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The Light Between Oceans

02.14.17

The Light Between Oceans
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman || 343 Pages || 3/5 Review

Hello,

Happy Valentine’s Day. Instead of working on a holiday blog post, I did the only thing I’m good for anymore – I wrote a book review. Luckily this one was written only 4 weeks after I finished reading it! Progress. I am going to write about the book I finished last week maybe in 2 more weeks and really get this progress ball rolling.

Heh. I am not a good blogger, or book reader, or any of the things I once was but the winds of change are coming and I will be making some changes to my life and creative outlets and such soon.

Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Stedman

REVIEW:
I feel like I spent this whole book screaming at the characters.

The story has an enticing premise, no doubt, but there was something about the characters that really rubbed me wrong. I have such a hard time deciding if they were distinctly human or totally inhuman in their actions, decisions, traits. Whatever they are, they were so frustrating.

The story takes place in a time past, on a little island named Janus located somewhere between Antarctica and Australia. The island is inhabited by a single family composed of an extremely passive, yet surprisingly headstrong man named Tom and his emotionally inflexible and manipulative wife, Lucy. They experience some very hard decisions and by and large continually make the wrong decisions throughout the book. I think the first half of the book had a bit more sweetness and beauty to it than the miserable and frustrating second half.

It was a very quick read and I would recommend it if you wanted to tear through a light read and are not easily thrown off by characters who make annoying choices.

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NOS4A2

01.31.17

NOS4A2 Book Review
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill || 689 Pages || 3/5 Review

Guh – 2 things.

1. I have only been posting book reviews on my blog, which is just sad. Sometimes I just cannot keep up with anything in life and my blog seems to be the thing that suffers most.

2. Another suffering life item is posting book reviews months after I read the books, which makes for sub par material.

I promise I will try to be a better human across the board.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

REVIEW:
I read this between Halloween and Christmas, which was the exact perfect time to read this book since it’s basically a blend of both.

Joe Hill has taken what is normally a joyous holiday and turned it into a terrible, pedophile’s dream land. Which is to say, this book is definitely original. I loved how strange it was – part sci-fi, part horror, part drama, part pulp. It’s hard to pigeonhole this book into… well anything. There was not a ton of glamour in the book, but perhaps to the point of being a bit sad. I really wanted something or other to work out for the protagonist and well, she basically just got the sh*t beaten out of her through the whole book, but I recognize the effort that Hill exerted in making sure that this book was not a cliche.

I’d recommend it as a simple fun horror to read as I did, during the holiday season. It’s easy to read, although sometimes a bit tedious. The story will not let you predict outcomes in an interesting way.

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Euphoria

12.22.16

Euphoria Book Review
Euphoria by Lily King || 256 Pages || 5/5 Review

Okay so I actually read this book a long time ago, in like, July or something. Idk why it took me so long to review, seeing as it was definitely my favorite book of the whole year. I took photos of it several times but just never got around to posting about it anywhere.

It’s funny how we find books. It’s kind of like finding romances… sometimes they come to us through friends, sometimes we search for them. Sometimes, we’re searching for a Stephen King book and find out that it’s not stocked, but right where it’s supposed to be is a book by someone named Lily King with an intriguing cover. A book I’ve never heard of, but is weirdly enticing…

Euphoria by Lily King

REVIEW:
Euphoria is by all standards, a mild romance with plenty of conflict and a love-triangle. But it’s also an anthropological look at a time and place that very very few people have ever experienced. The setting is the star of the show and the characters are just the avenue of moving through scenes.

Placed in the 1930s, the book feels true to the era with a fading sense of glamour and the underbelly of global views on women’s rights is presented accurately. Euphoria illustrates the tension of a time when women were defying gender roles and taking on what was considered to be more masculine jobs. It also, more beautifully, depicts a literal setting of the island of Papua New Guinea, still one of the world’s least-settled regions. Easily the most intriguing part of the book (or any other book I read this year) was the impeccably well-researched descriptions of the tribes and cultures that the characters experienced.

Nell, the main character is an anthropologist studying alongside her rather jerkish husband Fen along the Sepik river. Under the lens of very little technology (including technologies in gear and medicine outside of the obvious modern technologies), the book weaves a story such as we could never possibly experience and in many ways, feels less historical fiction than it does pure fantasy. Lily King describes some of the last humans on Earth who have never seen a white person.

From cannibals, to sexual tension, to foreign illnesses to long-lost artifacts, this book is incredibly engaging and sublimely beautiful.

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travel

Old Streets, Old Hearts

11.30.16

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Paris was the first place (and only place so far) that I experienced culture shock. It was really weird, because I had visited foreign places, first world place, other places in Europe and places with languages I couldn’t speak before I visited France and never experienced such foreign, scary feelings as when I first landed in France in 2013.

I knew what it was instantly – France on the surface looked enough like any other anglo culture… The architecture looked enough like the rest of Europe, the people looked how I expected, everything was exactly as I expected… except the lifestyle. It was the day-to-day of the Parisian life that shocked me.

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The simple things that tripped me up in Paris. I remember my friend taking me to 3-4 different stores just to gather supplies to make dinner. In her house, her tiny stove and mini-fridge set me into a whirlwind of anxiety. “HOW DOES ONE MEAL-PLAN?!” I asked her. She laughed.

When she would tell me about her job and how people in France don’t really get fired. Or how small her salary was and how many hours she worked – I remember being totally shocked. What about work-life balance? How do you make it to the gym and then all those stores and then commute, then make a healthy dinner and have time with your significant other and perhaps a hobby when you leave work at 7-8PM every night? She said “It’s worse for my boyfriend, he works longer hours.”

I remember taking the subway and watching multiple old men whip their bits out and pee in public. WHAT. I remember how disgruntled the French seemed by my American English. I read online that the French were hesitant to speak English, but I didn’t realize they might also be really rude to you if you were speaking English. I remember thinking “are they being rude? or am I missing some silly nuance?”

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This time though, this time I would be ready for Paris. This time I wouldn’t be shocked when I landed in France and everything was strange. I learned some French, I planned how to eat out and was ready to see public urination. And well, it sorta worked and France sorta tripped me up again. It seems, something deep in me adores Paris but in the way that I am also deeply terrified of it. It’s deviant, strange.

This time I could tell my waiters that my French was bad, but I could say please and thank you and a few phrases to stumble through ordering, but I had a waiter dramatically glare at me when I put my fork upside down on my plate when I was done. Another French friend told me I was being offensive my folding my napkin upon my plate when I was finished eating too.

Oh the customs I keep missing.

My boyfriend had a minor meltdown over the lack of coffee shops with to-go cups. He was caffeine withdrawal angry every morning. I was confused about which businesses would be closed on a public holiday and ended up visiting 3 restaurants on my list before we simply had to duck in somewhere and grab food.

Another waiter playfully scorned me for ordering a dessert and not finishing it, saying “An American who doesn’t eat all of her food, incomprehensible!” and then he kissed my hand as I was red from embarrassment.

OY VEY.

But I was so much better than my first trip. And next time we visit France, we will be even more prepared. Have you guys ever experienced culture shock? Where and why?

travel

Bonjour, Paris

11.28.16

Paris travel guide

I used to have dreams about Paris as a girl. Until I visited, I couldn’t really imagine what Europe was like – the closest I could get was movies and even then, it was as though something didn’t equate in my head. I couldn’t really imagine the buildings; I couldn’t perceive how tall the Eiffel Tower would be. Dreams about Paris would dot through my dreamscape every so often – one time I dreamt the Eiffel Tower was only as tall as a playground jungle gym.

Then I went to Paris… And like all other romantic hearts was struck by it. I spent some time there when I was 23 and it was just incomprehensible. It felt like a city of such beauty, such antiquity, such a resilience to modernism couldn’t actually exist.

But Paris exists. Last month, I had the opportunity to travel back to Europe for my second time and spend two weeks in The City of Lights.

Paris travel guide
Paris travel guide

This time before I left for Paris, I had another peculiar dream about the city. It felt just like the series of dreams I had before. I dreamt that I was wandering the streets by myself, staring at buildings and fountains, dreaming of people who had once lived in all of the buildings I passed. In my dream a group of three people, two men and a woman approached me on rollerblades, dressed like French clowns, but also like… trendy. Instead of face paint they had cool harlequin makeup and custom Missoni patterned skates. WHAT DOES IT MEAN. It means that my brain doesn’t seemingly know what to ever expect from Paris.

Paris travel guide

Paris travel guide

I got the chance to go back courtesy of my job. The events team needed volunteers to work the Paris Games Week tradeshow for 8 days. I signed up, because free airfare, and booked a few vacations days at the end and begged my hunny to join me. Michael had never been to Europe before and I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to explore for a few days. So I worked like crazy my first week there and Michael crashed my hotel room and did some solo exploring.

I feel that I should be honest on here, because it can be very easy to turn photos of travel into a brag, but anyone reading this should know that this trip was a hard one. Our friends keep asking us how Paris was and Michael and I take a deep breath before trying to smile and say “it was really… neat”.

When Michael got into Paris, I was incredibly sick. Something about foreign germs always gets me. I always get sick when I travel to far-off places. Not to mention a convention with long long hours, no days off, a 30 minute break every day and 300k germy little kids wiping their noses on their hands and their hands on our toys and well, of course I got sick. But I was cranky and rapidly developing a very strong sinus infection. I was sleep deprived and stressed and I don’t speak French and had issues getting to a pharmacy and well, thank goodness for Michael because he saved my butt.

If you ever need a doctor in France, it’s actually much easier than you’d expect to get a prescription for antibiotics. Your hotel can call a doctor for 100 euro, who will come to your room and write you a prescription for some strong antibiotics and you can fill them instantly at most pharmacies. Thankfully, Michael coordinated my healing for me, except he spent the second week of the trip somewhat sick himself.

Paris travel guide

Paris travel guide

C’est la vie, as the French would say. It was still a beautiful trip overall, but it was one of those ones where you’re just so. damn. thankful. when you land back at your home airport. There’s really no room for complaining when you get to visit a foreign country without paying for airfare. BUT I also want any readers to know that well, some trips are hard. I’ve traveled a lot and sometimes you have these amazing adventurous beautiful trips, sometimes they’re emotional, sometimes they’re physically hard, sometimes they’re lonely, sometimes the language barrier is so infuriating. I’ve experienced all different kinds of trips and this one just falls into the spectrum like the rest. I wouldn’t trade it for a thing.

Anyway, stay tuned for more posts coming soon with all my tips for Paris sights/foods/drinks and also a little insight into my planning process for trips!

See more of my Paris travel posts.

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The Goldfinch

11.27.16

The Goldfinch Book Review

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt || 771 Pages || 5/5 Review

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that I (semi) often post reviews of the books I am reading. Reading is, and always has been, my first love. It’s a huge part of who I am as a person. So I like sharing whichever books I am reading and giving them a quick review. I post my reviews to both Instagram and Goodreads and thought that I may as well post them here too.

The Goldfinch was one of those books that I saw around and resisted, to give it some time to get some reviews from my peers. It’s not really a genre I have wanted to dabble in until recently (I prefer wizards and teenager vampires to reality), but I am deeply glad that I chose to not read a single fantasy this year and expand my horizons. The Goldfinch is one of the best books I have read lately and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to dive deep for an exquisitely heartbreaking adventure.

The Goldfinch Book Review

REVIEW:
This book felt less like reading a novel and more like traversing an epic journey across ages, time zones, emotional junctures and somehow completely believable but shockingly un-believable events. I feel like this book became a part of who I am as a person, perhaps in part because of how long I carried it in my bag with me.

What. A. Road.

Oh, but a beautiful road it was. It was maddeningly slow sometimes, but in an intoxicating romantic way. Never so slow that I would abandon it, but rather I’d find myself contemplating pages and paragraphs for days after reading them, before I’d reach back into what was a deeply depressing, but wholly incredible read.

Theo as a character is so deeply human. If not relatable, he was at least, vulnerable. He was flawed and frustrating and at times I just wanted to cradle him in my arms. At other times, I wanted to yell at him and then again I found myself being him. Especially in the scenes of his adolescence…

And maybe it’s only those who grew up a bit like a Theo did – not watched close enough, not loved deeply enough – that understand the beauty in a friendship a little too close, the lack of connection with other people, the obsessive love of an object that tethers you to a dead parent. Maybe this book is too hard to identify with unless you have lived it to a certain degree. For me, someone whose life was turned upside down in my early years (albeit, not quite so dramatically or worthy of this type of prose), it was reminiscent of my young adulthood. Reading this book reminded me of quiet snowy walks, wishing for a life different than my own. It took me back to the awkwardness of craving love from those who weren’t meant to give it to me.

Truly a beautifully woven tale, that at times felt more real than real life even though the story was alluringly abstract.

A few of my favorite passages from the end of the book:

“Well – I have to say I personally have never drawn such a sharp line between “good” and “bad” as you. For me: that line is often false. The two are never disconnected. One can’t exist without the other. As long as I am acting out of love, I feel I am doing [the] best I know how.”

“Only – if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn’t it? And isn’t the whole point of things – beautiful things – that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?”

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Kitchen Wants

11.14.16

minimalist kitchen wants

SOOOOOOO I BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! Heh. I am so excited guys. I am a landowner. Actually, even better than that, Michael and I bought a house together. So we’re sorta officially a little family with the perfect little home in North Denver. We’ve been having a blast decorating and setting things up; it’s totally a nest. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were in a long-distance relationship and now here we are, happily together in our home.

We decided to go very minimal with our home. We both got ride of a lot of stuff. We’ve been setting things up, purging old furniture, buying new furniture (this and this, squee), and now I am slowly replacing our old items with shiny new things. In terms of belongings, we really don’t need much more than we have now. We’re keeping it lean in the kitchen (okay we own a few gadgets), but I am trying to replace our college hand-me-downs and put beautiful simple items throughout the house.

The recycled glass cups are something we already picked up! We found this exact set in France and carted them home in our carry-ons. I’m dreaming about more wooden spoons and replacing our flatware with a matching set. Like seriously, how the heck do we have so many different kinds of forks? Where did they all even come from?

Shop my minimalist kitchen wants:

colander || flatware || pitcher || toaster || tumblers || wrap

wellness

Um, Hi.

10.10.16

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I’ve been wanting to phrase this post 100 different ways over the past 6 months. Every week, I add this post to my to-do list. I spend Sunday mornings pondering when I will write it and what I’ll say. Sometimes driving home from work I imagine the words with no way to write them down, always knowing that my truth is a simple one: just do something.

I have put off blogging ever since moving home… what was that.. 4 months ago now? Honestly it’s been a tumultuous, busy time. It’s been everything I can do to wake up and go to work and come home and exist, let alone blogging. Let alone laundry or meditation or exercise or cleaning or spending time with humans or animals or anything.

If you’re wondering what I have been doing for four months, it goes a bit something like this:

1. Moved Home
I made it back to Colorado, unpacked my belongings in my boyfriend’s home, saw a few friends and genuinely enjoyed my first weeks back. After those initial few weeks, mounting pressure to find a job and take my next steps in life set some strong anxiety into my psyche.

2. Hawaii
We went on a two-week trip to Hawaii to spend a chunk of time together. Since the 3rd month of our relationship, Michael and I didn’t get to spend more than a week together at a time. Hawaii was lovely, even despite my fears of an ever-lowering bank account.

3. New Job
Thankfully I found a new job just two weeks after being home from Hawaii, but it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I’ve officially been in my new job for 2 months and I feel like things are starting to level out a little, but I still have a lot of work to do on balancing my home life and my work life and finding some peace in what has turned out to be a rather chaotic workplace.

I also notably turned 27, became an aunt again, am buying a house this Friday and traveling to Paris in 2 weeks. My head has been spinning, but I do promise I am coming back to my little sanctuary of a space despite abandoning it perhaps when I have needed it the most.

Be patient with me. I’m going to be patient with me.

Image Credit

wellness

What You Want

05.25.16

what you want

Okay this isn’t the first life lesson I have posted about (see here, here and really just keep scrolling back a while), but I thought it was time for a little update to the whole thing. Actually, my update is a retrograde to structuring my thoughts more like how I used to in those posts. Just a bit more like a journal entry.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the things we want. At least I do. I think about the things I want nearly constantly. From objects, to personality traits, to experiences, to changes… I want a lot. Always yearning in the Rachel Camp. Sometimes I get what I want, sometimes I don’t, but nearly always I forget to take time to reflect on these things. I want (see there it is again) to be the kind of woman who is more deliberate with her wants, slower with her wants, and gracious about the outcomes no matter what they look like.

So, some practice. When I first had the idea of moving away from home last year (I’ve always had this idea, but it waxes and wanes) I had this image in my head of Snoopy and I walking down some stairs, stepping out on the street and just going for a stroll. That was my visualization of moving. I began to dig a bit and I imagined a job I loved, I imagined some sort of industrial flat. I imagined driving a big truck across the country, mile by mile getting closer to my new start.

And guess what. I got everything I wanted, sometimes in the most uncanny ways. I got a princess palace on the cheap in a cool side of town, a great job that paid me well and inspired and challenged me, streets bustling with opportunity and undiscovered restaurants. I got to refine my routines. I got to experience loneliness (something I genuinely wanted). I couldn’t really imagine a better experience, moving away. And yet, I am leaving it all behind this week to go back home, which really isn’t something I want, but something I need to do. And reflectively, I feel so gosh damned lucky right now. Even though I’m sad and stressed and headed toward a small home, in a city I’d very much like to avoid, with no job prospects at all… I am so so deeply thankful for getting exactly what I wanted and that’s enough for me right now.

xx

image credit: cereal magazine
more posts about life lessons

recipe book

Healthy Foods

05.24.16

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I have this really strange curiosity about what other people eat. I find it so fascinating because we all eat so differently. I’ve really spent the last year refining what my diet looks like. I have a lot of room to grow here in terms of nutritional content and staying consistent, but a year ago I couldn’t have told you much about what I ate. It was all very unintentional and happenstance.

WHAT I EAT

  • Breakfast – rotate between three main meals – chia pudding, overnight oats, frittata.
  • Meals without sides (one main dish typically).
  • Quinoa instead of rice (healthier & faster!).
  • Selective sweets: homemade peanut butter fudge or chocolate covered bananas (milk chocolate ftw).
  • No drinking on weeknights (Friday & Saturday only).
  • Change it up seasonally: Summer = Fish & Salads, Fall = Stuffed squash & Soups, Winter = Chile & Stew, Spring = Grain salads.
  • Cheat Meals (for emotional nights or quick meals, never more than once a week): Annie’s pastas or Ramen noodles.
  • Eating out only happens a few times per week (2 is my goal) unless there are unusual circumstances.

HOW I EAT

MEAL PREP! I’m obsessed. It’s a huge component of my weekly and daily routine. I typically spend an hour on Sunday morning planning my meals for the week. Then Sunday afternoon I go shopping. Sometimes I have to hit as many as 3 stores to get everything I need, so it’s a real affair. Sunday night I cook my most complicated meal of the week and then on Monday night I cook an easier one.

  • Choose recipes that will yield at least 4-5 servings, or double them.
  • Choose one meaty recipe (fish or turkey or chicken) and one veggie one (typically grain based).
  • Cook Sunday and Monday nights and portion meals before putting them in the fridge.
  • Eat leftovers for both lunch and dinner all week. This takes training to get used to but it’s awesome to reach into the fridge and pull out your meals.

TIPS

  • I use Pinterest to find most of my recipes, but occasionally I will simply Google whatever I am looking for.
  • Create an account with My Fitness Pal and use their recipe calorie calculator to find your nutrition. You can use this to track your meals also, if that is something you’re into.
  • Use an inverted pyramid: higher calories earlier in the day and taper down toward evening.
  • Drink hot lemon water or tea before anything else in the morning to rev up your digestive system.
  • Eat fruit (or veggies) for snacks and pick different fruits every week for the best variance in nutrients.
  • Try to keep snacking to a minimum. This also takes training, but it can be done. I very rarely eat between meals.

Here’s a breakdown of my meals on a random day:



6:30AM: Pre-Breakfast
– Hot Lemon Water

8:15AM: Breakfast
Overnight Oatmeal or Chia Pudding with a handful of blueberries and sliced almond
– 1 cup of coffee with 2 creamers, no sugar
– Fill up my water bottle for the day

12:00PM: Lunch
Garlicky Kale Salad or Balsamic Chicken Salad with Lemon Quinoa

3:00PM: Afternoon Snack
– 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese or 1 Bag of Natural Sea Salt Popcorn or 1 bottle of Kombucha
– Afternoon Coffee or Green Tea

6:00PM Dinner
Tilapia & Feta Cucumber Quinoa or Alkaline Green Soup

8:00PM Dessert
– 1-2 pieces of Natural Peanut Butter Fudge
– Hot Tea or Lemon Water



Tell me about how you eat in the comments, or if you have and tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years. Also let me know if you have any questions about what I eat!!

xx