Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Year of Books

It’s coming to the end of the year and I’m proud to say I made my goal of reading 12 books this year! The plan is to continue this goal next year, but to step it up to 15 books. Remember that Book Outlet haul I did? Yeah, I really need to make a dent in that and I may or may not have requested more books for Christmas…

I’ve broken down the list of books I’ve read this past year, starting from most to least favorite. Titles with * symbol indicates that it was a book club selection.

  1. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    This book was hands down my favorite read of the year and has definitely made it onto the list of my favorite books of all time. The story is captivating and original — about a nomadic group of actors who travel around putting on Shakespearean plays, but the story is so much more than that. It follows a cast of characters trying to survive after the collapse of modern civilization and how they try to hold onto the past while moving towards the future. There are so many layers to this book, but it all somehow seems to fit beautifully together. I can’t say enough good things about this book.
  2. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
    Landline ended up being an absolute surprise hit. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Rainbow Rowell and her writing, but had never picked anything up from her. I liked how the book is straightforward and easy to read, but at the same time Rainbow Rowell has a way of describing everyday life in a poetic and relatable way. This book was simply a joy to read.
  3. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
    This book was fun. I am a huge fan of stories that include magic or characters with extra ordinary abilities and this book hit the nail on the head. V.E. Schwab creates a great framework for one’s own imagination to fill in the blanks. I could imagine every scene clearly, like a movie in my head.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

MY THOUGHTS ON | starting a book club

My desire to start a book club stemmed from my goal to read 12 books this year. I’ve had this goal before and failed miserably, but this year I decided I was going to follow through.

I’ve never been apart of a book club, let alone ran one so I didn’t know what to expect. I invited all the girls at my office to join and surprisingly, everyone was interested!

I started by sending out a survey email requesting book suggestions and asking what everyones availability was for meeting times. I received some great feedback and the book club was off and running.

Reading Between the Wines (our official book club name) started with the book The Girl On the Train and a month later we met, potluck style, after work.

The first discussion was a little awkward because it was the first time most of us had participated in a book club and no one wanted to be the first to say anything, but after a few guided questions (or perhaps it was the wine?) people started to open up. This discussion ended up being the most successful so far in terms of the number of people who participated (10).

Saturday, August 8, 2015

HAUL | bookoutlet.com

I recently discovered bookoutlet.com and let's just say that I went a little crazy with the book buying. Some of the books are for book club (post coming soon, promise) and others I picked initially based on cover design and then plot summary.

I'm really happy so far with my experience with Book Outlet. I didn't spend more than $6 per book and as far as shipping goes, I received the books within seven days and in good condition. The cost for shipping is $3.99 for the first two books and $0.50 for each additional book in the U.S.

In the future I will be checking bookoutlet.com before Amazon, which is where I normally purchase my books because even with my Prime membership, I found some of the books I wanted on Book Outlet for less (including shipping costs).

Here are the books I purchased:
Note: the links above aren't necessarily the only option on the website. Some of the books come in hardcover, softcover, and scratch and dent (costs less) so I recommend searching the website for whichever version you prefer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

EAT | New Bohemia

This past weekend Kyle (the boyfriend and yes, he finally gets a name) and I went to New Bohemia, a locally owned and operated American craft beer hall. It was Kyle's second time there, my first, and definitely not our last.

We went to the Golden Valley location (they have another restaurant on Hennepin, in North East Minneapolis), which is in a old strip mall. I've driven past there before and didn't think much of it, but walking in I was pleasantly surprised by how nice it looked.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


I'm back from my trip to New Orleans! Well, technically I got back a couple weeks ago, but I've just recently got around to sorting through my photos. Here's how my trip went:

The main reason for my trip was actually to attend a wedding and it was probably the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended. The event took place at Southern Oaks Plantation, which is a gorgeous space, both inside and out. I snapped some photos of the front of the building (the couple was married on the steps, in front of the door) while everyone was inside celebrating. Unfortunately I didn't get really good shots of the inside, but it was a nice space that felt intimate without being small. In the backyard there is a pool and a barn with a couple white horses.

Of course we had to visit Café du Monde since it's such an iconic part of New Orleans and none of us had ever had a beignet before. We stood in line for probably around 45 minutes and I'm glad I got to try it, but I don't think I'd do it again. I really liked the texture of the beignet, but the overall flavor was fairly plain. The powdered sugar did add a slight sweetness, but mostly it made eating the beignet incredibly messy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I'm Bad

I can’t believe my last update was in 2013. Seriously, where has the time gone?

Here’s a small update on the last couple of years:
  • Remember that short sale the boyfriend and I were waiting on? We got it! We moved in October 2013 and have been fairly happy with it. I say fairly because we love the space, but we’re sharing walls. I’m sure some of you feel my pain.
  • On the career front I’m still working at the same company, but the company itself has grown quite a bit — more people and a nicer, brighter space. The best part of this change is getting to meet and work with some awesome people.
  • I have taken on significantly less freelance work, but have maintained the same client for the last couple of years. I haven’t decided whether or not I will look for additional clients; having nights and weekends free is really nice.

I’m sure there are many more events and moments that I’m forgetting, but let’s just move on to what has been going on as of late.
  • I’ve made a goal to read 12 books this year…sound familiar? Well, I’ve actually made some significant progress on this. I even started a book club at work! I’ll do a separate post on this topic.
  • I’ve been working on rebranding this blog. The name will stay the same, but I’m aiming for a more cohesive look and feel. However, progress has been slow.
  • Something I have coming up and am looking forward to is a trip to New Orleans. I’m going for a wedding, but have plenty of days to explore. I’m hoping to take plenty of photos, but mostly I plan on eating. A lot.

I think that’s pretty much it. Hopefully my next post isn’t in two years!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

REVIEW | Gingerhop

Back in July the boyfriend and I hit up Gingerhop, an "East Meets North East" restaurant located at 201 East Hennepin Avenue for the very first time.

Source: Gingerhop

Right when you enter, you get a nice view of the bar area. We opted to sit in the restaurant section, which is just to the right of the entrance. The place wasn't busy at all since it was 2:30 p.m. on a Sunday (our favorite time to eat out). The busiest part of the restaurant was actually outside, where they have some tables set up.

We each ordered a drink, I got the mojito and Kyle got the Left Hand Milk Stout. I definitely recommend the mojito, it was really refreshing and clean. Kyle enjoyed the Milk Stout as well (it's now one of his go to beers).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

UPDATE | July & August

It's September! Say, what?!

Did anyone else think that the summer just flew by? Here in Minnesota we already got a taste of fall weather, well fall temperatures anyway. I won't lie, I kind of loved it, but whoa did it come out of nowhere.

I've been thinking about blogging lately, but work has been crazy. I've been putting in 12+ hour days and finally got some vacation time last week, which I spent mostly playing Candy Crush. It's bad. I'm addicted.

Besides my game addiction, here's what I've been up to these last couple months:
  • Enjoying some much needed girl time, which consisted of trying out Pinterest recipes, admiring the gorgeous kitchen we got to cook in, lots of laughter and catching up on life (a post coming soonish).
  • I picked up some freelance work via Facebook, of all places. Someone I had attended college with was looking for a graphic designer to redesign her company's business cards and I got the gig. I completed the project within a couple of weeks and got paid right away. I wish all my freelance jobs went that smoothly!
  • I said goodbye to my half-sister at her graduation party. She's off to study nursing at a college up north in Duluth, Minnesota.
  • The Great Minnesota Sweat Together... I mean Get Together, but seriously though it was bad. I only lasted a couple hours in the heat and then I was done. It was way too hot to eat and definitely too hot to be around thousands of people. Maybe next year. Or maybe not.
  • My boyfriend and I have been sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from the bank about a short sale offer we put in on a townhouse back in April or May. We won't get a final answer until September 20. Wish us luck!
That's pretty much the highlights of the past couple months. Once things start to slow down at work I might actually start blogging again. It's just tough to stare at a computer screen for most of my waking hours. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

REVIEW | Sonora Grill

The boyfriend and I went to the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis the other weekend for lunch and although there are quite a few different restaurants to choose from, we ended up choosing one we were already familiar with — the Sonora Grill.

We first fell in love with the Sonora Grill at the Minnesota State Fair, where they were one of the featured restaurants at the Midtown Global Market food stand in the International Bazaar. Specializing in Spanish and South American cuisine, this restaurant seriously knocks it out of the park every time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

REVIEW | Conversation Pieces

Here's the thing, Pinterest can be an awesome place to gather inspiration but it can also be a very dangerous place...for one's bank account. Well, my bank account since I apparently have no self-control when it comes to shopping.

It all started with this top:

The bright pop of pink caught my eye and I clicked on the image just to see what the price was and much to my surprise it was listed at only $21! I ended up not actually purchasing this piece as I found some other pieces that I liked a little bit more.

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