Thursday, January 22, 2015

Subscription Boxes and Me...

At some point in 2014, I discovered the concept of monthly product boxes.  I signed up for several and then stuck with my favorites.

Companies like Glossybox and BirchBox and LootCrate and NerdBlock offer a subscription where you pay a monthly fee and you receive a box of goodies each month.

My absolute favorite favorite favorite is Glossybox
I pay $21 each month and I get five awesome luxury skin/hair/makeup products.  In every case, the value of the items has been far greater than the $21 I paid.  I have never been disappointed.  In May of last year I believe the box was worth over $200.  I have received so many delicious products that I otherwise would never have found.  You can gift a box subscription to someone else or keep all the awesome for yourself.

I also tried the BirchBox beauty box and while I really like the company and they offered some great products, I just felt that Glossybox was better.  BirchBox is a bit less expensive at I think $15/month, but the products are slightly less luxurious.   I discontinued my subscription.

After discovering beauty boxes, I discovered nerd boxes.  I ordered both the Loot Crate and the Nerd Block for Zack for Christmas.  We liked both boxes but we decided to keep the Loot Crate subscription.  Nerd Block is more expensive at I think $29 plus shipping (comes with a t-shirt every month though) and comes from Canada so the shipping takes forever.  Loot Crate is under $20 per month including shipping.  Zack loves getting nerdy goodies each month.  October was particularly fun because we were right in the middle of a Firefly obsession.  What I've done since discovering these is have his grandparents gift him a subscription for Christmas each year.  He gets a little reminder of their love every month.

Continuing on the idea of grandparent gifting, Skyler was gifted a subscription to iBbeautiful for teens.  I did quite a bit of research and really liked this girl power company.  This is what their boxes look like.  She's very excited to get something new in the mail each month.

I was going to say that Matt was left out of the monthly gift box sitch but remembered that I enrolled him in the Dollar Shave Club.
Matt was complaining that replacement blades are so flipping expensive.  FB recommended this to me based on a few friends liking it and so after several weeks of adding the subscription to the cart and then not checking out, they offered to give me the first month free.  We got the box quickly and were very impressed.  We chose the $6/month option and received one handle and 4 new blades.  I can assure you we never change blades that often.  Next month I'm going to order a second handle and then the whole house will be good to go with this subscription.  

After all of these excellent experiences, I'm eyeballing The Book Riot Quarterly subscription for book lovers.  The only thing keeping me from hitting subscribe is that it's $50.  Which is technically less than the other ones I pay for but...I don't know.  I'm nervous.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to do it though.  You can't talk me out of book goodies.  I lurve me some books.

Do you subscribe to any goody boxes?  Which are your favorites?  Have I convinced you to try one?  If you go down the rabbit hole, you can find a box for any interest.  Just ask, I love shopping with other people's money.  I'll find it for you ;)


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2014 Book Review...

end of year/review of year tomayto/tomahto
Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting her fifth annual book survey.  Check that and links to other's here.

Number Of Books You Read:  101
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: memoir

(book links below are processed through my affiliate relationship with amazon)

1.  Best Book you Read in 2014?
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Edge of Eternity (Century Trilogy #3) by Ken Follett

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Honor Among Thieves (The Honorables, #1) by Elizabeth Boyce

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Best Series:  The Honorables by Elizabeth Boyce
Best Sequel:  Silkworm by JK Rowling (winner by default)
Best Series Ender:  Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett (also by default)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
New to me - Mary Roach.  I quickly gobbled up all of her funny quirky books.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn maybe or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
I rarely reread.  Too many books not enough time.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Honor Among Thieves by Elizabeth Boyce

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Malala Yousafzai from I Am Malala

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell because sometimes you just want a sweet book with no characters you dislike. This was a sweet book.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” 
― Bryan StevensonJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
“Faced with the Divine, people took refuge in the banal, as though answering a cosmic multiple-choice question: If you saw a burning bush, would you (a) call 911, (b) get the hot dogs, or (c) recognize God? A vanishingly small number of people would recognize God, Anne had decided years before, and most of them had simply missed a dose of Thorazine.” 
― Mary Doria RussellThe Sparrow  
“I do what I do without hope of reward or fear of punishment. I do not require Heaven or Hell to bribe or scare me into acting decently.” ― Mary Doria RussellThe Sparrow  
“The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right.” ― Christopher HitchensMortality 
“Or to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

It's a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I'd say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.” 
― George SaundersCongratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2014?
Longest:  Edge of Eternity at 1,098 pages
Shortest: The Five Orange Pips at 40 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Less shocked and more just in awe of the ways in which women are treated around the world, and that those ways have been determined acceptable:  The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
From Veronica Mars #1, The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, Veronica and Logan 4EVA!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
The Paris Architect, Lucien's relationship with his conscience. 

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Mortality, by Christopher Hitchens. I love his wit and sarcasm.

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
Just Mercy - Jon Stewart had the author on and just based on their short discussion I wanted to read the book.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Brandon Dewhurst from Honor Among Thieves

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
The Honorables Series

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
I have a thing for WWII books because the setting of Europe in that era just goes beyond my understanding no matter how much I read.  I read The Dream, Slaughterhouse-Five, The All-Girls Filling Station's Last Reunion, The Paris Architect, Letters From Skye, Life After Life, and War Brides.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell was adorable.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Just Mercy

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Just Mercy

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Seconds: A Graphic Novel - I don't read or have not read many graphic novels so this was different for me.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

2014 End of Year Questionnaire...

Farewell 2014

1.  What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Where to start?  I had two kids in middle school at the same time.  I read 101 books.  I worked the beer tent at several outside concerts so my kid could play soccer.  I started following my tween on Instagram.  I cleaned a meth lab.  I wrote a letter to someone in jail.  I climbed a ropes course not made by drunk dads with power tools.  I celebrated 15 years of married bliss.  Woopsie... I just got lost in a rabbit hole of facebook memories...

2.  Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I am trying to kick drinking coke.  I haven't had one in 2015 (yet).  I have honest to god cravings like I want a cigarette.  I miss it, I love it, I want to drink all the cokes.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES!  ZOMG I'm so in love.

This gorgeous little bug is Caroline.  She came into the world full of sass in November and hasn't stopped hollering about it since.  This picture you see here is after three hours of the baby dance while simultaneously patting her butt.  I got to sit for 30 seconds before she started fussing.  It's like Zack has been reborn as a feisty little redhead.  I knew the look in my cousin Montana's eye when she was talking to me and her eyelids were drooping so I did all the gymnastics and she got a nice nap (on the floor under the Christmas tree where she dropped).  It's great that she is the most chill first-time Mom I've ever come across.  I was in tears while also sweating buckets when I was in this place.

My cousin Amie also had a darling little feist-monger named Crosby in March.  Am has also become an expert at the baby dance, bouncing, never leaving her house, and wearing ear plugs.  I've met Crosby twice and each time got only a perfunctory baby sniffing in before he told me who had top billing in his world, MOM.

They make the feisty ones extra cute.

4.  Did anyone close to you die?
Mmmm.  Yes.  One of my very best friends lost her father in 2014.  It was hard to watch her go through because her dad died slowly of cancer,whereas my experience with my own dad dying was like ripping off a bandage.  I felt all the feels for her whole family and all the ways that words fail me in helping someone through this stage we all go through in life.  The thing is, nothing we say will make it better.  Our experience won't change another's.  We just have to be present for each other and jump in to lend a hand when we can.

And then there was the death of Robin Williams which hit me really hard.  I've wanted to write about it but haven't been able to.  It might seem slightly ridiculous to be hit hard by a celebrity death.  I certainly didn't expect to be.  But... Robin Williams was sort of this amazing person that lead the fight that so many of us with depression and anxiety do.  His death taught us that no matter your station in life, depression can hit you and hit you hard.  What was difficult for me to get over was that he seemed to be in a good place, not using drugs or alcohol, having a new hit show, a happy family, yet depression and the feeling that it's easier to just end it all still got him.  He had all the resources that the average person with a mental illness might not have and it didn't matter.  It felt like a huge blow. It felt like this is inescapable. It felt like every good day has a dark day lurking ahead.  Blah.  I'm doing better today.

5.  What countries did you visit?
Fat-town and Anxiety-ville.  :)

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Peace of mind.  Combobulation of "the schedule" (aka The Book of Molnar).  To have written more.  To have practiced yoga frequently.

7.  Which dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'd like to preface my comments with "None because I can't remember shit, forget dates.  I can remember moments."  Well of course there was ALL the soccer with the World Cup to boot.  There were the births of two babies into the family which is always exciting.  I started to feel that Zack is finding his groove in life.  In all honesty, I don't have specific 2014 moments that were specifically different.  Just lots of living life which is the peace I like, slow and steady...  Oh shit, see I forgot one... I TURNED 40! I think this is a pretty clear example of how that went.

8.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I've got a nerdy personal achievement - I read over 100 books this year.  I LOVE reading.  I love making lists of books to read, reading blogs about books, and listening to podcasts about books.  When Skyler got a concussion this year and was given the instruction "no reading" I became convicted to never do anything that will result in a concussion ever.   I think it's best if I stay inside, where there are books.

9.  What was your biggest failure?
My weight/health, why hello there 200lbs nice to meet you now fuck off.  The lovely combination of connective tissue disease/steroids/shitty diet has kicked my genetic predisposition for diabetes into action.  Yay me.  I am working on this one so that it doesn't become an even bigger failure this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'd like to quote myself from January 2013's post about 2012:
Oh of course I did.  If you've been around longer than three minutes you know I'm a hot mess.  In addition to the two bouts of pneumonia and the broken nose, there was the ever present arthritis and anxiety and I'm sure more than a few cold viruses to keep things nicely rounded out.
 This year I didn't break anything and didn't get full-fledged pneumonia but I distinctly remember a breathing treatment, the usual aches and pains, and the diabetes shit.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
It's so hard to narrow down.  I lurve me some retail therapy.  Right now I'm loving my lucky brand blue leather tote bag something fierce.  I love good skin care products (shout out to Glossy Box.  We can talk about this later).  Oh and xanax is an insane bargain at $2 for a month's supply.  Sanity in a little red Target bottle for $2.00.  I don't think anyone could argue that that is the best.

12.  Whose behavior merited celebration?
My dear husband received his college diploma this year and I would like to celebrate that behavior.

Also, Jon Stewart's behavior makes me celebrate on the daily and John Oliver is coming along quite nicely in the snarky Brit category, let's celebrate that.

13. Whose behavior appalled you?
Mmm.  Let's go with North Korea.  Oh oh.  Nope.  Nope.  It was someone else.  See question 1.

14.  Where did most of your money go?
Soccer and video games.

15.  What did you get really, really, really, excited about?
I'm pretty hard to excite.  Snark and stoicism are my bailiwick.

16.  Fav song of the year?
As discussed in previous blog posts, I have little knowledge or taste in music and so I feel comfortable sharing that I loved Taylor Swift's new album 1989.

17.  Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder
b) thinner or fatter
c) richer or poorer - I'm not entirely sure.  No big leaps in either direction, we can say that.

18.  What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I would have followed through more.  Edited: I wish I'd read more of the blogs I used to love so much.  I especially miss Swistle.  Google reader basically killed blogging.  Damn Google and your awesome power.  I'm going to read all of Swistle's back posts!!  Squirrel!!

19.  What do you wish you'd done less of?
Sweat.  Are summers getting hotter or am I just starting my dream job of crotchety old lady early?

20.  How did you spend Christmas?
The four of us opened gifts in the morning and then Matt made breakfast.  I took a nap (duh) while the kids made use of their new electronic babysitters.  Then we got up and went to enjoy dinner with our besties Mike, Amy, Nate and Claire.  They employ a strict pajamas only Christmas gathering which is only one of the reasons we love them.

21.  Did you fall in love in 2014?
Mmmm.  Not in the traditional sense.  I fall in love with my family every day (even if I don't always like them).  I just knew I would love new babies so that wasn't so much falling.

22.  What was your favorite TV show?
Okay, confession time.  I am a television whore (like you didn't know that).  I love nothing better than a rainy Saturday spent bingeing on an entire season of one show.  HBO, Netflix,  and BBC-A are in the lead for best series this year.  Have you seen Orphan Black?  Give Tatiana Maslany all of the awards right this minute.  All of them.  She plays what...ten characters in the first season alone?

23.  Do you hate strongly dislike anyone/thing now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Mmmm.  No.  I'm sticking with the same grudges as usual I think.

24.  What was the best book you read?
Oh you want me to choose between my children huh?   Well don't tell them I said so but checking my goodreads feed, I had several 5 star level loves.  Truth Within Dreams, Attachments, The Means of Reproduction, Honor Among Thieves, Lean In, Just Mercy (oooh this one might be the winner.  tears produced is usually a good sign), I Am Malala, Life After Life...  Clearly I like a good memoir.

Just for kicks - worst books might be... Green Girl which I actively disliked and The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green (mostly because I cannot remember what this book was about at.all)

25.  What was your greatest musical discovery?
It's safe to say I make no musical discoveries.  Can we count audio books?  I love a good audio book.

26.  What did you want and get?
More naps.

27.  What did you want and not get?
World peace continues to evade me.

28.  What was your favorite film of this year?
I'm becoming more open or perhaps better impressed with books that have been turned into movies.  I really enjoyed Gone Girl and The Fault in Our Stars.  Our family most watched movie of the year was Pitch Perfect.  We all watched that one over and over.

29.  What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 40.  We traveled to New England and I think on that day, my Mom had a big BBQ and I got to visit with friends and family that I don't always have time to see when we're flying through.

30.  Who did you miss?
Mom although we managed to get together several times last year.  Hopefully she'll have moved down here by the end of 2015.

31.  Who was the best new person you met?
Skyler started middle school and I've enjoyed getting to know her new friends.

32.  Tell a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?
Apparently the answer to life (besides 42) is diet and exercise, diet and exercise.  When you begin to doubt that, the answer is diet and exercise.

Monday, January 05, 2015

A Classic Example of my lack of follow through...(2013 End of Year Questionnaire...(I'm late. What of it?))

Answers to previous years are here: 20082009, 2010 (did I miss a year?), 2011, 2012

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
I "ran" a 5k.  It was a blast!  In June I had planned to go with friends and take pictures while they ran the Dirty Girl 5k in the Pokonos.  The night before the event we might have imbibed a bit too much and one of the ladies did not find herself well enough to participate the next morning.  Since I was wearing the t-shirt to show support and I had sneakers with me, I had the ridiculous idea of just being her for the event.  I had an absolutely wonderful time.  There wasn't much running, I hurt my knee, and there was mud in places that should never be muddy but I was so so proud of myself.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I still don't make resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My dear friend Lisa had a beautiful baby girl in November.  I only wish that I was closer so that I could hold that little bundle of cuteness.  My cousin Holly also had a baby girl.  I haven't seen Holly in many years so it's nice that FB keeps us in contact.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I would like to not have any anxiety attacks - I think this one will happen.  I finally found a life changing medication that is working.

I would like to have better eating habits - this one isn't looking good if you use January as an example.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

9. What was your biggest failure?


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

14. Where did most of your money go?

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend Christmas?

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

22. What was your favorite tv show?

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read in 2013?

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?

27. What did you want and not get?

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

35. Who did you miss?
My Mom

36. Who was the best new person you met?

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013?

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Happy 2014 - I think it's going to be awesome!

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