Book 471: Ray and Joan – Lisa Napoli

napoli-lisa-ray-joanWhat a fascinating story. I figured it would be, I mean it’s about the guy who made McDonald’s what it is today and his wife who gave away billions of dollars, but I was still surprised at just how fascinating it was.

When Dutton reached out to me about a copy of the book* I jumped at the chance because not only do I find philanthropy personally fascinating, but I also work in fundraising, so it was a win-win either way for me.

I mean the subtitle “The man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away,” caught my attention pretty quick because I knew nothing about the founding of McDonald’s or the people behind it. I had no idea about most of it.

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30 x 30: #30 – Visit Alie in VA

2014 10-17 Virginia is for FriendsI was able to squeeze the 18th list item into an incredibly busy weekend. We flew down to Virginia for a wedding this past weekend and we were so close to where my BFF from growing up, Alie, lives and I knew I had to see her. This was one of the two I thought might happen AFTER my birthday, but squeezing it in made it happen BEFORE!

Alie has lived in Virginia for longer than I’ve lived in Boston and I just haven’t had the money to get down to visit her. We’ve seen each other a couple of times since high school, most recently for our 10 year reunion last year, but we talk everyday and it was good to see where she lived. I no longer fear that she lives in the middle of a war zone in a rundown building with hoodlums running around. (Seeing really goes a long way for alleviating those worries.

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Book 306: Peaches for Father Francis (Chocolat #3) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - Peaches for Father FrancisNow THIS is how you end a trilogy. I assume this is the end, but I guess it could start-up again. Peaches for Father Francis picks up four years after the events of The Girl With No Shadow and eight years after the original Chocolat. I’m still so happy that I found out this was a series and that I took the time to read the second and third novels, even if it did put me behind on a few other books!

What I enjoyed most about this novel is that the magic once again took a back seat to a larger social conflict. In the middle novel, The Girl With No Shadow, magic took the front seat and that was great because middle novels are always sort of meh, but in having the magic return to less of a focal point the story, I felt, evolved much more naturally.

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Book 305: The Girl With No Shadow (Chocolat #2) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - The Girl with No ShadowAs I said in my response to Chocolat, I had no idea there were sequels and I’m so glad I decided to read them. I haven’t started the third, Peaches for Father Frances, but I’m excited to start it soon.

Harris takes the story of Vianne and Anouk we followed in Chocolat and expands the age-old battle between good and evil. Instead of the church, this time Vianne and Anouk, now Yanne and Annie, are battling evil itself and magic takes an even more prominent role in this story than in the first. And I was glad she did! She writes about magic in such a way as to make it beautifully common.

“It took me a little longer to recognize these things as magic. Like all children reared on stories, I’d expected fireworks: magic wands and broomstick rides. The real magic of my mother’s books seemed so dull, so fustily academic, with its silly incantations and its pompous old men, that it hardly counted as magic at all.” (67)

Beautifully common, might sound like an oxymoron or an insult, but it’s not. Harris’ writes about it so matter of fact and sets it up that way in this novel, common usage versus evil usage, that you can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the magic she chooses to write about.

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Workout Wednesday – September 2014

2014 09-18 Thompson Island Race FieldWhat can I say? I’ve been less than lethargic recently. Glacial. Snail-ish. Sloth-like. Are slow lorises actually slow? On the plus side I did “run” (speed walk) a 4k last week with my sister and that was a lot of fun and you can read about that here. Thankfully, I wasn’t in any of the official photos, but if you click that link above you’ll see a great sibling selfie of my sister and I.

Even though I haven’t been good about working out and staying active, I’ve started to push myself to reach my 10,000 steps daily again thanks to my Fitbit, which is good, but I’ve got to get back to the gym. I can’t let all my hard work of last year go to waste (or even waist!).

I have done a decent job of keeping my food healthy-ish. Since I started dating it’s been hard, he loves to eat out, but were working our way back to healthy options (yay team work) and I’ll definitely reduce the eating out with phonathon (really long hours) coming up in the beginning of October.

But, YAY! I’m finally caught up on posts for now.

Anyone have any advice on getting back out there or exercising?

Culture Corner – September 2014

2014 09-08 %22Australian%22 Meat PiesThis post is short on words but has LOTS of pictures. This is because I’m still behind catching up on blogging and this month starts the busiest season for me at work.

A few weeks ago I was staying at Tex’s place and we went for a long walk (you’ll hear more about my laziness in my Workout Wednesday soon) and explored what he called “The Monument.” I had no idea what it was, but it was actually really pretty. Probably counteracting the walk we also went to Ko, an Australian pastry shop. I’m not sure what was Australian about them, they tasted pretty British to me, but they were delicious!

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30 x 30: #11 – Grow something from a bulb or seed

2014 05-08 Lemon Basil SeedsI’m calling this one a success, even though I didn’t get to make pesto! I figured if I was growing something it should be something useful, even though the original plan was for something just for aesthetic value.

I picked up the Lemon Mrs. Burns basil from what used to be a farm stand and is now a grocery store and greenhouse near my house back in May and planted them that day!

This item came from Caroline’s suggestions to my list and I really liked the idea for a couple of reasons. I don’t really have a green thumb, so that would make it a challenge, it would either be beautiful or useful (or both) AND, most importantly, one of my coworkers from my old job gave me a set of beautiful handmade clay pots she made with me in mind!

2014 09-06 Best Gift Ever

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