Chit Chat – January 2018

I lost a whole week of January, and it still seemed like it kind of drug along. The first week back was a slow transition into teacher workdays. All of our regularly scheduled meetings and meetings and meetings were cancelled. One of our SPED paras passed away on NYE night. He was such an amazing, wonderful man. Almost our entire campus attended his memorial service.

The next week my partner was sick and then hospitalized. I was going out of my mind because they could not get her body regulated. I was terrified she was going to die.

Then the next week we had MLK day followed by an ice day. Then I was sick with the flu that then turned out not to be the flu but some other unidentified thing. I was out basically the whole week.

I went to my first diabetes class and learned in just my Whataburger meal alone I’m eating 3-4 times the amount of carbs I should be consuming in one meal. Did you know a roll from Texas Roadhouse (or other comparable steakhouse) is TWO of your three allowed carbs?!?! Y’all. I’m gonna die. My entire food group is carbs…and ground beef. Girl likes her hamburgers. I am trying to really watch my portions and also what time I eat. I have three more classes to go to.

I thought I was going to get all my credit card debt paid off this month by transferring my balance to the credit card I have a 5.99% lifetime APR on. NO. That was false. A lie. While I still would have taken advantage of that offer at the time, it did not specify that it was in fact not for my lifetime, but the lifetime of that balance transfer. I was kind of pissed after being so positive and hopeful that I was finally going to get everything squared away, especially since I have to buy tires this month. I was going to use my income tax refund to pay for that and put the rest on my loan payments. That won’t be happening. I do feel a little better though. My laptop will be paid off this summer and I only have about $1800 left on one of my loans, so there will be more money I keep come summertime. I did change up what Plexus Products I am purchasing and dropped the cost by $50. If I still am not seeing improvements by June (1 entire year taking the products), I am going to cancel it all.

I have also been losing my mind over UIL. I’m the coordinator for my school and we had a pitiful turnout this year. So many of our kids didn’t show up to the competition. Next year my school hosts the competition and we brainstormed some ideas to put in place for next year to be better. I am starting to also see small gains with yearbook. We have 6 pages submitted and several almost ready to go. We need to work on some more!


Average Rating:     4.3
Pages Read:             629
Favorite Book:       Saturday at Sweeney’s

November Visits – 1,547 |  | December – 1,082  | January – 1,886


The Hiding Place  |  The Master of StrathburnSaturdays at Sweeney’sThe Scot Beds His Wife


Bookish & Blogging Posts:

Blogging Goals  |  2018 Challenges  |  My FIVE YEAR Blogoversary & Giveaway  |  Sexuality in YA  |  Best Moments in Blogging   |   Favorite Time to Write Reviews  |  December Chit Chat  |  2017 Year in Review


Personal Posts:

My Bullet Journal 2018 Set Up   |   Foods Reminding Me of Childhood


I was out of the starting gate at a blast when January started, and then I ran out of steam somewhere around the 15th. I’ll have to kick it up this month.

I didn’t make too big of a dent in January like I had hoped, but with UIL now over I am going to crank up the reading!


How are you doing on your goals and resolutions? 

Beyond the Books ~ Best Moments in Blogging


Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post.

This Week’s Topic:

Best Moments in Blogging


Ummmm….my blog has been such a positive, successful thing for me it’s hard to think of individual moments. Let’s see…

Celebrating My Five Year Blogoversary

January 2018

You can still enter the giveaway! I can’t believe it has already been five years!


The Time When Texas Teen Book Festival Reposted My Photo

October 2017


The Time When Audrey Greathouse Praised My Review…And I Was Right!

August 2016


The Time When I Had A Great Traffic Streak

June 2015- September 2016



Upcoming Prompts:

February 8– Romantic Movies/Shows (in the spirit of V-Day)
February 15– Blog(s) you read daily (maybe include why, people love shout-outs)
February 22– Kids and Social Media (your rules, what you think about it, is it changing our kids for the better, etc)

Beyond the Books ~ Foods Reminding Me of Childhood


Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post.

This Week’s Topic:

What are some foods that remind you of your childhood? 

One of my favorite comfort foods to this day is one from my childhood. I will eat it any time of the year, regardless of weather. Spring, summer, or winter because that’s all we have here in Texas. Beanie weenies were a cheap eat that my mom would make for my brother and me when we lived in the old house. Today, I make it using one can of Van Camp’s Pork and Beans, trying to pull out the little fat chunk, and three to four hot dog weenies (depending on brand and thickness).

Another easy breakfast food that was quissential to our household from the time I went to kindergarten til the day I graduated were Kellog’s Eggo waffles. When my aunt’s family lived with us (fifteen people total in a three bedroom, one bath house), we went through the big box of 64 count waffles in one week. What I love so much about Eggo waffles is who I shared them with: my Granny. She was my caretaker and taught me how to do so many things, from tying my shoes in second grade to cutting waffles in third fourth grade. Then my older cousin taught me an easier way to cut my waffles – like a pizza! I still cut them that way today. We didn’t have central air or heat (and my parents still don’t), so when it was cold out we would close off the kitchen and it was Grand Central Station of the house. We’d spend most of our time there with the oven heating the room, so it was effortless and convenient to pop in a handful of waffles. Somehow she cooked them perfectly, a degree to which I still can’t replicate. Whenever I eat waffles, I think of Granny.

Another cheap eat my grandmother discovered was Banquet’s Family Size turkey with gravy. It would feed me and my brothers. It was easy to make and eventually I would pop it in the oven and make a huge pot of instant mashed potatoes. We lived for turkey dinner nights and would argue over getting the little “butt” of the turkey (if there was one) because it was a thick slice. A couple times a year I will go searching for this turkey at the grocery store (Walmart doesn’t carry it, but HEB does). It is very hard to find now, so if I am looking and stumble upon it I will buy it up and make with mashed potatoes and a cold glass of milk.

I was a crack addict over Banquet’s pot pie. My mom only bought the turkey ones, and we loved them. It was another cheap and easy meal that didn’t require hardly any clean up or dirty dishes. Now I realize how tiny and slim-stuffed they are and think they must be designed for kids.

Beyond the Books ~ Interesting Posts Read Lately


Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post.

This Week’s Topic:

What are some interesting posts you’ve read lately? 

I’m going to make my 3749238409th confession: I’m really bad about remembering posts. I have started having to bookmark things like crazy for posts with prompts like this.

One post I read recently was from Beth @ Fueled by Fiction. It was an old post I missed, but she recently mentioned it. The title caught my attention: Why People With Anxiety Make Hella Great Friends. With my recent diagnosis, I have embraced the fact that I have anxiety. Every single thing she listed about why people with anxiety make the greatest of friends (or people in general) is exactly right. I especially approve of the last item on her list. That has been me my entire life:

We’re hyper-vigilant and spend a lot of time pondering worst-case scenarios. Because of this, we’re often overly cautious.

I have tried until I am blue in the face sharing with my students and their parents the many benefits of reading, especially last year. This year is slightly better. When Rachel @ Confessions of a Book Geek posted about 8 Reasons Reading Is A Superpower! I fell in love with it. She simplified everything down and put in fun GIFs! I think I even reblogged her post.

This next one is actually a blogging tip from Karen @ Kissin Blue Karen. Back in November she shared Make Your Posts Pop With Hovertext. Of course because I am super lazy and have no time until summer, I haven’t checked it out yet and actually done it myself, but I have that post bookmarked!

Nereyda @ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite List shared her One Word for 2018. Her post is ALL about what The Man has been telling me in the last year and a half. Her word last year was STRONGER, and this year her word is ME. Everything she said is so perfect for what I also need to be doing every day for myself. Often I feel like women who are conscious and give no damns about their self-care are seen as high maintenance and even selfish at times. Honestly, at this point in my life, I don’t care if that’s how I’m perceived for going to the salon once a month or going on a mini shopping spree, taking an extra long shower or taking extra care with applying my makeup. I think we all need to practice better self-care. I know I need it.

Five Year Blogoversary + Giveaway!

Today I’m excited to celebrate my  Five Year Blogoverary! Five years!! Wow!! Where has the time gone?

The day I started blogging I was scared. Y’all, I am a bit worry wart (thanks, Dad). I didn’t want to fail. I started out by sharing reviews with a friend to put on her blog. After a couple of months, I started my own blog in January 2013. I had just graduated college the month before and had some time to figure out how things worked.

I spent little time deciding on my blog name. It was inspired from a fictional place of similar name from a book I read several years ago, Land of a Hundred Wonders. The book was filled with characters I came to love. My first year was rough. I was learning about this whole new world and then I was a teacher! I lived at my school (and I still do), so I had to step away from my blog that first year. When 2014 hit I had a little bit better handle on things and I started coming back.

Since then there have been so many great books that have come along. NetGalley helped out there, and I’m still paying the price, but I love that I am auto-approved from a few publishers. I met some really great people and enjoyed so much of my blogging journey. I’ve had to take several hiatuses over the years, but I never considered leaving my blog behind. These past five years have been such a bright spot in my life with my blog.

Some Stats

379 Books Read
1,922 Posts
58,823 Blog Views
442 Followers on Instagram
1,595 Likes on Facebook Page
1,462 Followers on Twitter

It is so great to have this space and the freedom to share my thoughts about books and my life.  I want to thank all of you for visiting and commenting. In celebration of this milestone, I want to celebrate you! Without all of you fellow bloggers, I wouldn’t have enjoyed blogging nearly as much.

 Enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card!

  • Open Internationally
  • Ends: 12:00 AM February 5th
  • Winner will be notified within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.
  • Sweeps and giveaway accounts are ineligible.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and emailed within 72 hours and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Prizing is provided by Girl of 1000 Wonders. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Beyond the Books ~ Most Popular Posts


Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post.

This Week’s Topic:

Most Popular Posts – Why do you think they got so much love? 

In order of views…

Top Ten Tuesday – Books for Readers Who Like Dead Poet’s Society

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros – Wonder

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book Review – One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

How Dare You, Goodreads!

Teaser & Tuesday Intro – Somebody Like You

My Bullet Journal – Things That Didn’t Work

Book Review – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


It’s not surprise the Harry Potter reviews are popular. Everything HP is! A much-loved series of books. I think my post for readers who liked Dead Poet’s Society caught attention just because of the subject matter. It is a popular book and movie with older generations (meaning mine and older, younger ones aren’t in on it yet), but the themes found within the book are what resonate with so many.

Wonder was such a popular buzz book in 2017 that I think just the name alone attracted readers. I’m surprised that One Thousand White Women was so popular. I wouldn’t think it would be! My Goodreads post was full funny, and of course people take joy in finding out things that didn’t work out so well for others.


Upcoming Posts: 

January 18- List some interesting posts you have read lately (loved or hated)
January 25- Foods that remind you of childhood

February 1- Best Moments in Blogging
February 8- Romantic Movies/Shows
February 15- Blog(s) you read daily
February 22- Kids and Social Media

Beyond the Books ~ Blogging Goals for 2018


Beyond the Books is a weekly meme hosted by Karen @ KissinBlueKaren. Each week features a new topic (mostly non-bookish). This meme is a fun, social weekly post and I’m so glad that Karen has brought it back. I decided to join in and it turned out to be the week she discontinued it in 2016.

This Week’s Topic:

Blogging Goals for 2018



  1. Get my NetGalley percentage up to 20%
  2. Read 50 NetGalley books this year
  3. Listen to 8 audiobooks this year
  4. Complete 8 challenges this year



  1. Write 1 bookish discussion post per month
  2. Write 1 bullet journal post per month
  3. Use bullet journal weekly



Upcoming Prompts: 

January 11- List your most popular posts (why do you think they got so much love)
January 18- List some interesting posts you have read lately (loved or hated)
January 25- Foods that remind you of childhood

Chit Chat – December 2017

December was overall a good month for me. My students finished their fall PBL and I took 19 kids to the elementary to read their manuscripts. They loved it. I also had my observation, but it was on the day we had classes visiting for my students to present their manuscripts, so it won’t count. Perhaps if my appraiser had come in the actual legally required window, we’d be all done with it. (Yeah, a little salty.) I had a major upset with the yearbook program, and my kids and I are just like “Whatever.” I am so proud that I have a GREAT group of kids this year who are very supportive of one another.

I did receive some amazing and some disheartening medical news this month. I had an appointment with a new pulmonologist and he was phenomenal. My sleep study is scheduled and he is very adamant about addressing my needs and resolving my sleep issues. Finally some relief! I also scheduled an appointment with my PCP to start on anxiety medication. It was a big step that I have been talking about for months but kept chickening out on. I finally had enough and made the appointment. When I went for the appointment, my doc backtracked to my bloodwork from October. My A1C was 6.5. He diagnosed me with diabetes and put me on cholesterol medication. I went back the following week for an anxiety medication. Another relief!

During the holidays I slept A LOT. It was marvelous. I spent a lot of time snuggling with my two pups. Baby was diagnosed with arthritis, ironically in one of her front legs. I was amazed that Cera didn’t destroy anything while she was home alone for Baby’s vet visit. I think she is finally learning! She has also figured out how to ask to go outside to go potty instead of sneaking off to do it in the house.

This was the first Christmas I actually got to spend with The Man. He always flies home to Boston for the month. Our holidays were low-key and simple. He got both of us FitBits and I have been tracking different things, like my sleep and food. I got some other practical gifts, like a fuzzy bathrobe and the pregnancy pillow! No…we are not pregnant. The Man got it in an attempt to better my sleep – and my snoring! I have liked it for the most part. Often I’ll lay in bed at night reading or playing my game before going to bed, and it’s perfect because I have a pillow on each side to support both my arms on and can relax a little more. The Man says he thinks it’s helping with the snoring as it’s been much quieter most nights.

We went on our 2.5 mile walk every other night in the cold weather. Even though I hate the cold, it was very invigorating!


Average Rating:     4.0
Pages Read:             1,405
Favorite Book:       Hope at Christmas

October Visits – 1,097 | November Visits – 1,547 | December – 1,082

Sunday Posts:

Week of Writing | Observation Done | I’m Going Through the Big D and Don’t Mean Dallas | The Christmas Edition | Happy New Year 


Mistletoe at Moonglow | Heat It Up | Snowed  | Christmas at Two Love Lane | Chocolate Kisses and Love Filled WishesDeck the Halls | A Season of You | No Place Like You | Hope at Christmas

Other Bookish Posts:

November Chit Chat | Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit | Favorite Books of 2017 |  I Hope Santa Brings… | Book Blogger Hop 12.22.17

My Favorites:

Christmas Tradition | Thing About 2017

Famous Last Words:

FML#35 | FML#36 | FML #37 | FML #38

HOHOHOWhile I only met one of my challenge goals, I did fairly well on several others. I was disappointed I didn’t meet my Goodreads goal this year, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I did read a fair number of my holiday reads, and I was impressed with my numbers for NetGalley. I hoped to get to 35 books (and I would have if I’d met my Goodreads goal), but I’ve got a plan for my 2018 challenges in place. I’ll be saying goodbye to the Shelf Love challenge while adding a few new ones that help me focus more on my main goals.

This is the first big batch of books I’m reading for 2018. I spent some time thinking about it and put them in an order I want to read in so I’m not wasting time later trying to decide.


How were your holidays? Did you make resolutions for the new year?  

Chit Chat – November 2017

The week of Halloween leading into the first few days of November saw me in Urgent Care and in extreme pain. incredible pain along my forearms, with huge welts under the skin. I was diagnosed with radial styloid tenosynovitis de quervain. The tendon from your thumb to your elbow is extremely inflamed, making even the smallest everyday activities excruciatingly painful. It is very limiting in what you can’t do – changing gears, carrying your purse, unhooking your bra, writing – anything you use your hands for. Of course, like always when you visit or call for the people who know how to fix things, your issue resolves itself miraculously quickly. Seriously, I caught my principal checking me out at our faculty meeting the following day trying to gauge me against the “if I can’t get dressed in the morning, I’m not coming to work” pain level complaint I gave him via text the night I went to Urgent Care because I totally was able to actually pick up a pen and write by that point. To anyone not abreast of the situation, I looked like a total liar.

I dealt with my ticket at the beginning of the month and realized how ignorant I am about how the system works. I think a course – even a short crash course – be given in high school. I’m an educated person and I felt like a complete idiot because I’m the good kid – I never get in trouble, so I don’t know the proper procedures with requests and timelines if you contest the citation. Screw my mom for raising me to be accountable and own up to my mistakes! Next time, though…not happening. Besides the fact that there shouldn’t be a next time, but people in this area CANNOT be trusted to 1) use their cruise control to regulate and maintain a constant speed and 2) actually drive the speed limit and not 15-20 below and 3) do #1 and/or #2 while also refusing to allow you to pass them and continue on your journey at the legal speed limit.

I met with my money man last month, too. I feel so smart saying that. I have a money man. We reviewed my existing Roth retirement (with a different company) and I felt much more comfortable with this individual and their policies and procedures regarding my money so I set up to transfer to this company. I have been paying into my Roth for 40 months and only accrued $111. That’s pitiful. What I really like about my money guy is he and his partner are trying to educate teachers on how the TRS (Texas Retirement System) for teachers works and what your retirement really looks like. Y’all, it’s a disgrace. I have been paying in for five years and my school district also puts in a paltry number and I have less than $15,000 in. BTW, I am forced to pay into this system – it is not optional. And it is the only retirement my school district will honor matching. Every year the percentage we as teachers must pay in increases. Again, not optional. And there is only one school district in all of Texas that pays into Social Security – so that is not an option during retirement years, either. But I am very nervous this money will not be there when I retire. The other thing I like about my money man is he is not just setting me up with this additional retirement; he is literally helping me map out a financial plan for life so that I am golden during retirement. I have another list of tasks to bring back to him before we meet again and I get better projections.

I got some really good news last month. Tests have come back good two years in a row. Since 2011, I have had to go three times per year to have cells monitored, and one visit per year was to have biopsies done. In 2015 there was a new test conducted showing the cells were worsening. I went into 2016 asking for action and preventative measures. I didn’t want to wait around for cancer to catch up with me. My body has regenerated good cells FINALLY on its own. I was told it would take two years – it took almost six! See the reason for worry? I am now two years in the clear and I kicked cancer to the curb. I pointed out to my mother that it’s ironic that my tests have come back good ever since being with The Man in a positive, nurturing relationship. There are many studies that tie mental and emotional health to physical health, and I believe this positive, supportive relationship has helped. That’s the only thing in my life that has changed. Now I am back to annual appointments.


Average Rating:     3.3
Pages Read:             1,597
Favorite Book:       Hope at Christmas

September Visits – 930  |  October Visits – 1,097 | November Visits- 1,547

I am SO glad I participated in the Black Friday Book Bonanza Giveaway Hop! I was on the fence about participating, and I am glad I did. I visited every blog participating in the hop giving away items, and I had a SURGE in visits, too. Like, look y’all! I haven’t had more than 1,200 visits since September 2016. It’s amazing – and I hope all the new readers and followers stay around now that the giveaway is over. Hiiiiiii!

Sunday Posts: I Survived The Great Radial Styloid Tenosynovitis de Quervain Carving of 2017 |  Kicking Cancer’s Butt |  Pass the Xanax |  Loosen the Jeans

Reviews: Tumble Creek  | April’s Glow  |  On Lone Star Trail  |  Without Borders 

Other Bookish Posts: How Dare You, Goodreads!  |  Story Prompt Challenge for HOHOHORAT  |  Books I’m Thankful For  | Books I Want My Kids To Read  |  Characters Who Would Be Great Leaders  |  Book Blogger Hop 11-24

My Favorites: My Favorite Romance Story  |   My Favorite Fairytale

Famous Last Words:  Famous Last Words #33  |  Famous Last Words #32 

I’m a little sad there is only one more month to go on my challenges! I started really making some headway with my NetGalley challenge, and I am also really close with my Alphabet Soup challenge. Next year will be my year! I have already decided to drop one of my challenges, though, in hopes of focusing better on my NetGalley. 

Most of these are NetGalley books from this year and last year. There are a few Amazon books sprinkled in, but I’m trying to focus on my NetGalley books first. I really want to finish the year by 1) reaching 10% ratio for NG and 2) reading 35 books from my NG list.


How was your November? Do you already have your tree up? Have you completed your holiday shopping? 

How Dare You, Goodreads!

I have been working furiously – well, as furious as a teacher who stays working at school until 8 pm (or later) most days and also is an events coordinator for the campus, oh and also is in charge of the hell that is yearbook (seriously, most ostracized group of students and teacher on any campus) – can. I was SO proud of myself for finishing two books over the Thanksgiving break and finishing a third earlier this week.

I knew that I was sitting at 44 books before finishing the one this week. That means I only have eight (really, seven) to go.


And then I actually LOOKED at my Goodreads Challenge tracker.


Do you know what that asshat said?!


“Three books behind schedule.”


How. Dare. You.

And then I quickly went through a series of emotions that looked something like…

All I can say about this is that Goodreads is being a dastardly “gentleman” and obviously lying, trying to pretend he is a slick, smooth snake charmer. Like, STFU Goodreads, you can’t math. I am NOT three books – or two, now – behind. Quit lying. Where’s yo momma at? I’m ’bout to get your momma on the phone. Let’s go. Where she at?


Do you ever feel pressured by your Goodreads tracker?