Friday, December 30, 2016

Books and Beans ~ November & December

The holidays are always such a busy time, so I neglected to post in November.  Thus, a combo post to round out my year in books.  If you are interested in the complete list of books I read in 2016, see the bottom of this post or follow me on Goodreads!


These two months, I was all about drinking the Holiday Spice Flat White.  Since I have been trying to cut down on sugar in my morning coffee, my usual white peppermint mocha just seemed too sweet.  The Holiday Spice Flat White was the perfect amount of sweetness and just "Christmasy" enough to satisfy my holiday coffee wishes! :)

(all book images are from Amazon)

Love Your Life, Not Theirs:  7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want  by: Rachel Cruze
(4 out of 5 Stars)

I have been a Dave Ramsey fan for a few years now, and Rachel is his daughter.  I like her writing style and her relatability.  I will definitely check out her other work after reading this helpful financial book!

(4 out of 5 Stars)

This is the last book in the Winter series and I liked it just as much as the others.  It's an easy, likable read.

(4 out of 5 Stars)

I may have found a new "beachy" author to love!  I enjoyed this story and, of course, the setting.  Books that have the beach as the setting can't miss in my book.

(4 out of 5 Stars)

You know I love anything autobiographical, especially about girl bosses.  Jessica DiLullo Herrin is the CEO of Stella and Dot.  I really enjoyed this book!

(3 out of 5 Stars)

While this book was funny in parts, it was my least favorite book over these two months.  I found it difficult to read because the scenarios just seemed to drag on and some of it was very unbelievable.  Definitely not what I expected.

It Ends With Us  by: Colleen Hoover
(5 out of 5 Stars)

This was my favorite book of 2016!!!  I read a lot, so when an author can completely engross me in a story and make me feel the feelings and struggle of the main character as acutely as Colleen Hoover did in this book, I know I'm onto something great.  This book deals with domestic violence, so it is a hard sell to encourage your girlfriends to read it, but when you do, they will thank you.  This book is exquisitely written.

The Magnolia Story by: Chip and Joanna Gaines
(5 out of 5 Stars)

Love. These. Two.  Enough this book if you are a fan!

Girl Code:  Unlocking the Secrets to Success, Sanity, and Happiness for the Female Entrepreneur  by: Cara Alwill Leyba
(4 out of 5 Stars)

Another girl boss book that I thoughoughly enjoyed.  I love her wit and humor.

Minding Frankie by: Maeve Binchy
(3 out of 5 Stars)

I read this book for my book club at school and while I did not love it, I do love the setting of Ireland and the sense of community and interconnectedness that Maeve Binchy always so wonderfully creates.  Good read, but I was left with questions and there was little plot action.

Talking as Fast as I Can:  From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls and Everything in Between  by: Lauren Graham
(4 out of 5 Stars)

After waiting not so patiently for the reboot of Gilmore Girls, I binged watched it and then couldn't wait to get my hands on this little gem.  In my mind, Lauren and Lorelei are the same person and this book reads like Lorelei's voice.  I really enjoyed it.

Thanks for letting me combine two very busy months.  It always astounds me that no matter how busy I am, I ALWAYS make time to read.  I guess we truly do make time for what matters most to us.  If only I felt that way about consistent exercise.... :)

If you want to see all my books of 2016, check out these posts!


Happy New Year and happy reading!  Join me on Goodreads by starting a reading challenge.  I have set a goal to read 52 books in 2017.  Keep your suggestions coming!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Books and Beans~October


This month is all about the Pumpkin Spice Latte!  Although I love it just the way it is, I have been mixing it up a bit by adding two pumps of white chocolate and two pumps of pumpkin into a grande...divine!!

Three books this month, all good, but only one must read.  I have big reading plans for November, though!

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
(3 out of 5 Stars)

This book was mindless fun.  Workplace romance that begins as hate.  You can't get more mindless than that!

The Spender's Guide to Debt-Free Living:  How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get from Broke to Badass in Record Time  bu: Anna Newell Jones
(3 out of 5 Stars)

I love starting the new year with a financial challenge, so I always read up a bit before January.  This book was full of great ideas for saving but more extreme than I plan to be.  I love that she went for it and chronicled her journey.  There is something for everyone to learn by reading this book.

The Pie Life:  A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction  by:  Samantha Ettus
(4 out of 5 Stars)

I really enjoyed this book.  As you know by now, I am a self-help junkie.  This book is practical, fun and full of great strategies for maximizing time.  I had never heard of Samantha Ettus before reading this and am now a fan.  Would you believe that just a few weeks after I read this book she "liked" one of my Instagram posts?!  And the post wasn't even about her book.  So cool!

Let me know what you are reading.  I'm already starting my list for 2017!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Books and Beans~September

Hello, fellow book nerds!  I did a little better this month with balancing the rest of my life with more important things, like reading. :)

Can you say Pumpkin Spice Latte?  Fall is my absolute favorite time of year and this drink just makes it all the more fantastic.  This year I mixed it up by ordering a grande with two pumps of pumpkin and two pumps of white chocolate.  Divine!  

(All book images are from

Truly Madly Guilty by: Liane Moriarty
(3 out of 5 Stars)
Somewhere along the line, I forgot to review this book that I read this summer.  There may be a reason I forgot.  I was so excited to read this book and was very disappointed by it.  There was incredible build up and then...nothing.  The turning point left me feeling confused and duped into believing it was something other than what I had already predicted.  I still gave it three stars, but that was mostly due to the fact that I love Liane Moriarty's other books and I don't want to hurt her feelings too much when she reads my blog. (Of course she does.)

Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me by: Alexandra Kuykendall
(4 out of 5 Stars)

I love reading books where the author sets a goal or a life experiment and then journals his or her progress and journey through it.  This sweet book is a good reminder to practice mindfulness and not let our everyday life pass us by.  I really enjoyed it.

Mix-and-Match Mama Eats: Crazy Good Go-To Meals by: Shay Shull
(5 out of 5 Stars)

Such a great cookbook!  I love reading Shay's blog and her cookbook has been such a lifesaver on busy school nights.  My family is a big fan of most of her recipes and they come together in a very short time.  It is also divided up into months of the year with corresponding recipes for each month.  Happy family, quick meals, and organization...all things that make me smile!

Giddy Up, Eunice: Because Women Need Each Other by: Sophie Hudson
(4 out of 5 Stars)

Sophie Hudson's writing voice is exquisite.  It is like sitting down to a conversation with a good friend.  She is funny, warm, and this girl knows her Bible!  I loved this book and loved getting to "know" Sophie in the process.  After reading the book, I checked out both her blog and her podcast.  She is one impressive lady!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Books and Beans~August

It's amazing what a difference the beginning of the school year makes on my reading schedule. Remember my book review post from July?  Yeah, this month is its exact opposite.

This month, my Starbucks drink of choice toggled between the Strawberry Acai Refresher with coconut milk and a dirty chai. Hanging onto summer and transitioning into fall. 😊

In the words of my favorite Orange County Housewife, Heather Dubrow, this month's reading efforts were "no bueno".  I read one book. ONE. Sigh. It's amazing how things like work and sleep can get in the way of what  really matters. However, the one book I did read was sooo good. So that helps.

Falling by: Jane Green

This book is what it claims to be...a love story.  But it is so much more.  I love fiction that surprises, and this one does.  It is hard to review this book without including spoilers.  Jane Green is always a good read, and this one is especially so.  Let me know what you think after you read it!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Favorites~Link-Up!

I'm linking up again with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share Friday Favorites!

I *heart* the Target beauty boxes.  July's was full of goodies that I was able to take on my trip to California.  Such a fun mail day when this guy arrives!

I love reading Shay's Blog and her book is just as sweet!  I cannot wait to make the fall and winter recipes especially.  See all the books I read in July here.

I love to travel.  And when the trip is last minute, it's even more fun!  The view when flying is good for the soul.

I'm still loving our garden harvests.  I made these zucchini boats the night after we got home.  Zucchini hollowed out and topped with ricotta cheese, pizza sauce, Parmesan and basil.  Yum!

While I love getting away with my handsome hubby, it's always the best to come back home.  The older boys were on vacation with their cousins and this momma was so happy when everyone (and their laundry) was back in the nest!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Home Plate {Easy Fish Tacos}

Welcome to my recipe series!  We are a baseball loving family (despite our differences in team preferences), so there is no better title for this series than “Home Plate”.  After all, these recipes feed my very favorite home team. J

Getting dinner on the table every night for my household of boys can be a bit of a challenge.  I will be blogging about my meal planning process soon.  While our family has our tried and true favorites, I am always scouring blogs, magazines and Pinterest to add new recipes to our rotation.  The older they get, the more they eat, so staying on a budget is also a priority.

Over the past six months or so, I have begun shopping at Aldi for more of our family’s food.  While I can’t get everything on my list there, I am finding more and more products that my family loves (organic coffee pods, I’m talking about you!)

Today’s home plate is a super quick recipe for fish tacos using a majority of items found at Aldi.  My family loves this dish and I love how easy it is for the weeknight rush.

{Easy Fish Tacos}
2 Packages Frozen Talapia (thawed)(approximately 4 filets per package)
Old Bay Seasoning (not at Aldi, but the best!)
Flour Tortillas

Toppings of Choice:
Mexican Cheese
Sour Cream

Spray a large baking sheet or 9 by 13 pan with non-stick spray.  Place Tilapia on the pan and drizzle a little olive oil on each filet.  Season each filet with Old Bay and bake the Tilapia according to the directions on the package.

Chop and prepare toppings while the fish cooks.  Wrap the stack of tortillas in foil and warm in the oven for a few minutes.

When fish is ready, place in a bowl and separate with a fork.  Spoon fish onto warm tortillas and top as desired.

This is such a quick and easy meal that pairs well with chips and salsa, rice, or a salad.  It might be a bit healthy too!  (Shhhh….don’t tell the teenagers. J)

I’d love for you to share links of some of your family’s favorite meals for me to steal try.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Favorites

I'm linking up again with fellow bloggers Erika, Narci and Andrea to share Friday Favorites!

I have struggled for years to find a workout that I love.  In high school, cheerleading was my fitness routine and I loved every minute of it.  I also love to ride bikes (especially along the lake in Chicago), but I don't live where biking is a safe activity.  Since I don't especially like gyms, I'm always on the search for an at-home option.  The 21 Day Fix workout DVD's are my absolute favorite.  I ordered them and Shakeology from a friend who is a trainer and I am hooked.  Unlike other Beachbody workouts (P90X, I'm talking about you), these workouts only take 30 minutes per day and work every inch of muscle.  If I can stick with it when school starts, I'll have even more muscle to work! :)

One of my favorite things about summer is the small garden I plant full of tomatoes, basil, cilantro, strawberries and cucumbers.  There is nothing like picking fresh tomatoes and basil for a quick Caprese style lunch.  And you know that is one of my favorite Three Things!  Mason also loves to help me pick things from the garden but the strawberries and cherry tomatoes usually do not make it inside when he helps. :)

I absolutely love Emily Giffin's new book!  She is an author that never disappoints, but this one is especially good.  I read it during our last minute vacation and could not put it down.  If you would like to see all of the books I read this month, check out my July Book and Beans Post.

My handsome husband and I took a last minute trip to Los Angeles to celebrate our four year anniversary.  Although it is super hard to leave the kids, these trips are so important to us a couple.  We believe that the best thing we can do for our kids is to have a strong marriage partnership and these trips are just one way we do that. We stayed in Hollywood and acted like total tourists!  There are few things I enjoy more that traveling to a place I've never been before.  Traveling is definitely one of my favorite things.  See our trip to Nashville here!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Books and Beans {July}

Holy Batman, I read A LOT of books during July!  Since I am back to work next week, I'm sure next month's Books and Beans post will look much different.

My Starbucks drink of choice this month was the Strawberry Acai Refresher with Coconut Milk.  If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the pic of me jumping on the bandwagon. :) #pinkdrink

(All book images are from Amazon)

Three Wishes by: Liane Moriarty
(3 out of 5 stars)

While I love Liane Moriarty, this book was just good, not great.  I did enjoy the triplet sister story line but felt some of it was forced.  Liane Moriarty fans should read this but it won't be one of your favorites.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by: Elizabeth Bard
(4 out of 5 stars)

I saw this book while walking through Barnes and Noble.  It was such an enjoyable read!  This is a memoir using food, love and Paris as the backdrops.  Who wouldn't love that?

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by: Marie Kondo
(3 out of 5 stars)

While I won't be thanking my socks anytime soon (you have to read her books to understand), I love to organize so this book did have some great tips and ideas in it.  I basically will read anything that focuses on reducing and organizing stuff, so I enjoyed it!

The EveryGirl's Guide to Cooking by: Maria Menounos
(5 out of 5 stars)

Oh Maria!  I love her books!  She shoots the photos herself at home and her advice and recipes are easy and inspiring.  While so many celebrity cookbooks have you using ingredients you can barely pronounce, Maria tells you how to make a quick and healthy meal with items most of us have on hand.  Great book and great addition to her EveryGirl book series!

Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me by: Ally Hilfiger
(3 out of 5 stars)

If you've read my other Books and Beans Posts, you know I love a good memoir; even if it has absolutely nothing to do with something I can relate to.  Bite me is a good book for anyone who has been diagnosed with or knows someone with Lyme Disease.  While I am neither of those, I found this book to be heartbreaking and honest.

All Summer Long by: Dorothea Benton Frank
(2 out of 5 stars)

While I loved the setting and premise of this book, it just went on FOREVER.  The plot is enjoyable but extremely slow.  I had a hard time reading it because I felt like nothing was happening.  I have not read this author before, so I would have to read another one of hers before writing her off.  Any suggestions are appreciated!

The Life Giving Home by: Sally and Sarah Clarkson
(4 out of 5 stars)

This sweet book was a great reminder of how important the home environment is for our soul.  While some of the suggestions are not applicable to my family and our interests, the underlying theme of being intentional with connection and cultivating a welcoming home environment were wonderful.

Mix-and-Match Meal Planner: Your Weekly Guide to Getting Dinner on the Table by: Shay Shull
(4 out of 5 stars)

Such a cute little cookbook!  I read Shay's blog daily and just think she's a fascinating lady.  I absolutely cannot wait to try the recipes in the fall and winter section.  Cozy comfort food for the win!

The Weekenders by: Mary Kay Andrews
(4 out of 5 stars)

This book wrapped up my beach reads for the summer and I'm so glad it was this one!  I loved the story line and it had just enough mystery wrapped into it to keep the love story interesting.  Very enjoyable book!

First Comes Love by: Emily Giffin
(5 out of 5 stars)

I loved this book so much!  I took it to read on a trip and read it in a minute!  I absolutely could not put it down.  The plot includes a sister relationship angle, grief, and women who are looking for their own versions of happily ever after.  I love Emily Giffin and I think this is her best book yet!

I really can't believe that July is drawing to a close and I read 10 books this month!  I hope I have something to write about next month; I go back to school next week.  I'd love any suggestions of what you all are reading to add to my list.  Read my other Books and Beans posts to add to your reading list!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Link Up!~Stranded With Three Famous People

I'm linking up with Shay and Erica today for their Stranded Link-Up Series.  Reading everyone's posts from this series is so much fun!

I'm choosing three famous people who are ALIVE for this post.  My dead people answers would be very different, but who wants to be stranded with dead people?! ;)

(Image from

Of course, my first choice is Oprah.  Here she is whipping us up some Orange Margaritas from the orange tree on the island we are stranded on.  We'll sip margaritas and have a Super Soul Sunday kind of chat.  We'll talk about spirit, books, and maybe a favorite thing or two.  You get a deserted island and you get a deserted island!!

Jeff Probst
(Image from

How handy would this guy be to have around on the island?  He could figure out how we were going to survive while Oprah and I polish off the margaritas.  I mean, he's made a living out of being a a survivor so why let that go to waste?

Yadi Molina
(Image from

I plan on playing catch with this major leaguer while on the island.  We could get some exercise and talk Cardinal baseball.  I hope we are stranded in the off season, though, or else I need to change my answer.  I need him playing in St. Louis if games are going on!

I can't wait to read everyone's answers today!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Devotions Through Divorce ~ Week 3

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.~Matthew 6:34
I am a gifted worrier.  If worrying were an Olympic sport, I’d take the gold.  There I would be, standing on the platform, wearing the gold medal around my neck with the Star Spangled Banner playing proudly for all to hear and worrying that I would fall off the platform before the song was over.
During my season of divorce, worrying became my second full-time job. There were so many things outside of my control and so much uncertainty. However, the more time I spent talking to God, the more I realized that life is always out of control and uncertain. The only certainty in life is that God will equip us with what we need as our needs arise. Worrying does not speed up this process, it only blocks the blessings from our eyes.

I have cultivated a habit of praying when I begin to worry. Given my proclivity toward worrying, this proves very helpful for my prayer life! Pray more, worry less. Actively take care of what you can today and leave the rest to God.