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The A to Z Survey

AtoZsurvey

I thought it would be fun to give y’all a little more information about my reading habits, loves, and reading-related things I hate with a fiery passion. I’m discovering lots of cool lists like this from other book blogs, so expect more of these interspersed with my book reviews :-) This survey is originally from The Perpetual Page Turner, including the awesome graphic! If you give it a go, please link back to the original source!

Also, if you haven’t entered the Murder at the Brightwell giveaway yet, go on over there and enter to win yourself an awesome prize pack!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Tamora Pierce. Followed closely by Lilian Jackson Braun and Rita Mae Brown.

*An easy way to figure this out if you have Goodreads is to go to your “My Books”page and on the left hand side there’s a link for “Most Read Authors.”

Best Sequel Ever:

Oooh, this is tough – I prefer books that are part of a trilogy/quartet/long series, so I don’t read too many true “sequels.” Hands down, the best was The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr. It’s just riveting. I wouldn’t have thought that Carr could top The Alienist, but he did!

Currently Reading:

An advance copy of Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Rita Mae Brown. As mentioned above, I love Rita Mae Brown and I can’t believe that I got an early copy of this, but I’m super excited about it! (Special thanks to Ballantine Books/Random House and NetGalley!)

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Hazelnut Latte. Could be hot or iced, depending on the weather and where I am.

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical books! Although I do love my Nook and the convenience of having both the Nook app and the Kindle app installed on my Android phone, books that I love or that I already have started collecting in hard copy I will still go buy in a bookstore. One of the biggest reasons I do this is that it’s so much easier to lend books out when people ask me for recommendations, and I love to support local business where I can (Politics & Prose in D.C. is basically the greatest bookstore ever.)

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

I’m still in love with Roiben from Tithe/Ironside by Holly Black. Don’t tell my husband ;-)

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

Hidden Gem Book:

The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley!!!

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

In middle school, our school building was right next to a branch of the public library. Since school got out way earlier than my mom got off work, every day after school I’d walk over to the library to do my homework and then read until my mom picked me up. I got through so many books in those years, and that period of time really shaped my reading preferences. During those years I read (among others) the Alanna, Immortals/Wild Mage, and Winding Circle series by Tamora Pierce, all of the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, Jane Eyre, The Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables, Crime & Punishment,  and Margaret George’s Memoirs of Cleopatra (I’m still not sure how I got away with checking this book out as an 8th grader, and my mother would have had a fit if she had read it first…but she didn’t ;-) ) By the time my younger sister was in middle school 2 years later, they’d constructed an entirely new middle school many blocks away from the old building, which was torn down. I’m still sad when I visit home and see the empty lot next to the library!

Just Finished:

Queen of Hearts, #8 in the Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen – It was hilarious, and I loved it.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

Romance/Erotica, except for a few things by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League series and the Dark-Hunter series) which are for some reason housed in the romance section of my local bookstores rather than fantasy/sci-fi, where I think they belong…)

Longest Book You’ve Read:

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (1,796 pages) – I have the 2-volume, soft-cover Barnes & Noble Classics version.

** An easy way to find this out if you’re on Goodreads is to go to your “Read” page, and at the top click on “settings” and make sure the appropriate box is checked so that the number of pages will be displayed. Once that is on the screen, you can click on it and it will sort your read books list from highest number of pages to lowest.

Major book hangover because of:

The Rook (are you tired of hearing me mention this book yet? Too bad!) The sequel, Stiletto, can’t come fast enough!

Number of Bookcases You Own:

6. The two biggest are full of my books:

My husband commandeered two of my older bookcases for his textbooks and medical books, one holds magazines, books, and miscellaneous things in my office, and one has been re-purposed as our liquor cabinet!

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

Squire, book #3 of the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce. Whenever I’m in a bad mood and I just want to read, this is what I reach for. Kel’s level head and ability to take things as they come always puts me in a better headspace and this book of the series in particular reminds me that we’re all capable of great things if we put in the (hard, mud-slogging) effort.

Preferred Place To Read:

In bed. I like to be cozy and warm.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

This isn’t inspirational, just a passage that’s always stuck with me from Holly Black’s Tithe. I love that this book was not your average fairy tale, and being a teenager growing up in the middle of nowhere in the Midwest, the whole story represented a drastically different lifestyle and viewpoint from anything I’d ever been exposed to. To me, this exchange manages to layer hints of beauty, love, anger, revenge, despair, and regret all at the same time – which is a lot for just 46 words.

(Looking at the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean)

Kaye: You know what the sun looks like?
Janet: No, What?
Kaye: Like he slit his wrists in a bathtub and the blood is all over the water.
Janet: That’s gross, Kaye.
Kaye: And the moon is just watching. She’s just watching him die. She must have driven him to it.

Reading Regret:

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I bought the paperback of this as a summer read because it was on a “bestsellers” shelf and it looked like an interesting coming-of-age type read. I actively disliked the book (which is pretty rare for me) but more importantly I was so disappointed by it that for several years I stopped reading anything that I heard about from a bestseller list or that had “buzz” in the industry. Worst book hangover ever (slash most-like-a-real-life-hangover-which-isn’t-at-all-pleasant.) It took Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus to make me OK with checking out the bestseller shelves again.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

I just saw that there’s a new Bryant & May book out, Bryant & May & The Bleeding Heart, that I haven’t bought! Otherwise I’m pretty good about finishing a series once I’ve read past the first book, unless I just don’t like it – for example, I haven’t gone past book two of Kate Elliot’s Spiritwalker trilogy because I couldn’t even finish the second book (the first book was okay, so I bought the second one when the pickings for new titles were slim, but it was just too trite and overdone for my taste.) Those are pretty rare though.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, Sabriel by Garth Nix (I have the original, dark cover of this with Sabriel on the front and I have to say I like that version much better!) The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook. I’m sure everyone reading this post is sick of hearing about it, but I don’t care! :-)

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Stiletto, the sequel to The Rook. And Clariel by Garth Nix!!!

Worst Bookish Habit:

I love to read books by authors who use interesting/archaic words, and I sometimes forget that I’m in the real world and I’ll say something that makes people stare and then laugh at me. My husband frequently accuses me of making up words. Case in point, one day I told some co-workers that an item of clothing had “copious” wrinkles and they still give me a hard time about it. Because of this, several different people call me “Webster” and will text me if they’re searching for an appropriate word or need a definition, rather than consulting the internet.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Your latest book purchase:

Elizabeth, by Margaret George. I scored a new/unused hardcover for $6.95 and I’m very proud of myself!

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Born of Fury, by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I most definitely finished this book the day that it came out. Yup.

 

Was there anything that surprised you on this survey? Anything that made you say “Hey, me too!”?

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Book Review & Giveaway! – Murder at the Brightwell

Congrats to the winner of the giveaway, Laura M.!

The lovely staff over at St. Martin’s Press gave me a free copy of Murder at the Brightwell for my review.

Murder at the Brightwell: A Mystery

The publisher’s description certainly got it right with this one: “Set in 1930s Britain’s posh seaside holiday scene, Murder at the Brightwell is at once a glamorous glimpse into the past, a delightful love story, and, of course, a gripping, exciting whodunit. Drama, gossip, and mystery all abound!”

Very much in the style of Agatha Christie and Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness series, this book was a fun sleuthing romp through the early part of the 20th century. The heroine, Amory, is a unique mix of confidence, wit, and romantic uncertainty – the latter usually occurring when her ne’re do well husband, Milo, is concerned. Amory takes a trip to the seaside with an old flame and his friends, and as members of their party drop like flies, she simply can’t stay on the sidelines. As with any amateur sleuth, she doesn’t figure out who is perpetrating the murders until she’s made a few wrong guesses, but she does manage to impress CID’s Detective Inspector Jones along the way.

This was a charming, light read, and I’ll certainly be interested to read more books by this author!

St. Martin’s also asked if I’d like a second copy of this book to give away. Silly question, right?! This title won’t be released for sale until October 14, 2014, but for the next week you can enter to win your very own advance copy of the book, along with a few other fun items from yours truly!

As you may have seen from the sneak peek I posted here on the blog and on my Instagram, the prize package looks a little something like this:

The winner of this giveaway will receive everything they need for a good old-fashioned afternoon tea:

  • A paperback advance copy of Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
  • A book full of tasty “afternoon tea” recipes (I’ll admit, I was tempted to keep this for myself, the little cookies and sandwiches in here look awesome!)
  • A patterned tea cup from Anthropologie (I got the blue/green version for myself, and chose the orange to give away because I thought it went nicely with the cover of the book)
  • A (sealed) container of my favorite tea – Earl Grey Crème from Giant foods – which is an Earl Grey tea with a vanilla-y creaminess to it. I’m usually a milk and sugar girl when it comes to Earl Grey, but this works nicely without any milk or sugar, as it already has a little sweetness to it.

To enter the giveaway, click on the Rafflecopter link below (it may take a second or two to load). Then, you can get up to two entries, by either a) leaving a comment below that answers the prompt or b) following/subscribing to my blog (please make sure to enter the username you use to follow/subscribe, because I will verify this before I mail the prizes to the winner!) Or you can do both and get 2 bites at the apple :-) The giveaway will accept entries until midnight on Friday, August 22nd** and I will select a winner at random. The winner will be announced on the blog on August 23rd and I will provide an email address so the winner can send me their contact info.

Thanks so much for entering – Good luck!

(This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to winner Laura M.!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* A little disclaimer – The copy of Murder at the Brightwell for this giveaway was provided by St. Martin’s Press, but all other items were purchased by me. The links on the book title and photo go to Barnes & Noble simply because they are my favorite bookstore, but they are not sponsoring/affiliated with me in any way.

** I’m hoping that’s correct, and I didn’t somehow screw this up, but it’s my very first giveaway, so if there are any issues, I beg in advance for your patience. Thanks!

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Coming Soon – Things I Can’t Wait For!

Hey there my wonderful readers, long time no post! (blushes awkwardly) Whoops.

I’ve been busy reading through many, many books for you, so you might wonder why there haven’t been any new posts recently. Well, most of the books I’ve read over the past 2 months aren’t available to purchase until mid-August or later, and the publishers asked that I hold my reviews until closer to the publication date – which I’m happy to do. I mean, there’s no use tormenting you with books you can’t get, and they’re giving me the books for free, so I’m not going to complain! Instead, I wrote the reviews while they were fresh in my mind and just set a reminder in my calendar for the dates when I want to publish each review.

But, speaking of being tormented with things you can’t have, I thought I’d share with you some of the books and authors I’ve been stalking. There are several books that I check up on just about every week, just so I can make sure to get them ASAP!

Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen

Clariel by Garth Nix -This title should become available on October 14, 2014 and I am literally counting the days. The Old Kingdom series has always been one of my absolute favorites. My copy of Lirael is so battered that the first few chapters have separated from the rest of the book. The only reason that Sabriel isn’t every bit as bad is that I lent it out to someone ages ago (no idea who…) and never got it back, and then I re-purchased it as an ebook when I couldn’t get to a bookstore. I love the series enough that I’m going to buy Clariel in hardcover and I’ll probably repurchase the paperback version of Sabriel too, if I ever run across it. The publisher’s description makes this book sound amazing and is the story of a character who pops up in previous books. I don’t want to give too much away, because if you know who the character is it’s a huge spoiler because you know how they end up! It sounds like Nix has gone in a rather different, interesting direction with this one – I’ll definitely review this as soon as I read it!

Stiletto: A Novel

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley – This is a sequel to O’Malley’s absolutely awesome debut novel, The Rook, and it’s not due out until February 2015. I may very well die of anticipation before then! Y’all know that I’m going to do anything I can to get an advance copy of this into my hands, but we’re still a long while off from the official publication date, so for now I’m just impatiently waiting. For those who haven’t read The Rook yet, go get yourself a copy. Don’t be put off if you think the publisher’s blurb on it looks a little hokey, or if you’re “not really into sci-fi, supernatural stuff” – just pick it up and read. I forced this on my husband when we were traveling last year when he ran out of things to do. He’s not a big reader, but he finished it quickly and really liked it, and the other day I caught him re-reading it on our porch! (For reference, it’s hard enough to get him to read a book in the first place, I’ve never known him to re-read anything.) In short, highly recommend, and I’m sure the sequel will be every bit as fabulous. I particularly like that O’Malley didn’t keep naming the book(s) with the names of chess pieces/Chequay titles in an attempt to stick very closely to that theme, and from the description and interview’s I’ve read the whole thing is a little bit of a different take on things – to borrow a phrase from fashion, while the titles and styles may not “match” they certainly seem to “go” together. I think it will ultimately make this book and any potential future books much better to establish that flexibility right away, rather than waiting until a theme is played out and trying to fit it into a new plotline where it doesn’t make any sense.

Atlantia

Atlantia by Ally Condie – I’m not stalking this book nearly as hard as the other two, but I read a preview of it on NetGalley and it was really good. I read all three books of Condie’s Matched series (reviews here, here, and here) and while I liked them, the books were a bit predictable and a bit too similar to other things I’ve read – although I have to say, I really enjoyed the ending of that series, as it felt true to the dystopian genre without being too depressing. Atlantia, though, seems like a very original plot line, and it also strikes me as  book that won’t follow the female-teenage-heroine-in-a-love-triangle trope that I’m tired of. This title becomes available on October 28, 2014, so mark your calendars and look for my review!

The Gift of Power by Tamora Pierce - There isn’t a cover or plot synopsis for this title yet, but the expected publication is 2015, and I am a massive Tamora Pierce fan (except for Mastiff… can we just pretend that never happened? YEP. Ok, good.) She’s under contract to do a whole series about Numair, prior to his appearances in the Protector of the Small series or the Wildmage series (and thus, before his relationship with Daine.)

You know what else I can’t wait for?

 

My first giveaway!

The lovely staff over at St. Martin’s Press gave me a free copy of Murder at the Brightwell to review and asked if I’d like a second copy to give away. Silly question, right?! They offered to run the giveaway, but since this will be my first one, I wanted to throw in a few additional goodies for the winner. This title won’t be released for sale until October 14, 2014, but one lucky winner will get an advance copy as well as a few other little tidbits from yours truly. I’ll be posting a full review of Murder at the Brightwell along with the instructions for the giveaway on August 15th, so make sure you check back and enter!

Here’s a little sneak peek from my Instagram:

What is your favorite giveaway system? I’m leaning towards setting up something with Rafflecopter, but if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

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New Classics

I’ve been working to update my wardrobe, replacing items I’ve worn out, items that no longer fit, and trying to make my work-week items a little more professional and higher quality. I’m very lucky in that my workplace has a pretty casual dress code, so I’m not stuck in suits 24/7 like many lawyers – which is especially nice in D.C. come July! That means that many of my work pieces can do double duty as nicer everyday clothes.

The idea of filling your closet with updated, current versions of “classic” pieces isn’t new, but I’ve found that tracking down the right ones is hard work! Particularly when you want to buy quality (read: more expensive) items, it can take much longer to find the specific pieces that will fit your needs. I’ve been keeping a list of “holes” in my closet – pieces I’d like to add or buy better versions of, so that when I go shopping I can keep an eye out. Pinterest is also an amazing resource, because I can immediately see the subtle differences between similar items, and I can see how they work with other things I’m looking at or already own. I have both a clothing-wish-list type board, and a my-closet board to help me keep track of what I’m lusting after at the moment and what I’ve actually purchased. So far, here are the items I’m most excited about.

I finally bit the bullet and ordered a pair of the Hunter Original Adjustable rainboots and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to do this. I was put off by the high price, but these are worth every penny. They’re very comfortable, water-resistant, and they actually fit over my calves! I especially love the material that the inside of the boot is made of, it’s not plastic-y at all, and is actually very comfortable if I slip my boots on over bare legs for a quick trip outside. I did order a pair of the fleece welly socks to go with them, but with the socks on I can really only wear leggings or tights, and it’s still a pretty tight squeeze. I’m only 5’4″, so I do wish the boots were just 1 in. or so shorter, because they sit right in the crease of my knee when I sit down, but that’s really the only downside.

Another expensive, but so worth it, purchase was this rain jacket from Piperlime. I looked for ages for a waterproof, light rain jacket that would work equally well with jeans or with a suit when I have meetings for work. I do have a regular khaki trench coat, but I love my coffee and am also horrible at walking without spilling some of it on myself, so the khaki color wasn’t the greatest choice… I’ve also found that trenches aren’t very waterproof, and when it decides to pour down rain in D.C., where I’m walking around in close proximity to traffic, I needed a little more water resistance. This jacket is by far the most stylish option I found. In person, the material has a very subtle sheen, and there are little lines in the fabric that give it the tiniest bit of texture. I will say, the reviews on this thing are spot-on. It runs a bit small through the shoulders, and is very fitted all the way down (which means it will ride up when you sit down if it’s zipped). I ordered a size up (M) and it’s still very fitted. If this jacket came with a double-zipper and slightly deeper side pockets, it would be absolutely perfect.

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A few of my “new classics.”

I’ve also grown to love a good quality purse. After spending many years buying 2-3 $40 Target purses per year and wearing through them, I’ve finally invested in a few nicer ones. My first black Longchamp bag has been with me for 3 years (including my last year of law school and wedding planning – which equals lots of stuff!) and is about ready for a replacement. I also found a good deal on a leather cross-body bag from Coach Outlet last year and I’m so glad I went for it. I have the Ashley Mini Tote in black, with gold hardware. I can tell this will be a bag that gets better with age and it’s the perfect size for a crossbody – big enough for my phone, Nook, and wallet, but not so big that it gets heavy or irritating to wear all day long.

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New shoes! Sorry the photo is so grainy, it was surprisingly hard to get a photo of these that was true to how awesome they look in real life!

When we moved from our last apartment to the house I did a major shoe purge and got rid of anything that was in bad shape (which was most of my shoes…) I’m trying to be really thoughtful with the replacements, buying things that I know I’ll get lots of wear out of. I saw these Steven by Steve Madden heels online and stalked them for a while, waiting for a sale. Lord & Taylor finally obliged me by having reduced these shoes, and then giving me an extra 25% off during their friends and family sale last week. I ended up paying around $65 plus shipping for these leather beauties. I have another pair of Steven by Steve Madden shoes that are around 5 or 6 years old- a black patent pointed toe pump with a snakeskin print embossed into it. They may sound garish, but they’re the perfect understated-luxe work shoe. I’ve worn that pair absolutely into the ground, but I’m hoping to take them to a cobbler to get them patched up, because I know I’ll never find a replacement for them. All that to say, I’m sure that these new sandals will last me for a while!

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Close-up of my spiffy new Ted Baker sunglasses any my tortoiseshell Stella watch from Fossil.

Finally, some accessories! I love a good Fossil watch. They have a huge selection of styles, their staff is always very helpful if I need a fix, and the watches themselves are really good quality. Now that I’m out of school, I really prefer to wear a watch, because nothing looks more disrespectful in a meeting than pulling out your cell phone – even if it’s just to check the time. This tortoiseshell one is neutral enough to match pretty much everything, is lighter than most boyfriend watches, and has a little bit of bling too. :-) If you follow me on Instagram (I’m barksandbaking there too) you’ve already seen me sporting my next item. I found these Ted Baker sunnies at Nordstrom Rack not too long ago for $55. I have a really hard time finding sunglasses that will fit my face without making me look like a bug, let alone ones that won’t cost major $. I liked these immediately when I put them on. I wasn’t familiar with the brand, but they fit really well, so I paid up and took them home. Then I googled around to find some reviews and saw that these puppies retail for £149, also known as $250 – say what!? Now let’s hope I don’t break them!

What are your new classics? Is there anything you’ve been looking for but absolutely can’t find? (Mine is leather riding boots – my calves make boot shopping impossible!)

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Book Review! The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is a brand-new book by Genevieve Valentine that became available on June 3rd. If you haven’t got a copy already, get yourself over to your book-purchasing location of choice and put this in your cart. You can thank me later :-) This is the best book I’ve read so far this year, and it kind of snuck (sneaked?) up on me.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club: A Novel

Full disclosure, I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley. The review I wrote for NetGalley and Goodreads is below, but I wanted to get a little more in depth about this book here on my blog. Honestly, I was expecting this book to be in my 3-start review category – a book that I enjoyed, but wouldn’t re-read, and something that I probably wouldn’t recommend to others. Oh, how happy I am to be wrong.

The plot was wonderful, fresh, and brilliantly executed. The skillful narration and pacing immediately sucked me in, and I finished the book within hours. I felt completely invested in the fate of the Hamilton sisters and was rooting for them, all the while knowing that things wouldn’t be easy. At the end, I knew that I had enjoyed the story, but it wasn’t until yesterday, when I sat down to write the review below, that I realized how thoroughly I had enjoyed the book.  I planned on giving it 4 stars, but as I thought about how I could describe the book and the words I wanted to use in my review – and how to avoid spoiling the plot for anyone reading the review! – I was thinking to myself “No, it was way better than that, you’re just not describing it properly!” This really is one of my rare 5-star reviews. I was surprised by how much I was still feeling about the book days later, as only these images can describe:

And then sometimes you'll read a hundred books before you find one that's good enough to remember.

That moment when you finish a book look around and realize

Netgalley/Goodreads Review:

When I saw the description for this book and decided to give it a go, I was expecting a light, coming-of-age story set in the Jazz Age. While it certainly was a coming-of-age story, it was also so much more. I was both shocked and really pleased over the course of the last 2/3 of the book. I thought the ending was fabulous, but also stayed within the realm of believability. I found myself getting anxious each time Jo was called down to speak with her father and nervously excited whenever the girls were sneaking out the back door to go dancing.

The story has a lot to say about the complex relationships between sisters and families, but also about the unexpected variety that you get when people are allowed to make their own decisions and forge their own paths. I wish I could do the book better justice here, but the wonderful writing and the feelings that the author inspired in me as a reader are something that you’ll have to experience for yourself.

I will be recommending this book to many people, I’m sure!

 

Have you read The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, or another good book set in the Jazz Age/Roaring 20s? If you give it a go, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Take a Hike

No, really, you should. Hikes are fun!

As I mentioned in my Update post last month (holy cow! Where did May go?) I was talked into taking a long hike with the hubs and some of his friends from work. Originally we planned to go for 3 days and 2 nights on a hike-in-hike-out type trip, but when we evaluated what gear we had available, we decided 2 days and 1 night would be a better option for us. That way, we only had to carry one night’s worth of food and one day’s breakfast, and we could eat the other meals on the way into/out of the hike location. It also meant we didn’t have to carry as much in the way of toiletries or clothes.

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On our way!

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My clothes for the hike.

Above you can see the clothing I packed for the 2-day adventure. There was a significant chance of rain, so I packed a full extra outfit and plenty of layers – no one wants to sit around at night in wet clothes! In the photo (from left to right) are a long-sleeved moisture-wicking 1/4 zip pullover, a short sleeve tech shirt, 2 pairs of gym shorts, 2 pairs of long running tights, 3 dry-fit Nike tanks, 2 sports bras, 3 pairs of cushy athletic socks, and some underwear (gotta have undies.) I folded all this and stashed it in the mesh wash bag to can see on the left. Not shown are my North Face fleece and Columbia rain shell (you can see the sleeve of my hot pink rain jacket below, though.) I found the Columbia rain jacket at Nordstrom Rack a few days before the hike and picked it up because it was super lightweight, vented, and looked like it would fit either under or over my fleece, if necessary. I’m so glad I bought this, because camping near a waterfall meant the air was damp, and I was glad to have a waterproof layer. On our way into the park, I wore another pair of running tights (in a cropped length), a dry-fit Nike tank, another 1/4 zip pullover, and my fleece. I’m glad I brought the extra tee and running tights, because when we made camp for the night I immediately took off anything that was wet from our creek-crossing adventures and then layered up in full-length running tights and my extra shirt!

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A scenic overlook on our way into the WV mountains.

Even though we weren’t packing as much, the trip still started out a bit frantically – the hubs said that he had a one-person tent stashed away along with a couple of large backpacks (old Army gear, specifically) but when we went to pack them, he couldn’t find the tent! We ended up being able to borrow one from our friends at the last minute, so it was all good, but we definitely need to put that on the list for next time! I ended up sharing a one-person tent with Abe, and the hubs slept under the stars. In the future, I think we’ll go out and purchase a 2 person tent (or maybe even a slightly larger one – Abe takes up just about as much space as I do at night!)

The trails we hiked were in the Seneca Rocks area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. It was super muddy the days we were there (a huge thunderstorm system had come through the area the day before) but we all just resigned ourselves to getting wet and wading through creeks and the scenery was awesome. There were tons of mini waterfalls and a few larger ones, too (one of which we camped by at night.) Unfortunately, all the water meant we had a hard time finding dry wood for a fire, so we were a bit colder than we would’ve liked at night and early the next morning.

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This path was one of my favorite parts of the hike. It made me feel like I was in an old Grimm’s fairytale!

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One of the many mini-waterfalls on our hike.

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Abe in front of the largest waterfall we saw. This is right next to our campsite. (Note my awesome hot pink rain jacket.)

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Our campsite next to the large waterfall. Note the drying sneakers next to the fire – we waded through a lot of creeks!

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This was the biggest our fire ever got. Fail.

We really enjoyed getting out and doing something active, so I’m sure we’ll go hiking again. There are a ton of different parks and trails around us, so there is plenty of opportunity. In fact, there’s also a short trail right near our house. It’s a pretty low-laying area near a creek, so it was too muddy to explore over the winter or spring, but it’s finally dried out a bit, and the Horrible Hound and I have started checking it out. It’s so nice to have something like this close by –  I foresee a lot of trail runs in our future!

This is a grassy section of the trail near our house.

How about you, my lovely readers? Have you been up to anything active or outdoorsy lately? Any tips for taking your dog on extended camping trips?

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Updates!

I have a ton of new goodies to show you all, but most of them are house-related, which means I need to clean up and take some photos first :-) You can look forward to some new photo ledges in the living room, my spiffy new raised garden beds, and some updates to our basement layout (hint hint, it includes a kegerator.)

Not really a matching set, but maybe now random strangers (usually sales people) will stop asking when the wedding is ;-)     Working from home today, morning essentials include coffee and treats for bribing the horrible hound.     Blueberry scones on the lovely jadeite cakestand my family got me for Christmas. I have a serious scone addiction lately!     Cutest. Dog. Ever.

In other news, I am finally out of the dark ages and have joined Instagram! After waiting ages for them to develop a platform for Android phones, and then just being stubborn, I’ve finally given in (I’m barksandbaking there too.) Now you can check out a small selection of what I’ve been up to on my right sidebar – or give me a follow, and feel free to introduce yourself!

I encourage you to check it out now, because I’m pretty sure I just agreed to a 3-day hiking adventure in 10 days (of the pack-it-in, pack-it-out variety… no campground, no “facilities,” no morning Starbucks.) I’m pretty sure I’m crazy, but I’ll happily bring y’all along for the ride (most likely as a cautionary tale ;-) )