January 2017 Reading Wrap-Up

January kicked off a new year which means a new reading challenge from Goodreads!  Last year I was able to read 100 books during the 366 days and this year, I am hoping to reach the same number.  

1. The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

I found this book in the clearance section of Books-A-Million and honestly, it was the cover that caught my attention.  However, once I started reading this novel, I was sucked into the author's story.  The Unexpected Everything is about the teenage daughter of a life-time politician named Andie.  At the start of the book, Andie's life is being turned upside down due to a scandal that rock's her father's office.  Throughout the story, Andie learns to face her dreams and grief while coming of age.

2. Courage to Soar by Simone Biles

I kicked January off with an inspirational audiobook by Simone Biles, the 2016 America Olympic gymnast.  Simone's story of perseverance and trust in God was aw-inspiring.  In the media, Simone is portrayed as a strong female athlete inspiring young gymnasts to follow her lead.  In real life, she is a young woman trying to find her way in the world while balancing sport, family, school, and herself. 

3. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

You know that old man in Up that is so grumpy you just have to love him?  Ove is a grumpier version of Carl Fredricksen.  Ove judges everyone by their cover and the car they drive including his new neighbors.  However, as the months progress, Ove learns to open his heart and his home and we all learn that Ove is not as harsh and tough as he seems. 

4. Beast by Brie Spangler

I have to admit something to you.  When I first saw this cover and title on the library website, I assumed the book was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  Nope.  Instead, Beast tells the story of a "tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan" who feels out of place and uncomfortable in his own skin.  After an accident that breaks his leg, Dylan meets Jamie, a beautiful down-to-earth girl that rocks Dylan's world.  That is until Dylan learns that Jamie used to be a boy.  This was not my favorite LGBT novel because while it included realistic treatment of the transgender character, I thought there should have been more than surface emotions.  However, this was a cute story with a unique perspective. 

5. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

In the final days of 2016, the world lost the amazing actor, author and mental health advocate, Carrie Fisher.  Best known for her work in Star Wars, Carrie Fisher's book "The Princess Diarist" sheds light on male-dominated and world-changing franchise.  She is entertaining and inspirational as she shares stories and advice about growing up and finding work under the watchful eye of millions.

Stormy Sunday at Home

A massive storm was projected to hit our little city and J and I were pretty excited for it.  We love watching movies during rainstorms!  

When the sky turned grey, J and I went outside to welcome the storm.  People were expecting this one to be worse than a hurricane so we were very thankful that it didn't hit too hard.

Our poor Azalea bushes are convinced it is spring.  Too bad the storm is expected to bring a cold front!

After hanging out in our yard for a bit, we went inside to make dinner and cuddle during the storm.

J made a fantastic chicken pasta dish that blew me away! 

Epcot's Festival of the Arts - Inaugural 2017

Last weekend, Epcot introduced a new festival to their calendar, the International Festival of the Arts.  The event's goal is to introduce guests to various forms of art including painting, drawing, music, photography, movement, and more.

My dad and I attended the second Saturday of the Inaugural festival and I loved every minute of it!

Every sign was beautiful and all of the flower beds were perfect.

Of course I made a special pair of ears for the event that will be available in Ears To You Bowtique soon.

Figment is the festival's host so he pops up across the park.

Living art "statues"

Our first snack was from the Pop Eats booth.  We tried the bubble champagne with juice filled bubble balls and a Pop't Tart which was a sugar cookie with icing and a chocolate hazelnut filling.

We were able to paint a giant Paint-By-Numbers that is completed daily by guests.

As a souvenir, we were given free postcards of the finished image.

Artists could be found around the park and my dad was given a free postcard of this amazingly adorable child pilot and the artist signed it for him!

While dad and I were starting our scavenger hunt ($6.99 for a map, stickers, and commemorative magnet) at the UK pavilion, I met one of my favorite Disney Instagramers, Keith Lapinig!  Keith was amazing and gave me a custom Sadness button!

Each pavilion houses a famous painting that has been taken over by Figment!  When you find the painting, you put the corresponding sticker of the real painting on your map. 

Japan Pavilion

Chalk art

American Pavilion

Italy and Germany Pavilions

China Pavilion

Norway Pavilion and a booth for custom painted TOMS

Mexico Pavilion

Being our own living art!

Canada Pavilion

France Pavilion

Morocco Pavilion and an art creating a new painting.

We made our way back to America to enjoy some pork and scallops

After our snack and Soarin' Around the World, we went to show Sadness and Joy my new button!

She was so happy!!!

She wanted me to help her change all of the memories to Sad.

Thank you for a wonderful time, Epcot!

Here are all of my survivors from our trip.  The magnet came from our scavenger hunt and I purchased the mug in Innovations.  I received the stickers from the Odyssey Showplace and the map and passport were at the front of the park. 

Stay tuned for more Ears To You Bowtique ears!