Off the Shelf

Work has been so busy lately and I haven’t had much time to enjoy the things that I love doing in my spare time. Going into the new year, I knew this was coming. I couldn’t fully prepare myself for it but it wasn’t a surprise. Now that things are winding down (my calendar is getting progressively more empty as we move forth in February!), I am really thinking about all the things that I didn’t get to do or enjoy. Although I feel like I kept a pretty good balance with most things, I know that there are two things close to my heart that just didn’t get enough attention: my husband and my knitting.

I’m writing this on a pseudo-mental health day. I’m still in my office, but I made the chose to stay away from the lab today. I even worse lab inappropriate clothing (read: a skirt!) to prevent temptation. I’ve also just finished editing a manuscript that I’ve been telling myself I’ll finish for months. I’m not exactly proud of letting all of my excuses win, but I am very proud for never giving up on it. 

Putting something on the shelf doesn’t have to be the end of it. All of those knitting projects I’ve started and haven’t finished? They’re still waiting for me. These manuscripts I haven’t pushed out as quickly as I would have liked? The research and the data is no less important. The time with my husband I haven’t spent? Well, actually I have. We just haven’t done all of the things we would normally do. We’ve had a much more low-key relationship recently and that’s okay too. 

Beautiful things take time, and sometimes you need to allow yourself time to create beauty. Other times, you need to suck it up, put your big girl/boy pants on and go after it because time keeps moving forward whether you’re working on your projects or not!

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Title: The Overdue Life of Amy Byler

Author: Kelly Harms 

Rating: 5/5 stars

Summary: Single mom of two adolescents, Amy Byler takes off to New York for a librarian conference just as her ex-husband, John, returns from Hong Kong to spend time with the kids. Amy eventually spends the summer in New York rather than her Pennsylvania home and her adventures (“Momspringa!”) are catalogued for us readers.

Best: I loved the way every chapter started with an entry from Cori’s (Ann’s daughter) summer reading journal. I appreciated the alternative insight, as well as the wise-beyond-her-years insight of an adolescent. It was truly my favorite part of the novel to listen to (when I was on audio) or read (when I was on my Kindle). 

Worst: I don’t really think there was a worst part to this novel. I felt like the story was well-developed and flowed easily. The only “complaint” I have is that I didn’t feel like every character was well-developed. Although they all appeared throughout the novel (with the exception of the blind dates), it felt like something was missing. For example, at no point before the last 5% or so of the book, the race of the female characters was revealed. It seemed out of place and somewhat unnecessary that late in the game. 

Favorite Quote: “Amish rumspringa ends with a big decision. Go home or never turn back. I’m not sure how your momspringa is any different.” This quote resonated with me because I feel like the novel was written in such a way (perhaps intentionally) that it didn’t seem like a big decision was really coming. Amy was just out having fun and was going to go back to her children and her job when it was time and that would be that. At this point in the novel, Amy finally realized how unrealistic that was and sprang into a frenzied, illogical form of action. 

Mocktail Mania

Being pregnant certainly puts a damper in all things drinking, so I’ve recently spent some time investigating the mocktail scene to keep live interesting. The best part is that it’s currently Dryuary (Dry January, No Alcohol January…) so that means recipes are easy to find right now! Mind you, this is never the attitude I took before. It’s my birthday, and as such Dry January has never appealed to me.

My favorite is this margarita recipe, I have yet to remember to salt the rim of my glass, which I’m sure will only enhance the experience!

  • 1/2 cup limeade
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water- lemon flavored
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water- lime flavored
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Ice

My second-favorite was  1 part cranberry juice, 2 parts orange juice, and 1 part ginger ale. The fizzy aspect is something I definitely find key to the experience! Also, we garnished this with an orange slice which makes it feel just a little more sophisticated :). After drinking quite a bit of these, we realized that really you could use any ratio of the three ingredients to your liking. I love it when things are versatile!

Do you have any non-alcoholic drink recipes that you swear by? Let me know in the comments!

Re-Read Your Favorite Book This Weekend

I have never regretted sitting down to re-read a book. The bonus is that I almost always read it faster the second time than I did the first time, i.e. I could read it in a weekend. Granted, I don’t read many books over 400 pages and almost none over 500 pages, so there is that inherent constraint. The bottom line is, regardless of how long it might take you, re-reading your favorite book is certain to bring you joy.

You can re-read your favorite book when you’re in either a good or a bad mood. It’s sure to make a good mood better and to turn a bad mood around. Plus, with the availability of ebooks and audiobooks, particularly via your local library or Amazon, you can have this book at your fingertips everywhere you go to maximize your reading time. 

One of the books I’ve re-read a few times is Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. I think the first time I read the book was around fourth grade, and I actually read it before Alice in Wonderland. Perhaps because I read it first, or perhaps because it is better, I’ve always loved it. Re-reading it takes me back to the simpler time of childhood which is completely unmatched. In fact, many (but certainly not all) of my favorite books are favorites because of the place I was in when I first read them, more-so than the book. Yet another reason re-reading books can bring you happiness. 

Drop a comment of your favorite book- whether a recent one or your earliest memory. I’d love to hear them!

(Featured Image: Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum Series #11, Eleven On Top)

Spend 10 Minutes Doing Something You Love

Many of us fall victim to getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and adulthood that we forget to take the time to get in touch with ourselves. There are so many “10 minute moments” in a day, but we very rarely use them to their fullest. Think about the number of times you take a quick break from life to scroll through social media, or to just sit and be alone. There’s nothing wrong with either of these things, but would something else make you even happier? 

I personally am so quick to grab my phone and check Instagram whenever I have a minute or two of downtime. Then that minute or two turns into many more minutes. But when I really think about it, I’d feel better if I took the time to stretch and mediate instead. These can even be done in as little as five minutes and leave me with a much greater sense of satisfaction than any Instagram binge can. You could also go for a walk, read or write a blog post, pick up a craft, clean the bathroom, phone a friend, anything that makes you legitimately feel better.

I’m interested to hear how you would choose to fill a pocket of time. Let me know in the comments!


How to Work When You Really Don’t Want To

It’s not a secret that I’m a little less than happy with my current job. I try really hard to only communicate highlights with people that I don’t really know, and also to just focus on the things that make it good in conversation. I recognize the power of positive thinking, and the influence of our thinking on our memories. Although my day to day may be really challenging, I also want to look back on this year and think “WOW”. So how do I work towards WOW?

Every day I walk into work thinking “today can be different.” I used to use the word “will”, but honestly the disappointment and frustration that that led to was more harmful than good. I try to start each work day with a positive attitude. I also make a to-do list of both long-term (rolling) and short-term (daily-ish) goals that will help me to leave feeling satisfied. Put simply, rather than focusing on the things I cannot control, I focus on what I can control.

Even though other people still make the day challenging, and even though I feel like I’m simultaneously doing too much and not enough, when I look back on the past few months I really am happy with what I’ve chosen to do. The things that make me smile are a wide variety of moments, but they’re so worth it.