Friday Favorites: The Magic of Motherhood

I will soon be adding this to my list of books I have read in 2018. I am half ways done and feel I need to add this as one of my Friday Favorites. I picked his book up a couple of months ago and just started to read it a week ago. In the introduction of The Magic of Motherhood Ashlee Gadd says “this is the book I wish I had received as a new mother”. I agree 100%. I am not certain I will have a lot of friends become first time moms from here on out. If I do though, this will be the gift I present to them. I have laughed, I have cried, I have said “oh my goodness, me too”. After having both children breakdown tonight by 6:45, I felt exhausted and like I have failed at raising well behaved kids. Now, I know better. They are well behaved kids. I have not failed. They were the ones exhausted. This book makes me feel human. It makes me feel like there is magic in this world of being a mom.

Monday Meals: More Magnolia and Muffins

I have been on a cooking at home spree again, thank goodness it came back. I dislike those dry spells. I feel like we eat more processed meals when we hit those spells. If we are going to eat unhealthy, I would rather it at least be with home cooked butter and love *wink*.

I was supposed to host book club a couple of weeks ago, but my grandmother passed away and that event got put on hold. I had prepared two different chicken salads to have. Both were from Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table cookbook. I preferred her Curry Chicken Salad recipe compared to her traditional one. I feel like I make a pretty tasty chicken salad without having a recipe to follow. I cheated a bit with her recipe and went with a store bought rotisserie chicken. I always enjoy my chicken salad a little more “saucy” vs dry. So I did add more mayo than she called for. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the salad. I left it with my parents due to the unexpected trip home. They enjoyed the left overs. Don’t think I didn’t enjoy a good portion of it thought before I came back to Bemidji!

Curry Chicken Salad

From Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table

Ingredients:

Shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (roughly 5-6 cups)

6-8 oz diced water chestnuts

1 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup minced chives

2 or 2.5 cups mayo

2 T soy sauce

3 T curry powder

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Extra tasty bread

Directions:

Combine chicken, water chestnuts, almonds and chives, stir until well combined.

In another bowl whisk mayo, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over chicken and stir until well combined.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Good for 3 days.

I enjoy this on toasted bread, croissants or wheat thins dipped into the salad.

The other raving meal I have to talk about was the quiche I cooked this weekend for my in-laws. I combined two of the Magnolia recipes as I desired the taste of the cheesy one but with some of the veggies *smile* I never grew up with quiche but it may be a new favorite for when we have company over. The girls also helped me make Rhubarb muffins 2 days in a row. They said we should make them every day! Thanks mom for the recipe!

Cheesy Veggie Quiche

Inspired from Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table Cookbook

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t paprika

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup cut up Swiss cheese

1/4 cup minced chives

1 cup diced mushrooms

1/3 cup diced onion

2 cups spinach

1 unbaked store bought pie crust (Thanks Pillsbury)

In pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in pan. Once heated, add onion, mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.

In large bowl add eggs, cream, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.

Stir in cheeses and cooked veggies.

Pour into pie crust.

Cook in oven set at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the center is golden).

Remove and place on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Helpful hints:

Place pie crust on a pan Incase there is any that spills over.

You may have to put tinfoil around edges of the quiche towards end of cooking time to keep from burning. Ours was fine, but this may help.

Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c veggie oil

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 c buttermilk

1 1/2 c diced rhubarb

2 1/2 c flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Combine brown sugar,veggie oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined. Stir in rhubarb.

In separate bowl stir flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine all ingredients together.

Place into 18 muffin tins.

Add sugar topping (1 T melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 t cinnamon) to the muffins.

Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes

June Happiness Review: Friendship

I have been following Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project for 6 months now. June was the month to focus on friendships. Friends make me happy, there is no doubt about it. I have the best friends. They ease any anxiety I have with life, they listen to my troubles, offer me advise, and provide me with enough laughs to hold me over to the next time I see them. They are caring and loving. All of them I don’t see nearly enough, but we all understand that we have families and this thing called life. We know will see each other when our schedules allow.

Gretchen’s suggestions of focus were the following:

Remember Birthdays

Be Generous

Don’t Gossip

Make 3 new friends

Show Up

Let’s talk about birthdays. Facebook is a great way to stay on top of birthdays, if you check it daily, which I don’t. I am a bit old fashion when it comes to remembering birthdays. I have a “Birthday Calendar” that is pinned up in our kitchen. There have been the occasions that I miss a friend’s birthday. This makes me feel awful. I really strive to get a card out in the mail, give a call or send a text depending on the schedule of the day/week. I am trying to be better at picking up the phone to give a ring, but it never fails that as I pick up the phone, my kids are at my feet asking for something. At least a text appears as an “uninterrupted” form of communication. *Smile*

Be generous, “one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy” Gretchen wrote. I love sending the random gift, or card in the mail. Finding birthday gifts are fun, but I thoroughly enjoy the unexpected find at random times and sending it on. I have a friend at work that drops a little something off at my desk on days that she gathers may be a bit hectic. It puts a smile on my face and I know it makes her heart happy too.

Don’t gossip. Gossiping has never done anyone any good. It’s hard to do. I feel like I am not a gossiper, but I have found myself in discussion with people about other people. At times it is hard to know if it is healthy venting, purely innocent conversation or if it borders gossip. I was extra mindful of these questions this month. I removed myself from conversation or would try to quiet the topics discussed.

Make new friends. It is hard to make new friends in your thirties. I know it can be done, but my life is busy! I enjoy meeting and connecting with new people. Life will alter where this can be done again. The way I worked this one into my Happiness Project was to spend more time with friends I have not seen in awhile, or spent time with them on the phone if they lived far away. How comforting it is to be surrounded by those people that can pick up like no time has passed!

Show up. If you are my friend I will bend over backwards for you! I will do whatever I can to support you and help you. You are my lifeline and I hope to be yours!

Thank you to my friends, you have been through me through thick and thin!

Real Life Dinners: Cookbook Review

I have been waiting to write a review of this cookbook until I was able to test a handful of the recipes out. It is not often that I find a recipe book that was not worth the money, but before I say “go out and buy this book” I want to make sure it is a good one! Well, now i can say, “go buy Rachel Hollis’ REAL LIFE DINNERS”. I have tested out five recipes so far and they have been all “oh my gosh, this is great” tasty. I wrote about one in the 4th of July meal recommendations post, Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork.

A few weeks ago when I was feeding four men I had to come up with something good. After all, they were helping roof our house on a super hot and sunny day. With it being so hot, I am not sure what drew me to Rachel’s Tortellini Minestrone (recipe is found here on her website), but that is where I went. I served it with her Italian Chopped Salad. The salad hardly got touched as they went back for seconds of the minestrone. I half ways felt bad I was serving soup in June, but then I was reading the blurb Rachel wrote about the minestrone recipe and she said she makes it no matter the season. *smile, I did ok*. And hey, they hardly left any for leftovers! The Italian Chopped Salad didn’t go to waste, T and I ate that for three days! I was afraid since I added the dressing to the whole salad that it would get soggy and not taste good, but it got better with age! It is another recipe I will make again, but probably when we have more mouths to feed or when we strictly eat it as a meal by itself. The pistachios truly made it.

Hang tight, I know this post is getting long, but I have to rave about two more recipes! I made the Jalapeño Mashed Potatoes. Who knew the pairing of Basil and Jalapeño could be so dreamy?!?!? Dreamy and Creamy is how Mashed Potatoes should be, this is such a great pairing to grilled chicken and corn on the cob. My father-in-law had me send the recipe to my mother-in-law it was that good.

Last but not least (for now) was her take on the BLT. As she talks about it, you can add avocado to the classic summer sandwich for a slight twist (hello, summer fresh tomatoes). Rachel calls her take on it the BLATE (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato, egg), and let’s not forget the pesto she adds to it. Her BLATE is listed under the chapter “breakfast for dinner”. Let’s just say, T is planning on having this sandwich for breakfast this morning and we may be making this for our company to have for breakfast this weekend. I can’t wait! It was mouthwatering and making me moan, good.

Have I said enough? Have I persuaded you to run to Barnes and Noble or Target to get the book? Both stores have it! Run. Run now. Start to run the calories off because you won’t want to stop eating her yummy recipes!

Here is how we made ours last night as we didn’t quite have all the ingredients needed to make it.

Avocado/Pesto

In high speed blender blend the following ingredients:

1 avocado

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/4 pine nuts

1 clove garlic

1/4 Parmesan cheese

2 T dried basil

We use English muffin toast when we make BLT’s. On one slice add mayo, the other add the pesto. We then used bacon, fresh tomatoes/lettuce and one over- easy egg. We skipped out on the red onion as I am just not a fan.

Enjoy!

Every Day: book review

I may be 36, but I still like a YA novel. Every Day by David Levitham was an interesting take on a 16 year old trapped in other 16 year olds bodies. How sad that he falls in love with a girl yet is not “allowed” to follow his heart and truly be with her. I look forward to reading the sequel, Another Day.

Follow the list of books I have read thus far in 2018, click here.

Friday Favorites: Dark Walls

Grabbed the Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home from the Bemidji Library. I am enjoying some interior design inspiration over a cup of coffee on this sunny morning. Makes me want to change up our home. It’s hard to think we have been in our home already six years. We have a few rooms to update for the first time before we redo some rooms. It doesn’t hurt to dream though!

There is something stunning and inviting about a room with dark walls. I have yet to try this in a space of my own but will some day. I love how it contrasts with the bright white trim in this Domino book. The neon pieces of furniture are fun pops of color. A person has to really love these bright colors to put the money into sofa and chairs of this magnitude, but how beautiful is this room! A person may not be able to find chairs and sofa like this in stores but they can be custom made.

Sweet Girl & Smart Girl Review

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. I get so sad when I finish reading some books. I long for more story and more detail. I am not ready for the characters to leave my world. These feelings are heightened after I read a series of books with the same characters. I finished Rachel Hollis’ second and third books of her series, Sweet Girl and Smart Girl. Just as I did with Party Girl, I was rooting for the main characters, Max and Miko (love the name by the way, I think I had a Barbie back in the day with that name). I found a piece of myself in each of them. Each character was a strong person dedicated to her dream and making it come true. That alone was enough inspiration for me to keep reading. Bring Landon, from Party Girl, back into the mix, I adore the friendship and truth they bring to each other’s lives. I am blessed to have friendships like this and couldn’t help thinking of my friends throughout the books. Factor in their love stories and you have strong chic lit books. I liked how Landon’s story continued throughout Sweet Girl and Smart Girl. I didn’t feel like I was left hanging so much with her and Max. Now Rachel Hollis, perhaps a fourth book is needed? The epilogue was not enough. “Girl” as Rachel (or Landon) would say, I need more!

Other series of books that I have enjoyed:

Nora Roberts:

Chesapeake Bay Saga

In The Garden Trilogy

The Bride Quartet

Inn Boonsboro Trilogy

Susan Wiggs:

Lakeshore Chronicles

Happiness Project: May Review

Be serious about play and leisure. That was my challenge for May. I was supposed to find more fun, take time to be silly, go off the path and start a collection. Oh goodness, most people would think this would be an easy month, but without looking ahead to the months to come, this may be the hardest. I like to think that I am fun to be around, but me being silly just doesn’t happen. I wish it was, I am in awe of people that are silly, like my sister, but it is a difficult task for me. Yes a task. I do have to take this time to pat myself on my back. We did have some unexpected and atypical hot temperatures for Bemidji for the month of May. We spent a day at a friend’s lake home. The girls had no problem jumping in the lake. A month prior it was pure ice, so you can maybe understand my reluctance to jump in after them. After an hour, I decided, what the heck, it is 90 degrees out, be the fun mom. Guess who had a lot of fun! Yep, that was me.

For the month I did try to focus on my free time and finding things to do that made me happy. For an example, T put up a fence last fall for a garden we wanted to make. It ended up bigger than we anticipated. I explained to him that it was added stress on me to have a garden that big. We scaled down the amount of things that were going to be planted. He brought in Stella’s help to plant the seeds and explained she was going to help water them each day. I love the idea of being organic and having our own garden, but the time I have available outside of family time and work is limited. I want to be able to work out, work on my blog, read books and just plain relax in the warm temperatures and sunshine. I made a mindful effort to not take on more than I can realistically and positively accomplish. I don’t like to be a failure. If I can’t do something well and up to my high standards, I don’t want to do it. It is added stress.

I am sure when Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, said to go off of the beaten path she didn’t mean to stop doing something I love. She intended for me to seek something out that was out of my norm. I thought of something that I could try at the beginning of the month but couldn’t think of something new I was desiring. Before I knew it, the month was over *oops* I can share that I did end up not working out as much as I had the previous couple of months. Instead of my 6 day work outs/week I was like 3-4. Not bad, but I was feeling pretty good about the 6 day results. I also noticed that my anxiety/stress levels raised this month. Perhaps, the workouts were helping. Back to my dedicated workouts for June.

Starting a collection caught my attention, but along with starting a collection made me instantly think of clutter. Now, as I write this reflection, I think I could have thought of things that didn’t require clutter. I collect books and cookbooks. Those collections make me happy. I have always wanted to start a dream/motivation/inspiration board. That could have been my collection. It is never too late to start *smile*

Interested in finding out more about my Happiness Journey? Check out previous posts here:

January

February

March

April

Coffee and a Good Read- 2018

I am an avid reader. Here I will list the books I read during this year. I will provide a few words to describe my feelings of the stories told without giving away the book.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Unforgettable love. Inter-racial struggle. Ahead of the times. A must read.

https://www.target.com/p/calling-me-home-target-club-pick-jan-2014-paperback-signed-edition-by-julie-kibler/-/A-14850406?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=calling%20me%20home%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Darker by E.L James

This is the 2nd book written through the eyes of Mr. Grey. Enlightening. Additional details. Further perspective.

https://www.target.com/p/darker-fifty-shades-darker-as-told-by-christian-paperback-e-l-james/-/A-53057835?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=darker%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen

Something Blue by Emily Giffen

One does not have to read both books and it does not matter which one is read first.

Lovable characters. Chic Lit at its best. Why did it take me so long to read her books?

https://www.target.com/p/something-borrowed-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-11338498#lnk=sametab

https://www.target.com/p/something-blue-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-13305904#lnk=sametab

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Held my breath. Not your typical Nicholas Sparks book. Suspenseful love. Root for the underdog.

https://www.target.com/p/see-me-hardcover-by-nicholas-sparks/-/A-49168470#lnk=sametab

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Artistic writing. Hopeful. Why do his books not get old?

https://www.target.com/p/two-by-two-paperback-nicholas-sparks/-/A-53420456#lnk=sametab

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

This is the third book in the series. Me Before You was a tear jerker. After You was good but Still Me made me feel whole again. A great follow up to the second one as I was left feeling a bit disappointed.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This was my suggestion for the book club I was in. It is one of Oprah’s 2018 Book Club selection, but also one I kept seeing float across the Instagram account for Book of the Month. It had me at page 5 when one of the main characters references Love Jones, a movie I had on VHS back in the day. It has a soundtrack that I still frequently listen to. It is an emotional and intense read. I longed for it to be longer with more details of the love triangle that it is. Silver Sparrow did an excellent job with this piece of work.

Girl, Wash Your Faceby Rachel Hollis

Full book review here

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Brief book review here.

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Read review here

Sweet Girl and Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis.

Here explains my love for these books.

Every Day by David Levithan

Book review here.

Another Day by David Levithan

My thoughts on the book are found here.

Party Girl: Book Review

This girl has been fighting off a cold or allergies for the past week or two. Friday it was apparent I needed some R&R this weekend to move past it. I have been a bit MIA from my love of reading lately and needed a chick lit book to get me back in the groove. I finally picked up this gem of a book and devoured it in two days.

See, a few months ago I was roaming through the world of Instagram and happened upon Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Wash your Face. I had never heard of this writer before. I ordered the book on a whim, read it in no time and loved her from the start (see blog post for why). I loved how she talked about the trials of writing the book and getting it published. Not that I wish trials on anyone, but it shows that she is human and that things take work and dedication.

This morning I used my Memorial Day Barnes and Noble added discount to purchase the two books that follow Party Girl. I can’t wait to dig deeper into the characters she has brought to life.

As for Party Girl…it is exactly what I expected after reading the description in Girl, Wash your Face. I have to admit though, I kept seeing Landon Brinkley as Rachel Hollis, not a long blonde haired character. I could hear Landon speak as Rachel speaks on her podcast, Dais. A voice of genuine friendliness and fun. It was a different take on the high rolling life some live in LA.

Pick up this book if you want to giggle, feel inspired to take a leap of faith and invite some new girlfriends into your world.

Oh, and just one more reason why I love this book. Check out this page. Rachel Hollis, I love how you incorporated Edward and Bella into this book. *smile* I am a dork. The first Twilight movie is still my favorite, bad acting/low budget and all.

Click here to see the books I have read this year.