Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Book Hive Book Club

Hello!  I thought I'd just write a quick post about a nice aspect of last year. I have been writing a longer blog post about all the books that I've been reading in January, but I've scheduled that to come out at the end of the month instead of putting each book in its own post.  What I thought I'd write about today is still reading related though... The Book Hive Book Club.
      Last spring, May maybe, I learned that a woman had an idea to share the love of reading in a unique book club.  She wrote this on their Facebook page:
The Book Hive Book Club is a unique opportunity that encourages members to share their love of reading with others across the United States. Essentially, each member is part of a 12-member team. Each member journals their thoughts in a notebook while reading a book and then mails the book and journal to the next member on their team at the end of the month. At the end of 12 months, each member's original book and thought-filled journal are mailed back to them." 

       All of the group names are Bee themed. I'm in W's group, so I assume I'm the 23rd group! I think we started in August? The members of my group are from MA, OK, PA, TX, NJ, MN, WA, CA and WV. I send to OK and receive from WV. So far it's been pretty cool. I've gotten to know some of the members of my group through their journals and through our private Facebook group. I've read a lot of books I may not have picked up on my own, like "Have You Seen Luis Velez" and "Meet Me in Monaco."  The book I chose for the group was "The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs."  I have 5 books left- 1 romance (not something I'd pick for sure, but I'll give it a chance.), 2 suspenseful fiction, 1 classic and 1 non-fiction. 
      I even bought a Book Hive shirt that they designed: Now you'll know what it is if you ever see me in it. It has generated some conversation.
      Yesterday I took part in a 6 hour readathon with members of all the Book Hive groups. Rarely have I given myself permission to just hang our for 6 hours and do nothing but read. It was glorious. David and the cats joined me for a while. We had online check-ins and it was nice to meet some new folks.
       I know a lot of my friends are readers. I've mentioned this club to my other book club and 2 members also joined. I recently met another person in town who is part of the club too. If you might be interested, check out The Book Hive Book Club on Facebook. If you'd like to join, PM the owner of the page. It has been different and interesting.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year!

     I was at Christmas this year and one of my sister-in-laws, Sarah, asked where I've been since my blog has been neglected for a long time. I laughed and told her that I haven't been updating because I think only 2 or 3 people actually look at my blog, but then I figured that if someone was asking about it, I should get back into being more disciplined about writing. Also, looking back on the blog, I'm seeing a ton of broken links with my pictures. I need to figure out why that is like that. New year, new start, right?
      So, there's a ton of news since I last wrote.  So, right after my last post, I got a call from my landlord to ask how my summer was going. In reality, he was calling to tell us that he sold the house our apartment was in. After some discussion, it became obvious that he had no idea what the new owner planned with the house and if we'd be able to stay. He didn't seem to care either. The good news is that we'd probably find out when they passed papers, 3 days after his phone call to us. Matt and I decided that we needed to take immediate action about the whole situation. The good news is that anybody who knows me well would know that I've been dreaming of being a home owner forever. Massachusetts is a pretty expensive state to live in so it seemed pretty unachievable to me- and it was until this year. We started looking for a house at the end of August and moved into our new home, in the same town we lived in before, on October 25th. 
      I've gotten dismally behind on my writing and reading (though reading had a huge increase over my Christmas break.) We're in good shape with being moved in and we love it here. It's so nice to live in a neighborhood, rather than surrounded by businesses. We've loved having friends and family come visit and hope to have many more visitors.

2020 Goals

      I was thinking of my goal setting over the past week and then realized I had lost track of my 2019 goals. I thought that I had written a blog post about it but, looking back, I think I was just so grateful to have survived 2018 that I didn't even care. I failed my Goodreads goal by a few books. I read 54 out of 60. I didn't do any reading challenges. I FINALLY BOUGHT A HOUSE! That's been on my goal list for about 20 years.  I also lost 20 pounds. 
      After some thought, these are my goals:

One Word- Some people like to choose a word to focus on for the year. I think I'd like my word to be "CONNECT" this year. I think I'm becoming a little more introverted in my old age (of 42), but I think I'm just sick of shallow. I want to establish better relationships and give myself freedom to walk away from people who seemingly suck the life out of me. Now, I know some of you are laughing and thinking, "Are you serious? You talk to so many people!" I'm okay with that. I like people. I like meeting new people and even sometimes being uncomfortable being surrounded by people that are really different from me. I just want to increase the quality of my relationships. In 2019 I made a few friends at the gym and in my book clubs. I took some risks and become closer to some families at the school where I work and even got to know some colleagues on a deeper level. I want more of this and now that we have a place I feel comfortable hosting, I'd like to connect more.  I have a few ideas on how to connect more. Some of these ideas I'm keeping to myself. One of my ideas is to host a monthly "thing" at my house and just inviting anyone who wants to come. I think January will be a game night. 

Letter writing- Letter writing is one of the nicest ways for me to connect with the world and my friends. I've actually started writing to all of my nieces and nephews last year and really enjoyed just sending them a little love through the mail. They all probably think I'm weird but I know at least 2 or 3 appreciated it. :)  Like the first year I did the blog, my goal is to send at least 1 piece of personal mail per day. That's 366 pieces of mail this year! I'll keep track of a lot of my incoming mail here on the blog so that will help me be disciplined.

Spiritual Goals- I tried to have a devotional with a friend once a week but it was inconsistent so I'm going to try to be more intentional with daily prayer and devotions. I'm keeping a prayer journal where I'm going to write down prayer requests and pray over them daily. I'm not a big "journal" person usual. I think this will help me to remember what friends and family have brought to me and helps me to be less selfish in my prayer life. It will also be great to read back and be reminded of God's faithfulness.  

Reading- I love crazy busy schedules, being surrounded by people and being mentally active. One of my problems is that I can sometimes be too mentally active. I need to unwind if I ever want a chance to sleep. Reading is one of my activities that give me peace. I have a few reading challenges I'd like to do.
       My Goodreads challenge is to read 60 books this year. I'll do it, especially since I failed this year. 
      I'll also be participating in the Keyword Reading Challenge. Every month of this challenge you need to read a book that has one of the keywords (or a variation of that word) in the title. I've done this challenge before when it was hosted by other people, but this year the original host, GirlXOXO is hosting. Thanks! I am looking forward to it! Here are the keywords this year. 
   There's one more challenge I'm kind of considering, but I might be going a little crazy.Ok, there are actually 2.  Maybe I'll update if I decide to do those too.

Physical- I've joined a gym and have been in the process of getting more healthy. Frankly, I have a ton of weight to lose- not literally, but sometimes it feels like it. So, to save you from passing out I'll spare you the amount of weight (just typed "weird" by accident but that fits too) that I'd like to lose, but it's quite a bit. Either way, even if the numbers are not as low as I'd like, I've lowered my blood sugar considerably, I'm stronger and I have more muscle. I'm committed to this gym until at least August so I'm already on the right track.  Feel free to leave me healthy recipes that actually taste like food :)

      Those are the main goals I've had. I was happy that this year made think a lot about what I can do to make myself a better person or to enjoy life a little more rather than feeling like I had to fix a lot of things that were wrong with myself.  

      Ok, I think that's it for tonight. Feel free to say hello or introduce yourself if you're dropping by for the first time. If you're in the Keyword Reading Challenge, feel free to share your blog so I can follow along with you too! Happy 2020!


Sunday, September 1, 2019

Latest cards from August 2019

Netherlands- I can only imagine what seeing this in person would be like. Beautiful. 
From Florida, but we have the exact same cards in MA with Cape Cod or some other coastal area written at the bottom. 

Germany- These little guys are on television commercials
Germany- Typical things from the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. 

I also received:
1) A card from Suomi, Finland, which is beautiful. The front showed a summer cottage on a lake while the sun was setting. The stamp was a beautiful cloud filled sky reflecting on a clear pond.

2) A hilarious card from Finland showing a comic strip about how Finns are often uncomfortable with small talk. 

3) A card from a homeschooling family in Ireland, but who are originally Dutch.

4) A card of Germany, sent by someone in Italy who seems to be on a US Military base. They said they had never heard of Postcrossing so I have no idea who they are or how they got my address. So, thanks if it was you! Morgan?

5) A German card with a quote and a flower. 

Sorry I don't have pictures of those ones. I'm in a hurry to finish before doing some housework so I just wanted to stop in. 

Today is September 1 and I'm loving the cooler nights!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Incoming postcards

     After InCoWriMo, Lettermo and Write_On, I got a little overwhelmed with my mail pile and let it sit for a while. I'm in a frantic race to reply to all mail by Monday, August 26th when I go back to school. 8 letters to go.  I'm going to do it. It is said "
     In order to get good mail, you need to send good mail." The other day, I was straightening up the desk where my computer is and I saw my pile of postcards to put away. I realized that, compared to the average person, I get a massive amount of personal mail. I send a lot too, but this pile made me happy. I thought I'd share with you some of the great postcards that I've received just this month. For anyone considering Postcrossing, this is where most of these Postcards came from. (I apologize if I posted a few of these before, I didn't want to scroll through all the posts to check since I don't have a lot of time tonight.)  It's so great to connect with people across the globe in a positive way.I've written where each card is from above the cards:


 Remember my vacation from last post? This is the famous "Three Churches" I was talking about. I bought myself this postcard as a souvenir.

 Czech Republic:



Hong Kong:

Luxembourg (And I understood most of the German without needing to look it up!):



 (The Portland card is from a #Write_on  pal.)

So, ask you can see, I get a great variety of cards.I have lots of other news to share, some good some not so good. Well, nothing bad,  just a little stressful. I am going to let myself get back to school before writing those posts.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Road Trip 2019- Canada

        Anyone who knows our family knows that we really love to travel and love a good road trip. This year the destination was New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. I have been doing a lot of genealogy research over this summer so I decided to try to get a few things done on vacation too.
      Our first day we traveled to Weldon, New Brunswick. According to records, my great-grandfather was born at Edgett's Landing and lived in Hillsborough, which is right next to Weldon.  We stayed in a comfortable AirBnb and saw some nice scenery on the way.

     Weldon is also near to Hopewell Cape, which is great since we couldn't get there when we visited Saint John in April. Of course we showed up at high tide, which I could've planned better. Hopewell Cape is on the Bay of Fundy, which has the largest tides in the world. The brown water is not exactly appealing, but the scenery is beautiful.

    Is there anybody reading who is interested in genealogy? If you don't do family history research, you may not know that genealogy is a black hole that sucks you in for hours (years) at a time. I have worked on my family tree for a long time. I have many branches that are super confusing and seem to be dead ends. I had a few successful moments on my trip.  My great-grandparents on my paternal grandmother's side moved from Canada. They were the Andersons and the McKinnons. (MacKinnon). Anytime I've connected with a McKinnon, they've talked about Scotch Settlement, which I figured was a town. It's not, it's a road. I found it... and the family cemetery. Ha! All my (dead) relatives couldn't hide from me here. 
My great-great grandparents 
The McKinnon homestead where I believe Absalom lived.
My 3rd great grandparents
     You're probably thinking (if you're not into genealogy), "Wow, you're weird. Hanging out at a cemetery on vacation?" We actually went to a few. :) And I joked about my dead relatives hiding... 2 did and I couldn't find them at the cemetery they're buried at. I did randomly find other relatives at that other cemetery though so it was still a win.
  Then we trekked over to Nova Scotia where we stayed in Mahone Bay. Here are some of the highlights because I could write A LOT about how much I loved Mahone Bay.I especially liked all of the people, and I met many. I will definitely want to return sometime. I didn't want to come home. 
     One of the images that come to mind when people mention Mahone Bay are "the three churches." The first 2 are pretty noticeable, but the third is kind of cut off in this picture. It's steeple is taken down and a tree was blocking most of the church so I was happy with this picture. Matt's family helped found this town and we did a lot of genealogy work here too. I sometimes buy a Christmas ornament from our vacations as a souvenir. I bought one from the Amos Pewter Company. It shows a boy sleeping with these 3 churches showing out his window.
      Ever see the show The Curse of Oak Island? The island is about 15 minutes away from where we stayed. They give tours on the weekend, but all of them are full for this year. They film on the island from Monday-Friday but we thought we'd stop by to look at the museum, which contains many of their finds. Imagine our surprise when we saw some of the cast, including Rick Lagina, hanging around outside. They invited all the people who were gawking at them to take a picture and they took time with each group of people that came over to chat. Rick Lagina was super nice and down to earth.

     When we went back to Mahone Bay, we took this picture outside a pub and I later learned that this is where the Oak Island guys usually film the restaurant scenes.
Beautiful flowers everywhere. These were at the place we were staying.
   An early morning letter writing session on our porch. I had a GIANT spider keeping me company. We tolerated one another.
    There was this awesome place named The Biscuit Eater. Oh man.... I loved this place. It combined delicious food, coffee, tea and BOOKS. Look at all of the great areas you can sit- and I didn't include one whole room or outside. I visited this place 3 times! on our trip. The first time the whole family went for lunch. The 2nd time David woke up, came downstairs and asked where everybody else was. When I told him everybody was still asleep, he suggested going to get  a "scone of the day." We did. This is when I took these pictures. The scone of the day was chocolate raspberry. It was so delicious that we stopped there a 3rd time before we left to take scones to go. That day the flavors were blueberry (pictured) and strawberry kiwi.
     Ironically, when we decided to go on this vacation, our plan was to center all of our activities around Lunenburg, which is a UNESCO World Heritage location. We went there twice but I was so in love with Mahone Bay that we barely explored this town.
      This summer I have intentionally stepped outside of my comfort zone to expand my horizons and grow as a person. This vacation, I met a distant relative that I had never met before. I actually went to the home of a stranger to have coffee and discuss our research? Remember the dead guys above? Check this out! My 2nd great grandfather is the guy in middle of the top row. His dad is sitting below him. I've never been a fan of facial hair, but these guys are cool. I took this picture outside, sorry for the glare. 
     We explored a park called The Ovens because of its sea caves. This isn't a great place if you don't like heights, but it's certainly beautiful. One of the girls who worked there said that they had seen whales who had come into the bay to feed a few days before we were there. 
 Panning for gold. He got a little bit.
     Our second to last day we traveled to Halifax. There was a buskers festival and this lady, Jenny Jupiter, was my favorite. I caught an adorable moment where a little girl who must've been about 4 told Jenny that her dress was pretty. Jenny made a few gestures and blew the little girl a kiss. Super cute.  I got this video from her website. I also really enjoyed a duet where the woman played the fiddle and the man played the guitar. If I'm friends with you on Facebook, there is a video of them there.
     We visited the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which had some artifacts from the Titanic. That was pretty cool but I had hoped the exhibit would be bigger. Lots of maritime exhibits of course. The boys found 2 voicepipes in the museum and enjoyed chatting across the long distances. Tim actually whipped out his phone and was using Google translate to communicate in French with a Canadian boy. 
    We spent the last day of our trip in Saint John. I stayed at a Hampton Inn with a waterslide. I love Hampton Inn and stay there a lot. I was not happy with this one. My room was dirty when we got there. There were damaged items in the bathroom (broken lock and a chunk of the shower tiling was broken) and the pool was SUPER chemical-y. They also charged me an optional tourism lien. When I asked them about it, they told me it was a tourism lien, but not that it was optional. It was disappointing.
     Back in April we visited Saint John and stayed right on the bay. We visited a restaurant called Gahan House and it was delicious.  When I planned to revisit Saint John, the idea to revisit this restaurant accompanied. We had a nice dinner. It was a great way to end our vacation. I had brown bag fish and chips, which I got last time too. I even ate my fries with gravy, very Canadian. Then Tim and I shared this dessert, which reminded me of eating chocolate frosting from the container. Much more appealing than I made it sound.
      There are many other things I enjoyed about this trip. If you want to hear more ask me about Curtis, the trombone player or Catherine from New Zealand.