Friday, November 10, 2017

Bel Canto Review

Happy Friday! I finished this book a long time ago but I just never got around to writing my review! So here it is, my review of Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. 

Bel Canto is a wonderful novel, loosely based around true events, that explores thought provoking ideas in a very heartwarming way. The book opens with a dinner party being taken hostage in a South American country that remains unnamed. The suspense of the hostage situation continues throughout the book as the reader guesses what is going to happen at each new turn. As the plot progresses and the reader gets to know the different characters, the ideas Patchett explores in the book begin to stand out and they stick with the reader long after the last page of the novel.

One of my favorite things about the novel is how well the reader gets to know all the different characters. Patchett gives a very well rounded view of most of the characters, even the more minor ones. Their different back stories and feelings about their situation are explored, allowing the reader to make a connection with all the characters, captor or prisoner. The lines of good and bad start to blur as the reader gets to know the different characters and their personalities, and the reader can form their own opinions about the characters.

As the hostage situation continues in the story, it becomes clear that no matter what side of an issue the characters are on, they are all simply people. Captors and prisoners become friends, people without a common language learn to communicate, and life continues. Patchett shows how the issues and ideals we hold so strongly to dissolve as you  get to know someone, and you are able to see who the person truly is. The things about our society we hold onto don't matter in the long run; as long as we are kind to each other we will find meaning in our lives. The setting of the book highlights this concept and the reader is able to see how the characters start to change in their actions towards one another.

The final part of the novel I really loved was how as the prisoners waited to see what their fate would be, the reader sees them releasing what is out of their control and beginning to truly appreciating the small things. A turn in the weather that brings sun instead of clouds, a short walk outside in the grass, or something new and interesting to eat brings them joy like it never had before. We see the characters coming to the realization that not matter what their situation in life, there is always something to be grateful for. 

The only thing I didn't enjoy about the book was the epilogue. There was no indication of how much time had elapsed and the story line for the characters involved seemed abrupt and out of place. After such a fantastic ending to the rest of the novel, the epilogue completely changed gears and I had to read it a few times to really understand what was happening. Even the characters seemed surprised at what they were doing now after the rest of their story line. It seemed like Patchett was trying to give the story closure but it ended up feeling rushed and like it was tacked on at the end. 

Overall, I thought the novel was fantastic and inspiring with the concepts that were covered. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I feel like if I read it again I would get so much more out of it. I gave the novel a 5 on Goodreads and I would definitely recommend it!

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Weekly Happiness #5

Happy Sunday! This week flew by and I can't believe it is already Sunday again. The weather this week was pretty crappy, but still no snow so I am happy about that! We spent a lot of time inside so we could stay out of the cold rain. Here are some of the things that I enjoyed about this week! 

Last night we decided to head to Oberweis Dairy to try it out the ice cream. Dan has had Oberweis before but I have never tried it. We both got chocolate malts and they were very good! The chocolate was extremely rich and the ice cream was nice and creamy. I would definitely go back and try some other ice cream treats that they have!

Since we have been staying inside I have been doing a lot of reading. I have loved just relaxing on the sofa and digging into a good book after work. Currently I am still working my way through The Return of the King after taking a break to read The Shining! I think next I am going to start the second book in the Outlander series. 

I've been requesting different cookbooks from the library and I love browsing the different recipes. It's so much fun to look for new vegetarian recipes, especially different casseroles or slow cooker meals that will heat up our house in these cold months. Do you have any cookbook suggestions for me?

There is something so refreshing about starting a new month. I love updating my calendars and getting ready for fresh start. It makes me feel so excited and motivated to attack my goals with a fresh perspective!

How was your week this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is english breakfast tea ^_^

Friday, November 3, 2017

October Favorites

Is it really already November? I can't believe how quickly this year is flying by! I feel like I've barely gotten used to it being October and now the month is already over! Anyhow, here are a few things I really enjoyed this month!

English Breakfast Tea. This month instead of chai tea I've been drinking English Breakfast tea, and I really like it! It's not as sweet as chai, but I am enjoying the change of something sweet to something bold and hearty as the weather changes. I mix in about 1 tsp of sugar and a few splashes of milk after steeping the tea. This is quickly become my new favorite drink during the week and on weekends.

The Shining. I finished The Shining about a week before Halloween and I loved it. I had seen the movie a few months ago and I thought it was creepy, but not too scary. The book, however, was much scarier! I loved how it was set up; the beginning was a lot of foreshadowing and I could really feel him building to his crescendo. Then, during the second half of the book everything happened quickly and my heart would start racing each time I picked it up. I was reading this in the evenings after work and I had to ask Dan to walk around the house with me when it got dark because I was so freaked out! I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for something creepy.

Vacation. My vacation with Dan up to Minnesota was probably my favorite part of the month! It was so nice to see our families and get a few days to relax away from work. I can't wait until we take another vacation! Where should we go next?

Halloween. I've always enjoyed Halloween, especially because of the traditions we had as kids. My family would always make Jack-o-lantern pizzas before trick or treating and it made the evening so special. This year, Dan and I cheated and just ordered in a pizza, but I had the best time! We watched an old Goosebumps TV show episode and then an episode from Black Mirror while handing out candy to the kids out trick or treating. A perfect Halloween night! 

What things did you love about last month?

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekly Happiness #4

Happy Sunday! This week was a really lovely one for me. Nothing really out of the ordinary happened, but I had a nice cozy week and I felt like I both got a lot done but also relaxed a good amount. Here are some of the things that made the week so nice!

This week I had a half day at work and I always love using those to get errands and homey things done. It is so nice, especially at this time of year, to do things around the house that make it feel warm and cozy. On my half day on Wednesday I went grocery shopping and got some cute new autumn decorations. It was a great afternoon off from work!

When I went shopping I got the adorable little pumpkin decorations pictured above for the house and I absolutely adore them! We have a few autumnal decorations around already, but these were much more Halloween feeling and I thought they added a nice touch before the holiday on Tuesday. I'm hoping these last me at least a few years because I think they are just too cute!

This week I finished A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. There is something so satisfying about finishing a good book and getting excited to start something new. I really enjoyed A Return to Love; it was very insightful and practical about how to live your life surrounded with love and positivity. I'm definitely going to put into practice some of the things she discussed!

We recently set up a puzzle (the one on this page) and I have been having so much fun picking away at it! I find autumn the perfect time for puzzles. It's the perfect cozy indoor activity for the chilly days we have been having. 

The weather has really cooled down this week and I am so grateful that it is finally sweater weather. I have been loving bundling up in my sweaters and scarves each morning before work! I'm sure I'll be tired of it soon, but for right now I am enjoying the cool temps!

What made you happy this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is english breakfast tea ^_^

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to Manage Your Period During Work

A few of my favorite things

Periods are not the easiest time of the month, and recently I've been thinking about what helps me get through a long day of work during that time of the month. Over the past few years I've done my best to develop practices that help me get through the day without feeling overwhelmed. While us girls are never going to feel completely normal, here are the tips and tricks I try to stick to so I can make my week as comfortable as possible. 

Get extra rest. It’s more important than ever to let your body rest. Take a day off from the gym, head to sleep an hour early, or take a long bubble bath. Do whatever helps you relax and rest a little extra during the evenings so you don’t end up feeling drained while you are at work.

Eat healthy foods. Cravings are definitely harder to manage during this week, but it’s important to try to eat as healthy as possible. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and home cooked meals will improve the gross, bloated feelings you have. This goes for lunch as well! Pack a nice lunch so you won’t be tempted to order in or stop by the closest fast food joint.

Drink tea. Peppermint tea helps to relieve any pain and cramping while ginger tea helps nausea. Sip on some hot tea instead of coffee during the day to keep yourself feeling relaxed and ready for what the day has in store.

Allow yourself to indulge. While it is important to be healthy during this time of the month, don’t be too strict with yourself! Have that little bit of chocolate or an extra cookie. Your body is working hard so enjoy a little bit!

Advil. I used to try to avoid taking Advil and would try to deal with the uncomfortable feelings during this week without using medicine. However, when I began working full time I started seeing the benefit of using medicine more often. A day with your period is already going to feel long, so don’t make it worse for yourself. Whether you stand or sit all day, taking pain killers to alleviate some of the stress on your body will help the day go by until you can relax again.

What do your do during that time of the month?

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekly Happiness #3

Happy Monday! How was everyone's week last week? The week was a busy but a good one for me. Lots of little things to make me smile even though the week flew past! 

Last weekend my boyfriend and I went on vacation. It was a much needed little break for both of us. My favorite part was showing my boyfriend, Dan, around Minnesota. He had never been and it was so fun to show him around where I grew up with my parents! We also got to see his family in Illinois on our way back home so it was the perfect little trip. We both felt that when we got back to work we were refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things. Check out the pictures I took here

This weekend was Homecoming for my college which is always a fun time of year. On Friday evening Dan and I headed over to a bar in town to meet up with some of his fraternity brothers. It was nice to see some people who have moved out of state and to meet new people! There was such a mix of people who had been active in the fraternity just a few years ago to people who had been active back in the 80's or 90's; I loved seeing how they still come back to see each other!

This weekend I ended up seeing a few friends that I haven't seen in a while. One of my friends moved to Missouri earlier this year and I haven't had a chance to head down and see her. On Friday she was driving through town on her way back home and I got to see her on my lunch break. It was wonderful to catch up with her, even if only for an hour! I also saw a few friends who came into town for Homecoming. With our work schedules it has been harder to find the time to drive and see each other, so I hadn't seen them in at least a few months. We went out to grab a coffee and we sat chatting and catching up for a few hours. Hopefully it won't be so long until we see each other again!

I decided to read The Shining as my creepy Halloween book this year. I started it early since it was a bigger book, but I am flying through it! I'll probably be done with it well before Halloween! I saw the movie for the first time earlier this year, so I know the general plot of the book. However, I have felt that I am getting much more detail about the different events by reading the book. I can't wait to keep reading it! 

What made you happy this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is citrus green tea ^_^

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October Road Trip Photos

This past weekend my boyfriend and I took a short trip up to Minnesota to visit my parents. We decided to rent a car and drive, and even though it was rainy on Friday (which made a bit of a stressful drive) we had a lot of fun! I can't wait until we take another road trip together. Below are some of the photos we took on our trip! 

Driving through Illinois

Starbucks run!

Cute little cabbage flowers at Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

The fall colors in Wisconsin were amazing on our way back home! I can check seeing the autumn colors off my autumn bucket list

We were only gone a few days, but it was the perfect little vacation and we got some much needed relaxation. I hope you enjoyed the photos!

P.S. the tea of the day is cinnamon hibiscus herbal tea ^_^