books

100 Books to Read

Book Club Flyer

I’ve been in a book slump lately.  In the last month, I have started several books, but have not finished one.  They just aren’t grabbing my attention or making me excited enough to finish them.

In searching for a good book to read, I stumbled across this list of the BBC’s Top 100 Books.  It’s from 2003 and focuses on British novels.  It’s a little dated, but classics are classics for a reason.

I am going to read all the books on this list.  Or at least attempt to.  I put X’s next to the ones I’ve already read.

I’ve read 50 of them, so I have 50 more to go.

x1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

x2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

x3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

x4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

x5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling

x6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

x7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne

x8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

x9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis

x10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

x11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller

x12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

  1. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

x14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

  1. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

x16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

x17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

x18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

  1. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
  2. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

x21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

x22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling

x23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling

x24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling

x25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

x26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

x27. Middlemarch, George Eliot

  1. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving

x29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck

x30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

  1. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
  2. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
  3. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett

x34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens

x35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

x36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute

x38. Persuasion, Jane Austen

  1. Dune, Frank Herbert

x40. Emma, Jane Austen

x41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery

  1. Watership Down, Richard Adams

x43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald

x44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

  1. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

x46. Animal Farm, George Orwell

x47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

  1. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
  2. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
  3. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

x51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

x52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck

  1. The Stand, Stephen King
  2. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  3. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth

x56. The BFG, Roald Dahl

  1. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome

x58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell

  1. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
  2. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
  4. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

x63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

  1. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
  2. Mort, Terry Pratchett
  3. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
  4. The Magus, John Fowles
  5. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  6. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
  7. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
  8. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
  9. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
  10. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

x74. Matilda, Roald Dahl

x75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

  1. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
  2. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins

x78. Ulysses, James Joyce

x79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

  1. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson

x81. The Twits, Roald Dahl

  1. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith

x83. Holes, Louis Sachar

  1. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
  2. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
  3. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
  4. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
  5. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
  6. Magician, Raymond E Feist

x90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac

  1. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  2. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
  3. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  4. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
  5. Katherine, Anya Seton
  6. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
  7. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
  8. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson

x99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

100.Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

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life

Back to School

It’s back to school time.  Even as an adult with no children, I still get excited for it.  There is something about seeing aisles filled with school supplies that makes me happy.  Yesterday, I was at Target and walked around the back to school section.  I wanted to buy it all.  However, I kept having to remind myself that I didn’t need any school supplies because I was an adult.  Whatever.

Here are my favorite back to school deals.

Amazon prime is 50% off for college students.  That’s a fantastic deal.  I mean, I use Amazon prime all of the time and would love to only pay 50% for the service.  All college students need to take advantage of this.  You never know when you need ramen delivered to your door.

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Now, Amazon even has a store for teachers.  I love it.  They have supplies in bulk, and prime 2-day shipping applies.  Now teachers don’t have to go to the store after a long day to buy more pencils.  They just have to log onto Amazon and order them.  Easy-peasy.

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I love highlighters.  This pack of sharpie highlighters have so many different colors.  It’s perfect for color-coding notes.  Bonus!  There are more yellow highlighters than any other color.  You know you will use yellow more than the others.

I was looking at school supplies and noticed something really cool.  Now, you can buy packs of school supplies in a bundle.  They have different bundles for different grade levels.  It’s so convenient.  Colored pencils, rulers, and notebooks all bundled together.  Why didn’t anyone think of that sooner?

I saw this on Amazon and had to include it on the list.  Look at this funky, foot calculator.  It comes in many different colors.  It’s just so unique.  Any quirky kid would love this in their desk.

I love Kate Spade, and I love this gold dotted spiral notebook.  If I was going back to school, I would have a backpack full of them.  But, I’m an adult, so I only ordered one.

I’m not sure what this pencil case is supposed to be, but I love how unique it is.  It looks like a blue frog.  The eyes are the best part.

I also love this owl pencil case.  It’s super cute.  I love the colors.

Say good bye to the boring, black, bulky take dispenser.  This flower tape dispenser from 3M will brighten up any desk.  If you can’t have plants in your dorm, this is a good alternative.  

travel

Road Trip-Avenue of the Giants

 

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I don’t know where this image originally came from, but I used it as a guide for our trip through the Avenue of the Giants.

Our next part of the trip took us to the Redwoods of Northern California.  For this, we went off highway 101 and took the Avenue of the Giants, which is the old highway 101.  It’s a 31 mile stretch of road that runs parallel with the new 101.  It’s a little longer, but totally worth it.  There are 51,222 acres of redwood trees.  There are places to picnic, hike, swim, fish, raft and bike.  There is something for everyone.

The main attraction is the forest.  I have never seen a forest like this.  It was so quiet and serene.  Even through the sun was shining, there were times when it was dark, and we couldn’t see the sun.  The trees were too thick.

Some must sees are:

The Immortal Tree

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This tree is over 950 years old.  While it isn’t even the oldest tree in the forest, it is a survivor.  The tree is currently only 250 feet tall, but it used to be must taller.  It survived the flood of 1964, a 1908 attempt at logging, and a lightning strike that destroyed the top half of the tree.  It is one of the first main attractions of the Avenue if you are coming from the north.

The Drive-through Tree

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The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is near the town of Myers Flat.  They do charge $5 to drive through, but it is a fun picture to take.

Rockefeller Forest

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This forest is 10,000 acres and has the 8th, 6th, 4th and 2nd tallest trees.

Scotia

I thought Scotia was really cool.  It is one of the last “company-owned” towns in California.  I didn’t even know those existed anymore.  If you go, they have the Historic Logging Museum that is only open in the summer.

Elk and other wildlife

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On our way back to the highway, we were stopped by a herd of elk on the road.  They were so close to the car that I could have rolled down the window and touched them.  Obviously, I didn’t do that because they are wild animals.  I did get some great pictures.

One note- there was some debris on the road as we went by.  It is a forest after all.  We didn’t think anything of it until we had a tire blow out not far from the Avenue of the Giants.  Our rental car was brand new, so new, in fact, we were the first renters, but our road trip had taken it’s toll.  On the side of highway 101 in the dark, my husband had to put the spare tire on the rental car.  Luckily, we weren’t far from the town we were going to stay the night it.  The next morning, we traded our rental car in for a new one.

 

entertainment

Good Girls Revolt

Image result for good girls revolt

This week, I watched the show Good Girls Revolt on Amazon.  In 1969, while a cultural revolution swept through the free world, there was still one place that refused to change with the times: newsrooms. Good Girls Revolt follows a group of young female researchers at “News of the Week,” who ask to be treated fairly. Their revolutionary request sparks convulsive changes and upends marriages, careers, sex lives, love lives, and friendships.

I absolutely loved it.  Now, it can be a like soap opera-esque, but I really enjoyed it.  The characters are interesting.  I liked that they represented different types of women in the 1960’s- the hippy, the career girl, the housewife, etc.

All of these women work for a magazine as researchers.  Some of them would like to become reporters, but the company will not allow them to.  The women band together to revolt.

The show sucked me in and made me want to fight with them.

Unfortunately,  Amazon cancelled the show.  Now, I don’t want to give away the ending of the series, but it felt really unfinished.  The entire season builds to a moment, and that moment happens in the last few minutes of the final episode.  We will never get to see the aftermath, and that is very disappointing to me.

It was such a good show and deserved a second season.  There is so much more story to tell.

travel

Road Trip- Oregon Coast

From Portland, we drove over to the Oregon Coast.  I had imagined that we would drive through some beach towns, but what we found was so much more.

We went to Astoria because of the movie, The Goonies.  While you can see The Goonies house sitting on a hill overlooking the town, it is not a tourist attraction.  Someone actually lives there, so the most you can do is pick it out of the similar looking houses while standing at the base of  the hill.  The town itself is beautiful.

To get to it, we drove over the Astoria-Megler Bridge which is four miles long.  It was such a sight.  The bridge spans the Columbia River as it meets the Pacific Ocean.  If you are in the area, it’s definitely worth driving over.

From Astoria, we drove down the 101 along the Pacific Coast.  My favorite part is that it was so beautiful.  There were vistas on the highway, so you can pull off and enjoy the view.  Trust me, it’s worth to pull off and just look at the ocean, beaches, and mountains.  Some places even have lighthouses.

Off the highway, there are so many Oregon State Parks.  Seriously, you can take almost any exit and go to the state park.  It was fantastic.  We would drive for a while and then, stop at a state park and hike or look at the ocean.  It was a great mini break from the trip.  Some of the parks have fees to enter, but if they charge, it is definitely worth it.

One park really stood out.  We stopped at Ecola State Park.  We had to drive through a forest and thought we were totally lost for a while, but then, the forest opened up to the most amazing view.  We ended up on a cliff overlooking the ocean.  We took some of my favorite photos there.

One of the biggest things that surprised me where the redwood trees.  I had never really thought of redwood trees in Oregon.  I had always associated them with California, but Oregon, especially southern Oregon, has them too.

Even thought we were there in November, the Oregon coast was amazing.  Sure we missed all of the summer things, but I still saw sea lions and walked around state parks.  It was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip.  It took us about a day and a half to drive down the coast and was out of our way, but it was worth every second.  There are so many cute, coastal towns with shops and restaurants.  It really gave us a feel for what Oregon is all about.

entertainment

Mr. Robot

I have to write about a show that I am absolutely obsessed with-Mr. Robot. I started watching it Sunday night and as of right now, Tuesday afternoon, I have finished the first two seasons. Now, I have to wait for the third one. I’m a fan of binge watching TV shows, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so enthralled in a show before. I highly recommend it. 
 
Mr. Robot is about Elliot, a cyber-security worker by day and a hacker by night. He is recruited by Mr. Robot, played by Christian Slater, to join fsociety, a hacker group like anonymous. Fsociety is targeting E corp, or evil corp, as Elliot calls it. E corp is a large client of the company Elliot works for, Allsafe.  
 
You don’t have to good with computers to be sucked into this thriller. Seriously, my mom who can barely operate her cell phone told me to watch me robot. It’s such a good thriller. The summary doesn’t do the show justice because it’s hard to explain the show without giving away the plot. There are so many plot twists. Usually I can spot a plot twist before it happens, but Mr. Robot still managed to surprise me.
 
I don’t want to give too much away but I loved it. I watched all 22 episodes in 2 days. The first two season are available on Amazon prime. Seriously, watch it before the third season comes out in October.  
travel

Road Trip Part 3-Portland

Our next stop on our road trip was Portland.  I was so excited to visit Portland, and it was just as quirky as I imagined it.  There really isn’t’ a better word to describe Portland except quirky.

Parks

Portland has so many great parks.  When I was looking into Portland, I was surprised to see how many parks were labeled as must-sees. Since we couldn’t spend all day driving around looking at Parks, we picked Cathedral Park and Forest Park, which are across the river from each other, connected by St John’s Bridge.  Cathedral Park is very pretty.  It’s basically a hill and has great views of the bridge above it.

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Driving down St John’s Bridge towards Forest Park

While Cathedral Park is like a normal park with grass and a few trees, Forest Park is, well, like a forest.  It has huge trees and covered in moss.  Both are worth the checking out.

The Grotto

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The Grotto is a truly unique place.  It is a religious shrine in the side of a mountain.  It’s so peaceful and serene.  It totally unexpected in the middle of the city.  While it is a religious site, I don’t think you have to be religious to really appreciate the beauty of it.

Pearl District

The Pearl District was our last stop in Portland.  It’s such a cute area with great, little shops.  I recommend stopping at Powell’s bookstore.  Husband found some really old books that he had been looking for and couldn’t find online.

travel

Road Trip Part 2-Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens

Mount Rainier

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Mount Rainer was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  It’s south of Seattle, and it is a must see.  It’s so beautiful and just amazing.  We went in early November, so it wasn’t very crowded.   There were still a lot of people there.

Driving up the mountain was a little nerve-wracking.  I’m a nervous passenger to begin with, so I was really driving my husband crazy as he drove up the mountain.    Sometimes the road was so windy that it looked like we were going to drive off the edge of the mountain.

Luckily, there were lots of places to pull off and take pictures.  We stopped every so often and hiked.  It was so quiet and peaceful.

We drove up the mountain as far as we could.  Unfortunately, it was snowing hard, so the park closed the road at a certain part, so we couldn’t go any further.   We did see people climbing up to the summit even in the snow.  It was amazing to see them all the way up towards the top.

Mount St Helens

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We had spent so much time at Mount Rainier, that I wasn’t sure that we would be able to go to Mount St Helens.  It was ok, but was one of those things that I wasn’t sure that was worth the time.

Mount St. Helens is a volcano.  Since I had never seen a volcano before, I was pretty excited.

It was cloudy when we went, so we didn’t really get to see much.  Plus, since it was November, there wasn’t much to see.  We could see the smoke from the top, but it was hard to tell what was smoke and what was cloud.

I was so excited to see Mount St Helens, so it was a little disappointing.  When planning for the time, everything online said that if you had to choose between Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens, Mount St Helens was better.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I loved Mount Rainier and didn’t really care for Mount St Helens.

Maybe if we went during the summer, I would like it better.

After a disappointing trip to Mount St Helens, we drove to Portland for the night.  The next morning, I had the best view of Mount St Helens.  If I had known that I could see it that good from my hotel window, I wouldn’t have driven all the way out there.

A tip if you are going to either or both: Make sure you write down the directions.  We just used our phones.  Well, we planned on using our phones.  Being from the flat Midwest, I didn’t even think about cell reception.  We didn’t have any basically the entire time we were driving between Mount Rainier and Mount St Helens.  We got lost a lot, and had to keep stopping and asking for directions.

 

travel

Road Trip Part 1-Seattle

A few months ago, my husband and I took a road trip down the west coast.  Neither of us had ever been to the west coast, so it was a great adventure.  We did a lot of research ahead of time, but decided not to make any solid plans besides flights, renting a car, and a hotel for the first night in Seattle.  Everything else was planned the day of, and it was a blast.

In eight days, we drove from Seattle to San Francisco.  It was a once in a lifetime trip, and I am so happy that we did it.

Ove the next couple of posts, I’m going to talk about what we saw and did during our trip.  IF you ever get the chance to do drive down the west coast, I highly recommend it.

Here is the route we took on your trip:

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As you can see, we didn’t just drive in a straight line.  We went a little of out the way to see thing things we wanted to see.  Before we left for our trip, we made an outline of the things we absolutely had to see.  It looked like:

Seattle

Mount Rainer

Mount St Helen’s

Portland

Oregon Coast

Redwood forest

San Francisco

When we arrived in Seattle, we picked up a rental car, and spend one day exploring the city before hitting the road the next morning.

Seattle was amazing.  My only regret of the trip was that I wished I had planned to stay there longer.  I can’t wait to go back.

There are so many must see things in Seattle that it was hard to narrow them down.  Here are the things that we did while in Seattle.

Pikes Place Market

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This outdoor market is famous for the fish sellers who throw fish.  In person, it really is incredible to see.  But, Pike’s Place Market offers so much more.  They have the first Starbucks ad the world famous gum wall.  So, stick your gum on the wall, grab some coffee, and wander around the neighborhood.  We had so much fun exploring the shops in the area and admiring the views of the water.

Space Needle 79
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No trip to Seattle is complete without seeing the iconic Space Needle.  While it is visible in the skyline, it’s really amazing up close.  I recommend going up it because you have such great views of the city.  Pictures don’t do it justice.

So much plaid, rain, and coffee!  Seattle was my kind of place.  The next time we go, we have to take a ferry to some of the islands and hike.  Hopefully, we can go some time in the next year.  I’m itching to go back.

Seattle was one of the biggest highlights of our trip.

Up next, hiking Mount Rainer and Mount St Helen’s.

life · Uncategorized

Bad Neighbors

One year ago today, my husband and I bought our first home.  In our first year, we have learned a lot.  We have torn down wallpaper and painted.  We added a new deck and had to replace our shower.  It’s been an expensive year.

We bought our house from an 89 year old man, the original owner.  He was no longer able to take care of it, but we could tell that he took excellent care of it until the last couple of years.  One of the things he couldn’t take care of anymore was the yard.

When we bought the house, the yard was 50% weeds and all of the garden areas were overgrown.  In fact, two months ago, my husband was mowing when he discovered landscape rock in the middle of the yard.  Upon further investigation, we discovered that it was a garden area.  It was so overgrown that we couldn’t even see the rock and thought it was part of the yard.

Since the spring time, I have been spending at least ten hours a week working in the yard.  I have managed to kill most of the weeds in the grass and started growing grass in the bald patches.  I have managed to clear out two of the garden areas and start to grow flowers.

However, some areas are still looking rough, but I’m going to get to them.  It’s pretty obvious that I’m working hard on the yard.  I have a full time job, so I can’t spend all of my time out there working, but I try.

Since we are working on making the grass healthy and focusing on growing new grass from seeds, we are keeping our yard a little longer this summer.  I read that cutting it once every two weeks instead of every week will help thicken my grass.  Yes, it’s a little long, but I never let it look too bad.

Last week, I was using the weed wacker when we ran out of string for it.  I only managed to get the front yard and part of the backyard done.  I couldn’t get the top off the weed wacker to replace it, so I asked my husband to do it.

Turns out that we were out of string, so he had to buy more.  He said he would take care of it, so I didn’t bother him about it.  That was Sunday.  Friday, he finally went to the store and bought the string.  He was going to do it today.

This next part makes my blood boil.  I don’t know if I am embarrassed or angry.

Last night, my next door neighbor, who doesn’t have a job and spends all day in his yard, rang my doorbell and asked if he could weed wack my yard.  The reason? Because he’s having a party on Sunday and wants the backyard to look good.

What the heck?

In the year we have lived here, I have only said hello to him a few times.  I don’t know him or his wife’s name. And he comes over and basically says that my yard is such an eyesore that he wants to clean it up, so his friends won’t think our yard looks bad?

I never said anything when he decided to use power tool in his yard at 1 am last Tuesday.   Because I’m a good neighbor.

I can’t even verbalize how I feel.  I’m so embarrassed and mad.  That was rude of him, right?  I mean, the grass is cut.  Only the edges by the fence are a little long and there are some weeds in the garden areas.

I think I’m still in shock that he would say that.

I mean, I don’t even know the guy.  He didn’t say anything to me yesterday when I was out there pulling weeds.

Now, I’m faced with a dilemma.  I was planning on spending all day weeding the garden areas in the backyard, but now, I don’t want him to think I was just doing it because he said something.  Is that petty?

Probably.

But I think he was being rude.  Now, I have to live next door to these people.  It’s going to be awkward because I’m going to hold a grudge.  I think I’m justified in that.  I can’t decide who is the bad neighbor- him or me?

Maybe we both are.