Life

I’M BACK.

 

Well? Did you?

Here’s the update: The book’s not done. It’s close. I’m getting there. I still have high hopes of finishing before November so I can start on my next idea. Book is still NUMBER ONE PRIORITY MOST IMPORTANT. But I need my blog back. I NEED IT.

We’re just over 365 days away from our wedding. I HAVE SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. And I’ll have more. PLANNING. SO MUCH PLANNING.

I have stories. I have book reviews. I’m not gonna hit 25 books but HEY I READ SOME so that’s a win.

I’ve got some new projects out there. Damon and I have a website I’ll talk more about later, and Claire and I have a sweet craft project I’ll describe more in-depth later, as well.

Anyway, I’m gonna be around again. Nothing consistent. Maybe when the book is done.

ALLOW THIS TO SERVE AS NOTICE THAT I’M BACK. And not just to update my WP plugins. See you soon. Good things coming.

Life, Writing

Blog Hiatus

Hello to all my faithful (5, including my mom) readers!

I wanted to post an update, as I’m planning to put the blog on hiatus until my novel is complete. As it stands, I can see the finish line, and am very focused on getting it done. On the one hand, it’s a fantastic feeling. On the other, it means that I need to reduce the number of things I’m working on so that I can concentrate. Blogging is a blast, but it also saps my writing energy.

So, I’ll still be around on social media, and will likely be publishing a book review or wedding planning update or sharing a fantastic sale here or there — but won’t be making any regular or scheduled posts. Damon and I are also spinning up a new project together, so I’ll be letting you guys know about that once it’s ready to go.

I can’t wait to come back and let all five of you know that my book is done. I’m READY!

See ya soon,
Kelley

P.S. If you wanna hang on social media, click on any of the links up in the top right-hand corner of the page. I’ll continue posting there regularly because I just can’t help myself.

P.P.S. Don’t worry. I’ll be back.

Books

Book Review – A Gambler’s Anatomy

Well, I finished my first book of 2018 this week! This was another Book of the Month selection, this one curated by Anthony Bourdain. The book is A Gambler’s Anatomy, by Jonathan Lethem.

A Gambler’s Anatomy tells the story of Anthony Bruno, a gambler who is incredibly skilled at backgammon. Wealthy folks from around the world want to try their hand at a game with him, and he kindly lets them…then takes their money. Our story begins on a trip he’s taken to Germany. He meets the lovely Madchen on a ferry on the way over, and then proceeds on to his game. However, the visual distortion he’s been having for months proves to be more than a “blot”, as he’s called it — he passes out and has to go to the hospital.

Bruno finds out that he has a very serious condition, but can do little about it. As it stands right now, he’s completely broke. His last game out for his game-pimp Edgar Falk didn’t go so well, and Bruno’s chance to make everything up to him is fading fast. Instead, he reaches out to a high school friend named Keith Stolarsky, who happens to be particularly wealthy, albeit annoying. Keith flies him back to Berkeley to see the only doctor that might be able to save Bruno’s life.

Once he’s returned to his hometown, he has to navigate a totally different life — connecting to his past, losing his identity, and regaining parts of himself he’d tried to push away. Alexander Bruno has to figure out who he is and who he isn’t, and decide from there who he wants to be.

 

When I started this book, I began making assumptions about where I thought the book might go — but it had me guessing every step of the way. I hadn’t really read an in-depth synopsis of the book, and figured from a few chapters in that I knew what type of story it was. I was completely wrong. I had no idea what to expect from one chapter to the next. On the one hand, I was thrilled that the book could pique my interest. But on the other, I was sometimes left slightly confused, and unsure whether or not the narrator was reliable.

The more I think about the book, the more I like it. I struggle with wanting more story on Alexander, but maybe that’s a good thing. It means Jonathan Lethem has done a good job of creating a character — in that he feels real enough to me to believe that there is more of a story to tell. (But it’s kind of Bruno alone — the other characters, in my mind, seem to orbit him like a sun. Madchen, Stolarsky, Tira — they’re all a bit confusing to me, just in a way that I don’t quite understand their motivations or their humanity.)

I do recommend the book, it’s a solid read — but be aware ahead of time that this may not feel fully satisfying when you complete it. If you’re okay with that ahead of time and want to read just for a very complex story, then pick this guy up!

Life

Wedding Venue Hunting

This weekend, Damon and I went out with our wedding planner Lori (from Lola Event Productions) to finish up viewing some potential wedding venues. This was our first real foray in to planning, so I was a bit nervous that it might be stressful. But, it ended up being super easy and fun!

We had told our wedding planner that we were looking for a raw space, were hoping to have views of the city, and are planning on having around 100-125 people at the wedding. Damon and I wanted something more industrial-looking. She sent us a huge list of about 30 places which we narrowed down quickly, and then she scheduled us appointments at 5 different locations.

Look at all these skylights and windows! Top left: Ravenswood Event Center, Top Right: Ovation, Bottom Left: The Joinery, Bottom Right: Cityview Lofts

Every place that she took us to was beautiful in a different way. We first visited Ravenswood Event Center on Monday and immediately loved it. There’s an atrium on the top floor with enormous windows that’s also connected to some outdoor space. It would be a fantastic place for a ceremony, especially as the sun sets. There’s a view of both the Metra and the El out of the North side windows. There’s also a smaller cocktail area downstairs that would be useful while the space was flipped for the reception.

  

We both really liked this space and its location, and it was an immediate frontrunner.

 

For our first appointment Saturday, we headed over to The Joinery. This place is closer to our apartment, and we liked the location of it, too. There’s a lot of construction going on in the area, but since we’re not getting married until 2018, we assume the majority of it will be done by then. There’s also a lot of construction going on at the actual space itself. They’re renovating for the first couple of months this year while it’s cold out.

This space is really cool. It’s dominated by an enormous skylight in the middle of the room. The skylight is in the process of getting new lighting. There’s also a small outdoor space with a little c-box for cocktails, and they’re putting in a two bedroom apartment as well as a speakeasy upstairs. They are also working on getting permits for a roof deck, which would hopefully be completed before our event as well.

  

Damon and I both left this space completely enthralled, and it was easily starting to edge out Ravenswood.

 

Next up we went over to Ovation. This is a pretty cool space, and the rental for an event is all-inclusive with a DJ and even a Rolls Royce for a short drive! This space is very open, all one room. No outdoor areas, but some kind of cool techy features.

  

We liked it, but felt like it might be too big for us. The room was pretty massive. It seemed like a better place for a big party than a more intimate space for a wedding.

 

After Ovation, we went to the Lacuna Artist Lofts. We’d looked at this place because of their gorgeous rooftop deck. And the view was as great as we hoped. Everywhere you turn in this place there’s a new art piece, and they’re all fantastic. I couldn’t stop snapping photos…not of the event space, but of the surprises around every corner.

 

This space also felt really big to us. And although the art was amazing, we also felt like it might take away from our event. The same with the rooftop deck — it was too big, too open. Everything was a little too busy. The building is in the process of getting functional elevators, too, so we climbed a lot of stairs. That wasn’t very appealing, either, especially when we have guests who might not be able to do all that.

 

Last but not least, we visited the Cityview Lofts. This is actually owned by the same company as Lacuna. This space has a large, cathedral-ceilinged room for a ceremony/cocktail hour, and then a second-floor reception space. But, the kicker here is that there are amazing views of the city skyline out the windows.

 

This is actually the only place where Damon and I disagreed on the space. I liked it, he didn’t. I think I may have been a little swept up in the fact that there was an adorable pergola and wedding set up for that evening. But what I did like about it didn’t outweigh our favorites, anyway.

 

 

Ultimately, Damon and I decided on The Joinery! Fingers crossed we’re able to get a good price and solid contract, and then we’ll have a date set! We’re so excited. Both of us can really picture ourselves getting married in that space.

Also — I am so, so, SO glad we hired our wedding planner. She’s already doing an amazing job and we just started with her. I’m really thrilled with how knowledgeable she is and how much she’s done for us thus far. I highly recommend getting a good planner. As of now…wedding stress levels are nonexistent!

 

Books

Book Review – The Wonder

Today I’m reviewing the book I finished just at the end of last year – The Wonder.

The Wonder was my first Book of the Month subscription book, and I was excited to check it out. I’m not sure I would have picked it up off the shelf in a bookstore, but having had it directly recommended to me from the BOTM curators was a big help. Once I read the synopsis, I couldn’t wait to dive in.

The book starts us out as English nurse Elizabeth (Lib) Wright arrives in Ireland. She’s been tasked to keep watch over a young girl named Anna O’Donnell, who has been rumored to have taken no food in several months. Lib and a nun will split shifts to make sure that Anna is monitored 24 hours a day for two weeks.

Still recovering from the recent Potato Famine, the devout Catholics in the small Irish town are ready for a miracle. This includes Anna O’Donnell’s family doctor as well as the local priest. Any ties to religion Lib once had were lost after her tour in Crimea, so she maintains a healthy suspicion of the holy child. Lib’s aversion to religion causes a pretty solid level of suspicion from the O’Donnells in her direction, as well.

We follow Lib as she documents Anna’s every move, wards off the press, and navigates life in a small town. And as we follow the story, we trust her judgment when things start to take a dark turn.

This story is basically a mystery, so the reader begins in the same place Lib does — trying to determine whether or not Anna truly is living off “manna from heaven”, as she calls it. And things are revealed to us as they are revealed to Lib, though there are some small hints. As a reader, I’m not sure if there was an opportunity to figure out entirely what was going on before the author tells us, but I don’t find that to be an issue. I sure as hell love my foreshadowing, but there’s something to be said for being surprised.

I enjoyed this book. I was happy with the ending, though it was rather unexpected. In general, it was unlike any book I’d read in a long time, but I’m really happy I read it. The story is very character-driven, and they’re well rounded and interesting. It was an easy read, smooth, and not difficult to comprehend. Though — it’s not so glaringly obvious that you’ve mentally laid out the plot-line before you get all the way through. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery story, and is okay with not figuring out the solution until the author reveals it.

Grab the book and sail through it — would love to hear your thoughts!

Life

Happy New Year! HELLO 2017!

Happy New Year!!

Damon and I with our party horns and headbands! Hi 2017!

I can’t believe it, it’s finally 2017! That means my blog has been up and running for a full year. I’ve made 80 posts over the last 12 months! That averages out to a little more than 6 posts a month. I’m really proud of that — it’s not a ton, but it means I wrote a lot last year. And that was my main goal in starting the blog — getting myself in better habits for writing. So, I definitely feel like I accomplished that!

Another thing I was just starting around this time last year was the KonMari cleaning method. I’ve spent a long time sorting through items and trying to pare down. And — I think I’ve actually done it. Over the last couple of days Damon and I made a few trips to the Salvation Army. We got rid of a storage unit we’d had for a little over a year and some other items that were hanging around the house. And I’m starting to really get a sense that I might be done. Getting rid of things, that is. I mean, that’s not to say that I’ll never have to go through my closet again and get rid of old clothes, but for now — things are starting to settle in. I can’t wait to finish getting everything completely organized and put away so I can share some pictures! It’s taken me many years — one full year of KonMari — and I finally feel like this chapter of my life is about to close, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Last night we had a fantastic time. We bought a small bottle of champagne for a toast, grabbed a cute little package of New Year’s goodies from Target (headbands, horns and poppers) and settled in to watch TV and chill together.

Happy New Year! Bee is ready to party!

A post shared by Kelley Greene (@kelleygreene) on

Look at that adorable beast! Also — you know how they always say Instagram photos are staged, and you shouldn’t compare yourself to the ‘grammers? Well…she hated that headband. She’s being coerced with treats here. Just trynna be honest with you guys. Keepin’ it real.

Also, in the interest of keepin’ it real, we have watched the shit out of Star Trek: The Next Generation over the past two days. (Assuming I’ve mentioned this before…but TNG is the best. The best Star Trek, and also just the best. Data 4 LYFE.) Around 12:30 AM to wind down we flipped on an episode I couldn’t remember having seen before (it was from the late 80’s, so I was like 3 or so) that featured the battle bridge. Magnifique.

Today I’ve just been pondering some goals for next year. I don’t want to get too formal with them, because I feel like they can very quickly become frustrating instead of fun. By that I mean — you tell yourself you’re going to read 52 books next year, then the next thing you know you’ve missed two weeks because you were busy with work and the whole thing is thrown off and you’re trying to cram in reading 4 books in a week just to get back on schedule and the whole thing is making you crazy. That’s not my idea of a good New Year’s resolution.

But here are some things that are, and things I’d like to do in 2017:

  • Read more. 
    • As a writer, I know I need to spend time writing. But what I think sometimes escapes me is the need to read. The last time I really spent with my head down in a book was a couple of years ago when I started reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series. And I’ve missed that feeling. I read about 10 or so books in 2016, many on audiobook via Audible. I added a few titles there but haven’t started on it yet. In 2017, I’m really counting on Book of the Month (This is an affiliate link, but the offer available is 3-months Membership For $9.99 Per Month + Free BOTM Tote — which is how I started out my subscription; a recommendation from someone else. I also got that rockin’ tote, because…tote bags.). Would love to know if any of you guys decide to subscribe, and if so what books you choose so we can chat about it. I already did another two add-ons to my January box, which should give me 6 unread books just rarin’ to go.
    • If I had to pick a number, I’d like to try for around 24 books this year. Maybe 25 if I’m being OCD and wanted the number to sound round-er. I plan to review the books I read here on the blog!
  • Do all the writing.
    • All of it.
    • Really, though — I want to spend time writing every single day. Whether it’s working on my novel, the blog, a short story, a movie script — anything, really. Every day is a tough goal, but I need to write. If I miss a day, I’m not going to give myself a hard time. But I wanna get right back on that wagon and keep going.
    • I want my novel done. This is probably the toughest goal I’ll give myself. I’ve been working on it for over three years, though not consistently. Word count is currently hovering around 110,000. It probably won’t get too much bigger than that, but it needs editing. I’m ready to finish it. In 2017. I’ve got a million other stories that need writing, and I’m ready to put a button on this one.
  • Get in better shape. Eat healthier.
    • Woof. Aching knees, plantar fasciitis…2016 had me feeling like it was 2085. I’ve got orthotics now (yes, really) that are already helping the feet — but I’ve got to stretch more (or so says the massage therapist that I’m pretty sure was on the verge of ripping me limb from limb last week). Honestly, though, I’m really getting sick of feeling like I’m falling apart. I’M 31 YEARS OLD, DAMMIT.
    • I’m starting the year off with 30 days of yoga with Yoga With Adriene. Damon’s in on this too, and I’m proud to report that we’ve already done our session for today. It’s free. It’s on YouTube. And she’s great. After the 30 days I’m hoping to go down to 3 or so sessions a week. I should be able to handle this. I can do this at home. Also, Adriene is hilarious and really cool. I highly recommend this (after one session…will report back on day 30).
    • Also, I ate some green things today. Lettuce. Okay, one green thing. But there were like, multiple pieces of lettuce. So there.
  • Have more fun. Skr8 chill.
    • I need to chill more. Do things, or not do things. Check out a museum we haven’t seen before. Or alternatively, sit and stare out the window. Make some me time. Take some down time. Not think about projects.

Sticking with my theme of keeping it real, of course I have additional goals and projects I’m hoping to start this year. But these are my main themes. Read, write, exercise, relax. Repeat.

What are you proudest of in 2016, and what are you looking forward to in 2017?

Life

Happy Holidays!

Santa and his reindeer want to wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!

Damon and I have had a lovely day hanging out together. We had delicious cinnamon rolls for breakfast and are now chilling on the couch playing Uncharted 4 on our new PS4. Hope your day was just as great!

Life

My Favorite Christmas Music

Today’s 12 Days of Blogmas theme is music, so I’m sharing my favorite stuff to listen to during the holidays. (Big ups to mah girl Kaleigh over at klghdaily for the 12 Days of Blogmas inspiration!) Basically all my favorite Christmas music is stuff I listened to when I was a kid. First up, a Harry Connick, Jr. Album.

Harry Connick, Jr. has got a number of Christmas albums out, but “When My Heart Finds Christmas” is my favorite. To be completely fair, I haven’t spent nearly as much time listening to the others, and would probably like them just as much. However, this is the one I grew up with, so it means the most to me. I just realized this came out in 1993 and am feeling suuuuuper old right now. 8 year old me was probably listening to this and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Speaking of which, my next favorite thing to listen to isn’t music, but an audio recording of a play. It’s A Christmas Carol performed by Patrick Stewart (aka Jean-Luc Picard). He’s fantastic. Patrick Stewart reads the entirety of the play and does every character. Grab yourself a mug of hot chocolate, curl up on the couch, and prepare yourself for some solid listenin’.

My final favorite album is the “Home Alone” soundtrack. This just feels like Christmas to me. Also, the score was done by John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Titanic, JAWS…). What’s not to like?

We bought the vinyl earlier this year from Mondo and it’s fantastic. The sleeve is the McCallister house. I got the records that are “cheese pizza” colored. I can’t wait to listen to it again. I love it.

In general I love most Christmas music, but these are my top three. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Life, Shopping

National Cocoa Day

It’s National Cocoa Day! I know, I know — there’s some kind of national something-or-other-day for all 365 days of the year…but it’s cold AF in Chicago right now and only getting colder, so it seemed like a good time. Also, I’m taking the lead of Kaleigh over at klghdaily and following along with her 12 days of Blogmas posts. Day 1’s topic is drinks, so this seems preeeeetty relevant.

I got a lil hot chocolate from Starbucks today. Lookin’ festive here with my USB Christmas tree.

 

I actually went to Starbucks today in celebration. There are two things I like at Starbucks: Hot chocolate and iced black tea/lemonade. Coffee is too bitter for me, and caffeine puts me to sleep. Seriously. I’m that weirdo. (It’s genetic, too, apparently — I did one of those genetic test things after getting my DNA test from Ancestry.com and it legit recommends right in the analysis that I should drink caffeine to combat anxiety.)

Anyhoo, seeing as it’s cold out and today is NCD (already giving this day abbreviations), I picked me up one of these little guys. I also got the opportunity to hear someone order a “grand-ay” sized drink and watch a dude eye his “green tea latte” suspiciously upon delivery for a full minute like it didn’t belong to him. Your name’s on it, dawg. All good. (I then crossed paths with him a second time near the elevators in the building, holding the cup up and looking at it in the same way. He ultimately decided to head back in the direction of Starbucks.)

As delicious as this hot chocky is, though, I wish I could get a little afternoon pick me up. I’m about ready to get one of these ostrich nap pillows right now (#giftguide?):

Ostrich pillow. (I’m an Amazon affiliate, so if you buy this, I might get a little cash money. Dolla dolla bills, anyone?)

Honestly, could anyone get away with this at work? Or is this some kind of home office? Actually that doesn’t make sense. If you were working from home you could just turn the damn lights out and nap in your bed. So set the scene — just flat out, face down, head and arms in a pillow on your desk. Post-it on the back of your head that says “I’M ON LUNCH”. Can someone get one of these and let me know how it goes over at the office, please? Thank you.

Back to National Cocoa Day. Let’s talk. Hot chocolate drinker? Mallows, or no? Coffee? What kind of insane Starbucks drink have you concocted for yourself with a non-fat flat steamed chocolate white latte cream foam? Also, have any of you tried those new flavored Starbucks hot chocolates? I saw they had a snickerdoodle one but chickened out when I got to the counter. Are they any good? Hit me up in the comments/on social media.

Health & Beauty, Shopping

Holiday Gift Guide – Julep

Sticking with my subscription box theme, I’ll present to you my next recommendation for a gift — a Julep Maven Subscription.

As a quick note, this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. But I wouldn’t recommend something if I didn’t think it was awesome and totally worth it!

Straight up, this one’s mostly for the ladies. Julep is a beauty subscription box, and they offer skincare, makeup, and nail care/polish products. I joined way back when in the days when they were nail care only, but have enjoyed all the products of theirs that I’ve tried (including eyeliner, eyeshadow, cuticle oil, nail files, polish remover, and even dry shampoo). Their nail polish is also cruelty free, 100% vegan, and less toxic than other brands, which I’m all about.

This is actually my longest running subscription box. I’ve been with Julep for a few years now and love love love it. I like having my nails done, and used to get regular manicures. I wasn’t particularly great at doing my own nails (just ask Damon, he has had to clean off just one nail many, many times), and am still not perfect. But they have tools that will help a lot, like the Julep Plié Wand.

Here’s a video so you can see how it works:

They also do this fantastic Freedom Polymer Top Coat that dries in 2 minutes under direct light, or 5 minutes in normal circumstances. I mean…what more can you ask for? The boxes come with a small extra inside — sometimes candy, sometimes nail stickers, and always a cute little card with an inspirational quote. I may or may not have some of them hung up around my desk (hint: I definitely do).

Julep offers your first subscription box for free. So you can sign up and try it out, and always cancel if it’s not your thing.

Once you subscribe, you’ll answer a series of questions that helps them determine your style type. This will give them an idea of what products you might like each month. Then they set up a monthly box for you, and on the 20th of every month you can easily pop in and swap products out to get exactly what items and colors you prefer. You can also skip your box if you have too much polish, which I have definitely done!

Right now, they’re doing their 12 days of YAY promotion. Each day for 12 days they’ve got a special promo going on over on their website, so go check it out! (Today is a free Coveted set with a $30 purchase. 12 adorable holiday mini polishes! Oh yeah, did I mention that you can buy any of their items from their site at any time? Helpful when you run out of top coat mid-way through the month.)

Questions about quality? Posits about polish? Inquiries about eyeliner? Hit me up on social media.

 

 

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