The June Roundup

June, June, June.  It is unarguably the busiest month of my year, every year.  Amidst a plethora of special events I somehow managed to  finish 25 books last month, bringing me two short of my year-long goal of reading 120 books.  I think I got so much reading done because of all the traveling we did!

IMG_20130606_200232

Beatriz Williams with Jess and I

We started the month off with a trip to my favorite bookstore (all together now….R.J. Julia!) to see the incandescent Beatriz Williams, author of Overseas and A Hundred Summers.   What a pleasant presentation we were treated to! Williams’ newest book, A Hundred Summers, takes place in Rhode Island during the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.  Seeing the before and after photos of the destruction caused by the storm was truly astounding.  Knowing how powerful Hurricane Sandy was this past fall, I was amazed that I could still be shocked at the extent of the damage attributed to water and wind.  Williams has some of the photos of the storm she shared with us posted on her website here.  I highly recommend checking them out.

IMG_20130608_135904

My delicious grilled artichoke and crème fraîche dipping sauce

Next up on the docket was a trip into NYC with my good friend Jen to see fellow staff blogger Adam!  Our adventure into the city took us to Eataly, where I promptly died from food pleasure.  Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Eataly please click the link above.  It’s an Italian foodie’s heaven.  After eating a ton of food we went for a walk through the city and wound up down on the High Line, a mile long park that was the site of the old New York Central Railroad that delivered goods to factories on the west side of NYC.  There were great views of the Hudson, as well as food vendors and plenty of benches to sit and take in the scenery.  We also threw in a trip to the Strand (my 2nd most favorite bookstore ever) where I picked up the entire Matched trilogy by Ally Condie.  (Staffer Sam’s review of the first book in the trilogy, Matched, sold me and I’ve been anxious to begin it ever since.)  Todd was also excited that we finally bought the second book in Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park series.

IMG_20130615_155600

Todd and I on the bus for the wedding!

The next few weeks of the month flew by with a wedding for our good friends Greg and Ashley (CONGRATS GUYS!), our five-year college graduation, and our long-awaited Relay for Life event.  The wedding in Massachusetts was a ton of fun.  The bride’s aunt has a huge piece of property that they tented for the wedding.  Instead of a bar there was a boat filled with ice and drinks (SO awesome). They had all sorts of lawn games which created some great competition between the guests.  Not only was it a beautiful wedding, but it was so much fun seeing friends that we don’t see so often.  The wedding was a mini-reunion in itself and only increased my excitement for our college reunion the weekend following.

Unfortunately the time we were able to spend at reunion got cut short when our bathroom ceiling became a waterfall.  Apparently the tub in the apartment above us had a clogged pipe, as well as a rusted connection somewhere that led to our bathroom becoming a tropical rain forest.  5+ hours after the plumber arrived and figured out where the leak was coming from, we were left with a massive hole in our ceiling.  Needing to leave the hole open to make sure the leak was completely taken care, we were left with a cardboard covering across our ceiling.  Over the next two weeks the hole was patched, sanded, and repainted.  In the five years we’ve been in our building this is the first major problem we’ve ever had, so I can’t say I’m really upset about it.  Our maintenance staff was great and left me with nothing to do!

IMG_20130629_134023

Todd making liquid nitrogen ice cream!

The last weekend of the month held the event that I look forward to all year-long, Relay for Life.  I wrote a fairly extensive post about Relay last year and why the event means so much to me.  This year, the event meant more than ever.  My aunt, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2005, began receiving chemotherapy treatments this May.  I hope for a cure for cancer every year, but this year that hope for a cure is larger than ever.  The event as a total raised over $104,000 so far.  With our fiscal year closing August 31st we still have almost two more months to raise money.  I personally was able to raise just under $2,200 this year!  My team raised just under $3,300.  I couldn’t be happier with the efforts put forth by my team and the teams that make up the rest of the relay.  Todd got in on the day-of event fun this year and made liquid nitrogen ice cream for the kids.  To put it simply liquid nitrogen instantly freezes anything it touches.  So basically you mix cream, half & half, sugar, and chocolate syrup together, add in the liquid nitrogen, and viola! you have ice cream!  The event went over really well and it helped cool the kids down on a super hot day.

On the bookish front I mentioned before that I finished 25 books.  That consisted of books from the following genres: crime, romance, new adult, historical fiction, young adult, erotica, and paranormal.  I really ran the gauntlet last month.  My top read of the month was definitely Making it Last by Ruthie Knox.  I’ve been looking forward to this book since it was announced.  When it popped up on Netgalley (as available to request) I did a massive SQUEEEEEEE and promptly requested it.  The wait for approval consisted of some of the darkest days of my life (this is of course an extreme over-exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying.)  I also discovered two series this month that while not new, are new to me.  Of course, I became obsessed and read all the books in both.  The first is Lydia Dare’s Regency Vampyre Trilogy and the second series is Marie Force’s Fatal series. Damn friends, I was HOOKED.  I’m going to start a “series spotlight” that will discuss all the new series I’ve been finding lately, and eventually I hope to get you guys as into them as I am.

Until next month…..happy reading!

Advertisements

2012 Relay For Life. Or, Why I’ve Been Missing

If you’ve noticed a lack of posts on the blog recently, as well as a lack of books completed, let me tell you why.  This Saturday, June 23rd, is Relay For Life.  What is Relay and why would it make me slack off on posting/reading you ask?  Well, Relay for Life is a 24 hour event sponsored by The American Cancer Society that raises money for cancer research.  I am one of three event chairs that run the event for the town I live in, Hamden, CT.

About three years ago I got involved with Relay and signed up to be a committee member to help out with registration.  Along with my friend Tracey, I was asked to become an event chair, responsible for overseeing the logistics and running of the event.  Because planning my wedding wasn’t enough (just kidding!) I said yes and jumped on board.  Fast forward three years and we’re approaching my last year as event chair.  In the past two years our event has raised over $200,000!  With cancer unfortunately being a major part of my life since I was a child, I use Relay as a way to give back and help raise money that can help prolong the lives of my family members as well as yours.

When I was a year old I lost my grandfather to colon/lung cancer.  At eighteen I lost my uncle and cousin to cancer.  When I was twenty my brother-in-law was diagnosed with testicular cancer.  I have an aunt that is currently being treated for leukemia (CLL).  I have another aunt who is a 20+ year skin cancer survivor.  I’ve lost family members to a slew of other cancers: brain, breast, lung, ovarian, etc.  You can clearly see why this event and fighting this disease are so very important to me.

My fellow staff bloggers Todd, Adam, and Jess are all helping me with this fight, and are on my fundraising team.  If any of you feel so inclined and would like to help us reach our goal of raising $2,500 by Saturday click here for our donation page. (I should also mention that Jess is one of the event’s Survivorship chairs and Todd is our finance chair!)

As the days to Saturday dwindle down I ask that you bear with me and accept my sincere apologies for not keeping up with you all!  This event takes a lot of out me planning and prepping-wise and I seem to put blinders on as the event gets closer.  Hopefully by next week the blog will be back, up and running at full speed again.  In the meantime, cross your fingers for me that we have a great event!

As always,

Happy Reading!

Relay For Life

So as you can tell my blog has been a bit lacking in the past week, and here is my post for why that is!  Besides my regular full-time job, I volunteer for an event that the American Cancer Society puts on called Relay for Life.  My town (Hamden) and the town next to me (North Haven) join together every June to hold the Relay.  My involvement with the event is that I co-chair a committee of 9 people that plan the entire event from the ground up.  

This was my second year as a co-chair for the event, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it.  The other 9 individuals that have been part of the committee have been working tirelessly since October to put the event together.  For those unfamiliar with the event let me enlighten you!  It’s a 24 hour (yes, I truly mean 24 hours) walk to raise money for cancer. The 24 hours are filled with all kinds of activities such as Zumba, a chicken eating contest, trivia, karaoke, and so much more.  We hire food vendors to cook food for the participants all day, and we also plan an extra-special luncheon for our cancer survivors that are able to make it to the event.  Once night falls, we line the track with bags filled with either candles or glow sticks to light our way throughout the night.  Each bag has someone’s name written on it either in honor or memory of the loved-one stricken with cancer.  We continue to walk throughout the night until our event ends at closing ceremonies the next morning.

Most people ask me why I relay and I give everyone the same answer.  Cancer is an unfortunate disease that has touched my family far too often.  My grandfather died of colon cancer a week after my first birthday.  My uncle suffered from lung cancer and lost his battle in 2004.  My cousin Janet and her mother, my Aunt Marge, both lost their battles with colon cancer in their 40’s.  My Aunt Barbara thankfully survived melanoma and is a survivor 20+ years today.  Todd’s brother was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in 2006 and thankfully after 6 rounds of chemo is a survivor.  I have people in my family that are currently suffering from leukemia.  I’ve lost cousins to brain cancer and breast cancer, and lung cancer.  My list goes on and on, but you can clearly see that my reason for relaying is a strong one. 

Our event this year has so far raised $113,000.  I cannot even begin to express the gratitude I have for all of the teams that raised money this year.  Money is still rolling in, as the fiscal year for our relay doesn’t end until August, so our true total is still unknown.  I’m hoping that we raise more than we did last year.  (Our total last year ended around $119,000)

Hopefully my post has inspired you to want to join a Relay for Life event in your area or to get involved with the American Cancer Society.  With the event over, I do have some of my time back…..until planning the next relay starts up again!

Keep an eye out for some reviews this week and also a big announcement on Thursday!

Happy Reading….