Northwest Native: December 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Show Us Your Books - 2016 In Review

I'm super late to the party, but this is my first time ever linking up for Show Us Your Books with Steph & Jana! I always love to read other people's posts (but also kind of hate it because my TBR is super long as it is), so I thought I'd start off now with an overview of what I read in 2016. Then maybe I'll actually make it a monthly thing in 2017.

First things first: add me on Goodreads! I didn't really utilize Goodreads as a social network before blogging, only to keep track of my reading (and I took a hiatus of a few years in between) so I don't have very many GR friends.

I set my Goodreads challenge at 30 books this year, because I underestimated myself. I upped it to 40 once I reached 30, and ended up at 63! However, two of those were short stories, so I'll count those two as one, but I also read the first four Harry Potter books and didn't count them since I'd read them before, so they were already rated. So if I add four and subtract one, that puts me at 66. My goal for next year will start out at 52. (It's mind-blowing to me that I was able to read more than a book a week averaged out. That seems like so many!)

Since I didn't do posts about books I read throughout the year, the ones freshest in my mind are the ones I read most recently. But I'll try to break it down into favorites and least favorites over the year.
Life According to Steph

Favorites

The Secrets of Midwives - Sally Hepworth // I couldn't really tell you what happens in this now, since I read it at the beginning of the year. Books are like that for me, I basically completely forget them (with a few exceptions) shortly after I read them. And yet, I haven't read many books more than once. Not only did I love this book, I won it free in a Goodreads book giveaway, so that was exciting.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes // Me and the rest of the world.

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion // I held off on reading the sequel, The Rosie Effect because of Erin's not-so-glowing review. Should I read it, or no?

A Dog's Purpose - W. Bruce Cameron // I came about this book by accident. Last Christmas, Michael's mom was going to put it in for the White Elephant exchange, but I said I wanted it so she let me have it instead. :) Anyway, I bawled like five separate times. But it's so good. And it's being made into a movie...you may have seen a trailer for it.

The Royal We - Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan // I'm not even into the royal family, so I didn't think I'd love this so much, but I really did.

Big Little Lies - Liane Moriarty // This is one of my favorite Moriarty books now.

Inside the O'Briens - Lisa Genova // I've loved all four of Genova's books. She's one of my favorite authors and I hope she writes a billion more books.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin // Can't explain it, but this book was SO. GOOD.

Larger Than Life & Leaving Time - Jodi Picoult // Larger Than Life is a novella that introduces one of the main characters in the novel Leaving Time and both of them were so much better than I was expecting. Jodi Picoult is another of my favorite authors, so I usually expect a lot out of her novels, but for some reason when I read the description I was like, "Elephants?" Also, you don't have to read both for the other to make sense.

The Thing About Jellyfish - Ali Benajmin // This is a super young adult book, but I loved it so much I read it in one day. I adored the main character, Suzy.

A Hundred Summers - Beatriz Williams // I just loved this story. As my review on Goodreads says, movies are never as good as the books, but I think this should absolutely be made into a movie.

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy - Sue Klebold // Just gonna copy and paste my Goodreads review here: "So much to say. This was emotional, gripping, and insightful. I always hate when parents are judged so harshly for their children's actions. The Klebold family sounds like any other family. There were even facets of Dylan's personality/experience that could describe myself or my brothers. Sue is now an advocate for brain health (her reasoning for using that term instead of mental health is in the book and I'd never considered it before, but I do believe that's a better term) and all of the proceeds of this book are going to research. Obviously this country still has major issues with brain illness and there's a stigma attached. Hopefully this book can help people try to understand that it's not something to be ashamed of or try to hide and face on your own, or help parents, friends, teachers, etc. identify often overlooked symptoms of depression and other brain illnesses in others before it's too late."

Oh, and I can't forget...ALL of the Harry Potter books, including the ones I had already read. :)

Underwhelmed

After You - Jojo Moyes // You just can't really follow up Me Before You in a very satisfying way.

You & Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes // I rated You four stars, but it was just so hyped up that it fell kind of flat for me. Also, I really hated Joe. Everyone said he was a likable psychopath, but I didn't get that at all. And lots of people didn't really enjoy Hidden Bodies, so no surprise there.

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson // Meh. It was fine. But everyone and their mother had read it or added to to their TBR list so I was expecting more.

Luckiest Girl Alive - Jessica Knoll // Some people loved this book, some couldn't get past their dislike of the main character. I definitely disliked Ani, but disliking the main character doesn't always mean I'll hate the book. With all the hype, I had expected more like four stars, but I'm not mad I read it.

All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven // Again, so much hype. I loved the characters, but as I was reading I kind of was thinking, "What is the point of this book?" until towards the end. (I know, there isn't necessarily a "point" of novels except to entertain. But hopefully you know what I mean.)

Second Glance - Jodi Picoult // This was my least favorite Jodi Picoult book by far. It was just...too much. I can't decide if I would like it more or less if it was written by someone other than JP (more because I didn't have such high expectations, or less because I'm so attached to JP's writing).

No One Knows - J.T. Ellison // I was so excited to read this, and the beginning was nice and suspenseful and mysterious, but as you learned more details it got less exciting, and a little over the top. And then at the high point of the action, it was like watching a cheesy action movie to me. I did like how the epilogue turned out though.

Winter Street & Winter Stroll - Elin Hilderbrand // I didn't have super high expectations for these, because I know Hilderbrand writes beach reads that some people love and some people won't touch. And...yeah. I'm sorry, Ava is so annoying. I pride myself on not letting my dislike of a character ruin the book/story for me, and this tested me. She wasn't the only thing I didn't like, though. I just thought Winter Street was kind of over the top (so much drama) and while Stroll was slightly better, I still didn't think it deserved three stars.

I may have finished another book or two by the time this is published (I'm finishing it up on the 22nd), but here is (just about) everything I read in 2016:


Mattie's bookshelf: read

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Between the World and Me
A Hundred Summers
Winter Stroll
The Thing About Jellyfish
No One Knows
Winter Street
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between
The Light Between Oceans
Second Glance
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Truly Madly Guilty
All the Bright Places
Leaving Time
Larger Than Life
The Girl Before
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Tampa


Mattie Dulka's favorite books »



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Friday, December 23, 2016

December Budget [2016]

2016 Budget Remaining
$153.03 - Annual budget remaining
$17.87 - ThredUp
$43.07 - Splender
$19.43 - eBates
$14.40 - Poshmark
$60.23 - Nordstrom gift cards
$5 - Old Navy Rewards
$313.03 - Maximum budget amount available

Drum roll please, because I bought approximately NOTHING* this month.

I honestly had no desire to buy anything. Part of this was because I had asked for most of the remaining things on my wish list for Christmas, so I figured I'd get some of them. Another part of it was that I was in my closet at the beginning of the month and realized I had quite a few things I wanted to wear the next day. And then I realized that isn't possible, and that that means I'm pretty good on clothes now.

I was also trying not to spend money on myself when I had so much other stuff to buy for other people. And we spent a lot during our Portland staycation. Oh, and I also have some sizable credit card debt right about now because I'm an idiot and decided to pay our car insurance annually, which we couldn't afford and so I put on a credit card...and we can't afford to pay it off all at once. So, that too.

*This refers to clothes/shoes/accessories for myself. I bought Christmas gifts and a crap ton of groceries and other Christmas crap. But nothing to include in my budget post.

I actually came out on top, because I ended up returning the two turtleneck tunics from last month's post. They were super thin material and I didn't like the fit of them.

2016 Budget Remaining
$153.03 - Annual budget remaining
$17.87 - ThredUp
$43.07 - Splender
$19.43 - eBates
$14.40 - Poshmark
$111.67 - Nordstrom gift cards
$5 - Old Navy Rewards
$364.47 - Maximum budget amount available

I'm not going to do a recap of the year or anything, since I think my final remaining balances are good enough. Plus, you can click the 'budget' tag on this post to see past budget posts if you're interested. I think I'm going to put the ThredUp, Splender, eBates, and Poshmark amounts remaining toward my student loans or something and not roll that over to next year. My budget for next year will start over at $1,200, plus the Nordstrom gift cards and Old Navy Rewards.

Comments turned off because it's Christmas weekend and there's not much to comment on me buying NOTHING!

Linking up with Franish's Budgeting Bloggers!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Currently... [December 2016]

I don't do a currently post every month, but I didn't want to let this whole week go by without at least one post, and this seemed like the easiest way to include everything I wanted to include. :)

Loving... That we got snow! Also, that I was able to work from home on my four snow days (last Thursday & Friday and the Thursday & Friday before that--two separate snow 'storms'). I also love that the snow is (hopefully) done for a while now, because I don't want to miss out on Christmas with my family.
Pictures are from the first snow. We got more the second time around, but of course, I took no pictures.

Staycationing... The weekend before this past weekend, Michael and I took a little 'staycation' in Portland! We stayed on the water and did a bunch of fun things like brunch at Portland City Grill, a craft fair at the expo center, happy hour hopping, and more!
Scenes from just outside our hotel. Love the fog!
The view from Portland City Grill.
The other view from Portland City Grill. :)
Downtown. The building on the right is Pioneer Courthouse, and just beyond it is Pioneer Courthouse Square, where Portland's Christmas tree is.

Laughing... At how true some Portland stereotypes are. One stereotype is that people are overly nice here. One example is in an episode of Portlandia, they show a four way stop, with two cars that kept waving the other one to go first. Then they would both start going, and stop abruptly, and try to wave the other one to go. And that went on forever. Anyway, Michael and I wanted to get a picture of this statue with the wreath on it, and cars were actually trying to slow down to a crawl or stop so they wouldn't be in our pictures! It was hilarious, kind of heartwarming, and also kind of embarrassing. I just wanted them to go about their business as usual and not disturb them!

Drinking... Tons of homemade lattes (well, during my snow days I was) from my new favorite mug. This mug is from Powell's (famed Portland bookstore) and I think I first saw it maybe a year ago and wanted it, but didn't buy it. I saw it again at our local Powell's store, and the next time they didn't have it anymore, so I thought it was a lost cause. When I saw it at the original Powell's I made sure to snatch it up this time!
One of Portland's nicknames is Rip City, and the drip of course refers to rain/coffee.

Wrapping... I finally wrapped all the presents I have so far over the weekend. I found my wrapping paper at Walgreens for $3 a roll and I love it. I have a thing for trucks/cars carrying Christmas trees. (See this doormat that I still want and haven't yet purchased.) I meant to take pictures of some wrapped gifts...but I forgot, so this is what you get.

I'll be back here next week! :)

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Friday, December 16, 2016

Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange Reveal!

Today I'm going to share what I received in the Blogger Christmas Cheer Exchange hosted by Olya and myself! If you participated, link up your post revealing your gift below! We'll leave the link-up open for a month or so in case you haven't received your gift or haven't posted about it yet.

I received my gift from Kayla at A Paper Arrow. When I received my package and saw it was from her, I thought it was such a weird coincidence because early on when I looked at the exchange participants, she was the only one I didn't know, so I went to her blog and started following. I don't know if this was the case for her, but if the person I got started falling me suddenly, I'd be paranoid they somehow knew that I had them!

Here's what I received from Kayla.
You guys...I love it all! She had the genius idea of looking at my to-read list on Goodreads and picking two books from it. I had never thought of that! Also, I love me some foxes, and this one is so cute with his coat and hat and sleeping bag on his back! I've wanted a tassel keychain forever, and I'm obsessed with gold, so that was perfect. And the only hats I ever wear are cold weather ones, but I don't really own any cute ones. Look at the rhinestones! SO cute! So far I've only worn it briefly like to take my dogs out or get the mail when it's super cold (and Wednesday night when we walked around in the snow storm!), but I can totally see myself wearing it all day on a winter outing.

And here are some individual pictures.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Erin's Book Challenge 6.0

Hi friends! I'm participating in Erin's Book Challenge 6.0 and thought I would share my list with you. In the past few months, I've become even more of a reading fiend, so I felt like I needed to blog about books and reading more. The challenge has 10 categories. I've picked out nine books. I only do challenges if I can find books I already wanted to read, so for this one, I picked a bunch of books I wanted to read but hadn't gotten around to it, or books that I knew were going to be in my next few books that I read.

via GIPHY - I think I've decided I will include this gif in all of my future book posts. Yay Scrubs!

5 points: Freebie - Read a book that is at least 200 pages. I haven't decided on this one yet--whatever book becomes available to me at the library will be it! Or maybe one of the handful of books that I own but haven't gotten around to reading.
10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter "W." Wonder by R.J. Palacio
10 points: Read a book with six words in the title. All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
15 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) green cover. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
20 points: Read a book with a homonym in the title. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
20 points: Read a book by your favorite author. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
25 points: Read a book set in the state where you live. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
30 points: Read a book from a genre that you've never read (or rarely read). Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (classics)
35 points: Read a book with time travel. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I'm happy for the 'favorite author' category because I was going to read Small Great Things as soon as possible, anyway. I'm also really happy that The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was on Rory's list, because for some reason, that is the book that keeps eluding me. I've thought multiple times that I wanted it to be my next book, but the hold list was really long or whatever other reason kept me from it. Also, I'm the last person on the planet to read If I Stay, and I even saw the movie. I totally forgot it was set in Oregon though, which I remembered being excited about when watching the movie. As for Angela's Ashes...I had this book on my TBR, even though the only classics I've read have been for school assignments, for the most part. But then I saw that Harry Potter was listed on the classics list on Goodreads...which kind of makes sense, but I always think of classics as being ooooold. Like, old old. But then I just looked and saw that Angela's Ashes was originally published in 1996. I don't know why I thought it was much older.

Here is my Goodreads list for the challenge, which runs January 1st through April 30th, so I obviously haven't started yet! (Also, if you want to be friends on Goodreads, add me!)

Have you ever done a reading challenge? Have you read any of these books? Any suggestions for what my freebie book should be?

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Halls are Decked.

Today I'm sharing my Christmas decor! I feel like no one probably cares about this but me, but it's my blog, so I'm the only one who needs to care about it, right? Right.

We'll start with the tree. Our very first Christmas tree! In our apartment years we just had this little tiny fake tree from IKEA. Also, #NobleFirsForever. Also also, we got the tree Sunday night and I didn't remember to water it until yesterday morning. Maybe a fake tree is the way to go for us...
Here are just a few of my favorite ornaments.
We got ornaments every year growing up, and 90% of mine were penguins because I love them so. This is my favorite penguin. And I love this umbrella from Pike Place Market!
I love foxes, and my mom gave me a set of two of these guys this year.
Our first married Christmas ornament, that I didn't order until January last year and of course it's penguins. My mom bought me this ornament on Sunday when we were shopping. :) I love me some deer decor around Christmas...you'll see below.
My mom's friend's daughter used to babysit us and she's also my hairdresser. She gave me our wedding present late last year, when I went for a haircut in December. She decorates ornaments and sells them, and she gifted us five or six. I love this one!
We went on a road trip to Montana in 2013. It was so much fun and I love our ornament.
You saw these in yesterday's post, but I couldn't leave out my Harry Potter and Hagrid ornaments. (These were Hallmark ornaments years and years ago.)

Next to the tree/fireplace is this guy. The lights blink, alternating red and green.

The fireplace! From left to right: Michael, Flora, Tully, me. I'm a freak and I've coordinated the stocking hangers too. Michael gets Santa because he has a beard (duh), I get the penguin because penguins are my favorite, and of the two left, Flora gets the reindeer because she's (dark) brown and graceful like a deer, and Tully gets the snowman because she's light-colored (and she's not overweight, but she's not sleek like Flora, so the fluffiness works too).

Bath and Body Works candle and sleeve.

Ugh, ignore the dust.

What did I tell you about deer decor?

Couldn't figure out where to put this. It has a hook to hang it on the wall, but it's pretty small. My mom suggested I put it on our tree and I probably will!

Another deer.

Bathroom door.

Closet door.

Coffee bar (and another deer).

Love my hipster Santa towels! I got them at Ross pretty recently.

This is in front of you at the kitchen sink...

...and this is the other side.

My string lights keep randomly going out and it's a pain to turn the green ones back on with the ornaments on top of the battery pack, so I actually moved them so they're entwined with the red ones across the counter.

The Christmas countdown was on our windowsill, but when we got our tree I moved it here.

This star has snowflakes on it, but it's so small and high up that I might just leave it up all year...

Sooo dark, sorry. I put this on our curtain tie back before we got our tree. I could switch it over, but I kind of like it here. Especially because it's so big.

Just two little snowmen.

Now that our TV is on our fireplace, I love decorating our entertainment center as a console table.

Bonus...this isn't Christmas-y, but I finally started on the gallery wall in the dining room! I need some smaller pieces to put below and above the mirror.

Since our table is so small, I just have a candle ring (that my mom gave me over the weekend) and a gold glitter faux candle (that I got just last night at Home Goods).

Funny story: I ordered a magnetic wreath hook from Amazon, because the over-the-door hook I bought doesn't work with our door. I could've sworn our front door was metal...turns out it's wood. #fail But our door from the kitchen to the garage is metal, so I'm going to hang something there.

I also need a doormat for our front door (I want this one), a tree topper, and a tree skirt I bought a tree skirt last night at Home Goods and holy cow did I want to buy everything in the store, and I have the below 'Merry Christmas' sign I need to hang up somewhere. And a cute little bathroom hand towel that I didn't take a picture of. :)
The tree skirt.
I need to figure out where to put this!

Most of my decor is from Real Deals, hand-me-downs from my mom, or from stores like Ross/TJ Maxx/Target/etc. If you have questions about a specific thing, if I know where I got it, I'll let you know!

Linking up with Victoria and Sarah for their Christmas link-up, and Andrea for Show and Tell Tuesday (a day late).

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