10 Books to Read if You’re the Grinch

Are you tired of Christmas season starting the day after Halloween? Are you tired of talking about presents and gift lists and that creepy Elf on the Shelf thing? Do you just need an escape from tinsel and sappy music?


Have no fear! I’m here to help with an eclectic list of books to allow escape from the holidays. They range from murder and mayhem to family and love (but not the holiday season!). All of them have happy endings though, so read without fear of being bummed out.

  1. The In Death books, by JD Robb They’re all fantastic murder mysteries featuring Eve Dallas, her love interest Roarke, and assorted characters that grow and change over the series. Some of them actually do take place over the holidays, but if you haven’t read them before, start at the beginning with Naked in Death. It doesn’t have any holiday mentions whatsoever. There’s romance in every book, but unlike most romance novels, with 40+ books in the series, we get to see what happens after “happily ever after.”
  2. Graveminder, by Melissa Marr When Rebekkah’s adopted grandmother dies, she finds out that she’s the one who now has to carry out a peculiar arrangement with death, performing a ritual at every grave to make sure the dead stay dead.
  3. There Will Be Lies, by Nick Lake Shelby has lived her whole life protected by her overprotective mother. But when she’s hit by a car and goes to the hospital, she starts to learn secrets about herself and her family. Meanwhile, she starts being transported to the Dreaming, where Coyote asks her to save the world.
  4. Ready, Player One, by Ernest Cline Most of my friends who are hardcore gamers or like hard sci-fi had multiple issues with this book, so be warned. I thought it was just a fun, fast read with lots of 80s nostalgia. It’s coming out as a movie next year, so now’s a good time to read it.
  5. 600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster An autistic man who’s life is rigid and structured has a run-in with the new neighbor and her son. He starts to realize there’s more to life than routine.
  6. Made You Up, by Francesca Zappia I absolutely loved this book, though it’s not without problems. It’s YA, and the main character is struggling with schizophrenia. *It’s not an accurate portrayal of schizophrenia.* But if you overlook that, the book is a lot of fun.
  7. Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter This is my go-to pick me up book. Whenever I need a refresher course on optimism, I read this.
  8. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, by Bryn Greenwood I pretty recommend this on every list for any reason. But it fills all the promises I made, so you should read it. Everyone should read it.
  9. Almost Interesting, by David Spade I’ve never been a huge David Spade fan, but this was funny. He talks about his days in SNL, which was interesting. I listened to the audiobook, which I think made it more enjoyable.
  10. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed This fantastic memoir is the reason I now want to someday walk at least part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl is struggling in her life after a divorce and the death of her mother, so hikes 1,000 miles with little preparation, and learns a lot about herself in the process.

Are you all-in for the holidays, or already over it?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo credit: Doree Weller

Photo credit: Doree Weller

In my family, Thanksgiving has always been all about the food.  I love the filling, the sweet potatoes, the green bean casserole, and the dessert.  In recent years, I’ve started to reflect on why we celebrate Thanksgiving, and it boils down to gratitude.

I’m a big believer in having a gratitude practice, and studies back it up.  People suffering from depression and anxiety do see improvements by practicing gratitude daily.  The holidays are a great time to start a gratitude practice, as most of us tend to see family more often during the holidays, and we’re reminded of what we have to be grateful for.

For me, the things I’m grateful for don’t tend to change much, and that’s how you know they’re valuable.  I’m grateful for my wonderful family who loves and supports me.  I’m grateful for my husband, who encourages me and shows me the best parts of myself.  I’m grateful for my friends, especially those I consider family.  Without these wonderful friends, I wouldn’t be who I am.  I’m grateful for my dogs, who love me no matter what and provide constant reminders that they think I’m wonderful.  I’m grateful for books and the authors who wrote them, as they’ve introduced me to worlds I otherwise never would have explored.  I’m grateful that I have enough and some extra.  Having enough is a wonderful thing.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  What are you grateful for?

My 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

IMG_1551‘Tis the season… when people ask me what I want for Christmas.  I try to think of things, but I’m really, really bad at it.  I never need anything.  I have a laptop, an iPod, and a warm place to sleep.  I have my dogs and books.  And no one’s going to buy me books anyway; it’s a daunting task.

The thing is, I’m both easy and hard to buy for.  If you buy it for me, I’ll probably like it.  I love pretty things, useless things.  I’m fond of blown glass, prisms, kalidoscopes.  I love anything steampunk Alice in Wonderland and pictures of old ferris wheels (though I hate riding the ferris wheel).  I like things that are handmade or vintage.

Over the years I’ve gotten lots of gifts, and I’ve appreciated them all.  I appreciate the most the ones that take time and effort, and clearly say, “I was thinking of you!”

The best gifts I’ve ever gotten, in no particular order:

Turtles.  Lots of turtles from my sister.  She doesn’t give them to me because I like turtles (though I do now); that’s a different story.  These days, I collect turtles.  And when I think of turtles, I think of her.  My sister also got me this monster spoon holder one year.  It sits on my counter and always makes me smile.

Hummingbird gave me an awesome picture of my crisis family when I left crisis.  It wasn’t for Christmas, but was definitely one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten.

Around 8th grade, JJ gave me a paperweight with flowers in it, for Christmas, I think.  I wasn’t expecting it because I was never very nice to him, but it’s sat on every desk I’ve ever owned since then.  It always reminds me of the power of friendship.  We might not be talk-on-the-phone friends anymore, but the power of Facebook allows me to see how he’s doing and wish him health, happiness, and love.

Last year, my sister in law gave me pictures of ferris wheels drawn in charcoal by a friend of hers.  It combines multiple things I love and was pretty unexpected.

The first Christmas we were together, my husband got me a signed, first edition Watchers, by Dean Koontz.  I think I cried.  Last year, he got me a Jambox and and UP.  Also very awesome gifts.  I like them because I use them almost every day.

This is why I can never say what I want for Christmas.  I wouldn’t have asked for any of those things.  I could ask for specific books or other this or that I want, but it wouldn’t be meaningful.  To me, Christmas is about stepping outside your comfort zone, taking what you know about someone you love, and finding a cool thing.  Sometimes it’ll be a hit, and sometimes a miss, but it’s not the gift that’s important.  It’s the effort and the time.  It’s the thought behind it.

Peace on Earth?

by The TV Guy

Happy Holidays to all as you hunt for those little extra bits of something for those you love. With all the love in our hearts we set forth to acquire the things that we all  want. The peace on Earth has left the planet and we are left with shootings, fighting and arguing. The mantra of the holiday shopping this season is, “kill or be killed”.

As you can see from the video the shoppers are surrounding a pallet that one may think is full of gold bars that are being given away as a kind gesture from King Wal-Mart to the serfs.

No I think they are an off brand 20 something inch television. The 20-second mark of the video the first shopper hits the floor. At the 40-second mark two women begin to fight over the object. It must have some sort of magical powers or maybe money inside. Cue the police and store security, by the 1 minute mark the woman is on the ground, still fighting, and not willing to let go of her (Precious)………

Wow well it is the end of the world and I feel fine…..A little saddened by what we have become at this glorious time of year.

Shop safely and make sure you have someone watching your back……

Everything is new

Usually, Sunday is the start of my weekend, but because I started this new job last week, Sunday is the end of my weekend, like pretty much everyone else in the world.

I don’t like it.

I still have everything to do!  I took time off during my 4 day weekend and enjoyed myself… can you believe it?  I had Thanksgiving dinner, decorated for the holidays, and took one day to do pretty much nothing.  So today, I have to do everything!  I have to go grocery shopping :(, cook for the week, do my laundry, pay my bills, and go hiking.  I think it’s going to be a busy day.

I’m not a fan of new.  I like all my old friends and don’t feel the need to make new ones (unless I’m living somewhere new; then I make an effort).  I really didn’t want to take a new job.  I’m sort of dreading starting back and working the full week next week.  I just keep reminding myself that in a few weeks, it will be “old” and will be better.  But it’s hard.  I liked my old coworkers, my old office.  I liked my van and my clipboard.  I miss the TV guy and joking around with other teams.  In my new office, I have to speak in an indoor voice and make sure I don’t say anything that could be construed as sexual harassment.

So, today I do my housework, and tomorrow, I go back to the office.

How do you deal with new?

Happy 4th of July!

Photo Credit: Doree Weller, Sea World, CA

Photo Credit: Doree Weller, Sea World, CA

Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays!  First off, I love what it stands for.  A bunch of people decided something wasn’t right and they weren’t going to stand for being put down anymore, so they stood up, fought, and won.  Now, we have the right to speak our minds, be whatever religion seems right to us (or be none at all), love who we choose (though this is constantly a work in progress… it’s getting better), and so on and so forth.  I recently realized that it had been awhile since I read the Bill of Rights, so I had to refresh myself on what all of those rights actually are.  Today’s a great day to do that if it’s been awhile.  Freedom of religion, speech, and the right to bear arms are the ones that get all the press.

The other reason I love 4th of July is the fireworks.  I love things that go flash-bang.  They’re pretty and sparkly, and though I usually hate things that are loud, I make an exception for fireworks.

Hope you have a great day today.

Lots o’ Baubles

Longwood Gardens, PA

Longwood Gardens, PA

I always love cool and interesting decoration ideas.  Followers of this blog will remember that I love clutter.  I don’t collect anything intentionally, but I do “collect” books and candles.  I also collect turtles as gifts from my long time best friend.  (If you’re curious why, click here.)

One woman has collected over 1,700 Christmas ornaments, and she hangs them from the ceiling.  It’s a fun idea and allows her to display and collect what she loves.

I enjoy decorating, but don’t enjoy un-decorating.  In my house, it’s not uncommon to have decorations up months past the season.

Check out the complete article here.