Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January: Books I Read

I have been wanting to read more, so at the beginning of the year I set a Goodreads goal of 24 books in 2017. That’s two books per month, in case you had trouble doing the math ;). So far I have finished four, so I am two books ahead of schedule! I really like using Goodreads to track books that I have read, books that I want to read, and also to track how far along I am in each book. It is so satisfying to me to check in each time I read and see my progress increase as I inch closer to my goal.

I like to read a mixture of genres, and I find different times of the day are better suited to different genres as well as different formats. I really like borrowing audiobooks from my local library through the OverDrive app for my walk to and from work (about 35 minutes round trip each day) and I find I do better with autobiographies when I am listening – I especially like when the author reads it as well. Before bed, however, I like a real book that I can turn the pages on. This is when I like to read fiction, my favourites being either the classics or chick lit. I like switching between a more dense, more involved classic novel and a mindless, light-hearted chick lit novel. I also like to have other books on the go that fall into either professional development, spiritual, lifestyle, or health/wellness. Sometimes I have a lot of these on the go, and sometimes just one. It kind of depends on what extra time I have. Right now I am taking two night classes, so the only reading I can really get in is right before bed and while I walk.

So, on to the books that I read this month!

I Heart Paris – Linsdey Kelk
This was the first book that I finished in 2017. I had actually started it at some point in 2016 (I have a lot that I started in 2016 and never finished). I first found Lindsey Kelk when I read The Single Girl’s To-Do List and I enjoyed it so much that I sought out other novels written by her. I came across the I Heart series and quickly became hooked on the adventures of Angela with her best friend Jenny, her boyfriend Alex, and her friends and family back home in England. As the title suggests, the majority of this book took place in Paris, which I really enjoyed. Lindsey Kelk has a major talent for describing the setting and each story speaks to the wanderlust in my heart. This is the third book in the series, following behind I Heart New York and I Heart Hollywood.

I Heart Vegas – Lindsey Kelk
The fourth in the series above, I enjoyed this book too and flipped through it pretty quickly. I have actually already read the fifth book in the series first; it was pretty hard to get actual print copies of these books when I was looking, and I got my hands on the fifth one first. Even with reading the book that came after, I Heart Vegas as well as I Heart Paris we still great and the story wasn’t ruined by knowing what came next (Angela still got into mishaps and kept me on my toes!). I highly recommend this series if you enjoy light-hearted reads.

Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
I had started this book long, long ago. Long before the movie was even a thought. For some reason, I got half-way through her time in India and I just never picked it up again. I haven’t let myself watch the movie all this time, because I wanted to finish the book first. So, when we moved in to our place after getting married and I started walking to work, I knew which book to choose to listen to while I walked. I enjoyed this book, as much as I enjoy any book that involves travel and other countries. I really liked how Elizabeth Gilbert was reading her work too – it always seems better when the author can read it because he or she can place emphasis in the same places that they would have when thinking and creating the work. I think this book had some good messages about not letting life control you and taking the time to slow down and find peace. I do think, however, that you would want to find your own Truth before reading or listening to this book, because someone who is searching could really be swayed.

I picked up this book on the recommendation of my friend Brandi. This book is a really aesthetically pleasing discussion on and guide to simple living. I know that minimalism and simple living has really almost become a fad lately, but this book goes beyond that. (And, honestly, it’s becoming a fad because so many people are recognizing the value in it). Erin Boyle talks about her approach to possessions, space, and even time. This book is something I know I will read over and over again and refer back to through different times in my life. I find her words both inspiring and calming – her approach being so peaceful that reading what she has to say almost provides a tranquility that I’m sure would be heightened by following some of her methods.

There you have it! The four books that I read this month. I hope to come back next month with a few more books to share. Until then, do you have any recommendations for me? Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? What else did you read this month?

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Monday, January 30, 2017

We Were Wed

wedding, saskatchewan, catholic, catholic wedding, saskatoon

On a lovely, not quite snowy enough day in December, Daniel and I stood before our friends and family. We held each other's hands, said our vows, took part in the Wedding Mass and joined many others before us in taking that integral step towards loving each other for the rest of our lives.

It was a beautiful day, with so many loving people.

Since then we have moved into our first home together, traveled for our honeymoon, celebrated my birthday, celebrated Christmas with our families, celebrated the New Year, I went back to work after a month off, I began a new semester of university night classes, we have meal planned, we have disregarded meal plans, we have been present at the baptism of our niece (and goddaughter), we have celebrated Daniel's birthday, we have traveled for a family wedding, we have visited Daniel's brother and his family, and we have done all of this while trying to figure out this marriage thing.

I always knew that marriage wasn't some magical switch where everything became perfect once we were wed. We knew that there would be some struggles, old and new. Maybe some things were easier, like not having to drive home at the end of the evening, and being able to be together while getting necessary things done around the house. But then there were the hard things. Things we anticipated, and things that we didn't. It has already been a beautifully hard and refining journey, and we're only about two months in.

The sacrament of marriage brings grace. The grace that is necessary in order to love the person before you. We have absolutely failed in many regards, but we have grown and succeeded too. Here's to a lifetime of loving one another <3.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Saying Thank You

With all of the events leading up to our wedding, I have had a lot of opportunity to write thank you notes recently. With more than one shower and a bachelorette party, we have received so many generous gifts, and we of course wanted to extend our gratitude. This has led me to realize that I have a bit of an obsession with thank you notes and stationery. There are so many cute options out there, and there is something about book and stationery stores that could keep me browsing for hours on end.

I have found that events surrounding a wedding have a bit more of a generous timeline. You still want to keep it within a month or so, but you have a little extra time.
What is your opinion on thank you notes? Where do you like to shop for them? Any particular favourites? I'm always looking to add more to the ones I have on hand!

I had never really sent a thank you note until I went on a summer mission that required asking for financial support. I sent a thank you to everyone who supported me, either financially or those who committed to supporting me through prayer. I've honed my skills a little bit and feel little less awkward writing down my thanks now, so I thought I'd share a bit here!

What to Say
I actually really like to focus on something other than the gift first. If the gift was given at or in relation to an event, thank them for attending, or if they weren’t able to attend, still mention how lovely the event was and that you wish they could have been there (nicely – don’t make them feel bad for not being there!).

Of course there are some instances where you’re really just thanking them for the gift (or service), in that case go straight to thanking them for the gift/service but then add in something else about your relationship. You could tell them how you appreciate their friendship, say you would like to get together soon, let them know you'll send an update soon, or mention that you hope you can return the favour in the near future.

When mentioning the gift, there are a few ways to go about it. You can be a little more general and just say thank you for their gift or you can actually name the item. If there were multiple items, I find it is best to keep it general. In the case of monetary gifts, I always keep it general and refer to it as their “generous gift.” For gifts that are things, I like to mention how we’ll use it or what I’m excited for about it. If it was a service, I like to mention how it helped us out, and if it was a monetary gift, I like to mention what we’re thinking of putting it towards or how it will help us in a slightly more specific way.

First of all, being prompt is best. For birthday, anniversary, special events, or random gifts, I would say that writing and sending your thank you within a week is the timeline I like to stick to. However, you can gauge the situation best. There isn’t actually a rule here, so you can choose! Just think about if you were on the receiving end, when would you like to receive it?

Weddings are also a little different, there is a larger socially acceptable time period for a thank you card. This may have something to do with the sheer volume of thank yous usually coming after a wedding, and also the whole settling into life as a newly married couple, maybe even coming back from a honeymoon too. Even still, some websites say that as long as you get the thank you out within the next year you’re good, but I’d say that’s still pushing it. Stick to as soon as you can after the wedding, and try not to exceed three or four months.

Other Tips
- Spell names correctly
- Keep your audience in mind (maybe save that funny and slightly vulgar thank you card for someone other than your conservative aunt).
- Sometimes it’s even sweet to include a picture of the gift being used (a toy for your child, an outfit for your dog, flowers in a vase).
- Even if you don’t like the gift, send a thank you! And don’t let your opinion of the gift show in your thank you (no one likes rudeness in the form of passive aggressive thank yous).
- Don’t OVER thank. There is such a thing as overkill and you don't want to get caught in a revolving thank you door.

Other Ways of Saying Thank You
Sometimes a thank you card might be a bit of an overkill (see above), or the person you’re wanting to thank doesn’t have a permanent address. Whatever the reason, sometimes you just don’t want to send a thank you card, but you still want your gratitude to be known. You can send a text, an e-mail, give the person a call, or set up a coffee date where you treat… Thank you cards are not the be-all-end-all, they’re just a nice gesture! And on that note, not everyone feels the same way as you, so if someone else doesn’t say thank you in any way, try your best not to take offense – more likely than not it just didn’t cross their mind. (It is best to assume innocence).

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