Author: Sarah

Happy Valentine’s & Galentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s & Galentine’s Day!

On this Tuesday, I hope you are all exactly where you want to be with whomever you wish to be with. It’s a great day to focus on and spend time with everyone you love.

I spent all of last week in a tent with Shane, so I think we’re counting that as our Valentine’s Day celebration. We have so many occasions between November and May that today isn’t that big of a deal. Especially this year because I’m planning on having a birthday month in March, since I have some birthday joy to catch up on.

I love the idea of Galentine’s Day, as well, but both of my Galentines aren’t local. I’m heading to a gathering of sorts, not Galentine’s Day related, tonight, and I’m looking forward to it as a sort-of celebration.

Enjoy your day, even if it’s just a regular old Tuesday.

Blog Goals!

Blog Goals!

If I’m being honest, find my aesthetic is a pretty big theme in all areas of my life, not just blogging. From what I’ve read, style is something that’s more rigid and closely linked to interior design and clothing while aesthetic is more what you do and how you do it in order to give a certain impression and feeling (a vibe, if you will). Right now, mine is chaos and shenanigans and I’d like to have a little bit of a more peaceful vibe. But with more color than is probably acceptable.

My biggest blogging flaw is that I don’t post consistently and take very long breaks with no warning. This isn’t really a big deal since I’m not trying to make any money or sending people to the blog for writing samples or anything but if I’m going to keep doing it, I should really do it. I want to have some solid hobbies, and I’d like for blogging to be one of them.

I have a lot of posts on Coffee & Crows, and I have no idea what 99% of them are. I may not remove a single one, or I may remove 100. I’d like to take a tour regardless. It’ll be really nice to see all the pictures I’ve posted over the last few years and re-read the stories I’ve told. Maybe I’ll steal some post ideas from Past Me for Current/Future Me.

Six years of not checking if I’ve posted about a book before has taken its toll. I have a ton of book covers that are twins, triplets, and quadruplets of themselves throughout my media library. On top of that, I have some images that are all kinds of sizes, versions, etc. and I’m only using 1 of them. I’m not running out of space, but I can always use more. Especially if I’m going to be posting more frequently.

Taking pictures is one of my favorite things, and I would love to actually use my own photos for blog images instead of one from Pexels sometimes. I’d also like to create some graphics – maybe a logo, maybe header images for series I do on my blog – basic things like that. All of that requires a lot, though, I need to plan out my posts better so I know what I need to shoot, I’ll need to do photo shoots, learn to edit my pictures (I usually just throw them up unedited), and get a very basic handle on graphic design. Because, look, I’m not going to become an amazing graphic designer/professional photographer, but I’d like to pretty up Coffee & Crows a bit.

2023 New Year’s Resolutions

2023 New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I decided that I don’t want to do traditional New Year’s Resolutions. Sure I need to lose some weight and change my diet for health, and on and on and on, but I decided that I’d rather have a theme to 2023 instead of very specific goals. That allows me the room to change and adapt my goals as the year goes along.

I’ve learned over the past few years that you never know from one week to another what may happen, so making year long goals seems too ambitious and having quarterly goals feels too business-y. I already have professional development quarterly goals, and that’s enough.

After workshopping my original theme (“get better”), I came up with a three part theme:

get healthy | get moving | get thinking

I think it pretty much sums up what I want to do in 2023. I need to get healthy in more than 1 way, I want to get moving because it’s only going to get harder in years to come, and my brain has been stagnating for years.

It’s a little bit of a cop out, though, because anything can be said to fit the theme. For instance – anything related to me doing something that makes me happy can be “get healthy” related because mental health is health. Not piling up my TBR list fits “get thinking” because I have to consider every single book I want to read and decide if I want to search it out, and camping goes right along with “get moving” since I’ll literally do a lot of moving while camping.

When I decided to do my ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ this way while super sick on the couch, I was really avoiding making any concrete goals since I had very little brain power. As 2023 started so slowly – I’m a month in and I’ve only been functioning at 100% for 2ish weeks – it became very very clear that this was the best decision for this year. I like not feeling like I’m behind on my goals and also thinking “how does this fit the theme” when I decide to do something. Like mindlessly playing a game on my phone – it doesn’t really fit any of the theme. It makes me feel guilty I’m not doing something else, I’m completely still, and I have no thoughts when I’m playing.

So, as 2023 starts it’s second month, I’m pretty happy with where I am with my theme. Maybe this is my new default – no goals, just theme.


10 Books I Have Talked About on the Blog but Have Not Read (Yet)

I recommend a lot of books, or say I’m going to read a lot of books, but have been in a reading slump for literal years, so a lot of these books I still haven’t read. Here are 10 that I’m going to (attempt to) get to this year. Maybe. Hopefully.

  • Plague Land – S.D. Sykes
    • I’ve literally owned this book for years.
  • The House Across the Lake – Riley Sager
    • In my defense I have it on hold at the library, I just haven’t gotten it yet.
  • These Fleeting Shadows – Kate Alice Marshall
    • I’ve been reading a lot of horror lately, so maybe this will hop to the top of my list.
  • The Mercies – Kiran Millwood Hargrave
    • I have no excuse.
  • Good Morning, Monster – Catherine Gildner
    • I love memoirs from therapists/psychologists, and I can’t believe I haven’t picked this up.
  • Children of Time – Adrian Tchaikovsky
    • Everyone keeps suggesting this, and I own it as an ebook, so it’s time to read it.
  • A Year Without the Grocery Store – Karen Morris
    • I live in a hurricane prone area and should probably do more food storage. Will I go a year without the grocery store, though? Absolutely not.
  • The Book of Essie – Meghan Maclean Weir
    • I’ve been reading about the Duggar’s recently, and this book seems to fit the theme a bit.
  • The Good Neighbor – Maxwell King
    • Another case of “I have it on hold at the library, but it’s very popular.”
  • The Cabin at the End of the World – Paul Tremblay
    • I want to see the movie, as well, since I’m one of the few people who can generally enjoy a book and it’s movie.
  • The Darkling Bride – Laura Andersen
    • Just really fits my reading vibe lately. Goodreads says I’ve read it, but I don’t remember so it’ll be like reading it for the first time.
My Top 5 Reads of 2022

My Top 5 Reads of 2022

2022 was a really hit or miss year for me, and I read an unusually large number of books in various series. Five books definitely stand out, though. Even over the new release in my favorite series of all time (The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong), so you know I loved them.

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

This one is almost unfair, because I’ve never read a Simone St. James book that I didn’t love. I’ve read every book she’s written except Ghost 19 and that’s sitting in my Audible library as I type this. She does such an amazing job telling ghost stories based in mystery that are so multi-faceted and overall enjoyable to read that she’s an auto-read author if not an auto-buy author. I adore her books.

The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas

This was my first Kara Thomas book, but it definitely won’t be my last. This definitely reads as YA, which works since it’s a YA Thriller focused on high school students, and I mean that in the best way possible. The characters felt more like high schoolers dealing with really tough topics instead of an adult somehow stuck in a teen’s body. I can 100% recommend this if you like mysteries – just be aware that it is a heavy book. Emotionally.

Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

I’m currently on the waiting list for the second book in this series. I fell in love with, or fell in love with hating, every single character that turned up. The whole book felt fresh and fun – I either finished it in an evening or a day because it was too good to put down. I identified a lot with the main character and her struggles with ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ so that probably helped my enjoyment level. Seriously – this book is awesome.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

One of my major failings as a reader is that I didn’t read Jane Austen until 2022, and even then it was only one of her books and this retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Pakistan. Now, I’m familiar with the plots to several of Austen’s books (thanks to movies), so I was still able to pick out parallels, but if I had read P&P repeatedly I’m sure I would have found more. I gather that the Austen-ites either love or hate this book, but it makes me want to read the original because I think this retelling is so great.

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

While I was reading this, I kept thinking that I must have read more of Tremblay’s work because the style felt familiar. I haven’t, though. I think I just really enjoyed the brand of horror and it felt real to me. Shane didn’t love this one as much, but he’s often wrong, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Since I enjoyed this so much, I’m looking forward to reading Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World.

I’m actually pretty surprised that I don’t have more than 1 horror novel on here, though 2 thrillers seems right. I’m also surprised that as I looked over my 2022 reads I didn’t think that any of the sci-fi books were even in the top 10 favorite list.

Here’s to a reading filled 2023!


My 2023 Reading/Book Related Goals

My 2023 Reading/Book Related Goals

I missed the whole “new year, new me” posting bonanza in January since I was too busy coughing out my lungs, so I decided to post a few now. First is my little list of reading goals for 2023, which I’m sure was one of the Top Ten Tuesday prompts for January that I missed.

  1. Keep going to book club (maybe 2, but definitely the one).
    • This was a highlight of last fall, and I was able to go to January’s meeting, so I’d like to keep it up all year. I’m going to be trying another one as well – two whole evenings out of the house a month. What a social butterfly I’m turning into.
  2. No buying any new books. Ebook, paper book, or audiobook.
    • I already own too many books, I honestly don’t need a single new one.
    • There is an exception for this one, though. I don’t own many, if any, of the books I’ll be reading for book club(s). Obviously, if the library has a copy that I don’t have to wait too long for, I’ll get it from the library. If the wait is too long, or they just don’t have the book (which happens a lot), I’ll have to buy one.
  3. Challenge myself.
    • I’ve been playing it relatively safe the past few years, and while I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve gotten to a point where I’d like to read outside of my comfort zone. Which is not to say I won’t be reading a Regency romance or zombie apocalypse…or even mostly reading them…just that I’d like to fit in a few books that make me think or might not be something I’d normally read.
  4. Stop piling up the TBR pile.
    • I deleted every To Read book out of my Goodreads account. I made the decision that I would only keep TBR “lists” in my library apps and on Amazon if I really want to read it but the library doesn’t have it. I was having the Netflix problem – too many things to choose from so I only read whatever popped up without really consulting the list of things to read. So I want to keep it simple. Tag books I know I want to read in the library apps or put them on an Amazon wish list if I can’t find them there.
  5. Make the effort.
    • One of the fundamental pieces to who I am is being a reader. Even when I haven’t read a book in months, it’s the first thing I say when people ask me what I do for fun. This year I want to make the effort to rediscover the love of reading that I remember so well and make it a part of my daily (or daily-ish) life.

Normally, I try to make a list equal to 10 items, but honestly, these are going to be tough enough. The 2 hardest will definitely be no piling up the TBR pile and challenging myself, though. And the no buying new books. So 3 of the 5 will be the most difficult. The easiest will be book club, for sure.

Maybe I’ll follow up at the end of the year to discuss how I did, but I probably won’t. These certainly aren’t SMART goals, and I’ve learned from experience that goals can grow, morph, and be supplanted within a year. But for now, these are my bookish goals.


I’m Still Alive!

I’m Still Alive!

No lie, I didn’t feel like a human until early last week and didn’t stop coughing uncontrollably until a few days ago. That’s a month. And I whined like a child for 87% of it.

Since I did ~0 housework while sick & Shane couldn’t do a whole lot more than he already does normally (+ he took on my normal cat duties, which will always come first), I’ve been trying to get things done that fell off the radar.

I wanted to have the apartment completely “reset” for the new year, but instead, I did like 8 loads of laundry last weekend because only the essentials had been getting done. I swear I didn’t know we had so many sets of sheets. Also, where did all the throw blankets come from? And why did I use all of them while I was sick? I should have stuck to a couple instead of using ALL of them.

Anyway, happy 2023! I’ll be back to blogging regularly once I fold all those blankets.


I am so sick, y’all

I guess it’s something going around, and it is miserable. I’m coughing, I feel feverish without a fever, my ear feels full/painful, a really terrible runny nose for the first few days, I’m so exhausted even with a full night’s sleep, etc etc etc. Now, my asthma is acting up and making the cough so much worse. It’s hard to catch my breath sometimes. I can barely function when I’m not at work – all my energy goes towards that.

It’s been 11ish days, and I’ve seen some tweets/reddit posts saying it can last for 3 plus weeks. I have a feeling I’ll be spending the first little piece of 2023 recovering from whatever this is.

I’m crawling in a hole and will not come out until summer.

Buh bye.

Ten Christmastime Romances to Read This Year

Ten Christmastime Romances to Read This Year

You know the drill – Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by the lovely ThatArtsyReaderGirl.

This week is a freebie, so naturally I had to go with 10 Romances to read around Christmas. Not that you’ll have time to, what with the movie watching, cooking baking, gingerbread house decorating, present wrapping, and so on and so forth. But if you do manage to sneak a book in, and you enjoy a good seasonal romance, you might want to add these to your list. I naturally went for 5 Regency romances in a nod to my reading streak along with 5 contemporary ones. A warning: I haven’t read any of these (a common theme for my Top Ten Tuesday lists), so read at your own risk.

  • The Earl’s Christmas Bride by Ella Quinn
    • This is something like 7th or 7.5 in a series, but I don’t think it’s a series in which you need to read all the others in order to enjoy it. A lady wants to go travel around Europe and a “happy bachelor” is determined to marry her…and take her to Europe (?). It sounds cute and fun, like a Christmas romance should be.
  • The Holly and the Ivy by Elisabeth Fairchild
    • The blurb contains the words “thorny duke” and “scandalous misunderstanding”, and the book has the man-who-hates-Christmas and woman-who-loves-it storyline. Honestly, what else could you ask for?
  • The Great Christmas Candy Caper by Karen Hall
    • There’s Christmas, candy, and a caper. I don’t know what else to tell you in order to sell you on this book. It’s really a short story (less than 100 pages), but has it’s own Goodreads page, so if you’re looking to pad your numbers this December, it’s an option. It’s also only $1.99 on Amazon. I’m talking to myself here. 🙂
  • A Bride for Christmas by Aileen Fish
    • Another novella – this one only 63 pages – and selling for a grand total of $0.00, this still managed to catch my attention. Mainly because the guy enlists his niblings in winning over the lady, to be honest. I enjoy books with kids, and since he has to “slay her dragons”, the addition of wee ones helping him seems right. Also – another one to pad the ol’ Goodreads Reading Challenge numbers.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Mistletoe and Mayhem by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
    • A woman fleeing from a marriage by pretending to be an etiquette teacher, a Texan who is also a Scottish heir, a curse, mysterious deaths, a Scottish setting, and Christmas? Say no more. Add it to the list.
  • Snowed in at Harper’s Inn by Catelyn Meadows
    • Apparently one in a series of clean Christmas romances written by a bunch of different authors (the next one is part of this series as well), this involves a “what if things were different” magical plot device, a cute lil Inn, a sudden breakup, and a “we’ve been friends forever, but maybe we should be in love” storyline. Honestly, it sounds like a Hallmark movie.
  • Snowed in at the Archive by Ellie Thornton
    • I think I like books with snow on the cover because I haven’t seen snow in real life in 5(?) years and I’ve always dreamed of a snowy winter/Christmas. That’s what I get for living in the South, I guess. Anyway, there’s an archive involved so I don’t know what else to say – of course I’m going to want to pick up a book set in an archive while there’s snow everywhere.
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
    • The heroine here is stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop for at least *some* of the book, and the reviews are quite split on if it works or not. Reading the blurb makes me think it may be cute, but apparently the romance is also hit or miss. I’m so divided on this one. I like the ideas here – time loops, love with the boy you’ve known forever, leaving traditions behind (unwillingly), but the reviews are meh at best. But who knows, it could be my favorite book.
  • Fool Me Twice at Christmas by Camilla Isley
    • Once upon a time, Shane and I broke up over the holidays – and yet I still made him have Thanksgiving (I think it was Thanksgiving) dinner with my parents as if we hadn’t. A decade later, we’re married, so I connect with the idea of “we broke up, but let’s not tell our parents” and then ending up back in a relationship. The book has the added perk of them becoming “accidentally engaged” which is a thing that didn’t happen to me. It’s the first in a series called Christmas Romantic Comedy so I also know it’s my kind of vibe.
  • Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
    • The first in a 17 book/novella series, it starts with a major life upheaval and claiming an inheritance – both things I really like. I’ve always heard Jill Shalvis is an excellent writer, and I’m tempted to pick up a copy for that reason alone. Also, who doesn’t love a “fall in love with the handyman” story?

Writing this post has made me want to go out and get several of these and spend some evenings reading. I do not need more ebooks. I do not need more ebooks. I do not need more ebooks.

It is Christmas, though.


A Little November Recap

November was a very busy month, and December isn’t looking much slower.

Shane and I went to Atlanta to see Monet Immersive and had a great time. We discovered that Atlanta has several Super H Marts, and a bunch of other fun farmer’s markets that we got to check out. A few days later I headed back to ATL for a couple of days for work reasons. I ended up getting stuck there for an extra night because I would have driven directly into Tropical Storm Nicole and while my car is getting a bit old, I didn’t want to wreck. During my time there, I missed our 16th dating anniversary, but since we don’t celebrate much, it wasn’t terrible.

That same week Shane’s grandma died, which was expected but still very sad, so we packed up and headed to her funeral that weekend. It was nice to see his family, but the circumstances were unfortunate. I did learn that she really liked true crime tv shows, so now I wish we had watched those together.

Shane had a birthday on the 15th but his best birthday present didn’t come until that Friday – his best friend Matthew flew in from Portland for Friendsgiving. When we started our drive upstate, we swung by the airport and picked him up. I made the sacrifice of sitting in the back of the truck so they could have quality time. Friendsgiving was fantastic. There was a BBQ Around the World theme and we took banchan (naturally) and bulgogi. Everything was so delicious and it was so so good to see our friends. The majority of the group has known each other since college, but the additions this year were awesome people, and I hope we made them feel welcome and part of the crew. There was Matthew in from Portland, a couple in from NYC (Queens, to be exact), and one from San Francisco/the Bay Area. More locally, we came up from Savannah, and our other friend drove up from Columbia, so a lot of people made a lot of effort to be there and it was worth it (for me anyway). We dropped Matthew off at his brother’s place, then scooted on home. On Wednesday, we met up with them again to get Matthew, and I took him to the airport on Thanksgiving.

I insisted on a “real” Thanksgiving dinner, so we made some stuffed chicken breasts, devilled eggs, brussel sprouts (for Shane), carrots (for me), and mashed potatoes and gravy. It was super tasty. I think my goal of celebrating all the holidays was definitely met for the Thanksgiving portion.

We spent the rest of the month cleaning, organizing the garage, and decorating for Christmas. His mom and aunt rolled on November 30th (yesterday), since Shane has some days off.

It was an exhausting month, but full of so much happiness and good times. November 2022 was a solidly good month.