Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Books

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!  The fun thing about this time of year is getting to read everyone's recaps.  It's nice to get a summary of the past 12 months, to be reminded of some of your favorite reads on other people's blog, or even discover a post or two that were missed...12 months can amount to a whole lot of written words, after all.

As you all know, my posting has dwindled down to barely a post a month.  The reasoning behind that is a post unto itself, which, if I get my act together as I would like, will make its way out of my drafts folder and onto this neglected space soon.  Needless to say, while there has been more than enough to recap in my real life, my blog life hasn't left enough behind to waste anyone's time with.  Instead, I leave you with my reading list for the year.  For me, this is a legit recap; I can look at the title and remember where I was and who I was with when I finished each of these books.  Books 6 through 11 were read on the beach in Mexico while vacationing with Tony.  I started book 28 during my first week in my new job.  These books hold memories for me:

1.  666 Park Avenue, Gabriella Pierce
2.  The Diviners (The Diviners #1), Libra Bray *
3.  Reached (Matched #3), Ally Condie
4.  Changeling (Order of Darkness #1), Phillipa Gregory
5.  Just One of the Guys, Kristan Higgins
6.  Waterfall (River of Time #1), Lisa T. Bergren *
7.  Vanity Fare, Megan Caldwell
8.  The Restorer (Graveyard Queen #1), Amanda Stevens
9.  It Had to be You (Chicago Stars #1), Susan Elizabeth Phillips
10.  Midnight on Julia Street, Ciji Ware *
11.  A Cottage By the Sea, Ciji Ware *
12.  Crystal Cove (Friday Harbor #4), Lisa Kleypas
13.  City Girl, Country Vet, Cathy Woodman
14. The Best Man (Blue Heron #1), Kristan Higgins
15.  A Light on the Veranda, Ciji Ware
16.  The Mermaid Collector, Erika Marks
17.  City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare *
18.  The Ashford Affair, Lauren Willig *
19.  Whiskey Beach, Nora Roberts *
20.  Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes, Roisin Meaney
21.  A Royal Pain (Unruly Royals #1), Megan Mulry
22.  Cascade (River of Time #2), Lisa T. Bergren *
23.  Torrent (River of Time #3), Lisa T. Bergren *
24.  Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse #13), Charlaine Harris
25.  The Light Between Oceans, M.L. Stedman *
26.  The Witch of Little Italy, Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes
27.  Brooklyn Girls, Gemma Burgess
28.  Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walters
29.  The Girls' Guide to Love and Supper Clubs, Dana Bate
30.  Letters from Skye, Jessica Brockmole
31.  Finding Colin Firth, Mia March *
32.  NYPD Red, James Patterson
33.  The Meryl Streep Move Club, Mia March *
34.  Where'd You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple *
35.  If the Shoe Fits (Unruly Royals #2), Megan Mulry *
36.  Winds of Salem (The Beauchamp Family #3), Melissa de la Cruz *
37.  Summerset Abbey (Summerset Abbey #1), T.J. Brown
38.  The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1), James Dashner
39.  The Firebird (Slains #2), Susanna Kearsley *
40.  The Week Before the Wedding, Beth Kendrick
41.  MacNamara's Woman, Lisa Gardner as Alicia Scott
42.  Allegiant (Divergent #3), Veronica Roth
43.  Dark Witch (Cousins O'Dwyer Triliogy #1), Nora Roberts *
44.  Fifty Shades of Gray (Fifty Shades #1), E.L. James *
45.  Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2), E.L. James
46.  Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades #3), E.L. James
47.  The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2), Kristan Higgins
48.  The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession, Charlie Lovett *
49.  Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Janet Evanovich
50.  Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1), Veronica Rossi *
51.  Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2), Veronica Rossi *
52.  The Heist, Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
53.  My Story, Elizabeth Smart

The books with an asteric (*) next to them were my favorites, and the ones in blue were book club reads.  I was horribly remiss with finishing book club reads this year...were I to add books that had been started, but never completed to this list it would be twice as long and include several more books in blue.
You'll notice a theme with my reading list: I like Young Adult, sci-fi/dystopian society novels, adore series (I get attached to characters), and am a total sucker for anything with a bit of romance.  Feel free to check out my Goodreads account to see what else I've read and what books I can't wait to get my hands on.  You may find some goodies to add to your list, too!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Matthew and Mary

Tonight, I ventured out into the effing cold wintery wonderland that is Northern Colorado in pursuit of BOGO coffee at World Market.  I love when World Market runs this sale, and since I had recently run through my WM coffee stash, it was time to stock up!  Plus, I find it difficult to resist holiday coffees.  (Marzipan-flavored dark roast? Yes please!)  While that was all well and good, the most exciting part of the evening came at the check-out when I was offered a free Downton Abbey tote.  And, not just any Downton Abbey tote, but one with Anna and Mr. Bates on it...be still my heart.  There was no resisting on my part. 

Inspired by the snow, the holiday season, and my new tote, I find myself watching the final episode of Downton Abbey season 2 -- the Christmas episode.  This is, by far, my favorite episode of all 3 seasons.  I know that sounds odd since so much of the episode has to do with the Spanish Flu and possible death, but it's also the episode when Matthew and Mary share a dance and an unexpected kiss; when Anna and Bates finally marry; and when Mary finally opens up her heart to Matthew's proposal.  Christmas and romance all tied up with a British period-piece bow is about as good as it gets in my world.


Friday, November 15, 2013

To be thankful

I'm not going to lie: I find the daily "thankful" November posts on Facebook to be annoying.  Everyone starts off as thankful for family, friends, health, etc., and then it just deteroriates from there.  Suddenly it's November 21st and I've noticed people become increasingly thankful for types of food...is this because the food-tastic heaven that is Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, or is it because everyone has run out of more meaningful things to be thankful for?  We may never know...but, I digress.  I love Thanksgiving, and I do love that the month of November prompts people to stop and consider the aspects of their lives they're grateful for, but I'm not convinced the daily play-by-play is necessary.


So, to play along with this month's theme of thankfulness, I thought I would share some of what I'm most thankful for:
  • My parents.  There are no words to describe how grateful I am to have the family that I do.  We're a small but stubborn, opinionated, and lively bunch, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Tony.  2 years in and the strength of my feelings for this man still catches me off guard.  He is kind, generous, funny, supportive, and loves me without question.  
  • My friendships.  This is such a broad item, and it doesn't seem enough to devote only a single bullet point to it, but for the sake of this post it'll have to do.  I have such variety in my friendships and each one adds unique value to my life.  I cannot imagine not having my friends to call on in good and in bad times, nor can I imagine not being able to support them in kind.
  • Ruby and Ringo.  My goodness, but my life is so much fuller with those two crazy dogs in it.  I was never a dog person until Tony brought those furry monsters into my life, and now I cannot imagine a homecoming that doesn't involve Ruby's stubby, little tail wagging, and Ringo's excited requests to play (all.the.freaking.time).
  • Books.  This may seem a bit ridiculous, but life without books is no life at all.  I have bags of books in my car, stacks of books surrounding my overflowing bookshelf at home, and books on nearly every flat surface at Tony's; they complete me.
  • My health.  I may be prone to sinus infections, but overall I'm healthy and happy, and that is a wonderful thing.
  • My job.  My work-life has gone through quite a few changes over the past year, and while I wouldn't say I feel completely settled where I'm at, I'm more even-keeled, which is a wonder for my psyche.  I work for a University that feels like home to me, and I get to learn something new every day.  There is also pride in the maturity and independence that comes with a steady paycheck.
Goodness knows there are countless other things I could add to this list, but that would make me no different than the daily thankers, so I think I'll stop here.  Those 7 items are simply a foundation for all of the little, wonderful things in life.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mother Nature's beating

I'm sure any of you who've managed to watch the news today have heard about the flooding in Colorado.  We have, once again, my national news thanks to Mother Nature.  I'm lucky that most of the flooding is south of where I am or west into the canyon, but it's been a truly surreal day, nonetheless.  Overnight, mountain dams had broken and rivers and creeks all around the Boulder area started to overflow their banks. We received 6 months worth of rain in less than a day, which is incredible in and of itself, but even more so when you consider the fact that Colorado was in a wildfire-ridden drought for most of the summer.  Like I said, surreal.
Boulder bike trail

My morning started a little after 5:00 am with a text from Tony telling me he was on-call to head into work to relieve his boss from her all-night efforts to decrease flood damage in the office.  I don't think I've ever mentioned it before, but Tony works for the town of Lyons, which is a small mountain community northwest of Boulder...and it was pummeled with rain all night long (as was the river that runs through town).  Because I do not have television up in Fort Collins, I hopped online and started reading through the news sites.  The stories were awful: Boulder Creek was rushing like a river and overflowing its banks; a 15-25 foot wall of water had rushed through Boulder's Lefthand Canyon, trapping an emergency responder in a tree; the town of Lyons was surrounded by 3-5 feet of water, essentially turning the town into an island;  and the stories just kept coming all day long, as did the rain.  Needless to say, Lyons' island effect kept Tony from making it into work today; in fact, the town was completely isolated until this evening when the National Guard finally made it in.

Emergency responder in Lyons

It didn't take long for the canyon highways west of Fort Collins to start flooding, including the main road up to Estes Park, which literally collapsed.  Like Lyons, Estes Park has essentially been cut-off: there is currently only one open road in and out of town, and images of Estes' Main Street look more like a river than a street.  I could go on and on about Colorado's flooded out towns, including Colorado Springs and the Denver Metro area, but I think you all get the point.  I almost feel bad that Fort Collins has been effected other than being sopping wet, but then I watch the news stories and talk to Tony, and I feel so grateful.  Mother Nature sure is giving my state a beating!

St Vrain Greenway in Longmont...
normally a park and running trail

For more information and photos, visit 9News.com.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The joys of Google Reader's disappearance

Please bear with me as I try to get myself set up on bloglovin'...
Moving over all of the blogs that I currently follow was a piece of cake, but trying to claim my own blog?  Yea, that's proving unnecessarily difficult.  Lol, I am sure this is due to operator error more than anything else. 
Here goes nothing...
Follow">http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4089806/?claim=w3wcrw3253s">Follow my blog with Bloglovin

PS- if this all goes according to plan, you can find me on Bloglovin'!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer colds and New York City kisses

Summer colds are the worst. 
I know after an unintentional, month-long silence from this neglected space, you all are mighty impressed with my opening line...it's ok, go ahead and admit it. 
In all seriousness, I really didn't mean to not blog for so long.  I've actually felt inspired to babble via the written word again, but life got in the way.  Since I last blogged, I applied for, interviewed for, accepted, and started a new job.  That's a lot of change in a short period of time for a self-proclaimed creature of habit.  So, bear with me through fiscal year end insanity in the world of higher education, and, fingers-crossed, you all will be rewarded with more consistent babbling on C'est La Vie.
Back to my original, brilliant statement: why is it that a cold is a downer in fall and winter and is masked by allergies in spring, but royally kicks a person's butt in the summer?  Summer colds seem far more miserable than winter colds.  After unsuccessfully trying to burn this cold away with spicy cajun food tonight, I've settled in with a box of kleenex and Something Borrowed.  I love this movie (and loved the book).  A part of me feels a little guilty for liking this movie since it practically condones cheating, but then I remind myself that it really explores the numerous facets of human relationships and my guilt decreases.  This could be the cold meds talking.  Now, I could happily babble a while longer, but Dexter just told Rachel that she was all he ever thought about in law school and next he's going to chase her outside and kiss her, illumunated by the lights of a busy New York City street...time to call it a night.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's impossible to say no to this face

Those of you who follow me on facebook and/or instagram (@erin_cestlavie) have already seen this picture, but I just had to share it anyway.  Ringo was not impressed by me trying to work on homework on Saturday...he couldn't understand why I would pick a textbook over his cute face.  And, lucky for him, I eventually gave in.  Saturday just wasn't meant for homework...it was meant for 45 lb lap-dog cuddles. 

Oh goodness, but I adore this face!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The best kind of night

Sometimes a quiet night in is the best kind of night.
Because I spend my weekends and one weeknight at Tony's (in a different town), I tend to jam-pack my remaining weeknights in town.  I have errands to run, workouts to sweat through, homework to ponder, and friends to catch-up with.  I truly am blessed, but those work-to gym-to dinner-to friends evenings can be exhausting. Added to that would be my 45-minute commute on the nights I do go to Tony's.  It's a gorgeous drive along the foothills, made better when the light is golden and it's warm enough to open the sunroof, but it's still a commute nonetheless.  So, in town or down at Tony's, my weeknights always seem rushed. 
Which is what makes nights like tonight so lovely: just me, my favorite hodge-podge kind of dinner (avocado, Morning Star sausage, & cranberry walnut bread, by the way), a new book, and season 6 of Dexter.  And a glass of red wine...obviously. 
Ahhh, an evening of relaxation!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Introducing: Ringo

After nearly a year and a half of loving on Tony's dogs, claiming them as my own, and gushing about them like an obsessed person, I thought it was finally time to introduce them to the blogosphere.

See that handsome, big-eared dog? That's my Ringo. My adorable, energetic, pain-in-the-butt baby, and I adore him.

Ringo is a 6 year old puppy who thinks any time is play time, loves to cuddle, and eats corn on the cob like a pro.  He hates thunder and rain, loves to drink shower water, and is the self-appointed leader of our backyard fox patrol. 

And, the only reason I can even type this little ditty right now is because he's sleeping in bed instead of attempting to sit on the laptop on my lap...he's special.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's always the little things isn't it?


+ it's nonfat lattes...in the morning and as a post-workout treat.
+ it's an evening spent with girlfriends, sipping on micobrews, talking about boys and about how this one, yea, this one feels like The One, and how it's not scary to say that to girlfriends over a beer.
+ it's printing out recipes in preparation for a snowy Saturday spent in the kitchen.
+ it's lunch dates with my Mom.
+ it's the mountains, always the mountains.
+ it's tv series marathons on Netflix.
+ it's longer days and the ability to go for after-work walks again.
+ it's the smell of rain in the air, and how it can transport me back to my final morning in Sydney...nostalgia in the Spring.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Scenes from a weekend



What was forecasted to be the snowpocalypse of 2013, turned out to be a single day of big, wet snowflakes that left the roads wet and the grass lightly dusted in white.  Quite the let down as blizzards go, if I do say so myself.  Luckily the weekend wasn't wasted.  There was bacon and eggs, dogs chasing each other in the snow, gorgeous sunsets, a mother-daughter shopping extravaganza, dinner with friends, and snow covered rockies set against a blue Colorado sky.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day

via Matchbook Magazine on Pinterest

"Women, like men, should try to do the impossible."
{Amelia Earhart}

Happy International Women's Day!

I am so blessed to be surrounded by strong women, from my mother to my coworkers, and to my friends.  These women have traits I admire, and compose themselves with such class; they know how to laugh at themselves and have a good time.  And in learning from them, in being with them, and in loving them, I am able to view myself how they do, and to strive to live up to the image.

Celebrate the women in your life today. 
And celebrate yourself!  

Friday, March 1, 2013

In the Kitchen: Homemade Granola

Granola is one of those foods that you can pretty much always find in my pantry.  I like having it on hand to turn my morning yogurt into a legit breakfast, or to throw onto my oatmeal in the winter.  I also find a quick handful of granola hits the spot when I'm craving something sweet (it's the dried fruit and brown sugar that make this work, I'm sure).  Basically, I'm a big fan of granola.

Until a few months ago, I had always stocked up on granola at Sprouts; in fact, it never occurred to me to bake my own until I saw this recipe for Skinny Pumpkin Granola from Skinnytaste.com and decided to give it a try.  It was so easy, so yummy, and quite pretty looking.  The only problem: I can only handle so much pumpkin.  So, once I'd had my pumpkin fix, I set this recipe aside and went back to my old habits...silly me.

A couple of weekends ago, I had a craving for granola while down at Tony's and found his pantry to be sadly lacking.  But, inspiration struck when I realized all of the ingredients for homemade granola were in there.  So, I pulled out the pumpkin granola recipe, divulged it of all pumpkin flavors, and tweaked it to a more basic granola recipe.  I mixed all of the ingredients together, thre that baby in the oven, and 35 minutes later I pulled out the most delectable smelling granola.  

(Erin's) Basic Granola

2 1/2 - 3 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup chopped nuts*
1 cup dried fruit*
1/4 - 1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey or pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (+/- to taste)
pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and line baking pan with parchment paper.
Combine oats and quinoa; bake for 10 minutes.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine nuts, dried fruit, coconut, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.  Give it a stir, and then add honey.  Once combined, add toasted oats and quinoa.  Mix until oats and quinoa are well incorporated with other ingredients. 

Spread evenly onto parchment-lined pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow to cool before removing from pan, but keep in mind the granola will crisp up a bit as it cools.


*can use any combination of nuts and fruit.  I tend to use whatever is on hand, but my current favorite is half sliced almonds, half chopped walnuts, and pomegranate flavored craisins. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I don't know where I can trust my heart, but you were my rock never my stepping stone

A Silent Film
{Harbour Lights}

I heard this on the radio the other day and fell in love.
I adore the sound of the lead's voice, & the rhythm of the melody.
The cutesy, romantic music video doesn't hurt, either.

Monday, January 21, 2013

This moment

It's the end of a lovely 3-day weekend and while the thought of going back to work tomorrow is a bit depressing I can't complain.  You know why?  Because I'm sitting on the couch with Tony stretched out next to me, The Words playing on the tv, and both dogs are snoozing away on their respective beds.
At this moment, I have everything I need. 
This is my happy place.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It is ok.


A good friend of mine is having a rough day.  In fact, she's been having a rough several months and all of the emotion is finally coming to a head; she's done.  She's hit that wall and she's just plain done.  But, I think what's hurting her the most today is her negative attitude.  It's not like her: she's a positive person with a what doesn't kill you makes you stronger mantra, but she can't seem to get there today.  She's feeling beat down and can't seem to rise above it today. 

And you know what? 
It is ok. 
It is absolutely ok to feel your emotions with your whole being, even when it isn't pretty. 
It's ok to have an off day. 
In fact, I'd say it's healthy.  
It's healthy to work through your feelings, to not internalize everything because, in my opinion, that will break a person's spirit.  

Those bad days, the mornings when you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, the days when you're just not equipped to handle one more thing: it is ok.