Friday, December 29, 2017

Books and Beans~November and December 2017

Happy end of 2017!  I can hardly believe this year is over and I am equally surprised that I haven't blogged in forever.  Between a family, full-time job and taking another grad school class, it turns out I don't have much free time! I have big plans for the new year, though, and hope to blog without interruption in 2018.

I am combining my November and December books post so there a a lot of good reads to choose from. Remember, you can order directly from Amazon by clicking on the book title or image. At the end of this post, I'll also be naming my FAVORITE BOOKS of 2017!

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I have been having a moment with my Ninja Coffee Maker
throughout November and December. #givemealltheeggnogandpeppermintlattes There is absolutely nothing better than a good book, a warm drink and a cozy blanket on a winter day.


Church of the Small Things
by: Melanie Shankle
4 out of 5 stars

I became a fan of Melanie Shankle through another author I love, Sophie Hudson. They have a podcast about nothing that always puts a smile on my face. After getting to know them through the podcast, I am now a big fan of their writing. This collection of essays from Melanie Shankle is all about celebrating the little things in life and it is delightful. It was so good, in fact, that I read another one of her books this month too.  It's safe to say that she will appear in future posts as well. If you like short stories centered around one main point and Christian non-fiction, this book is for you.

Winter Solstice
by: Elin Hilderbrand
4 out of 5 stars

I enjoy Elin Hilderbrand's Christmas books almost as much as her beach reads! She writes such sweet stories with interesting characters. If you've never read her winter series but like her other books, you would really enjoy them!

Everyday Chic: My Secrets for Entertaining, Organizing, and Decorating at Home
by: Molly Sims
4 out of 5 stars

I absolutely love Molly Sims' books! This is her second one and she covers all things entertaining and home. She has great style and ideas to use in your home even if you are not a supermodel like her. ;)

by: Melanie Shankle
4 out of 5 stars

I warned you about the second sighting of Melanie Shankle in this post! This sweet book is a collection of essays about motherhood. I literally laughed out loud during parts of this book. Definitely another Melanie Shankle win!

by: B.A. Paris
4 out of 5 stars

This book was so suspenseful! Although I was able to figure out most of the ending early on, I enjoyed the variety of the characters and felt the story moved at a good pace. If you like books with mystery and suspense, this one is a good choice.

by: Debbie Macomber
4 out of 5 stars

What a sweet Christmas read! I don't expect much out of these types of books other than mindless Christmas break reading, but I really liked this story. The characters are fun and the plot involves an online dating situation that mimics the story line of the movie You've Got Mail...which I love! Such an entertaining and enjoyable book.

by: Emily Ley
5 out of 5 stars

Oh. My. Goodness. I love me some Emily Ley. Her writing speaks directly to my soul. This second book is chock full of good ideas to implement in your home to make life more manageable. I could write an entire post about this book...and I may just have to do so!

by: Mary Kay Andrews
3 out of 5 stars

This Christmas book was fun for the holiday season but left me wanting more. If you need a book to read and turn off your brain, this will do the trick. 

by: Nancy Thayer
3 out of 5 stars

Another Christmas beach read and this one was just okay. If you enjoy Nancy Thayer, you would like this book. I can't seem to rate one of her books higher than a three. I always find myself wanting more out of the characters and wish I cared a little more when the books are over. Overall, a good Christmas story.

by: Joy Mangano
3 out of 5 stars

I enjoy reading business/inspiration books and I love stories about single moms who make it big. I enjoyed the business aspect and family focus of this book, but the writing was a little off for me. It felt like it was trying to be conversational but read like a list in some places. Overall, her story is amazing and I would like to watch the movie. I just didn't enjoy the style of the writing and felt it detracted from the book. 

My goal for 2017 was to read 52 books; one book per week. I exceeded that goal and read 61 books! Be sure to check out my other Books and Beans posts if you are interested in everything I read this year. #booknerdsunite

January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017

Drumroll please! My favorite books of 2017 are:

by: Taylor Jenkins Reid


Grace Not Perfection
by: Emily Ley

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Favorites!

Anyone else have big Friday plans?

It's good to be back after missing last Friday's post!  I'm linking up with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites!


Books are always one of my favorite things and you can find my October post HERE in case you missed it!


Operation Christmas Child

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Have you ever heard of Operation Christmas Child? It is a wonderful ministry that sends shoe boxes full of Christmas gifts to children in third world countries. We have done this for the past few years and it is a great way to demonstrate the gift of giving for your little ones. We have our box packed and ready and Mason said he can't wait to send it to his friend who doesn't have any toys. We pay to track our box so we know where it ends up and we pray for the child who is receiving it. Drop off week is next week, so go HERE to learn how to participate!


Holiday Essential Oils
If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know how much I love my doTERRA essential oils. I put in my November order yesterday and I am so excited about receiving my Holiday Blend. It's about to smell like Christmas around here! The enrollment kits are 20% off during the month of November, so if you've thought about ordering one for yourself or for a Christmas gift, go HERE!



Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I plan to knock out a big chunk of my Christmas shopping this weekend. I do most of my shopping online because, like the rest of you, I'm insanely busy, and I can save so much money buying online. My secret weapon is going through Ebates to search for the stores I want to shop at and earning a percentage back for each item I buy. I love getting my rebate check after the start of the new year and seeing all the money I "saved" at Christmas! ;) If you click HERE, you can get $10 just for joining and shopping!


Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies

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I am obsessed with the Hallmark Channel around the holidays. I'm not quite sure why I can't get enough of these cheesy movies at Christmas, but they make me oh so happy!  I'm hoping to decorate for Christmas on Sunday (don't judge!) and you bet this channel will be playing in the background.

I hope you all spend time surrounded by your happy things this weekend!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Books and Beans~October 2017

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Even though pumpkin spice lattes have my heart, I am having a moment with caramel macchiatos...yum!


October was a bit of a slow reading month for me with only three books completed. I have a head start on November, though so you will want to check back then as well. I can't believe I only have two more Books and Beans posts in 2017!

by: Kristan Higgins
4 out of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It centers around two sisters who are both dealing with loss; one the death of her new husband and the other a breakup of a long-term relationship. I have read Kristin Higgins in the past and this is one of her best yet!

by: Abby Fabiaschi
4 out of 5 stars

This book was good but a slow read for me. The premise is a mother who has taken her own life, leaving her husband and teenage daughter to pick up the pieces of what used to be their perfect life. The twist is that the mom is watching from beyond and orchestrating things in their favor to help them heal. This book was strange yet engaging and did have a good twist at the end. As you know, any book that can surprise me with a twist is a good read.

by: Kate White
3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book because I have read and enjoyed Kate White before. This one was just okay, though. I never really felt connected with the characters and there were too many red herrings for my liking. I love a good mystery/suspense, but this seemed all over the place. I actually like this book more until I got to the last two pages. It then reads like an author on a deadline. Pretty good mystery, but if you've never read Kate White, read The Sixes instead!

I'd love to connect with you on Goodreads HERE, Instagram HERE or Facebook HERE. Let me know what I should be reading next!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Friday Favorites!

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Happy Friday, everyone! Once again, I'm linking up with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites!

I love Nordstrom mail days...especially when the everything arrives just in time for the coldest day so far. You can find my scarf HERE, my shirt HERE and the softest sweater on Earth HERE. It is spendy but worth every penny! I will be wearing mine all the time!


You all know my love for all things Halloween. I had such a great time taking my little Optimist Prime to the Howl-zoo-een at our local zoo!

Squash Soup at Panera after was a must! Yum!


This guy earned his first soccer medal on Saturday....

this guy played his last game of sophomore football...

and this guy shot pics of it all!

I love watching my kids do what they love and seeing how they love each other...


Dan and I had our very first date on 10-10-10 and had our picture taken in this booth for the very first time. Each year we return to the booth and take a picture. Eight pictures taken so that this first date was my last first date!


My October book review will be up next week, but I am already working on my list for November!  Right now, I am feeling a mystery/suspense theme and reading this book...

I really liked her book The Sixes, and so far, this one is good too!  You can buy your copy HERE.

I predict some pumpkin carving and S'mores in my future this weekend! Hope it's a good one for you and yours!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Favorites! *Winner Announced!*

I'm so excited to announce the winner of the book and Starbucks gift card from last week's post! Thank you to all of you who entered. Jessica Gipson, I emailed you earlier this week. Congrats!  If you didn't win, grab your own copy of the book will love it! Stay tuned for future giveaways on the blog. :)

It's Friday and you know what that means...

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I'm linking up with fellow bloggers ErikaNarci and Andrea to share my Friday Favorites!
Since it's Friday the 13th, I thought it would be fun to show you our favorite ways to celebrate Halloween around the Zehr house.  To me, Halloween is just the start of the holiday season and it is the one holiday that is easy and low stress.  So fun!



Pumpkins and mums and skulls, oh my! We love to decorate the house for Halloween and we get our pumpkins early. We either carve or paint them the weekend before Halloween.



We love choosing Halloween costumes. Although the older boys don't dress up anymore, our little is still so excited about it! My favorite sources for costumes are Old Navy (for the littles),, Amazon, and Costco. Dan and I used to attend or host a party each year, but last year we just dressed up and took Mason out. Here are some of our looks in the past few years...


Yummy Soups

Halloween is the perfect night to throw together an easy chili recipe like THIS or a soup like THIS to eat before trick-or-treating. Put all of your ingredients in the slow cooker and dinner is so easy on this busy night.


Halloween Shows

Halloween wouldn't be the same without watching It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, Hocus Pocus or Spookley the Square Pumpkin. :)

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The Extras

Each year, we buy Mason a Halloween plate from Pottery Barn and new Halloween pajamas.  Here are his choices this year...

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PJ's from Gymboree :)


Local Events

There a several fun Halloween events for families in our area and we like to do at least one each year.

Halloween In the Park

Boo Bash (Trick-or-Treating at the high school where we work)


The Pumpkin Patch

We make a trip to a local apple farm each year to pick out pumpkins and get lost in a corn maze. It's the perfect fall day and I look forward to it all year!

I'd love to hear your ideas for making Halloween fun!

Have a fantastic weekend!