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.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz

Thoughts here on my first Enneagram experience.

Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner

See my thoughts here on this gem!

Silence, Broken Silence, Players Bumps and Cocktail Sausages, Silent Night by Natasha Preston

Friday Favorites: Stretched Too Thin

I have posted on Instagram and this blog many times already that I love this book, Stretched Too Thin. After listening to the audio version (link) once I had to read the paper copy. Thank you again, Jessica Turner, for allowing me to test drive this book for you. Here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the book. Now, there were plenty more, but these one caught me. My pen and highlighter got a workout!

1). “I love my family. I do great work. I’m thriving”. Page 13

2). “This ‘mental load’ that a person carries is defined by work-life balance coach Marie Levey-Pabst as the ‘largely invisible work of remembering and noticing.’ Because this load is carried inside our heads and isn’t visible in the same way going to an office is, we often don’t recognize it as real work. We lump it in as ‘what moms do,’ mentally reducing its significance and burden.” Page 21

3). “Women process life more like a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempt to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even seamlessly switch to another noodle.” Page 47

4). “Do not let your emotions undermine your self-worth and calling.” Page 50

5). “Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing, particularly thanks to social media.” Page 57

6). “Don’t ‘Should’ all over yourself.” Page 60

7). “A lie many working moms tell themselves is that self-care is selfish.” Page 68

8). “Counseling is far beyond fixing people’s problems; it’s opening up people’s opportunities.” Page 74

9). “Resentment is anger that’s turned inward.” Page 131

10). “Brene teaches that saying yes inspires trust with our kids.” Page 156

Now, if you are a mom, feeling too exhausted to chase your passions and dreams (small or big) put down what you are doing and get this book. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Friday Favorites: Stretched Too Thin

I have posted on Instagram and this blog many times already that I love this book, Stretched Too Thin. After listening to the audio version (link) once I had to read the paper copy. Thank you again, Jessica Turner, for allowing me to test drive this book for you. Here are my top 10 favorite quotes from the book. Now, there were plenty more, but these one caught me. My pen and highlighter got a workout!

1). “I love my family. I do great work. I’m thriving”. Page 13

2). “This ‘mental load’ that a person carries is defined by work-life balance coach Marie Levey-Pabst as the ‘largely invisible work of remembering and noticing.’ Because this load is carried inside our heads and isn’t visible in the same way going to an office is, we often don’t recognize it as real work. We lump it in as ‘what moms do,’ mentally reducing its significance and burden.” Page 21

3). “Women process life more like a plate of pasta. If you look at a plate of spaghetti, you notice that there are lots of individual noodles that all touch one another. If you attempt to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even seamlessly switch to another noodle.” Page 47

4). “Do not let your emotions undermine your self-worth and calling.” Page 50

5). “Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real thing, particularly thanks to social media.” Page 57

6). “Don’t ‘Should’ all over yourself.” Page 60

7). “A lie many working moms tell themselves is that self-care is selfish.” Page 68

8). “Counseling is far beyond fixing people’s problems; it’s opening up people’s opportunities.” Page 74

9). “Resentment is anger that’s turned inward.” Page 131

10). “Brene teaches that saying yes inspires trust with our kids.” Page 156

Now, if you are a mom, feeling too exhausted to chase your passions and dreams (small or big) put down what you are doing and get this book. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

Happiness Project: August & The Enneagram

Contemplate the Heavens Gretchen Rubin said in her Happiness Project book. Read memoirs of catastrophes, keep a gratitude journal and imitate a spiritual master. Reading this chapter made me the least excited thus far on this Happiness Project journey. Early on in the month I heard a few podcasts that talked about the Enneagram test. I had never heard about it but all of a sudden I was hearing about it left and right. On a trip to the library I picked up The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher L. Heuertz. I soon after opened up the latest Magnolia Journal where there was a brief article by the same author. I felt an electric pull to dive in. The book did a nice job explaining the background of the Enneagram. Christopher says “it reveals our path for reviving our true identity and helps us navigate the journey home to God”. And there it was, my connection to what Gretchen wanted me to do, maybe not exactly, but it was going to help me become closer to God and the Heavens. To live in the present in a more Godly way. I took a free Enneagram test online which explained my personality type as a 2- a helper, a giver. Through reading, it explained to me a few of the following points:

• I operate from the heart in love and kindness

• So much of what I do is for other people and lack self love

• I may “be what others think of me”

• Solitude will help me focus back on what my needs are

• It may be hard for me to ask for help, but once I do, I will become a better person, a healthier person

• “Twos learn to rest in the grace that they are loved for who they are, not for what they offer the rest of us”- page 211.

The last bullet item is what I have been working on for the past 9-12 months without even realizing this point. Wow! I am on the right path, well, according to Mr. Heuertz. Barnes and Noble just delivered the following two books:

Discovering Your Personality Type by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self Discovery by the same two authors

I am anxious to read and get their perspective. There are other books by them that I may purchase after I read these two. More to come on the blog I am certain *wink*

I didn’t read about a catastrophe but I did watch the movie War Room. This was a movie not about a catastrophe per say, but it was about a relationship that needed work otherwise the relationship probably would have bombed. Now, the acting is not great, but the message was what I needed at the moment. If you have ever seen the movie Fireproof you may understand the bad acting/great message feeling that I am referring to. If you are even a bit Christian, pick up the movie, I don’t think you will be sorry. It will help you lean in to God and your faith a little bit more.

It triggered me to pray more, and not just on my way to work, or when I feel the NEED for something, I have tried to sit down each morning for even a couple of minutes with my pen and paper and write out my prayers. Writing words have always helped me manage my thoughts and kept me on track. These prayers are for me, my family, my friends, my co-workers. These prayers are words of thanks to God for his help and reassurance. Gretchen Rubin, you are helping me in more ways that I ever imagined!

Stretched Too Thin

I have a couple of friends that I call my twins. This is how cool one of them is, she just got a tattoo of a stack of books with cup of coffee sitting on top! I literally want to drive hours to pick her up, take her to a tattoo shop and tell the artist, give me what she has! It turned out great!

She tags me on Instagram posts weekly with things she knows will speak to me. Recently she tagged me on a post from Jessica Turner. Jessica is launching the publication of her book, Stretched Too Thin. She was providing people with a chance to preview her book via the Christianaudio App. I prefer to read books rather than listen to them, especially books like this where I know I will want to highlight words and dog ear pages for reference. I was in for listening to it though, after all, it was free! Within the first chapter I was trying to figure out how to bookmark passages on the app. Within the first two chapters I knew I was going to need a physical copy, it was that good. Jessica is the one that narrates the book. As much as I was hesitant about listing to the book, it was like I was getting free therapy while driving in my car each day.

When I returned home last night after a full day of meetings and running the kids to Back to School Night, there was a physical copy of Stretched Too Thin sitting in my mailbox. What?!?! I guess part of the deal (that I missed) was that we would be receiving a paper copy!! This brings me joy. I finished the audio version last weekend. I have a stack of other books to begin reading, but I am rereading his gem with my highlighter out and pen in hand!

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.