Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2015 will be my year.

I'm feeling optimistic about 2015.

I'm sure things may come along that could bend, break, or even kill me, but I'm surprisingly hopeful that I have a great year ahead.

I've recently felt a sense of renewed energy towards life - my marriage, my friendships, my job, my home, my health, my blog (!!), etc. There's a passion that I haven't felt in a long time and there's a drive behind that passion.

Halfway through this year - July to be exact - I became increasingly unhappy. Most days I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water.

On one particularly stressful day, my parents gently pointed out that I was the source of most of my stress.

I was the one agreeing to teach Wilton cake classes in the evenings, even though I have a regular job that already keeps me away from home 11 hours a day.

I was the one setting high expectations for my English Bulldog and then getting frustrated when he wouldn't cooperate. (English Bulldogs are notoriously lazy, but Otis has agility dog potential).

(Not Otis pictured.)
And although it looks like Pippa, it's not Pippa. 
Pippa can't get airborne.

I remember telling my mom how frustrated I was that the dogs were being difficult on walks, and then my mom just shrugged and said "So don't take them on walks."

Sometimes the solutions to our problems are so glaringly obvious and simple.

Basically, after that, I quit everything. I stopped teaching 3rd grade Sunday School and I told Wilton that I wasn't going to teach those cake decorating classes either. I didn't renew my gym membership. I didn't sign Otis up for the next level of agility class. I was running back and forth from Raleigh to Durham to Raleigh to Durham to Raleigh all in one day and it was wearing me thin.

One of my biggest worries of freeing up my evenings was that I would feel judged by Brian.

You see, Brian loves stress. Honestly, I've never met someone that enjoys stress as much as he does. He likes to constantly have projects, ideally several projects going at once.

I can leave for work at 6:30 in the morning, work all day, get off work, run errands, buy groceries, straighten up the bedroom, make dinner, and take care of the dogs. But the second I sit down on the couch, Brian's like "Um, do you need something to do?"


Brian is a doer.
I've learned that Doers do not like Couch Sitters.

Fortunately, I'm able to look past Brian's judgement. :-)

Recently, my biggest project has been finishing a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
It's taking me forever and a day.
The other night as I was working (on puzzle), Brian was like "I'm in the mood for us to clean the whole house."
And you know what I told him?


Looking back on the latter half of 2014, I can't say I've done that much. I've given myself permission to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. I've had the freedom to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate.

But now, once I finish this puzzle, I feel ready to take on the world.

2015 will be my year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Forgo the Lights, Forgo the Tree. Less Work for Brian, Less Work for Me!

I love holidays, especially Christmas.

When Brian and I first started dating, I remember being REALLY EXCITED for all the memories we'd make and the cute Christmas traditions we'd create together.

Do you know how many Christmas traditions we've created together?

Zero.

Do you know how many Christmas trees are up at our house right now?

Zero.

Do you know how many Christmas movies we've watched this year?

Zero.

If you've been around me for any length of time, you've probably heard me say my favorite phrase, "Brian's gonna do what Brian wants to do."

I learned early on to pick my battles.

Brian doesn't want to drive around and look at Christmas lights. He's probably never going to decorate a gingerbread house with me. He doesn't want to go ice skating at North Hills (I just asked him. He said no). He's not interested in cuddling on the couch, drinking eggnog, and reading The Polar Express.

He's just not very festive and he's not romantic, so I don't try to force it.

When we first moved into our house back in 2012, it was pretty close to Christmastime, but I decided to hold off on decorating that year. I knew Brian wouldn't care either way, so it was just easier not to deal with it.

Christmas 2013 rolled around and I decided, once again, that I would pass on the decorating.

This December rolled around and I thought about it. For one second.


I remember decorating for Christmas at our house when I was growing up. It was an ALL DAY EVENT. We would have an assembly line from the attic to the living room, transporting box after box after box. I actually enjoyed helping! But then, when Christmas was over and it was time to put everything away, I was nowhere to be found. :-)

So, yeah. Not decorating has been a good decision for me.

Okay. I know what you're thinking.

"But Kelly, your house is rustic, like a mountain lodge, and it would look SO PERFECT decorated for the holidays!"

I know, I know. I hear you.

It's true I have grand Christmas decorating ideas for the future, but it's just not in the cards this year. It involves a lot of Pottery Barn spending.

So, I'll celebrate Christmas in my own little way.

Tonight I'll pour a glass of wine, light my fresh balsam candle, put Vince Gill Holiday radio on Pandora, and work on a 1,000 piece Christmas jigsaw puzzle.


I should probably go ahead and move into a nursing home. ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

I got a new car. It's a Honda. Go figure.

Dear readers (or reader?),
Sorry if you tried to visit my blog the past two weeks and couldn't access it. I changed the settings temporarily to "author view only" and then life got kind of crazy.

Brian and I had a hectic few days, but we got through it.

Good news! I got a new car last Saturday. 

Y'all know how much I just love talking cars. Ha! Remember Ode to the Cars

I kid you not, Brian comes up with a new "car plan" every 8 hours. Like, most days I get home from work and Brian starts the conversation with "So, here's the plan..."

Some days he's wanting an old pickup truck. Some days he's selling the Jetta. Every day he's in the market for a Porsche.

Are you surprised my hair is prematurely turning gray? 
Yeah, me neither.

So anyways, we finally decided the VW Touareg had to go, so Brian came up with a plan:

He'd drive my Civic, since it has better gas mileage than his other two, and I'd get to pick out a new used car. 

I picked a black 2012 Honda Accord! 

Brian doesn't share my excitement about the new black Honda. He said there's nothing exciting about looking at a dirty black car in the driveway for the next several years. LOL!

Brian also thinks Hondas are boring. Maybe it's the reliability? He likes driving the Jetta and being surprised at what breaks. ;-)

Even though I couldn't care less what I drive, I've been really happy with my Hondas. I'd probably still be driving my original Civic had my sister not backed into it with her SUV that fateful day in 2009.

My Honda lineup:
This car!! Those tail lights!!

 Here's Old Faithful. The only thing more reliable is your two feet!

New Accord there in the middle!

Brian has his doubts I'll keep this car clean and scratch-free. Hmm....we'll see.

Usually, to find out if I'm too close to the curb, I'll try this little maneuver:


FOUND IT!

So it's probably just a matter of time. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Famous Secretaries

Here, read this article from the Wall Street Journal: The Most Powerful Person in the Office

Secretaries are fascinating to me, so here's a few I want to share with you:

"Scottie" Stephenson, 1921-2002
Worked at Capitol Broadcasting Company longer than any other employee. She had no college degree. After her death, her parking space was permanently affixed with her name. Her story is incredible and you can read it here: Scottie Stephenson

Freda Kelly 
 Secretary to the Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein, starting at age 17.
I loved the Netflix documentary "Good Ol' Freda." I admire this lady so much and she has so many great stories to share. For instance, she would stand behind the barber and collect hair on the ground when the Beatles were getting haircuts, so that she could put it in envelopes to send to the fans who requested locks of hair. 


Last but not least...

Pepper Potts :)

There are so many more I would love to recognize, but I don't want to bore you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I Hit Publish Too Soon.

I started typing incomplete thoughts yesterday and I accidentally hit publish. If you visited my blog, you were probably confused. That's the danger of the internet- sometimes you just don't know what you're putting out there. Like the time back in 2010 when I didn't realize Instagram was a form of social media and that my pictures had "followers." If I haven't told you that story, just use your imagination.

I don't talk about it much here on this blog, but my job is one of my top priorities in life. I figured I'd blog a little bit about some work-related topics.

- My thoughts on working hard.
- My expert advice (without giving away all of my secrets).
- Famous secretaries

Some Random Thoughts on Working Hard
Hard-working professionals have a certain air about them. They are confident and secure. They don't care about petty nonsense because they're too busy getting shit done.

Take my mom for instance.

Ask her about any hot-button topic like gay marriage or legalizing marijuana. Ask her about Miley Cyrus' twerking or Kim Kardashian's recent butt photo. Ask her about anything that's "trending" on Facebook. I can already predict her response.  "Sorry, but is this relevant to me? I'm too busy right now to care."

More people should keep busy.

I downloaded the book #GIRLBOSS on a whim last week. I had never heard of it and I didn't know what it was about, but it ended up being my favorite book of the year. It's written by a girl in her 20's that is the CEO of a hundred million dollar company. I highly recommend it.

You have a vision of what you want your life to look like, so go do that. If you're like me, you may be a little bummed that it requires getting off the couch and wearing something other than yoga pants, but it will be worth it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Need A Substitute Husband.

Brian refuses to take professional pictures with me.

Brian, here's what you're missing:


The only semi-professional photos we have are the ones that were taken by the owner of the Sleepy Hollow Inn where we eloped. 

I know this sounds weird coming from me, since I'm not basic, but it's a tradition that I send out Christmas cards with our face on it.


Two years strong, so that means it's tradition. 

I hate this kind of stuff.

When buying these cards, I've discovered that the Shutterfly package prices are something like this:

1 card - $35
99 cards - $36

Are you friggin' kidding me? I'm only in the market for five!

So, I need a picture for this year. 

Recently, a family friend who is an amazing photographer agreed to do a fall photo session with me, Brian, and the dogs for FREE. Any other photographer would charge a minimum of $300 for something like this and then they would bump up the price to $500 after meeting our stubborn bulldogs.

I jumped all over this opportunity. 

I chose not to tell Brian.

When we finally got closer to the day of the free photo sesh, I tried to sneak it into the weekend itinerary when discussing plans. Oh, you know, the baby shower I'm hosting, the shopping trip with my sister, the photo shoot with us and the dogs, dinner at California Pizza Kitchen, and there's that movie I want to see.

And he was like "I'm not doing a photo shoot with you and the dogs."

Curses! 
Foiled again.

After talking it over for a little bit, I could tell this was a battle I was not going to win. We will never have professional family photos. This is my life now.

So, I've been working on some other options. 

(My most "liked" photo ever on Facebook. A selfie. Go figure.)


My best idea yet?
Find a substitute husband.

(You just need brown hair, a t-shirt, and really baggy khakis.)

I'll pay you with 94 leftover Christmas cards.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Terror in Virginia Woods - Part 2

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, I remember.

We're back at the cabin now, taking out our food, pouring some wine, and getting ready to settle in beside a cozy fire.

I was so proud of myself because I remembered to bring fire starters.

So Brian's like "firewood."
And I hand him some firewood.
Then he's like "fire starter."
And I hand him a fire starter.
Then he's like "matches."
And I.....

WTF. I forgot matches.

Thinking there has got to be matches or a lighter somewhere, we tear apart the entire cabin looking for them, which takes approximately two minutes in a cabin this size:

(Actual cabin and there's our car to prove it.)
(Also, our Volkswagen Touareg is for sale. $8K. Message me.)

There are no matches anywhere and I flat out REFUSE not to have a fire. Remember the three perks of this cabin? Privacy. Hot Tub. Wood Burning Fireplace.

So I'm like "Well, Brian, maybe you can drive back to Grocery."
And he's like "hell to the no."
So I ventured outside of the house to check the fire pit area. Maybe someone left some behind.

Nothing.

So I go back inside and tell Brian that I'm going to walk to the nearest cabin and ask if they have matches. When I was outside, I could see another cabin off in the distance with lights on and smoke coming out of the chimney. Surely they'd give us some matches.

At first Brian doesn't think it's a good idea. He's like "It's 10 o'clock at night. I don't think it's a good idea."

But then, after thinking it over, he's like...


So out I went, small flashlight in hand.

Right as I was shutting the door to the cabin, I see something that wasn't there before - headlights in the distance, near the neighboring cabin. I'm thinking I've timed this perfectly - they are probably leaving their cabin to go somewhere, so I can wave them down with my flashlight and ask them for matches.

As I'm walking down the dirt path towards the headlights, I realize the car is not moving. I start waving my hands and my flashlight trying to get their attention, thinking they will open a door and say something like "You need help?" but nothing happens.

At this point, I'm directly in front of the car that's not moving and I'm starting to question if there's even anyone in the car at all. Why aren't they helping me? I mean, this is literally their view and I'm a few feet in front of the car flailing my arms:


The uneasy feeling from earlier in the night returns, so I decide to just go back to our cabin. Screw the matches. But then I hear someone moving around in front of the neighboring cabin in the distance and I can see his shadow. I can tell it's a large man with his back towards me, about 15 feet away, like so:


Assuming it's one of the people staying at that cabin, I shine my flashlight on him and say "Excuse me, sir? We have no matches in our cabin and I was hoping you could help me."

Words will never be able to articulate the absolute terror of the next thirty seconds.

Startled, he slowly turns and looks at me, but says nothing.
(In hindsight, he was probably wondering why the heck there is now a young girl in the woods, shining a small flashlight at him.)

Still saying nothing, he starts stumbling towards me, like he's trying to run but can't keep his footing. I start backing up.

He continues to say nothing as he's coming towards me, so I shout "Actually, nevermind!" and I start hightailing it back to our cabin. As I'm getting away, I hear him mumble "Wait, come back. I can help you."

I look behind and he's still following me. I yell over my shoulder "No, go away!" and he says - slurring his words - "I'm looking for my dog. Come back. I'm looking for my dog. Have you seen my dog?"

I'm almost to our cabin door and I can feel him still behind me. He watches me go inside.

My heart is racing so fast I can barely breathe. I'm inside now, staring at the back door, and all I keep whispering to Brian is "lock the door. lock the door. lock the door. lock the door. lock the door."

This is Brian:

He's thinking "What the heck did you get us into now?"

I'm thinking "What the heck did I get us into now, but more importantly, HOW THE HECK DO WE NOW HAVE A FIRE?!"

(While I was outside dying, Brian used a toaster to start a fire.)

In the end, this never happened:


Nothing really happened after that except for mass consumption of wine. Without an alcohol-induced coma, ain't no way I was falling asleep that night.

I know you were hoping for a more dramatic ending to the story, but here's the kicker - this is an unsolved mystery. 

Who was that guy stumbling around outside late at night? What were his intentions? And don't say he was looking for his dog.

The truth is, we'll never know.

But I do know one thing...


Next time I'm staying at a Motel 6.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Terror in Virginia Woods - Part 1

It's very rare that Brian and I go on vacation, so I suggested we take a couple days off for our anniversary this year. We were planning to be in Annapolis for the weekend, so I thought it would be nice to stop somewhere overnight on our way home.

A romantic little getaway, if you will.

I found a rustic cabin in the Shenandoah Valley, which was off the beaten path, not too far from Charlottesville.
(Actual cabin)

This cabin seemed perfect for our needs, offering privacy, a hot tub, and a wood burning fireplace.  I knew there wouldn't be much to do once we got there, but I figured Brian would be ecstatic to spend some one-on-one time with yours truly.

Between the Scrabble and Connect Four, he could barely contain his excitement.

After we arrived, the first few hours were great.
But then things went south and they went south fast.

The cabin provided the address of the nearest restaurant, so we're driving down the mountain on our way to dinner around 8:30 and I'm realizing there is absolutely no civilization within a thirty mile radius. In fact, I think this is where they filmed Deliverance.

When we arrive at the address, it's an abandoned strip mall. There's a grocery store called "Grocery" - the neon sign flickering with a dull buzzing sound. Two cars in the far end of the parking lot. And the restaurant. Completely dark, blinds closed, a sign that says "OPEN."

(This might be it. I'm not too sure. It was dark out.)

So, Brian's all like "it says open," so we decided to go in. 

The lady inside seemed surprised to see customers. (Maybe it had something to do with the late 8:30 hour). 
She looked at me. 
She looked at Brian. 
She said "how many?" 
"Uh, two."
She then walked away to consult with a man in the back of the restaurant, then came back over to us and announced "take out only."

So then Brian asked "Um, are there any other places to eat in this town?"

And she was like

So we ordered take out.

As I waited for the food, Brian went over to Grocery to get a bottle of wine. Not surprisingly, he reported back saying he was the only one in the whole place except for the cashier. As we got in the car to leave, a random guy casually walked across the parking lot and went behind the abandoned building. Like that's normal.

Something just seemed off about this town. It was one of those feelings you get in your gut and you're like "this ain't right."

It didn't feel right.

So we headed back to the cabin, thinking we've put that uneasy feeling behind us. 

(That's us leaving. I'm not sure who took that picture.)

To be continued....

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Story Leading Up to the Story

I've gotten behind on my blogging lately. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Here's a definition for you:


back·fire/ˈbakˌfī(ə)r/

verb
  1. (of a plan or action) rebound adversely on the originator; have the opposite effect to what was intended.


So let me start with early October. I had planned what I thought would be a really fun date for me and Brian - a trip down to Charlotte to go to Carowinds Halloween Haunt. I was really looking forward to doing something fun together,  something like we would do in the earlier days of dating. To be quite honest, we haven't been having much fun together lately, so I wanted to get back that spark.

Well, we get to Carowinds and, two rides in, I was throwing up in the grass beside the concession stand. Brian, showing no sympathy over my motion sickness plight, was annoyed he had to ride the roller coasters by himself the rest of the day. At one point, I'm waiting for him on a bench and I see him on the front row of a roller coaster overhead. He's sitting beside a cute girl and waving at me. I obviously can't hear what he's saying to the girl, but it was probably something like "That lady over there is my boring wife. She's so lame - she puked after the Intimidator!"

So, yeah. We didn't get back any spark. In fact, I think it actually made things worse.

When planning this date, I knew we would be leaving the park around 1AM and I knew Brian wouldn't want to spend too much money on a hotel, so I booked us a room at a Motel 6.

I don't know how to best describe this particular Motel 6 1 AM crowd without being offensive, so I'll just use a picture I found on the internet:


I would say that I'm fearless. Brian would say that I make poor choices. Either way, we've recently been finding ourselves in dicey situations and I'm definitely the one to blame.

At one point around 1:30 in the morning, I exit the room to get a bucket of ice and I'm...surrounded. One of the guys looks at me and says "All these niggas and a little white girl. Are you scared?"

(Mind you, Brian can hear this encounter through the paper thin wall of our luxurious Motel 6 hotel room, but he chose not to come to my rescue. I think he saw an opportunity - he could find himself a more fun wife that doesn't puke on roller coasters).

So, I told them I wasn't scared (I wasn't) and then pushed my way through the crowd to go get my ice. Much to Brian's chagrin, I made it back alive, and we cuddled in bed listening to other people's conversations the rest of the night.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mocha Friggin' Frappuccinos

Have y'all seen those "Things Couples Fight About" videos making the rounds on social media?

People enjoy relating to other couple's arguments because...well...they can relate.

So here's one for you that just occurred last night and I'd be willing to bet money that you've had a similar conversation in your home.

Brian opens fridge and sees Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos.

Brian: Why did you buy these Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos?

Kelly: Because I like iced coffee and I've been taking them to work.

Brian: Can't you get iced coffee for free at work?

Kelly: No.

Brian: Do you have coffee in your break room?

Kelly: Yes.

Brian: Do you have ice in your break room?

Kelly: Yes.

Brian: Free iced coffee.

Kelly: You know what? I guess you're right. I could pour hot coffee onto ice and drink watered down, lukewarm coffee OR I could wait until an old pot of coffee gets cold and then I could pour not-fresh, old coffee onto ice cubes for free. I mean, seriously, which would you rather have? The frappuccino or the free break room iced coffee?

Brian: The free break room iced coffee.

-------------------------

I'll end it there because the sad thing is that this conversation actually led to a LEGITIMATE FIGHT!

Mocha friggin' frappuccinos.


I guess marriage is all about sacrifice. :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Moment of Weakness (Dog Number Two)

One moment of weakness was all it took.

Brian had mentioned wanting another English Bulldog for a while, but I was not on board. There were no serious discussions about another dog because, for me, it was not even an option.

Well, let me take you back to that fateful evening and give you the details of how Number Two unfolded.

Brian was out of town and I was relaxing on the porch with a glass of wine (Mistake #1) and doing some internet browsing.

I'm not sure what came over me, but I decided to go to Topline Bulldog's website and click on "available puppies." There's no harm in looking, right? (Mistake #2)

I was on the phone with Brian at this time and I was like "Oh look! There's a white puppy on the website!" (Announcing this to Brian with enthusiasm was Mistake #3. He saw an opportunity and he went for it.)

We figured the puppy was already spoken for, but Brian encouraged me to call the breeder to find out. There's no harm in calling, right? (Mistake #4)

If life were a movie, this would be the scene that ends with me saying "Well, even if she is available, we're definitely NOT getting another dog!"

And the next scene opens up with this...


WE GOT ANOTHER DOG!!!!!!!!

And guys, let me tell you - I knew Dog Number Two was a bad idea, but it's ended up being worse than I originally thought.

The poop. The pee. The tiny teeth that are weapons of mass destruction.
This puppy stage will be the death of me.

Her IQ? Fairly low.

Her resemblance to a seal? Uncanny.


But this dog melts my heart like no other.

When it's just me and her, barely awake at 5:30 AM, I'll snuggle up with her and whisper that she's my angel of the morning.

Simply put, she is the best of the best.

She's fearless, go-with-the-flow, and laid back...so far. It may be too early to know for sure.

Remember that time I reluctantly let Brian pick out our first dog (Not Sam) because he insisted it was the most mellow and calm one in the litter? Well that puppy grew up to be hell on wheels.

So, yeah.
It's definitely too early to know for sure.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Basement Updates

It's crazy to think how much different our house looked two years ago. 

I was scrolling through some pictures last weekend and came across this:



This was our basement right after we moved in, before the pool table and before the movie theater took over. As far as furniture and decor go,  I've let Brian do his own thing in the basement and make all of the decisions. (Actually, he makes most of the decisions in every room, simply because I don't really care and I'm not that great with interior design).

The room is divided by a post, and as of a couple weeks ago, here's what one side looked like:


The other side is the pool table.

The leather couch in the middle was left behind by the previous owners, and the other furniture came with us from the condo we lived in prior. We got by with what we had and overall I really liked it!

Brian had been thinking a lot recently about getting a projector to enhance his movie watching experience, since that's a nightly routine for us (although Otis and I usually fall asleep a few minutes into it), so he finally broke down and made it happen.

He bought the projector. He bought the screen. He bought speakers.  He sold our old television. And then he went to work on building this:


I helped...like a tiny, tiny bit.

He also bought theater seating, which makes it impossible for me to cuddle with him while I'm sleeping through the movie. (I think that was one of his goals in purchasing a set like this).


We watched our first 3-D movie the other night, so that was cool.
I haven't mastered sleeping while wearing 3-D glasses....yet.


Otis striking a pose.


Here's the other side of the room. Brian mounted an old TV on the wall and hung up the creepy artwork that I don't much care for.

Brian found this taxi piece (shown below) at the Brier Creek flea market, "Estatables", along with two bar chairs to place around the pool table.


It has come a long way...

And now we have an unfinished section of the basement that's filled with a lot of unused furniture.

We also have another room in the basement that is filled with junk:


One of these days I'm gonna tackle this junk room.

But today is not that day.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Before and After: The Mantel

If you ever read my 101 in 1001 list, you may remember that a Longhorn steer head was on my wish list.

It all started when Brian and I were at the flea market one Saturday morning last Spring. There was a lady selling cowhide rugs, and she had a steer head mounted above her booth. We asked her if she'd be willing to sell it and for how much, and she told us she would part with it for $2,000 cash. We didn't end up buying it from her that day, but we never stopped thinking about that cow.

Well, patience pays off.

Brian came across a Craigslist posting for a much cheaper and much prettier Longhorn. We drove up to Virginia in December and bought our new cow!


Legend has it that this cow was the meanest bull on the farm, so they had no choice but to kill him. He's 36 years old according to the family we bought him from.

I love our cow and I love the character it adds to our home.

I was looking through all my photos today, which made me realize how much different our house looks now than it did one year ago! It's come a long way.




Monday, January 27, 2014

Divergent Book Club Activities

Read Between the Wines kicked off the new year with Divergent by Veronica Roth.


Our group has doubled in size this year. With the larger group, I had to take on more of a leadership role than in the past, but somewhere deep in my soul there's a wannabe high school English teacher, so it was a neat experience for me.

Read Between the Wines "Divergent" Rating: 
8.4

 Here's our scale:


Personally, I thought this book was great and it definitely surpassed my expectations. 

I sent out invitations and instructed the attendees to come dressed as their faction of choice. I also encouraged people to come up with a Divergent nickname, since Beatrice and Tobias were known as "Tris" and "Four."



My test results indicated that I was Dauntless, so of course I had to rock my Tris tattoo.

I was told I resembled Shailene Woodley, the actress who is playing Tris in the movie. How funny is this side-by-side comparison?!


I think I should have been cast in the movie instead. Theo James' love interest? Yes, please!  :-)

To start out the night, everyone gave their introduction and announced which faction they belonged to.


You can call me Berries, my very intimidating Dauntless nickname. ;-)

For the food, I served hamburgers. Tris had never eaten a hamburger until she arrived at The Pit, so it was definitely appropriate. It would have been perfect to have chocolate cake for dessert, but I already had sugar cookie dough in the fridge, so I just made cookies.


I also made my new favorite appetizer, Bacon Crackers. These served no Divergent purpose. They're just friggin' delicious!


Next, we began our Read Between the Wines Initiation Challenge.

Round #1 - "Simulation Serum" Tasting Challenge



This was a wine tasting to see how well everyone knew their wines. This was actually much harder than I had anticipated!


Here's the quiz:



Round #2 - Faction Quiz



Challenge #3 - Target Practice




We used an airsoft gun for this activity. Each person got one practice shot before the final test.

Based on their performance in  the three challenges, I decided everyone's rankings. How did they do?
Well, let's just say that a few of our book club members are now factionless! ;-)

The overall winner, Jen, was recognized as our "Faction Leader," and she was presented with a Target gift card.

There were some discussion questions in the back of the book, but I came up with a few more:

Discussion Questions
1. What character did you think was most interesting?
2. Did you ever believe the negative reports regarding the Abnegation faction?
3. Why do you think there's a lock on the outside of the gate?
4. What would be your fears in the fear landscape?
5. What faction would you select to govern society?
6. Would you want to live in the Candor faction where everyone always speaks the truth?
7. What are your thoughts on the book's ending?

Closing Activity
Y'all, I am so bummed I forgot to do my closing activity! Blame it on the simulation serum. ;-)

At the end of the book, there is a Q & A with the author, Veronica Roth, and the last question she is asked is "What thought or message would you put in a fortune cookie?"

A fun idea would be to have everyone write down their fortune cookie response. Then, make homemade fortune cookies (recipe here) and mail them out to your book club members or serve them at your next meeting!

I hope you enjoyed this recap! I can't wait until our next meeting!