A Love/Hate Relationship with Fall

Tomorrow is October first. The leaves are starting to change and cover the ground. The sun is setting earlier and earlier with each passing day. The temperatures are dropping, resulting in needing heat in the morning, air conditioning on the drive home, then heat again at night. It’s almost time to pull out the sweaters and faux fur-lined boots! Dunkin Donuts is selling pumpkin muffins! Apples are on sale every week at the grocery store!

To me, Fall means comfy clothes and yummy food. The problem with this is that I have completely fallen off the healthy eating/Weight Watchers bandwagon. I’ve only been making a pitiful attempt to track: if I don’t know the points in something, I don’t track it. I’ve been eating as much as I want of whatever I want, whenever I want. Needless to say, I’m not feeling too hot physically or emotionally, and I can barely zip my pants (no, seriously).

I told myself at the beginning of September that I would strictly follow WW until the holidays so that I could get back on track, feel better, and then not feel horribly guilty about stuffing my face with first candy, then turkey/potatoes/mac and cheese/pie, then cookies and cakes and more candy. Not to mention the wine. The holiday season is just not complete without wine.

I bought a couple cans of pumpkin puree just to have, because you never know. And pumpkin is a vegetable, so it’s totally healthy. Then this happened:

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Those are homemade pumpkin donuts coated in cinnamon sugar. They are only 5 points each, which really, is not as bad as they could be, but that’s still 5 extra points that I don’t need every day. The recipe made EIGHTEEN of these delicious wonders, which is great, except I’m the only one in the house who will eat them. To be fair, hubby did taste them and said they were good (but he wasn’t interested enough to eat an entire one). I ended up dumping most of them because I would have had to eat, like, three per day before they started to go bad.

I’m starting over tomorrow morning. I stocked up on yogurt and apples and bananas and chicken breasts and seltzer and Diet Coke. I have veggies in the freezer and plan to get in as much walking as possible before the sun starts setting at 4:30pm. I’ll clean off the elliptical and force myself to use it when it gets too dark and cold to safely go wander around outside. I will get back on the wagon and I will feel better.

Books #27 through #37 of 2014

After a little friendly encouragement from a fellow blogger, I’m back! I’ve been debating all summer whether or not I want to keep writing here. Does anyone care what I have to say? Should I really be putting myself out there for the world to see? Is it safe to do this? The world is full of weirdos, you guys.

But, I’ve come to the conclusion that (1) It doesn’t really matter if anyone cares what I have to say because I started this blog for me, not anyone else, (2) I enjoy writing and as long as I’m careful and don’t share too much personal info, I should be fine. So here I am, and I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

I’ll be honest – I have no motivation to go back through the last ten books I’ve read and write individual reviews. I looked at my reading challenge on Goodreads and there are some books on there that I couldn’t properly summarize in a real review even if I tried. Here is a quick recap:

Book #27: After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
This story is told from Alice’s point of view, at times skipping into the past to explain her relationship with a man, and then fast forwarding to the present day as she’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Was she in an accident? Did she try to kill herself? This one was dark and kind of depressing, but I also really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing the whole way through and I greatly enjoyed it overall.

Book #28: The Giver by Lois Lowry
I was beyond excited to read this, because I felt like it was a book most of my peers had read in school at some point. I felt like I was missing out. Plus, it was short and I figured it would be a fast read, thus bumping up my read count. Turns out this wasn’t the book that everyone had read – I was thinking of Bread Givers. Oops. That’s ok, though, because this was a delightful read. I didn’t know what to expect, really, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Jonas’ world and his experiences. I don’t really know how to describe this one, but I would recommend it to anyone. My only complaint is the ending, which I won’t spoil. Let’s just say that I interpreted the ending one way and then after researching the book, I was disappointed.

Book #29: Finding Me by Michelle Knight
I can remember sitting at work and seeing the breaking news alert on my computer that several young women had been rescued from a “house of horrors” in Cleveland. I had never even heard their names before, let alone their story, but I was immediately drawn in and wanted to learn more about them. When I discovered that Michelle Knight was writing a book, I knew I had to read it. She spared no details, which meant that certain excerpts were difficult to read. It pained me to read about what she experienced, not just during her time held captive, but in her earlier life as well. Although at times it read a bit child-like, I appreciated the simple approach and her down-to-earth writing style.

Book #30: Every Day by David Levithan
A is a disembodied entity (soul? spirit?) who wakes up every morning in a different body. S/he takes over a different person’s life every morning and has to function as that person for 24 hours without causing too much permanent disruption. This proves difficult when s/he wakes up in a family who speaks a different language, or if s/he can’t access the person’s memories quickly enough to respond correctly in a conversation. One day A meets a girl and breaks all his/her rules about how involved to be. A unique and fun concept, the only problem I had with this book is that you have to suspend all belief in science and reality, and allow yourself to believe whatever the author tells you.

Book #31: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
When her daughter, Amelia, mysteriously dies at school after falling from the roof, Kate begins to investigate what actually happened. She doesn’t believe the theory that Amelia got caught cheating and then killed herself – she knows there is more to the story. We get to hear from multiple characters and the story flashes back between the recent past and the present to reconstruct what exactly happened to Amelia and what led her to the roof that fateful day.

Book #32: The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey
This turned out to be one of my favorite recent reads. It took me over a month to finish, including some overdue fines at the library because I brought it on vacation with me. It wasn’t especially difficult to get through, so I’m not entirely sure what took me so long, other than I was completely engrossed in Gemma’s life and I wanted to really read every word. It follows Gemma from the time she is a little girl up until she is a young adult. We experience her parents’ death, her move to Scotland to live with her uncle, his death and her expulsion from his house, her adventures in boarding school and as a nanny. I felt like I was watching a movie as I was reading. This was well-written with just enough drama to make it interesting, but not so much as to make it unbelievable.

Book #33: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
This was another one on my must-read list because I never read it in school. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I won’t bother with a summary since it’s such a well-known book and movie, but I just could not connect to these characters or care about them at all. Perhaps the worst part for me was the dialogue – it felt so uncomfortable. The movie actually came on TV the day after I finished reading it, and I thought maybe that would help me appreciate it more. My husband was excited and told me it was one of his favorite movies of all time. It did nothing for me. I am glad I gave it a chance, though, because now at least I have my own opinion of it.

Book #34: Every You, Every Me by David Levithan
I was excited about the concept of this book: that it is impossible for anyone to truly know every side of a person. Everyone has secrets and everyone projects a certain personality depending on who they’re with and what the situation is. However, the book really fell short of my expectations. I learned that the author would receive a photo from a colleague and then write the story around the photo. This really showed in the finished product because the whole thing felt forced and disconnected, and well, just plain strange.

Book #35: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
My husband is really into comic books and he had heard that this graphic novel was supposed to be very good. He’s wanted it forever and he’s been trying to convince me to give it a try. I ended up buying volumes one and two for him for our anniversary, and I picked it up because I was out of books and jonesing for something to read. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised I was. It’s based on the author’s life growing up in Iran, and it spans the time form when she was a very young girl until she was a teenager. I loved hearing about the wars and fighting from a child’s perspective. She had a basic understanding of what was going on, but she also just wanted to hang out with her friends and have fun. I highly, highly recommend this.

Book #36: Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
Naturally, since I enjoyed the first volume so much, I was excited to continue reading about Marjane’s experiences. I don’t know if my expectations were too high, or if I just didn’t care for it, but this one was a struggle to get through. The author came across as somewhat whiny, and I couldn’t relate to her life choices at all. I found myself rolling my eyes and judging her a lot, even though I didn’t mean to. Whereas the first one made me smile, laugh, and even cry, this one made me just want to hurry up and finish it so I could move on to something else.

Book #37: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
I absolutely loved the Percy Jackson series of books. I can remember starting to read this one several years ago, but then I think Hurricane Irene happened and our life got turned upside down and this book got lost in a box somewhere for quite awhile. I decided to pick it back up and start from the beginning since I couldn’t remember anything about it. It’s no Percy Jackson, but it was fun and entertaining. It did connect to Percy because you do get to revisit Camp Half Blood and some of the original characters. I felt kind of lukewarm about it while I was reading, but then the ending completely left me hanging and wanting to continue the series.

And now I’m working on Insurgent, which I’m loving, although not as much as Divergent. I’ve heard that a lot of people were disappointed with this one and the last installment, but I’m trying not to let that cloud my judgement.