Best books of 2016

I read 80 books last year which isn’t bad. I am a pretty fast reader, not a savourer like my husband. My #tbr pile is too big, I am always jonesing for the next book. I have a really hard time bailing on books too so I will finish even if I feel like it is killing me to read….one….more…..word. 

These pics show my reading history backwards, in 3 big chunks.

Young adult picks from this group:

How To Hang A Witch is like a modernized The Crucible ❀

Evil Librarian had me at Librarian and girl power ❀

Paper Girls is graphic novel kick ass sci fly girl power perfection

Winter is the final book in the Lunar chronicles which is a fairy tale reboot of awesomeness


Jane Steele is more of a reworking of Jane Eyre than a retell but OMG is is fantastic

Sense and sensibility is perfect for any Jane Austen lover

Vinegar Girl is a reboot of Taming of the Shrew ❀ one of the first Shakespeare plays I ever saw

All the stars:


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recomend 

I Let You Go


Young adult picks:

Beastly Bones second in a series where Sherlock meets Dr Who ❀ better than 1st

Jackaby is the first 

Nimona a graphic novel that rocks girl power too

Six of Crows, I have no words but the next book can’t come fast enough 

The Serpent King

Good but light and easy:

Up to this Pointe


Me Before You

love in lowercase


Just Plain Good:

Sleeping Giants

We’re All in This Together

salt to the sea

Where All Light Tends to Go

The Portable Veblem 


Young adult:


My Life Before Me

Good, good, good:

The Book of Speculation


The Library of Mount Char

In the Unlikely Event

Books I should have bailed on:

The Sentimentalists

John dies at the end

13 ways of looking at a fat girl

A God in ruins

Grasshopper jungle

2 of these are just not my genre ( John and grasshopper) so easy to avoid in the future. 13 was just depressing, sentimentalist was too but for different reasons and god in ruins broke my heart with its style because the author is one of my favourites. 

I am going to try and do monthly round ups of what I’m reading this year

 #fingerscrossed 🀞🏻


The weather outside is frightful

November 19 is the day the snow came. 

Friday looked like this

20 degrees Celsius 

And today the weather network says this:

Which does help it feel more like Christmas is coming. But.

So rather than look out the window, I have been thinking about what has been making me happy. And some of it makes me ridiculously happy. 

These 2 impulse beauty buys at my last Sephora VIP Rouge discount night are amazeballs! Marc Jacobs gel high liner eye pencils are like using oil pastels on your eyes. The colours are INTENSE and they glide on like butter but are dry and not runny. I bought Navy noir and Ro(cocoa) and I love them both, well maybe the navy a little bit more. Cuz it’s blue and you know, blue πŸ’™.

This book ⬆️ is making me laugh and shudder, sometimes at the simultaneously.

I read about it on Litsy and if you like to read and you don’t know Litsy, what the hell?! Litsy is like Instagram and facebook for book nerds. It’s a whole new world people!


Anywaste, the book is set in West Virginia, aka Crapalachia and it chronicles the life and times of Scott growing up and his extended family. If you liked the Glass Castle or Jenny Lawson, have I got a book for you! It’s a quick read that I got from the library that I wish I had bought so I could hand off to people I think would enjoy it as much as me.

Speaking of awesome things, Gilmore girls is back this Friday November 25 on Netflix. Sometimes life just lines up perfectly. Last year I got it in my head to watch all 7 seasons of GG just because (I watched  something like 140+ episodes in 75 days) and then there was a tv-con, like comic con but for tv shows off the air, and rumours started circling about a revival with the right ending.

 All. The. Feels.

So I’m ready for Friday.

But in the meantime, John and I have been binging on:

The Durrell of Corfu.  I have never laughed or yelled at my tv as much with any other PBS Masterpiece show. It is so good! It is set in the 30’s and revolves around a widow and her 4 children who are so dissimilar it baffles her as much as us. They relocate to Corfu because they are all so unhappy she thinks only a major change will make a difference. It does. ❀️. So I am thinking a trip to Corfu would be nice.

And this:

Starbucks chilli mocha! Some sweet heat to get your engine started. I get mine made half sweet, with non-fat milk and no whip and it is still nirvana in a cup! 

I have to go to hockey now. Might make it beside the ice today since I have to dress for the cold now.

Elections at Remembrance Time

I don’t write enough to feed my soul and maybe I write too much for what others want to read but November 2016 has me thinking and I need to process. 

I am reading redeployment by Phil Klay right now and it is a bitter truth to wrap my brain around. It is a series of windows into the world of modern warfare. Each ‘chapter’ speaks from a different perspective within the machine of war; soldier, priest, civilian, bureaucrat and what each of the people have to say is FUCK. I think their message applies to the world in general right now. 

It is November so I am thinking about Remembrance Day created 98 years ago to honour soldiers who fought in the war to end all wars, WW 1. Their sacrifices were to ensure peace on a global stage. Unfortunately that war didn’t end them all,  we saw a repeat in 1939 with more players and a continuation of more and more in the decades that followed.

Back in 1918 the world was pretty isolated from itself, news moving slowly from one side to the other. You could understand someone being wary of strange languages and customs. In 2016 with most everyone having a smart phone and cable and access to news and social media 24/7 why are we not more accepting and understanding and inclusive? We have google translate at our finger tips,to know what is being said and Wikipedia to explain customs and traditions different from ours.  Yet large groups of people seem to be more exclusionary, less forgiving and understanding and want to put walls up where they never existed before. 

The poppy symbolizes Remembrance and should be worn over the heart to encompass love and acknowledgment of the sacrifice of so many so we can live freely and peacefully. Is this in vain? Do we live in peace? Do we feel love and understanding for our fellow human beings? Last night’s American election is sending a message around the world that many hear as one of hate and intolerance ‘trumping’ love and acceptance. That ‘other’ won’t be tolerated. For America to be great again difference needs to go. 

I wear my poppy on my wrist ( so it won’t fall off) because it is beautiful and symbolic of beauty in us. It is hard to see and hear beauty over the rabble in the Trump election pit but I ask you to try. “The torch, be yours to hold it high” don’t break faith with those who have already sacrificed. I ask you to sacrifice a bit yourselves. This November 11 when you spend a moment reflecting on all that has been given already, think on what you can do to make this world better for you being in it. 

What sacrifice can you make? Where can you help? Whose life or situation can you make better? 

Americans wanted change and they have voted it into office. 

We need to show the world that love and acceptance and understanding rule the future. We can make the world great ourselves. 

What I Read in OctoberΒ 

My year to date total for books read varies depending on the site you look at, but my stats for October are 7 books read, not bad for a non-summer month.

1. Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

LOVED this book and it’s coming of age tale set in the late 80’s. A 14 yr old girl deals with the death of her uncle from AIDS and the secrecy that surrounded his illness and death. So many layers of amazing in this book.

2. The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain translated from French. It was like taking a vacation reading this book, it just captured the difference in day to day living so perfectly from North America. In the book, Laurent finds an expensive handbag abandoned on a street with no identification. He tries to find the owner. A bit of a mystery, a bit of a romance πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

3. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathon Evison is told like a game show commentary with short chapters introducing different scenes over the course of Harriet’s life. There are a couple of twists and the time line is fluid, flipping back and forth between various decades in the past and then the present. It was engaging but not amazing .

I own this one so it’s available for borrowing

4. How To Hang A Witch by Adriana Mather is a YA novel that is set in current day Salem and involves some creepy, mysterious events that seem to be bringing the witch trials back to life. I LOVED this book and how it reminded me The Crucible by Arthur Miller ( which I read in high school) I also loved how the novel addressed bullying and appropriate ways of dealing and reacting to it.

5. Fat Vampire by Adam Rex is another YA novel that I picked for the season. It is quirky and hilarious. I was reading it at school and burst out laughing during quiet reading time in a gr 8 class, then I tried to describe it to the class and we were all laughing. Doug Lee is a 15 yr old who is accidentally turned into a vampire (?) and continues to live his regular life ( although his parents are NEVER in the story) hoping against hope he can find some girl who’s into vampires to drink from but using cows  in the meantime. He does meet a girl but what transpires is more about rising up to be worthy of her affection than the usual vampire tale.

#6 Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen is another YA for the season but OMG so good! I should’ve bought this one 

It is clever and funny and sweet and exciting and full of a wonderfully strong female hero who risks everything to save her best friend from the Evil Librarian. The best part is a sequel is coming in February 2017. It reminded me of my obsession with witch porn aka The Hollows series by Kim Harrison with Rachel and ‘her demon’ Al. There is a lot of similar dialogue with how to ‘call’ a demon and how tricky they are to make a deal with. Cynthia, best friend ever, makes a deal with a female demon who I look forward to meeting again.

#7 Invicble Summer by Alice Adams ( back to our regularly scheduled library haul) revolves around 4 friends and 20 years. It had me thinking of One Day by David Nicholls right away which I had been just lamenting I wished I could read again for the first time ( it’s that good) so getting to read this was not a bad second option. It raises the point that the people who are cool in high school/college are not necessarily the ones who ace the long game. Growing up isn’t only about getting to 18. For every door that is there for you when you are ready, there are just as many or more that present themselves when you aren’t. Wonderful book! 

The cover art is totally awesome! 

And read One Day if you haven’t already ( don’t watch the movie πŸ‘ŽπŸ») 

I have it if you want to borrow it.
This month everything seemed to remind me of something else I had read? Is that a coincidence? Old age? Just awesome? 

Next month, November, the theme is war and/or remembrance and I have 5 set aside I have been meaning to read


#beadbashonthelake aka “no boys allowed”

This past weekend I went away, for the entire weekend, without my family! 

No boys allowed! 

Martha, Cheryl, Sarah and I left on Friday morning at 9-ish am on our Big Adventure to Mentor, Ohio. This stopped the border guards cold both going there and coming back ” What’s in Mentor, ma’am?” They did a great job of looking interested as I rambled on about the awesomeness of our adventure and beads.

I had dreams of Steak ‘n Shake  for lunch.

Alas, they did not come true.

Our first stop was a mall that had a Trollbeads concept store in it. They have an AWESOME policy that if you have a bracelet that is a length that isn’t working for you, you can exchange it for another one. Trollbeads bracelets have separate locks, so the chains themselves might get tarnished but they don’t get worn like a lock might. This may be why they have the exchange policy. 

Anyways, I had  one bracelet that was shorter than my other 2 ( #firstworldproblems) and they switched it no problem, so now all 3 are the same length. 

Now I can try braiding them, or just wearing them like this picture I found on Pinterest.


I also bought my first set of X links in navy blue πŸ˜†. They had a promo of buy a lock and get 18 links free, so basically a bracelet. 

Here is my #mcctrish walking out of the store with my new links and bracelet trying to hold a catalogue #failing 

Then we headed to Great Lakes Jewellery, hosts of Bead Bash on the Lake. 

Martha was an excellent navigator, so a huge shout out to her for keeping us always on track. 

I didn’t take any photos when we got to GL, I had left my phone in the car πŸ™„ and there was just so much talking and looking and oohing and ahhing I didn’t realize it until it was time for us to go ( we only had about an hour and that hour FLEW).

Great Lakes graciously invited us to dinner with them  and Julia and Alexey ( Truebeadz), Mike and Jenny ( Ohm). the other reps and the friends and family helping them run the Bead Bash. 

The next day we went back to GL. 

Martha had a plan to make a movie with #ohmgnome and some of Ohm’s upcoming beads to be released.  You can see it on Martha’s IG account @marthnickbeads or her blog by same name at WordPress.

Julia wanted to get a lesson on how to #mcctrish, which Alexey and Martha also videotaped ( it is on Martha’s IG and blog too Bead Bash on the Lake) not sure if that link works

We did some shopping at GL, I bought a Gurgle Pot , I have wanted one for ages, but couldn’t decide on a colour, since I just painted the kitchen , I decided on grey.

We all got to try lampmaking with Julia, she was so patient and supportive

And looks way hipper in her purple tinted glasses than us! 

Beads were purchased.

Bracelets were modelled.

Friends were made

Good times were had by all! 

Where to next? 

The end of the trip ( or I fell off the Earth before I wrapped things up)

The end of the trip was a bit of a whirl wind; driving, arriving, enjoying and then moving on. Not a lot of wifi and truthfully,  not a lot of hanging out where the wifi was, therefore not a lot of blogging.

We went to Virginia Beach after Colonial Williamsburg. Once upon a time it was going to be a 1 night stay and we were going to be there on  John’s birthday, so we talked about staying outside our usual budget to celebrate. After thinking a bit, we decided to stay an extra night to get a bit more beach time and booked at Comfort Inn and Suites. 

So GLAD we did! 

The hotel was great, amazing breakfast included, easily accommodated our request to stay an additional, additional day ( 3 nights instead of 2) , our end of the beach was WAY calmer, less crowded and closer to AMAZING coffee place! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

View from our room

View from my chair 

Beckett was pretty much in the water the entire time we were at the beach from the night we arrived until we left 2 days later.

He just jumped waves, rode waves and crashed into waves. John and I went out with him but we needed breaks. He came out to eat and play a game of scrabble. Once. 

Thankfully there were showers to get the worst of the sand off. It got EVERYWHERE! 

Birthday boy! 

A nice touch πŸ˜€

John’s birthday dinner was at Tautog, a restaurant in an old cottage. If you are ever in Virginia Beach, you should totally go, for the food and the atmosphere! 

There was a bit of a wait to get in ( reservations for large groups only) but there was an arcade around the corner for B and J to play video games from the 80’s and I always have a book #everyoneishappy

The extra day at the beach was amazing! After the heat and non-stop sightseeing of Washington, serious hiking in Shenandoah NP and going back in time in Colonial Williamsburg, it was glorious to be on a beach, by the water and just doing nothing. Sometimes I think I made an error not living by water in my life, but I guess it just makes it more spectacular when I get to spend time near it. 

Then we headed to Chincoteague/Assateague ( last real stop on our trip) . This has been on John’s bucket list since he read about it in World magazine way back when.

Yes, there are horses EVERYWHERE! 

And poop! 

Also NASA πŸŒœβ­οΈπŸš€

We were actually at a National Park on the day of its birthday πŸŽ‚πŸŽ‰ #winning

Next year Canada’s National Parks celebrate 150 years! Everyone should try to get to one in 2017 #futuregoals

We stayed at Pokemoke River State Park ( in between the 2 National Parks, sort of) because they have showers and real bathrooms ( I am too old for pit toilets) 

Our happy hour ( l’heure l’apΓ©ro) looks like this

Crab chips and Japanese soda

And scrabble 

Thank you, as always, to John, our amazing trip planner and driver ( when we are in North America) for another epic summer adventure. 

What will 2017 bring πŸ€”

Beckett’s Re-do: Colonial Williamsburg

Once upon a time the extended Koreen family headed back to Colonial Willaimsburg for an Easter holiday, this time with the grandkids. The grown ups spoke very fondly of the first trip, the historic house we stayed in, the great food we ate, how much fun it was to be immersed in 18th century colonial life. The kids were pumped. Beckett wasn’t feeling well. In fact, he felt miserable, and who wouldn’t with a double ear infection. He has wanted a do over ever since. Summer 2016, Beckett is an only child while Gunnar works at CQE and this means B gets to pick our destination and Colonial Williamsburg it is.

We are not staying in a historic house this time ( different budget πŸ˜‚) we are staying at the Governor’s Inn and while it has a great pool and includes breakfast and is walking distance to Colonial Williamsburg ( we are in the hood) you need to check your room carefully when you stay here #verytiredcanmeandirty

As always, the weather is a great starting point

Yep, it’s hot here

We toured the Palace and the maze behind it ( one of B’s happy memories) 


Bad boys, #whatchagonnado 

Beckett wanted an authentic meal this time around, since he pretty much missed all the others, so Josiah Chowning was our lunch destination 

No spirits were consumed at lunch, too hot, I would have fallen asleep in all the horse poop

After lunch there was a lot of walking and checking out the tinsmith, the silversmith, the milliner, the binder, the various shops and tours at the Powell House, the Gaol and the Public Hospital. 

We ended the day with the Fife, drum and cannon and then went into Williamsburg for take out from Paul’s Deli

And dinner wasn’t just sandwiches 

I can’t say enough awesome stuff about Paul’s Deli! It seems family owned and operated, the food was GREAT! and every single person working there was friendly and invested in us getting good food and service. ( Beckett inhaled his meatball sub before I could get my phone out for a pic) 

Out hotel, not so much. 

Back to nature #goshenandoah

We tend to flip between nature and urban spaces on our summer vacation, chilling off the grid and cooking on the Tarmac ( Washington humour) , but this time round I was way off the grid. My phone has been AWOL for 4 days and initially I thought it was just cuz I was in a National Park BUT everyone else was able to use their phone. It didn’t bug me at first but then it was just WEIRD. But what to do, my phone didn’t work AT ALL. We were staying at Skylands, the highest topographical part of Shenandoah, and it got hit by lightening on Sunday. When we got there Tuesday, they were still off the grid , so no wifi, no computers, in fact they had given our cabin to someone else because they didn’t think we were coming until Wednesday #facepalm I sent a message to Rogers Helps using wifi at the Big Meadows visitor centre but they didn’t reply in the 20 minutes we were there, so that was no help. 

In the meantime, we are explored and enjoyed a really glorious piece of this earth that is unbelievably close to a major US city.

Our first room, we had a picnic dinner and then complimentary breakfast because of the mix up 😘

Anyone notice that I have a long sleeve shirt on or with me? It is cooler in the mountains! Hallelujah πŸŽ‰ biscuits and gravy, cheesy grits OMG I love me some southern breakfast 

Our first hike here, fuelled by that mighty breakfast was the Rose River Trail, a total beauty! 

Beckett says it was uphill both ways and it sure felt like it. It is like a rainforest in the woods, the humidity is off the charts. B had already worn all of his dry fit stuff and had the above outfit left or dressier stuff, he claimed to be dieing.

But we survived.

Beckett has pretty much outgrown the junior ranger program, sob. 

I tried to get a solution for my phone.

 I did laundry. 

We had showers in our cabin. NOTHING beats a shower after a sweaty day! 

There was a WICKED thunderstorm and our lights flickered a bunch, but we had picnic supplies for dinner again ( aka wine) and I sewed patches on Beckett’s camp blanket. It was positively chilly, see B’s long pj pants, best sleep in the cold night with all the windows open.

Second hike on second full day at Mary’s Rock

If I thought the first hike felt like a rain forest, this hike was a wake up call, cooler than yesterday but sweltering humidity. 

The flora was quite beautiful and unique 

View from the top

The boys 

and in case we forgot we were in bear country

He really was that close, eating all the berries and not worried about us at all. 

Beckett wanted one of the big hot chocolates he saw people getting at breakfast yesterday and we had planned on going up to the Lodge that night, but the thunderstorm kinda cramped out style. So

Hot chocolate and some clogging was in order, no pics and my video won’t link 😒

A final look at our cabin, so cute 

Onward to Colonial Williamsburg! 

( I discovered if I I turned off my phone I could get service briefly before it crashed off the grid again. I managed to have a text talk with Rogers and they reset my phone, finally, so fingers crossed I can keep on, keeping on) 

Last day in the Capital

Because I always start with the heat, today didn’t feel so bad ( heat advisory on from 2-7pm but ended early) We took the subway downtown and did not do any long walks, instead we used the Circulator ( a bus the basically circles around the core including Georgetown and Virginia where our hotel is AND it only costs $1 AND your fare is good for 2 hours #bestdeal) 

We had timed tickets to start the day at the Spy Museum. We started with a “mission” that we had to solve in an hour, not the same as an escape room, more of a mystery with props. All of the kids in the group LOVED it. ” I think Topaz is a double agent” ” I think he’s double crossing the government” ” I know all about lie detectors ( and goes into exhausting detail of how they work)” πŸ˜‚ then we spent 2 hours going through the museum. If you are a James Bond fan, this place is your Mecca! 

Starvation set in at this point. We saved the free world but forgot about ourselves. #thegreatergood

Lunch was a non-Smithsonian Cafe on the sculpture garden grounds that brought back memories of Paris

We ate inside even though all the awesome art was outside #tooeffinghot

We did the Hirshhorn Art Gallery after lunch. One installation was done all with radiating straight and wavy lines made with a Sharpie on 2 tone painted walls. It was HUGE and was the entire inner circumference of the gallery #futuregoals

Then it was time for SHOPPING!!! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»  Georgetown has an awesome strip of stores!!

Madewell and Camper for me. J Crew for John, Abercrombie for B and a sporting goods store for B and G #shhh #itsasurprise 

Dinner was at Good Stuff Eatery ( the Obama’s favourite) Top Chef alum Spike Mendelsohn’s place #omg #bestburgersever #bacononbacon

Last walk across state lines 

Sunday in Washington DC #thisplaceishot

First things first

This was the weather. All. Day. Long. You might notice that the ‘real’ temperature was up by 2 degrees today but the humidity was down by 2, add a fairly steady breeze for most of the day and that means it was almost pleasant. My ankles felt like they were burning a bit (think dry heat of Phoenix) and when you were in direct sunlight for a prolonged period of time #scorching but overall, not bad. The turning point came between 5 and 6 pm while we were in the National Building Museum and some rain fell. It all went to hell after that, no breeze anymore , humidity jacked up again, tempers flared.

But enough about the weather. 

We started the day at the U.S. Holocast Memorial Museum. We were there for 2 hours and could have stayed for much longer. 

So. Much. Information.

The museum does a wonderful, informative, exhausting job of outlining how the world got to a place that something so unbelievably atrocious could happen. It goes back to Christ and works its way forward. I was crying by the time I got to the memorial. #whatyoudomatters

We needed to take a break and process what we had just read and seen so we ate lunch at the Museum of American History, the first place we came to. 

We took a walk through the sculpture garden beside the National Gallery of Art. A very restorative change of pace.

Beckett had no idea what the above sculpture was #vintageofficesupplies

A month or so ago, maybe more, #theheathasaddledmybrain we saw a CBS Sunday Morning article on the National Building Museum and an exhibit they had on doll houses. I was not missing this! If you have read The Miniaturist or were ever a little girl then I probably had you at “doll houses”. The exhibit showed the transition of housing styles in England with doll houses #awesome it also showcased the winners of a competition for dream houses which blew my mind.

Under the Stairs.

Made me think of Ready Player One.

The central exhibit is Icebergs! Perfect. Timing.

Which is literally the coolest thing. Cuz the weather sure ain’t.

Time for a snack? Why yes it is! 

We went to the Milk Bar and ate crack pie. And creamsicle floats. And chocolate cereal milkshakes. AMAZING! 

Heavily fortified or high on sugar, you pick, we walked to the White House cuz it was just down the street.

To round out this part of the day, we took a bus to Georgetown for dinner at Martin’s Tavern, est. 1933. Most of the presidents from Kennedy onward have had their own tables there, in fact Kennedy proposed to Jackie at booth 3 ( a little Camelot trivia for you). 

Then we walked back to Virginia and our hotel #crazy