Monday, November 26, 2018

Books and Beans~October and November 2018

October got away from me (I was distracted by all the pumpkins and fall goodness), so this month's post is a double!

(via schoolpsychlife on Instagram)


In an effort to cut down on sugar, I came up with a pumpkin spice latte hack from Starbucks in October. I would order a flat white with two pumps of pumpkin. All the flavor, half the guilt. ;)

In November, I started my holiday drink obsession early; give me all the egg nog lattes and peppermint!

Grab your favorite hot drink (full or half sugar; no judgements here), and enjoy hearing about the books I read in October and November.


by: Julia Whelan
4 out of 5 stars

I loved the title and setting of this book, so it has been on my list for awhile. It centers around an American girl off to spend a year at Oxford. Of course, there is a relationship that develops and complications ensue. I liked this book, but it was a bit slow for me during the first half. I did not see the twist coming, though, and you know how I love any book that can surprise me!

by Dane Huckelbridge
4 out of 5 stars

Think Castaway, only a man and a woman, each from different countries. This book is beautifully written and the vividness of the descriptions of being stranded on an island are so well done. Parts of the end were difficult to read, and again I was floored by the events at the end. Overall, a good read!

by: Jesse James Decker
4 out of 5 stars

Give me all the autobiographical/home/fashion advice books. I unapologetically will read any book in this category. This one contained some great recipes that I've already tried with good reviews from my family!

by: Lindsey Stanberry
4 out of 5 stars

Along with reading glimpses into other people's home lives and daily routines, I love seeing how people spend their money. If I didn't blog and write about these topics, I might be bordering on stalker status. This book is an interesting look at the money habits (told one week at a time) of various women from across the country. If you are a bit of a personal finance nerd like me, you will enjoy this book.

by: Sandie Jones
4 out of 5 stars

Oh my stars. This book was so good. And disturbing. And twisty. It involves a girl, her boyfriend and his creepy mom. Once they get engaged, all bets are off. Again, didn't see the end coming. If you like reads like Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, etc., this one is your jam!

by: Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander
3 out of 4 stars

Again with the stalker status. I love getting a glimpse into other people's routines and habits. While this book was interesting, I did not love it as much as others in this category that I have read before. If you are interested in a new morning routine, see this post from last year for my best recommendation. 

by RaeAnne Thayne
3 out of 5 stars

I picked up this book to kick off my Christmas book reading for December and thought it was good one to start with. When a single mom with a past comes to town to intern as the new veterinarian, romance and conflict ensues. This is an easy read and has a little more conflict than a Hallmark movie. Have I ever talked about how much I love Hallmark movies this time of year? Maybe once or twice. Add this to your list if you want an easy Christmasy read, but and of the books in the Winter Street Series by Elin Hilderbrand should be first on your list if you haven't read them.

Wow! That's a long post! I hope you make time to soak up all the joys of this wonderful season of the year with you and yours. I'll see you back for December's review and the last of this year next month!


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Books and Beans~September 2018


Welcome back, PSL! Whether I'm ordering this one at Starbucks or making my own at home with my Ninja Coffee Station, nothing helps me welcome my favorite season like a pumpkin spice latte, a good book and a perfect fall day. 


September was a bit of a slow reading month for a few reasons. I started a new grad school class so between that and my day job, it really cut into my reading time. :) I also quit reading three different books this month. That's right, I started reading them and just couldn't get into them. I will do this occasionally, but giving up on three books in one month is a record for me. Some readers can't fathom quitting a book, but I figure there are so many great books left to read, why waste time on ones that I'm not enjoying? The three books I did finish this month were really good and couldn't be more different from each other.

From the Corner of the Oval
by: Beck Dorey-Stein
4 out of 5 stars

This memoir about a young girl who fell into a job as a stenographer for President Obama was so good. The stark contrast between history in the making and her messy young twenties decisions made the book extremely engaging and entertaining. I am so anxious to plan a trip to Washington D.C. after reading this book. While not my typical pick, I'm glad I read it!

Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love & Baking Biscuits
by: Reese Witherspoon
5 out of 5 stars

Be still my heart. I love me some Reese Witherspoon and I'm probably the most southern yankee you've ever met. This book is chock full of entertaining ideas, life advice and the best biscuit recipe you've ever made. This book has a permanent place on my coffee table and I know I will read it again and again. 

Heat Wave
by: Nancy Thayer
3 out of 5 stars

I ended the month with a beach read and it was pretty good. I gave it three stars because I found it to be a little slow moving and the character's responses (especially the teens) a little far fetched. The premise of the book is a woman who is unexpectedly widowed and forced to find a way to provide for herself and her daughters. She decides to change her sprawling, historic house into a bed and breakfast to meet that need. This is good mindless reading, and I can never talk too bad about a beach read!

I hope you have an amazing month full of pumpkin spice and books that you love!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Books and Beans~August 2018

(image via Instagram @letterfolk)


August's coffee of choice was nothing more than coffee brewed at home on my Ninja and THIS creamer. Why is this creamer soooo good?


August was another fabulous reading month! And while I have a whole list of good books for you this month, I am sooooo excited to read while curled up with a pumpkin spice latte in the coming months! Fall reading is my favorite type of reading. :)

by: Catherine Steadman
4 out of 5 stars

Oh my goodness...this book is suspenseful! Reese Witherspoon chose this as one of her book club books and I know she will have to make it into a movie. The story begins at the end and then works its way back to the beginning chapter, which only serves to build the suspense. It centers around a couple on their honeymoon who come across a bag floating in the ocean. What they find inside and the events that follow will keep you on the edge of your seat. I could not read this book fast enough. Read this if you are in the mood for a suspenseful thriller.

by: Dale Thomas
5 out of 5 stars

I discovered Dale Smith Thomas' work many years and have received her weekly emails ever since. She is an extremely positive and motivational person. This book is inspiring and an easy read full of motivational pick-me-ups. Read this if you need to motivate yourself to liven up your life.

by: Lisa Wingate
5 out of 5 stars

This book. Amazing. Heartbreaking. Stemming from the real-life events surrounding the Tennessee Child Welfare System and illegal adoption in 1939, this book depicts the heart-aching events that occurred and the unbreakable bonds between siblings. I am very picky about historical fiction, but this book is superb...and hard for a mom to read. Read this if you want to read a book that will stay with you long after the last page.

by: Kristin Cavallari
4 out of 5 stars

With the help of a chef that she met when her husband was playing for the Chicago Bears, Kristin Cavallari has written a cookbook that has many great recipes for clean eating. She has removed all dairy, gluten, and sugar from her family's diet and healed some medical issues as a result. I checked this book out from the library and made five of the recipes over a weekend. They were very good and even my family approved. The best part was most ingredients are simple and don't require you milk your own goats or have a five acre garden. Read this if you want to add a few excellent clean-eating recipes to your cooking rotation. 

by: Colleen Hoover
4 out of 5 stars

Remember when I read It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover and deemed it my favorite book of the year? While not as good as that one, this novel comes very close. Colleen Hoover sucks you right in to lives of a couple struggling with infertility and trying to maintain their relationship as a result. Switching back and forth between present day and the beginning of their relationship, this book is such a good read. Read this if you want a book that is a love story with achingly imperfect life events getting in the way of love. 

You really can't go wrong with any of the books I read in August. I love when that happens! I already have a long list for fall and would love to know what is on your reading list as well. Remember you can click on the title or image of the book to be taken straight to Amazon. If you choose to order, I do receive a very small kickback on your purchase. All proceeds go toward supporting my reading habit. :)

Happy Reading!


(all images from

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday Favorites!

                                                              (via manda_g501 on Instagram)

Today I'm back and linking up with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites. It has been both an amazing and busy summer; just like I like it! I have missed blogging on Fridays. Thanks for reading; I have so many fun things to share!


Shine On with Reese

I should have titled this Reese Witherspoon, Dolly Parton, enough said. Have you heard about Reese Witherspoon's new media company called Hello Sunshine? She has several shows coming out, and Shine on with Reese debuted a few weeks ago. Now, this is only available through DirecTV, but you can watch the first episode with Dolly Parton free HERE. I don't have DirecTV, so I now need to make friends with someone who does. The first episode is so good; both inspiring and heartwarming. I promise you'll love it as much as I did! There is nothing better than women who support other women and Reese Witherspoon is an excellent example of that.


San Diego

Did you see my post about the trip Dan and I took to San Diego? If not, you can find that HERE. We fell in love with this city!



Oh my goodness, we love these! Mason loves the ice popsicles that look like these but I cringe at the ingredients list. With these, I can freeze organic juice and we are both happy. I also never have popsicles on hand in the winter when we need them for fevers. With Zipcicles, I can just make my own. Such a fun purchase.  They are reasonably priced too. I think I paid about $12 for 100, so we should have them for awhile. Ha!

I know I have blogged about my love for Living Proof dry shampoo before, but since I go back to work next week, it was time to stock up. This girl doesn't always have time to wash her hair and this stuff helps me keep it clean all the same.  If follow another blogger who gets a code periodically for buy one get one free. Follow my Instagram HERE and I will let you know the next time it rolls around!


Loft Sale/Nordstrom Sale

While I was in San Diego, I was able to get a "little" shopping in while Dan was working. I hit up the sales at both Loft and Nordstrom and found a lot of cute things like...


Now that I'm back at at school and have cute new flannels in my closet, I feel myself getting geared up for fall. I swear I get pumpkin fever earlier every year! 

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

San Diego, California

This past July, Dan and I had the opportunity to take a trip to San Diego, California, for five days BY OURSELVES! Dan was offered the opportunity to cover Comic Con as a member of the press for his podcast, Coffee with Kenobi. Since this event also fell just before our anniversary, we decided to combine work and fun and make a trip out of it!

We left nice and early on a Monday morning. I love wearing a maxi dress on a plane and the jacket is a must since I am always freezing. Truth be told, I pack socks on my carry on since you will never find me walking barefoot through security. #yuck I also had to put the socks on mid-flight because my feet were freezing. My dress and jacket are past season Gap and my shoes are Toms wedges. 

An important note for later, I decided to only have a carry on for this trip and Dan checked a bag. I do not like checking bags because it is always a hassle. Speaking of hassle, I was hassling Dan about his decision to check his bag while we were packing and ended up putting half of my stuff in his bag because my carry on was too small. #whoopsie This is also the forshadowing portion of the story.

Is there anything better than the view from an airplane? I especially love flying west over the mountains.

The weather in San Diego was AMAZING. It was summer during the day and fall weather at night. Perfection. We stayed at the Omni Hotel in Downtown San Diego across from the convention center where Comic Con was happening later in the week. Getting there early and watching them set up for the event was incredible. The entire downtown literally changes overnight.

The convention center...

Our hotel was right next to the Gaslamp District, which includes lots of shopping and fun restaurants.

After our plane landed, we took a short Uber ride to our hotel, ditched our suitcases and walked to the Gaslamp District to eat. We randomly chose the Rockin' Baja Lobster Bar and Grill and it was so good! We ordered margaritas, a collection of appetizers and checked out the different types of salsa in the salsa bar inside. It was so good! We sat outside and made a loose plan for how to explore San Diego.

Our hotel was right next to Petco Park so we walked around it on our way back to work off our lunch and check out another baseball park. The Padres were not in town or, otherwise, we would have gone to a game. We love checking out new baseball parks. This is the only baseball related thing that we agree on!

After that, we walked to the harbor, went back to our hotel, went to the gym and then both fell asleep by the pool. Dinner on the first night was room service because we were exhausted from traveling.

Our view from the hotel at night...

We were up bright and early the next morning and after finding a Starbucks, we decided to take the ferry to Coronado Island, which was about fifteen minutes from our hotel. 

This was one of our favorite days of the trip. We shopped, ate, checked out adorable beach houses, visited the Hotel Coronado, went to a farmer's market, and walked all around this beautiful island.

Beach house stalking...

I could eat this for lunch every day of my life. Lobster, shrimp and crab rolls.

After walking the beach at the beautiful Hotel Coronado where there are literally gold flecks in the sand, we went to the hotel patio bar and had ourselves a little happy hour. 

California just gets me...

On the way back to the ferry, we shopped some more and I found a place with Kombucha on tap...LOVE! It totally looked like I was drinking a small cup of beer with a straw on the ferry ride back. :)

After cleaning up, we took an Uber to Old Town for dinner at Cafe Coyote.

It was the best Mexican food I have ever had in my life. From the handmade tortillas to the mariachi band that played to us over chips and salsa, it was an epic date night.

After dinner, we walked and checked out the vendor carts and shops and then captured this amazing sunset...

The next morning, we took an Uber over to Little Italy. One of our favorite parts of traveling is heading to random parts of the city and getting lost for a few hours. Also, eating... 

We met the nicest shop owners, ate some amazing Italian food and wine for lunch, walked through yet another farmer's market and had a fabulous start to our day. After lunch Dan needed to head back to the convention center to go to work, so I took an Uber to a nearby mall and shopped by myself for over four hours! I honestly can't remember the last time that happened and it was so fun! I found a lot of good deals and knew that packing everything I bought was going to be very interesting in that carryon I insisted on sticking to. 

I headed back to our hotel, freshened up and set out for the Gaslamp District to get dinner. ComiCon was in full swing at this point and the people watching was amazing. I spotted the E News stage but didn't see Guiliana or Jason...

The Gaslamp District at night...

I actually ended up sitting in the hotel lobby bar area and ordered a glass of wine and appetizers. I used the time to work on homework and blog and met Dan for a late dinner when he wrapped for the day.

The next morning, Dan set out early to do a live show and attend events. We had to switch hotels for our last night (which we planned in advance), so I did my absolute best to shove everything into our two suitcases and headed north thirty minutes to Del Mar. We stayed at an adorable boutique hotel called Hotel Indigo. I had the whole day ahead of me, so I through on my suit and coverup and set out for the beach. I do not mind being alone in a new city and that is one of the main reasons that Dan and I enjoy combining work and play with these trips. We get a few days together and then he can work while I explore and he doesn't need to worry that I'm bored. 

I ate my lunch with a good book and a far off view of the water. The weather and the food options are two of my favorite things about California.

After lunch, I headed to my happy place...

An Amtrak train runs right along this beach. I would love to take our kids on that train ride someday. 

It was a perfect day, so I threw on some sunscreen and a cute sun hat and settled to to finish my book. It was the perfect way to spend my last day. 

San Diego did not disappoint. Both Dan and I agree that it is one of our favorite west coast cities. 

We set out for the airport early the next morning so we could catch Parker's game later that day. When we got to the airport, were told that our checked bag was ten pounds overweight. Did I mention that I had shoved that bag full of my purchases because my carry on wasn't cutting it? Ha ha! Dan was not about paying the extra $100 to fly my good deals back to Illinois, so we opened that bag right on the curb, shoved some things in our carry ons and layered up. He was super happy with me. :) It all worked out in the end...

Such a fun week with my guy!