Coffee Season

Hello, hello! Summer FLEW by – and now we are entering fall, my hands-down favorite season. The cooler temperatures make me want a hot cup of coffee more than I normally do – and trust me, I want coffee just about any time of day, any time of year. Coffee is my comfort; it’s what I drink when I want to wake up, as well as when I want to relax. It’s what I share with family and friends while catching up about the up’s and down’s of life. It’s a part of who I am, and if you think that sounds silly, do a quick search of the internet for coffee memes. Looks like many other people agree with me! Continue reading

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Oh, hello!

Well…it’s been exactly 10 months since I last posted on here. I’m sad and disappointed with myself that I let such a long time go by, so readers (if there are any of you still out there), here’s a quick catch-up of the last 10 months:

  1. About a week after I posted my last entry, we found out we were adding another baby to our family! Our second son (L) was born the Saturday after Thanksgiving. L is healthy and a welcome addition to our clan. J loves being a big brother…most of the time. ūüôā
  2. J has been delighting us left and right during his second year. I always heard how jam-packed a baby’s first year is with milestones, but WOW – the second year doesn’t disappoint either. Walking, running, talking, dancing, problem-solving, singing…every day is so fun! Of course, it’s far from sunshine and rainbows all the time (hellloooooo, temper tantrums!), but just watching him grow and learn has brought so much joy and wonder to our lives. J turns two this month.
  3. My handsome firefighter husband started a part-time job on top of his full-time gig, which has made scheduling sort of crazy around here, but he loves it…and I love that he is so happy with his chosen line of work. Speaking of work, this fall I was promoted. Along with a fancy new title came a fancy new office. I tell ya, a door is a GAME CHANGER for long conference calls. Speaker phone has become by best friend.
  4. I signed up for my first 5K since having L. Actually, it’s my first race in over a year, so it’s going to be slow going. A friend of mine from high school signed up with me, which gives me motivation to get out there and train!

That’s just a small sampling of what happened since I last posted. Of course, there are tons of other newsworthy events that occurred (My sister had twin boys! My best friend got married!), but this would be a very loooong post if I went into all that. So for now, I’ll just say this: I’m so happy to be back.¬†Writing for this blog has been so fun for me, but also therapeutic. By nature, I’m very number-driven and task-oriented, however, I do have a creative side that doesn’t get to shine very often. So, since I’m on maternity leave for at least two more months, I thought this would be the perfect time to get my creative mojo on. This is a work in progress, but I’m thinking of setting weekly goals that will challenge me in various ways:

  1. My culinary side – Raise your hand if you have about 2 million recipes saved on Pinterest that you haven’t tried. Both of my hands are up, which is shame because I have pinned some delicious looking recipes. Therefore, every week, I want to put my Pinterest boards (here and here) to work and try a new recipe. Up this week – a Mississippi Roast. (Am I the only one who has to sing that little song in order to spell Mississippi? Every.time.)mississippi-roast-tablefortwoblog-3Source
  2. My craft / DIY side – My mother and sister amaze me at how crafty they are. I wish I possessed the creativity gene they share, and I’m in a constant state of awe¬†at their ability to sit down to work on a project instead of, say, starting another¬†Netflix marathon (which is especially impressive now I’ve told them about¬†Making a Murderer. Guys, seriously – YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT). My home is devoid of so many DIY wonders, and it makes me sad. So again – my Pinterest board is finally going to get some love and attention. This week I plan on attempting a wreath. I haven’t decided if it will be Valentine’s Day wreath or a spring one…but either way, I’ll be sure to post pictures, no matter how awful¬†it turns out. I’m also including organizational projects in this category, since they are technically DIY. And a lot of times just as pretty as craft projects.
  3. My literary side – I just love reading so much. That’s really all I have to say about that. My goal on Goodreads is to read 36 books this year. I’m on my sixth book,¬†A God in Ruins. It’s the sequel to¬†Life After Life (which I loved). I figure if I get a good start on my goal while on maternity leave, I can reach 36 by the end of 2016. Any good recommendations?

Thanks for sticking with me…if anyone did. And if my audience has dwindled to zero, that’s ok. I started this blog four years ago (!!!) for fun, and that hasn’t changed. Here’s to a productive and creative 2016!

Love,

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{Love the Home You Have} Book Launch

Hello, friends! Today I want to share with you the launch of a new book by one of my favorite bloggers (Melissa from The Inspired Room) titled Love the Home You Have:

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If you own or rent a house (or actually, any kind of dwelling) and you’ve never visited The Inspired Room blog, you must check it out¬†immediately! Melissa is such an inspiration, and every post motivates me to make my house better. Her ideas are fresh, ¬†modern and, most importantly, realistic.

I don’t know about you, but Pinterest has all but ruined my house for me. No matter how excited I am about a new piece of furniture or using throw pillows in a (genius!) new spot, one foray on Pinterest makes me gag at the sight of everything in my house. Ha, ok, that’s a little dramatic, but the Pin-timidation is real. This is a frustrating and exhausting cycle, and, as I’m sure my husband would agree, it needs to stop. I’m super pumped to read Melissa’s book because it’s high time that I love the home I¬†have, not some unattainable Pinterest-worthy home. Besides, with our little toddler-nado on the move, things are never going to be “perfect” anyway. Well, maybe when he moves out and goes to college. But that is never happening because he’s always going to stay home with me¬†foreverandeverandever! Right?!

Aaaaaanyway, to celebrate the launch of her new book, Melissa is hosting a 31 day Love Your Home Challenge. Thirty-three other bloggers – and many readers! – will be joining in as well.

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The book has all the daily challenges Melissa suggests, but ANY project that makes you feel great about your home will work for the challenge.

I can’t wait to read this book (my copy is in the mail!) and share my thoughts with you all. I’ll definitely be taking notes for spring and summer projects around our home. Let the home inspiration begin!

Love,

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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 Рeven 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 Wife,¬†by 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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Fall Book List

One of the (many) reasons we love fall so much is it’s perfect reading weather. There’s nothing like spending some alone-time enjoying a good book with a hot cup of coffee and a soft blanket. We hardly ever get to do this anymore, so now that time is extra special. Below are our favorite fall-inspired books.

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Whitney:¬†Summer reading is just like the season:¬†light, fun and relaxed. While I enjoy a fun read every now and then, my true literary loves are sad books. I don’t know really why…but¬†that‚Äôs just the way I like ‚Äėem! Fall brings back the heavier, not-so-sunny topics. My must-read fall-inspired books are:

“Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson

“The Cider House Rules” by John Irving

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

My fall reading list includes “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde and “The World According to Garp” by John Irving.¬† That is, of course, after I finish two lingering summer reads: “The Pilot’s Wife” and “And the Mountains Echoed”. Actually ‚Äď neither one of those books are exactly ‚Äúlight‚ÄĚ summer choices‚Ķ ah, well. Some habits just refuse to be broken. ūüôā

Kendall: My sister is somewhat of a literary genius. She loves books, always has. She loves to write, always has. And she loves to share her passion for good literature, which I have always loved. I benefit greatly from her recommendations and some of my favorites are directly off of her “must share” list.

I, on the other hand, well, I don’t mind reading. At times, it is just what my soul needs. But one big difference between my sister and me (other than the totally different eye, hair, and skin color) is that I can’t read “heavy” books. I feel like the real world is heavy, so I hesitate when confronted with heavy fantasy worlds. I had to stop reading “Divergent” because I couldn’t get past the thought of my boys choosing to live in another sect. Like stopped reading after chapter five. I still have visions of Aibileen having to leave that poor, sweet child with her unloving mother in “The Help”. Oy. Lord, help me.

So, if you are like me, I want to recommend some lighter fare for the fall. Books that I love, that I feel cozy reading. Not really a summer-y, beach-y kind of book but something with a happy ending that still touches your heart. One that immediately comes to mind is “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers. She is one of my favorite authors. I have all of her books. Yes, all. I would highly recommend her for a light, joyful (in the end) read. A series that I thoroughly enjoyed was “The Chronicles of Narnia” (I know, it’s so 6th grade). These books are great. Every time I read them I love something new about them. I would say my favorites of the series are “The Magician’s Nephew” and “Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia”. I think I may read them again this fall…

With love,

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Summer Reading List

This week has been a rough one. After 15 wonderful weeks with my little man, I had to go back to work. There were lots of tears, but I made it through. Now as I sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on this beautiful Saturday morning, I find myself thinking about the new “normal” in our house. It’s exciting but stressful to think about how different things will be now that J is here. As much as I’m looking forward to our first summer together as a family, I know I’ll need some “me” time. And one of my favorite ways to get away is through a good book. Read on for the books I plan to read this summer!

1. Country Music Broke My Brain by Gerry House.

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This is sort of cheating, since I’m almost done with this book. But I need to get a little help wherever I can – so this counts! ūüôā This is a non-fiction book, so up next is a fiction…and hopefully a book I enjoy more.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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3. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

freakonomics

Love these guys.

4. The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding.

edge

This is the second book in the Bridget Jones’s Diary series. The first one was great – can’t wait to read the second one.

5. Super Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

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6. About a Boy by Nick Hornby.

about a boy

I read Hornby’s¬†A Long Way Down and loved it. I heard a movie is being made for that book, so I thought I’d read another of Hornby’s. And I’m pretty sure there’s a movie about this one too…

7. Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

thinklikeafreak

Do you see a pattern here? This is their newest book. I’m very much looking forward to reading this. Some of the book’s content was already on their podcast, and it’s great.

8. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.

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I got this at a garage sale a few weeks ago for $0.50. Score.

9. Monkey Mind by Daniel B. Smith.

monkey mind

A memoir about a man with severe anxiety. I heard it was actually pretty funny.

10.¬†Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

heatwave

What’s on your summer reading list?

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Taking Stock

How was everyone’s Memorial Day weekend? We spent the entire weekend surrounded by family and friends. It was perfect!

I saw this on another blog over the weekend and loved the idea. What a great way to “take stock” of what is going on in our lives right now. No frills, just us.

Making: Nothing right now, but I hope to start this little project soon!

Cooking: Anything on the grill! Ryan is a master griller, so we have been taking full advantage of the sun and warmer weather.

Drinking: Coffee, coffee and more coffee. The little guy isn’t quite sleeping through the night yet, so java keeps me going through the day. I can’t wait to have a glass of the Sophie that Ryan got for us. It’s Goose Island’s “fancy” beer – and one of our favorites.

Reading: I just finished¬†Life of Pi. Great book – loved it. I’ve decided to alternate¬†between fiction and non-fiction this year, so I’m now reading¬†Country Music Broke My Brain as my non-fiction book. So far it’s…eh.

Wanting: Time to STOP. I go back to work next Wednesday, and it seems like time has flown by the past couple of weeks. I can’t believe I won’t get to spend all day everyday with my little guy anymore. ūüė¶

Looking: For a name for a blog my sister and I want to start. My creative juices really need to start flowing…

Playing: Not sure if this means games, sports or music…so I’m going with music. I’m playing country, of course! I love Florida Georgia Line’s newest song,¬†This Is How We Roll.

Wasting: Time. But like my boy Brad Paisley once said, it’s “time well wasted”: taking naps with all my boys, hanging out outside, sitting around talking with J.

Sewing: Haha, seriously? I’m sewing nothing. Ever. Sorry, Mom.

Wishing: I could follow my passions and find someway to make money doing so.

Enjoying: My son. Now that he’s more interactive, he’s a bundle of fun!

Waiting: For the night when J sleeps 8+ hours! We’re working on it…

Liking: The slight tan I got over the holiday weekend. I always feel better with a little bit of glow!

Wondering: How I will ever balance my work, family and social lives…

Loving: Summer. And everything that comes with it!

Hoping: My poor puppy’s tail feels better. We think Gunner strained his tail over the weekend while swimming. For everyone who knows Gunner and how much that dog wags his tail, you know how much this has to hurt him. Breaks my heart ūüė¶

Gunner and Sarge swimming
Gunner and Sarge swimming

Marveling: At all the things my sweet baby does everyday.

Needing: A coffee date with my lovely (and newly engaged!!) best friend¬†Katie. Tomorrow morning can’t come soon enough!

Smelling: Charcoal. Love it!

Wearing: My favorite maxi dress and sandals.

Following: Cooking blogs. I have the itch to cook lately, especially meals I can freeze.

Noticing: That people have no boundaries when it comes to parenting advice. Complete strangers love to give me their two cents on child rearing. Just nod and smile. ūüôā

Knowing: That I’m doing my best. And that’s going to have to be good enough.

Thinking: Of gift ideas. We have a ton of summer birthdays coming up!

Feeling: Stressed. Big changes coming next week.

Bookmarking: Sleep schedules for babies according to their age. And summer cocktail recipes.

Opening: Our back door about 1,000 times a day. Our dogs cannot get enough of the sunshine!

Giggling: Along with J. Loving his little laugh!

 

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