Progress and Puppeh Noses

Cross Stitch Progress Update: I completed the 2nd quarter of my tiger in grass cross stitch pattern about two weeks ago. Haven’t picked it up since, though. Don’t know why, but I just haven’t been in the mood to cross stitch. It will get done eventually.

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The other day on my way home from work, I decided to look around the bookstore that I live behind. Yes, this is the best and worst possible place for me to live, I have to pass a bookstore every time I need to go somewhere. While there, I perused my usual genre shelves (horror, mystery, sci-fi) but this time, something caught my eye. Some Neil Gaiman books were picks of the month, I picked up the two on display and went searching for the rest. They were all on a shelf that was way above my head (typical, really. I’m 5’4″, so a lot of things end up too high for me to reach), but I was able to reach a couple more books. In the end, I walked out with four of his books, Stardust, Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and American Gods.

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And finally, another change in my life: I finally stopped beating around the bush on dietary changes and started a moderate low carb ‘diet’ last Sunday (Oct 23rd). Moderate means I aim for under 50 grams carbs net (net = carbs – fibre). It’s kind of embarrassing to share this, but my starting weight was 300.5 pounds. Ugh. As of this morning, I’m down to 292.3 pounds! A total of 8.2 pounds lost! My initial goal is to get under 180 pounds (the weight I was at 18), overall goal is to get to about 150 pounds. From all of my research, that is still overweight for my height (which again, is 5 foot 4 inches), but I don’t want to lose too much weight and end up under weight. I may revamp this goal as I get closer to the 150 mark, but that is still a ways off. I am aiming for 30 days on this new way of eating at the very least, though I’m hoping to keep this up forever, in a nutshell.

Being a person with anxiety, I worry about if I can keep up this weight loss. So far, I’ve found it easy to do, but it’s only been a week and tomorrow is Halloween, my favourite holiday of the year! I don’t know how I’m going to make it without sampling some candy, but I’m going to try my hardest! Day 30 is my parent’s anniversary, so it’ll be a triple celebration for me. Making it to 30 days, 38 years of marriage for my parents, and another anniversary my dad has made it to despite having terminal cancer (told 2-3 years, MAAAAYBE 5 if chemo went well, in 2010!)! If I can maintain the weight loss around at least 5 pounds per week, I will reach my goal by the middle of May. If I’m lucky, I’ll reach the under 180 pounds by Dad’s birthday and he can celebrate my first milestone with me while we celebrate his birthday!

Ugh, this got serious and sappy fast, and no, I’m not crying over here, someone’s cutting onions!

To lighten things up and for your amusement, some pictures of my dog sleeping in a cute and funny position. All pics taken with my phone, which turned out pretty well considering it’s not the greatest camera out there.

Changes and Crafting

I have decided that I need to make a few changes, in my life and with this blog. I started this blog with the intention of writing about my reading challenge with a few other odds and ends thrown in. Well, my reading challenge isn’t going well (but that’s ok) and honestly, I find it hard to review books without giving away the entire plot of the book. I found reading and blogging were becoming a chore, and so, along with depression rearing its ugly head and a few other reasons, I let everything fall by the wayside.

The changes I’m making in my life revolve around my health. I’m overweight and don’t eat the best, so I’m starting with small steps and changing my eating habits to some healthier ones (i.e. reaching for carrots instead of chips when I want something crunchy). As for this blog, well, I’m going to post about anything. Crafts, books, games, random things I find, etc.

With all the changes, I find the title of this blog is quite fitting. There is a new horizon ahead, and I’m reaching for it with eagerness and excitement.

Now, on to the ‘crafting’ part of the title.

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I started this cross stitch about 5 years ago. It keeps getting put aside for holidays, other projects, or just because I grew bored of it, and then buried beneath the unsorted crafting supplies and junk in my spare room. But, since finding it a week ago, I’ve made great progress. Since it’s a fair sized pattern, I broke it down into quadrants. I began with the bottom left quadrant (which is now fully completed), and then moved on to the bottom right quadrant after I found it again last week.

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When complete, I don’t know what I’m going to do with this project. I may frame it and hang it up somewhere. As of right now, I’m just looking forward to finishing it.

The next project will be one of the seven new, and geeky, patterns I got for my birthday from Etsy. I am also going to be working on a Bill Murray cross stitch for my brother, which I hope to complete by Christmas so it can be part of his gift. It’s going to be quite the project, with the finished piece (just the pattern itself) being about 14 inches by 14 inches! To compare, the current project shown above will be 5 inches wide by 7 inches tall when complete. Maybe I should get started on that one now…

Here are the links for the patterns from Etsy: Alohomora, Cheshire Cat, Feed Me, Geeky Alphabet, Take This, Turn on the Light, Zelda’s Lullaby, Bill Murray.

A bit of rain and a garden

The past couple of weeks I’ve not really been reading whole lot. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting out of the house and doing some gardening with my husband. Last week, hubby and I pulled out our boring old garden that was here when we moved in and planted some perennials. This week we planted some shorter annuals to add a pop of colour. Thankfully we waited for my hubby’s day off to do the planting (today) because yesterday we got a thunderstorm with winds that threatened to rip up the taller plants. Here are some pictures of the rain and the garden. (and yes, we still have icicle lights up)

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Reviews and a fungi

In my April post, I mentioned reading Fatal Enquiry and Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas and Fractured by Kate Watterson. I finished Fatal Enquiry pretty quickly, but the other two took some time to finish.

The latest books in the Barker and Llewelyn series managed to completely enrapture me, though I didn’t have as much time to devote to Anatomy of Evil as I would have liked. Fatal Enquiry, which had Barker and Llewelyn on the run for most of the story while trying to solve their latest case, came along at a time when I had two days to devote to reading. As with the other books in this series, I raced through to the end, finding myself unable to put the book down.

Then, between work and the rare time my social life picked up, I lost track of Anatomy of Evil. It ended up sitting in my backpack, waiting for me to look in the smaller front pocket where I keep the books I read while waiting for the bus and my wallet. When I finally realized I still hadn’t finished the book, I fished it out of my bag and sat down to read, excited to still have one more book in this series to read. Anatomy of Evil took Barker and Llewlyn down yet another strange path, this time looking for the now infamous Jack the Ripper. I quite enjoyed Thomas’s take on the Victorian era serial killer, though some of his descriptions had me gagging.

After finishing the last available book in the series, I took a small break to rest my eyes from reading. I went for a short walk with my hubby and our dog to a field nearby, where we happened to find some interesting mushrooms growing along the edge of two tree stumps. I, being the odd duck that I am, decided to snap a picture, for no real reason, so I’m adding it to this post.

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Last night, I finally finished reading Fractured, which I bought at the nearby drug store in April to read while waiting for the bus. This novel, the fourth in a series though it works just as well as a standalone story, follows Homicide Detectives Ellie MacIntosh and Jason Santiago as they search for a brutal serial killer, with the help of their mutual therapist, Dr. Georgia Lukens.

At first, I found this story slow, dry, and hard to get into but once I hit the halfway mark, things began to get interesting. The pace picked up, and a few clues were given that allow the reader to form some theories on who is going about brutally killing men. By the time I reached the three quarter mark, I’d pretty much figured out who the killer was, but couldn’t see how they were going to get caught. My only issue with this novel is that it ends on a strange cliff hanger, which I can only assume is an attempt to hook the reader into looking for the next story. I liked this novel enough that I’ve decided to see if my local library has the rest of the series.

Books, books, books and MORE BOOKS!

Since my last update, I have acquired more books than I have read. Which, really, is an easy thing to have accomplished, seeing as I’ve only read three books since then. (Such a slacker I am!)

Normally, most of the books that come through my door are given to me by my mother. Either because she thought I would like the book, or she accidentally bought two copies. However, this time, thanks to a nearby thrift store selling soft cover books at $1.50 each, I bought more books than she decided to part with. In the picture below, the seven books on the left of the paperweight are from my mother. The eleven on the right, I purchased for myself.

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The books, from left to right, are

  • Beautiful Creatures Book 1 by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • The Book of Flying by Keith Miller
  • The God of the Hive by Laurie R. King
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  • Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo
  • Inferno by Dan Brown
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Complete Novels of Jane Austin
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • Paper Creations: Mythical Creature Origami by Duy Nguyen (I know, not a novel, oh well!)
  • Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • Marley & Me by John Grogan
  • The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume 1: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Volume 1: Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra

Whew! What a list of books! Of the books I brought home, I did so either because something caught my attention, be it the cover, title, or description, or because I’d heard about the book/movie and thought it couldn’t hurt to give them a read. So, now I sit with another 18 books to squeeze into my already full to bursting shelves. I guess I best get reading!

Twelve

Twelve is a good number. Lots of things come in twelves; eggs, donuts, and roses, to name a few. However, being twelve books behind in your reading goal makes the number look like a bad one. I let myself get behind and then just kept slipping. Other things like games and movies have convinced my mind that they’re better than reading, however I know this is not true. A good book can relax me faster than a good game or movie can.

In order to remedy this deficit in my reading, I’ve acquired some new books. The first one, Fractured by Kate Watterson, I picked up from a nearby drug store after I’d found myself with some time to kill before catching my bus to work. I chose it because the description sounded interesting and I liked the cover art. Normally, I don’t buy books from the drug store, but I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the bookstore, a big chain store called Chapters. Partially because the drug store was right beside the bus stop, and partially because I knew I’d never leave the bookstore if I went in.

DSC_0025Fractured is the fourth book in a series, which I found out after I’d started reading it, though you’d never guess it was. I’m not very far into it, mainly because The Black Hand by Will Thomas (book #5 in the Barker and Llewelyn series) came in for me at the library and I was more interested in reading that. However, the book seems to be really interesting.

A few days after getting Fractured, I found myself wandering through Chapters with a friend. An employee came up and asked if we’d been told about their promo. You could get double points on books for a limited time. Always interested in racking up more points so I can earn enough to get a free book, I set about looking for some books I was interested in buying. In the end, I settled on 11/22/63 and Finders Keepers by Stephen King and two bookmarks featuring cute owls and sayings.

Stephen King has long been one of my favourite authors. I began reading his novels when I was about twelve (there’s that number again!). I remember sneaking them from my mum’s bookshelves at first, since they were not the books she initially wanted me reading, but eventually she relented and I got to read whenever I wanted. The only trouble I ever had with them was when I’d take them to school and the teachers saw me reading them. Apparently Stephen King novels are inappropriate for twelve year olds, who’d have thought?

My final acquisition was just yesterday, when my friend Ryan wanted to meet up at Chapters. After declaring that I wanted to buy the Barker and Llewelyn series, but being a stickler and wanting to get them in order, I went searching for the books in store. They had one copy of book 6 and one copy of book 7.

I wanted the books badly enough, and having just finished The Black Hand, I reeeeeaaaaally wanted to read Fatal Enquiry so, I gave in and purchased Fatal Enquiry, I couldn’t find the copy of Anatomy of Evil so I went looking for another bookmark. I found one that fit perfectly with both the book and me. It’s dark blue and says “Happiness is a cup of tea & a good book”, which I fully agree with!

Now, off to go do some reading!

March Reads and World Book Day

Currently, I’m still six books behind in my goal, but I’m still farther ahead than I would have been had it not been for my weekend reading frenzy. This month, I plan on not only reading, but putting aside any books that just aren’t cutting it. I have plenty of books, and plenty of time to catch up. For now, my selected list comprises the books I missed last month, plus a few.

March Reads are:

  • Before I say Good-Bye by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
  • A Soul to Take by C.N. Bean
  • Detective by Arthur Hailey
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark

I’m hoping to narrow the gap between where I am and where I should be by two or three books this month, but even one will do.

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Image from World Book Day website’s Branding page.

Yesterday was World Book Day, which until yesterday, I’d never heard of. According to their webpage, World Book Day is “a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading. In fact, it’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

There are many silly national/world/international days out there, but this is one I can agree with. Literacy in general is something that I believe should always be promoted, especially with children. Reading is a gateway to a new world, and helps exercise the mind. Not many people agree with me, but I find it relaxing too. I hope this ‘day’ catches on more, and becomes something big.