Happy March!

Just a quick post to say “Happy March!” to you, dear readers!

Jell-Jell’s outfit has been changed accordingly, thanks to Jennifer (see sidebar, but also):

I’m so excited it’s March, because that means winter’s almost over. Of course, this weekend has been full of bitter cold, but not for long! Oreo says he saw some green today, and he wanted to share his discovery with you.

What does March mean to you, dear readers? Here’s to hoping it’s full of luck and green for all of us. 🙂

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Merry Christmas from Piggies Past and Present

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, dear readers! I hope you have a chance to relax and enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

While I did have to work today, it ended up being pretty fun, culminating in a gorgeous Christmas Eve Mass with my family at the chapel where I work.

The holiday season has been an absolute whirlwind of fun, but exhausting activity! Come to think of it, life has been a whirlwind lately, too, a mix of good and…well, difficult. More on that in my upcoming year-end reflection.

I’m looking forward to pajamas, egg nog bread pudding, present exchange, carols, and cuddles!

Speaking of cuddles–the holidays are an especially great time for that. Here are two Christmas cuties of past and present.

Our first guinea pig, Chad, is officially a Christmas angel now, whom we feel with us all-year-round. ❤

Photo: Merry Christmas! I asked Santa for a fun towel path I can run on to my heart's content. I also hope I find some Orchard Grass in my stocking! What did you ask for this year? :)

Oreo, our present guinea pig, is also a lovebug. ❤

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

“Let It Go, Chicago”: WGN’s Hilarious “Frozen” Parody on Chicago Weather

Hello, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed National Grammar Day /Mardi Gras yesterday. Today marks the beginning of Lent for us Catholics; I’ve decided to give up NOT working out (once I’m finally well again, that is). The jokes are flying today about how everyone wants to give up this eternal winter for Lent. In that spirit, I wanted to share this hilarious video my friend Bryan shared with me. It’s a parody of “Let it Go” done by WGN 9 News about winter in Chicago. You all know I can’t get enough of this song, and even though I’ve seen tons of covers/parodies of it, this is probably my favorite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! (Click “WGN News” after “Originally posted on” to view the video.)

Comic-version me lamenting winter via Bistrips

Top 20 Wintry Reads

This Frozen meme was too funny and relevant not to share. The Elsa/Snow Queen jokes have been flying around as abundantly as the snowflakes here. If Elsa truly is holding out for that Oscar, hopefully we’ll only have a little over a month of this left (seeing as Frozen will DEFINITELY be getting at least one Oscar, right?!).

I’m not usually a fan of winter, but this year has been particularly bad. We’ve seen nearrecord-breaking temperatures and snowfall. This week, my friend’s car stopped dead on the road because a part froze (while she was driving!), and another friend’s pipes froze completely in his house. Luckily, this has generally been the extent of my personal suffering:

One keep-warm tactic that’s popular with bibliophiles is curling up with a good book, perhaps next to a roaring fireplace or space heater. Or this:

If you’re afraid that you’ll miss celebrating the season while you’re between the pages, you’re in luck: the lovely ladies of Epic Reads have again come through for us, this time with a list of Top 20 Wintry Reads, shared below. This way, you can enjoy all the magic(?) of the outdoors from the comfort and safety of your favorite armchair.

Reading in a Winter Wonderland with @EpicReads

01/03/2014 5:04PM | Posted by: TeamEpicReads

This winter, snuggle up with these twenty snowy, icy, frosty young adult books! Each book is set either during winter or in a snowy locale and are the perfect read for when your real world is a little bit frozen. A complete list of all the books (with links to Goodreads) can be found below the infographic!)

A special thanks to all of our Twitter followers who helped us craft this list!

20 Winter-Themed Young Adult Books

––> Click here to view the infographic at the fuller, high-quality size! (Right click + ‘Save As’ to save the image and print it!)

20 Wintry YA Books via @EpicReads

Complete List of Books

(Each link will take you to the books’ Goodreads page!)

First Row

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (HarperTeen)
Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz, Michael Johnston (Putnam)
The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan (Knopf)
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic)
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (Ace)

 Second Row

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson (Greenwillow)
Trapped by Michael Northrop (Scholastic)
Blankets by Craig Thompson (Top Shelf)
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (Simon Pulse)
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (HarperTeen)

 Third Row

Towering by Alex Flinn (HarperTeen)
The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges (Delacorte)
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara (Simon & Schuster)
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (HarperCollins)
Snow-Walker by Catherine Fisher (Greenwillow)

 Fourth Row

Love on the Lifts by Rachel Hawthorne (HarperTeen)
Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (Simon Pulse)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt & Co.)
After the Snow by S.D. Crockett (Feiwel & Friends)
The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson (HarperTeen)

Thoughts on the list

This list is far and away from being complete. There are so many books we could have included, it was truly difficult to narrow it down to twenty. We wanted to focus on books that have cold, wintry, snowy settings that aren’t holiday related. That’s why these two obvious books, Let It Snow! by John Green and company and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn are left out. We also excluded Harry Potter because that’s kind of just a given. Harry Potter is a given for any and all lists. So what you see here are some books you haven’t read it or haven’t heard of!

It is also worth nothing that The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin is not technically a young adult novel, but it is a classic fantasy novel that we highly recommend young adults and adults alike read. Finally, The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson is on this list but the book doesn’t go on sale until July 1st, 2014. We wanted to include it because Team Epic Reads is overly obsessed with Jodi’s books and we can’t wait to get our hands on a copy. So keep this one on your radar!

We hope you enjoy the list!

What other wintry YA reads would you add to this list?

(Show us your #WinterYA reads –– snap a photo of your collection and upload to Instagram and use that hashtag so we can see!)

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What do you think, dear readers? Did your favorites make the list–what would you add? The Bitter Kingdom, Shiver, and Shadow and Bone have all been on my to-be-read list, but after seeing this list, I think I need to add more!

I hope you stay warm and well-read! ❤

Chicago Public Library Ranked #1 in U.S.

Dear readers, despite the return of the polar vortex,

yesterday was an exciting day for Chicago! Yes, it’s cold, but we got some great news that warmed our hearts: our very own Chicago Public Library has been named the #1 library in the country and #3 in the world!

I’ve only actually been to this particular library once, when I waited in a line with thousands of fans to see Neil Gaiman for the “One Book, One Chicago” event celebrating the citywide reading of Neverwhere, in spring 2011. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually make it in to see him–fire codes or some such formality. (Someday, Neil…) I suppose it was good they followed safety rules, which I’m sure contributes to their high ranking, but I drowned my sorrows in buying a copy of all of the books he’d autographed. Plus, I got to explore the beautiful, historical library (est. in 1873).

(^Fangirling)

Please read on to see WGNtv.com’s coverage of the award. Stay warm and well-read, dear readers! ❤

WGN-TV

An international honor for the Chicago Public Library system.

A new study ranks CPL as the number one urban library in the United States, and number three in the world.

The rankings were released by the Heinrich Heine University in Germany.

Researchers studied the core services of libraries worldwide.

The CPL includes the Harold Washington Library Center two regional libraries and more than 70-neighborhood branches.

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