Zaragoza, Spain

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

To be completely honest, I don't really remember much about Zaragoza.  It was a short stop on our way from Barcelona to Madrid.  What I do remember, and the only thing I have pictures of is Aljaferia Palace.  Aljaferia Palace dates back to the 11th century and is actually an Islamic Palace. The structure holds unique importance in that it is the only conserved testimony of a large building of Spanish Islamic architecture of the era of the Taifas (independent kingdoms) (source).

As I said, I don't remember much about our time in Zaragoza, but I do remember that I really enjoyed touring the Palace.  If we did anything else in Zaragoza, I don't remember it.  I kick myself all the time for not writing in my journal while we were in Spain!

Parasailing in Ocean City

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Today I am starting my Throwback Thursday Series which I hope to continue through the year. To start, I'm throwing it back to 2007!

At this time, I had been wanting to go parasailing for a long time, I thought it looked like so much fun!  The opportunity presented itself in 2007 during my Senior Week trip to Ocean City, Maryland.  I was all about it and my friend Kristin decided to join me.   We made reservations before we got there for the highest you can go (80ft) and were so excited to get out on the water!  Though it wasn't as thrilling as I thought it would be, it was definitely an amazing experience!  It was so neat to see Ocean City from above and come down to have our toes dipped in the water!  It was also a relaxing experience - you truly feel like you're moving super slow which I totally wasn't expecting.

I enjoyed it but I'm not sure if I'd do it again unless there was a place I really wanted to see from up high.  I would definitely recommend doing this at least once in life, though!

Barcelona, Spain

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

For the next probably 2-3 months I'm going to start posting about my past travels on Wednesdays - Wanderlust Wednesday, if you will ;).  I really don't feel like it need much more introduction, so I'm just going to jump into it with Barcelona.

Unfortunately, I stopped writing in my personal journal at this point in my Europe Trip.  What I do remember is that I absolutely LOVED Barcelona and would love to go back and explore more as an adult.  I remember visiting Park Guell, Sagrada Familia, the beach, and going to a Flamenco Dance/Dinner.  Barcelona is one of the top on my list of places I want to return to, and I hope it happens sooner than later!

Life Update: December

Monday, January 16, 2017

December was one of those months where it felt like it flew by but dragged on at the same time.  I spent a lot of time at work (including Christmas) and it was way harder than I thought, not being at home for Christmas.

Josh and I spent the first Saturday doing some local Christmas things.  We went to a Christmas market at Thousand Island Winery, which was not as great as we thought it would be.  But the mulled wines and other wines we tasted made the trip totally worth it! 

Earlier in the month, I applied for a job with my old company.  Unfortunately, I didn't get an interview.  I have a pretty strong feeling its because I have a Fort Drum address since I'm way more than qualified for the position and I left the company on great terms.   It's a bit of a bummer, but such is Military life.  There is a job fair at the end of the month which I am planning to attend, so we'll see. 

The second weekend of the month, I went down to Maryland for the annual Hanlon Family Christmas Dinner.  My Dad's side has been doing this for 30 some years and I love going and seeing family every year.  The dinner was on Sunday, so I headed down on Friday after work.   I spent Saturday hanging out with my Mama and watching season 2 of Fuller House with her.   It was just what I needed after spending 7 hours in the car on Friday.

This years dinner was held at a local golf club called Mountain Branch.  It was really great.  I did have some issues because it was buffet style and the only things I could eat were rolls, potatoes, and green beans; everything else had meat in it :(  but it was a good time and it was great to see people that I don't get to see often.

At some point in the middle of the month we got a pretty good snowstorm.  I was at work when it started so I had to drive home in it.  Talk about the most terrifying drive ever!  It took me an hour and a half to make the normally 20 minute drive home. I don't think I went over 20 mph.  It was so bad.  The snow up here is no joke!   Needless to say, I called out during the next storm!

I feel like the rest of my month was just work, work, work.  I even worked on Christmas Eve and Christmas (not by choice).  How did I choose to work at the one restaurant that is open on Christmas?  In my defense, I had no idea and they didn't bother to tell me in the interview.

Since I had to work at night on Christmas, Josh and I had some of the guys from his unit over for a lunch.  We made Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, and Rolls.  Not much but it was better than them staying at the barracks.   Bolt was super excited to make some new friends!

Our New Years Eve was very exciting.  I worked in the morning and then we spent the evening reading and watching Chicago PD.  I know, we lead exciting lives!  We watched the ball drop and then went to bed.   It's OK to be jealous ;)

 It's official, I have completed one full year of monthly Life Updates!!  I'm honestly shocked, I really didn't think I'd keep up with it!  Even if it was the only post I put up that month, I made sure to get each one posted!   I don't know if I'll continue it this year or not, but it was nice looking back on all the updates and remembering all the great things that happened this year!

Book Reviews: December 2016

Friday, January 6, 2017

Leave it to Alyson Richman to get me out of my reading funk!  I only finished two books in December but they were just what I needed to get out of my reading funk. 

Alyson Richman is one of my favorite authors.  I've loved every single book I've read by her and this one is no different.  I always feel like I learn so much from her books - before this book I knew nothing about the brutality in Chile in the 70's or the Finnish war children.  What I love about her books is how emotionally invested I get; there were a few times when I had to put the book down.   This book entangled the beauty of life and love with the brutality of life at wartime.  There is no sugar coating but that it why I got so invested in this book.   Though Salome's story is the most central and I definitely felt for her and was devastated for her, I think Kaja's story that really got to me.  This book, like her others does start out a bit slow, but push through, I promise it's worth it!  I highly recommend this book, especially to lovers of travel and historical fiction! 

I gave this book a 5/5 on my GoodReads.

I requested this book on Netgalley a while back but was denied because I didn't have enough reviews at that point.  When I saw the book on Amazon for $1.99 right after Christmas, I decided to get it.  I've always loved figure skating so I wanted to see what this was all about.  I found the story to be cute, but sometimes a little annoying.  I was really annoyed at the main character for her lack of communication throughout most of the book.  Except for that one issue, I really enjoyed the story and the skating references.   Overall, it was a cute, light read that I'd recommend if that's what you're in the mood for.  It was nothing spectacular but it was enjoyable.

I gave this book a 3/5 on my GoodReads.
Hayley Larue Design