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Bucket List Item #23: Read 30 Books

As maker of the list, I am reserving the right to call “Mulligan” and swap out one item on the list for a new one.

When I originally put “Jump in a pool with all my clothes on”, I was basing it off of a very specific wedding venue my friends were getting married at in August. The reception area has a full pool with a water slide and little cove area where the DJ would set up. I’d seen photos from other weddings where the entire wedding party ended the night by jumping into the pool and I thought it looked like so much fun! I thought we’d take advantage of the water feature and take a plunge in our heels our dresses.

However I learned later that because there were kids in attendance, a lifeguard was required to be on site if anyone was to use the pool. Otherwise the bride and groom risked their security deposit. I totally understand, but I struggled to find a plan b for this particular bucket list item. There was a rooftop pool at our Arizona hotel, but it ended up being only 3 feet deep and pretty crowded with people so I nixxed that option as well.

Now that it’s winter in Idaho, when most people here don’t have pools anyways, I’m beginning to see this task as a set-up for failure so I’m swapping it out with another feat I accomplished this year.

I read THIRTY books in 2022, the year before I turn thirty!

Here they are, in order that I read them. I’ll also give them my own rating:

  • The Hunting Wives, by May Cobb (6.5 out of 10)
  • The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins (7 out of 10)
  • The Art of Making Memories, by Meik Wiking (7.5 out of 10)
  • It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover (8 out of 10)
  • Love Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz (10 out of 10)
  • The Vaccine Book, Robert Sears (non-fiction, no rating)
  • Love Your Life, by Sophie Kinsella (I honestly cannot remember one thing from this book. ? out of 10)
  • Becoming Babywise, by Robert Bucknam (so vague. 3 out of 10)
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern (6 out of 10)
  • Pasta Wars, by Elisa Lorello (9 out of 10)
  • Moms on Call Newborn to 6 Months (10 out of 10)
  • The Golden Couple, by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (8 out of 10)
  • The Last Time I Lied, by Riley Sager (8 out of 10)
  • The Therapist, by B.A. Paris (10 out of 10)
  • Book Lovers, by Emily Henry (8.5 out of 10)
  • Moms on Call 6 months to 18 months (10 out of 10)
  • The It Girl, by Ruth Ware (10 out of 10)
  • It Happened One Summer, by Tessa Bailey (7 out of 10)
  • The Perfect Marriage, by Jeneva Rose (Did NOT expect the ending twist.10 out of 10)
  • What Matters Most, by Chanel Reynolds (non-fiction, no rating)
  • Reminders of Him, by Colleen Hoover (10 out of 10)
  • Verity, by Colleen Hoover (disturbing. But still a 10 out of 10)
  • Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman (SO ANNOYING. Could barely finish. 2 out of 10)
  • It Starts With Us, by Colleen Hoover (The sequel that did not need to exist. 3 out of 10)
  • Back in the Burbs, by Avery Flynn (7 out of 10)
  • Love Story, by Erich Segal (8 out of 10)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (10 out of 10)
  • Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes (10 out of 10)
  • In Five Years, by Rebecca Serle (The only book I finished in 1 day. 10 out of 10)
  • When Stars Collide, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (4 out of 10)

I’m really proud of this reading list for this year! I found out how much less free time I had with baby, and I was able to still maintain my book club with local friends and try out new genres that are typically outside of my comfort zone! This was more time consuming than jumping into a swimming pool with formalwear on, but also less chilly ;)

Speaking of chilly, I just dropped off a batch of books at my local “Little Free Library.” Do you have one of these where you live? We have THREE of them in our neighborhood, all within a half mile radius of our house. I love it! I have scored some good books and then replaced them with some of my own in return.

Since my 29th year started with Sarah Grunder Ruiz’s book Love, Lists and Fancy Ships, I’ve decided that I will start my 30th year with her most recent release – Luck & Last Resorts – and I’m really excited to start it after my birthday!

Bucket List Item #17: Read To Kill A Mockingbird

Happy New Year! Now I know we are alarmingly close to our deadline to complete this 30 Things to do list…..and noticeably far away from the goal. The good news is that I have completed several more items on the list, I just haven’t had the time (made the time) to write the blog posts about them. There are a couple items on the list that I am getting a little nervous about (*eh-hem* half marathon *eh-hem* 30 push-ups) but I have not given up hope that I will finish the list by February 12th :)

(Throwback to newborn days)

Reading is something I’ve loved since I was a toddler. I vividly remember reading the June B. Jones series when I was in kindergarten/first grade. I also loved the Box Car Children series, and later the Harry Potter series. I started a book club here in Boise 4 years ago and we take turns picking a monthly book and meeting at each other’s houses for girl time, wine and snacks! Occasionally, we do actually talk about the book 😁

To Kill a Mockingbird seems like one of those classics that everyone was required to read in high school, but for whatever reason it was not for me. We read some other classics like Great Gatsby and Scarlett Letter, but this one never came up. I wanted to make a reading-related item on my bucket list so I decided to pick an old classic since I usually favor new modern-day picks.

First I must admit that I actually listened to this on Audible. I still count audiobooks as books completed towards my yearly total, because you still spend hours and hours on them and you are consuming the same content. You’re just able to multitask while you do it! I usually listen to my audiobooks while I’m driving or while I’m in my bathroom doing my hair and makeup.

The narrator on Audible for this book is the best; she has the thickest sweetest southern accent. I really enjoyed how the book was from the perspective of the children, primarily Scout. I didn’t have a clue what the storyline was going to be about, so I was going into it completely blind. I went through the book pretty quickly and I enjoyed the time period it was set it. I know there is a black and white movie of it, and I might see if Zeb wants to watch it with me soon. The ending was not what I expected – pretty much from the outcome of the trial on.

I finished 30 books total in 2022, which I’ll do a separate post on. Our book club pick for January is “Daisy Darker” which I will also be reading on audiobook. My physical book that I’m starting the year off with is going to be A Court of Thorns and Roses. Not my typical genre but I’ve been hearing so many people rave about how addicting it was, I became curious.

Brynnley is only 10 months old but she seems to really enjoy our time reading her little books too. I refilled her bookshelf with all Christmas books for the month of December, and just swapped them back out for her regular baby books over the weekend. In her room full of toys and stuffed animals and blocks, she always prefers to go over to her bookshelf and pull out books to flip through for her. Proud mama moments! I can’t wait til we can read more books out loud together! My parents saved all of my Junie B. Jones books in perfect condition to pass down to her :)

Let me know if there are any other books I should add to my 2023 reading list. I always end up somewhere between 28-32 books per year, but we’ll see if I can hit a personal record this year.

Style Upgrade: DIY Decorations

Now that life has slowed down a bit since graduation weekend, I’m finally feeling “at home.” I guess I underestimated the mental exhaustion that comes with moving, starting a new full-time job, and getting back into full on workouts (which means 5:00am gym sessions!) I also squeezed in a Mother’s Day celebration, a baseball game with my dad, and a much-needed trip to the salon. By Thursday, my brain was in a fog and I felt totally off. About twelve hours of sleep the next night seemed to hit the “reset” button and by Saturday I felt rested again :)

Just 9 months ago, I was blogging about my bright and newly-decorated apartment in Flagstaff. I will miss that room….paying a little bit extra for the master bedroom, private bath and walk-in closet was one of the best decisions of senior year. Hah! I’ve moved out and moved on, and decided that my “style” should mature with my personality. Out with the clothespin collage and $8 Target mirror! Ellie, my 22-year old stuffed elephant, is here to stay though.

Style Upgrade  my grown up room  Stronglikemycoffee.comSo far, post-grad life is pretty sweet :) I started my full-time job on Tuesday, and I am so lucky and grateful to be working for a company that has been flexible with my schedule. If you are a long-time reader, you know I have been traveling to New York several times each year for treatments on my venous malformation. I am able to take time off of work for my New York trips as well as a couple other summer vacations I have planned, but I’m also able to work remotely from my company laptop if I choose.

Since the stress of finals week is over, that means I’ve also pumped the exercise back up. Man it feels good to run! I love running for the fun of it and especially when the weather is as gloomy as it has been. I’m savoring the overcast days since I know I’ll be craving them in the next couple of months! In addition to regular running/gym sessions, my mom and I downloaded the Alexa Jean Fitness Sore to the Core guide. It’s a 30-day guide with ab exercises in a HIIT format. This morning’s workout killed (burpees, planks, jackknives, flutters, whew!) and we’re only on Day 8….excited to see some improvement!

All of this was a long round-about way to share my new room decor with you. As promised, this blog has expanded to include more “domesticated” content. My mom surprised me with some beautiful decorations for my room, which are pretty dang Pinterest-worthy if you ask me!  I absolutely love the pieces she added, from the handmade Scrabble letter coasters to the glitter-dipped vases.

Simple Country Bedroom decor | Stronglikemycoffee.comThat watering can! For the gold glitter-dipped vases, she wrapped painters tape around middle of the glass. Next, use a paint brush to brush on Modge Podge. Roll or dip the vase in fine glitter, then paint Modge Podge over the glitter again. Remove the painters tape, fill with sand, and stick in your flowers.

Scrabble Letter Coasters and Candle  Stronglikemycoffee.comThe coasters require sacrificing a Scrabble game. We happened to have three so no real loss there.

Buy pre-formed square cork pads and plan out 4 four-letter words for each coaster. First, glue the sides of the letters together with super glue. Then glue the backs of the letters on to the cork padding. Lastly, cover the letters with Modge Podge

Inside an antique-looking birdcage, she staged three candles with little platforms so the heights vary. It looks very “country” and feminine which fits my style. The matching picture frame is filled with an Etsy design of a quote I love: “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.”

Birdcage decoration candle centerpiece |

Candle and picture frame with quote | Stronglikemycoffee.comAs you can tell, I’m addicted to candles. My two roommates in the Flagstaff apartment loved to fry up sausage, bacon and eggs every day. Needless to say, my window was permanently open and candles were constantly burning. My favorite flavors are the subtle nature ones like pine, lemon, and jasmine. My next project is to spruce up my book cases. I just boxed up about 75 books to donate to clear up space for more…..but the picture below is after I “cleared space” so it looks like I better work a little more on that ;)

Bookshelf and room decor | Stronglikemycoffee.comAnd now time for another favorite summer treat….reading new novels!