READ THIS! ELEANOR + PARK.

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READ THIS! ELEANOR + PARK

By Rainbow Rowell

I’ve mentioned this before, but since most of the US (and Japan) is in the midst of a frozen Polar Vortex, I’m thinking a few of you might be looking for a good book. Ding ding! I’ve got one.

A few keywords.

THE 1980s. Protagonist with red curly hair. Cross-cultural relationships. Comic books. Walkmans.

And maybe it’s because I too have big, curly red hair and spent some time in Asia (at one point I had a crush on a science teacher that I would call Earth Science-sensei) and had a deep love for my walkmans as a child of the 80s – but this book touched my heart.

I haven’t done a lot of reading compared to other years,  save for some New Adult iPad smut which I really should write about sometime except they are usually so stupid and embarrassing, but after a year sans English bookstores I really wanted to buy a real book with real pages and I wanted my friends to also read it, so you know, we could talk about it together. I heard some amazing things about Eleanor + Park, so I placed my bets on THAT book and blindly bought four copies at Barnes & Noble to take to my friends in Louisiana during the fall. [NOTE: I’m sure even the clerk thought, “Why isn’t she buying these online?” But I was impatient and also just wanted to relish in being in a two-story bookstore where I could read 99 percent of the items in it.]

When I had flight delays because of fog flying from Vermont to DC and had to take a detour to Texas en route to New Orleans, I was glad that I had placed my bets on this book!

THE GIST:

The book alternates chapters between Eleanor and Park, two teens attending the same high school in Nebraska in the late 1980s. At first we don’t know much about Eleanor, other than she is on the bus to a new school, has big red hair, is a little larger than other high school girls, wears unusual clothes, and NO ONE wants to let her sit with them.

Park begrudgingly scoots over and lets her sit next to him.

Eventually she starts reading over his shoulder at his comic books.

Eventually they become friends.

Eventually they become more than friends.

And then eventually life outside their mini-cocoon on the bus seat catches up with them. Eleanor comes from one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve ever read about (think Glass Castle kind of crazy). I texted my friends numerous times how furious her mother made me. Park has some of the coolest parents ever, but it’s not always so carefree. He’s learning how to define his own identity, even it that means it upsets his dad or scribbles outside the defined social lines of high school.

LOVE FACTOR: 9/10

HOT! This story about first love – which isn’t an easy ride, especially since it’s pre-cell phone days and dealing with abusive families and multi-cultural relationships and school bullies – is written so f*cking well that you won’t want to move from your chair/bar stool/bed until you finish it out. WELL DONE RAINBOW ROWELL.

GREAT LINES:

“Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

No trilogy or on-going series here. It’s a stand-alone book, but I am excited to read more from Rainbow Rowell. I hear good things about Fangirl.

P.S. My friend Liz tells me I must read Jellicoe Road next.

P.P.S. Want a super-easy, super-sexy, super-smutty winter read? Full of internet porn revenge bullying and hot phone sex? I just finished this.

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WINTER RETREAT WEEKEND: @ Bishop Booth

WINTER RETREAT 2014
WINTER RETREAT 2014
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WINTER RETREAT 2014
WINTER RETREAT 2014
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WINTER RETREAT 2014

Pictures from this weekend’s work retreat out in the woods. It was an early start to the day, and many of the students were not too thrilled about it, but we ended the day with a Zombie Apocalypse workshop (which was like a super hard group game with clues, riddles, and code words) and limbo. FUN TIMES.

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FLIRTING, A LA JARED LETO.

Jordan Catalano has come a long way.

I had to work all day on Saturday at a student leadership retreat, but went out with some friends to karaoke later that night for a friend of a friend’s 30th birthday, and beforehand joked that I was so inspired by Jared Leto’s flirting and just going to start macking on people’s eyes because practice makes perfect. It did not happen. ALAS! The bar was so dark and loud, that I could barely see faces and had to almost scream to talk to people until I got so tired that I decided to just sit at a little table all by myself until my friend Justin came over and asked if I was unhappy (HA!), but I really do love this cheesy line.

“Have you looked into her eyes? They’re absolutely insane. They’re gold and blue and oh my God..”

Also, he’s 42 and looks 24, right? What’s his exact diet/exercise/skin care regime? Why aren’t people asking him these questions? Journalism is dead.

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CEYLON CINNAMON SPICED GINGER HONEY TEA.

Monday MLK Brunch.
Monday MLK Brunch.
Monday MLK Brunch.

It’s Friday!  I’ve been hibernating for most of the week, eating my way through my kitchen cabinets and freezer foods because most nights after work and working out, I don’t feel like going to the grocery store in the dark in below freezing temperatures. Last night’s vegetable was canned green beans and I’m currently almost out of toothpaste though, so it’s time to get to the store. (Mindi told me that she could top that, and just ate Rice Krispie Treats – SK’s brown butter ones – last night.)

I’m still drinking a lot of green and herbal teas, but now added to my hot beverage mix is this cinnamon ginger honey tea. I have some arthritis in my feet already, and after extensive Googling, ceylon cinnamon and honey and ginger are arthritic superfoods.

Here’s what I do:

I like to wash, peel, and chop about a thumb-size knob of fresh ginger. Place it in my tea pot, cover with boiling water, and let steep for at least 10 minutes. I add in 1 teaspoon ceylon cinnamon (I like mine extra cinnamon-y) and 1 teaspoon raw honey.

 

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HERE & THERE.

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My friend Chris from Japan and I posted nearly identical winter weather-grams on Instagram this week. I loved his caption, “Same same but different.”

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A LONG WEEKEND: good eats and magical popovers!

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Happy post-MLK weekend! I had a really relaxing long weekend.

Saturday morning, I went out to breakfast at Mirabelle’s (<—one of my favorite breakfast places in Burlington) for a classic morning meal: scrambled eggs, hash browns, fruit, toast, and cappuccino.

In the afternoon, I went to a beginner’s yoga workshop and my downward dog has been revolutionized. I tend to hyperextend my elbows, so the instructor showed me how to keep them slightly bent in the pose, which feels SO WEIRD but she says is SO RIGHT.

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I had to do some grocery shopping afterwards, but ended up starving once I got there (of course), and ending up buying a chocolate bar and the brightest beet juice ever at the café in the store. It sounds like a strange combo now, but seemed like a balanced snack at the moment.

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Later that night, I went out for pizza at Pizzeria Verita downtown. The wait was kind of crazy – two hours with lots of olives and wine to tide us over! – but the pizza was fantastic. My favorite pizza had cherries, honey, and arugula on top.

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I was on a yoga kick this weekend, so I went to a mixed levels class Sunday morning, then putzed around my apartment for most of the afternoon. At night, I went over to Jen’s to watch We’re The Millers a second time. She had fruit, tea, and cookies for a snack. So pretty!

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Monday morning, Jen and I made brunch: popovers, scrambled eggs whites, chicken sausage, and fruit. King Arthur Flour popovers for the win! I highly recommend making this recipe soon. THEY.WERE.AMAZING! Magical. To say we were over-excited by our first time making popovers was an understatement.

Monday MLK Brunch.Monday MLK Brunch.Monday MLK Brunch.Monday MLK Brunch.Monday MLK Brunch.

I also went overzealous on the drinks too. We had a green juice, a fruit juice, and iced coffee.

Monday MLK Brunch.Monday MLK Brunch.

It was snowing all day, so we went sledding in the afternoon. The best!

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I still had my weights class that night, and it was the hardest workout I’ve had in months.

This was the easy part.

5 sets of 3 reps – Front Squats (95 lbs for me….probably could have done more. I’m just now, after months of this class, understanding my ability in relation to actual weight.)

5 sets 3 reps -  Bench Press (85 lbs…again, probably could have done more.)

3 sets 15 reps – Band bend-overs. We take this rubber band and step on it, then hook it around our neck, and do front bends with it. It really gets the hamstring.

This was the hard part.

5 push-ups

10 front squats with 35 lb kettlebell

15 sit-ups with 10 lb medicine ball.

20 front lunges with 35 lb kettlebell

FOR 15 MINUTES. That was a long-*ss time to be pushing and squatting and sitting up and lunging non-stop. But since I can’t run anymore – long story, but I have genetically bad feet so no more high impact sports, like running – I also really liked it. I’m definitely enjoying weights more and more for an exercise routine, realizing that change is generally a good thing for me.

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WILD HILL SOAP & HERBALS ROOM SPRAY.

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My favorite yoga studio of late is ALL about senses: playing soothing nature sounds a la a Planet Earth documentary, burning incense and spritzing herbal sprays. It’s like a retreat. I’m obsessed. I’ve started buying sandlewood incense, and I told my sister that I’d pay $15 just to be misted by their herbal spray. I have no idea what’s in it – for all I know, it’s homemade. Jen has tried to ask, and I’ve tried to check out the bottle. It is a cobalt blue bottle. After testing out a few sprays at City Market, I saw this COBALT BLUE BOTTLE from Wild Hill Soap & Herbals. This is the same company that makes the Stress Away Stick that Mindi sent me in Japan and I kept with me at all times. Amazing products! This Energy & Air Cleanser is absolutely incredible, and I think it might be the same one the yoga studio uses. Regardless, I  LOVE IT! I feel all stuffed up with the stale winter air at home, so I’ve been using this multiple times a day.

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