Stitch Fix Review February 2017


~This post contains affiliate link~

My February Stitch Fix has arrived which means it is almost time for me to visit Stitch Fix headquarters! That’s right, I am headed to San Francisco for a conference on Learning and the Brain and while I am there I am going to stop by Stitch Fix to check it out! I am so excited to see where the magic happens!

If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know I love Stitch Fix, a personal styling service that sends you five hand-selected pieces straight to your door after you have paid a $20 styling fee. The fee is then credited back to any pieces you keep from the fix. Before your stylist picks your items they read the note you write that lets them know about any upcoming events you may have or trends and styles you really want to try. Then your stylist can check out your style inspiration on a Pinterest board that contains actual pieces you want to try. Here is the official Stitch Fix Pinterest and my  Pinterest Board full of Stitch Fix pieces. Once your Fix gets to you, you have 3 days to try it on and decide what to keep. If you keep everything you get 25% off!

If this sounds great to you, click any of the links in this post to sign up using my affiliate links. I get a small commission and you get some great clothes! It is not too late to give the gift of Stitch Fix as a Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day present. Stitch Fix offers men’s, women’s, petitie’s and maternity styling and will soon offer plus size. Click here to get a Stitch Fix Gift Card sent straight to your loved one today! Or head over to my facebook group and join for a chance to win a $20 Stitch Fix Gift Card of your own! 

This month I requested on trend items to wear for my trip to San Francisco. I filled my Pinterest board with moto jackets and floral prints. Let’s see what my stylist, Jason, sent!

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  1. Just Black Joey Skinny Jeans-Light Purple, Size 10, $88img_3402

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These pants are so soft, and are super long! Since I have such long legs getting pants that are long enough is always so exciting. Petites beware, I rolled these three times to get the cuff! I had fun styling these for spring. It has been COLD by Pacific Northwest standards and today was the first day in a long time that the sun was shining and it was above 38 degrees, so styling for spring made me long for more days like this. You will see more spring ensembles with these pants later in the post. These pants photograph purple. But in reality they were more of a light blue/grey with a hint of purple. If these had been as purple as they are in pictures in real life I would have kept them in a minute. But they seemed more like light wash blue jeans and I couldn’t justify keeping them.

2.Project Social T Murphie Graphic Knit Top-Grey, Size M, $34

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When I pulled this shirt out of my box I was completely surprised. Like Jason mentioned in his note, Stitch Fix does not often have graphic tees. This shirt was SO soft. I normally don’t like my t-shirts to be fitted, but this one was surprisingly flattering. I liked the scoop neck and the longer sleeves. Of course I tried it with the Just Black jeans seen above and loved the look. I also tried to replicate the outfit on the right of the style card that came with my Fix. The cargo jacket and boyfriend jeans worn in this outfit are both from Stitch Fix. Even though I had fun styling this piece, I ended up selling it to a friend. I am not a huge coffee drinker and so the words on the tee just didn’t fit me. Had it said, “Books & Rainy Days” instead it would have been a definite keeper. I am still so glad Jason sent it because I love to try the new styles Stitch Fix has in their inventory.

3. Marc New York Antalya Faux Suede Jacket-Light Grey, Size L, $98

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Jason was able to snag me this gorgeous moto jacket and I was so happy when I pulled it out of the box. The very light grey color was super versatile and the jacket had a ton of stretch. I loved it styled dressed up with a pencil skirt and dressed down with the graphic tee and skinny jeans that came in this fix. When my husband saw this jacket he was not sold on the light color thinking about how hard it would be to keep clean. But when he saw it paired with the light purple jeans he said, “I have to admit you look pretty cool in that outfit.” I thought so too. But I just didn’t love the fit of the jacket. It felt a little boxy and the asymmetrical zipper just wasn’t my thing. I am wondering if a smaller size would have been better.  I sent this beauty back and will keep asking for moto jackets until I find the perfect one.

4. Kaileigh Viktoria Knit Dress-Navy, Size L, $48

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I love this dress. The floral print, the colors, the criss-cross detail in the front; all of these things are all very “me.” The fabric reminded me of very soft, lightweight sweatshirt material. This dress isn’t clingy and it is made in the USA! I’d say the background color is a heathered navy, not a true navy, which made me like it even more. I loved the length of this dress, even though it might be a little shorter than I usually like it still seemed conservative enough. If I was wearing this to work I would wear leggings or opaque tights under it.  But for a casual weekend look bare legs were fine! It looks cute on its own and with the moto jacket from this fix. I can’t wait to try it with a blazer, belted and with taller boots. This dress is a total keeper. I am so happy to add it to my closet. If you are thinking about requesting this dress, you might want to consider sizing down, especially if you are in between sizes, as this large was roomy and I think a medium would have been just as flattering. I just couldn’t wait to wear it long enough to ask for an exchange (which Stitch Fix will gladly do for you!).

5. Bay to Baubles Mollie Natural Stone Chevron Pendant-Light Pink, $34

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I loved the light pink color and shape of the stone in this necklace. The hardware was more bronze than true gold which was a nice touch. It looked great with everything in this fix. The only problem was, the piece above the stone that held the chain together was crooked. No matter how hard I tried I could not overlook it. So sadly, this piece went back.

What was your favorite piece from my fix? Did I make the right choice by only keeping the dress? Have you scheduled your first fix from Stitch Fix yet? Don’t forget to head over to facebook to enter my $20 Stitch Fix giveaway! Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/258037637972899/?ref=bookmarks

Until next time,

I love you more than getting ready for spring and purple jeans,

Whitney

Check out my other Stitch Fix Reviews below:

January 2017

December 2016

Stitch Fix Year in Review

November 2016

Fixing and Remixing

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

Book Banter January 2017: Part 2

Thanks for stopping by to talk about books! I have been focusing on books I want to read this month and I haven’t been sticking to my usual regimen. I will probably get back to it in the coming months, but it was fun to just sit back and let my mood drive my reading choices for the month of January.

I read ten books this month so my Book Banter post has been split in two. Read the first Book Banter post here. The books have been linked using my affiliate links, so if you make a purchase a small portion of the price will come back to me to help support my blog!

6. Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery 

Emily Climbs (Emily, #2)I love everything I have read by L.M. Montgomery and the Emily series is no exception. This is the second book in the Emily of New Moon Series. Emily Starr, like Montgomery’s well known character Anne Shirley, lives on Prince Edward Island and is an orphan. She loves writing and dreams of being a well known author/ poet/etc. I LOVE the way that Emily looks at the world, she sees beauty everywhere and takes the time to admire it. I feel like I notice the beauty in the world, but rarely take the time to truly indulge in it. So Emily’s observations are a welcome reminder. Emily’s character is so endearing, at times you can feel her anguish and remember being as young as she is. Of course, you can see budding romances forming, but they are so sweet and innocent that it warms your heart. Emily and Anne are similar in many ways, but their differences make the Emily series a very different read.

7. The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining GirlsThis is a book my best friend recently read and the premise made me push it to the top of my stack. This book is all about a time-traveling serial killer. Pretty interesting right? The time travel is not science-fictiony; it is the means by which the killer finds and gets to his victims. After he has found a victim he takes something from her and then leaves it at the scene of the next crime. For investigators this is puzzling because the trinkets are often left during a time period where they have not yet been invented. He is going undetected when one of his intended victims lives and is set on finding out who tried to kill her. The writing is weak in some areas. I found myself rereading a few of the passages because the wording was off, but it didn’t take away from the overall read.  I really liked the premise and would look for more by this author. As she continues to write I am sure her style will improve.

3. Emily’s Quest by L.M. Mongomery

Emily's Quest (Emily, #3)Yes I finished the Emily of New Moon series this month. After I finished the second book I quickly started the third and final book in the series. I wanted to stay in Emily’s world for just a while longer. In this last book Emily does a lot of growing up and learns what it is like to break a heart and have her heart broken. The descriptions are still gorgeous and make me want to visit Prince Edward Island. I would be lying if I told you this was easy for me to put down. I stayed up VERY late on a school night to finish this book because I HAD TO KNOW what happened. I wasn’t disappointed. I am not the type of person that always needs the ending of a book to be wrapped up with a pretty little bow on top, but this book had the biggest and brightest of bows and was just right. Let me leave you with some quotes from the book, “But love is not bought and sold. It is a gift.” and “Even if we never find it,” he said to Emily, as they lingered in the New Moon garden under the violet sky of a long, wondrous, northern twilight, on the last evening before he went away, “there’s something in the search for it that’s better than even finding it would be.”

4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenI have heard a lot about this book over the last year, most of which have been rave reviews. So I FINALLY listened to it on audio using my Overdrive app (free audiobooks anyone?). This book starts in what seems to be present day. After an opening scene, that at first seems unrelated to the story, you find out that a flu pandemic is sweeping the globe and nothing can stop it. Fast forward 20 years and civilization is all but gone. The story is following the youngest girl in the opening chapter as she navigates this desolate world with a traveling Shakespeare group. Yes, that is for real and I LOVED it. As the story progresses, the stories of the characters in the opening scenes have all become interwoven in this new world. You get snippets from the past to help inform the present, which is a plot device I usually enjoy. I appreciated the attention to detail and how plot lines were not left unexplored. The opening chapters through the death of society had me on the edge of my seat, heart pounding. But the “fast forward to 20 years later” seemed abrupt and took me out of the story a bit. I could not really get my emotional connection back. I wonder if this can be attributed to the way the narrator read it. If I had read this in the text form maybe I would have liked it better. I did really enjoy this book, and see why people like it. It was just not as good as I had hoped.

5. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

Magician's Elephant, TheThis was another audiobook pick (three in one month! I have been doing a lot of work in my classroom on my days off I guess…) I love the balance of whimsy and serious issues DiCamillo brings to her books, and this was no exception. This book is about a young orphan boy who made a promise to his mother before she died that he would take care of his newborn sister. When his guardian is not fit to take care of the girl, she is taken away and years later the boy is still determined to find her. He goes to a fortune teller to ask about his sister and finds out that an elephant will lead him to her. Meanwhile a magician comes to town and accidentally makes an elephant appear in the drawing room of a well-off woman’s house. It is a real elephant in the room situation, if you know what I mean ? 😉 The boy finds out about the elephant and knows this is the elephant he has been waiting for. As he tries to discover where his sister is, the boy finds out who is there for him and learns what family he already has. I enjoyed this book, while it was not my favorite by DiCamillo, and have a few students that will bee hearing this as a recommendation for a story they should read.

That is it for my first Book Banter post of the new year! Don’t forget to follow along with what I am reading and share what you are reading by snapping a picture and posting it on instagram or twitter using the hashtag #bookbanter2017 You can follow me @whitksmith

Until next time,

I love you more than violet skies and the world’s demise,

Whitney

Book Banter January 2017: Part 1

I had made a goal to post at least 2 times per week this year, but that did not happen in January. Maybe I didn’t have time to blog because I was spending all my time reading! I managed to read ten books this month, so my Book Banter post will be broken into two parts. Follow along with what I am reading on Instagram or Twitter @whitksmith and tag your books too! Use the hashtag #bookbanter2017 .

Here are my first five reads of 2017! All books are linked using my affiliate links, so if you purchase them I will get a small commission that supports the content of my blog.

1. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

Perelandra (Space Trilogy, #2)

This is the second book in the C.S Lewis Space Trilogy and I liked it much better than the first. This book takes place on Perelandra (Venus), and the main character, Ransom, is on a mission to allow humans to begin to populate Perelandra without the interruption of evil forces. There are quite a few philosophical conversations in this book, so despite its small size, it took me a bit to get through it. I found some parts to be laugh out loud funny, and other parts to be dark and scary. As usual, I found the descriptions of the natural world to be absolutely mind-blowing.  They way Lewis is able to capture beauty with words is almost unparalleled.  I always find myself re-reading passages because the images they conjure up are too delightful not to relive. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Creation stories and Science Fiction!

2. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith 

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3)This is the third book in the Cormoran Strike Private Investigator series written by J.K. Rowling (under a pen name of course). I LOVE these books. This particular book follows the investigation of a serial killer than has a personal grudge against Strike. The killer decides he wants to ruin Strike by killing his assistant investigator, Robin. When Robin and Strike realize her life is in danger they disagree on how this case should be investigated. Of the three books in the series, this was probably my least favorite because a lot of the descriptions of Strike were repetitive. I kept thinking, “I get it, he only has one leg, you can stop telling me now.” I didn’t feel like Strike’s character was advanced at all, and the other characters were just passing him by. I did enjoy the mystery and Rowling’s creativity serves her well in this series. The cases are always interesting and full of detail.

Winter of the World by Ken Follett 

Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)This is the second book in Follett’s Century Trilogy. This series follows the same families in England, Germany, The United States, and Russia over the course of the twentieth century. Winter of the World is set around the time of WWII and shows how the devastation of the war impacts so many lives. Follett is amazing at weaving real-life events into his fiction. I love how seamless it feels, even though you have to suspend disbelief a little when the people he is wiring about seem to end up involved in every big event of the era. I love how his characters are varied in their level of evolution. Warning: there is a lot of adult content in this book. Like an uncomfortable amount. At times it advances the story, but it feels gratuitous in some situations. I listened to this as an audiobook which I would recommend. The narrator does great accents and it really helps you to keep tack of the characters. It does make skipping the adult content harder though. If you like historical fiction and don’t mind graphic scenes I highly recommend this series.

4. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising, #1)

I had never heard of this trilogy until I came across it listed as “an unputdownable book.” I was in the market for a read that would keep me up at night, so this book jumped to the top of my To-Read list. In this series the human population has been genetically modified into color groups and these groups are ranked by class. The problem is, the lowest class, the Reds, believe they are finding a way to make Mars habitable for the other humans, but they find out they are not any better than slaves for the higher classes.  When the protagonist, Darrow, loses his wife and discovers the truth, he infiltrates the highest class, the Golds, and that is when the story takes off. What happens next reminds me of the Hunger Games, but if you can believe it, more brutal, so be mindful of that if you pick it up.  I really enjoyed this book and it had just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me engaged. I already have the second one checked out from the library.

5. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt 

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeMy best friend gave me this book for Christmas and told me it is in her top twenty favorite books of all time. That is high praise because we are both avid readers. This book seems to be about a teenage girl dealing with the death of her favorite uncle. Along the way you find out it is about so much more. The protagonist, June, is grieving, forming new bonds and questioning why old ones no longer seem the same. For a debut novel, Brunt really handles complex teenage emotions deftly. She also weaves in a narrative about the turmoil and confusion surrounding the AIDS epidemic during the 80’s that seems honest, but doesn’t hit you over the head. I was especially impressed with the different types of love that were explored. In the category of “Coming of Age” novels, this is among my favorites. And, isn’t that cover gorgeous?!?!

 

Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments and stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow!

I love you more than heart-racing action and heart-wrenching love,

Whitney

 

Stitch Fix Review January 2017


~This post contains affiliaite links. I will earn a small commission if you sign up for Stitch Fix through my blog.

My January Stitch Fix arrived during a cold spell here in Oregon and was just the thing I needed to brighten up my day. In case you don’t know, Stitch Fix is my fashion subscription box obsession. They send 5 clothing pieces and/or accessories that have been curated by your personal stylist according to your style profile and requests. Then you have 3 days to try the clothes on in your house before deciding what to keep and what to send back in the prepaid bag they send you. Shipping is free both ways, you just pay a $20 styling fee that becomes a credit towards anything you purchase. If you keep everything you get 25% off.

I have had the same stylist, Jason, for a year and a half now and I am always impressed by what he sends. You can request to keep your stylist by emailing hello@stitchfix.com. So if you find a stylist that seems to get your style, definitely request to keep them. The longer they style you the better your fixes are. Sometimes it can take a few months of trial and error to find the right stylist for you. Give it time, it is worth it.

This month I asked Jason to send me a fix full of accessories and a blouse option for the amazing red pants he sent me last month. I wanted a budget friendly fix because with the holidays still in the rear view mirror I didn’t need to add any major pieces to my closet. Of course, Jason kept my requests in mind and sent a great fix.

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1. Fun2Fun Walden Split Neck Blouse-Dark Grey, Medium, $44

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The color of this shirt is gorgeous. It is grey, but it has a blue tone to it that I love. I liked the subtle print and the rounded hem. The neckline was also a highlight because it has the cute split detail, but was not too low cut. Jason sent this to wear with my red pants, as requested, and I like the result more than I thought I would. The problem with this shirt is that it is completely sheer. Finding a camisole that was short enough to wear with the shirt without having to tuck it in was a huge problem. As much as I liked this shirt, I just could not spend $44 on a sheer shirt. If you want to request this one, you might want to size up because it does not have any stretch to it and the Medium was a little snug. Sadly, I sent this back.

2. 41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan-Jewel Tone Purple, M, $48

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Let me just start by saying that this cardigan is the most amazing color. I love it. It is also very soft and light weight. The draped front is slimming and is my favorite cardigan style because it looks good as is, or tied in the front. For me to add a cardigan to my closet it has to pass a test, it must match at least 3 dresses and 3 shirts I already have. I was nervous this cardigan would not pass the test. Surprisingly, it matched so many things! My favorite and most unexpected combo was when I paired it with my bright orange dress. I loved the result of this bold color combo. I’m pretty sure this orange is one of the Pantone colors for spring so it is good to know it looks so great with this jewel tone purple. As much as I loved this cardigan I did not keep it. Like Jason mentioned in his note  have this cardigan in another  color and it did not hold up for as long as I would have liked as it pilled after a few wears. I let Stitch Fix know that the quality was the only reason I did not keep it and told Jason to send me more pieces in this color.

3. Octavia Palermo Stitch Detail Clutch-Teal Green, $38

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I had quite a few clutches pinned on my Pinterest page and was so happy Jason sent one for me to try! I love that the braided detail and fringe. As you can see it also has a crossbody strap that is easily tucked inside. It is also a fairly good size. I love, love, love the look of this clutch. The only problem is, I did not love the color. It was just too dark and dusty looking for me. I think if it had been a brighter color or a neutral I would have kept this in a heartbeat. If this clutch came in the color of that cardigan above I would be in heaven. I am thinking of asking Jason to send this in another color when it is available.

4. Bay to Baubles Kenny Fringe Pendant-Silver, $28

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I love pendant necklaces and have been slowly growing my collection of them. I did not have a silver pendant and have been desperately wanting one. This one was just what I was looking for. I love the fringe look, but without the problem of tangling a lot of fringe necklaces have. The hammered metal look adds a little dimension to the necklace that just put it over the top for me. You will probably be seeing a lot of this in the future because it is easy to wear with a variety of outfits. Obviously I kept this necklace.

5. Bay to Baubles Gracie Geo Stud Set-Grey, $28

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These earrings were very cute and the sheen reminded me of opals. I actually liked the idea of wearing a square on one ear and a triangle on the other. These earrings aren’t too big, so you could wear them with a lot of different outfits. Ultimately, I did not need two pairs off earrings that were so similar so I sent them back.

Fix #27 is in the books and even though I only kept the necklace I was really happy with this fix and my wallet is even happier. If you haven’t tried Stitch Fix I recommend you sing up today! With women’s, men’s, petites, maternity and plus size on the way Stitch Fix will exceed your fashion expectations. Special thanks to my husband for taking these pictures in the 29 degree weather.

Until next time,

I love you more than jewel tone purple and fringey fun,

Whitney

Check out my other Stitch Fix Reviews below:

December 2016

Stitch Fix Year in Review

November 2016

Fixing and Remixing

September 2016

August 2016

July 2016

June 2016

May 2016

April 2016

 

ModCloth Winter Clearance Sale

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.

If you have been following my blog for awhile now you know I love ModCloth. Over the last year I have been adding ModCloth pieces to my wardrobe and they are among my most worn pieces! If you too have a ModCloth obsession, or you have some Christmas money burning a hole in your pocket (me! me!) you are in luck! Starting today you can get Up to 70% Off Clearance Sale at ModCloth (1/9 through 1/16).

That is right, ModCloth’s kicking off 2017 with their biggest sale of the season! Right now, you can nab 1,000s of the separates, dresses, accessories, decor, and other finds you love for up to 70% off. That’s right, up to 70%! Hurry and shop standout styles before they disappear forever!

Here are some of the fab things you can find:

English Garden Getaway Dress

Isn’t this a showstopper? It makes me want to put on an over-sized hat and have a cozy tea party by a fire while winter is underway outside.


Willamette for the Weekend Scarf in Berry

As a Willamette Valley dweller, a scarf with a name (and colors) like that might just have to make its way into my closet!


Giddy City Top in Polka Dots

Black and white polka dots and a peplum!?!? Sign me up!


City Adventure Velvet Leggings in Black

Surprise! Velvet is back in style. These leggings look comfortable and can easily elevate your outfit. Plus, as an elementary teacher, I know the soft velvet would be kid approved. They love to pet your leg, especially if it has soft fabric on it.


Sleek, Chic, and Totally Unique Blazer in Garnet

I love the cut of this blazer and know it would be super flattering on my short waist and round tummy. I love the idea of throwing it on over navy for a classic color combo that packs a punch. This comes in other colors as well.


Anywhere You Tango T-Strap Heel in Cream

I have been bootie obsessed lately so while browsing the sale section I was looking for something out of my comfort zone. These cuties called to me! They are feminine and would look adorable with tights, a dress and a cardigan (or that blazer above!).


Picturesque Planning 2017 Coloring Calendar

I haven’t been able to keep focused long enough to finish a coloring page from an “adult” coloring book yet, but this calendar looks like many hours of fun!


Beyond the Grove Shower Curtain in Winter Birch

Yes ModCloth carries decor for your home! I have had my eye on this shower curtain for awhile. It is neutral, but packs a punch.

I could seriously keep posting pictures of the pretty things on sale all day long, but I’m going to let you discover the other hidden gems on your own. Just click through any of the links above to be taken to the sale and shop to your hearts content.

Until next time,

I love you more than saddle shoes and  blazer in rouge,

Whitney

On Fresh Starts

So many people look to the beginning of a new year as a way to start anew. We see another chance to eat healthier, to exercise more, to work towards a new promotion or to just be happier. When the clock strikes midnight to ring in the New Year we kiss and celebrate the chance for a fresh start. When the confetti has settled we are ready to vigorously attack the new year.

But then life happens. Hard things get in the way of good intentions. I know quite a few people that have had a rough start to 2017. Families have been torn apart with grief for lost loved ones. Accidents have left families without the income they need to scrape by. Bureaucratic systems put in place to do good, actually hinder the ability of the greatest good to be done. Many people have been left feeling out of control during a time when they expected to be conquering all of their resolutions. To-do lists have been cast aside to gather dust, while they try to just make it through the day. So much for a fresh start.

Each day this week my heart has been broken for someone that has had their faith in the fresh start promises of a new year broken. Each night I have gone to bed with more people to pray for. But each morning I have woken with a new hope. I have hope that as time goes on people will be able to let go of their grief and grip onto happiness. That for every bad thing that happens, there are two smiles that alleviate the sorrow or stress.

I hope that people will remember that when the sun sets, and darkness envelops them, each sunrise has a promise for a fresh start wrapped in it; we just need to remember it is there and grasp it. Fresh starts are not just for a new year, but for every new day as well.

This year will be full of happiness and heartbreak, feast and famine. It will be full of laughter and loss. And while it is hard to remember the sweet when we are surrounded with the bitter we get many new chances to find a kernel of hope in every situation, every new day. As Shauna Niequist says, “When life is sweet say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter say thank you, and grow.”

I plan to live life like this this year. I want to document a moment of happiness every day. I want to remember to start each day with a fresh outlook because the beginning of a new year is not the only time when we can start over. We can choose to do that at ANYTIME. I know there will be days when the weight of the challenges I am facing will  overtake me and happiness will be the last thing on my mind. But that is ok, because the sun will rise again and I will be granted another chance to smile. I want to fill 2017 with so much hope my heart might burst.

Here are some of my happiest moments from a week full of disappointments:

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Go Pack Go!

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Moses holding his staff & the 10 Commandments -as made by a student

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A delightful poem written by a student just because (not an assignment)

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My first read of 2017 and Tom Riddle

In the wise words of Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” In 2017 I hope you remember to turn on the light to a fresh start each and every day.

Until next time,

I love you more than sunsets on bad days and sunrises with fresh rays,

Whitney

Top Ten Reads of 2016

For the last four years I have been keeping track of all of the books I read on goodreads.com. Not only can you create a shelf for the books you want to read and have read, you can also set a reading goal as part of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I like to have a reading goal to work toward and never cease to surprise myself with how much I read.

In 2016 my goal was to read 74 books and I managed to read 82 for a total of 30, 086 pages. The shortest book I read was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K.Rowling (59 pages). The Longest book I read was Fall of Giants by Ken Follet (985 pages). My average book length was 367 pages. I listened to 9 audiobooks and a 3 of them are in my top ten of the year. I read the most books in December (10). The fewest number of books I read in one month was 5 and I did that in 4 months (February, March, June and November).

I love stats! I also love to look back on what I read an pick my favorites of the year. I read a lot of excellent books this year. I rated 25 books 5/5 stars! From those 25 I picked my top ten to share with you here. These are the books that have stuck with me all year long. They kept me interested and revealed nuggets of truth, beauty and goodness. I will link my original Book Banter post with each book so you can read the fresh takes I had on these books as well. You can also click the book titles to purchase the books to add to your own “To Read 2017” book-list. Just remember, I get a small commission from every purchase to help quench my thirst for reading. Thanks for your continued support of my blog!

Let’s countdown my ten favorite books of 2016!

10. Greenglass House by Kate Milford (originally read December 2016)

Greenglass House (Greenglass House, #1)Even though I just finished this book, I know it will stand the test of time. The combination of a mystery, snow and an endearing main character this book had a lot of charm and a few life lessons. I love how the author weaves adoption into the narrative naturally. I have a few adopted family members and friends and know that it can be a tough topic for some. This book doesn’t disregard that, but allows for it to be discussed. By no means is adoption the main focus, but it was what pushed this book into my favorites pile. I am so glad I read this book!

9. On Hallowed Ground by Robert M. Poole (originally read April 2016)

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National CemeteryThis book is all about the history of Arlington National Cemetery. I was lucky enough to visit Arlington when I was in 8th grade and after reading this book I definitely want to go back. I loved learning about how Arlington belonged to Robert. E Lee at the start of the Civil War, but was used by the Union Army throughout the Civil War. The story of how the cemetery came to be and the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier makes my American heart swell with pride. If you love U.S. History I recommend this book.

8. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S Lewis (originally read April 2016)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3)I have read this book many times before, but it remains one of my favorites of the Chronicles on Narnia. There is just something about a nautical adventure that I love. Also, the characters in this book are exemplary. They make mistakes, but learn that being virtuous is what we should all strive for. Plus a valiant mouse named Reepicheep steals the show and teaches so many good lessons along the way. I read this with my students which makes this book even more special.

 

7. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (originally read August 2016)

All Creatures Great and SmallWhen I was younger I fell in love with the stories of James Herriot and even toyed with the idea of becoming a vet(that didn’t last when I realized how sad I’d be to tell people their pets did not make it). I believe I had the picture book made for children and I could have watched a few episodes of the show. I am not really sure. I am sure that this book was fantastic. The stories about the relationships Herriot had with his animal patients and their human owners were engaging and endearing. I am so glad I decided to read the grown-up version of a childhood favorite.

6. Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (originally read December 2016)

Darkness at NoonWell if creep factor was the only thing I considered when picking my 2016 favorites this one would be number one. This look at totalitarianism and how the leaders of a movement can find themselves at the bottom of the barrel was eye opening. It had so many places I wanted to highlight and mark up, but I borrowed it from the library so I decided against  it, even though someone before me has used a pencil to faintly underline some very interesting nuggets. Even though this book frightened me, it is so worth reading, and in my opinion necessary.

5. Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières (originally read October 2016)

Corelli's MandolinI had never heard of this book before I saw it on this book list of 200 superb books everyone should read. This book deserves to be on the list. It is about what happens to a small Greek town, and the people in it, under Italian and Nazi occupation during World War II. It took me awhile to get into this book, but the slow beginning was so worth it. This book was both gut-wrenching and heart-warming. The characters were so well written and I really came to love them. This book probably wins the award for “Most Tears Shed by the Reader” but every tear was well earned by the author. Historical Fiction in one of my favorite genres and this is now high on my list of Historical Fiction favorites.

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (originally read March 2016)

A Man Called OveThis is the book I like to compare to Disney Pixar’s Up. The story centers around an elderly gentleman that has lost his wife. His life just doesn’t seem worth living without her. He plans his suicide but it keeps getting interrupted by the people in his neighborhood. Slowly, Ove finds himself in the middle of his neighborhood drama and he doesn’t hate it. I loved how this story focused on living a connected life. It definitely was the runner-up for “Most Tears Shed by the Reader” and I cannot get over how good it was. Grumpy old men for the win.

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (originally read Sept. 2016)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)That “originally read” date is a little misleading, I originally read this when it came out back in 1999. Since then I have read it probably upwards of 6 times. I think it is pretty impressive that a book I have read so many times can still make it into the #3 spot on my favorites of the year list. It had been a few years since I read this book and I was surprised by how emotional some of the passages made me. If you are not familiar with this story I highly recommend it. It is all about bravery, friendship and love in the face of evil. So. Good.

2. The Green Mile by Stephen King (originally read August 2016)

The Green MileMy mom has been telling me to read this book for years. I had never read anything by Stephen King, nor had I seen the movie based on this book. But after years of hearing about how good this story is I finally bit the bullet and read it. It surpassed my expectations. I was utterly captivated by the story of a few prison guards and their prisoners. There is an element of the supernatural I was not expecting, but the characters remained so human that it fit perfectly with the story. This is a beautiful story that is definitely worth reading.

 

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (originally read October 2016)

DraculaObsession is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this book. Not only are the characters in the book obsessed (rightly) with getting rid of Dracula, but I am obsessed with this classic. I could not put this down. I never imagined that a very old book about a vampire would be my favorite of the year, let alone one of the best page turners I have ever read. The way Stoker writes his female characters was excellent. I have never read another classic that portrayed traditional femininity in quite the same way. Every time I go into a bookstore I look at their copies of Dracula to find a cover I really like to add to my collection. If you have not read Dracula, do it, it is especially creepy around Halloween (that is when I read it).

Honorable mentions: Anna Kerenina, A Hobbit, A Wardrone and a Great War, The Killer Angels

In 2017 my goal is to read 75 books, which is an average of 6 books per month. Even though I was able to read more books than that this year I have a feeling 2017 might get pretty busy with new ventures on the horizon so I wanted to create a goal that is higher than last year, but low enough to be attainable. I also want to “read my shelves” as much as I can. I have so many books on my shelves that I haven’t read that are calling me (can you say To Kill a Mockingbird?) I also like to participate in this reading challenge from my favorite book blogger.

What were your favorite books of the year? What are your reading goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

I love you more than vampire creeps and book induced weeps,

Whitney