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: 

 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!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Decide Once.

How the heck do I still have page views on a daily basis?

It makes my heart happy that I still have people regularly checking my blog.
It makes my heart sad that I rarely write anymore.

What have I been doing instead, you ask?

Well, I'll tell you.

Brian and I have been cooking up a storm. Together. Like, it's weird.

In the past, Brian has come in to the kitchen and asked if he could help and I respond by saying "you can help by leaving the kitchen." (I'm so nice).

Cooking together is actually pretty fun. I'd say that only 2 out of 10 times have we ended up on non-speaking terms, which isn't too bad.

I've also been really into makeup and beauty blogs lately. I watched so many YouTube makeup tutorials last Saturday that Brian said I reminded him of a 10-year-old girl discovering makeup for the first time.

It's true.

I spent over $150 on MAC makeup and now I'm stippling like a pro. And I'm using words like stippling.

Luckily I ordered all of my MAC stuff on a week that Brian had also ordered a ton of shit on Amazon, so my little makeup boxes got buried in the mix. Our kitchen counters were completely covered in cardboard. Brian would be like "What's in that one?" and I would be like "Nothing to see here."

Alright, gotta go. Bye for now.

Also, that blog title makes no sense for this post. I'll explain later.

Friday, January 10, 2014

An Otis Moment

Otis loves to be outside on our back deck.

There's a lot of good stuff to eat out there - leaves and sticks galore - so he's usually stubborn about coming back in.

He was having a stubborn moment a few weeks ago.

I tried using my calm-assertive Caesar skills to lure him back in the house.

"Otis. Come."

"Otis. Come.

"Otis. Come."



"Fine. Stay out there and freeze to death, you jerk!"

So I went back inside and when I walked through my living room a few minutes later, I witnessed the cutest thing in the entire world.

Just a bulldog chillin' in a chair.

My first reaction was to quote Zach Galifianakis.
"He thinks he's human. So stupid!" but Brian wasn't around to hear my joke.

My second reaction was to grab my camera and take pictures.

I took these photos through the window of our living room. All of my frustration went away and my heart just melted. He was so content just sitting there.

A few minutes later, he had switched chairs.

And then a few minutes later, he was over it.

I knew he would miss me.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Do Now, Think Later

"Do now, think later" was something my drama teacher from high school used to say.

I had a "do now, think later" moment today. I signed up for a interactive writer's workshop this Saturday.


Never mind the fact that I'm not a writer.

I've never written anything other than college essays and blog posts.

This is a bit concerning, folks.

I'm imagining a round table discussion that begins with each accomplished writer giving his/her introduction, and I'm going to have to stand up and say "Um, I'm Kelly, lead contributor to Hey Strawberrys."

(I just now came up with "lead contributor," not that I'm giving it too much thought or anything).

What if I'm asked specific questions about my writing (which there is none) and what if they speak in writer's lingo (which I know none)?

This could be a disaster. Me, in front of a group, trying to explain the literary genius behind Ode to the Urchin.

Do now, think later.

I'll check back in next week and let you know how that advice panned out.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Resolutions....Starting Tomorrow.

Hi Friends! Happy New Year!

I am so excited for this year. As you can tell from my previous post, I'm not mourning the end of 2013. In fact, I'm quite happy to put it behind me!

To stay on top of things this year, I purchased an Emily Ley Simplified Planner.

I spend more time writing down the things I want to do rather than actually doing them.
Maybe you can relate?
So this planner is perfect for that.

This is no ordinary planner. It's a $56 planner that turns you into Wonder Woman.
Or so I hope.

Last year on New Year's day, I spent some time reflecting on the previous year and making two lists: what worked for me and what didn't work for me in 2012.

Well, I didn't really do much reflecting this time around (other than blogging about "The Things that Went Wrong in 2013").

I'm just looking ahead to a brighter future!

I jotted down a few goals in my planner for this coming year and I'm pretty confident that I can make them happen (fingers crossed for no major setbacks or unexpected turn of events).

I just wrote one or two words for each goal - nothing specific or measurable. I'm not really concerned about that for now. I just want to have a fun year!

I truly believe that God hears our prayers and I've seen it transform my life time and time again. In 2013, however, I often felt too angry or bitter to pray. There were two issues that I repeatedly prayed about, but I never got an answer. I got incredibly discouraged and ultimately gave up towards the end of the year. I'm determined not to let my disappointment get the best of me this year.

Even though I've missed blogging, I've taken a much-needed hiatus. I hope to get back to it more regularly this year.

Read Between the Wines
Book club, I'm ready for you!

Less Facebook/Social Media
I'd say I've done a lot less of this recently, but it still wouldn't hurt to cut back. It's such a time waster.

More Cooking
I enjoy it. Especially with a glass of wine.

Send More Cards

Budget My Money Better
Brian and I have several checking accounts, but one is designated solely for my use. This account is replenished once a month. I usually run out of money two days in.

Make An Effort
Unless I'm going to work, I typically put little effort towards my appearance. It's amazing how a killer outfit, good-quality makeup, and a curling iron can transform you.

Clean the House
I'm going to start doing more cleaning throughout the week, rather than saving it for the weekends (or not doing it at all). Personally, I think our house stays pretty clean, but geez louise, Brian must notice every speck of dust! This is the one thing I'm trying to get better about for his sake. I'm against hiring a housekeeper, for now, so I've got to step up to the plate and get this done!

Go On More Dates
I really cherish date nights (or date mornings or date afternoons). Basically, anytime I'm spending with Brian is my favorite time in the world. I'd like to date him a little more this year.