everyday inspiration

Latest

Book Reviews: The Adventurous Woman, The Paralyzed Woman + The Confident Woman

I decided to add another item to my 30 Before 30 list. It’s honestly one I’m surprised I didn’t think about before: Read 30 books. Maybe I’ll call it a bonus in case I don’t complete one of my other tasks. I’m now 8/30 books in, and 3 months into the challenge. Time to keep reading!

Still Me – Jojo Moyes: I was super skeptical about this book, and here’s why – I LOVED Me Before You (A+), but then tried the sequel and hated it. This is technically the 3rd book in the series, but could easily stand on it’s own. It’s about a girl who moves to NYC from England to be a “family assistant.” It includes all great things NYC, a long-distance love triangle, and more than anything is about a girl who finds out who she really is.
Grade: A-

The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn: It seems like there are currently a lot of books out there very similar to this one (The Woman in Cabin 10, The Girl on the Train). Yet, this one felt refreshingly unique. The story was interesting and the main character kept me guessing – and I was shocked in the end. It has a very Hitchcock Rear Window vibe, and I loved it.
Grade: A-

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman: This book. Oh my goodness, this book. As a friend said, “YOU ARE IN FOR A DELIGHTFUL TREAT.” It’s so charming, yet so unexpected. You fall in love with the main character by the end, despite thinking you’re not sure how you can possibly relate to her at the beginning. It’s an uplifting, feel-good book, but with serious substance.
Grade: A+

Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis: Y’all know I love a good self-help book (Carry On, Warrior, Lean In) and this one was no exception. What I loved about this one though, is how structured and specific it was. Each chapter is about a lie we tell ourselves. For example, “I’m defined by my weight” or “I can’t get past this”. Rachel does a fantastic job of breaking down the lie, giving a personal anecdote and sharing 3 specific ideas on how to combat these lies in our lives. Highly, highly recommend. You should also follow her on Instagram. She’s awesome.
Grade: A+

xo xo

You can read all my book reviews here.

life lately

[enjoying this || quality girls time for galentine’s day + NWAFW]

[eating this || monte ne chicken – aka unlimited home-cooked deliciousness in middle of nowhere arkansas, and enjoying some really great laughs with literally everyone]

[loving this || my new job + a trip to the Burt’s Bees HQ in Durham AND some seriously amazing food]

[savoring this || a fun day date at the adult movie theater with husband <3]

[traveling for this || a wonderful LR weekend to see family, including my beautiful 97-year-old Mimi!]

xo xo

Aldermans Go Global: Mexico Family Vacation

[champagne toast – WE’RE FINALLY HEREEE!]

[first night mexican fiesta]

A  D A Y  I N  T H E  L I F E …. 

[step 1: coffee on the balcony]

[step 2: drinks by the pool/in the pool (yes, this was still before noon)]

[step 3: hammock relaxation time]

R E P E A T .

[fun afternoon on the beach + a beautiful butterfly release ceremony husband and I were a part of]

[catamaran ride to isla mujeres – so much fun!]

[loving the coconut water … and this adorable mother/daughter pic!]

[hibachi, sushi + silent dance party!! tori and I were the only ones willing to make a fool of ourselves dancing to our own beat – I would highly recommend this if you ever get the chance!]

[S P A   D A Y … ahhhhh]

[family pictures on the beach, kardashian style]

[final night dinner – don’t make us leave!]

[so thankful for marrying into such an amazing family
definitely a family vacation to remember!]

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Aldermans Go Global: St. Lucia

Book Reviews: Crazy Asians, Crazy Ladies + Crazy Mobsters

Manhattan Beach – Jennifer Egan: What a unique book this was. And I say that meaning – I’m not quite sure what I thought of it, but on some level I enjoyed it. The setting is one of my favorites (New York) and the female lead is a badass woman who’s determined to be the first woman diver during WWII, but overall the story drifted and was a little hard to understand where it was headed.
Grade: B

The Breakdown – B.A. Paris: This had all the makings of a typical book I’d love, yet didn’t fully deliver. The beginning was enthralling, keeping me on pins and needles and the end was a satisfying twist, but the middle got too repetitive and I feel like I could have skipped probably 100 pages and been fine. Overall, good story that will make you think you’re going crazy from those tiny things you forget every day ….
Grade: B

Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan: LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this book! I couldn’t put it down! It was hilarious. I dove deep into a world of which I knew nothing about, and didn’t want to come up for air. Luckily there are two more books by this author AND they’re turning this one into a movie this year. All you need to know is it’s about exactly what you think it is: Crazy Rich Asians.
Grade: A+

The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware: This book was actually a huge disappointment. So many people told me how much they adored this book, and I just couldn’t get into it. It was a fast read, but the character development wasn’t great, the writing was so-so and the “thrilling” plot was fairly predictable.
Grade: B-

xo xo

You can read all my book reviews here.

life lately [off work edition]

I’ve never had time off work longer than 2-3 days just hanging out at home. Until now. This past week I was off before starting my new job, and I have loved it so much more than I thought I would! I thought I’d be wishing I was somewhere else or too bored or too anxious with to-do lists, but not the case. Of course the week went by too fast, but it was a perfect blend of relaxation, play and a little work.

Enjoy my week in pictures … 

[goodbye happy hour with some of my favorite WM coworkers at The Hive]

[arguably my favorite part of the week was coffee in bed + morning TV shows]

[yummy lunch + coffee dates with wonderful people]

[a day of serious junk room/closet/bathroom cleaning and organizing – UGH, it was the worst. thanks to mom for the help though … and of course, I feel SO much better now that it’s done.]

[spent one entire day of pure relaxation – finishing a book, bingeing TV (starting with the beloved HSM) + a massage]

[celebrated national margarita day with margs + games at the new dave and busters – this photo seriously cracks me up]

[friday in fayetteville for a hair appointment then maxine’s + hugo’s with the family – couldn’t have ended the week more perfectly!]

xo xo

Minestrone Soup – Gluten Free, Crock Pot {recipe}

Not only do I have a new recipe to share today, I also have a new cookbook that will change your life. Okay, that might be a little melodramatic, but for real, it’s amazing.

 

Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

It’s not just another paleo cookbook. A dear friend recommended it to me, touting 8 full weeks of meal plans (all gluten-free, dairy-free) complete with recipes + shopping lists, and it efficiently utilizes all the ingredients for several of the meals throughout the week, so minimal food waste. It’s all very simple, but very appealing. At the time I learned about the cookbook, we were 6 weeks out from our Mexico vaca, so I ordered the book to use as a guide to help us eat healthier before the trip.

We’re now 3 weeks in and loving it. Most of the recipes are pretty easy, and all have been delicious. We’ve been mixing and matching the meals a bit depending on our schedules for the week and our likes/dislikes, but if you wanted an exact meal plan for every day of the week with an exact list to take to the grocery store, this book is for you.

Every meal we’ve made has been delicious, but this Minestrone Soup has been one of our favorites. It was so good on a cold, rainy day this week and we’ve been eating on it for a few days now! You could kick up the cayenne pepper a bit for a little more kick, but this has such good flavor as is.

M I N E S T R O N E   S O U P

Ingredients

2lb ground beef, turkey or chicken (we used beef this time, but will try turkey or chicken next!)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cups shredded carrots
32oz chicken stock
15oz tomato sauce
10oz diced tomatoes with green chilies
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon parsley
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 lb yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
S&P to taste

Directions

  1. Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until cooked through. use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a slow cooker insert, leaving the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots to the pan and sauce over medium heat for 8 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly tender. Drain and add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the squash and basil. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  4. Add the squash and basil during the last 30 minutes if cooking on high or 1 hour if cooking on low.
  5. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve with a garnish of fresh basil.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Crustless Quiche + Homemade Salad Dressing, Pork Chops with Black Bean Succotash

30 Before 30

As I head into the last year of my 20s, I decided to create a list of things to do before I turn 30 in January. Thanks to literally everyone for helping me come up with this list. I think it’s realistic to accomplish in a year, yet will be challenging. I’ll provide a few updates throughout the year as I check things off. Starting with #1 …

[husband’s 30th]

    1. Start a new adventure. I’ve worked for Walmart for 6.5 years, as my first job out of college. I’ve officially accepted a position at Clorox, and couldn’t be more excited/anxious/thrilled to start this new adventure. 
    2. Make a complex meal 100% from scratch.
    3. Hike Pinnacle Mountain + eat a Hubcap burger at Cotham’s. This one stems back to my Arkansas Bucket List from a few years ago, and is one thing I really wanted to do that I never got to check off my list. This is the year!
    4. Successfully do a one-armed push-up.
    5. See a critically acclaimed show.
    6. Volunteer 30 hours.
    7. Buy all my friends a round, randomly.
    8. Play video games with husband for a night, complete with pizza + beer.
    9. Intentionally choose to stay by myself one night in a hotel. Obviously I’ve stayed by myself before, but for work or when husband was away – not intentionally.
    10. Learn a song on the guitar.
    11. Be in a play.
    12. Learn to play blackjack.
    13. Make a signature cocktail.
    14. Make a YouTube video that gets over 1k views.
    15. Start my book. This is one husband has been pushing me to do for years.
    16. Win at least 1 trivia night.
    17. Write 30 handwritten letters.
    18. Take a dance class.
    19. Go to a movie solo.
    20. Run 30 miles. I’m not a runner. So, no judgment please on “only 30?!”
    21. Dye my hair pink. Again, something I’ve always wanted to do. It could just be a few strands, and it could wash out after a day. Either way, I think 29 is the best time to do it. 
    22. Do 5 things that truly scare me.
    23. Give an amount of money that is significant to me and is significant to someone in need, but do it in such a way no one would ever know it was me who gave it and expect nothing in return.
    24. Travel to state I’ve never been to.
    25. Take a personal day, for no reason at all.
    26. Challenge myself with a new hobby.
    27. See someone in concert I’ve been dying to see.
    28. Find an artist whose perspective of the world I appreciate and buy a piece of his or her work.
    29. Take a spontaneous trip.
    30. Plan a huge 30th birthday bash.

xo xo

To follow along on my journey, make sure and follow my blog via WordPress or email:

 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 331 other followers