Friday, September 30, 2016

ABC Reads: September Review

Today is the day to link up your ABC Reads!!   

Here's a refresher on the terms of the challenge in case you missed it previously:

What does the challenge entail?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  There are 26 letters of the alphabet and Mia and I challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter.  For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on.  Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it.  On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card. Congrats to challenge winner, Jessica from Frikken Duckie!

I managed to get through three books for the ABC Reads Challenge this month!!  Super proud of myself since I hadn't been on the ball with reading for the past couple months.  Also, I genuinely enjoyed each of my selections - YAY!  This month, I completed the following letters: J, K and B.  Here are my thoughts...

Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

For many years, I have heard great things about this book, but I just never seemed to find time to pluck it off the shelf.  After finishing it, I am SO sad that I didn't read it sooner.  It took me a couple of chapters to find my rhythm with the book, but after that I absolutely did not want it to end.  I loved how Tan told stories from the perspective of both mothers and daughters yet managed to weave consistent themes throughout the overall book.  I was intrigued by the culture and tradition that is brought to life in the storytelling.  I would recommend it to any woman.  Not to say men wouldn't enjoy it, but it is geared toward a female audience.

The Keeper by Tim Howard

I shared my thoughts on this book earlier in the week when I talked a bit about our recent trip to Denver.  We were able to catch Tim Howard in action since he now plays for the MLS Rapids in Colorado.  As I mentioned in my review, I read this book in a matter of hours.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was written as a mix of personal stories (Tim was diagnosed with OCD and Tourette's Syndrome as a young child) and soccer tales.  The book would be an interesting read for anyone, but particularly if you have interest in sports and the effort and dedication it takes to play at the highest level.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I was able to finish this book just under the wire as I read the final few pages this morning. As a fan of Eat, Pray, Love and after hearing SO much hype about this book, I couldn't wait to dive into it. Gilbert touches on six categories of creative living (Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity) through a variety of stories and personal experiences.  She truly hits the nail on the head with her wise words. Many times throughout the book, I felt as though she was speaking directly to me.  My favorite piece from the book is the belief that creative ideas don't stick around forever.  They are fleeting.  If you aren't willing to put in the work when one comes to you, it will find another creative soul to venture toward.  There were many points that stuck with me, but that one really resonated.  I would recommend this book to anyone that feels even a slight creative pull.  It could be a game changer!

What have you been reading this month?

Andrea :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Favorite Keeper

Without question, Tim Howard is my favorite soccer player.  He is the reason I selected Everton as my English Premiere League team when Chris asked me which one I'd like to support.  He is phenomenal at his sport proving an inspiration to many throughout the world.  To say I was overjoyed when Chris surprised me with his autobiography just after its release in December 2014 is a vast understatement.  When I found out he would be signing copies of the book at a local Barnes & Noble the following summer, I took the day off work to ensure I was the first person in line!

Despite my excitement and the incredible experience at the book signing that June day, I hadn't managed to actually read the book until recently. Chris and I planned a mid-September weekend trip to Denver to knock another football stadium off my bucket list and planned to see Tim Howard in action with the MLS Rapids while in town.  I started the book as we took off in New York and nearly had it finished when we hit the ground in Colorado.  I wrapped up the last couple of chapters just before the soccer match began that evening.

Unlike the Rapids game we attended (0-0 draw), the book is full of twists and turns.  I particularly enjoyed learning about Tim's childhood as he focused on his OCD and Tourette's Syndrome obstacles most during that portion of the book.  I also enjoyed hearing his perspective on family life and the rigorous travel schedule that a professional soccer player must keep.  The book proves a wonderful balance between personal stories and soccer tales.  He speaks of his time with club teams as well as the US international squad.  I gobbled up every page!  Tim's story is both fascinating and phenomenal.  I would recommend it to anyone, but particularly sports fans.

Andrea :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

A House Divided

Yesterday, Chris and I set off for Met Life Stadium both having high hopes for our respective team's season.  We don't often get to experience our teams meeting up on the gridiron often so we took full advantage of the game being set in New York.  We've seen them during the regular season together on two other occasions - a chilly Thanksgiving night in NY and a gorgeous October day in Cincy.

The match-up yesterday kicked off the season for our beloved Bengals and Jets.  We had been waiting for this game since the schedule was released in the Spring so to say the anticipation was boiling over is an understatement.  We were both super excited!

We arrived in our lower bowl seats just in time for the kickoff!  There weren't any Bengals fans in our exact area, but there was a decent showing of orange and black throughout the stadium.  The game was close the entire time making it a bit tense, but also more fun.  The Bengals managed to pull out the win by one with a field goal in the final couple minutes followed by an interception to seal it.  The Jets missed an extra point earlier in the game or we could have witnessed an overtime.  That would have been a real treat!

Do you have a house divided when it comes to sports loyalties?

Andrea :)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Our August Date Nights

It's hard to believe that we are gearing up for fall already.  Not that I'm complaining at all given the insanely hot temperatures this summer. I'm more than ready for a fall breeze or two!  The first half of August was a complete whirlwind, but the second half we were able to make some time for date night fun.

I decided we should check out the Lowline - an underground park set along an old subway track - and check out a neat candy store for some treats afterward. The Lowline is located on the lower east side of Manhattan near Economy Candy Store.  As it turned out, the Lowline is actually in more of a developmental state currently, but we still managed to check out some of the plants that are being tested for growth in the environment.

It was definitely interesting, but I think we had more fun looking around at all the candy at Economy. They had everything there.  It was literally candy heaven! We picked up a few treats...bit-o-honey and nerds for me while Chris grabbed now and later and old school fruit roll-ups.  Maybe we'll head back before the trick-or-treaters arrive next month.

Much to his dismay, Chris has joined me in watching America's Got Talent this summer.  After seeing some pretty good magic this season, he decided we should see Illusionist Miles Thorn for date night. The show was amazing!  He made things appear and disappear and reappear again in the most spectacular ways.  It was a great show with a wonderful message of hope and never giving up your dreams.  We really enjoyed it.

What is your favorite candy?
Have you ever seen a magician or illusionist?

Andrea :)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I absolutely can't believe it is football season already!!  It's not possible to for me to allow this season to kickoff without recounting my Hall of Fame experience.  Despite the actual game being cancelled, the weekend itself was truly a special one.  My brother, Jordan, made the trek up to Canton to join me for my final NFL work trip.  I was glad to have him there for all the festivities - the Tim McGraw concert, the longest parade I've ever witnessed, and the enshrinement.

I had high hopes for the Tim McGraw concert, but he turned out to be mediocre.  I guess I didn't realize he had new music.  He totally killed it on the older songs, but lost me pretty quickly when he switched gears into his current "hits".  We had an interesting array of folks surrounding us so we ended up having lots of laughs throughout the evening regardless of the song choices.

The next day, we were able to check out the parade through downtown Canton.  It was a bit of a mix of Macy's Day meets small town 4th of July.  There was an enormous show of patriotism and more school bands that I can recall with a number of large and small balloon characters throughout.  It lasted well over an hour.  They sold tickets so everyone had an assigned seat.  All the Hall of Fame Enshrinees and several current Hall of Famers rode in fancy cars between the floats and performers. It truly was a site to behold.  The only thing we were missing was donuts.  Apparently, it's an annual tradition there.  Don't worry...we tracked them down before we left town!

The Hall of Fame Enshrinement ceremony proved remarkable.  I didn't have high expectations going into the event, but I managed to leave with an unforgettable feeling in my heart. Hearing the speeches in person was a truly impactful experience.  Having previously worked with the Colts, I really enjoyed listening to both Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy speak.  Eddie Debartlo, Jr. had a wonderful message as well.  I could feel the love in his voice as he spoke about his experience with the 49ers.  Kevin Greene, Orlando Pace, and Brett Favre all exhibited such passion and emotion.  It was truly a wonderful night.  If you have a favorite player that has the honor of being inducted, I highly recommend making the trip to Canton for their Enshrinement.  It is definitely a worthwhile experience.

Who is your favorite football team or player?
Have you ever been to a really fantastic parade?

Andrea :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

My Fall Film Challenge Picks!

I am super excited about participating in Jenn's Fall Film Challenge again this year!  Watching movies is one of my favorite things!  This challenge stretches me to try films I might not have considered or simply just missed in the theater!  I am super excited to dive in today!  

Here's my list...

one. about adolescence - Dope
two. about a character's rebirth or rite of passage - Pitch Perfect
three. about a comic book character - X-Men: The Last Stand
four. shot or set in Washington, DC - J. Edgar
five. set in an academic environment - Heathers
six. about failure - Burnt
seven. about a man vs. God or gods - War Room
eight. about a man vs. himself - Southpaw
nine. about an invention or ingenuous individual - A Beautiful Mind
ten. set in a jail or prison - The Hurrican
eleven. about a dog - Scooby-Doo
twelve. about loss - The Lovely Bones
thirteen. about man vs. man - Ricochet
fourteen. about man vs. nature - 127 Hours
fifteen. one that has a monster or monstrous individual - Monsters University
sixteen. shot or set in Pennsylvania - Rocky
seventeen. about a character's quest of some kind - Black Hawk Down
eighteen. about a character who goes from rags to riches - Straight Outta Compton
nineteen. about a man vs. society - Falling Down
twenty. originally released in the 30's - It Happened One Night
twenty-one. about undesirable individuals or elements - The 33
twenty-two. about a voyage and return - Letters to Juliet
twenty-three. about wizards or witchcraft - Now You See Me
twenty-four. originally released in the 60's - In the Heat of the Night
twenty-five. about a yearning or obsession - The Boy Next Door

If you want to join in the fun, check out Jenn's post for more details!!

Andrea :)