New Year, New Plan – 2018

Another new year is upon us, and with that comes reflection of the past year and a chance to start anew. If you want to see how last year went, you can check out my recap here.

This year, there are some changes coming to my life. The biggest worth mentioning is that I am starting classes to pursue a career change – from library tech to teacher. I’m not sure what else is in store, but I need some goals to help make it a good year, right?

  • Reading – This year I am doing an alphabet challenge (check out my page to see the details and my progress). I will also be challenging the students at my school to do this when we return in January. You can also track my reading log on goodreads.
  • Photography – I’m not planning a 365 day challenge again, as I have proven many times I’m not disciplined enough to do it. Instead, I will drop it down to a 52-week challenge, meaning that I will strive for once a week. There are actually two challenges I found that I think will help me achieve this. Continue to follow me on Instagram to see my weekly captures, along with everyday life.
    • 52 Frames and Brooke Murphy’s Project 52
    • Another thing I started this year and hope to continue is #LifeCaptcha. This takes place on the 19th of each month, and every hour at :44 past (or as close to as I remember), I capture a part of my day.
  • Writing – I am still planning on doing NaNoWriMo, and will continue to write stories on my own. I’m also planning on journaling, though how that will look like I’m not entirely sure. I’ll be sure to share prompts if I decide to follow something consistent. I feel with the career change coming up, it would be a good idea to keep my head focused and give me an outlet to unwind after what is sure to produce stressful days.
  • Health/Exercise – I’m not going to commit to weight loss or anything like that. Instead I will just be striving for a more healthier me.
    • Exercise wise, hubby and I recently joined a martial arts studio and are learning Tai Chi (okay, so hubby is relearning as he did it as a child, but I’m new to it). Classes are twice a week, plus a weekly private lesson we share. In addition, we started biking last year and its something we both still enjoy, so when the weather is nice, I hope to continue that at least once a week.
    • Health wise, my plan is to increase my water intake (did you know you should drink more than 2 glasses of water a day? I struggle to even get one some days!) and continue to make healthy food choices (does that mean ice cream is off the list?).
  • Sewing – I sewed my first piece of clothing last year and would like to continue learning to sew and make my own clothes. Hubby and I have the desire to get back into the Renaissance Faire scene, and I’m pretty sure making my own costumes would be cheaper.
  • ??? – This is left blank because I’m sure there is something else I want to do or something I’ve left out, and that would go here. Maybe its something that will come up as the year progresses.

What about you? What’s your plan for the new year? Any goals/resolutions you are striving to complete? Let me know so we can encourage each other!



Recapping 2017

Alright readers, it’s that time in our lives – the changing of the years. That famous time for looking back and evaluating our lives and making promises of things to come. So, let’s do just that – let’s take a look back and see what I wanted to accomplish and if I reached my goals …

  • Reading – I set a goodreads goal of reading 25 books (not including ones I read as part of library lessons) and I did succeed in that. I also wanted to complete a reading challenge set forth by Modern Mrs Darcy. She created two challenges and I set the ambitious goal of completing both. I did not reach that goal, only completing one. You can read about that here, as well as seeing reviews on both this blog and visiting my goodreads account. Click here to see my “year in review” via goodreads.
  • Exercise/Health – I did not complete a marathon and have actually put that idea on hold indefinitely as I continue to heal an old ankle injury, but I did make strives on being a more healthier version of me. One major accomplishment in this area is that I have biked one-way the entire length of the American River Bike trail (about 32 miles in length) in a single trip.
  • Photography – I continued participating in Fat Mum Slim‘s daily photography challenge, and once again failed to complete an entire month, or even an entire year of photographs. But I did capture some images I’m sure will be favorites in future years. Below are my top 9 photos on Instagram.vinotea_full
  • Writing – I again participated in NaNoWriMo, though I did not finish my novel. I also continued writing for fun, along with book reviews.
  • Blog – I don’t think I posted much more than book reviews this year, but thanks for sticking around regardless.
  • Personal projects – Still a work in progress making my house my home and I’ve taken up sewing as a hobby. The letter project is still in progress.

2017 Reading Challenge Recap

Here is the challenge I set to complete for 2017 – Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 reading challenge. With the year at a close, it is time to officially tell you how I did …


Book List: 2 of 12 complete

  • A book you chose for the cover
  • A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able
  • A book set somewhere you’ve never been but would like to visit
  • A book you’ve already read
  • A juicy memoir – Rise: How a House Built a Family
  • A book about books or reading
  • A book in a genre you usually avoid
  • A book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read
  • A book in the backlist of a new favorite author
  • A book recommended by someone with great taste
  • A book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
  • A book about a topic or subject you already love



Book List: 12 of 12 complete

  • A Newbery Award winner or Honor book – The Girl Who Drank the Moon
  • A book in translation: GermanMy Family for the War
  • A book that’s more than 600 pages: 665 pagesThe Marvels
  • A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: PoetryBrown Girl Dreaming
  • A book of any genre that addresses current events – I Am Malala
  • An immigrant story – Shooting Kabul
  • A book published before you were born (1983): Original publication, 1979Stephanie
  • Three books by the same author: The Boy of a Thousand Faces, The Houdini Box, and WonderstruckBrian Selznick
  • A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author: Emery LordWhen We Collided
  • A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending – Bluebird
  • A book nominated for an award in 2017: Stonewall Award, Children’s and Young Adult LiteratureIf I Was Your Girl
  • A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner: 2016 National Book Award, Young People’s LiteratureMarch: Book Three

Rise: How a House Built a Family

Sorry for not posting this earlier, I totally thought I did.

A juicy memoir … I don’t remember how I heard about this book, and because it’s been a few months I don’t remember exact thoughts about it, so I am just going to share my review from goodreads…

Rise: How a House Built a FamilyRise: How a House Built a Family by Cara Brookins

Like most people Cara encountered during her build, I thought it seemed crazy that someone could build a house just learning off of YouTube, but her journey, both with building a house and the struggles that come up, as well as her personal struggles with domestic-violence, it seemed as though she had no where to go but up.

Memoirs are not something I normally read, but the message behind her book fits in with the idea of having a growth mindset the staff at my school is trying to teach our students … not giving up, and the idea that if you can build a house, you can do anything… (whatever a “house” might be to that individual – I almost feel that could be a metaphor for something challenging in your life)


I had a different book in mind for the last category in the lower half of this year’s reading challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending. However, I found the original book hard to finish (Fahrenheit 451), and not wanting to leave this part unfinished, I searched the web for recommendations and found another book.

Bluebird is a wordless picture book. To give you a brief summary, the story follows the journey of a bluebird (the title character) who watches the boy from a distance struggle in school and with people. They then develop a friendship until tragedy strikes.

This book is said to have an ambiguous ending because you would assume (as adults do) that the bluebird has died. But if that is the case, why does he seem to fly away in the final panels? Perhaps it is symbolic for something else, or perhaps he has let the bird free. The story, being a wordless one, leaves it to the reader’s imagination.

Reading reviews on goodreads, there are some who thought it might be too much for a child. I would say otherwise, especially seeing the things kids are exposed to through video games and TV nowadays. Kids understand more than we give them credit for, and perhaps this would be a good introduction about death if it was a topic you hadn’t talked about before with a child.

Overall, I would give it 4 stars, as it was stunning artwork. The author is said to have taken 10 years to write the story, and I for one think it was worth his time and effort.

My goodreads review …
BluebirdBluebird by Bob Staake

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A boy befriends a bluebird, but tragedy strikes at the end.

I could see how the ending could upset some people, as its not what you might expect from a children’s story, but at the same time, I feel as though it gave the book a happy ending.