Fall is here!!!

Yay for my most favorite season ever! I adore everything about fall! It is the most beautiful season, has the best weather, the best food, the best scents, the best activities (pumpkin-carving and corn mazes anyone?) and a great overall feeling of cozy-ness, and the best decor!!

I thought I'd share some of my new fall decorations around the apartment. I found some awesome green and white pumpkins while shopping with my mama-in-law. So cool right! I threw some raffia on them and put them on a tray from Hawaii that I got from my aunt and uncle. My aunt got in when my uncle was stationed in Hawaii when they were first married over 50 years ago!

I also pulled out this wreath from last fall and stuck a new fall candle in it. I haven't even lit the candle yet, but I smell the hazelnut every time I walk by it! Yummy!

And I got some pine-cone and acorn filler that I used to add some texture to my kitchen table centerpiece.

I used most of the pine-cone filler in my new square vase with some mini white pumpkins for a fun fall piece and put it on a shelf that has pretty much been bare since we moved in. Add a stick pumpkin from last year and voila!

I was convinced to buy this little beauty at Hobby Lobby by my mom-in-law. Love, love, love it!

And my fave- the new wreath I made with my mama and sister-in-laws last weekend!

My favorite parts are the blonde peacock feathers!

Oh man, I can't get enough of autumn! It is way too short of a season! What's your favorite thing about fall?

The Band Perry - If I Die Young

I heard this song on my way home tonight and was really moved by it, so I wanted to share.

Inspirations and Plans

I love the blogging community. I am so happy I decided to create a blog, not even for the benefit of being able to share things about me and my life, but definitely because I am able to be inspired by others. I love reading cooking blogs and getting book recomendations from blogs and being able to keep up with my friend's lives! But most of all, I adore reading decorating blogs! People are so creative and inspiring and it makes me want to make my space and home inspirational too! Most, if not all, of the decorating blogs I follow are very budget-friendly. I also was reading a People Style Watch last night and was inspired by a closet organization article. I love the book-worming blogs I follow too! So many great reading suggestions and wonderful reviews! So on my list of Projects and Inspirations:

1. Closet re-vamp and organization (This unfortunately will also probably involve me cleaning out under my bed. This is due to the suggestion that you store all out of season clothing in bins under the bed. *grumble*)

2. Take down my verticle blinds like this brave soul did here at Aisle to Aloha which currently cover this entire window-wall. (I can't tell you how much I passionately abhor verticle blinds).

3. Have a room like this: (And this is just dreaming)

4. Do some fall-scaping to my patio which currently looks like a dirtier, windblown version of this:

5. Read Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen. Because some nut-head thinks it needs to be censored. You can read about that here and here,

And just to be totally cheesy... I was listening to this song today and feel like it is the last 4 years of my life. The only thing to change would be the girl would be the one working through collge/from a small town and the fight wouldn't end in a street and his car would get towed out of her apartment complex at 2 in the morning. haha So- cheesin it up and appreciating that my hubby is the best thing that's even been mine.

Learning to have a life between the hours of 6 and 11 pm

Is not easy. I am in the middle of a marathon of 13 days of working and it has been rough not having my weekends. I usually save all of my cleaning, laundry, doggy grooming, and grocery chores for the weekends, because I am just tired when I get home at night after work. Well, now that I have officially worked 7 days in a row, I feel like my apartment is falling apart. I have laundry in the living room that has been clean since last weekend. I have dishes in the living room which is just gross, not to mention the state of my kitchen right now. All of the clothes I have worn for a short time or tried on and vetoed for an outfit this week are piled up in my bedroom on our trunk. Every accessory I have worn this week is either on the big bathroom sink, the little bathroom sink, or my dresser. I am dying to dust and desperately need to clean the shower because the drain was recently clogged (hopefully unclogging as we speak). Now, this might just be grossing you out right now (sorry) but this is the state of my life.
Have you ever heard that saying "Messy bed, messy head." Well, Nana may have made that up, but I think it is an accurate saying. If your surroundings are messy, unorganized, and in general chaotic, I think your thoughts tend to be that way. This is true for me anyway. I have been scattered and overwhelmed recently and have been mulling over some big life decisions for our future.
That's not really the point of this blog though. See- I am so scatter-brained I can't even keep my blog on track tonight!
I have been making some small successes at still having somewhat of a social life, despite the working 8 days a week. This past week I was able to have dinner with some girlfriends, do a fitness class, go grocery shopping (kinda), make a completely pointless, hour-long trip to Petsmart (grumble- The pups needed a nail trim and apparently they don't have my newest Rabies update, so they wouldn't do it. I even ok'd muzzles! but nooooooooo, my apparently rabid-looking dogs could not have nail trims. We are gonna try again tomorrow... but I digress...), hang out with my in-laws, and have taco/movie night with another good friend. Now, you might be wondering why I can do all that, but not wash my dishes or clean my shower... Well, those things are way more fun and rewarding than cleaning and that's what you'd choose to spend your time doing too. :) You might also be wondering why I have not been hanging out with my husband. The answer to that one is: because I am being a supportive wife. I have been trying very hard to stay out of his hair while he studies hard for his next CPA exam while juggling his last 3 masters classes. I will be seeing very little of him in the next 2 months due to the school work and the best thing I can do is support his study habits and make sure he doesn't miss too many meals. (I am failing at the latter this week. I caught him eating straight out of the peanut butter jar when I came home tonight)
I do feel like I conquered something tonight though, because I organized the cubby underneath our bathroom sink that we use for storing extra bath stuff and toilet paper. I was struck with inspiration to move a shelf from under my desk that was being fairly useless to the bathroom cubby space to create a more organized environment. Before everything was pretty much thrown in there... sorry I don't have any pictures for you, but you don't really need to see pics of toilet paper anyway.
Ok- I will end this rambling blog by telling you that the movie I watched tonight with my good friend Amber was very cute. Letters to Juliet was a lovely RomCom. A bit predictable, but aren't all RomComs? We got a few good laughs out of it and enjoyed the Italian countryside scenery of the movie. I'd recommend it for a girly movie night :)

Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy

I would rather be reviewing the trilogy of the Hunger Games because I just finished it, but since it is so new, I do not want to give away any spoilers. Alas, I will finally review another excellent trilogy written by Steig Larsson.

Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomvist is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece Harriet. Henrik suspects that someone in his family, the powerful Vanger clan, murdered Harriet over forty years ago
Starting his investigation, Mikael realizes that Harriet’s disappearance is not a single event, but rather linked to series of gruesome murders in the past. He now crossespaths with Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, an asocial punk and most importantly, a young woman driven by her vindictiveness.

I picked up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo completely on a whim. It had an eye-catching cover, was on the best-seller list, and I needed a new book to read since Brandon was in the midst of his internship (aka. never home). It turned out to be so much more than I expected. I will admit, I was bored to tears through the first half of it. When Larsson lays out the Wennestrom affair I had no difficulty turning off the light and going to sleep, but after I got over that hump, I was hooked. The character of Lisbeth Salander, with her social awkwardness and sharp edges, intrigued and captivated me. I was impressed by her kick-ass-ness and touched by her vulnerabilities that she tried to keep hidden. I felt like Larsson really packed a lot into this book, almost enough to make it two separate books: one about Blomvist and Wennestrom and another about the Vanger family. Obviously these two stories are far to interconnected to be able to separate them into different books, but I was a little overwhelmed. It becomes clear though that this first book is only the tip of the iceberg and lays the foundation for an even more intricate and fabulous story. At the end of the first book I couldn't wait to get my hands on the 2nd on.

Lisbeth Salander is wanted for a triple murder. All three victims are connected to a trafficking exposé about to be published in Mikael Blomqvist’s magazine Millenium, and Lisbeth’s fingerprints are on the weapon.

Lisbeth vanishes to avoid capture by the justice. Mikael, not believing the police, is despairingly trying to clear her name, using all his resources and the staff of his magazine. During this process, Mikael discovers Lisbeth’s past, a terrible story of abuse and traumatizing experiences growing up in the Swedish care system

The Girl Who Played With Fire, is my personal favorite out of the series. It is pretty much all about Lisbeth, and since she is the most interesting character, who always seems to find trouble, it was a pretty excellent book and there was never a period that I forced myself to get through, like there was in the beginning of Dragon Tattoo. But, I expected great things from Larsson with this book after reading Dragon Tattoo, and he definitely delivered. I was not disappointed. This book goes more in depth into Lisbeth's life and history on a personal level. I enjoyed seeing a young, damaged, angry Lisbeth strike out to defend her mother and it was haunting to experience the atrocities of her childhood. This book again, lays the groundwork for the 3rd book in the trilogy which is filled with political corruption and intrigue.

Two seriously injured people arrive at the emergency ward of the Sahlgrensa hospital in Gothenburg. One is the wanted murderer Lisbeth Salander who has taken a bullet to the head and needs immediate surgery, the other is Alexander Zalachenko, an older man who Lisbeth has attacked with an axe.

In this third novel in the Millennium trilogy, Lisbeth is planning her revenge against the men who tried to kill her, and even more importantly, revenge against the government which nearly destroyed her life. But first she must escape from the intensive care unit and exculpate her name from the charges of murder that hangs over her head.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next was almost disappointing to me and I can't quite put my finger on why that is. I was hooked from the first chapter because it picks up almost exactly where book #2 leaves off. The book was suspenseful and full of government corruption, which might be what I didn't like as much about it. This book was less centered on Lisbeth as a person and more focused on the team and web of intrigue that led her to be an innocent victim of the government. This book wraps up Lisbeth's saga with a lot of drama and a dash of suspense. I enjoyed seeing people rally together for Lisbeth and her defense at trial. The whole Sapo part of the story lost my interest at times. I also think that the romantic in me was disappointed in Blomvist in the end. I wanted him to change his philandering ways, but he did not. To be fair, he has always been upfront and unapologetic about who he is and makes it clear he won't change because he likes his life. I was very glad though that Lisbeth decided to let him back in her life, as a friend.

I would recommend reading these books and think that they would be appealing to both men and women. There is intrigue, suspense, drama, murders, and so much more. The characters are intricate and interesting and Lisbeth will capture your heart, even with her tough exterior. I am going to give these books a collective 7.5/10. (For me book 2 would be closer to an 8.5/10 and the others more a 7/10, but all worth reading).

BONUS: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: The Movie!
I watched the Swedish Dragon Tattoo movie, dubbed unfortunately. (I think I'd rather read the subtitles instead of having lips moving and words not matching) Aside from the fact it was dubbed, I can't find a darn thing wrong with this movie. It stays absolutely true to the book! I loved seeing Lisbeth on-screen and the actress portrays her perfectly! The American-Hollywood Dragon Tattoo has begun filming and will come out next winter. I think Daniel Craig is going to be the perfect Blomvist, but this new actress they have cast is going to have some huge shoes to fill after the Swedish actress's role. If you can handle the dubbing I would 100% recommend this movie- but I do think I only loved it as much as I did because I had read the book and it followed it so well.

Laor Day Weekend

Well, Labor Day weekend was not everything I wanted it to be, but it was still a good time. Unfortunately I got sick starting Friday night with a cold. We headed up to Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. Our first stop was at Fudrucker's for lunch. We played some Cruisin USA while we were there which was very fun (I won!) Then we stopped at the Cave in the Mounds. It was my first time ever in a cave or underground for that matter. It was very interesting to see geology in action. haha

  We stayed at The House on the Rock Inn and were able to get the tickets for The House on the Rock tour in with the price of the hotel room. That night we took it pretty easy, spent some time in the hot tub, and ordered pizza hut delivery. We watched cable TV. It was great :) lol

On Sunday morning we had a nice continental breakfast and headed up to The House on the Rock. I was really excited for Brandon to see this place, because it's just so full of whimsy. This man built his house literally on top of a rock and wanted it to be pretty much harmonious with the rock and kept to it's natural shape. Much of the place is built out of limestone. He also designed the windows to come out at an angle to give a better look at the surrounding view. He built these from the inside out without scaffolding. He also expanded and added The Streets of Yesterday and The Heritage of the Seas and a giant carousel. I will post just a few pics of the highlights. The entire album is on facebook.

I would have taken a lot more pictures if I had been feeling like a normal human being, and been able to breathe. lol This whole place is just filled with crazy things. There is a huge battle scene set up with over 40 suits of armor, probably more than 100 extravagant dollhouses, circus scenes, and model ships. I really think people should see this place at least once in their lives. The slogan is "where imagination comes to life" which is pretty accurate. There is this big carousel with over 100 figures on it, but not one of them is a horse! There are probably 100 horses hanging on the wall in that room though! Throughout the house there are these elaborate musical displays that play themselves! You put a token in a machine and you hear "click click click" and then Bam! Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy  from the Nutcracker is playing. It was amazing.