Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best Of 2014: Books

Although this year I did a lot more studying than reading for fun, and have not been posting as much as I normally do, I could not resist the yearly recap post phase, which is always so fun. These recaps are often where I get ideas for my next year's travel, books and races!

So here they are, in no particular order, my top seven reads from 2014. You can find past lists here: 2013, 2012, and 2011.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking -- This one took me a bit to get through, but it was because it's chock full of information and it was a lot to take in. However, I really related to a lot of the things that she talks about. For instance, introverts are not necessarily shy; they just need alone time to recharge and prefer less stimulus than extroverts.

Mr. Penumbria's 24 Hour Bookstore -- This was a fun and fast read about a quirky old man who owns a bookstore in San Francisco that turns out to be more than just a bookstore. I liked the story and it had a few twists, plus it was set in the city, so that gave it an added plus.

Eleanor and Park --A story about an unlikely pair of friends in high school, this story was one of those ones you just can't put down because it is so fun!

Unbroken -- You probably know all about this because of the movie, but it's a story about an Olympic runner turned WWII airman who gets stranded in the ocean for many weeks and captured by the Japanese. He goes through hell and lives to tell the tale. It's a very interesting book.

Orphan Train -- I didn't realize this part of our nation's history, but large trains full of orphans were sent to the Midwest from the East Coast and were "adopted" and made to work on the farms there. This was an eye opening and interesting read about one of the orphan girls.

MWF seeking BFF -- A thirty something who has just moved to a new city sets out to make a new best friend. She quickly realizes how hard it is to make friends when you are a married thirty something. She tries really hard though, pulling people from all walks of life, and ends up with a few good friends in the end.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry --  Recommended by Lisa, this story did not disappoint. This is the story of a book seller on a tiny island in MA who ends up adopting a stowaway baby. He is a likeable character and he goes through some of the same worries and thoughts and tribulations as we all have gone through. It was one of those books I could not put down.

So there you have it! This year's list is a lot smaller than the past years, but there are always a few good ones. This year more than others, I put a lot of books down unread. I probably started but did not finish at least a dozen books. I have decided that it's not worth my time to read a book I am not getting into.

How about you: What was your favorite book this year? Did you put any down without finishing them?

Monday, December 29, 2014

And In With The New

At the beginning of this year, I did a huge purge of all things old and moldy and holey. 2015 will be no different. Gone are the days of too big pants, too tight underwear, and year old stewed tomatoes. Actually, I try to be pretty good about either using things or throwing them away, but I do have a bit of hoarder in my genes, and so some things are harder than others to get rid of. However, my neat freak usually wins out and my spreadsheets come out and then there is no stopping me. So here it is, the list.

2015 New Year List:

Throw away: any socks with holes, underwear with holes, mismatched socks (this one is difficult for some reason!) too small pants (this year I have a few thanks to my new office job with no lunch break, which is when I would get a nice walk in), magazines not yet read, newspapers not yet read (don't get scared; there aren't that many of these), expired food items, old paper files, towels with holes, too short sweaters and DVDs I will never watch.

Do this soon: Read any books on shelf that have not been read yet, then give them to Goodwill.  Cook any nearly expired food items.Watch any DVDs, then give them to Goodwill. Write thank you notes. Update Christmas card list.

Organize/back up: photos, contacts, computer files, paper files, drawers, closets, shelves.

Dust/Sweep/Clean: top shelves, fans, under and behind all furniture. Toilet, tub and windowsills. The top of the refrigerator/dryer, the back/front porch and the garage.

Take to Goodwill: All clothing/books/DVDs (see above re too short sweaters and previously read books).

Prepare next year's planner, including running calendar, vacation calendar, goals and expenses/budget. Recap last year's goals, expenses and budget.

Certain things are easy, for example throwing away holey socks. It only takes one (painful) day of walking around with a sock with a hole to realize that it is not worth keeping. Another easy (and fun) thing for me is the rehash of last year's goals, expenses and budget and the preparation of this year's. Lastly, usually there is not very much old food, as we are pretty good at eating things before they go bad. The exception would be things like Halloween candy, which does not get eaten, and therefore sits around for quite some time.

Not as easy to do is the deep clean (it's not that fun), the reading or tossing of old books and magazines (I feel that I "might" read them "soon"), and the getting rid of too tight pants. I mean, what if I lose weight in a couple of months? I wouldn't want to have to go out and buy new pants! That would be a waste. How many pairs of pants does one person really need though? I'm thinking 17. Just kidding. Sort of. Well, at least one in every color and every size, just in case, right? You get my point. They are hard to throw away.

The bottom line is that cleaning out my closet or dusting the top of the fridge makes me feel like I am starting out the year fresh and new. It also makes my brain feel less cluttered, which is the most valuable part of it all.  So let's bring in the new year with a de-cluttered house and mind, shall we?

Do you do a yearly deep clean or purge? What is your least favorite chore? Be honest: how many pairs of pants do you own (and of the total, how many actually fit)?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Woof!

There is a guy in my office who sometimes makes this noise when he is overwhelmed, and it sounds like, "woof!" I think he is really saying, "oof" or basically, "phew". However, the first time I heard it, I thought he said WOOF, and so it has kind of stuck. Any time things are getting out of control or we are feeling a little crazy, we call out, "Woof!"

So....Woof!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy. In addition to getting all my Christmas cards sent out, I met up with my brother to be a sweeper (tail end safety runner) for the Northface 50 mile race, and went to two holiday parties and met up for a holiday weekend with my family. This is on top of the normal every day stuff, such as grocery shopping and working out. We also got a new client at work and the past couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity getting him set up.

Don't get me wrong, it has been fun, but I can see why some people get stressed out during the holidays, especially if you are the kind of person of which social interaction is overwhelming. Personally, I bring it all on myself, so I am not complaining! However, it will be nice to roll into January and hopefully read a few more books and spend a bit more time relaxing.

A couple of things on the agenda this week are:

- A visit with a friend from high school. She is coming to stay and we will do a lot of walking and eating and gabbing.

- The annual cookie making party with my friend and her daughters. Her daughter is 4 and last year she helped decorate all of the sugar cookies with heaps and heaps of sprinkles! It's become a fun tradition and everyone at work benefits from it as well!

- A Sunday morning run in the hills. As always, no week is complete without some time outside. I am lucky to live in a place where we can run outside year round and I am taking advantage of it! I love where I live...

How is your holiday going? What do you have planned for this week?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Looking Back: November

Get the advent calendars out! It's almost Christmas! This year, I have to work the day after Christmas and so we are going to have our family time a couple of weeks beforehand, so it's coming up quick! So let's recap November before December gets underway. November was a good month, albeit a busy one!

Running: November was a whacky running month. The first weekend, I paced a friend for a 100 mile race in Arizona, which was about 40 miles for me (overnight, in the dark, in the desert). The weekend after that, I paced a different friend for a 100 mile race, which was another 22 miles. Besides that, the rest of the runs were pretty minor. However, due to these two, monthly mileage came in at 186 miles.

Reading: Due to the fact that I spent a lot of time with other people and not a lot of time at home, I had one of my worst reading months this month! I read ONE book, Quiet, which I really enjoyed. However, it is not one of those "quick page turner" kind of books. It has a lot of interesting information and I took a few notes, but it was more like reading for knowledge than for pleasure. If you like the book, or if you want to hear a little about it, OR if you need a new podcast to listen to, check out this episode of the TED Radio hour.

Traveling: For pacing, I went to Phoenix and then to Auburn/Folsom. Both were dry and dusty and I did not see much due to the fact that I was mostly there in the dark. In addition, I went up to my parents for the weekend and then to my brother's for Thanksgiving. It was great to see my parents and to be "home" for a while, since I will not be heading up there for Christmas. November starts the busy weekend (and driving) time for me, so I often rent a car for the months of November/December. It ends up costing less money (and considerably less time) in the long run. I still think that my decision not to have a car otherwise is a good one.

Rainy run at Mom and Dads

Misc: Other than that, I went to all-you-can-eat Korean with the lads at work, had a great time at a Trail Running Film Festival, met up with a friend twice for Indian food and much needed girl talk, and drank a lot of yummy beer including this Sculpin IPA.

How was your November? Are you ready for the craziness of December? What is your favorite beer?