Monday, January 31, 2022

January Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by for a paper or test, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 2017, 77 books in 2018, 67 books in 2019, 66 books in 2020 and 67 books in 2021). In the last year or so, especially since going back to work outside of the house full-time, the majority of my "reading" has been through audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb diggity and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So here are the books I finished in January:

  • A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum - This is the story of three generations of Palestinian women from an extremely conservative Arab family living in America. TW: I don't want to give anything away, but there is A LOT of domestic violence in this book. The story is fiction, but the author does such an amazing job at setting the scene, getting us to feel for the characters, etc, that it feels 100% real (and, I'm sure, for many women in the world, this is a nightmare they find themselves in). This is NOT an easy read, for sure, so please make sure you have the mental and emotional space for something like this. With that said, I really enjoy books that are written from multiple points-of-views. This book is told through the eyes of all the three women (it is still told in third person, but the different women are the focal points throughout the book). The novel focuses on the question of what is a woman worth. In the end, thankfully, it was about women having the courage to find their voice, but getting to that point was heartbreaking many times over. I didn't want to stop listening to this one, it had me invested in the characters and the story lines from the very beginning. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas - You know me and the Young Adult genre... I'm a sucker for it ;) When I have an extra couple of minutes, I scroll through the newly released YA audiobooks on my Hoopla app. I saw this one and didn't know anything about it, but figured I'd give it a try. I definitely enjoyed it (I also prefer knowing as little as possible about a book, that way I don't have any preconceived notions about it - like where the plot is going to go or what might be around the next corner). This story was told from the perspective of a young man (17 at the time of the story) and the "drama" that unfolded around him. I'll be honest, although I try my hardest not to judge others, if I had heard some of the characteristics of the main character - drug dealer, gang member, (two time) baby daddy, high school drop-out - I probably would've come with a few judgements. I love when books stretch my brain and challenge me to think differently. PS I also didn't put two and two together that this is the prequel to The Hate U Give (one of my faves!). Mind blown! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover - A couple of weeks ago I had seen a friend post in her IG stories that she was doing a book exchange. The idea was - you replied to her post, she sent you a message with a name of someone to mail one of your favorite books to, then you share a similar post asking people to join, then you put the address of the person you saw the post from into the details and ask them to share it, when they share it, they put your address in the details (I probably didn't do a good job at describing it, but think of it like one of those chain letters from back in the day). Well, anyway, this is a book that I received in the mail from someone. The hubby was out of town, so I figured I'd work my way through a physical book. I'll start off by saying that it was a bit graphic for me. As you know, I tend to stick with the YA genre when it comes to romantic type books, so the sexual scenes in this one were a bit more than I was expecting (especially when I didn't know what the book was about to begin with). Also, trigger warning - this is a story about domestic abuse and rape. There were many parts of this book that were extremely difficult to read. Don't get me wrong, the author did a great job with her writing, but the subject matter is not an easy one (at least for me) to digest. I would say, this book did make me think differently about people in abusive relationships and how often we frame our thoughts around the abused ('why didn't they leave?', 'how could they still love them?', etc) rather than the abuser. And, I believe a trait of a good book is that it makes you think, right?! So, I'd say that even though this wouldn't have been a book I normally would have picked up for myself, I am glad I read it. (And, to be honest, I ended up staying up way too late to finish it because I wanted to see how it ended.) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Detroit: A Play by Lisa D'Amour - I grabbed this book from a little free library. Let's be real, I'm always drawn to Michigan themed things ;) This was a quick read and was actually a play rather than a book per say. I'll be honest, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't actually about Detroit (the author said that it could have been set in Detroit, but it didn't really play into any of the story). I thought the idea of it being a play was pretty cool though, it was definitely different than other things I had been reading. There were even notes throughout in case you wanted to put the play on yourself (for example, it was set in two yards, but if you didn't want them in neighboring backyards, there were suggestions on how to set up the stage differently). I'm not sure what I was expecting with this one, but it was way different. The premise was two couples who lived next door to each other - one couple had just moved in after meeting in rehab and the other couple was more established but going through a lot of their own chaos (wife was an alcoholic, husband was trying to start his own business from home). Because it was so short (written in scenes rather than chapters) it kept my attention, but I'd say that if it was much longer I might not have been as engaged. The story jumped around quite a bit and because scenes were relatively short I wasn't too invested in the characters. I finished it, but it'll definitely be making its way back to one of the free libraries and not staying in my personal collection. I would give it a 6 out of 10.

With that, January has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list! 

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What's the best book you've read lately? 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 5

Sunday, January 23rd – 10.10 mile run

Monday, January 24th – Rest Day

Tuesday, January 25th – 8 mile run

Wednesday, January 26th – 6.46 mile run

Thursday, January 27th – 6.52 mile run 

Friday, January 28th – Rest Day

Saturday, January 29th – 20.02 mile run

I broke the 50 mile barrier this week - getting in 51.1 miles of running. I'll be honest, not all of them felt great, but they all got done. I'm still trying to figure out the new medication I am on and how it is impacting my body (and therefore running). I know this will be TMI, but it seems to be causing a bit of constipation, which can be quite frustrating when it comes to running (normally you want to use the restroom and "empty" everything before you head out for a run). Some of my runs I have been running from port-o-potty to port-o-potty, but hopefully I can get everything back to "normal" soon. 

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, January 28, 2022

Eating Around the World - 2022 "Challenge" [January - Indian]

I came up with a fun "challenge" for the hubby and I to tackle in 2022. You see, we try and limit our eating out to once a week (because I'm frugal like that ;)). With that said, we tend to stick to our tried-and-true favorites (you gotta make the most of those dining-out experiences, right?!). Well, that means we usually eat at the same two restaurants. Hear me out, I am NOT complaining, but I thought it might be a fun "challenge" for the year to try a new place once a month. To take the idea one step further, I thought we could try a different cuisine every month - that way we aren't just trying a new Mexican restaurant every month (because, let's be real, I can never turn down great chips and salsa ;)). Here's how it went:

[Originally this was going to be a single post, but blog readers said they preferred monthly, so ask and you shall receive.] 

January - Indian

We decided on a new-to-us restaurant in Carlsbad, Taste of the Himalayas. The reviews on Yelp looked awesome, so we figured we'd give it a try. When we arrived (around 5pm on a Saturday) it was pretty empty. It seemed like everyone was doing take-out (not sure if this is the norm or more of a recent phenomenon due to COVID), so we had the place almost to ourselves. (Note: By the time we left it had filled up a bit more, so maybe we had just beaten the dinner crowd/ rush.)

I am a HUGE fan of mushrooms, so when I saw the Mushroom Tikka Masala on the menu I instantly gravitated towards it (#RealTalk - I don't know that I have had Indian before, so I was very out of my element and didn't know what anything was. I asked our server about vegan options and she told us that the veggie section could all be made vegan.) I opted for a 2 on the spicy level (I'm a pretty big wimp when it comes to spice) and was very happy with that choice. Since I had never had this dish I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. As the name says, it was mushrooms (hehe), but not much else. Although it was yummy, it felt like it was missing something - maybe another veggie or another layer of spices or herbs. Again, everything was great, but I think next time I'd order something else. PS Both of us ordered our entrees vegan.

I do my best to eat as vegan as possible, but sometimes when we go out to eat (or eat at friends), I give myself wiggle room/ grace
and will partake in dairy. For me, it's about being conscious about my decisions, not being overly militant about it.

The hubby ordered the Narwaratan Korma (after the suggestion of our server) with a spice level of 4. He loved the coconutty flavor and all of the veggies. He said next time he might go up to a level 5, but otherwise it was delicious. He said he'd be totally fine with ordering it again, but would love exploring more of the menu too. As you can see from the pictures, we did order the Garlic Herbal Naan (NOT vegan) and it was yummy! We could've had another order or three ;)

PS I realize I am NOT a food blogger and the pictures might not be great, but I do my best ;)

The house lentil soup (I believe it was Daal soup, but I'm not certain since it was "on the house" and our sweet server just said it was a vegan lentil soup) that came before the meal was also scrum-didily-umptious. I could've had a big bowl with naan and been a happy camper. (I'm thinking I need to try to make some - it seemed super easy and was DELISH!)

Okay, okay, it might not look like much, but it was so good!

The hubby and I were super stoked to have tried this new-to-us place and will definitely be back to try more of the menu. 

When was the last time you tried a new-to-you restaurant?

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 4

Sunday, January 16th – 10.10 mile run

Monday, January 17th – Rest Day

Tuesday, January 18th – 8.08 mile run

Wednesday, January 19th – 6.5 mile run

Thursday, January 20th – 6.5 mile run 

Friday, January 21st – Rest Day

Saturday, January 22nd – 18.18 mile run

Besides the 49.36 miles, there were some pretty AMAZING sunrises that I was able to gawk at and enjoy this week. I would say that the left leg/ hip flexor/ lower back/ trunk area is acting up again... maybe I need another trip to the chiropractor or to add some stretching back into my routine. Also, I think my body is still adjusting to the new medication I am taking, so I've got a few side effects that I'm trying to work through (feeling a bit more tired than usual, some stomach issues, etc), but hopefully next week things will start to even out now that I've been on it for a little over two weeks. 

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 3

Sunday, January 9th – 6.26 mile run with the hubby

Monday, January 10th – Rest Day

Tuesday, January 11th – 8.48 mile run

Wednesday, January 12th – 6.5 mile run

Thursday, January 13th – 6.5 mile run 

Friday, January 14th – Rest Day

Saturday, January 15th – 16.16 mile run

Technically Sunday was supposed to be 8 miles, but I haven't run with the hubby in what feels like months so I talked him into a 10K (instead of the 3 miles he originally was planning on doing). Sometimes running with your favorite person trumps getting in two more miles. This week was a bit rocky. I started a new medication and I think my body is just trying to get used to it. I am feeling a bit run down, so trying to get as must rest/ sleep as my schedule will allow. I'm happy to report that after last week's chiropractic appointment my left groin/ hip flexor/ glute/ trunk area feels a lot better. It's not at 100%, but it's felt better than it has since November! Slowly but surely we will get back to firing on all cylinders again. 

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 2

Sunday, January 2nd – 8.68 mile run 

Monday, January 3rd – Rest Day

Tuesday, January 4th – 6.5 mile run

Wednesday, January 5th – 7.07 mile run

Thursday, January 6th – Rest Day

Friday, January 7th – 8.28 mile run 

Saturday, January 8th – 14.14 mile run

44.67 miles for the week ain't too shabby, right?! My run on Thursday was pretty junky... When I woke up I knew I should have made it a rest day because my body was overly fatigued, but I went out anyway. Once I hit 3.5 miles I pulled the plug, turned around, walked a half mile and then jogged the last 3 miles back to the car. #ListenToYourBody I also went to the chiropractor on Friday for an adjustment. My left lower back/ glute/ hip flexor/ trunk area is still not amazing since my 50 mile bike ride so I wanted to see if she could help. She said that she could visibly see that my left leg appeared longer (meaning something was out of alignment), so we worked on it and hopefully I will be moving back towards 100% soon!

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 53 / Week 1

Sunday, December 26th – 12.12 mile run 

Monday, December 27th – 6 mile treadmill run

Tuesday, December 28th – Rest Day

Wednesday, December 29th – 8.08 mile run

Thursday, December 30th – Rest Day

Friday, December 31st – 8.11 mile run 

Saturday, January 1st – 12.22 mile run

Like I mentioned last week, it is pretty interesting to see how quickly your body can adapt to its surroundings. Don't get me wrong, it took my fingers and toes about three miles to get feeling back into them on my Sunday morning run (it was 18 degrees, even if the sunrise didn't look "that" cold), but when we got back to SoCal, my 40 degree run on Wednesday morning felt tropical ;) PS Running on a treadmill in a mask is no joke! We were thankful to try out the community center when there was freezing rain falling outside, but breathing through all of that cloth is rough! Oh yeah, and you knew I had to kick off 2022 with some sort of "22". I'm not far enough along in my 50K training plan to have a 22-miler on the calendar yet, so my extra .22 on the end of Saturday's run will have to do ;) HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2021 total mileage: 1605 miles

How were your workouts this past week?