In Which Noelle Gives Her Resolutions

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I had made a ridiculous amount of New Year’s resolutions.  Many people might say that this is a recipe for failure and frustration, and curling up mid-March to eat my despair out of a tub of Pistachio and Almond Blue Bell ice cream.  (That’s not specific because it’s–ya know–true or anything.  I just haven’t had my delicious Blue Bell in so long it hurts.  Darn you listeria!)

As I said before, I divided them up into four sections–Mind, Body, Soul, and Spirit.  There are seven resolutions in each for a grand total of 28.  Wow.  That’s a lot isn’t it?  Am I crazy for really believing that I can do this?  I hope not.  I am someone who needs lofty goals in order to push myself. I’ll never accomplish anything great if my goal is to be mediocre, right?  (not that having only one or two resolutions is mediocre of course).

I decided to list some of them out here for you, partially in an attempt to be braver and honest with others, and partially in the hopes that I will accomplish everything I’d like this year, rather than risk failing in the public eye and enduring the scorn of all both of you reading this blog (Hi Shelle!  I wonder who our other reader is? 🙂 )

I want to get better this year at reading and interacting with other bloggers.  A favorite that I’ve been reading off and on for 2 years is Kristina over at Eccentric Owl.  She has such a sweet spirit, we have a lot of common interests and similar personality types (well, according to me lol).  She is my friend in my head!

Anyway, she posted right before New Year’s Day what her resolutions were for 2016.  I read over them today and just had to laugh because quite a few of them are the same or similar to what I have as goals!  Is this because we are just so alike, or because most Americans have similar resolutions? (Be healthier, travel more, do something that makes you happy, etc.)  Probably a mixture of both.  Anyway, pop over and read her Ten Things she wants to do this year–you might find yourself inspired for this year.

But back to mine (again, not sharing all of them, but a select few):

Mind

  1. Eliminate “like” from my vocabulary as a filler word (as much as possible)
  2. Read 100  new books this year
  3. Learn a new word every day
  4. Write on a daily basis
  5. Practice piano regularly-scales, classics, learn new hymn each week

Body

  1. Exercise regularly (preferably daily)
  2. Finish couch to 5k program and maintain 5k running 3x a week for 3 months
  3. Take better care of hair-wash, co-wash, deep condition on a regular schedule
  4. Grow hair to bra strap length all over

Spirit

  1. Post at least 100 blog posts
  2. Finish writing book
  3. Finish at least one short story
  4. Go on date with at least three people
  5. Live more neatly
  6. Be a better, more communicative, and more thoughtful friend

Soul

  1. Have devotions on a daily basis
  2. Memorize Psalm 119
  3. Finish what you started
  4. Trust God with everything and love Him with abandon

So, you see, it’s nothing too out-of-reach! Just your normal, everyday incredible expectations that I’m setting for myself for the new year.  (I have left off some of the more….um…ambitious resolutions 😉 )

Would you help me? Hold me accountable? (All both of you who are probably reading this lol.) I don’t want to waste these single years as I feel I have done for the past few years. I want to spend this time that God has given me to myself, to better myself. And here’s where I’d like to start.

Let’s have fun during this year, together.

Hopefully,

Noelle

 

Advertisements

Book Review: “I’d Know You Anywhere”

I recently finished Laura Lippman’s book “I’d Know You Anywhere”, which I’m pretty sure I found in a free bin outside of a thriftshop.  That should’ve been my first clue.

Okay, that was unnecessarily harsh.  And one of my resolutions this year is to be kinder.  I’m off to a terrible start.  Not only was the writing not that bad, some of my favorite books have come from free bins!  2nd and Charles for the win!

The premise of this book was promising–Walter, a death row (spree/serial killer) inmate reaches out after decades of separation to the only Eliza, victim he left alive.  Told mostly in flashbacks from the killer and victim’s perspective, and in the present tense from the victim’s perspective, you quickly get the sense that there was more to their relationship than either has ever admitted–even to themselves.  The flashbacks were well written, but I found the present tense bits slow and, for the most part, unnecessary.  I understand that it is necessary to go into Eliza’s home life at the beginning to get a sense of her world, and to establish her mindset as a happy housewife/mother.  In addition, it is equally important to bring in bits about her children and marriage to create a sort of dichotomy and tension between that and her inner turmoil stemming from suppressed childhood trauma, but that didn’t prevent me from getting annoyed each time there was elementary school drama with her children.

The main two characters were well developed, but startlingly unruffled given the premise of the novel.  Eliza seemed unfazed by the experience of her youth, and while time had passed and she presumably had healed some, it frustrated me that even in the midst of her kidnapping she was acting like she was on a camping trip!  Where was the stress, the racing thoughts, the typical teenage reaction to the possibility of never seeing her family again…the DRAMA?

The supporting cast almost exclusively fell into two camps–maddeningly and unnecessarily detailed, or boring and underdeveloped.

As for the Great Mystery itself–what really happened during those six weeks of “captivity”–I would be lying if I didn’t say I was disappointed with how it was handled.  Perhaps because I’ve been reading too much Gillian Flynn recently, or because I immediately started thinking about how I would personally have handled the premise…regardless, I found the “secrets” of what happened between Walter and Eliza during their time together…wanting (although that’s not nearly strong enough a word.)  As it dawned on me that the chunk of remaining pages in my right hand was thinning, I took inventory of my emotions and found I was still woefully unsatisfied–like eating just the rolls and cranberry sauce at a Thanksgiving feast.  I kept wishing for some type of “Gone Girl” unreliable narrator twist.  “That’s all?” was the foremost emotion for the last 50 pages.

And I look back and find myself subconsciously trying to avoid giving spoilers, it dawns on me that there’s really no point!  The big secret is that there is no secret!  Anyone who reads this book will know what I mean.

All that said, I thought it was well written from a from a grammatical standpoint, and very pleasant to read–some of the phrasing was downright poetic.  Ms. Lippman does have a way with words!

What would I rate it?

6/10.

It was better than average, but only slightly.

Appropriate?

Language-PG-13

Sex-PG-13

Violence-PG (that’s right.  I would really only rate it PG.  Many things are intimated, but not explicitly depicted.  For a book about a serial killer, that should tell you something right there.)

Would I read others by her?

Perhaps one more, with an equally stimulating premise, to see if her reluctance to really get down and dirty with her characters and story was a momentary lapse, or a character flaw.  (Badum-psh!  See what I did there?!)

Till next time all!

Noelle

In Which There Is Resolution

It’s that special time of year again.  The time that this North Carolina weather goes from 70 degrees, to a monsoon, to expected snowfall within a week, the time of year when retail workers want to hurl themselves out of the window as all of the Christmas presents they just sold a few days before get returned all, and the time all gym regulars hate, when their sanctuary is taken over by a stampede of fired-up, holiday-laden heavyweights (me first among them), misusing equipment, going .5 on the treadmills, and coughing up lungs on the benches in the locker room.

And then they’re gone by Groundhog Day (again, me first among them), remembering they have an appointment, plans after work, that a new TV show airs tonight, or the sweet sweet taste of a good bowl of hot apple pie and vanilla bean ice cream.

But not this year.  You hear me Blue Bell?  NOT. THIS. YEAR.

(Apparently they did hear me.  Sigh.  Darn you listeria.)

I made a few resolutions this year, which has prompted reactions ranging from chronic disinterest to derisive laughter from the few people I’ve told.  And yes, in the past I haven’t kept all of them.  But after keeping a few for two years in a row, I upped the ante and made FOUR PAGES of resolutions.  Yes, that’s right.  I went Super Saiyan.

I divided them up into four categories–Body, Mind, Soul, and Spirit.  I won’t tell them all, (over time I might disclose), but I did want to officially announce that one of my (many) resolutions is to read 116 new books this year!  I feel like I am constantly going back to my old favorites, despite my CONSTANT purchases of books.  If I want to one day realize my dream of reading all of the books in my library, than I’ve got to start somewhere!

So I’ll be posting reviews on books as I read them.  They won’t be long and detailed, they won’t be incredibly intelligent and analytic, but they will be honest, and will kill two birds with one stone–keep me accountable to keep reading, and help me meet my goal of posting consistently on this blog this year!

Let’s do it!

Resolutely,

Noelle

Fashion Friday: Rock the Romper

Hey friends! It’s Michelle here. Yes that’s right, the long lost prodigal sister has finally returned! Hold you’re enthusiasm folks…I know you missed me so much.

keep calm and eat pizza
This has nothing to do with anything. I just always want pizza.

I thought I’d celebrate my first post on this blog in (ahem) three years, by doing a FASHION POST!! Whoo-hoo! And as you probably noticed in the title – I have christened today Fashion Friday. As you will learn over the course of this blogging adventure, I love fashion. I would not say that I am the most stylish, but I love clothes and colors and patterns and challenging myself to experiment with my style. However, although I do have a few pieces in my closet that I LOVE and would even dare to call them “fashion forward”, my day to day wardrobe can be somewhat basic and tame. Now, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this – items such as a classic pair of jeans and a cozy tee are absolute staples.

Chill and fabulous at the same time? Yes, please.

However, there are definitely some things that I want to try this summer. Particularly, the infamous romper.

This is kind of cute for summer. Can't decide. I need to stop dressing like it's fall in the summer.
Also chill and fabulous, this time with polka dots.

I don’t know why, but up until recently this piece as seemed really unattainable to me. One of those things where I’m thinking, “That’s cute, but I could never pull it off.” Well that’s baloney. What it all comes down to is attitude. And with the right attitude, you can really rock almost anything.

If ever I wore a romper... I'd want it to look like this! Discover more rompers of 2015 at CUPSHE.com with factory direct price and Free Shipping!
I think I prefer the belted waistline over the elastic. Definitely more flattering.
Sleeve floral romper
FLORAL. That’s all I need to say.
Tres Chic Tribal Romper - THIS ITEM IS FINAL SALE
If you can’t tell by now, I like prints.

I’m a firm believer that you should wear what makes you feel comfortable (having taste is also an important factor, but not the point here). So I’m going to be on the lookout for a cute romper, and as long as I feel comfortable in it, I’m determined to wear it with confidence.

Black Romper
Love the fun accents with this classic black.

Are there any fashion trends you’ve been wanting to try? Am I the only one on a romper kick, or are they so last summer. Let me know what you think. Stay adventurous, friends.

You can find anything on the internet.

Images courtesy of Pinterest.com and Google.com.

Top 5 Revolutionary Mac ‘N Cheese Recipes

I’m not a cheese fan typically, but a good old-fashioned macaroni and cheese does it for me every time.  My mother makes the most amazing mac and cheese I’ve ever tasted, hands down.  No matter the event or holiday, all of our friends and family clamor for it.  One day soon I’ll post a recipe here for you all to try!

I like to cook a lot, and I often think about having a signature dish like my mother.  In the meantime, I like trying variations on well known comfort foods, like these awesome recipes I found on the most amazing website ever, PINTEREST.  Seriously guys, Pinterest is my favorite.

Here are some recipes that I’d like to try, or have tried, from most classic to the most adventurous (at least on my saved “Dine” board):

5) Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

I think anything made in a skillet is an automatic improvement, and mac ‘n cheese is no exception.  All the edges get extra brown and crunchy and mmmmmm….

When I make this I use croutons for the top instead of breadcrumbs, and sometimes cut up a few hot dogs inside.  Classy?  Yeah, that’s me.  Five out of five cats for being delicioso Here is the recipe.

4) Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Kielbasa and Sausage

Baked macaroni and cheese with kielbasa and sausage

I think the cheapo version of this is to cut up a bunch of hot dogs-similar to the recipe above-but if you put in the effort to cook it with multiple versions of meat–like Kielbasa and spicy Italian sausage–it REALLY takes it to the next level.  Four out of five cats! Check out the full recipe here.

3) Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

Mac and Cheese muffins. Lunch box idea. Look at comments under recipe for variations :)

This is a recipe I have yet to try, but I cannot wait!  Link here.

2) Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites

This Fried Macaroni and Cheese Bites Recipe is perfect as a party appetizer or a game day snack.

I’ve only ever made the frozen version of these, but let me tell you–they were UH-MAZING.  Especially with a nice cool dish of marinara sauce.  I can’t remember what restaurant I first had them in–it might have been The Cheesecake Factory, but don’t hold me to that.  My eyes were rolling back in my head, so I might’ve missed the name on the menus.  I give this 4 1/2 cats out of five for deliciousness (I take off a half a cat because the water runoff when they defrost might be a little much…it’s hit or miss in that regard, but still totally worth it!)

Here’s a recipe for the real thing.  I would love to try it one day!

1)Macaroni and Cheese Burger

Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burger | The 23 Most Perfect Foods In The Universe

Look at that.  Just look at it.  Gaze upon its glory.  Yes, that is probably hundreds, no, THOUSANDS of calories.  But could they be better spent?

I see this as the macaroni and cheese equivalent of the Krispy Kreme burger they serve at the state fair…sinful, delicious, and your one meal of the day.  I haven’t found a recipe for this yet, but one rainy day when I’m hungry and emotional…consider this my next palate project.

What are your favorite macaroni and cheese recipes?  Are there any twists on classics you consider to be your signature?

Cheesily,

Noelle

In Which Noelle Asks, “Where Are We Going?”

A non Christian coworker today mentioned that he read an article (he’s a news junkie) saying that the number of Christians in America is on the decline. I did a bit of searching and found this NPR article published this morning… “Christians In U.S. On Decline As Number Of ‘Nones’ Grows, Survey Finds.”

The article is pretty short, and mostly stats, but I did make me a bit sad, for two reasons I think. I don’t know if I believe that the actual number of Christians have decreased all that much–I think it’s more that people are no longer self identifying as Christians if they don’t believe. It used to be that if you were raised in a Christian household you were both externally and self-identified as being Christian. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. The idea of a “cultural” Christian is going away. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I mean if someone is not behaving or showing the fruit of salvation, I believe it is probably better that they label themselves as a non-Christian. Perhaps that is insensitive to say–I don’t see Christianity as a club that must maintain its exclusivity, but in a world in which we already face persecution and ridicule and accusations of hypocrisy, I feel it can only help us to have those who are not striving to be Christlike abandon the title.

On the other hand, I find it saddening because I feel that popular sentiment now views Christianity as being out of touch, or “uncool”. As many debates rage in our nation, Christianity is now viewed, at its worst, a raging, frothing, hatemongering, pitchfork wielding group of extremists out to wrest civil rights from the cold dead hands of innocent Americans; and, at its best, the out of touch religious equivalent of the slightly drunken and racist uncle at the family picnic, whose hugs from behind should be avoided at all costs, and whose whisky soured offensive jokes should be met with teeth-grinding–to use the buzzword of the times–tolerance.

Conservative Christian values are just not trendy anymore. They are seen as oppressive and/or a damper on one’s moral compass. To be fair, this could probably be attributed to religion as a whole. Religion is seen as an additional authority figure; in a land that got its start from bucking religious authority it perceives as being unfair, it seems that has extended from not only unreasonable authority, but ANY authority. That thought is backed up by the fact that religious affiliation as a whole has decreased since 2007.

What do you think? Do you agree that Americans see Christianity as no longer being trendy, and religion as being oppressive? What explanations do you have for those statistics? In other words, where are we going? Leave a comment and let me know!

Prayerfully,

Noelle