have died this year from amoebas that thrive in warm fresh water. It is a serious thing to be concerned about. Hopefully, the water in Lake Burton was too cold for them. It was less than 80 degrees. I think we’re safe by now. But I’m certain all of us sucked some up our nose except for the dog. Leo was the only one with any sense. We’ll keep you posted if we have any symptoms.

Life Lesson #4: Reapply your sunscreen after swimming, especially if you haven’t been outside all year because you’ve been painting the inside of your house. Good one, Meredith. My back was pretty red. You’d think at 25 years old I would have figured this one out by now.

Life Lesson #5: Don’t think you can hold on to the ski-rope handle when Ski-bobbing. Case in point:

And you’ll see that this is where I sucked water up my nose.

Aren’t Ashleigh’s camera skills Oscar worthy? She does offer quite the hilarious summary when she says “Mission Failed”, but my film editor cut that out.

Our lake weekend was fantastic. I think we tend to forget to take a break from our crazy lives. It was a much needed vacation and we’ll have a lot of memories. Memories of campfires and s’mores, Egyptian Rat Screw and Apples to Apples, good food, good fun, deadly microscopic water creatures, huge spiders, fish that bite your arse (true story), never-ending windy roads, and the 12th time’s a charm when boarding a Ski-bob.

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Art d’Amour

Posted on September 8, 2011. Filed under: Home |

Inspired by Pinterest, I decided to make these scrapbook paper wall tiles. There are a billion different versions on Pinterest. Some people use wallpaper, fabric, or pretty paper.

Some people frame them too. I decided to mimic this version more closely than the others because I thought it would complement our den better.

I won’t get into all the gory details because it was someone else’s idea and they already blogged about it. Please check it out if you’re interested. I will say where I changed it up a bit.

  • My tiles weren’t exact squares. Boards don’t really measure up if you know what I mean. They were supposed to be 12 x 12 tiles, but they were more like 12 x 11 tiles. It’s okay. You can’t tell with the naked eye.
  • Instead of espresso paint, I used red oak stain we had on hand. It was free, but stain is stinky.
  • I had to cut my paper to fit since the wood wasn’t square. I used a craft knife (already had) and a cutting mat (already had)
  • I used craft spray adhesive – $7 at Michaels
  • I lightly sanded the edges of the paper once they were attached to the boards. I tried my best not to lift the stain up.
  • I used a wet tea bag to brown the edges of the paper instead of distressing ink. This was a bad idea. It didn’t look right and the paper started curling up. Bummer. Luckily, only 3 pieces of paper had to be replaced. So I decided not to distress anything. It was too stressful. Ha. ha…
  • As you can see below, my color scheme was apple green, yellow, and turquoise.

I followed the directions for the rest of it.

We are still in the process of unpacking and decorating, but our priorities are to “finish” the spaces we live in the most. I really don’t like having big pieces of furniture in a room if they aren’t anchored by something on the wall above them. So the loveseat was in need of some art, hence the title of this post.

But here are the tiles in all their glory. We already had the green pillar candles and holders on hand. Nice touch, right?

I’m super happy about the way this turned out. In all, it cost about $30 for a pretty large piece of artwork. Time spent, including the errands, was about 5 to 6 hours. That seems like a lot. However, I put in a few hours after work every night, balancing craft time with husband time with a little Bachelorette TV with watering the plants with finishing the Twilight Eclipse movie (which is horrible btw), etc. If I had a day off from work with no distractions, this would be a 3 or 4 hour project.

I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Right, mom? But I enjoyed making the tiles and I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out. Plus, if I get sick of them, I’ll sleep easy knowing they only cost $30.

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