Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On the Road Again...

Good morning and happy Wednesday!  I hope your week is going well thus far.  Mine has been really busy as I am juggling relocation stuff with a busy work week that includes a quick 2 day work trip to Austin.  I was hoping to have more downtime since one of my best friends lives there, but my 2 days got so booked up with multiple client meetings, a work dinner, and a presentation. 

I'm looking forward to getting out of the office for a couple of days and am going to fit in a breakfast with my friend and her daughter on Thursday morning!  It's my friend's birthday on Friday so it will be nice to hand deliver her gift for the first time in years!  I used to visit her around this time of year as our birthdays are just days apart, but that hasn't worked in years past due to my stupid CFA study schedule.  If it wasn't for that test, I would have definitely spent the weekend with her in Austin (plus the high tomorrow is sub-zero so I could really use some Texas sun right about now).

I have to study on both plane rides to hit my study goal for the week but I am also planning to make what I imagine will be a LONG list of to-do's in preparation for my move.  I have never moved more than 4 hours away, so this whole moving 1,000+ miles away is going to be quite the experience for me.  I am already starting to feel a little panicky about everything because I keep thinking of things I need to do, like talk to my tenant, start the lease-breaking process, and start purging possessions that I haven't used since I moved into my condo ~2 years ago, among other small things like submitting a change of address form, updating my car insurance policy, etc.  Some things will have to wait until I have moved, some can be done before, but I figure if I come up with a master list that I can break into weekly tasks, it will feel less overwhelming - kind of how breaking marathon training in 18 weeks makes it see doable.

Have you ever moved far away?  What was most overwhelming for you?  I am most overwhelmed by finding an apartment and the logistics of the move, meaning timing the packing of goods and how to handle that time period between when the truck leaves with my possessions/car, and when it arrives in Charlotte...  I know it will all work out and at this point I am thinking I will try to stay in Minneapolis as long as possible so I have as few days as possible in Charlotte without my possessions and a car... 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bucket List

One night on the way home from a dinner out with Phil (yep, that is my boyfriends name, I am not going the nickname route this time around), we drove by a BBQ place and I said - 'Oh, we should go to Brasa sometime for BBQ.' - to which he agreed as he also likes this place (which I especially love because almost the entire menu is GF and thus safe fo rme).  A minute passed and I said, 'Oh and we should go out for brunch sometime!  We have never gone out for brunch!'  He paused before responding and said - 'you are making a bucket list, aren't you?'

And I think that is the moment that the fact that I was likely going to be moving away became a bit more real.

So yes, I have started to formulate a bucket list.  It feels a bit weird to be making one because while I can't say this with 100% certainty because life is full of surprises, I really know in my heart that I will be back eventually.  I truly don't see Charlotte being a long-term home for me.  So I don't have this feeling that I MUST DO EVERYTHING.  But I do want to make sure I fit in a handful of experiences before I leave.  I do not have the most flexible schedule or all that much free time since CFA studying eats up many of my evening and weekend hours and I'll also be busy preparing for this move, so I created a realistic, do-able list.  Here is what I've come up with so far!

1.  Spend an afternoon with my local nephews.  I am hoping to find a free Sunday afternoon in March to take them out to lunch and to a bookstore for the afternoon.  I'll really miss seeing my nephews on a regular basis so I definitely want to soak up some time with them.

2.  Eat at some of my favorite places with Phil.  So far my list includes brunch at Wilde Roast Cafe (I love the atmosphere there), sushi at my favorite place, Fuji-Ya, happy hour at my favorite Mexican place, Masa, which has THE BEST margaritas for $5 and the best tacos for $3, and dinner at Brasa.

3.  The "Bunny Run" followed by brunch afterwards at Elsie's.  The Bunny Run is one of my favorite long run routes as we run along 3 local lakes and the turnaround point is this bizarre bunny statue in South Minneapolis.  The group's favorite brunch spot is Elsie's which is a cheap bowling alley/restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis.  I am really, really sad to say good bye to my run club friends, and I am sad that I will have to resign from the Run Club Board, which I JUST became a member of in December. :(

4.  Have friends over for dinner.  I love having people over for dinner but haven't in over a year!  I am planning on having a small group of people over in mid-February for lasagna!

It's a relatively short bucket list, but I think it's do-able.  I was able to extend my Charlotte start date to April 8th so I can spend Easter with my family, so that means I have just over 2 months to enjoy Minneapolis and the close proximity of friends and family to the fullest!

If you found out you were moving in 2 months, what experiences would make your bullet list?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: All That I Am

Happy Friday!  Today I'm participating in the TLC Book Tour for "All That I Am" by Anna Funder.  Historical fiction books set during WWII are my favorite genre, so it was an easy choice to select this book from the list that my TLC contact sent me.  This book was a bit different than other WWII books I have read as it was focused on around 1933, the time when Hitler was building his empire.  Most of the books I have read were set during the 1939-1945 time frame so it was interesting for me to read about a different aspect of the war.  It tells the story of a brave group of friends who tried to warn the world about the evils empire Hitler was building.  Instead of looking the other way, they put their lives on the line and joined the Resistance Movement.

The story is told from the perspective of two different characters.  The narrators flipped back and forth from present day to the time of war which was a bit confusing at time.  I think some date references during the chapters would have helped, but I quickly got a feel for the change in the time setting.

I really liked this book and gave it 3 stars on goodreads - I would have given it 3.5 if that had been an option.  I thought that the writing was great and there were several sentences and passages that made me stop and think - wow, she said that well.  I thought I'd share a couple with you:

"When you are in love with someone you cannot see around them, you cannot get their human measure.  You cannot see how someone so huge to you, so miraculous and unfathomable, can fit, complete, into that small skin."  (p. 150)

"But I saw then that everyone thought her so independent as to have no needs, or at least none that they, single-handedly, could met.  This is the curse of the capable; it leaves them prone to pockets of aloneness, sudden elephant traps in the ground."(p. 285)

"Most people have no imagination.  If they could imagine the suffering of others, they would not make them suffer so." (p. 358)

If you enjoy books set during WWII, I think this one is worth checking out.

When you read books, do you flag quotes that really speak to you?  That is one thing I love about my nook - I can easily bookmark or highlight a passage.  When reading physical books, I try to have post-its to flag pages with great passages/quotes, as my Grandma McDougall taught me from a young age that it was abusive to fold down the 'ear' of a book and that lesson has stuck with me for life!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Putting Analysis Paralysis Behind Me

Hello!  I'm back!  Look at me, posting a late day post! 

Well after suffering from a horrible case of analysis paralysis for the past 2 weeks, I have reached my decision about the upcoming move...  Even though this is not a path I ever expected my life to take and didn't really want it to take, this afternoon I accepted the relocation offer to Charlotte.

The past 2 weeks have been very tough for me.  There have been a lot of tears and days where I feel just plain depressed.  My boyfriend has been supportive but we both have acknowledged that we don't know what this means for us.  There have been lots of hugs and cuddles and he has definitely been a sounding board and 100% supportive throughout this process, for which I am thankful for.  Out of everything, this is the toughest aspect of the move for me.  I can move for 1-2 years (or however long I end up being in Charlotte) and when I move back, my relationships with family and friends will pick up where they left off.  I am not sure that will be the case for my boyfriend and I.  But I know we both want to give a long distance relationship a shot and I am trying to believe that whatever happens is meant to be.

The last 2 weeks haven't been all bad, though.  While I have had a lot on my mind and have definitely been more sad/down than happy, I have had my moments of optimism and excitement.  I love traveling and discovering new places and I know this move to Charlotte will give me an opportunity to explore a different part of the country.  I stare at pictures of Asheville and Charleston on days when I feel down about living in Charlotte.  And I focus on the fact that I already have one friend that lives in Charlotte, and John lives less than 3 hours away.  And luckily there are inexpensive flights to Boston, NYC, DC, and Pittsburgh, so I know I will have trips to visit Kelly, Alli, Becky, Mandy, and Erin to look forward to.  Best of all, my sister Abby will be in Mississippi for a year as they will be stationed there while her husband  becomes an Air Force Pilot, so we can meet up in Atlanta which will only be a 4 hour drive for each of us.  So at least I'll have family somewhat close by, and we'll both be going through similar things.

I have to be in Charlotte by April 1st, so am leaning towards moving that last week and probably will fly to Charlotte on the evening of Easter Sunday (they ship my car for me, thank God).  I still need to meet with the relocation counselor and learn more about the process and how it all works (and if I can push my start date out a bit to make sure I can spend Easter with my family).  I know there will be a multi-day gap between when the moving company packs my stuff and when it arrives in Charlotte (up to a week, I think) so I need to figure out the logistics of where I will stay when I am in limbo.  But I have time to figure that out.

My next step will be a trip to Charlotte in February to check out my apartment options.  I have been disappointed to find that the cost of living is actually higher in Charlotte (in terms of rent) than Minneapolis.  I imagine this is due to the fact that they have far fewer apartment buildings than Minneapolis does.  It's kind of depressing to see what I will get for my money versus what I have now, but I have to just let it go and accept the fact that I am not going to find what I have here in Minneapolis.  I think my mom will be joining me for this trip, so it will be good to have her with me.

This decision has been far from easy, and one thing that has bothered me the most is when people say things like, "well you are choosing between your personal life and your career/money."  It really bothers me when people phrase that decision because first of all, I am being forced to make this choice within a very short time frame.  It's not something I am choosing - it is being forced on me.  Secondly, I think it's more accurate to say I am choosing between financial stability and uncertainty about my future income.  Sure I could roll the dice on finding something during the severance period, but I'd be taking on a HUGE risk, financially. I think it's easy for someone outside of my situation to say 'oh come on, you can find a job' - but they do not have to deal with the financial ramifications of not finding a job and putting themselves in financial jeapardy. So yes - financial stability wins out in this decision, but it's not like I value money over family/friends/my boyfriend. Lastly, I will still have a personal life when I move to Charlotte.  Yes, it will be far different from the one I have here and I won't see the people I love nearly as often as I would like, but I will make it work. 

I am slowly trying to make the transition from the pity party to a sense of excitement and anticipation.  It's not an easy transition and I know I will still have hard days, but I know that I have to embrace the decision I've made and not look back.  I need to own my decision and accept the fact that I've made a different decision than some of my family members and friends would make or would like me to make.  What I need now is for the people in my life to accept my decision and support me, even if it is not the decision they would have made.

I really believe that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react and deal with it.  I've been really sad, down, and depressed, but I want to shift out of that frame of mind as this is my reality and being sad/angry/upset is not going to change anything and will probably only make it worse.

I'm sure I'll be sharing my experiences, both good and bad, along the way.  And if anyone has made a cross country move and has some words of encouragement and/or advice, I am all ears.

Here's to the next chapter in this adventure of my life!

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Big Unexpected Life Changes

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."
This well-known quote resonates with me after my experience in Charlotte last week.  You see, I had all these plans.  I thought I'd be in this condo (that I love) for a couple more years.  I'd spend every holiday with my family.  I'd make countless memories at my parents lake home, and would introduce my boyfriend to life at the lake. I'd train for countless marathons with a running club I love. 
Well - those plans and dreams all came to a crashing halt last week when I got unexpectedly pulled into a conference room on my trip to Charlotte and was told that my job and department is being moved to Charlotte and that I have 2 weeks to decide and 2-3 months to complete the move. 
To say I was shocked is an understatement.  I sat there - in a group of men who all took the news oh so stoically - and I damn near hyperventilated.  My body shook and tears silently poured down my face as so many thoughts and questions went through my mind.  
As those of you have who have read my blog for years know, I have worked really hard over the past couple of years to create this life I loved.  I felt like I had really hit my stride and can honestly say there really isn't much I was looking to change in my life.  I genuinely love and adore Minneapolis.  And now this bomb has been dropped on me.  Yes, I can try to find something else, but let's be honest here.  The economoy is still hurting, and my industry is doing particularly horrible because when interest rates are low, we do not make much money.  In fact, most of our competitors are cutting jobs - not adding them. 
This whole situation would be different if they were asking me to move to cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Manhattan, Philadelphia, or Seattle.  No offense to those who love or live in Charlotte, but I do not care for the city.  In my opinion, it's a great place to live if you like a suburban lifestyle (I don't at all) or like mild weather (I don't mind winter and like snow at Christmas).  The downtown (well they call it "Uptown") is a far cry from what I am accustomed to in Minneapolis where there is an awesome grocery store, Target, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble, etc.  Charlotte has none of those things, and clears out each evening once everyone goes home to return to their suburban lifestyles.  And - it's not a city for running (in my opinion).  Sure, the weather is mild and accomodating, but it does not make the top 10 list of cities to run in like Minneapolis does. I walk out my door and have access to miles upon miles of running trails along lakes and rivers.  Charlotte?  Has no water (except for a lake in - you guessed it - suburbia).   
But I really can't control where they asked me to move and no matter how much I cry, kick, scream, moan, and complain, reality does not change - I will likely have to move to Charlotte.
I have so many things running through my mind.  Big things like how often will I see my family?  What will happen to my relationship?  Is the short amount of time we've had together enough for us to turn our relationship into a long distance one, and one with no end date in mind of when we might be reunited?   Will I be able to afford to come back for the multiple weddings I have this fall, the Chicago marathon, Julia Child Night, and the holidays?  Will I make friends?  Will the stress of a cross-country move jeopardize my chances of passing the CFA exam?
And then there are smaller things like - will I be able to find an apartment that my furniture (like my large dining room table and beautiful piano) will fit in?  Will I find a running club I like nearly as much as the one I have here?  How will the hot/humid summer impact my marathon training?  Will I find a church I like?  Should I change my CFA test center to Charlotte?  What about all of my pre- and post-test rituals I've established here in Minneapolis? 
I recognize that things could be worse.  At least I still have a job - that is better than having my position eliminated.  But right now, I think I deserve to be upset/sad/mad/confused/scared.  I think I have the right to cry.  I know that eventually I will have to put this pity party behind me and try to be more positive, but right now, it feels like my whole world has been turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

I don't really want this blog space to become a vortex of negativity and moping.  So I am going to take a little break from blogging as I work through some of these emotions and commit my free time to researching my options and getting a better handle on what a cross-country move requires.  Luckily the relocation package is generous and they try to make it as easy for you as possible, but it's still going to be a lot of work. 

So if you pray, please say a prayer for me.  If you don't, keep me in your thoughts as this is a really difficult time for me.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Favorite Things: A Wish List

Well I am back from my trip to Charlotte.  I am not really ready to put words to my experience in a post yet, so suffice it to say that the trip took my breath away.  Except not in a good way - more in a "someone kicked me in the stomach and knocked the wind out of me" kind of way.  I'll talk more about it next week when I've had more time to process it.  I still have a job but that is the only silver lining I can find at this point.

So today, I need to do a mindless, happy post.  I started sharing Friday Favorites last month when I talked about my nephew date.  This month I thought I'd talk about some of my favorite things which I wouldn't mind receiving for my upcoming birthday, which is just under a month away!

Here are some things I am wishing for these days....

1.  Medal holder.  Over the years of racing, I have started to accumulate medals, which I just shove in various boxes and nooks and crannies.  It is time to properly display these medals that I have worked so hard to earn.  There are lots of medal holders out there, but this one (pictured above) is my favorite!

2.  Apron.  In my world, a girl can not have too many aprons!  Given my recent obsession with all things yellow, I am particularly smitten with this one!

3.  Chopper.  While I do find it soothing to slice and dice veggies when cooking, sometimes it would be nice to swiftly chop up veggies into uniform sizes!  My mom has this chopper and loves it, and I know I would get a lot of use out of it (and might be more apt to make homemade salsa more often!).

4.  Lasagna Pan.  I have several cake pans, but I do not have a lasagna pan so each time I make lasagna, I struggle to get it to all fit in the pan!  Anyways, this one also comes with a roasting rack so maybe I could also use it to learn how to roast a chicken (I feel a bit sheepish over the fact that I am almost 32 and have never roasted a chicken).

And there you have it.  My 2013 birthday wish list. I also feel a bit self-centered posting a wish list, but I think the people in my life who have to shop for me (hi mom!) like a little guidance every now and then.  And I loved reading other people's wish lists around the holidays!

If it was your birthday next month, what would you be wishing for? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Greetings and hello from Charlotte!  I hope everyone's week is going well!  I flew in last night and sadly spent the flight studying for the CFA instead of reading for pleasure like I usually do.  Getting my study hours in while traveling is NOT easy, plus I have a busy weekend ahead of me that will include a baby shower and a birthday lunch for a friend, so I decided to sacrifice the flight times to studying to make it easier to hit my goal of 15 hours of studying/week!

Each month I share the books I have read with my thoughts/opinions, but this month I thought I'd share a list of books that I am hoping to tackle, and the reason why I am reading them!  My to-read list on goodreads is ridiculously long (399 books!) so it's sometimes tough to decide what to read next!  Here are some of the books I am hoping to finish over the next couple of months!

Right now I am reading the penguin classics version of Little Women (and am loving it!).  I love how the penguin classic version has a little ribbon for marking your place!  I wish more books had that so I wouldn't have to track down a bookmark each time!  I had this marked as read on goodreads, but I honestly think I might have marked it by mistake when I first started adding books to the site years ago as I do not recall reading it.  It is SO good so far!

Next up I will read Those Who Save Us, which is the book club book for the club hosted by Emily each month (all are welcome to join!).  I have owned this book for YEARS but never got around to reading it, so I am glad I now have a reason to pluck it from my shelf!  It's partially set during WWII, which is one of my favorite genres to read about, so I think I will really like it.
 I totally fell in love with John Green's writing after reading The Fault in Our Stars and Looking For Alaska, so I decided to check out some of his other books.  One of the books I want to read is An Abundance of Katherines.  It's about a guy who dates a bunch of girls with the name Katherine.  You may not know this, but I have dated A LOT of Brians (and a Ryan), so reading the synopsis of this book made me smile as I can relate to being "stuck" on a name.  Luckily my current boyfriend is not a Ryan or a Brian.  And his birthday isn't on April 28th (I've had 2 serious boyfriends with that birthday).

I am reading this book, Bonfire of the Vanities, due to the insistent prompting of my boyfriend.  He said he is 100% certain that I will love it, so I am excited to check it out.  It was also recommended to me by a senior leader that I met back in November when I was in San Francisco.  Can I just say how much I love dating a guy who reads and is able to make book recommendations? 
 My friend Erin recently started a book club on facebook and I am hoping to finish this book in time to join the discussion later this month!  I have read and enjoyed a couple other books by this author, and Nora and I got to see her talk when I was in St. Louis for Nora's wedding, which was a really cool experience!

All of these books I either own or am borrowing from the library, so I have yet to break my book buying fast!!

What are you reading these days?  And how do you find your next great read?  I get most of my reading suggestions from friends, often by seeing what they are reading on goodreads (seriously, you should join that site if you haven't already!).  I also peruse the bestseller lists.

Monday, January 7, 2013

2013 Goals

Happy Monday!  This will be my first full week of work in a couple of weeks!  I am actually ready to return to a normal schedule, though.  Except this week won't be completely 'normal' as I will be heading back to Charlotte for a couple of days for some meetings.  But I actually don't mind having to travel this week as I feel refreshed after having a month off from traveling!

I'm a little bit late to the goal revealing party, but Mondays seem like the right day of the week to profess your goals.  I call them goals as they are things I work towards with a end in mind, which is different than resolutions (in my opinion) as when I think of resolutions, I think of permanent behavior changes (giving up soda or eating healthy, etc.).  While there is nothing wrong with resolutions, there really aren't any that I feel the need to set this year.  So goals will once again be my focus.  Before sharing my goals for 2013, I thought I'd review my goals for 2012!

1.  Pass Level II of the CFA - DONE!  Phew.  That was my huge focus for 2012 and I was ridiculously relieved when I achieved this goal.

2.  Run a sub 4:10 marathon - I actually misremembered this goal - I thought I had set a goal to run a sub-4 marathon, but then I looked back and saw I made the goal for 4:10, and since I ran a 4:03:34, I totally achieved this goal!

3.  Save, save, save - I am going to say that I did not really achieve this goal.  Instead I had some unexpected things come up, like the expense of my sinus surgery.  I have more in savings than I did when I started the year and I increased my 401(k) contribution to 11%, but I did not set aside as much as I thought I would in my savings account.  But I definitely was way more mindful of how I spent money, and spent less, so I am still happy with the strides I made financially.

4.  Abstain from book buying - SUCCESS.  Ok, I kind of cheated by buying some books at a United Way book sale, but I donated more books than I bought and spent a total of like $6 I think?  So I still think I technically achieved this goal.  But honestly?  It wasn't that hard.  At all.  Sure I had to exercise some self control and there were books I was not able to read this year since they are not readily available at the library, but I still do not feel like I was 'deprived' by not being able to buy books.  I do look forward to buying my first book in 2013, though!


And now for my 2013 goals!!

1.  Pass Level III of the CFA, and try not to 'lose myself' in the process - I think anyone who has read this blog can sense how much my mood and sense of happiness is impacted during CFA study season.  The last 2 years I have felt incredibly stressed, isolated, and well, almost depressed.  It's just such an overwhelming experience to prepare for this exam and I have sort of 'lost myself' in the process the last 2 years.  I don't want that to happen again this year.  I don't really have a game plan in mind for this yet, it's something I'll need to figure out as I go along, but I think having my boyfriend there preparing for the test along side of me will help.  He has already asked what he can do to help reduce my stress level, so it feels good to have his support (and the support of my friends and family who have been there for me the last 2 years).

2.  Pay off my undergrad student loans.  I did not set this as a specific intention last year, but I sort of thought I would pay down my loans more than I did.  Well this year, I am putting it out there as a goal.  I really want to be free of my undergrad debt.  I have been out of school for almost 10 years, it's time to pay off those dang loans so I can focus on paying off my grad school loans.

3.  Run a sub-4 hour marathon.  I came somewhat close to achieving this goal last year, and I know I can do it if I set my mind to it and have a healthy training season.  It also helps that I plan to run a flat marathon (Chicago in October).

4.  Read 52 books in 2013.  I just added this last goal at the last minute!  I started using the reading goal tracker on last year, so I might as well profess that goal on here this year.  Last year my goal was to read 50 books, and I read 57.  This year I am targeting 52, so 1 per week.  I think it's feasible.

So there you have it - 4 specific goals that I will set out to achieve this year!  I achieved 75% of my goals last year, this year I am hoping to achieve 100%!

Did you set any goals or resolutions for yourself?

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Longest Short Week

Hello, friends and happy Friday!  I hope this was a great week for you!  I don't know about you, but this week felt like the longest "short" week for me.  Many of my co-workers felt the same way.  It didn't help that there was a water main break yesterday in downtown Minneapolis.  Water was restored to my building really quickly, but it is totally discolored and actually really dirty.  Like my tub was covered in a layer of dirt.  Gross.  I ran my water for hours (as prescribed by our building management - they said to run it until it runs clear).  Well hours later, it was still discolored.  I had ran after work so needed a shower, but luckily the boyfriend came to the rescue and I was able to go over there and shower.  It sure is nice having someone to call when you are in a pinch - I haven't had that kind of person in my life for quite awhile!  Hopefully my water will be back to normal by tonight.  I guess it is a reminder to be thankful for clean water, which is something many of us take for granted (myself included).

Despite the sort of blah feeling I have about this week, I am really looking forward to the weekend.  Tonight we are doing a movie date night.  I won a football bet a month ago and am finally collecting on my night at the movies.  I think we are going to see Promised Land (I love me some Matt Damon!).  Then tomorrow we will watch the mighty Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers.  I am not a huge sports fan as you all know, but it is fun to see the Vikings in the play off (although full disclosure, I think they are such a heart break team so I think they will lose tomorrow).  I am making taco chili to share with my boyfriend and his roommates so it should be a fun, festive night!  Besides that, I've got plenty of CFA studying to do (boo).

What do you have planned for this weekend?  Are you cheering for any teams in the play offs?  Did this shorter week feel long to you as well?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of December


Blessings by Laura Story - Ok I am not typically a huge fan of contemporary Christian music, but I really love this song.  Unfortunately, I was introduced to this song when I attended the memorial for the baby that my friend lost in the 24th week of her pregnancy, which was a horribly sad experience...  But I thought this was a beautiful song selection.

Little Moments by One Direction - Ok, I feel a bit lame including this in my favorite songs for the month, but I can't help it.  I love this song.  That is all.


If felt like it was another slower reading month for me, but I did manage to read 4 books, most in the 2nd half of the month.  I also started studying for the CFA (and put in 15 hours in the final days of December) so now I will have to balance that + reading for pleasure + seeing my boyfriend, so 2013 might be a slower reading year for me.  We'll see!  I ended up reading 58 books in 2012, which I am really happy about as it's the most books I have maybe ever read in a year!

We are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg - I enjoyed this book and would give it 3.5 stars if that was an option. It was a fast, engaging read, but the ending felt a little bit abrupt and far fetched which knocked my rating down to a 3 from a 4.

Off Balance:  A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu - Given my level of fascination with Olympic gymnasts, this was a fascinating read for me.  It definitely opened up my eyes to some of the politics that surround the selection of US Gymnasts, and I definitely have completely different view of the Karolyis (and not for the better).  It was an interesting book and is something I'd recommend to others who are obsessed with the sport of gymnastic, like I am.

Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara - I liked this book.  See my review here.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman - This was such a well written and engaging book.  It tells the story of a young couple that struggled to have children and one day finds a baby washed up to shore in a boat.  They decide to keep the baby and raise it as their own as they assume the mother had died.  I won't say any more as it will ruin it for the reader, but the story is so heart breaking and the author did such a great job of capturing the thoughts and emotions of the characters.  The characters were flawed and made mistakes, but they were so likeable at the same time.  Definitely one of the best books I read this year!


Meh.  This was another so so month for running for me.  I am in maintenance mode now so I know I need to shift my mileage expectations but it's still kind of depressing to add up the miles and see how little I ran this month.  My total came to 56.  Not horrible, but nothing to write home about.  My total miles for 2012 came to 1,175, though, which I am really happy with!  I came somewhat close to averaging 100 miles/month!


This is not the most flattering photo of this top (and I look so tired in the photo), but I really like this wrap top that I got for 50% off at Banana Republic in November.  I ended up also buying it a plum color during an after Christmas clearance sales as it was just too cheap to pass up!

And yellow strikes again!  I also got this sweater for 50% off at Banana Republic (I never pay full price for anything there, seriously).  I am still all about yellow these days!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Book Review: Cascade

When I saw Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara on the list of TLC Book Tours available, I was instantly drawn - first by the cover art, and secondly when I saw that it was set during the 1930s as that is an era that has always fascinated me.  Cascade, in my opinion, has two main stories:  first there is the story of a young artist, Desdemonda (shortened to Dez), who marries a man she really does not love for financial security (and to satisfy her dying father's wishes), and second story is the story of the battle to save the town of Cascade from being flooded to create a reservoir which will supply water to a larger city in close proximity.  Early in the book, we learn that Dez has met her temptation in the form of a fellow artist, Jacob, who seems to be a perfect match for her, and she must choose between the vows she made and the life she pictures with Jacob.

When I started this book, I honestly thought it would be a book that I would struggle to finish, but this did not end up being the case at all.  It did take a good 100 pages for me to get into it, but once I got caught up in the story of the town of Cascade and the internal battle that Dez was fighting in deciding to stay with her husband or persue her dreams, it became a page turner for me.

Dez was not the most likeable character, but I did sympathize with her position as dire financial straights drove her to marry the man she chose, and it was clear that it was a forced, loveless marriage.  In this day and age, she likely would have had other choices, but I know that things were different in that era and she likely did not really feel she had any other choice than to marry this man - especially given the fact that it would satisfy the wishes of her dying father. It definitely makes me thankful that we live in a different era with more choices and freedoms!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review, and the opinions are my own.