What I Read in 2014 + Reading List for 2015

I set a goal to read 36 books in 2014, and unfortunately I fell short. However, I did read 18 books – and I think that’s fairly decent, considering I had a baby during the year.

I did decide during the year that I was going to read one non-fiction book for every fiction book I read. I haven’t been a huge non-fiction fan in the past, so this was tough for me at first – but WOW, I’m so glad I went this route. As you’ll see below, non-fiction books ended up being some of my favorites this year.

Below are my favorite books of 2014, followed by the ones I wish I hadn’t even bothered with. The past year was certainly an interesting one for me!

[Of course – these are just my opinions! I hope no one is offended :)]

MY FAVORITES

1. The Cider House Rules, by John Irving. Controversial topic and excellently written. This was a long one, but I couldn’t put it down.

2. The Happiest Baby on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp. Saved my life. And I am not joking.

3. And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Housseini. The author’s third book – and his third on my “favorites” list.

4. Things a Little Birdie Told Me, by Biz Stone. Written by one of the founders of Twitter, this book is inspiring, as well as hilarious.

5. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Set in Germany during WWII, this book is obviously not cheery. But it does accomplish the hefty feat of showing that humans are capable of extraordinary kindness – even during the worst of times.

MY NOT-SO-FAVORITES

1. Country Music Broke My Brain, by Gerry House. I really thought it would be impossible for me not to like this book. Country music? Love. Country singers “behind the scenes”? Love. This book? Blah.

2. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. This book got a lot of hype, and I know many readers loved it. But I just couldn’t buy it. Sorry, Mr. Gaiman.

3. The Pilot’s Wifeby Anita Shreve. Predictable, unconvincing… and just boring.

All in all, I had more favorites than disappointments during the year, so I call that a success. I’m trying something new this year: POPSUGAR’S 2015 Reading Challenge. It’s 50 categories of books meant to diversify your reading choices, which I could really use. Fifty books is a very daunting task, but this should be fun. Even if i don’t read a book in each category, at the very least I will have read some books I normally wouldn’t have. I have about 20 more books I need to add to the list, so I better get going to work on that. I’ll post them all when I’m done – but in the meantime, please send any suggestions my way!

Happy reading, everyone!

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Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope everyone ended 2014 healthy and happy. The past year has been totally crazy for us – namely because of a cute little boy who came into our lives last February. I said goodbye to 2014 with mixed emotions, but I’m saying HELLO to 2015 with renewed enthusiasm – and a resolution:

Get my life organized.

This includes a major declutter of our house, an overhaul of my work schedule and getting my personal life under control. Not that things are OUT OF CONTROL or anything, but I certainly need to be better about making the best use of my time. My mini-resolutions that go hand-in-hand with my main one is to make exercise a priority and be more consistent with writing (on here…and journaling!).

While we’re on the topic of resolutions, let’s talk about the one thing almost everyone wants to improve: our health. According to USA.gov, 6 of the top 13 resolutions involve improving some aspect of our well-being:

Lose weight
Quit smoking
Get fit
Eat healthy food
Manage stress
Drink less alcohol

But unfortunately – although maybe not surprisingly – those same resolutions are on Time’s Top 10 commonly broken resolutions.

Bottom line – getting healthy is not easy. It takes hard work, commitment, focus – and most of all, TIME. Last year my most popular blog post was on “gym snobs” and how frustrating (and common) the practice of shaming people at the gym is. For all of those who will be starting a an exercise program in the New Year, I’ll be right there with you. And I hope I can count on you – and all others at the gym – to cheer me on when I want to quit.

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Happy New Year!

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Filed under Fitness, Healthy Living

Friday Favorites: Thanksgiving Tablescapes

Today we are officially under the two week mark until Thanksgiving! Are you hosting this year? If so, do you have your table planned? I’m not hosting, so there will be no tablescaping for me, which is probably for the better because that is a lot of hard work! Instead, I decided to look through all the gorgeous fruits of everyone else’s labor and put together my favorites in this post. That counts as work, right? :)

Favorite blue, gold and cream

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Favorite use of wheat:

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Favorite all white tablescape:

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Favorite preppy table:

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Favorite use of a lantern:

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Favorite purple tablescape:

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Favorite farm table + lights!

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And finally – favorite kids table:

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With love,

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Catch up + CMA awards

Happy November! I can’t believe we’re in the final two months of 2014. Time continues to amaze me at how quickly it flies.

While it’s not the traditional awards season, I’m so excited that this Wednesday is the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards!

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I love this awards show and am really looking forward to seeing my favorite country music singers perform. Especially the Zac Brown Band and those boys from Florida Georgia Line. Love them!

Also – it’s cold. The temperature has been in the 40’s in Northeast Ohio the past couple of days, and I’m none too happy about it. However, if there is one good thing about chilly weather, it’s cooking for chilly weather.  So, this week I’ll be cooking for chilly weather and country music: BBQ Coca-cola Ribs and chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.

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Here is a link to the list of nominees for Wednesday’s award show. My predictions are below:

Album of the year – Miranda Lambert, “Platinum”

Entertainer of the year – Blake Shelton

Female Vocalist of the year – Taylor Swift

Male Vocalist of the year – Luke Bryan

Music Video of the year – “Somethin’ Bad” by Carried Underwood and Miranda Lambert

Musical Event of the year – “Somethin’ Bad” by Carried Underwood and Miranda Lambert

Musician of the year – Jerry Douglas (if you don’t know Jerry, I highly suggest getting to know him! He’s part of Alison Krauss’s band, and he was George Clooney’s singing voice in “O Brother, Where Art Thou”.)

New artist of the year – Kip Moore

Single of the year – “Automatic” by Miranda Lambert

Song of the year – “Give Me Back My Hometown”

Vocal Duo of the year – Florida Georgia Line

Vocal group of the year – Zac Brown Band

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Pumpkin Silver Dollar Pancakes

I love the Pioneer Woman. She’s so down-to-earth – and man, can she cook. Of course, her food isn’t what one would call “healthy”, but sometimes down-home, ranch-style cooking is  just what this city(ish) girl needs.

Pancakes are a favorite in this house, so I can’t imagine pumpkin silver dollar pancakes won’t be a huge hit.

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The Art of Scarf Tying

Oh, fall – how I love thee. Let me count the ways…

Your wonderful flavors – pumpkin, apple and maple.

Your glorious scents – cinnamon, nutmeg and browned sugar.

Your beautiful colors – orange, red and yellow.

Your comfy, chic fashion  – boots, sweaters and SCARVES!

I already shared my love of all-things cable knit, so today I wanted to share my passion for scarves.

Simply put, I love scarves. I wear them all through fall, winter and spring (and yes, I do believe in the “summer scarf”). They have the ability to take the “blah” out of any outfit, and I really think they have magical slimming powers, if worn correctly.

Here is my favorite video on 25 ways to tie a scarf. It’s just under 5 minutes long, and it’s so good!

Here are two graphics from a website with tons of scarf tying tricks:

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Any good ones I’m missing?

With love,

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Apple Cinnamon Sangria

Happy Friday! Did everyone else have as long a week as I did? If so, an apple cinnamon sangria – or two – is in order!

Was there ever an adult beverage with such yummy, cinnamon-y fallness? I think not. And lucky you, I have TWO different sangrias you can try on the final weekend of summer.

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This could possibly be the perfect way to bid farewell to summer, while welcoming fall with open arms. Have a great weekend, everyone!

With love,

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