Grandma Georgie 89 Years-Old 2/7/28

My Grandma Georgie just celebrated her 89th birthday. We celebrated her birthday at a weekend family gathering. Always fun to visit with my grandma. I had the best childhood summer with her at Lake Almanor. From daily mass to afternoons at the lake, I look back on those summers fondly. I learned how to swim well, drive/ride a SeaDoo, appreciate nature, walk, play with cousins/friends, and master Scrabble and card games. Summers at Lake Almanor were a family tradition. We would visit Mount Lassen National Park and/or Burney Falls. Such beautiful scenery is within the state of California. For those of you unfamiliar with where Lake Almanor is, it’s a two hour drive northwest of Reno, NV.

Happy birthday grandma you’re 89 years-old now! I made a photo book for her from photos from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. She’s going to love the 76 page album.

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Fitness Routine

For the last decade, I have not had a regular workout routine. Enough of that! I’m now carving fitness into my daily routine. My fitness is now yoga and circuit. I need to push my body to become fit yet again. Being conscious of the foods I eat and choosing healthy habits will help in my aim to have an all-around fitness track back in sync. Want to check back on this post and log the health improvements I’ve attained. I’m tracking my stats with my fitbit watch.

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Blue Apron

Blue Apron

For over a year now, I have been making Blue Apron https://www.blueapron.com/ meals. Blue Apron is a weekly meal subscription box where the recipe sheets and all ingredients in the right portions are included. You basically only have to have salt, pepper, and olive oil on hand. Anyone remember the Food Network host, Rachel Ray, and her constant mention of EVOO – extra virgin olive oil. I go through so much olive oil now. The meals are diverse, so it definitely gives us a nice variety. Samantha and Emily are not fans of Blue Apron – it does expose them to a wider mix of food options though. Desperately trying to make healthy meals for my family. I’m trying to get more fit too, but that’s another entry.

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Dance Mom

I now have two dancers. Does that make me a dance mom?!? I’ve never worn false eye lashes, but as my daughter advance within dance that’s an inevitable situation. At Samantha’s 2015 Nutcracker recital, the items required list included false eye lashes. Oh no! Knowing Samantha, she would not be thrilled about me gluing eyelashes onto her eyelids. Thankfully, the false eye lashes requirement was reassigned to lead roles and not the group ensembles. Goal is for my kids to be confident and happy dancers. I think we’re well on our way to achieving that objective.

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Christmas Photo 2015

Watts Christmas Card

Picking the family Christmas photo! This is a project that I all too often I wait until the holidays are in full swing to get my order in. There are so many companies out there that create fabulous Christmas photos, but my go-to shop is Costco. Costco’s Photo Center is reliable and convenient, most importantly the cost is quite competitive.

Our 2015 Christmas photo was taken at the backside of the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty castle. We had the right setting, our entire family, and we were up for snapping a few photos with our princesses – Samantha and Emily.

Now in a few months, I get to start the process all over again. What photo will make it as the standout annual holiday photo?!? Stay tuned…

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The Best Books I Read in 2015

Just as in previous years I’m writing a post about the books I read in 2015. I read 87 books in total, below is the breakdown. This year I’m adding a few metrics which I think will be interesting. Like, how much I saved by borrowing books from the library ($807.40) and what percentage of the authors I read were men (67%).

Fiction was the majority of my reading at 60%. Fantasy (20%) and Science Fiction (21%) being the largest portion of all genres. Read a few series this year, meaning I read 8 books by Holly Black (Spiderwick Chronicles), 3 from C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia), 2 from Timothy Zahn (The Thrawn Trilogy) and 2 Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson). Paperback was the least popular binding at on 17% of my reads.

Most of my books came from the library (37%). Longest audio book I listened to was Capital at 1,503 minutes (25 hours), shortest was The Hamburger: A History at 180 minutes (3 hours). Total audio listening was 11,751 minutes (196 hours, 8.2 days).

Longest book I read was Hadoop in Practice (536 pages), which was for a class and I didn’t read every page. Next was All the Light We Cannot See at (530 pages). Shortest was 30 pages, a short story called Percy Jackson and the Singer of Apollo. In all I read 14,560 pages.

The longest it took me to get through a book was Capital (195 days), Michelle and I listened to it in the car. Shorts books included a lot of the Spiderwick Chronicles, in all I finished 12 books the same day I started them.

I finished the most books in July (20). The most popular book (according to goodreads) I read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The least was Valkyrie.

So how does this year compare to previous years? Well, I read the most I have in the past 3 years, but still not as much as 2011, when I read 96 books. That big 100 is still just out of reach. Maybe this year…

Some of my favorite books of the year were:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Dracula

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

Falling Up

Tuck Everlasting

The Nixie’s Song

How Reading Changed My Life

The Wrath of Mulgarath

Siddhartha

The Field Guide

Departure

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Dark Force Rising

The Last Olympian

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Shade Me Review

Shade Me

Shade Me

So I read Shade Me by Jennifer Brown. Before we get to the spoilers let me just say quickly that this is a very strong 4 on a 1-5 scale. The only reason I held back on 5 is because of a bit too much teenage angst for my liking. Although, not nearly as much as the Twilight books. Also, there were a hand full of times, that I caught myself thinking, come on Nikki really, that’s dumb, don’t do that. But this actually might be a reason to give it more stars not less because if you are talking to yourself while reading the book, its got you. Full disclosure, I entered a contest on EpicReads and was sent this book for free. It doesn’t get officially published until 1/19/16.

**Spoilers Below**

Continue reading

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Claude Monet & Dora

Claude Monet- The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Claude Monet- The Painter Who Stopped the Trains

Tonight Samantha read Dora’s Mystery of the Missing Shoes and I read Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains to Samantha.  Listen to her audio review below.

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The Velveteen Rabbit Christmas

The Velveteen Rabbit Christmas

The Velveteen Rabbit Christmas

Tonight Samantha read The Velveteen Rabbit Christmas and Daddy read Princesses Are Not Quitters.  The audio review is below.

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