2019 Book List

Here I will list the books that I read in 2019. Most of them I will provide a link to my book review. Beware, if you read the review, it may give away what happens in the book. Read with caution *smile*

Three Wishes, Liane Moriarty

Coffee Pines & Designs Book Review Here

Still Alice, Lisa Genova

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker

Coffee Pines & Designs has many posts referencing this book.

Friendly Deceit, L.V. Hope

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

The Fringe Hours, Jessica N. Turner

Coffee Pines & Designs book review here

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert

Coffee Pines & Designs book reviews:

Big Magic and Encouragement

Big Magic and Enchantment

Big Magic and Permission

Big Magic and Persistence

Big Magic and Trust

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Review here

The House Pinterest Built by Diane Keaton

Review here

The Bridal Quartet by Nora Roberts

Review here

Educated by Tara Westover

Review here

Still in the Game by Devon Still

Review here

From Scratch by Tembi Locke

Review here

Flow Grip Still by Kennedy Ryan

Review here

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Review here

Soul Series by Kennedy Ryan

Review here

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hildebrand

Hoops Series by Kennedy Ryan

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Staying Warm in the Fall

A group of us got together last weekend at the Holiday Inn in Baxter, MN. 3 mommas and 5 littles (who are not really little any longer). We crammed ourselves into a suite and spent 24 hours at the fun indoor water park. Even the adults had a grand time screaming down the slides and hanging out in the “river”. The girls and I can not wait to go back with T. We were all exhausted by the end of the evening. I think we all crashed by 10:00 that evening.

We brought an abundance of veggies to snack on with dip and hummus. We actually did a number on those veggies prior to eating pizza and dessert *smile* however we still had plenty of leftover carrots and celery. With the temperatures dipping low the last couple of weeks I have been craving soup. I love my Vitamix in the summer for breakfast and protein smoothies, but when fall creeps in, I am all about the frothy soups it can whip up in seconds. The Vitamix recipes call for blending the ingredients for at least 7 minutes as it will heat the soup to a temp that you would want to eat soup at. However, I purée the ingredients and then transfer them over to a kettle and simmer on the stove.

Here is a spin on the Vitamix Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 of a small onion

4 cups chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cooked sweet potato

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Half and half

Direction:

Place all ingredients in Vitamix, blend until puréed. Simmer over low heat until desired temperature is reached.

Gingered Carrot Orange Soup is amazing too! And check out the color, how beautiful is that?

Soul Series Book Reviews

What would summer be without a no-nonsense romantic beach read? Or 3? Or 6? Kennedy Ryan’s Grip Series was followed by the Soul Series. Amazon offers these books for free on their Kindle App. Kennedy Ryan traps you into Rhyson and Kai’s characters with such visual detail. It is difficult to escape their world to go back to your own reality. You may as well take a couple of days off of work, or block a weekend and leap into their soundtrack complete with lust, life lessons and love.

Soul Soundtrack

Ghost- Ella Henderson

Somewhere Only We Know- Keane

Lost Stars- Adam Levine

Crash Into Me- Dave Matthews and

V.3005- Childish Gambino

See You Again- Wiz Khalifa

Adventure of a Lifetime- Coldplay

Fly Before You Fall- Cynthia Erivo

Mistakes- Andra Day

Believe- Mumford and Sons

It Will Rain- Bruno Mars

Half Crazy- Musiq Soulchild

Piece by Piece- Kelly Clarkson

Girl on Fire- Alice Keys

Lay Me Down- Sam Smith

Hymn for the Weekend- Coldplay

Our Love Will Survive- Wild Belle

Happy Birthday- Kygo

Call Me When You Get This- Corrine Bailey Rae

Stitches- Shawn Mendes

Find this playlist on Spotify.

Daisy Jones and the Six Book Review

Bookclubs galore! Everyone and their mama has a bookclub these days. Reese Witherspoon’s Bookclub listed Daisy Jones and the Six as one of their books. What a wonderful and unique pick on their end. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a phenomenal writer who took a fun approach to her writing style for this book. It was as if the main character interviewed band members from the fictional band, Daisy Jones and The Six, to create a biography of their music journey in the 1970’s. I loved the surprise at the end which lead the reader to find out who was conducting the interviews. I long for a band to put music to the song lyrics and create a true soundtrack to the novel. Until then, enjoy the playlist below which can be found on Spotify.

Poison and Wine- The Civil Wars

Silver Springs- Fleetwood Mac

Shake it Out- Florence and the Machine

American Girl- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Holy Water- Jim and Sam

Because the Night- Patti Smith

Sweet Creature- Harry Styles

Our House- Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young

Emmylou- First Aid Kit

Paid-Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

Flow Grip Still Book Reviews

6th grade? 7th grade? Warren G playing on my stereo. My dad sticks his head in my room and says “don’t let your mom hear you listening to this stuff”. He smirks and closes my door. Goodie Two Shoes. Those words could describe me. Yet, gangsta rap was my thing. Sadly I can not recall if Warren G was my first rap cd. Bone Thugs n Harmony maybe? 2 Pac posters lined my bedroom walls in high school. Many hours were spent at Musicland, the music store at the mall. Cd singles were bought and if I couldn’t afford the cd I would buy the cassette tape. This was during a time that kids were not “carded” for cd’s that had a Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics label on it. The Source and XXL magazines provided me with more “posters” to tape to my walls. I was devistated when 2 Pac died.

Thanks to the podcast, Sorta Awesome with Meg Tietz, episode 203, I was introduced to the writing of Kennedy Ryan. Meg and Anna Hithersay discussed Kennedy’s trilogy Flow, Grip and Still (free on amazon Kindle). An interracial love story between Grip and Bristol. Grip is a brilliantly smart African American rapper who grew up in Compton and Bristol is the over privileged and hard working white girl from NYC. She fights the electric pull she has with him, not because of his race, but because he is her brother’s best friend. Eventually love wins and they can not deny their affection any longer. The story ebbs and flows through their intoxicating connection and the heart wrenching doubts that come from their loved ones and fans. The third book brings deeper levels of emotion as they prepare to grow their family with the addition of children.

Long gone are the days southern Cali was the place for me. The daydreams floated away decades ago where 2 Pac from Poetic Justice was meant for me, not Janet Jackson. This book brought smiles to my face. Just a white girl surrounded by her posters of 1990’s rap moguls. To quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside”.

Grip Flow and Still soundtrack

Fallin’ Alicia Keys

California Love, 2 Pac

Juicy- The Notorious B.I.G.

U.N.I.T.Y.- Queen Latifah

Nobody- Keith Sweat

I Belong To You- Lenny Kravitz

Live Your Life- T.I. & Rihanna

You Don’t Own Me- Grace & G Eazy

Love on the Brain- Rihanna

So in Love- Jill Scott & Anthony Hamilton

At My Best- Machine Gun Kelly

Until the End of Time- 2 Pac

Tell me What We’re Gonna Do Now- Joss Stone & Common

Pretty Bird- Jhene Akko, Common

Give Me Love- Ed Sheehan

Thug Luv- Bone Thugs N Harmony & 2 Pac

Into You- Fabolous & Tamia

Adore- Prince

Dear Mama- 2 Pac

SupaStar- Floetry & Common

Runnin’- Naughty Boy & Beyoncé

Feeling Good- Nina Simone

You Are the Best Thing- Ray LaMontagne

Let’s Hurt Tonight- OneRepublic

My Block- 2 Pac

*you can find on my Spotify

From Scratch: A Book Review

From Scratch, a love story and a memoir. Tembi, the author, shares her story of her very own three marriages. Three marriages to the same person. What a way to reflect on their journey. It was the marriage they had as a newly married couple, the marriage they had as he fought cancer and the marriage after he sadly passed away. Of course I fell for their love story. Beautiful American girl meets hot Italian boy, they fall in love with one another and he moves to the states to be with her. Let the gut wrenching string of events begin. His family won’t accept her and won’t attend the wedding since she is not Italian. The story carries on and they have a beautiful wedding. His cancer diagnosis comes along. She can’t get pregnant. There is hope. His cancer treatment works. They adopt a little girl. And Then, horrible reality strikes again as the cancer returns. This is where her memoir takes shape. Her story is not only about her life with Saro but, how with time and patience, his family accepts her into theirs. They come together in love during his final days. Tembi and her mother in law grow stronger and stronger together as they cope with losing their loved one. Nonna fully accepts Tembi and her granddaughter. A love story in its own. Love wins. It always wins. What a theme.

Still in the Game: Book Review

Once in awhile I have to travel for work. Two weeks ago I was listening to an interview with Devon Still on Rachel Hollis’ Rise podcast. “We” watch a lot of football on TV but usually there is a book in my hand and the game is just background noise to me. I could hardly tell you who the main players are on our very own MN Vikings, so I can say I had no idea who Devon Still was.

As Rachel interviewed Devon I quickly wished the main topic discussed was football rather than the topic of choice. His daughter had been diagnosed with cancer at the young age of 4. Can you imagine? I sure can not. It makes me sick to my stomach, my head wants to spin and I literally feel like my breath is taken away.

Why did this interview pull me towards listening to his whole story in his book Still in the Game? That I can not tell you. I downloaded the book for my drive home and then could not stop listening to his voice share the miraculous recovery little Leah had. Their faith in God and drive to fight brought tears to my eyes and softened my soul as their journey carried on. I started the story with a shortness of breath as I thought of the dreadful news shared to their family and when the cancer disappeared I saw hope again. Hope that if this ever happened to me and one of my girls, I would fight strongly as they did. I would fight Leah Strong.

There are times I feel like I need stories like this to show me how blessed I am and to show me how great God is.

Educated: A Book Review

Educated. What an intense book written by Tara Westover. To know that this incredible human being went from limited school education and a shocking up bringing to this intelligent and powerful woman gives one hope. Hope that they can do anything with the right self determination, resources and people’s support.

Mormon is a word I am familiar with. The way a Mormon lives I am not. Besides the concept that a man may marry more than one wife and that they believe in Jesus, I have not learned much about this way of living. Heck, my own Christian beliefs is something I struggle with daily and am continuously learning about. I have heard brief stories similar to Tara’s upbringing, but that is key. They were brief stories mentioned on the news. I realize that not all Mormon’s are like Tara’s family. With a quick Google search, I learned that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s stems off from Mormonism.

Much like Tara starts her book in her Author’s Note, this post is not about Mormonism. Or my lack of knowing what the religion is about. This post about the reaction the book brought to my heart and my mind.

Tara’s relationship with her family is millions of miles from the relationship I have with my family.

Wait. I want to delete that line. But I can’t. That was my first thought. Within seconds I realize that is not the case. In the beginning she loves her family. She deeply loves her parents and siblings. She loves them in the end too, but the relationships change. She loves them as I love my family. The main difference is that I still respect my family being an adult where I question her respect for some of them. Her parents guided her the way they knew how just as mine did. They were hard working individuals like mine. They taught her to be respectful as mine did. What they did not do was keep her safe like mine did. They did not trust her words like mine did and do.

The relationship Tara had with her mom was the most difficult for me. I imagine it was the hardest for her too. It was as if Tara’s mom was trying to make everyone happy. I think as a mom this is a natural tendency. She would agree with all parties to keep the peace. As Tara got older this caused confusion for her. It caused her to question the support she had from her mom when her mom said one thing to her and then differed her opinion on the subject when she commented another way in front of her husband. As a daughter one looks up to guidance from her mom. She had a strong pull to do so, but as Tara got older she had realizations that caused her to doubt her mom. Her mom was dedicated to her husband, as many Christians are, and did not stray from backing up her husband on all accounts. All accounts meaning the ones that did not keep Tara’s well being and safety in check. Maybe, some would read this and disagree. Tara’s father, and mother maybe, believed that they were following God’s plan.

The education Tara received is from one extreme to the other. The schooling she received is not taken for granted. That is clear in her memoir. It is well deserved. The elbow grease it took for her to pass the ACT and to pass her initial college classes is unfathomable. The education she received on life gave her perspective that most others would never be able to see. They may try to study it, they may try to understand it, they may try to dissect it, but she lived it. The challenges she went through taught her love, hard work, empathy, perspective, fear, intuition, self survival and the list could go on.

How does one trust in relationships after living a life like Tara’s? God teaches us to forgive. Her parents want her to forgive her brother Shawn. I am uncertain I could do it with the games and torture he put her through. Disease or not, he did not get the help he needed. My heart hurts for Tara. She continuously went home in search of her family’s support. At times she would get doses of it, but in the end she risked her life to come home. That is unfair and not the way God intends for us to live. I like to think that if Shawn received the help he needed that there could have been a possibility of her having the life she wanted and deserved as well as the love from her family. A situation full of manipulation.

For some reason this book makes me want to research this culture, but I am most certain it would make me angry. I can put myself in many people’s shoes and can understand a lot. This? Not so much. I understand 100% why this book has made multiple Best of Lists.

May Goals 2019

It’s been awhile since I wrote a post. That doesn’t mean I have not been reflecting though! What has come always from the last month? Positive change is not easy. I have known this and have had it in the back of my mind for the last few years but goodness has it been at the forefront lately. Whether it is personal or business, the mind or the soul, or the relationships we have with those that we live near and dear to everyday.

I had the opportunity to be in leadership class for the past nine months through Sanford. It was titled Leading for Results. Most of us thought it would be how to direct staff and projects to get better results. The class was aimed at personal development. Making us stronger individuals would make us better leaders. Better leaders make our teams better. The class fit perfectly with what I was trying to do. It taught me new things. It confirmed what I had been reading. Some of the teachings I had already implemented. Some got moved up on my list of priorities. Some were ideas I had not heard of and were added to my list. The great thing about this class was I could apply these teachings to my personal life.

I took a break from my monthly goals. It was much needed. I was overwhelmed by them which tells me I need to evaluate them. I want to do too much. I have always been that way. Good things take time!

May did bring a lot of accomplishments:

◦ Work trip to San Diego and attended a Ritz Carlton workshop

◦ Read 4 Nora Roberts books

◦ Joined Weight Watchers and am seeing slow progress (strong and fit is what I am aiming for- moderation)

◦ Presented a presentation for Leading for Results

◦ I am becoming a better version of the wife I aim to be

◦ Working out 5-7 days a week

◦ Trying new recipes

The Bridal Quartet

A teacher. A marine biologist (ok, swim with the whales). That’s what I wanted to be as a child.

A teacher. An interior designer. A social worker. A wedding planner. An interior designer. A business major (hey, it was general enough). A gerontologist. An interior designer. That’s what I wanted to be in college. That is why it took me 7 years to finish. A girl can change her mind, right?

An interior designer eventually won, thank heavens, it took me long enough. However, Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner, made me desire to be a wedding planner. I even looked into education on how to become one and had info snail mailed to the first apartment I lived in (shout out to Ms. Erin). A few years later my friend Melissa shared The Bridal Quartet books with me. My first thought was “Nora Roberts? Really? Those are books my mom reads. Like Danielle Steel, right?” This was before I realized my mom and I have the same taste in fictional books, and before I realized she had not picked up a Danielle Steel book in a long time. I couldn’t put the books down. Mac, Emma, Laurel and Parker become a huge part of my life for a couple of weeks. The dream of becoming a Wedding Planner surfaced again. Amanda could be the photographer. Ashley could do hair and makeup. I could do the wedding planning piece and we could find others to add to our own Vows business. One problem, we all lived in different cities. Dream quickly shattered.

My sister picked these books up from a used online bookstore. I had to read them again. I loved them this time around just as I had the last time. If she wants them back I think I will look for my own copies to add to my bookshelf. Just as a wedding should be, this series is delightful and lovely.