Monday, December 28, 2015

Bookswept: My fave reads of 2015

I don't know what it was about 2015 but I read. I read A LOT. Like more than usual. Call me a nerd if you want, but I enjoyed diving into the many worlds of fiction (and one non-fiction!) that I got to be a part of over the year. My top ten reads are below.

Apollo and I getting our read on.
My reading buddy.

10. The Death Cure by James Dashner.
Don't make fun of me but I'm a sucker for young-adult fiction. The Death Cure is a part of The Maze Runner book series and when I saw the movie was coming out in 2014, I decided to read the books. I had finished books one and two in 2014 and 2015 was dedicated to the latter half of the series. The Death Cure was the final ending to the series but I don't remember being in love with how it ended. They have changed the movies quite a bit so I wonder if I will like the movie better. I'm pretty sure that is a few years out though.

9. The Kill Order by James Dashner.
Another book of The Maze Runner series, The Kill Order plays as a sequel, taking us thirteen years before the original story of The Maze Runner. I remember liking this book better, trying to piece together the main characters that you already knew before.

8. Paper Towns by John Green.
I loved the words of John Green in The Fault in Our Stars, and decided to try out another one of his novels that came to the big screen in 2015, Paper Towns. I felt like the book was better than the movie, but for both movie and book, I fell in love with the trio of mis-fit friends going through an epic adventure during their senior year of high school.

7. pure appiness: 2014.
Each year I publish our blogs into a large, hardcover book. We don't write these blogs for nothin'! They are our memories. What better way to cherish them than to print and bound our words and pictures over the year! They are always my favorite books.

6. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.
This one took me a while to finish with it being the longest of the books I read this year. The Interestings takes you along a 20+ year journey of a group of friends that met at summer camp in the sixties. It was fun to be a part of their circle of friends through the decades, watching them grow through jobs, the dealings of being middle-class vs high-class, marriage and babies, dealing with parents deaths, and so on. I felt like it was a really good book for me to read at this time as I go through these stages myself.

5. Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.
This was a story of a bi-racial couple before it was accepted in society. The author, Julie Kibler, takes you back and forth through the past and present where a young hairdresser takes her 89 year-old friend/client on a road trip to a funeral. It is not until the end where we find out who's funeral we are attending but she tells her story along the way. I was drawn to this book because I'm bi-racial myself. It was interesting reading of the forbidden love in the 1930s.

4. The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.
I flew through this book that was a combination of thriller, mystery, and love. If you're looking for a quick read, pick up this book! I would love to see this one as a movie.

3. Still Alice.
This one was hard for me to get through. Still Alice is about an intelligent woman in her 50s who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. It hit so close to home being so relatable to my mom who has this sad and unfortunate disease. I was hesitant to read it but I'm so glad I did. You get a glimpse into her mind along with her families reactions and solutions. I cried like a baby in the end. Like wept-cried. I start crying just thinking of it. Moving on...

2. Why Not Me? by (my fave) Mindy Kaling.
After reading Still Alice, a book that took so much out of me, I needed a laugh and Mindy was my go-to. You guys! I must meet Mindy one day! We are both women who love to eat, love fashion, and work hard in our career. I about died when I read the portion below in her book. I was reading on a plane and I had to refrain myself from jumping up and down and sharing with the entire flight. Instead my jaw dropped and I let out a little squeal.
"Me: Asha is the best. And very young and cool."
Yes, I know she is not referring to me. Yes, my name is Indian and she is Indian, so I'm sure she knows more than one Asha but I SAY IT'S FATE!!!! I NEED TO MEET HER!

1. Eleanor & Park.
You guys. I ADORE THIS FREAKING BOOK. Like so much! It is a story of high school misfits who fall in love. But it's so much more than that. I love their love for music, for comics, and for each other. It's precious. And I cried like a baby in the end. Love, love, loved it. And you know that's true if I put it above Mindy.

Those are my top ten but what were your favorite reads? I would love to know! I need something new to read in 2016!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas 2015: Baby, It's Hot Outside

By the time we made it to Christmas Eve service on Thursday, I was beat. I spent the entire morning and afternoon wrapping remaining gifts, cleaning the house, prepping for Christmas dinner, and even bickering with Jeremy here and there. I was stressed and it was starting to show. It wasn't until we sat down at church and our senior pastor, Jonathan Scott, asked everyone, "Who has had it up to here with Christmas?!" I nodded vigorously. He then said, "Everyone just take a deep breath. Relax." So I did. I relaxed from there on out. It allowed me to feel the joy of Christmas. It allowed me to truly see that the Lord gave His life so we could truly live.

A few hours later, we enjoyed a traditional dinner of turkey, ham, hot potato salad, sweet potato casserole, and stuffing with the Little family. Before we chowed down on food, I relaxed in my Dad's recliner that provides you with a heated massage. I told ya, once I took that deep, relaxing breath in, there was no going back!

I had to document Keegan's dinner of a roll.
After dinner, we enjoyed watching Keegan's Christmas performance on DVD since my parents weren't able to go. I'm so glad we were able to experience it as a family while we laughed at his crazy three-year-old antics on stage. We then opened gifts and enjoyed being together for the night.

The woman loves her chocolate!

My mom styling in her new pajamas!
Christmas morning came and Jeremy and I finally got to give each other the gifts we've been itching to share. Jeremy enjoyed his BBQ-themed gifts of a grill set and NC BBQ map, along with a few other things. I particularly loved getting a shadow box that Jeremy made of the travels we have done over the years, a book filled of Ansel Adams photos of Yosemite Valley, and the Charlie Brown Christmas album that I was clearly excited about.

We then prepped for Christmas dinner #2 consisting of ribs (made by Jeremy) and banana pudding (made by Reuben) in honor of their Dad who I'm sure was looking down with pride. Jeremy made the best ribs he's ever made all while sporting his Miami shirt, grilling outside using his new grilling utensils. The weather was hot enough for him to do that which is crazy-talk for it being the end of December.

We enjoyed being together amongst good food and remembering the good of the year. We exchanged gifts and watched basketball. There was so much basketball. And love. There was that too.

Admiring my full JT album collection

Let us remember the greatest gift of the season. The fact that Jesus came for us. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Unseasonably Warm

It's Christmas Eve Eve and we are so ready for Christmas! Well...sort of. Grocery shopping still needs to be done for Christmas dinner, Jeremy still has gifts he needs to buy, and I have YET to make Christmas cookies this year. We've got ONE day to make things happen and I think a Christmas miracle will emerge.

This Christmas season has been unseasonably warm. I have worn a sweater possibly three times the entire month. When we shopped for our Christmas tree, I was in a tank top for crying out loud! Despite the warmth, we found the perfect tree and happily decorated with our new ornaments that we picked up while traveling this year. This years ornaments include a guitar from our visit to Nashville in April, a cable car from our epic San Francisco vacation, a hand-crafted Big Basin Redwoods ornament from our day walking among giant trees, our first sighting of a sea lion for Monterey Bay, CA, a Napa Valley roadmap from our wine tasting tour, a black bear from the amazingly, beautiful Yosemite National Park, a takeaway from the U.S. National Whitewater Center from our kayaking adventure, and Superman because well...Jeremy loves Superman.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions; mailing Christmas cards!
Season's Greetings from all of my favorite Charlotte spots!

This December we've enjoyed watching Keegan perform at his holiday concert where he had a blast singing on stage with his friends, honoring my Granddad and other veterans at his memorial, traveling for my new job at MetLife (Oh yeah, I got a new job!!), watching Appalachian win their first-ever bowl game (more on that later), and enjoying a girls night out to see Amy Schumer.

Back at MetLife! I enjoyed visiting the New Jersey office!
Traveling for work. What is this life?!

App's first-ever Bowl game!

May your days be merry and bright.
With love,
The Singletons