Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Year in Books - 2016

So I didn't finish my 2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge. I'm a little disappointed, but it is what it is. I know I didn't spend as much time reading as I could have, but it's hard juggling so many solo hobbies while also trying not to be a recluse ;) My goal was to read 55 books, and I read 49. That's not too bad I suppose. Anyway, I love these reading charts that Goodreads makes at the end of each year. To get yours go to this blog post and click on "see your year in books!" Now I'm going to break mine down!

Goodreads Year in Books

- The 49 books I read amounted to 9,611 pages! Woohoo! That's almost like reading Mission Earth two and a half times.

- The shortest book I read was Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook. Which was to be expected, because it's a children's book hahah. It was the only Christmas book I have and 'tis the season and all that. Unfortunately the book didn't have the same charm as the movies. I gave it two stars!

- The longest book I read was Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby. I had really been looking forward to this one because I love Nick Hornby books. I liked it, but not one of my favorites from his collection. I gave it three stars! This is one of those times where I wish Goodreads had half stars, because I think I'd give it 3 and a half.

- The most popular book I read was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Considering that it was already a popular book and the movie came out last year, that's not surprising! This was actually a re-read. I first read the book shortly after it was published in 2009, but with the movie coming out I decided it was time for a refresher. Full review on that here!

- The least popular book I read was When Life Hands You a Lemon. It was a book I won in an Armchair BEA giveaway. Even though I gave it a low score (one star, yikes) I should mention that all the other reviews are great, and the only reason it's "least popular" is because it hasn't been read by many people.

You can see the rest of the books I read in 2016 on my Goodreads page, or by checking out the books tag here on my blog! What did you read in 2016?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Highlights

Another year come and gone. Something I always like to do as the year comes to a close is take a look at some of the things I did that year. Scrolling through my photos, reading old logs I wrote, or spur of the moment Twitter rants. I think we can all agree that 2016 had some rough spots, but I still try to reflect on the good times as well. Times with loved ones, receiving exciting news, taking new steps forward, or just being excited about that last episode of Gotham (damn you, mid-season break!). Here's some of my highlights from 2016 :)

1 / Here's the first picture I took in 2016 :) Partial pic of my fam getting #lit on NYE, hahah. Andrew and I aren't one for big parties, so we usually keep it simple and either stay home or go to my families house. This year was even more simple than usual, because my mom was out of town, and my older brother decided to spend it elsewhere, so it was just me, Andrew, my dad and my little bro. It was cool though. More Martinelli's for us ;) We also played Star Munchkin!

2 / That same month Andrew and I went to Maryland, and got engaged in a jellyfish exhibit at The National Aquarium! I really like this picture, even though it's super grainy and we're not looking at the camera. It's the only picture we have of us with the jellyfish after it happened! Hahah. If you'd like to read more about it, I wrote a big long post about our trip!

3 / In March my mom took my brother and I to see The Book of Mormon! We all had a great time. I also bought my new favorite shirt there. You can read more about our evening here! Everyone I told was like, "Wow, I can't believe your mom wanted to go with you to see that." It was her idea!!! She also took me to see Avenue Q for my 16th birthday. Basically my mom is the best.

4 / In April I started my very first Facebook group - The Powerpuff Bloggers! For 2016 I made a resolution to start practicing healthier habits. In the end I am hoping to lose some weight, but instead of making a goal like "lose xxx pounds" I wanted to get into the habit of just living a healthier life. So even if I don't lose any weight, I can still say I'm eating better, staying hydrated and getting up and moving more than I was before. Anyway. I thought a great way to help keep myself mindful and motivated was to have like-minded peers to share things with and talk to. I already knew that many of my blog friends had similar goals, so why not start a group for us all to work on our goals together? I'm so happy I started this group, and I'm so thankful for everyone in it. If you'd like to share your health and fitness goals with a bunch of nerdy blogger gals, join our group!

5 / In that same vein - I started doing yoga! The group and I took on the 30 Days of Yoga Challenge together and we had a lot of fun. I'm still not super great at it, but that's ok. I'm getting better at it and I'm enjoying myself. I try to do it at least three days a week!

6 / I also turned 25. I'm officially in my mid-twenties T_T I'm not super big into birthdays, and I don't especially like getting older, but I had a fun day. One of my bff's and I share the same birthday. We were both working on a production of The Little Mermaid at the time but we still celebrated and had a nice day :)

7 / Spending time with friends (just like, in general). Something I wanted to work on in 2016 was spending more time with friends, saying "yes" to more invites (rather than staying home and watching Netflix), and just putting myself out there a bit more. I've struggled with depression on and off for years - and a big part of it was feeling lonely a lot of the time, even though I had plenty of great people around me. In 2016 I spent more time with friends than I have in...well, a really long time. I said "yes" to outings that I probably wouldn't have before (like going to the fair in 90 degree weather to pet cows and baby goats), I've strengthened my old friendships and I've built new ones. I've even started hanging out with my co-workers!

To wrap things up, here's a photo collage with more great moments from 2016!

1. Going to the Bay Area Book Festival & meeting Gene Luen Yang. 2. Cows! 3. Hiking?! 4. Valentine swap with the Geek Girls x Bloggers!
5. Music in the park! 6. Getting Jesse hooked on Pokemon Go! 7. Jesse graduating HS! 8. Wedding! 9. Winning this amazing alien set handmade  just for me by The Fangirl Crafter! 10. Getting to wear cat stuff all week while working on CATS! 11. Christmas Day selfie with my love <3
12. Matching X-Files shirts with Alyssa! 13. Pokemon Go in the park! 14. My birthday! 15. Going to Rocky Horror in my Jughead costume on Halloween! 16. Making my first heart for I Found a Quilted Heart!

Have a great 2017, everyone!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

I Made Macaroni in a Crock Pot & Everything Turned Out Ok

If you've been following me for awhile, you might have noticed that even though I hate cooking, every winter I get the sudden urge to do ALL THE THINGS with my crock pot. This year was no different. In the past most of my crock pot dishes didn't turn out very well, but I've learned a bit from my mistakes and this year was determined to actually find a recipe I both liked and tasted good. My mom is big on using her crock pot and sent me a few recipes to try. One of them was for macaroni and cheese! What?! I love mac and cheese, but making it in a crock pot didn't sound like a great idea. One year I tried doing spaghetti in the crock pot and it was literally the most disgusting thing I've ever made (in both looks and taste). I swear it transmuted itself into a monster. To this day Andrew and I call it The Spaghetti Crock Pot Fiasco of 2014. So when he wasn't sold on the idea of me putting noodles in the crock pot again, I wasn't exactly surprised. Still wanted to give it a try though, as this recipe was both mom and lil brother approved.

First, I had to go shopping. Compared to other macaroni recipes I've tried (and by that I mean, either throwing a brick of Velveeta in noodles, or Kraft macaroni) this had a lot of ingredients. Since I don't cook much, my cabinets and fridge are never very full, aside from the things I eat on a super regular basis. I'm trying to work on that, and maybe someday I can just decide I want a certain food and then MAKE IT because WOW I already have the ingredients (much adult, very grownup)!! Anyway, I got the ingredients and the following night we tried it out. After you boil the noodles you mostly just throw the rest of the stuff in the crock pot, leave it for 2 hours, and you're good to go.

crock pot macaroni and cheese

It turned out great! I was so, so happy. 50% because I love macaroni, 50% so Andrew would stop doubting any crock pot recipe with noodles. The picture doesn't look great, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I still don't know how to make food pictures not look weird. (Food bloggers, help me out.) I wrote the recipe below...but if you're dairy sensitive then tread with caution. It's VERY CHEESY. I think next time I might even add some extra noodles to even it out a bit. If you try this out be sure to let me know how you like it :)

- 2 cups elbow pasta (although like I said, I think I will add extra next time)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Boil elbow pasta in water for 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In saucepan on medium-low, melt butter and grated cheese together. Stir until cheese melts.
3. In crock pot, stir together melted cheese, sour cream, cheese soup, salt, milk, dry mustard, and pepper. Add in the noodles and stir again.
4. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally as it cooks.