Show Us Your Books – October Edition

Happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! Here’s what I’ve been reading recently!

(Apologies for the tight spacing on this post. The latest WordPress update made things funky and no matter how much extra space I try to insert between paragraphs/photos, it keeps crowding it all together!)

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Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs

*This book was released on October 1. I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley.*

Goodreads * Amazon

I came across this at random while browsing NetGalley and recognized the author’s name but couldn’t think of what I knew him from. He’s written a bunch of best seller memoirs (I think “Running with Scissors” is the best known.) This one is woven around the phenomenon he’s experienced his whole life. His mother told him he was a witch, but to be honest it mostly sounds like what we know as intuition and the law of attraction. Whatever you want to label it, the book is filled with interesting stories of knowing things he couldn’t have known, willing things  into happening, etc. Even more than that, it’s a memoir of he and his husband moving from NYC to an old house in Connecticut. Whether you buy into the magical aspect or not, it’s a fun read with good storytelling.

Next Level Basic by Stassi Schroeder

Goodreads * Amazon

You guys… I have no idea why I requested this book. I heard the author on a podcast and they were talking about her book, and I guess that it sounded interesting enough that I decided to check it out? What was I thinking? I’ve never seen the reality show she’s on, and it’s just not my kind of book. The writing is vapid and just… bad. (She frequently tacks “AF” onto things for emphasis, for example.) Most of the content would have been better as blog posts than a book. For example, there’s a whole multi-page thing about what kind of person you are based on what percentage of cell phone charge you have. No, really. It would be cute as a Buzzfeed-style post, but not in a book. Would I have maybe liked it better as an audiobook? I downloaded an episode of the author’s podcast just to see if I was missing something, but… nope. Definitely not for me.

I always try to find something positive to say about books, and in this case the underlying message of the book is a good one – to like what you like no matter if it’s considered cliche or silly.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott

Goodreads * Amazon

I loved Anne’s “Bird by Bird” so much that I had to request this when I saw it on my library’s website. I got the audiobook because I love how this author reads her books, then was totally disappointed to discover it’s a different person reading it. Then a few minutes in I figured out that it was a novel, not another memoir. Oops. That’s what I get for requesting a book just based on the author! I listened for almost an hour but it’s like 12 hours long and just not my kind of book, so I went ahead and returned it. Lesson learned!

Currently Reading:

I got an ARC of Rachel Maddow’s new book and I AM SO EXCITED. She’s one of my favorite humans and an awesome author.

Linking up with Life According to Steph and Jana Says. They’re hosting a giveaway in honor of the five-year anniversary of the link-up, so be sure to check it out!

Friday Favs – October

Happy Friday, friends! Do you guys ever have those months where you blink and they’re over? That’s pretty much me right now. Where did September go? I guess temperatures in the 90s make it feel like it’s still August?

I had zero writing work last week because the company’s offices were closed for a retreat, but oh man have I been making up for it. I think the most descriptions I’d previously ever written in one day was around 27, but I did 35 on Tuesday. I’m at 110 for this week and still have more to go. Yay, money! But wow I’m tired. As much as I’m looking forward to cuddling my horses tomorrow, I kind of hope it storms so I can come home and nap.

Most of this post has been sitting as a draft for weeks, so let’s get going already!

1. My favorite hand soap is back at Target! It’s rare for me to like any kind of scented product, but this stuff is awesome and only shows up in the fall. Love it!

2. I got about $40 worth of makeup on clearance for $4 last week. Walmart had lots of $8-ish lipsticks marked down to 50 or 25 cents, as well as some NYX eye products. SOLD!

I haven’t tried everything so far, but the Milani lip ink is a big no – I didn’t realize when I grabbed it that it was one of those super drying matte lipsticks designed to stay on all day. The NYX butter lipstick is an odd color and feels kinda gritty. But the other NYX lipstick that was originally less than $4 is pretty good, so that one’s a win! Haven’t tried the other lip gloss or the NYX eyeshadow bases yet, but I’ll report back!

3. I ordered this waterproof bluetooth speaker from Amazon this week, and I really like it! It has a suction cup so I can stick it in the shower, but it also has a clip so I could hook it to one of my belt loops and listen to music while I’m riding or hiking or something.

4. Target has a new store brand called Good & Gather. (I guess it’s basically what used to be Up & Up?) I haven’t tried many of their items yet, but these Cashew Butter & Chocolate Chip fruit and nut bars caught my eye. They’re basically like Larabars – same size, almost the same texture, same limited ingredient list. (They also have a Cashew Cookie flavor where the ingredients are just cashews and dates. Nom.)

It’s already late in the day so I’m just going with 4 items this week instead of 5 in favor of actually posting this on Friday!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget and A Little Bit of Everything

Friday Favs – End of August

Happy Friday, friends! I keep randomly waking up at 5 a.m., which happened again today. I’ve accomplished a lot, but still managed not to finish this post until after noon. Oops!

Side note: The new WordPress update is evil and I’m so sorry this post looks all smooshed together. When I try to add extra space between paragraphs and pictures, it laughs at me and says no. Anyone else struggling?

Here’s what’s been up around here lately!

1. The Dodo video below showed up on my Facebook feed last week, and I totally fell in love. The black kitty looks almost exactly like my Bear cat, except Bear has a little white star on his chest. The parts with Temporary Random Kitten are my favorite, only partly because I also have a Temporary Random Kitten at my house!

After watching this compilation a good dozen times, I looked up the originals on Youtube. If you want to fall down the same rabbit hole I did, there are 68 videos at Talking Kitty Cats youtube channel! The early ones are pretty rough, but they start to hit their stride after 10 or so.

2. I had such a weird Saturday at work! I’m so used to it being unbearably hot, so a rainy day where we all wore jackets was STRANGE. When I checked the weather the night before, it was a 50% chance of rain all day, so I wasn’t even sure we would open, but we did!

(This is a kind of long story of my day, feel free to skip since it’s nothing spectacular, but I’ll throw in some cute horses for good measure!)

My beloved Bailey horse was limping when he trotted up in the morning (They stay in a big pasture over night, so when we first get there, we fill all of the feed buckets at the barn, then someone goes down and opens the gate and they all make their way up for breakfast.) so he got the day off. Thankfully it was just because he’d lost a shoe and was feeling kinda tender-footed, and the farrier would be there Monday to do new shoes. He works so hard for us, I was kinda glad he got a break, even though I missed him!

View this post on Instagram

Bailey and I excel at the art of the #selfie.

A post shared by Crystal Ward (@crystalward11) on

We had 7 people scheduled on the first ride, 2 on the second, nobody on the 3rd, and 2 on the 4th. One of my coworkers isn’t 18 yet, so she can’t take out rides solo, so it would be me and the other guy doing the 2 person rides if nobody else joined them. Works for me because I LOVE doing small rides solo. 2-4 people is so much easier and fun than leading 10-12. So the other two took the first ride out, and right as they were leaving it started to rain. We still ride in the rain as long as the guests want to and there’s no lightning, so I waved goodbye to them and then went and hid in our little office-shed and played games on my phone for most of the hour.

One amusing but frustrating thing – at one point during that hour I looked out the window and Belle’s saddle was hanging off her sideways. I didn’t take a photo since it was so rainy, and I couldn’t find one anywhere on the Googles, so I made you guys this lovely work of art as a diagram:

If not for the breastcollar, which goes around her chest, it would have been hanging totally under her belly. Poor Belle is super round and hard to fit, but I think someone had put the wrong saddle on her because it VERY MUCH did not fit right. I had to unhook everything (while being rained on), take it all off, and re-saddle her. She’s known as Hells Bells or the Hellbitch around the barn, but I’ve never had problems with her and she was such a good girl while I was doing this. She started to move and I said a firm WHOA and she stopped in her tracks and stood still. Good girl. <3

Anyway, our 11:30 riders didn’t show up, so we sat around doing nothing. We had two people stop randomly a little around 1 and I was going to take them out but my coworker was going totally stir crazy so I let him go instead. Finally for the 2:30 ride we had 6 people instead of the 2 originally scheduled, and I was like “OMG PLEASE LET ME SIT ON A HORSE ALREADY”, so I took them out. Other than getting horses ready from about 8-9:30, I’d been doing NOTHING all day. Nothing is fun for awhile, but after five hours I was SO ready to work! I rode Roark since Bailey was out, and was reminded how much I love him. He’s such a good boy! Unlike Bailey, he’s also used as a guest horse, so he’s not always available for me to grab. (We generally match guests to horses, then pick who we want to ride from whoever is left. We try to keep the mules just for guides, and we have a brand new horse named Dutch who I haven’t even ridden yet who is still guide only, but otherwise Bailey is the only other guide only horse.)

I have no idea how Dutch did this to himself. That’s Belle next to him.

My two coworkers took the horses we weren’t using on the 2:30 ride down to the show barn, so once I got back all we had to do was make one more run down there, tie them up to their hay, loosen girths and breastcollars (we don’t untack if they’re doing a show that night) sort out the cash from the day, and head home.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy again, so I may not end up working. The weather forecast changes every five minutes, though, so we’ll see!

3. I was poking around on my insurance site trying to find a way to make my premium cheaper (no luck) and discovered that Progressive customers get a free 3-month trial of SiriusXM! My cell phone data coverage suuuuucks where I live, so I generally can’t just listen to Spotify or something while I drive, so I’m pretty excited to try this out. Wanted to spread the word in case any of you have Progressive, too!

4. I usually buy Oreos if I’m buying cookies, but lately I’ve been very into Milanos! The double dark chocolate are my favorite, but the dark chocolate and milk chocolate ones are also awesome. They’re perfect for dunking (especially in Starbucks vanilla latte) and they just feel slightly fancier than Oreos.

Okay, I’m winding things up after only 4 this week. Too much to do, too little time! Hope you all have fantastic weekends. Send some love to all of my Disney cast member friends who are not only dealing with the insane crowds as the new Star Wars area opens, but also a big ol’ hurricane heading straight for them. It’s kinda a nightmare, but omg do I wish I was there. I miss that kind of craziness!

Linking up with Bright on a Budget & A Little Bit of Everything

Friday Favs – Where Did the Week Go?

Happy Friday, friends! Last week was too crazy for me to find time to put a post together, so we’ve got some catching up to do! Friday really snuck up on me this week, too. Can I pause time for a day or two to catch up?

1. Last Tuesday was rough, y’all. I woke up to texts from my sister that my mom was in the ER again, opened my laptop to see that I’d been assigned a bunch of stuff to write at like 3 a.m., which meant I had about an hour to complete it (Emailed the company about THAT. Grr.), and then discovered that my sweet Bear cat didn’t want to walk. I’ll get back to that in a second, but first I’ll share the Twitter account that I enjoyed scrolling through to de-stress during a crazy day.

I scrolled through his entire Twitter history, and it was a lovely break from the madness. I’ve seen his stuff on Buzzfeed or Distractify or something before, and I guess he’s on Instagram, too.

2. As I mentioned, Bear didn’t want to walk and spent most of the day just kinda laying around. He looked uncomfortable but not in pain, so I figured he’d landed weird from jumping or maybe gotten into a fight with one of his brothers and hurt his foot or something. With my mom being in the ER (She’s fine now) I didn’t have as much time to keep an eye on him as I normally would have, so that didn’t help.

When I got home that night, he was still just chilling so I picked him up to carry him to the bedroom so he could be close to me and I could keep an eye on him. I guess doing that hurt him because he threw up as soon as I put him down on the bed and then started to look way more uncomfortable than he had before. He squatted on the bed like he was going to pee once I put him down, so I grabbed him and took him to the litter box, but he didn’t do anything. Hmmm.

I went to school with a girl who is a vet now (as mentioned in my last Friday Favs) – I had put off messaging her since I’d just had to ask for her help the week before, but between the throwing up and the looking less comfortable, I gave in. I described his symptoms and right as I was adding on, “I have a weird feeling it might be some kind of urinary or intestinal blockage?” she asked, “Has he ever had urinary problems before?”

Bingo. Everything fit for a urinary blockage, which can be fatal of you let it go for too long. This was at like 9 p.m., and since he was still just looking uncomfortable we made plans to meet at her office at 8 a.m. for her to see him. I asked what to look out for that would mean we needed to run to the emergency vet instead, and she mentioned panting and becoming less responsive.

I let Bear just relax for awhile, but around 11:30 p.m. he started breathing harder and kinda zoning out. I spent a while trying to decide where the line between breathing hard and panting was, but decided screw it, I’m not taking that chance and he’s clearly hurting, so I loaded him into the kitty carrier and set off for the emergency vet, which is over an hour away. I was literally sick from stress, very ready for bed, and running off only 4 hours of sleep from the night before, but if anything happened to him I never would have forgiven myself. When Sam had his blood clot last year he died about 3/4 of the way to the vet, so I kept trying to check if Bear was breathing as we made our way there, even pulling over at one point. He was not happy, but he was alive.

We made it to the vet around 1 and got him checked in, and after a quick exam they agreed that he was definitely blocked. They took him back to give him pain meds and from across the clinic I heard him do the specific meow he does when he’s calling for me. UGH. I’d managed to hold it together to get there, but that brought the tears.

They discussed cost with me after getting his pain meds started. Remember how I’ve been saving up to get my car registered? Work has been SO SLOW the last few months that it took me 3 months to save up $630 of the $900 I need. I had been messaging with a friend who had offered to loan me a few hundred if necessary, but I was realllly hoping I’d have enough to cover it. His estimate was $540, so my car fund was totally drained, but I had enough. Whew.

The plan was to let the pain meds kick in, then sedate him and put in a catheter to clear the blockage. He’d need to be on IV fluids and observed overnight, then transfered to a regular vet before the emergency vet closed at 8 a.m. They let me cuddle him before he got sedated, which I really appreciated, and then I left around 1:30 a.m. I seriously considered just sleeping in my car in the parking lot, but it wasn’t the best part of town and I knew I wouldn’t actually rest, so I made the 70-ish minute drive home and was in bed by about 3. Got up at 5:45 to head back up there, and was thrilled to find a much happier Bear than the one from the night before.

He needed to be on fluids for another day or so, and the catheter needed to stay in for at least 24 hours, so I moved him to my friend’s office to be hospitalized. I spent about ten minutes cuddling him in the car before taking him in – he was still pretty drugged up and super affectionate, and I was so freaking happy that he was just alive that we needed a few minutes before I said goodbye to him for two more days.

Spent around 20 minutes discussing his care and everything with my vet friend, then made the drive back home. Friends kept messaging to ask if I was ok to drive after the night we just had, and my reply was “Bear is ok so I am ok.” TBH I was pretty out of it from the stress and less than 3 hours of sleep, but I made it and sunk into bed for like 4 hours. I had plans to meet my sister at my mom’s or I probably would have just slept the day away.

The good in all of this is my friend being SO awesome about answering all of my questions, hospitalizing him for as cheap as possible for me AND letting me get invoiced for it since I was pretty broke at that point. She even took her kids by before bed to check on him and sent me pics of them petting him. I got to pick him up on Thursday afternoon, and it was so good to have him home! Unfortunately, he started having trouble getting much out that same day, so this past week has been spent keeping a close eye on him and making sure he got all of his meds on schedule. I’m exhausted, but he’s finally getting better!

3. This seems so small after that last massive story, but I mentioned that my sister was visiting. When she drives down from Iowa, she stops at the Trader Joes in KC for me and picks up whatever I ask for. I saw their ABC Bars (Almond Butter Cocoa) in a vlog was was intrigued, so I asked her to grab me a box. THEY’RE SO GOOD. Asking her to get like 3-4 boxes next time, since she only comes down every month or so. Oh man, another reason I need to move back to Orlando – we have TJ’s and Whole Foods there. (My Facebook timeline has been FILLED with photos from the cast member previews of the new Galaxy’s Edge area. It’s so sad when all of your friends are hanging out in a galaxy far, far away and you are stuck in Missouri.)

4. The new Taylor Swift album dropped last night. I’m not a huge fan but I liked the last album, so I checked it out on Spotify. Totally recommend doing it that way because there are videos. They’re mostly gifs of like, her cats (which I approve of), but for “Me” there’s a video of her and the Panic at the Disco guy lip-syncing to it, and it’s actually pretty cute. I tried to take a screenshot but it blacked out the image. Thanks, technology. (Side note- I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, but I’m pretty meh about this album.)

A clip of the video:

5. I really should have canceled yesterday’s dressage lesson since I’m BROKE, but I needed something fun so I went. It was only 80 degrees and I was in the indoor arena, but I was still soooooaked in sweat afterwards. It’s hard work! I rode a horse named Harry – a big, muscley guy. He’s actually in the photo I posted of Louie recently! He’s the one in the middle:

Despite feeling like a hot mess through most of our trot work, the instructor said I’d improved a lot since last time and we could move on to cantering soon, so yay! Riding different horses almost every time has been good for me, since like 50% of it is figuring out their silliness.

Speaking of horsing around, I’m working trail rides tomorrow. Thankfully it’s only supposed to be 80 and we might even get rained out part of the day. Things will probably slow down a lot after Labor Day and I might even get laid off soon, so I just want to try to enjoy it while I can!

This week’s post was totally thrown together at the last minute – I’m at the coffee shop working and I’ve been typing up bits and pieces here and there when my brain needed a break. Hopefully this coming week will be more chill!

Side Note- I hate the new WordPress update! I can’t even find where I’m supposed to add tags. Has anyone figured it out?

Linking up with Bright on a Budget & A Little Bit of Everything

Show Us Your Books – Summer Edition

 

At long last, I’m showing up for another Show Us Your Books link-up! Apparently the last time I did one was back in April. Life needs to settle down for a bit so I can catch up on everything! (HA! Not gonna happen.)

Here’s some of what I’ve been reading over the last several months!

 

 


Sh#t Your Ego Says

Goodreads * Amazon

This might be one of my most highlighted e-books of all time. It’s not that it was the best book ever, but so many passages felt highlight-worthy, either for being really motivational or just stated in a way that really struck me. I feel like I need to re-read it, though, because a lot of what I highlighted is less striking when I look back at it out of context even though it was apparently really resonating at the time.

Shortly after moving to NYC to follow his dream of becoming a writer, the author finds himself homeless and jobless after Hurricane Sandy struck. This life-changing turn of events causes him to examine his life and his thoughts. It’s part memoir, part self-improvement.

 

I was going to share some of what I highlighted, but as I said, it turns out that it has zero impact out of context. Instead, I’ll share the passage that blew my mind and that I’ve been telling people about ever since:

 

“If we were to take the entire light spectrum and condense it to the size of the Mississippi River , which flows 2,340 miles from the top of Minnesota into the Gulf of Mexico, the portion that would be visible to the human eye is merely eight inches. We are unable to see most— in fact, nearly all— of the light that we know to exist because it is a frequency beyond our perception. The same is true for sound, smell, taste, and touch. We only experience a small percentage of what has been proven to exist.”

 

(I received a complimentary review copy via Netgalley)

 

 

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Goodreads * Amazon

This is an odd book – it tells the story of the design and construction of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and also the story of a serial killer who was operating in the area at the same time. There’s not really much crossover between the stories, just the fact that they’re in the same time and place, so they make a kind of unusual combination.

Gotta be honest – the parts about the fair were hit and miss. Some aspects were fascinating – hearing about how it was the first time people got to try Cracker Jacks and Juciy Fruit, it was the unveiling of the first Ferris Wheel, and it was when the first zipper was introduced (I KNOW! WHAT??), were all very cool. But there was also a LOT about the design and construction and relationships between architects that drug a little. Buffalo Bill meeting and honoring Susan B. Anthony? Cool. Arguments about what kind of boats fit the aesthetic they had in mind for the lake? Meh.

Something that I found odd- My library e-book expired when I was only halfway through the book, so I checked my library for a hard copy because the e-book waiting list was pretty long. I was surprised that it was in the biography section, and cataloged under the name of the serial killer. Holmes’s story makes up…maybe 1/3 of the book? Why isn’t it just classified as nonfiction?

 

 

 

 


The Radium Girls

Goodreads * Amazon

Workplace safety in the US has come a long way since the 1920s, y’all.

These poor girls, mostly in their teens and early 20s when they were hired, were employed painting watch dials with paint that contained radium. The job paid great and the work atmosphere was fun, and then, you know how it goes… people’s jaws started falling off. The usual.

I saw a lot of reviews of this before reading it, but somehow expected it to have more on the time before they got sick. Instead, more than half of the book takes place during the lawsuits against the radium companies when the girls tried to get compensation for their suffering and medical bills. It’s still interesting – the crap the workplace tries to pull to avoid taking responsibility is insane – just different than I expected. It’s a fascinating book, but also quite sad between the death and illness and long, drawn out fight for the courts to recognize them. I can’t imagine the terror of watching your coworkers die horrible deaths and knowing that you are probably next.

 

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard about this book on the Brain Candy Podcast and was surprised to see that my local library actually had it. The audiobook was available before the ebook, so I went with that. The author’s writing style is great, sort of poetic, and her soft, sincere voice really sells it. The book alternates between scientific info about plants and her personal life while working in labs over the years. I noticed a lot of reviews where people hated one of those aspects and hated the other. I found the science fascinating and the personal memoir hit and miss. Her research partner Bill stands out as an extraordinary character, but some of the later chapters drug a bit. Liked but didn’t love.

 

It seems crazy that I only have four reviews after so many months off, but life has been crazy and as usual, I’ve started a ton of books that I didn’t finish. I really need to start reviewing some of those as DNF’s instead of just leaving them on my kindle forever with plans to come back to them eventually. Would probably do wonders for my Netgalley review percentage!

Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the dozens of other bloggers taking part in the Show Us Your Books link-up and see what they’ve been reading lately!