Sunday Salon: Week 3 of My Happiness Project

sunday salonTime: // 12:46 p.m. – Saturday afternoon

The scene: // The sun is out and shining. If you didn’t already know it, you wouldn’t think it was fall. It feels more like summer, but for once, I don’t mind. My mood matches the weather. Tomorrow morning, as this post appears on my blog, I should be at a local park that has plenty of acres to explore or at the beach with the kids.

As with any goal, there has been some hits and misses with my ongoing happiness project as I de-clutter and try to manage my time better. Here’s what I learned in the past two weeks:

It doesn’t matter where you keep your to-do list as long as you check it throughout the day! I’m a post-it/back of a bill/index card-writing kind of girl. Before, I would put my to-do lists on any piece of paper near me. I would also use that same piece of paper for a bookmark and wonder why I couldn’t find it later. So I decided to write my to-do lists in my journal, thinking that if I kept it in the same place, I would be able to find it. I was able to find my list but I never checked it! Talk about frustrating. For days I forgot to check my list, if I even remembered to write my list down! I didn’t use my journal very often to start with, so it wasn’t the best place for my list.

Now I use my phone to keep up with my to-do list and add an alarm so I get beeped during the day to check on my progress. That helps a lot. While we’re talking about alarms…

A kitchen timer is one of the best things you can use to help you achieve your goals. Whether I’m putting on the timer for 15 minutes as I straighten up a room or for an hour as I work on homework or my blog, hearing the ticking of the timer keeps me focused. That’s something my phone’s alarm can’t do.

Cull. Rearrange. Repeat. In the past three weeks, I have given away books, bed sheets, clothes, and anything else I thought I can live without. My space still felt small, so I started rearranging things. What a relief. My living room and bedroom function a lot better and I don’t have to look at piles of things. What couldn’t fit is gone.

De-cluttering and time management will always be an ongoing process. I didn’t realize that at first. I figured that once you understand how to manage your day or keep your living space livable, you don’t have to worry about it again. Wrong. It’s a daily process.

Be patient with yourself. Over the past few weeks, I had to deal with stubborn and smelly carpet stains, migraines, car troubles, and other unexpected things. It doesn’t matter how packed your day is, things come up. And they usually happen when you least expect them to. I’ve gotten pretty frustrated before I realized that I need to take a deep breath and realize that’s life. It doesn’t matter how early I wake up or how late I stay awake, I’m not about to run myself ragged to do the unexpected along with everything else. Asking for help or waiting until another day to do some things helps keep me sane.
I plan on spending the next week focusing on my de-cluttering and time management routine. While I’m doing that, I’m also figuring out what November’s goals will be. With NaNoWriMo and so many other writing projects going on during that time, writing may be the thing I focus on.

So tell me, what have you been up to? Have you figured out what you are going to accomplish in November?

Sunday Salon: Week 1 of My Happiness Project

At the beginning of October, I decided to spend the month de-cluttering and focusing on managing my time better. I’m pretty tired of my days going by in a blur with little to show for it, but an ever-growing to-do list. So last week I decided to go through my days and write down my observations about my daily life before I put a plan into gear.

Time Management

There’s too much to do and I’m only one person! There’s a million things that I need to do every day. From homeschooling to cleaning the house, making dinner to taking care of my kids, there’s always something that needs my attention.

I try to multitask. That’s a fail right there. Multitasking is something that you feel the need to do even if you can’t always do it well. I find myself trying to look up something online for one kid while helping another one with their work, and doing a third thing. I know I’m not giving any one thing my undivided attention and often it shows.

Multitasking leads me to being distracted. My attention span seems to be getting shorter and shorter. It doesn’t help that I’m constantly running around with things to do and not enough time to do them. There’s 24 hours in a day and my son, Avram, often asks me if I wish there was more time.

Organization

I don’t have enough space. I live in a small two bedroom apartment, crammed with kids and books. I try to take advantage of every inch I have, but I’ve realized that I can scale down and cull our things, buy furniture to help make this space home, or just move. I’m at the point where every time I look around my place, I don’t feel peace. I see more tasks that I need to do.

I have too many things. I really don’t, but as I said above, I don’t have enough space. It makes what we own seem like too much though it’s not.

Our things are everywhere. As any bookworm knows, books never stay on shelves. They’re on nightstands, on the floor when you run out of shelf space, on the couch, and all over your desk. I can say the same thing about my pens and pencils, writing notebooks, Legos, and other objects.

Writing down what I observed this week was pretty eye opening. I’ve been having the same issues over and over again for years now and it’s time to change that.

Changes

Now that I understand some of my problems, it’s time to put a plan into place. Instead of lamenting about my small space, I’m going to work with what I have for now. I plan on culling things, organizing, and trying to give everything its own place. When it comes to time management, I’m going to cut things from my to-do list and cut out multitasking to see if it helps. We’ll see what happens.

What are you up to today? Do you have any time management or organization tips for me?

Sunday Salon: My plans for October

My daughter's vanilla birthday cake.

My daughter’s vanilla birthday cake.

Time: // 8:34 a.m.

The scene: // sitting in my living room with the kids, watching HellBoy 2. The kids and I decided to watch a scary movie every day in October. We missed two days but are planning to make them up. Next up is Super 8.

Yesterday, we celebrated my daughter’s thirteenth birthday with cake, ice cream, and Chinese food. There were several birthday parties going on in the neighborhood, so instead of hosting one more, we decided to go and enjoy everyone else’s. As a parent, I realize nothing makes you feel old like seeing your children get older.

Reading: // I seem to be on a non-fiction kick. Right now, I’m currently reading 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually WorksA True Story by Dan Harris. He’s one of the hosts of Good Morning America. I like his reporting style but didn’t know if I wanted to read a celebrity memoir. I figured if Harris learned something about being happier, maybe I should read the book. So far, I’m impress. Harris is very honest about how he was a chronic worrier, even when things were going well, and how being a war correspondent is like a drug.

Steve Harvey’s Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches is the author’s third self-help book. I’m about seventy pages in and I’m finding it inspiring.

A few months ago, Elizabeth of The Dirigible Plum recommended Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston. Once I finished reading her post, I bought a copy. Since then, the book has sat on my shelves unread. In Opening Minds, Johnston talks about the language adults use to help children become their best and get them out of a fixed mindset.

Planning: // a happiness project. Too often, it seems like there’s not enough time in the day. My days have started to blur together and it feels like I don’t have anything to show for it. I decided that I’ll spend October focusing on managing my time and de-cluttering my home. I plan on posting updates about my progress to help me stay focused.

So now I’m off to: // start my day. I have a house to clean, lessons to plan, and some jambalaya to cook.

What are your plans for October?

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8:42 a.m.

The scene: // my living room is a mess! As I sit at my desk typing this post, behind me my son has poured thousands of Lego pieces on the floor. I better remember to walk around with shoes on for the next few hours.

Reading: // Black Swan, White Raven, an anthology of fairy tale retellings collected by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. It’s a reread for me so I’m looking for a novel that will knock my socks off. Any recommendations?

Grateful for: // a lot of things. Last week was pretty hard to get through. Now, there’s a lot of change that I need to adjust to. I’m grateful that I’m not sad or upset but looking forward to the future.

Promoting: // Deb’s Week in Books post. If you’ve been going through reading slumps or blogging malaise, this is the post you should read.

Now I’m off to: // finish my cup of coffee and start correcting math books.

What are you up to today? What’s the last book that knocked your socks off? What are you grateful for?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8: 52 a.m. Sunday morning

The scene: // sitting in the living room, listening to my kids and sisters talk. Is it me or are teenagers kind of loud? It’s already 80 degrees, set to be 97, and I’m miserable. Can fall please come already?

Listening to: // the latest album by FKA Twigs entitled “LP1.” I don’t even know what genre to call this music but I love her voice.

Promoting: // if you didn’t know, today is the first day of Aarti’s A Diverse Universe event, which goes on until the 27th of this month. You can find her link-up post here.

Reading: // for the past week or so, my reading has been going . . . surprisingly well. After being in and out of reading slumps for months, I’ve actually finished a couple of books. I want to keep the momentum going so I pulled a few books off my shelves to read this three-day weekend.

Kara Cooney’s fictional biography, The Woman Who Would Be King, started off pretty good, but I’m putting it down for now. I call the book a fictional biography because its subject, Hatsheput, lived thousands of years ago as a pharaoh in Ancient Egypt. There’s little evidence of Hatsheput’s personal life, so Cooney uses her experience as an archaeologist to fill in the blanks, which she admits to doing. Readers will find life during ancient times fascinating but Cooney’s input kept taking me out of the story.

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is book of verse about the author’s childhood. I’m only a few poems in but so far, so good. I wish I could get the cover as a poster. I would definitely put it on my walls.

I recently added Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado to my tbr list after reading the essay she wrote last year about being poor. I was lucky enough to get an ARC from the publisher. I can’t wait to start reading it.

Looking forward to: // going to the library today. The local libraries were hit hard with budget cuts about a decade ago, which left them open only five days a week. Recently, the original budget was restored, so the library is now open seven days a week. I have fond memories of going to the library on Sundays, and I can’t wait to make new memories. It’s funny how simple things can make you happy.

So: // what are you looking forward to today?

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

sunday salon

Happy Sunday! Instead of telling you what I’m up to, I decided to do something different. A Diverse Universe event is coming up and I thought I’ll write a list post for anyone who’s thinking about joining the event and don’t know what to read.

Bloggers like Aarti and Nymeth have eloquently written about why more people should read diversely. I’m not going to do it. I’ve realized that exploring works of art based on an author’s race means being open to something different. And either you are open to that or you’re not. Readers love the adventures that books can take them on, like new worlds light-years away or a dystopian version of the world they live in. Looking at race can be a different and harder thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s an ongoing process, one that means making a decision book by book. It doesn’t mean suddenly changing the way you read overall. I, myself, have been guilty of not reading many books by people of color over the years. Or, I’ll read them but don’t review them. This year has been fantastic with books by people of color dominating my reviews, but I still have work to do.

Some critics have stated that by purposely choosing to read a book written by a person of color, you’re excluding whites. Well, that’s true. When you’re in the mood to read science fiction or fantasy that means excluding all writers who don’t write in that genre. Race isn’t any different. Nor is it any different when choosing to read books that won certain awards or set in different countries or translated from other languages. I hope everyone who reads this post makes a decision to pick up a book by a person of color. Like I stated earlier, that choice is up to you.

The books on my list were all published this year. I decided to give newly released books more bookish love than those that were published in previous years. By buying, borrowing, or reviewing new releases shows the gatekeepers that books by people of color are desired by readers.

Note: Most of the links to the titles below will take you to Goodreads. Several will take you to my reviews or the reviews of other bloggers.

Looking for a short read?

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I don’t read short stories often enough though I love them. The great thing about them is that you can often find amazing ones online via Tor and other online publications.

Novels

Diverse Collage 1

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Diverse Collage 3

 

diverse Collage 4

 

Diverse Collage 5

Nonfiction

Diverse Collage 6

 

Have you read any of these books? What newly released books would you recommend?

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:14 p.m. Saturday afternoon. You guys, we have to stop meeting like this! It’s becoming a bad habit that I’m only posting on Sundays. Luckily, I have a few book read and I plan on spending some of this weekend writing reviews.

The scene: // sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the fan directly on me. It is hot outside, just a little over 80 degrees but it’s Cali. (That means I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat.) Half the kids are at a neighbor’s birthday party while the other half is munching on hot wings and macaroni and cheese. Kids.

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Reading: // Nothing right now. I’m supposed to start read-alouds with the kids. With Piper it’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s a re-read for me but her first time. Oliver and I are going to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is Avram’s book. I plan on spending part of this week catching up with the kids.

Listening to: // The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan on audio. I can count that as reading. I’m trying to get the kids to try new formats and genres of reading this year. The first book of the 39 Clues series is fantastic. Every time I’ve listened to it (three or four times so far,) I’ve been glued to it.

Thankful for: // the first week of homeschooling being over. The bad: my youngest’s perfectionism reared its ugly head. The good: the kids’ microscope and slides for biology and life science are coming. One of the best things about homeschooling through a charter school is that the kids can take advantage of so many opportunities like cooking school and are able to get their hands on materials they wouldn’t have been able to in our local public schools.

Now I’m off to: // read and relax.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:32 a.m. Sunday (Insomnia is no joke.)

Listening to: // “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. What a fun song about plus-size women! Have you heard it?

Reading: // I’m still reading The Canon by Natalie Angier. I’m liking it a lot but I do notice that Angier tries to show off her science knowledge in a way that can be distracting. I’m hoping to finish it in a few days. For some reason, I’m not really in the mood to read fiction right now.

This week: // is the last week of summer before we start back homeschooling. Is it possible to cram in everything I want to do in seven days?! Oliver, my oldest son, has his 11th birthday tomorrow, which means he’s having a cakepops party and food will be all over the kitchen as the kids make their own. With his new bike, I’m sure we’ll spend most of the day outside.

Thanks to my reading mojo vanishing for much of the summer, I didn’t get to half of the books on my summer reading list (or any) but that’s okay. I can read them over the year and it’s a small stack anyway.

I need to spend the next week cramming in time at the beach, reading, lesson planning, and just relaxing. We’ll see if I can get it all done.

Promoting: Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood on audio. I keep saying that I’m going to listen to this and haven’t yet.

Buried in Print’s post on This One Summer by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. B.I.P., Candace (BethFishReads), and my daughter have all enjoyed this book. What am I waiting for?

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee and curl up with The Canon.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 7:14 am

The scene: // with the exception of the fan going, the house is pretty quiet. Almost everyone is still asleep and the air is so cool since it rained last night. I hope it continues today.

Drinking: // coffee because no one is crazy enough to want me to go without it.

July: // wasn’t the best month. I spent most of in a blah type of mood, where I didn’t get much read or done. I finished seven books, three of which were picture books and one was a graphic novel. In terms of quality, six out of the seven I would definitely recommend.

PicMonkey Collage

August: // holds a lot of promise. Hopefully. We start back homeschooling in two weeks. Until then, I’m getting lessons and materials together. The thing I really love about homeschooling through a charter school is all the materials and things the kids can do that they weren’t able to do in public school.

Looking forward to: // reading and reviewing more this month. Ruby by Cynthia Bond is a hard book to review. I’m trying to balance the summary without giving too much away. It’s a book more people should read.

I also plan on finally joining Trish’s Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge with my kids. We have lots of recipes just lying around, so I plan on making a recipe scrapbook to help us get started.

So what are you up to today? Have you read any good books?

Monday Salon. . .again

Time: // I originally started writing this post around 8:30 Sunday night as I waited for my son’s x-rays to come back. He was playing soccer and miss the ball and kicked the concrete wall outside instead. Ouch!

The scene: // It’s now 6:55 am Monday morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying my coffee. With the exception of my daughter Piper’s chattering, it’s mostly quiet.

ruby
Reading: // I’m actually reading again! It’s like the world is more beautiful now! On a whim, I downloaded two graphic novels from NetGalley on Saturday and devoured both of them within hours. Now I’m reading Cynthia Bond’s Ruby. From what I’ve read about it, I’m sure it’s a devastating read. You know, the kind of read that breaks your heart with its characters’ lives and beautiful writing.

high summer rat

Promoting: // Michelle’s High Summer Read-a-thon which starts today and ends this Sunday. I’m joining the event in hopes of keeping my reading streak going. I have no idea what I’m going to read after Ruby and that’s okay. I’m going to go where my mood takes me.

Aarti is bringing back A More Diverse Universe event for the third year in a row. In the past, the event highlight speculative fiction by writers of color. This time around Aarti is expanding the event’s reach by highlighting books of all genres by writers of color. A More Diverse Universe is going on the last two weeks of September, so there’s plenty of time to sign up, help out, and figure out what to read for the event. You can find more information on Aarti’s blog.

Now I’m off to: // read.

What have you been up to lately? Read any good books?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 9:20 a.m.

The scene: // Sitting in bed as the sun shines through my window. The fan is on, my cup of coffee is on my nightstand, and I feel so good.

Reading: // a bunch of teaching books before we start back homeschooling the middle of next month. For some reason, it’s been hard for me to settle down with a book. The weather is pretty mild right now but I have almost no desire to read. I’m thinking about returning all of my library loot unread and just waiting this mood out.

Promoting: // I may not be reading too many books right now but I’ve read several interesting online articles this week. Penelope Trunk wrote a fantastic post this week called “Leaving Your Options Open Sets You Back”. Y’all, I am the queen of leaving my options open. I thought it was smart but over the past year or so, I’ve been kicking myself in the ass big time. My problem is every option looks GOOD. This is why I’ve changed majors a million times: Anthropology English Psychology Anthropology and why so many occupations sound right up my alley.

So anyway, Trunk writes about how it’s important to stop trying to multitask since it’s foolish and start taking action. She writes every day and says that the only way she can get it done is to give herself no choice in the matter.

“You might tell me that I do have a choice. When we have a choice to not do something big, we don’t do it. Each of us has a challenge to find something big that we want and then convince ourselves there is no option but action. Focused action does not include hedging our bets with something else. Because hedging your bets is like multitasking: everything degrades. And taking action toward a goal we’re committed to is like splashing cold water on your face: it’s difficult and jarring but you feel power to do anything in that moment.”

Go read the post.

Now I’m off to: // go back to bed.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 7: 28 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk as the family sleeps. With summer here, the kids are staying up late and sleeping in pretty much every morning. I’m loving it. I can enjoy my coffee in peace without anyone wanting to talk about Legos or trying to plan my day.

What’s happening: // I haven’t been in the mood to blog for ages now. It still amazes me how hard it is to try to blog again after taking so much time off. I’m going to try though one post at a time. . .

Finished reading: // The Bees by Laline Paull. The author made bees so fascinating! Now I want to read a few interviews with the author to see how this story came about. I’m so curious.

For some reason: // I always have a problem figuring out what’s going to be my next read. I think it has to do with having too many books to choose from. Has that ever happened to you? I have library books, my own tbr pile, and advance reading copies to choose from.

Hating: // the weather. Yes, I’m complaining. Can I get the cool kind of summer? You know, mostly in the mid-70s? It’s 7 a.m. and it’s already hot!

Loving: // how carefree my summer has been so far.

Now I’m off to: // relax.

What have you been up to so far this summer? Have you read The Bees? How do you choose your next read when you don’t have deadlines to think about?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:14 am – Sunday morning

Place: // the usual: at my desk with a cup of coffee.

What’s happening: // Now that my sisters’ graduation is behind us along with Avram’s birthday, I can finally relax!

Just finished reading: // the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle quartet: The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. I finished both books in the past three days. That says a lot since I rarely read young adult books. The next book comes out in October and I’m looking forward to it.

Up Next: // I have no idea. Maybe Brando Skyhorse’s Take This Man, a memoir about the author’s childhood with his mother, grandmother, and the five stepfathers he had. I read Skyhorse’s previous book, The Madonnas of Echo Park and loved it so much.

Loving: // 100 Happy Days meme. I saw a few people via Facebook participating in the meme and decided to join. I love finding a moment that captures my day.

PicMonkey Collage happydays1

Thankful for: // everything. I’m really enjoying the time I’m spending with my kids and these lazy summer days.

Not thankful for: // various neighbors. I wish they would move but I’ll move instead.

You guys should read: // Jill’s review of Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty, a children’s book. I haven’t read this yet but I’m sure I’m going to start crying once I do.

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon – Busy, busy, busy

Time: // 6:31 a.m. – Good morning.

Drinking: // coffee. Have you guys tried the Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut coffee? It’s heaven.

The scene: // Sitting at my desk after watching the first episode in the second season of Orange is the New Black. I don’t watch a lot of shows but I really enjoy this one. I’m trying to space the episodes out so that I can enjoy the show longer, but I already know after writing this post, I’m going to watch the next episode.

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Currently reading: // My Real Children by Jo Walton. It’s about an elderly woman who remembers living two lives – one in which she says no to marrying a boyfriend as a young woman and another life in which she says yes. Readers experience both possibilities and the consequences. I’ve read some reviews that compare it to Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life but an overwhelming majority prefers this book instead. This is my first book by the author and I’m pretty impressed.

Up Next: // The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. This book came at the perfect time last week. The kids and I were doing a unit on Ancient Egypt and learned a little about Hatshepsut. I’m so excited to read this.

Blogging: // about nothing much but I will start back with reviews this week.

Anticipating: // how busy this week is going to be. My sisters are graduating from eighth grade on Thursday, which means I need to do some last minute shopping for dresses, take them to get manicures, and do their hair. My youngest, Avram, is turning nine on Tuesday so I need to do some Lego shopping. Plus, I want to see Maleficent today with the boyfriend.

Now I’m off too: // watch Orange is the New Black before I have to start my day.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

 

Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk, waiting for the donuts to finish rising. I have about 45 minutes left before I can start frying them. Most of the kids are asleep and I’m enjoying the silence.

Listening to: // Melody Gardot’s album, My One and Only Thrill. It’s jazz and her voice is so beautiful. Take a listen:

This week: // Bout of Books was a fail. Well, not really. I did manage to finish and review, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I’ve started reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok. I’m really enjoying it and will try to finish it today.

Grateful for: // the fact that I start work tomorrow. It’s a warehouse job through a temp agency but it’s a start. I was looking for a job that I can work late afternoons or nights so I can still homeschool during the day and be around the kids. I’m glad I found one with compatible hours.

Appreciating: // my extended family. My cousin recently passed and Friday was his funeral. There was so many people there and we laughed and cried over my cousin’s antics. He was one of the most giving and friendly people you could ever meet. Going to his funeral was sad but it didn’t end that way. I was so happy to see my family and will keep in touch.

Writing down: // my summer bucket list. I saw a post on How Sweet It Is and within minutes came up with a ton of things for me and the kids to do this summer, which includes making watermelon gazpacho. Have you ever made a summer bucket list?

Now I’m off to: // fry some donuts.

What are you doing today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonAnother read-a-thon has come and gone. I didn’t try to read for the full 24 hours, so I don’t have a reading hangover. I did pretty well, as I read and finished Cress by Marissa Meyer, a chunkster, yesterday. My daughter finished two books and my son finished a comic. We ate, relaxed, and really enjoyed ourselves yesterday. I’m thankful to Ana for reminding me what the read-a-thon is all about with her post about Dewey. Thanks also go to Heather and Andi for pulling off another fantastic event.

Now that the read-a-thon is over, it’s time for me to start writing reviews. I have about five books to review including a few DNFs. I plan on spending the next few hours writing reviews, reading, and nursing my migraine.

What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Salon on a Monday

Time: // 7:12 pm

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, typing this. Spring break for my sisters and I have started. I still have homeschooling but since spraining my neck (didn’t know that was possible) earlier last week, I’m going to be lying down a lot.

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Just finished reading: // An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Shannon and I were discussing it a little via Goodreads. I recommend it to Aarti, Ana, Jill, and Jenny.

Now I’m continuing: // a few books I started earlier last week like A Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean (nonfiction) and Cress by Marissa Meyer. I like I’m going to DNF Delancey by Molly Wizenberg for now. It’s an okay book but I’m not pulled in to the writing.

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Next up: // Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Someone (who?) reviewed this book a few months ago and I had to pick it up.

Promoting: // Though I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, I’m still reading everyone’s posts. On the Read-a-thon blog, Andi wrote why Dewey’s read-a-thon is a lot like a choose your own adventure book.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride was recently nominated for a few awards. Heather at Between the Covers recently wrote a review about the book as hard to read but still impressive.

Now I’m off to: // start my day.

What have you been up? What are you reading?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:50 am

The scene: // Writing this from my desk. I’m in the middle of a mess since I’m decluttering my desk, bedroom, and living room. I want to move this summer so the more things I get rid of, the less things I have to pack.

Drinking: // coffee. I’m going to need as much as I can to get through all of this.

Just finished: // Why Don’t Students Like School?, The Bloody Chamber (reread), and a few children’s books

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Currently reading: // Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit by Dane Hucklebridge. I’m a few chapters into the book and already I wish that the author was more concise with his writing. I may just put the book down and read something else.

I’m also reading Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. It’s the story of the author and her husband starting a restaurant after being married for a short time. I’ve been baking up a storm lately so I’m reading Delancey at the right time. I haven’t made macarons yet but give me time.

Loving: // that today’s Sunday. I dread Mondays with a passion especially since I have to be out of the house early Monday morning for class. Today I plan on finishing up my decluttering mess, read some more, and work on my resumѐ.

Hating: // that my phone isn’t working. It’s basically a clock and music player right now. If it’s not this, it would be something else. . .

Anticipating: // summer break for me! When we had summer break a few weeks ago, it was for the kids. Next week, I get my break from school and I can’t wait.

Now I’m: // off. Breakfast won’t make itself.

What are you up to today?

 

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:28 am

The scene: // at my kitchen table, nursing a cold cup of coffee. After going to a late showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night, I’ve had very little sleep.

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For two weeks: // I was unable to finish a book. I would start a book, only to put it down after a few pages. Life has been chaotic and hard lately. There are so many changes coming and I’m trying to brace myself. Yesterday, I needed something fairytale like and found it with Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, a modern-day retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale. It was just what I needed. I finished the book in one day. Review coming soon (hopefully).

For homeschooling, I’m reading Love that Dog by Sharon Creech with my youngest. I’m also diving into A Wrinkle in Time with my middle son.

Celebrating: //my blogiversary! I’ve been blogging for seven years now. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I may celebrate with a giveaway in a week or so.

Wishing: // I could stop time. I have so much to do today including homework, washing clothes, and a million other things. I need my weekend to be a little bit longer.

Promoting: // Jill’s (Rhapsody in Books) review of Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Jill heard about Annihilation via Facebook, one of the few online places that I don’t see many book recommendations. What about you, do you get book recommendations on Facebook?

Now I’m off to: // start on my to-do list.

What are you up to this Sunday?

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:08 am

The scene: // sitting in my living room, relaxing. It has been a long morning as I’ve been up since 4 am. I went for a sunrise stroll on the beach, ate breakfast at a local diner, and now I’m ready to go back to bed!

Currently reading: // Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham. I started this book last month but finally found the time to read it earlier this week. I’m only a few chapters in but this book is stuffed with information.

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I needed some fiction to read, so I started reading Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile.

Completing: // the last day of Bloggiesta. I’m more than halfway through with my to-do list. Now I just need to brainstorm some ideas for future posts.

Celebrating: // the fact that the Excel portion of my computer class is over with! Now my class will try to conquer Microsoft Access.

Thinking about: // two posts with similar ideas. Yesterday Shannon (River City Reading) shared what she read in March and how she hasn’t read any books that blows her “out of the water”. Andi (Estella’s Revenge) write a similar post this morning.

I had to check my own Goodreads account and see how many 5-star books I’ve read for this year. The number: 3. That’s not surprising. I’ve read some pretty good reads but not many amazing ones. Hmmm.

Sleep: // is calling my name so I’m off.

What was the last 5-star book that you’ve read?

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 6:52 a.m. Sunday

The scene: // sitting at my desk in the living room. The coffee pot is perking and the kids are asleep!! Yes! Spring break started for the kids yesterday and I’m have a four-day weekend filled with Excel sheets to create, a midterm to do, and books to read and review.

Eating and drinking: // coffee! We’re having waffles for breakfast.

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Currently reading: // The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith and Mr. Loverman by Bernandine Evaristo. I’m hoping to finish both within the next day or so.

Up next: // All the Bird, Singing by Evie Wyld and a host of children’s books

Blogging about: // a poem by e.e. cummings and a foodie memoir

Promoting: // as usual, bloggers all over the blogisphere are adding books to my tbr list

 Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Jenny’s (Jenny’s Books/Reading the End) review of Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

Aarti’s (Booklust) review of Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The quotes that Lu (Reading Rumination) shared with readers make me want to read While Beauty Slept soon.

Last but not least, Laurie’s (Bay State Reader’s Advisory) thoughts on The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman had me rushing to my library’s website to put the book on hold.

Thankful for: // this nice spring weather we’re having. I’m a winter person but I can’t help but enjoy all the sunshine.

Now I’m off to: // get started on those Excel sheets.

How are you spending your day?

 

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8: 00 a.m. Damn Daylight Savings time. I’m exhausted. At least I have some coffee.

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, most of the kids are asleep. The sun is shining and there are some awesome clouds in the sky.

Listening to: // “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Thanks to Bryan for the suggestion. Thanks to everyone for their music suggestions last week.

Listing: // my Memoir March list of books. I finally figured out what I’m going to read this month.

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  • Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend by Bill Russell – audio
  • Around the House and In the Garden by Dominique Browning
  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – (Maybe I’ll finally get to this one)
  • Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge
  • The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (recommended by Olduvai)
  • The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
  • L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

I tried to pick some diverse reads, ranging from format (Woman Rebel and Maus are graphic novels) to experience.  I’m currently reading L.A. Son, a foodie memoir, and Out of the Woods. I’m really enjoying both of them.

Blogging about: // everything! I had one of those rare urges to write my ass off this week. I wrote graphic novels reviews, a review of The Perfect Score by Debbie Steir, and a wrap-up of my February reading.

Promoting: // Andi’s Book Nook guest post over on Relentless Reader. Since rearranging my apartment, I no longer have a book nook but it’s nice to look at everyone else’s.

Also promoting: // When the Universe Ain’t Talking by QuinnCreative. I’ve been in a rut for a while now and this post came at a perfect time.  It’s about when you have to wait for an answer from the Universe and you just.can’t.wait.

You should also read: // Buried in Print’s Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.

Now I’m off to: // relax a bit before I spend the day doing homework.

What are you up to today? Any suggestions on how to get out of a rut?

Sunday Salon: Thank God for this Three-Day Weekend

sunday salon

Time: // 7: 30 a.m.

The scene: // at my kitchen table, drinking coffee. The kids are watching TV in the living room and playing with the Nook.

Listening to: // Spotify’s Jazzy Romance playlist.

Reading: // everything! Earlier this week, I checked out a ton of books from the library: non-fiction, graphic novels, and children’s books.  Thanks to our lovely three-day weekend, I’m trying to read as much as possible. So far, I read six children’s books and four graphic novels. I plan on reading a few more graphic novels and maybe unreading two non-fiction books that are due back at the library this week. Anyone care to join me for Comics Sunday?

Thinking about: // next month’s reading theme. This month was graphic novels and I ended up reading a lot of books from the library instead of my own stack. It’s been pretty fun though. I think next month’s theme for me will have something to do with tackling my tbr mountain. I also realized that I’ve been neglecting my Project Fill-in-the-Gaps list, so I may focus on my list next month but only the books I own.

Blogging about: // love, what else? I shared a poem on Valentine’s Day from Naomi Shihab Nye called “San Antonio”.

Hating: // vertigo. I’m so dizzy right now. Hopefully, it’ll go away soon.

Loving: // Lettermo. There’s two weeks left in the month and I plan on sending out a dozen or so letters. On Friday, I wrote a letter that was about five pages long to my little brother. I’m sure he’s going to be surprised.

Thankful for: // my family. I love those guys.

Now I’m off to:// make waffles. I hope you all enjoy your Sunday.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:02 p.m. Saturday night

The scene: // hanging out in my living room with the heater on and some pretty tulips on my table

4959061Currently Reading: // so many books right now. I think I’ll spend the next week trying to get through most of them. I set aside The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield to pick up Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham. Willingham is a psychologist who writes about how our minds work and how our theories about thinking can help or hinder kids in school. It’s really interesting.  I’m also rereading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with one of my sons. Bryan read the series a few weeks ago and it made me want to read the first book again.

Setting aside last Sunday to dive into graphic novels felt great. I may have to do that every Sunday in February. Last Sunday I read Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault along with A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown, and Aphrodite by George O’Connor.

Blogging about: // nothing. I haven’t had the time to write a post. Maybe I’ll review the books I mentioned above.

Promoting: // a few fantastic posts I read this week. M over at Buried in Print wrote about kidlit especially the books she read as a child and current children’s books.

Jenny (Reading the End) wrote another Stuff to Worry About Post about the plague that’s currently affecting starfish. It’s fascinating and pretty sad.

Bryan (Still Unfinished) wrote about his progress on his 2014 goals. It made me remember that not only have I lost my list of resolutions, I don’t remember what they are! At least I remember my word for this year: Leap.

As much as I like bookish posts, I love posts about happiness and gratitude even more. Iliana (Bookgirl) recently wrote about the things that make her happy. It doesn’t take much to make most people happy.

Last but not least is the latest issue of Bloggers Recommend which you can find here. The issue is the best looking one to date. It includes author interviews, excerpts of upcoming releases, and of course book blurbs.

Now I’m off to: // do homeworking, lesson planning, and of course make some waffles.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:29 am

The scene: // At my desk with my first cup of coffee, while listening to Gregory Porter’s album,  Be Good.

What’s going on:// I’m anticipating the chaos of this week. Today, I have to submit the kids’ grades to their charter school. When I decide to homeschool my kids (ages 8, 10, and 12), I didn’t think of grades (and still don’t really). Instead, I try to help the kids master the subjects they’re taking without the pressure of getting top grades. I need to finish up since today’s the deadline.

In case you missed my last post, February is Graphic Novels Month. There’s so many people participating and everyone’s welcome. I already finished my first comic: Aphrodite by George O’Connor. I hope I get through my stack this month, but there’s always March. The twitter hashtag is #comicsfebruary.

Between homeschooling and reading graphic novels, I have school myself. The first day of the spring semester starts tomorrow. Luckily one of my class websites opened up yesterday, so I’ve gotten a head start on this week’s homework and studying.

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Today’s plans: // include missing the Super Bowl to do some studying and reading for pleasure. Lu and I decided to have a mini comics readathon today. My stack includes A Matter of Time by Jeffrey Brown and Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt.

I’m not just reading comics this month so Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon is in today’s stack. Its subtitle: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements tells it all. A plus for this book is that it’s so readable. I wasn’t sure if a book about chemistry would be.

Now I’m off to: // make waffles, sausages, and eggs for breakfast. What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon: 2014 as The Year of Tackling My TBR Mountain

sunday salonWhen I look back at all the books I’ve read this year, I realize that only a handful were books of my own. Now that’s disappointing since I have so many unread books. Every year I say this but I mean it this year; it’s time for me to focus on my tbr pile.

Like many readers, my tbr pile is not a pile but more of a mountain, spanning across genres and years, collecting dust as I read books from the library and publishers. Granted, my stack has gotten smaller as I’ve given away hundreds of books (200+) this year, but there are still so many books unread.

I’ve started to realize that this quest to tackle my tbr mountain is a never-ending one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. How many readers among us have read every single book on their shelves?  When I’m constantly ignoring the books I’ve spent money on, it’s a problem.

I’m declaring 2014 as The Year of the Tbr Mountain. I have over 600 books and probably 60-75% of these books are unread. Some are of these books are classics like The Iliad, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Others are modern favorites like Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine and The Namesake by Jhumpi Lahiri. When am I ever going to get to these rich and seemingly deserving titles if I don’t make an effort to?

Some of you might be wondering what’s the big deal. Why not read whatever I want? I do and I still will but I’ve been feeling some guilt over the years about these books collecting dust. What usually happens is that time passes: months and years go by and I’ve forgotten why I was so excited to read these books. I end up giving them away to my local library or thrift store.

No more. With a few exceptions, I’m no longer accepting review copies. I still have a few arcs left that I plan on reading and reviewing at the beginning of the year along with a stack of library books that are too interesting to give back unread.

I’m excited about this goal and I’ve already started. If I can read at least one book from my shelf every week, I’m happy. Wish me luck.

What are your reading goals for 2014? 

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 6:33 a.m.

The place: // my living room. The heater is going and for the most part, it’s quiet.

Eating: // nothing yet.

Drinking: // I plan on starting on my first cup of coffee in a minute 

Reading: // I’m in the middle of four books right now: a collection of poetry called Chasing Utopia by Nikki Giovanni, Why Teach? by Mark Edmundson (essays), This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (essays), and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for the read-along. The nice thing about dipping in and out of the nonfiction books is that I can’t lose my place. I can read an essay by Patchett on writing, read another essay by Edmundson on teacher evaluations, and go back and forth without having to remember a plot or character’s name. We’ll see what happens once I get deep into The Goldfinch.

Blogging: // I’m pretty proud of myself for blogging a few times this week. I shared:

I’m thinking about: // my resolutions for 2014, reading and otherwise. I’m still working on my list, but I think I’m going to start working on my resolutions now instead of waiting for the new year to arrive. The kids are out on Christmas break so I can focus on the things that I want to change or get done. I plan on sharing my list sometime this week.

Now I’m off to: // read and enjoy my cup of coffee. What have you been reading/writing/listening to this week?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:04 p.m. – Saturday

Place: // my living room, looking at my Christmas tree. I wish I could take a decent picture of it to show you all. It’s white with bulbs that are dark purple, dark blue, and periwinkle.

Listening to: // Christmas music

Eating:// just finished oxtails and rice. Yum!

Drinking: // what else? A cup of coffee.

Currently reading: // My reading is going slowly. I just started Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and continuing The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.

Up Next: // Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo.

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Promoting: // sign-ups for The Chunkster Challenge. I’m the new host and have made some changes to the rules of the challenge. E-books and audio books are now acceptable. I hope you all think about signing up.

Avoiding but really need to: // write some reviews.

Watching: // Iron Man 3. After that, it’s on to Sweet November with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron and then the latest Sherlock Holmes movie. Robert Downing Jr. can do no wrong in my book.

Now I’m off to: // read and enjoy the rest of my night.

What are you up to?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 4:40 p.m. Saturday

The scene: // my living room

Eating: // saltine crackers while waiting for my chili to warm up.

Listening to: // Marsha Ambrosius

Celebrating: // the fact that Thanksgiving break is here! It actually started last Wednesday. I am so happy. Now I can dive into all the books I’ve been ignoring.

gaiman milkSo far I’ve read: //

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Chew Vol. 6 Space Cakes by John Layman

You and Your Anxious Child by Anne Marie Albano

beamCurrently reading: //

Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education by Mark Edmundson (essays)

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam (Publishers Weekly deemed it one of the best books published this year.)

Did not finish: // The Whatnot by Stefan Bachman

Up next: // who knows? I am eyeing The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which I never did get a chance to start reading the last time I had it. I need a good fiction read to start on. Other choices include:

            Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

            Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

            The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

            Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

 All five books are also on Publishers Weekly Best of 2013 list.

Now I’m off to: // relax and dive into a book. What are you up to?

Sunday Salon

sunday salonGood morning! Once you stop blogging, it’s hard to start back. Hopefully, I can get myself together and start blogging more regularly.

Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // my living room

Drinking: // coffee. It’s been a hard night.

Eating: // nothing. I couldn’t find any pumpkin muffins at the store.

Just finished: // the graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time illustrated by Hope Larson. What a fantastic adaptation. Now I want to reread the original again.

Reading: // Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America by Jason Fagone. Ingenious is about the race to win the Automotive X Prize. I picked it up since it sounds interesting. So far, it is.

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Today, I also plan on starting The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I checked it out weeks ago from the library. Now, it’s due in a few days. What piqued my interest is that the book has been nominated for the Man Booker and National Book Award.

Today I plan on: // having a mini-read-a-thon. I missed last week’s read-a-thon after I became sick. I’m reading the books I mentioned above.

Promoting: // Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe blog tour. The purpose of the tour is to celebrate the diversity in speculative fiction by highlighting writers of color. There’s still time to sign up.

What are you reading today?