Monday, February 28, 2022

February 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 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 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 February:

  • The Radium Girls by Kate Moore - I'm slightly embarrassed to say that I didn't know much about this before I downloaded the audiobook. This book is based on the girls (seeing as some were as young as 14) who worked in the radium "studios" painting watch dials in the early 20th century. If you are unfamiliar with the history, let me tell you it is heart wrenching and shocking. I'll be honest, at points in the book I felt as though it was dragging on a bit, only because there were SO MANY LIVES impacted and being discussed that it was hard to keep them straight, but the author wanted to do right by all of these women (and their families), so, in the end, I totally understand why everyone was included. These women (and eventually others who championed their cause) fought for justice and basic human rights when it seemed as though there was no hope or light at the end of the tunnel. The effects of their fight can be seen in modern day lives (workers comp, poison control, OSHA, etc). I don't want to give anything away but WOW - this was rough! These women were poisoned from the inside out and the companies they worked for wanted none of the responsibility. It's a tragic recounting of corporate greed, finger pointing and straight up lying at its finest. Although I am NOT comparing my fibromyalgia to the radium poisoning that these women suffered through, I did understand their plight when they would go to doctor after doctor, only to be told that they didn't see anything wrong or they had no idea how to help. We should be forever grateful to these brave women who fought, not only for themselves, but for the future. They refused to be silenced and we can still hear them today! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Dear Bob and Sue by Matt and Karen Smith - I don't remember how I came across this book, but it seemed interesting. It was about a couple who had a goal to visit all 58 (at the time) National Parks in the United States. The format of the book is emails from the couple to their friends (Bob and Sue) about what they saw, what they did, etc. It isn't meant to be used as a travel guide, but just their overall observations. I was pretty excited about the book, because the hubby and I love the outdoors and visiting the National Parks, but this book just didn't hit the mark for me. I'm not sure if it's because the couple seemed to be racing through each park (more just to cross it off the list rather than taking the time to really enjoy it all) or because at times they felt like the rules didn't apply to them and they shared about it openly (touching cave formations after being repeatedly told not to, trying to take wine into the parks, etc). Now, when the hubby and I visit the parks we are normally camping (because we enjoy that), but we have nothing against folks who don't want to "rough it". This couple stayed in lodges and hotels the entire time, which, again, to each their own, but it was just another way that our experiences would differ so wasn't really helpful insight. The authors are good writers and there were parts that I found myself shaking my head along with (agreeing with their frustration of folks loudly talking on their cell phones while on the trails), but overall I was a bit disappointed. I would give it a 5 out of 10.

  • Grown by Tiffany D Jackson - This is the fourth book I've read by this author and I've never been disappointed. (Yes, they are technically YA books, but don't hold that against them, I promise they are deep and important reads.) I didn't know what it was about prior to downloading it, but since I have always been engrossed in Tiffany's writing I figured it'd be good. I was not wrong! This is a story about a 17 year old girl, Enchanted, and her (inappropriate) relationship with a 28 year old man. In the author's notes at the end, Tiffany explains this it is not supposed to be the story of R. Kelly, but there are definitely some similar storylines in the novel. I appreciate there was a trigger warning (giving everyone a heads up of the heavy topics discussed - including domestic violence, rape and other extremely real, raw and potentially triggering themes). I had started this book the day before, and although I normally don't listen to things while I run, I knew I had 2.5 hours of "free time" and I NEEDED to see where this story went. As with a few of the recent books that I've finished recently, this is yet another one that made me really take a hard look at myself and how I view victims. I know how society sees (or doesn't see) victims, especially those from marginalized classes, but I believe it is extremely important to dig into your own beliefs (and often). Tiffany does a great job at exposing rape culture and how too often the innocence of Black girls is stolen from them. I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner - While scrolling through my Hoopla app, I noticed this book and thought it sounded familiar - like maybe I had seen friends mention they were reading it (or maybe it was just the pretty cover that drew me in ;)). As per usual, I didn't know anything about the book before downloading it, but that's normally how I prefer it. As you probably know by now, I really enjoy books that switch between different point-of-views and this one rotated between the first-person perspective of three women as the narrator (two in the late 1700s and one in modern day). [The audiobook was read by three different people as well, which always helps to keep things straight, especially when switching between people and time.] I thought the storyline was engaging and original (an apothecary in the 1700s who helped women murder men in their lives and a woman in modern day trying to track down the history of this "killer"). Each chapter had just enough of a cliffhanger that it had me not wanting to put the story down. It was like a puzzle I was trying to piece together, but the author did a great job not giving away too many of the clues ahead of time so I felt like I was always guessing where the story may go next. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Don't Cry for Me by Daniel Black - This book popped up on my Hoopla app because it's Black History Month so I downloaded it to give it a read. It's a novel written in the format of letters from a father to his estranged son while he is on his deathbed (dying of cancer). It shows so clearly how the traumas we endure in our past are passed down to others - whether we intend them to or not. I'll be honest, I went back and forth liking this book and not liking it. The father writing the letters was trying to explain to his son why he was the way he was, but at times I felt like it was coming across as justifying his actions rather than just apologizing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the backstory of his life and can totally see how his past impacted his present (and then future), but sometimes we need to see changed actions and attitudes and hear remorse rather than excuses. And, maybe, what it was, is that it felt a little too "real", it wasn't a nice story wrapped up in a bow with palatable characters and that rubbed me the wrong way. There were parts that were difficult to read, but I also found it difficult to put down because I was very much invested in the characters. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris - Figured it was time for another YA book, so I downloaded this one. The first couple sentences of the blurb said that if you like authors such as Tiffany D. Jackson and Nic Stone then this one's for you (and, if you've follow my recaps, you know those are authors who always get very high marks in my book ;)). This was a bit of a thriller/ whodunit story and I really enjoyed it. It touched on serious topics such as race relations, law enforcement, microaggressions, prejudices and what it's like to be Black in America while still keeping the younger reader in mind. As you probably know, I grew up watching TONS of Law & Order and normally pride myself on figuring out the plot before it has been completely revealed. Well, this one kept me on my toes and guessing for most of it. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few decades, you know that marginalized folks tend to get less priority, whether when it comes to investigations, resources, media coverage, etc. This book dives further into this reality that many Black and Brown communities face. I would say that there were a couple characters that probably could've been skipped because they didn't bring much to the story (i.e. Camilla), but overall I was along for the ride. This author did a great job in her debut novel and I sure hope there are more books in her future. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel - I have had this book saved on my Hoopla app for probably a year and a half now, but haven't gotten around to downloading it until now. As per usual, I didn't know much about it, other than the title, but it drew me in and I thought I'd give it a go. The story is about a teenage girl who ends up in a psychiatric hospital after an accident with her best friend. I'll be honest, I was going back and forth, not knowing whether Hannah, the main character, was manipulating the reader or not. Maybe it's all of the Law & Order I have watched, but I wasn't sure if I should take her at her word or second guess everything and wonder if she was a psychopath underneath it all. In the end (well, well before the end) I realized Hannah could be believed and that I was reading into her character a little too much (or being nervous that the book was going to turn into more of a psychological thriller [#RealTalk - I am a BIG scaredy cat when it comes to horror and even some thrillers, so I need to be careful what I read/ watch or else it can really affect me. With that being said, I was a bit on guard, making sure I wasn't getting in "too deep" if I needed to put the book down.]). The book was okay, but it missed the mark a bit for me. It was like it wasn't exactly a great book about mental health and it wasn't exactly a great thriller. Also, I'm not sure if it was the author's intent or not, but I spent the majority of the book not knowing if I should like/ root for Hannah or not. I just felt a little uneasy and unsettled the entire time and finished with a "meh" feeling about it all. I would give it a 5 out of 10.

  • The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe - Wow. Just wow. I had never heard this story before and I was blown away by it. Obviously, any title with the word "Auschwitz" in it, you know will NOT be an easy read... and that was absolutely the case in this situation, but oh so powerful! There were many parts that I had to pause, reflect, decompress and just mourn. Mourn for the lost lives, mourn for the lost childhoods, mourn for the lives that could have been. I am still flabbergasted that the amount of evil shown during the Holocaust is possible. And what is even more shocking, in my opinion, is that those people living through it could still hold on to faith and love. As heartbreaking as this story/ history is, it was surprisingly filled with more hope than I could have imagined. I realize that this book is "based" on a true story and real people, but that there is some creative freedom also allowed. Even still, this is a book that will stay with me for many years to come. Dita, the librarian, was brave beyond her years and I pray that I can be like her when I grow up! I would give it a 10 out of 10.

  • Far From the Tree by Robin Benway - After listening to The Librarian of Auschwitz, I knew I needed something a little lighter. I decided to go back to my tried and true Young Adult genre and download one of the books that I've had in my "to read" list for a while but haven't gotten around to listening to. I grabbed this one without knowing much about it. I saw in the little blurb that it mentioned something about the TV show "This Is Us" (I've never watched it but heard it's pretty great) so figured I'd give it a go. I wouldn't say this was necessarily the fun and jolly book I may have been looking for (it discusses serious topics such as teen pregnancy, race, adoption, love and loss), but I still enjoyed it. It was both heartwarming and gut-wrenching. (Side note - I also very much appreciated that the main focus was not about two teenagers falling in love, as it can be in many YA books.) The story is about three biological siblings that don't find out about or meet each other until their late teenage years. The three teens are all very different, as are the families that they find themselves in, but it's great to see how they mesh and meld together throughout the course of the story. I am absolutely a believer that family is not only the people you are born "with" but the people you choose as well, and this story dives into that idea. There may have been a few tears shed while listening to this one ;)  I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons - Remember how in the previous summary I mentioned how most YA novels focus on two teenagers falling in love?! Well, this was just that story! Of course there are some caveats in the plot (Tessa, the main character, has temporary blindness due to a car accident and Weston lost both of his legs due to an infection after a skateboarding accident), but it's your traditional love story besides that. It was cute, but nothing special to write home about. One of my "gripes" is that the characters felt extremely mature... which normally would be fine, but they are supposed to be 16... Again, nothing wrong with this one, it was a sweet story, maybe like a read-by-the-pool-on-vacation type read, but not one that I feel needs to be purchased and added to my permanent collection. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

With that, February 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, February 27, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 9

Sunday, February 20th – 8.08 mile trail run with the hubby

Monday, February 21st – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 22nd – 4 mile run of hill repeats

Wednesday, February 23rd – 9.62 mile run

Thursday, February 24th – 8.08 mile run 

Friday, February 25th – Rest Day

Saturday, February 26th – 24.12 mile run

Stoked that I was feeling stronger on the trails on Sunday, even though it might have been because I "only" had 10 miles the day before, but shoot, I'll take it. My midweek runs are getting longer, but I decided that if they start to get too hard to wake up for I can always break them up and do some in the morning and some on my lunch break if need be. I haven't had to do it yet, but it's nice to alleviate some of that pressure and give myself the option (rather than having to wake up at 2am so I can fit everything in that I need to do in a day...). My long run on Saturday was a mixed bag. I felt like I got in a strong 18 miles, but the last 6 I was riding the struggle bus. I started later (thinking that I'd be running throughout the day for my 100-miler so might as well get used to running at different times of the day), which was nice for my sleep but not nice for my run. It got warm, I ran out of water and the majority of the 1,100+ feet of climbing came in the last 5 or so miles. Even so, I'm proud of the 53.9 miles I got in (including that last "long" run before my 50K in two weeks).

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Eating Around the World - 2022 "Challenge" [February - Korean]

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

February - Korean

Next up we decided to try a Korean restaurant in Oceanside. (#RealTalk - It is considered Korean AND Asian Fusion, so there is a possibility that it isn't legit Korean, but since Korean was the first descriptor on Yelp we decided it would work for us.) The new-to-us restaurant was Mr. bibi and we made our way on a Saturday night in the month of February. 

We had seen this place open a couple years ago and were excited to finally give it a try! We decided the long(ish) line when we arrived boded well because that normally means it’s good, right?! RIGHT! When you enter the restaurant you make your way to the back corner to get in line to order. It was a bit cramped feeling, but everyone was respectful.

A Yelp reviews mentioned it was like a Chipotle version of bibimbap and I see where
they got that from! You walk down the line adding your protein, toppings, sauces, etc.

Both the hubby and I ordered Hot Stones of Bibimbap. We had read that the hot stones make the bottom rice (or whatever base you select) crispy and it’s worth the extra $2. We would agree, although it did keep the food HOT so next time I’d be okay skipping the hot stone container. I got the brown rice and tofu while the hubby got fried rice and tofu. I got all of the veggie toppings except for no jalapeƱos or cucumbers (I also didn’t get the egg on the top). The hubby got all of the toppings except for no kale or pineapple. (Because we got the hot stone we were required to eat in, but if you don’t get the hot stone they package it as though it is to-go whether you eat in the dining area or take it with you. With at that said, if it’s not in a hot stone you get the choice of two of the sauce toppings. If you get the hot stone you get a holster with all of the sauces while eating in the dining area. Hubby was stoked he didn't have to choose! He loves sauces!)

The hot stone isn't as aggressive as a fajita plate, but that's what it reminds me of - the steam, sizzle, etc.

The hubby’s favorite sauces were the spicy teriyaki and spicy mayo, while I stuck with soy sauce. (I am a wimp when it comes to spice and although I tried all of the sauces they were either too hot or covered the flavor of the meal too much so I just added a small amount of the soy sauce so I could still enjoy all of the individual fresh and flavorful tastes.)

Hubby barely wanted to wait for a photo before he dug in... but he also didn't want
to scald his mouth so he humored me with a picture while he let it cool just a bit.

We were both extremely happy with our meals and will DEFINITELY be making this a rotation in our normal restaurants. I would even be totally fine getting the same "build your bowl" every time - it was THAT yummy! We were even saying how it’d be a great meal to grab and go to the beach to watch the sunset. TWO THUMBS WAY UP FROM BOTH OF US!

I guess you could say we liked it... Our hot stone bowls were EMPTY by the time we left!

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog video, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


A couple weeks ago I was on a run and was disappointed with all of the trash along my route. So often we point the finger at others (for example - the people who are doing the littering [don't get me wrong, they definitely shoulder A LOT of the blame], the city for not providing adequate trash receptacles, etc), but I wanted to reframe this. Instead of being frustrated with others, I thought to myself "I need to do MY part." That lead me to come up with the idea of the #3PieceChallenge. 

The thought is, on every run or walk, I am challenging myself to pick up at least three pieces of trash along the way. Now obviously, I would much prefer to be able to pick up EVERY SINGLE PIECE I come in contact with, but I know that I wouldn't be able to make it wherever I was trying to go in the alloted time I had to get there. I thought putting a number on the amount would alleviate some of the pressure (or guilt) I might feel if I passed over other pieces along by route. Three pieces might not seem like a lot, but I think it's doable and sustainable - not to mention, you can normally carry three items of trash in your hand so you don't need to carry along some large trash bag while you are out for a run/ walk. Also, if I hope to get other people involved, I didn't want the number to feel too overwhelming that folks don't want to join in. 


Every so often I think, "these three small pieces of trash don't make a difference", but THEY DO! Those three pieces are three less pieces that might end up in our oceans, streams or the wild blue yonder. Most days I get in a run, then the hubby and I walk the doggy (at least a consecutive mile a day), I also walk commute to work and get in some mileage on my lunch break. On an average day that's TWELVE pieces of trash that are no longer littering the great outdoors. 

Please hear me out, this is not me tooting my own horn or asking for a pat on the back. This is me extending the challenge to you! Would you join me in the #3PieceChallenge? You can totally make it "fun". Maybe you look for a certain color of trash or stick with a theme (i.e. plastic utensils or Starbucks garbage). Shoot, if you live in a state that takes a deposit for cans and bottles, you could make some change while helping to save the planet ;) Get your kids/ running group/ friends involved. Let's be good stewards of this gorgeous place we can home and leave it better than we found it. 

It'd be awesome if brands would be willing to offer prizes for folks participating, but for now it's just out of the goodness of your heart and your love for Mother Nature and keeping our planet (three pieces of trash) cleaner one walk/ run at a time.

Will you join me in leaving the area around you a little better than you found it?

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 8

Sunday, February 13th – 14.22 mile hike with the hubby and a friend

Monday, February 14th – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 15th – 8 mile run

Wednesday, February 16th – 6.2 mile run

Thursday, February 17th – 8 mile run 

Friday, February 18th – Rest Day

Saturday, February 19th – 10.10 mile run

Technically my Sunday should have been a 10 mile run, but the hubby and I have a friend who is training to tackle the JMT (John Muir Trail) this summer so he's been doing a lot of hiking. I figured more "time on feet" on the trails was probably better than a faster road run anyway, so we hit the dirt and hiked it out. This is also a "dial back" week so I've got shorter weekend miles (10 instead of last week's 22) and my body couldn't be happier. With all of the training, working and house stuff, I could definitely use some extra rest/ sleep so fewer miles will {hopefully} allot me a little time to do that. 

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 7

Sunday, February 6th – 10 mile run (2 with the hubby, then 8 solo)

Monday, February 7th – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 8th– 8.08 mile run

Wednesday, February 9th – 6.5 mile run

Thursday, February 10th – 8.08 mile run 

Friday, February 11th – Rest Day

Saturday, February 12th – 22 mile run

All-in-all it was a fine week of running. Nothing too exciting to report. Well, I did start a #3PieceChallenge (something I totally made up, hehe), where I'm picking up three pieces of trash on my runs and walks, but other than that nothing new going on. Oh yeah, I did start adding some "vert and dirt" twice a week on my lunch walks (getting in some stairs and trails), but since it's during walks and not runs it doesn't really register that I should share it. I'm hoping that it'll help seeing as the majority of my training runs I do are on the roads but my race is on the trails. A couple of runs I had tummy issues, but overall they all felt decent. We're experiencing a bit of a heatwave right now (it was 91 degrees on my Thursday lunch walk), but since I do most of my running around sunrise it hasn't been too bad and looks like the heat should break soon. 

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Workout Recap - Week 6

Sunday, January 30th – 10.10 mile run (2.5 with the hubby, then 7.5 solo)

Monday, January 31st – Rest Day

Tuesday, February 1st – 8.08 mile run

Wednesday, February 2nd – 6.5 mile run

Thursday, February 3rd – 6.5 mile run 

Friday, February 4th – Rest Day

Saturday, February 5th – 18.18 mile run

Another week done and almost 50 miles run - I'll take it. I am currently meshing two training plans together (my 100-miler plan technically started at the end of January and I'm also ramping up for a 50K in March), but I'm happy with the progress. I might not be killing my paces, but I'm adding distance and still feeling okay, so I'm gonna keep on keepin' on. I'm not sure how I'll feel when weekends alone are almost 50 miles, but, hey, we will think about it WHEN we get there... 

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?