Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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Can you tell I'm wrapping Christmas presents at the moment?

Aloha, Wednesday friends! I'm thankful that What I Wore Wednesday has kept me from becoming complacent with my outfits and leaving the house in athletic shorts and t-shirts. But I've noticed I'm still wearing the same boring clothes as always -- just more often. I've done a good job with purchasing and wearing more jewlery, but I really need to spice up my wardrobe, mix up colors, sample new trends. Do you have any suggestions on adding a risk-taking element to a boring wardrobe? As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits.

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Wednesday
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Necklace: The Pleated Poppy
Flip-flops: Target

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Thursday
(I was going to get a better picture but we ended up taking a nice, long nap after our feast.)
Owl top: Old Navy, gift from my super-great best friend
Jeans: Paige
Earrings: thrifted

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Friday
(We did a photo shoot with our friend Li, who's also a professional photographer, to get a cute family picture [which means Conan's in it too!] for our Christmas cards. I'm not sharing the winner yet so I don't spoil the surprise for the recipients, but you can see last year's fun Hawaiian-themed Christmas card picture here.)
Red ruffled tank top: August Silk
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Coin pearl earrings: craft fair

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Saturday
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Earrings: Bealls Florida
Flip-flops: Target

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Sunday
Top: Old Navy ($4.50! It was a great deal but I wish the neckline would cooperate a little better.)
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Purse (I really want a new brown bag -- this is over four years old! I have a new one picked out; I'm just waiting... and waiting... for it to go on sale): Target
Bronze-colored earrings: Hickam AFB BX on super-great clearance

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Tuesday
(Are you a fan of paper snowflakes? I love to make new ones every year and put them up in the front window.)
Top: Color Works, Pearl Harbor NEX
Jeans: Rock & Republic
Pink earrings: thrifted

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Sandals: Kohl's
Purse: Target

pleated poppy

Tuesday Ten: "I Am..."

So I was just now doing a little blog cruising (when I should be thinking about what to make for dinner and folding laundry) and by way of a super-cute handmade bracelet on the Gussy Sews blog I found myself visiting a delightful blog called Miss Mommy. And Miss Mommy just happened to be hosting a link-up today called Tuesday Ten. One of the things I adore most in life is lists. The thought of having an excuse to share a list with you once a week is too much to resist, so I'm giving the Tuesday Ten link-up a go. Today's prompt is a fill-in-the-blank questionairre starting with "I am ___ right now." Interestingly, the very honest answers Miss Mommy herself filled into the blanks are very similar to my own thougts on life. But to avoid being redundant, I'll answer a little differently. Here goes!

1. I am... fantasizing about having another piece of Green and Black's 70% Dark Chocolate. Yum!
2. I wonder... where Jarrod and I will move after our three years in Hawaii is up. One thing I love about being a military spouse is the sense of adventure and excitement that comes with moving every three years.
3. I see... other bloggers with hundreds or thousands (or any number higher than 13) followers and feel very envious.
4. I want... A friend recently went to dinner at another couple's home and raved to me about the amazingly delicious gourmet dinner they served. I want to be the person being raved about.
5. I pretend... that I'm far more self-confident than I am.
6. I worry... incessantly. One thing I'm really worried about right now is my husband's squadron Christmas party Thursday night. It'll be the first time I've seen a former friend since the massive and horrible blow-up we had back in August. Sigh...
7. I cry... not very often. I hate everything about crying. But every once in a while, a good cry is just waht I need.
8. I hope... (selfishly) that Jarrod doesn't deploy to Afghanistan while we're in Hawaii. Or ever, if I'm being honest.
9. I dream... of having a job that I love, and where where I'll feel respected and valued, and know that I'm making an important contribution to society. Or at least a job that makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.
10. I feel... vulnerable. This turned out to be a lot harder and more introspective that I imagined!

My Happiness Project

I read a short magazine article the other day about an Australian study that found a group of women who wrote down three positive aspects of their day every evening for two weeks were significantly "more content" at the end of the study. The magazine blurb touted that readers could "be happier by New Year's Eve." Something about this piqued my interest, and I've decided to give it a try. Every day from now until December 31st, I'll write down three things that made me happy each day.

I can understand the logic of this excercise. It helps you to become more aware of pleasurable moments in your day, and if you're already on the lookout for happy things you'll probably savor them even more when they occur. Plus, it forces you to find the bright spots in even the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.

At the end of December I'll let you know if I'm feeling more content and share some of the highlights of my lists with you. For now, here are three good parts of yesterday:

1. Conan actually getting in the tub on his own when it was time for his bath. And later, running my hands along his soft, clean fur as we snuggled on the couch.
2. A hug from my husband when he's looking handsome in his Air Force blues.
3. Watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on TV.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: "A Turn in the Road"

"A Turn in the Road" by Debbie Macomber
Originally published in 2011
My rating: 3.5 out of 5

Debbie Macomber's "A Turn in the Road" was tough for me to rate. Overall, I really liked the book. Debbie's writing style is easy to read and the plot was interesting, if somewhat predictable. But then again, another thing I like about Debbie Macomber's novels is that they're feel-good books that always have a happy ending, by nature making them predictable. Still, there were a few things that irked me about Debbie M.'s latest "Blossom Street" novel.

"A Turn in the Road" takes the main character, Bethanne, her ex-mother-in-law, and her daughter on a road trip from Seattle to Florida. The central plot is that Bethanne's ex-husband of six years -- who abandoned his wife and family for a younger woman after 20 years of marriage -- has suddenly seen the error of his ways and desperately wants to reunite his family. The problem is, Bethanne is a very different person than she was six years ago; she's come into her own and now operates a very successful party business. And toward the beginning of the cross-country road trip on which Bethanne plans to decide whether or not to give her ex-husband a second chance, she meets an unlikely man who makes her heart flutter and forces her to reconsider everything.

That's all well and good. I enjoyed the plot for the most part. But I was mildly annoyed at how completely and almost sickeningly nice and selfless Bethanne is to make such a valiant effort at giving her ex-husband another chance. She's convinced that for the sake of their 20-year marriage and their two (adult!) children, she must at least attempt to make things work. Nevermind the fact that her ex-husband cheated on her, abandoned her and never looked back for six years, or the fact that she doesn't really love him anymore. Such self-sacrifice just seems like such an antiquated position on marriage and family for modern times. I felt the same about a few other parts of the novel, such as when the womens' family members don't feel it's "safe" for them to travel across the country without a man along to protect them. I was also bothered by how immaturely Bethanne's 22-year-old daughter is portrayed. Not only is she whiny, selfish and clingy, she's convinced she can manipulate the situation to make her parents fall in love again. I realize that -- at 26 -- I'm not in the same age group as Debbie Macomber's target audience, but I enjoy reading her novels along with my mom so we can talk about them together.

Sometimes I just wish Debbie would get in step with women's views of the 21st century, or maybe I should say sightly younger women's views, or maybe just my views. But perhaps the very same facets of her novels that get on my nerves are what draws some women to them. Things like family, true love, morals, and strong men romancing and taking care of women are paramount in Debbie's novels but gradually waning in today's society. Debbie's books -- and plenty of other romance series -- are a way to recapture those ideals. Either way, I'd recommend sampling this or any of Debbie's books. For the most part, I think they're enjoyable and easy reads that leave me feeling satisfied... (and occasionally annoyed).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Furry Friday

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It's been a while since I've done a Furry Friday post to show off our two furry babies, Conan and Lily. But this afternoon we're meeting up with our friend, Li -- who also happens to be a professional photographer -- to take family pictures to send out in our Christmas cards. This picture is the one that went in last year's Christmas cards and I absolutely love it. We're sticking with the Hawaiian theme this time -- Jarrod, Conan and I will all be wearing fresh-flower leis!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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Aloha, Wednesday friends! I had an interesting few days -- I spent the last two weeks knitting my fingers off to get ready for my very first craft fair, which was Saturday. Unfortunately, it didn't go all that well, but I'm trying to chalk the whole thing up to a learning experience. Then my husband arrived home on Monday after being on TDY (business trip, for you non-military folks) for two weeks, and after the stressful few weeks I had it was an absolute joy to see him. Tuesday I bought all the fixings for our Thanksgiving dinner, which I'm really looking forward to. We almost ended up taking a trip to another island over Thanksgiving, but I'm kind of glad it didn't work out. My mouth starts watering every time I think about homemade cranberry sauce! Other than the fact that the first several days of the WIWW week were spent on the couch in PJs while I crafted, I did alright with my outfits. I've been trying to wear jewelry with each outfit lately and this week was a success on that front! As always, I'm linking up to share my outfits on The Pleated Poppy.

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Saturday (craft fair)
Top (the unique feature of this top is the row of buttons down the back; next time I wear it I'll get a picture from behind): Old Navy
Skinny jeans: 7 For All Mankind (woo hoo, this is the first time I've been brave enough to wear my skinny jeans without the security of boots!)
Starfish necklace: The Vintage Pearl
Knit rosette pin: made by me
Sandals: Kohl's

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Sunday ("Breaking Dawn" with friends)
Blue tank top: Lauren Conrad, Kohl's
White tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind
Coin pearl earrings: fellow craft fair vendor
Necklace: The Vintage Pearl

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Tuesday (errands)
Gray tank top: American Eagle
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Rock & Republic
Leaf necklace: Jules Ceramics on Etsy

pleated poppy

On Failure

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I don't do well with failure. And during the past two years that we've lived in Hawaii I've learned a few things about myself, one of which is that I don't let go of negative events easily. I still catch myself ruminating about small personal slights or regrets from years ago that nobody else would even remember. So it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I signed up to have a booth at the Hickam AFB fall craft fair.

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As I carefully set up my display last Saturday morning, I hoped and wished and crossed my fingers that the day would be a success, despite the fears in the back forefront of my mind that no one would be interested in my products and I'd leave the craft fair many yarn-wrapped wreaths richer and many dollars pooer. I was already feeling vulnerable and slightly awkward about putting my own creations on display for the world to see with the expectation that people would actually want to pay money for my knitted items and go on to wear them or display them in their homes. Turns out, people didn't actually want to pay money for my knitted items.

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Hello, failure. Rarely have I felt so disheartened in my life. I only had a month and a half to prepare for the craft fair and I spent nearly every day brainstorming and creating. The past two weeks were spent with my butt on the couch (which, by this time, had molded to fit my backside perfectly) knitting and crafting almost non-stop. I made hats, mitts, coffee cup cozies, rosette pins, knitted jewelry, and 10 yarn-wrapped wreaths. I worked so hard, and (to use a cliched phrase) I put myself out there -- something that's not easy for this shy and often overly-cautious girl to do.

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I made about $100, but after the $42.50 I paid to rent a space at the fair and the cost of supplies, I actually lost money. Not to mention, I couldn't resist doing a little shopping at some of the other vendors' booths. I'm trying to put the disappointment behind me. Maybe this means my knitting isn't as great as I think it is. Or maybe my friends and family are right and it just wasn't the right venue for yarn-made crafts. It is Hawaii, after all.

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I did learn something else about myself from this experience -- not much will cheer me up like whining to my ever-patient mom on the phone for almost an hour, then hearing two of my favorite songs on the radio back-to-back while on the way to get a deliciously fattening comfort-food meal for a takeout dinner. And on the bright side, I'm now the proud owner of some gorgeous yarn-wrapped wreaths and a couple cute knitted hats!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: "Eragon"

"Eragon" by Christopher Paolini
Originally published in 2003
My rating: 4.5 out of 5


So I'm just going to come right out with it. I'm apparently in love with young adult fantasy fiction. I can't imagine any series topping "Harry Potter," but I also devoured the "Hunger Games," "Twilight" and "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series, and now I'm hooked on Christopher Paolini's "Inheritance" series. I guess there's just something about the books that draws me (and millions of other not-so-young adults) in. The plots are interesting and easy to follow. The themes are relatable. The writing style (at least of these particular series) is typically simple but not dumbed-down. They're relaxing, easy, pleasurable reads. It's so easy to get lost in these books and allow myself to be transported to another time and place, where vampires and dragons and wizards and Greek gods abound.

"Eragon" has a somewhat similar storyline to the first books in the "Harry" and "Percy" series. A normal-ish boy with no parents is suddenly thrust into a whole new life full of adventure, magic, monsters and a massive good vs. evil battle of which he turns out to be a central part. What sets this book apart is the existence of dragons and Dragon Riders, as well as new kinds of magic and some very creative villains. If you enjoyed these other books, you probably won't be able to put "Eragon" down.

One of the best parts about just now getting around to reading "Eragon" is that the fourth and final installment in the series came out this month. There's a certain savory joy that comes with anticipating the release of a new novel in a favorite series, but honestly I'd rather be able to read all the books at once. And so I shall! That is, after I read the new Janet Evanovich book, and a book I have to return to my mom, and some Christmas books...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

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Aloha, Wednesday friends! I've had a fantastic week of peppermint mochas, an awesome afternoon of snorkeling during which I saw my first octopus, and knitting like crazy to get ready for my first craft fair November 19th. (So soon! Eek!) I think I did ok with my outfits this week... I did try to wear some of my cuter shirts for regular-day tasks like running errands, which I'm proud about. That's one step in the right direction, at least! As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday.

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Thursday
Top: American Eagle
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Necklace: Bead for Life
Earrings: Hickam AFB BX

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Friday
Top: American Rag, Pearl Harbor NEX
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Earrings: Bealls Florida
Watch: Fossil

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Saturday
After I got dressed, I realized the outfit needed a little more color. I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and paired the neutral shirt and jeans with bright pink earrings and a multi-color bracelet. Success?
Owl top (LOVE!): Old Navy, birthday gift from my best buddy
Jeans: Paige, Nordstrom
Earrings: thrifted
Yarn-wrapped bangle: craft fair
Flip-flops: Target

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Monday
Cream tank top: Charlotte Russe, thrifted
White tank top: Target
Jeans: Rock & Republic, Pearl Habor NEX
Necklace: Forever 21

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Tuesday
Pink tank top: refashioned by me
White tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Necklace: The Pleated Poppy

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Over The Rainbow

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A week ago today I flew to Kauai to spend the day with my best friend, Katie, who was visiting the Garden Isle on vacation. My wonderful day started off with this stunning rainbow over Oahu, which I was lucky enough to photograph out the plane window as we were taking off from the airport. I love the beautiful blue color of the water and the hint of a double rainbow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Swimmin' In A Water Wonderland

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On Sunday Jarrod and I took a new friend to our favorite snorkeling spot in Hawaii (on the planet?), Hanauma Bay. We had a fantastic time, as always, but we saw even more amazing wildlife than normal. We went much later in the day than usual, about 4 p.m., and I guess it was dinner time for the sea turtles because we saw tons of these graceful honu.

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We also saw our first octopus! This thrilled me the most, because I have a mental list of wildlife I want to see while we're in Hawaii and an ocotopus was one of the last critters on the list that we hadn't yet encountered.

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I was fascinated by the force with which he shot water out of his siphon (that tube over by his eye). I was really hoping he'd come out of the rocks so we could see his tentacles and suction cups. He didn't do that, but at least he posed for some photos!

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As always, we saw hundreds of beautiful fish. This is the Hawaiian state fish, a triggerfish known in Hawaiian as humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday

Aloha, Wednesday friends, and happy November! I had a Starbucks peppermint mocha yesterday and I'm starting to feel the holiday spirit. How about you? I had a decent week clothes-wise. Last week I mentioned that WIWW has helped me take notice of some of my fashion quirks, and one of those is that I always "save" my cutest tops for special occasions like dinner out with friends. I'm proud to say I wore my new red ruffle tank top (something I typically would "save") to do errands, and I paired it with my brown and turquoise earrings. I'm so matchy-matchy (another fashion quirk) and I normally wouldn't put those together, but my I saw friend Jessica (who gave me the earrings) wearing her pair with a red tank top and it looked great. Even though I felt like a bit of a copycat, I was still happy to break out of my comfort zone a little. As always, I'm linking up with The Pleated Poppy to share my outfits for What I Wore Wednesday.

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Wednesday (doggie playdate)
Tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Pipe rock and turquoise Native American-made earrings: gift!

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Thursday (my birthday!)
Tank top: Elle, Kohl's
Skinny jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Pearl Harbor NEX
Earrings: Target
Brown knee-high boots: Payless
Cake: a la Julia Child

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Friday (errands)
Red tank top: August Silk, Pearl Harbor NEX
White tank top: Target
Jeans: 7 For All Mankind, Nordstrom
Earrings: gift!

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Saturday (hike to Jackass Ginger Pool)
Top: Kohl's
Shorts: American Eagle
Hat: gift (Go Broncos!)

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Tuesday (fabulous day trip to Kauai to meet up with my best friend, Katie, who's vacationing there right now)
(Soaking wet) tank top: American Rag, Macy's
Shorts: American Eagle
Starfish necklace: The Vintage Pearl
Flip-flops and purse: Target

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This is Katie. I absolutely love the way she braided her hair in the front. Too bad I can't French braid! (Her cute tank top is from Old Navy, by the way.)

pleated poppy
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