2017 Reading Wrap-Up

Hey, guess what?

I didn't win my yearly reading challenge...again.

I'm the worst when it comes to determining a number of books that is actually plausible to read over 12 months...for my particular lifestyle anyway. I have never completed a Goodreads challenge! Yet, I continue to set goals for each year anyway. (Because "aim low and avoid expectation" just isn't a thing for me, apparently.)

I will say though, this is just one of the many ways I am learning what areas of my life really do not need to be 100% planned out. Reading is my hobby, not my job. (Sadly.) Therefore, if I read one book a month and really enjoy it, that's better than forcing myself to read six books a month and feel overwhelmed...right?

I read 23 books in 2017. My original goal was 40 books. Then, towards the end of the year I lowered it to 25, thinking "But, of course I will be able to finish two more books and finally complete a reading challenge!"

Wrong, Miranda. So wrong. I guess that's what I get for "cheating" and lowering my reading goal number when I realized I was never going to meet the original number of 40.

Moving on, I am, for the most part, satisfied with the 23 books I was able to complete. Here are some fun 2017 reading stats:

*Between those 23 books, I read a total of 7, 866 pages.
*The shortest read was 74 pages.
*The longest read was 659 pages.
*My average book rating was 4.0.

I awarded a 5-star rating to 5 books:
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Read my review here!)
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Diviners by Libba Bray

I awarded a 4-star rating to 13 books:
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
The Shining by Stephen King
Confess by Colleen Hoover
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Read my review here!)
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I awarded a 3-star rating to 3 books:
November 9 by Colleen Hoover (Read my review here!)
RoseBlood by A.G. Howard (Read my review here!)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I awarded a 2-star rating to 1 book:
Surfacing by Margaret Atwood

Most Enjoyable: The Diviners
I didn't want to put this one down! It was so much more than I thought it would be. It was creepy, fantastical, funny, and diverse. Plus, it's set in the 1920's, which is super fun!

Most Tear Inducing: The Nightingale
This is WWII historical fiction, so I knew it was going to be sad. I cried a lot throughout this book.

Most Disappointing: RoseBlood
Honestly though, as a Phantom of the Opera fanatic, I should have known better than to expect a lot from a POTO re-telling.

Most Surprising: The Rosie Project
I thought this book was great. It was funny and different than any contemporary romance I have ever read. I was laughing out loud through 90% of this book.

That's a wrap! In case you haven't already guessed, I did set another reading goal for 2018. (I'm just a glutton for punishment.) Let's see if I can read 30 books in the upcoming year!

How was your 2017 in terms of reading? Did you meet your goal? Did you set a goal for 2018? If so, let's keep up with each other's progress on Goodreads.

See you soon!


My First Time Choosing a "Word of the Year"

In recent years, it has been quite trendy to choose a single word to live the upcoming 365 days by. The word in question is normally one that can be viewed as inspirational, empowering, or just representative of how someone wishes for their year to go. For example, some people may be striving to find BALANCE in their lives, while others are striving for SELF-LOVE, and even more are just looking to be HAPPY.

I've always thought this was a neat concept, especially because it's pretty amazing that someone can take all of their goals for a fresh new year, and somehow find a single word to embody all of the things that they want their lives to be for 12-months. However, I have personally never chosen a "word of the year." Why? I'm not sure. Maybe I could just never settle on one that I felt was good enough. 

Well, this year, I chose a word. (I bet you never saw that coming. I'm sure you just assumed I was rambling about yearly words for the heck of it.) I thought long and hard about what type of year I am hoping 2018 will be, and I have to say, I even annoyed myself with how picky I was when it came to finding the perfect word. Anyway, since you are probably all just on the edge of  your seats right now, I present to you, my word of the year:

In 2018, I am striving to proceed with poise. 

Dictionary.com defines poise as: 

1. a state of balance or equilibrium, as from equality or equal distribution of weight

2. a dignified, self-confident manner or bearing; composure; self-possession

3. steadiness; stability

1. to adjust, hold, or carry in equilibrium; balance evenly

What do you think of when you hear the word poise? I think of grace, strength, and confidence. I think of posture. I think of the way that ballerinas and other dancers carry themselves through a performance. I think of patience, and a belief in one's self. 

I have been taking barre classes for a couple of months now, and something I really like about barre is the focus on not only on physical strength and stamina, but also the stamina of the mind. It teaches your body to stand tall and strong, but also teaches your mind to be strong enough to carry you through the physical challenges. It teaches you how to be poised. The way I see it, there is no reason that I cannot take what I am learning from barre, and apply it throughout all areas of my life. 

When I first started thinking about my word for this year, I was pretty set on "balance." 2017 was a year of hard work for me...between my two jobs, I was working 60-65 hours most weeks. I learned how to balance my jobs, along with necessities, such as cleaning and paying bills and other responsibilities, pretty well. But, I lost a lot of time in terms of doing things I enjoy, and giving my full attention to those that I love. Therefore, it only made sense that I make 2018 the year to learn how to incorporate the fun aspects of my life, with the more responsible aspects of my life. 

"Balance," however, just didn't quite have the perfect fit I was looking for. I wanted something more...and when I dug a little deeper, "poise" hit me right in the face. I knew this was the word that was going to inspire me mentally and physically throughout 2018. "Poise" is the perfect embodiment of strength, balance, confidence, and composure that I was looking for. I think it's going to give me the kick in the butt that I need. 

So, in 2018, I will remain poised by:

*Remaining positive and keeping my eyes above water when my jobs get crazy.
*Holding my head high, and exuding the confidence that I (and you!) deserve to have. 
*Working hard to find stability in my diet and exercise routine. 
*Finding an equal distribution between work and pleasure. 
*Completely taking ownership of my life, thoughts, and the decisions that I make. 

It's a new year...let's do this! Did you choose a word for 2018? What are some of your goals for the upcoming 12 months? Please share with me in the comments...I'm  nosy. 

See you soon! 


What I Eat in a Day as a New Vegetarian (Work Day Edition)

A couple of posts ago, I talked about my switch to vegetarianism and all that has come along with is so far. This Saturday will officially mark six weeks that I have not been consuming meat, as well as six weeks that I've overall been putting a lot more thought into what I'm eating. It has been a very challenging, yet rewarding, six weeks.

I will say though, that I have not had as difficult of a time with planning vegetarian meals as expected. I was especially worried because I don't have a ton of time during the week to meal prep and cook extravagant meals. Thanks to the general knowledge of the internet, however, I feel like I've done a pretty good job of finding and trying foods that are healthy and delicious, yet can still be made in 30 minutes or less.

So, why not share a few of them with you? Here's a look into a day of eating for me...yesterday to be exact. I've chosen to show you a day where I'm at work and out and about. Also, I obviously don't eat these exact things every day...but I may be a repeat offender at least a couple of times a week.

The first thing I ingest every day (other than some water upon waking up), is coffee. (Yep, just like 99% of other people in the world.) I always make it right before I leave my house so I can drink it on the way to work. I won't lie...I'm a fan of creamer, so it's definitely not super good for me. However, I think it's okay to have that one little something to look forward to at the beginning of the day.

I'm never hungry until later in the morning, so I spend my first hour and a half to two hours at work getting through my morning tasks. When I start to get hungry, I make a quick breakfast in the break room. This day, I had two whole grain waffles with peanut butter, and an apple. Another one of my favorite at-work breakfasts is oatmeal.

I usually don't take lunch until 1:00 or 2:00, so I tend to get a bit munchy in the hours after breakfast. I usually try to keep a couple of different snacky things in one of my desk drawers. I decided to go for some of the tomato basil Harvest Snaps. I can't explain to you how much I LOVE these things. They are really light and crispy and they taste exactly like bruschetta to me.

My lunch on this day was thrown together pretty last minute. I fell asleep too early the night before to make anything, and I didn't have leftovers. Therefore, I just threw everything I wanted for avocado toast into my lunch bag. I can't say I complained about this though, because I have recently discovered the goodness of putting salsa on my avocado toast and I eat it at least three times a week. And, yes, this was taken in my car because my car is my escape of the work environment for an hour.

I usually get hungry again between 4:00 and 5:00, so I always gotta have another snack. I've been working my way through a giant bag of Halos, which results in me eating at least two of them a day.

Dinner is the meal that I do have the opportunity to spend a little more time on, but, I still usually prefer something quick. Especially since it's almost 8pm when I get home if I got to barre class after work. I had a crispy "chicken" salad this night, made with meatless Boca patties. Meat substitutes aren't good to eat all the time, but they are nice to have in the freezer for a couple of nights a week. Also, these are pretty tasty. My salad was simple...lots of spinach, cut up Boca patties, avocado, and a little bit of sriracha mayo.

I realized while writing this that I do not have a photo of the piece of cookie dough I ate while baking cookies for today's work Christmas party, but I'm sure you'll forgive me. Other than that, this is exactly what I ate on Wednesday! It was kind of cool to document everything through photos, and take a closer look at my choices for that day.

Side note: why are these "what I eat in a day" posts so entertaining? I think it's just nice to have a glimpse into what real, busy, people are choosing to have. Anyway, what are some of your favorite foods lately?

See ya soon!


Reflecting on My 2017 Instagram Best Nine

If you use Instagram, you are most likely familiar with the yearly "best nine." For the past couple of Decembers, Instagram-ers have had the opportunity to generate a collage of their most liked photos of the year. It's interesting to look back and see what photos seemed to appeal to people the most, especially since you may not even remember posting some of them. 

You can generate your own here. I did mine today, and I thought it would be fun to look back at each picture and reflect on what was going on in my life at each particular moment. I'll also include the number of likes that each one had. I am by no means someone who has a ton of followers, and I do not actively try to grow my numbers. I just enjoy the interaction, and I'm okay with the fact that I'm not getting hundreds or thousands of likes on each photo. 

With that disclaimer in place, let's go!

One: 110 likes
I took this picture one evening in Horseshoe Beach, which is a tiny little coastal town in the county that I grew up in. I had went down with my parents to have dinner with my grandma and some of her friends. It was a really nice evening, and the weather and the sunset were just as beautiful as the scene in this photo. 

Two: 107 likes
Slade took this picture of me when we visited Nashville earlier in the year. We spent this evening walking around downtown and eating some great food. Nashville is such a cool city...if you haven't visited, you must.

Three: 97 likes
This is one of the more recent photos of the bunch. One of Slade's best friends got married in October, and he was the best man in the wedding. This was the one decent shot that we managed, ha ha. 

Four: 94 likes
My friend Liz got married in September, and at the end of August we went to Amelia Island for her beach weekend bachelorette party. Being the morning person that I am, I woke up before everyone else each day. So, what better way to spend the time than a walk on the beach with some coffee? 

Five: 93 likes
Funnily enough, this picture was taken during that same bachelorette weekend, before a night of dinner and drinks. 

Six: 93 likes
It kind of surprises me that this is one of my most liked pictures this year. My friend Ashley and I had a summer night out in downtown Gainesville, and she took this of me in front of the Hippodrome Theater. This was such a fun night. We had Mexcian food and plenty of drinks, and danced the night away in 95 degree heat and humidity. 

Seven: 89 likes
This is my beautiful mom/twin and I at Liz's wedding. You can never have too many nice pictures with your mom!

Eight: 88 likes
I feel like a lot of this year's photos are wedding related...lol. This was taken right before Liz's ceremony, at the most beautiful barn venue. I wish I had this swing in my backyard. 

Nine: 87 likes
Last but not least is my Halloween costume from this year. I dressed up as Professor Trelawney from the Harry Potter series, and it is definitely the best costume I have ever put together. The best part was I honestly had the majority of what I needed in my closet. 

We almost have another year in the books, folks! Do you use Instagram? What were your best moments of 2017? 
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