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Writing Through February: Prompts to Inspire, Encourage, and Explore

31 January 2018

At some point in Patchett's This is the Story of a Happy Marriage she provides advice for those who wish to write. She encourages all wannabe writers to sit down at your desk without distraction for up to two hours every day.

Eventually you will either write or quit. Writing is something that I keep coming back to. 

It can be so therapeutic and so much fun. It can also be so hard when you read a beautifully constructed sentence and find yourself wondering why you can't seem to create something like that.

Writing is something that I want to keep doing and I want to keep improving, so for the past month I have really been working hard to schedule some writing time into my day. I aim for a hour, but with two small kids and life, I take what I can get. 

If you feel the itch to write, but don't quite know where to begin then this list is for you. What follows are twenty prompts to help you write through the work week.

February Writing Prompts

  1. Winter blahs got you down? Write about your ideal vacation.
  2. If you had to live the same day from your life over and over again, which day would it be?
  3. What makes you feel pampered?
  4. Share a list of your favorite books about or by diverse authors.
  5. What is romance to you?
  6. Write a letter to your first crush.
  7. What was the worst date you ever went on?
  8. Write about a time when you were wrong. Could you admit it at the time?
  9. Write about the first time you told someone, outside of your family, that you loved them.
  10. Audiobooks or podcasts or neither?
  11. How is being an adult different than you thought it would be?
  12. List of books that gave you all of the feels.
  13. Have you ever created a disaster in the kitchen? Write about it!
  14. Write about someone you love.
  15. Write about patience.
  16. Did you make resolutions? How are they going? What obstacles get in the way of your goals?
  17. Tell us about a leader you admire and why.
  18. Write about something that is pink / red themed.
  19. What a normal day in your life looks like.
  20. Tell us about something you learned about yourself this month.
Do you feel the itch to write, but aren't quite sure where to begin? Here are 20 prompts for writing, blogging, journaling to get you through February.


If you end up using one of these prompts on your blog, then please leave me a link! I would love to check it out. 

3 Things January Taught Me About Life

29 January 2018

Grief can be hard  and can take so long to work through. I should probably get into specifics with this one, but I don't quite know where to even begin. I touched on this briefly in On Empty Rooms. I guess it's just a matter of letting go of certain dreams and expectations of life to make room for something greater. 

I'm learning that I have to give myself grace. I have to let the process happen and have faith that there will be a rainbow on the other side of this.

Estate sales bring out the strangest assortment of people. I had the opportunity to help man my grandparent's estate sale. While assisting, I managed to meet a former 49er and a woman who I can only describe as Mimi from The Drew Carey Show, with thicker eyebrows. 

I'm amazed by what was purchased and what was not. Helping out has made me rethink just dropping off all of my stuff at the local thrift store. Now to find some other people who want to join together for a garage sale this summer. . . . 

Everyone is happier when mom takes the time to do what she loves. I am not an easy person to live with. I'm a little bit OCD. I like being by myself. I have a hard time following through. I can be very grumpy before my morning caffeine. I irritate myself. 

I'm finding that waking up to take my morning walk and scheduling writing time is making me so much easier to live with. I feel happier. I feel more fulfilled and less stressed. It's okay to take the time to do something you love, so do it!

Give me all of your yard / garage sale tips and tricks. Also, what is it that you love to do that make you a much happier person?

5 Books To Read in One Sitting

26 January 2018

In 2016 I made a Goodreads goal to read 100 books in one year. I am not a fast reader and am easily distracted, so this kind of a goal seems like quite a lot for me.

I only made it to 89 books, so I wasn't able to mark this goal off of my bucket list. Last year I took it easy on myself, but I think in 2018 I want to try to aim for 100 again.

For a slower reader like myself this can be really challenging to complete. This time around I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve.

The first trick is to finish at least 1 audiobook a week. If I stick to that, then I'm guaranteed to finish 52 books by the end of 2018.

The second trick is to fit in some quality reads that are less than 200 pages. On the off chance that your goal seems a little out of reach, here are 5 reads that you are sure to fly through, both because they aren't very long and because they are excellent.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

I listened to this during my morning walks. It was my first Backman, shocking, I know, but will not be my last. (Currently finishing up Beartown!) 

This novella deals with dementia and how it affects the entire family. It was such a moving read and I found myself laughing and crying my way through. 

If you have ever had to watch someone you love slowly slip away then you will appreciate this read. It will be hard, but stands as proof of Backman's ability to craft a worthwhile story.
"Those who hasten to live are in a hurry to miss." 

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

If you aren't a fan of ambiguous endings then this quick read will tick you off. It's about a woman who pretends to be a psychic so that she can be paid quite a lot of money to rid a mansion of an evil spirit. 

It's a tad crass as the below quote will illustrate, but worth the read. Flynn always does a pretty good job of surprising her readers.
“I would rather be a librarian, but I worry about the job security. Books may be temporary; dicks are forever.”

It has been quite awhile since I read this little novel, but I can still remember just how surprised I was by the fact that something so small moved me so much. The characters weren't characters I thought I connected with until the end when I found myself so sad that it was over. 

You have to be so careful. You can't ever just throw words out. They have to land somewhere.

Hey Natalie Jean by Natalie Holbrook

Nat the Fat Rat a.k.a. Hey Natalie Jean was the very first blog I ever consistently read. I love her writing style and there is something about her that makes me feel like she is a kindred spirit. 

This book is a collection of essays, many of which were on her blog, but I love them just the same. Some of them are shallow. Some may make you feel all of the feels. 

I love this little book and read it during nap time, in the middle of the summer with an ice cream in the park. That's not necessary to enjoy, but it definitely didn't hurt the situation.
And even if the happiness I make for myself today is so silly and insignificant, it counts. And I'll be so grateful that I paid attention.

Little hint, you can inexpensively purchase this essay on its own  or you can find it in Patchett's This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Your local library is more likely to have the second option.

I've been thinking about becoming a better writer for awhile. I enjoy words and I enjoy when others seem able to put into words the abstract thoughts that I haven't quite been able to pin down. All this to say that this particular essay has been recommended to me on numerous occasions, so I finally made it a priority to read it.

The essay goes through Patchett's own career and her experiences as a writer. All in all it really left me feeling motivated to stop talking about trying to write and get busy practicing.
I can't write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book that I am capable of writing.


How many books are you aiming to read this year or do you just read to read?

What are some of your favorite shorter (less than 200 pages) reads? 

Life With Kids: Sleep (or Lack Thereof) Edition

24 January 2018
Disclaimer: The sarcasm is in FULL force with this post. If you don't speak that language or have little angels for children, then you should probably not read what follows. 

I have been planning to be the mother of little humans since I was a little human myself. I spent a decent amount of time thinking about all of the things I would do with my little people, all the books we would read, all the places we would go. It was going to be awesome and I was going to always be so put together and may have thought that six seemed like the perfect number. A little something like this:



Ahh. I knew it all. Then I had some children of my own and very quickly realized that my fantasy of motherhood wasn't quite like my reality. Ignorance is bliss. Please don't misunderstand. Motherhood is wonderful. I just got a few things wrong. Here's a glimpse into some aspects of my journey of motherhood, so far.

Today, we're going to discuss the moment of the day that every parent looks forward to.

Putting Your Children to Bed

Thus far, I have experienced three different ages of putting children to bed; infant, toddler, and preschool. Each comes with their own joys and challenges, however, I fear that by sharing my experiences I may just discover my children are exceptions. Maybe even little demons. 

Infants


The first phase includes wrapping a tiny infant up, pinning their arms to their chest just right. The swaddle a.k.a. the straight jacket for infants! The infant will most likely require the correct lighting and mood music. Unfortunately the infant's English is not so good, so you'll have to go through the catalog of every single song that you kind of know the words to. 

Right when you're about to give up, you'll hit the jackpot and discover that your infant prefers the soothing sounds of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. (Literally time after time after time after time. Nothing, and I mean nothing else will do.) Just when he falls asleep, you place him into his bed and back away very slowly. If anything creaks even slightly, then the whole process will begin again. 

You stare at him lovingly thinking about how cute he is, maybe even sigh, and as soon as you turn even slightly his eyes snap open like something out of a horror film. This cycle can continue for hours until the weaker person just gives up. I'd like to say that's the baby and that the baby chooses sleep, but sometimes it's me taking the baby downstairs to watch TV.

Toddlers


Your infant should be a pro at sleeping at this point, right? HA! That's hilarious. 

Your infant has a "big girl" bed now, because she kept almost killing herself by leaping out of her crib, and now she can just decide to wander around all. night. long. Oh, and she is probably teething, most likely molars, and that's super painful. Probably more pain than you even experienced bringing her into this world, so she's super cranky. 

You'll spend most of the night taking turns with your partner returning the toddler back to her bed. Once you return to your bed it will seem that all is well, but as soon as you get even remotely comfortable your toddler will sense this and your comfort will tick her off. 

Molars, remember? 

She'll stealthily make her way into your room and will stare at you for as long as it takes for you to feel her gaze. A minute is practically an hour for her, so she'll probably just start screaming her little head off.

Preschool

1:00 AM, whoever came out with this is a LIGHTWEIGHT.
Your child's English has vastly improved and she can now communicate so many of her needs and wants. The crazy thing is she isn't thirsty and isn't even really all that hungry throughout the entire day, but as soon as you mention it is just about time for bed, she's STARVING and soooooo thirsty. 

She won't eat just anything though, after all, she boycotted dinner for a reason. No, she is real particular and if you don't meet her demands all hell will break loose. 

It's going to break loose anyway, because, she is "not tired." She will have an epic meltdown for about 15 minutes, but eventually she will get over it and revert back to toddlerhood, wandering out of her room. 

She'll tell you that she just wants to give you more hugs and kisses. She enjoyed that bedtime story so much, can't you read it again? Won't you come and snuggle for just a minute? It's super cute until it's 1 in the morning and all you want to do is feel the gentle caress of your pillow against your face. 

Basically I end every day in the same way: 


It's fine. I've made it four years without sleep. Who needs it? It's not like it's good for you and can help prevent early aging. I like wrinkles anyway. 


Are your children little angels who go right to sleep when you tell them to?
What's something you imagined as a child that is totally different as an adult?

On Empty Rooms & the Shock of Being an Adult

22 January 2018

Unbeknownst to me I've been living in a self-created Neverland. It has been safe there, despite the arrival of two children and the acquisition of a mortgage. 

I've been so comfortable wrapped up by the security of two generations ahead of me, doomed to confront their mortality before I ever will. In fact my own mortality has felt irrelevant up until this point when I walk into that empty room. 

You see, my grandparents are moving to their final home of their mortal existence. They have spent the last few months downsizing their lives, determining which treasures are the most important to them and gifting those that don't quite make the cut to family and friends. 

I don't pretend that what they are doing is easy. The process has aged them and has worn them down and today I have realized that the process has poked a hole into my Neverland. 

This empty room where my I spent hours teaching my Grandpa how to open a desktop shortcut with the computer mouse and told my Grandma that there isn't actually a Nigerian prince who wants to buy her house, is making me realize that someday my rooms will be empty too. Someday the things that mean the most to me will need to go to someone else. 

It's unsettling to face your mortality. I won't actually be around forever. There will be an end of my existence. Someday someone may see a picture of me hanging on the wall and may know who I was yet won't really understand all that actually meant. 

All this to say that getting older is exhausting and I would rather not do it anymore.

How do you deal? 

Corn Chowder: A Way to Warm Up & Sneak in a Few Vegetables

19 January 2018
Snow is a four-letter word in my house. No really it is, swear jar and everything. 

I like snow in theory. I mean, freshly fallen snow is kind of magical, but attempting to go out in said snow? Have you shoveled snow lately? I'm fairly convinced that is what you do in Hell.

I don't want to spend all winter being a Grinch, so I try to bring a little sunshine into my life in the forms of food and chunky sweaters. It's really hard to be cranky when you have just indulged in some comfort food while wearing the coziest thing on the planet.

One such food that brings me some much needed comfort is my mother-in-law's Corn Chowder. I didn't even realize how much I like chowder until this came along. 
I must warn you that in addition to comfort it will also detract from that bikini body you may have your eye on for June. If you're on a whole 30 or doing a fix of some sort then drag your mouse to the little red x in the corner and click it. We'll be here when you're ready.

This is a time-consuming recipe, so I'd recommend saving it for the weekend. The good news is that  it tastes even better leftover and freezes well. It's basically the gift that keeps on giving.
If the pictures and my description haven't convinced you that you need to make a batch this weekend, then maybe this will. . . my four-year-old eats it and doesn't declare that, "it's disgusting." Folks, that is a win right there.

Speaking of the pictures, can we stop for a moment and discuss how ridiculously hard it is to take a decent picture of soup? One thing I'm aiming to become better at in 2018 is capturing soup, well taking proficient photos in general.

If you have any tips on where to go to learn the art of taking pictures, please send them my way. Also, I'm dying to know what comfort foods make winter bearable for you!

Corn Chowder

2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 - 1 onion, diced
3-4 cups carrots, sliced
6 cups potatoes, chunked
2 bags frozen corn
8 oz. extra sharp cheese, shredded
garlic
TBsp Oil
1/4 cup flour
3 cups milk
1/2 stick of butter

In a stock pot saute onion and garlic in oil until onion is translucent. Add chicken stock and carrots. Cook for a few minutes.

Just before boiling, add potatoes. Before potatoes are completely soft, add corn. 

In another pan, melt 1/2 stick of butter on low to medium heat. Whisk in 1/2 cup of flour. Once blended, slowly add 3 cups of milk while continuously whisking. Slowly add grated cheese. 

Once cheese is melted, add that mixture to the stock and veggies. Combine. Take it off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!


5 Ways to Keep Learning for FREE

17 January 2018

I was in school for well over two decades. The entire time I was in school all I could think about was the freedom that would come once it was all over and done with. Always in such a rush! 

I never really realized how much I actually enjoyed learning and classes until I was finished with it forever. All of a sudden I had all of this time and after about a year of "freedom" I realized that all I really wanted to do was take a class again, so I did!

During my graduate studies there was a huge movement in higher education that got a lot of attention in the field. In general, change in education is so rare that even the tiniest new way of doing something causes an uproar. 

In an effort to make college level coursework more accessible and affordable several different Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms were created. 

A MOOC is different from your standard college course in that, typically, you can audit the course and have access to just about everything for free. It's also different in that there is no limit to enrollment, so if you thought your general education courses were crowded then you may want to avoid the discussion boards. 

In addition to MOOCs, a bunch of different universities also invested in OpenCourseWare, which they use to release material from courses previously or currently taught at their institution. Basically it's a great time to be a lifelong learner!

Listed below are 5 different platforms you can use to begin your venture into continuing your education for the sheer joy of learning. 

1 | Coursera

This is the largest MOOC platform that currently exists. There are all sorts of courses from universities all over the world. Most of the content for many of the classes is available via the Coursera app available on both android and apple systems. Super convenient!  

This is also the only platform that I have taken a course on. My one complaint is that for courses that you can audit, instead of paying for, you are able to view the quizzes and assignments, but you can't actually submit them. It's a little frustrating because I'm not entirely certain that I'm fully understanding the material. 

2 | edX

I believe this is the second largest MOOC platform today. Again, lots of different courses from all over the world. I haven't actually dabbled in any of these courses yet, but plan to in the future. They also appear to have an app on both android and apple systems, but I can't speak to functionality.

3 | Open Education Consortium


Remember when I mentioned OpenCourseWare? This seems to be the easiest way to access all of those courses that various instituations have made available. There are a couple of cons to this.

First, there isn't a list for you to access and pull from, until you get to a participating school's website. This means you really have to think about what you want to learn about so you can search for it.

Second, most of the courses I have come across are basically course material, like the syllabus and lecture notes. Not my favorite.

4 | Saylor


These courses are all free, but the layout reminds me of a prettier version of OpenCourseWare. Lots of good information, just not my favorite way to learn.

5 | Alison


I stumbled across this site yesterday, so I don't know a ton about it. There isn't a huge course offering, but if none of the above 4 work for you, then maybe this will.

Am I the only one who was so ready to be done with school and now misses it?
Have you ever used any of these sites?
What class do you think you'll take first?


Do you want to keep taking classes just because you enjoy it, but don't have the money to do so? Here are 5 ways to enjoy learning for free. . .beyond the local library.

Spring 2018 Fashion That I Hate

15 January 2018
As seen on the runway, spring 2018 fashion trends that I really just do not understand.
I would never, ever claim to be a "stylish" person. I certainly try to be somewhat on trend, but I'm realizing that I more or less have developed a uniform that works for me. That more or less serves me well as I aim for a more classic look.

Nevertheless each season I find myself looking to see what is currently "in." Each season I also manage to find some things that make me laugh out loud because I find them so absurd.

Queue the thumping music and the lights on the runway as we explore the trends that make me wonder, what the hell the designer were thinking and / or smoking.

Rubber

Specifically these rubber, platform crocs. I'm pretty sure not even the Spice Girls would be able to rock a pair of these and I'm also fairly certain that the "gasps" mentioned in the linked article were completely out of horror. Crocs are more along the lines of fetch than Laney Boggs. They will never be cool.

Transparent Bags

Please direct your attention to the third photo on the attached link. You have to look closely or you may miss the fact that this man is holding a briefcase. This bag makes me think a couple of things.

First, do you think the designer really enjoys the story of The Emperor's New Clothes? Secondly, would you be able to keep your laptop in this briefcase when you go through airport security? Finally, is this why panty liners with fancy wraps were invented?

Jumpsuits

I hate jumpsuits for the same reason I hate one-piece bathing suits;  I don't want my top half to be cold while using the restroom. This jumpsuit looks like a complete nightmare to use the restroom in. I'm guessing it involves a back zipper. Does it also come with an assistant to help you in and out of it?

Not in my closet.


In all seriousness there are some elements showing up in Spring 2018 fashion that make me excited. I love some fringe, florals, and pastels. Here's to hoping my go-to fast fashion suppliers do all of those three well in the upcoming seasons.

Be honest, how many of you have a jumpsuit?

Beyond the Books: 4 Activities to Reinforce Kindness

12 January 2018
Do more than talk about kindness. Work in ways to exemplify the trait with others in your life.

This past Monday I shared a picture book list containing my favorite books on the topic of being kind. I picked that particular topic because this upcoming Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. day in the United States.

I have been trying really hard to observe various holidays and provide learning experiences for my children. When I thought about how to present this day to my 4-year-old I felt overwhelmed.

History is painful and complicated and so is the present. It is difficult for me to explain to my 4-year-old why anyone ever thought they could own another human being. It is difficult to explain why one group of people is more likely to be incarcerated than another group of people.

At this point in parenting we need to simplify things, so I spent some time thinking about why this day means to me.

For me, Dr. King represents hope. Hope that someday we can all learn to just be kind to one another. I really want my children to be the kind of people who will just be kind to others without having to think about it.

Next week we are going to be exploring the value of compassion and how our actions can affect others. Here are some ideas to begin exploring all of that with the preschoolers or younger children in your life. 

1 | Random Acts of Kindness Bingo

Little e is currently obsessed with bingo, so I have created a bingo card that we are going to try to complete throughout the next week. Again, she is 4, so we're not making this complicated. I wanted to pick things that she could help do and I also wanted to demonstrate that it doesn't take a huge gesture to be kind.

We're hoping for a blackout!


Are you looking for some ways to celebrate simple acts of kindness? Play some acts of kindness bingo! Standard bingo rules apply.


2 | Kind Words

I love this activity shared by Carla at Preschool Powol Packets. Not only does it provide a great suggestion of another book to help teach kindness, it also is a simple yet effective way to help little ones really understand the power of our words. 

3 | Notes of Kindness

Write down inspiring and kind thoughts on post-it notes and leave them in random places. 

Imagine going grocery shopping with all of your kids. You're tired. They're cranky. You look up and see a note saying something like, "You're doing great." 

How about this scenario. You feel overwhelmed. There aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to do and you have to wait for a bus to take you home after a long day. Maybe you see a little note that says, "You're enough."

Maybe it's just me, but seeing notes like that would certainly boost my spirits. 

4 | Chain of Kindness

I really love activities that can be seen visually. That visual helps make an abstract concept real.

All throughout the next week we are, as a family, going to do our best to practice being kind and practice recognizing kindness around us. At the end of the day I want little e to see all of the good, so I really love this idea of a chain of kindness on Sugar Spice and Glitter.

I'm imagining that we work on our chain every night for a week and I'm hoping that the chain will be long and full of examples of kindness.

How do you observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day? 

What sort of things are you doing to help the kids in your life learn to be kind?

6 Picture Books to Explore Kindness With the Kids

10 January 2018
6 Picture Books to Explore Kindness with the Kids

I used to think that we were all born kind, that nature or nurture must have made some of us cruel or selfish along the way. After having children of my own, my views have changed.

Little kids can be quite cruel. They point out differences. They seem to be very possessive, even when something isn't actually theirs. I'm realizing that maybe kindness and compassion are things we, as parents, need to teach.

When it comes to teaching my children, I often find myself starting first with books. What books are out there to teach my children the value of being kind?

Here are 6 picture books that have helped us begin to tackle the subject of compassion.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

This book will completely break your heart. A new girl, Maya, joins Chloe's class. She tries to become friends with Chloe and others in the class, but because she doesn't dress well the kids decide they can't play with her or be her friend. One day, Maya doesn't come to school and on that day their teacher teaches them about kindness and how each kindness matters and makes a difference. Chloe resolves to be kind to Maya when she returns, but will she get that chance?

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

Jeremy wants a pair of black high-tops. All of the other kids in school have them, but his family cannot afford both high-tops and new boots for winter. Eventually Jeremy gets a pair of used, too small for him, high-tops. When he does, he notices that his friend's shoes are falling apart and his too small high-tops would probably fit him. Will he continue to wear the too small shoes or give them to his friend?

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

This is a wordless adaptation of the classic fable by the same name. The illustrations are really beautiful. I used to hate wordless picture books, but as little e has gotten older, I have really enjoyed the opportunity such books provide for her to try to tell the story. 

Zen Ties by Jon J Muth

This is kind of a strange story in that there is a giant panda who is friends with a bunch of little kids, but it contains a great message about how important it is to get to know someone before forming an opinion. This panda, Stillwater, is friends with many people in the community. He spends time playing with the neighborhood children and gets them to go and serve an elderly woman who they had always seen as mean. Through their service they begin to understand why this woman acts the way that she does and they form a friendship of their own.

This book does a great job at demonstrating the power of simple acts of kindness. A little girl smiles and that simple smile has an effect all over the world. You don't always have to do large, grand gestures to make this world a little brighter.

A bird is born without any wings, until a wishingbird grants his wish for golden wings. His wings are beautiful and they provide him with the opportunity to go to new places and meet new people. He finds that he wants to help these people and the only way he can do that is to give them one of his golden feathers, until, at last, he is left with black wings like the other birds. This book does a great job at showing how fulfilling it can be to share what you have with others.


It can be kind of tricky to explain abstract ideas like kindness with little kids. Picture books that share examples are usually one of my favorite ways to explore different topics. Here are 6 picture books to start talking about kindness with the little ones in your life.

Do you have any books on this topic that you enjoy?

5 Reads Worthy of Your Shelves

08 January 2018
Are you sick of wasting your time on books that are subpar? Here are some books I have read recently, that are NOT a waste of time!

It has been such a long time since I sat down and shared a glimpse into my reading life and I have read some really great books lately. It just isn't right to keep them all to myself. I'll be linking up with Steph and Jana.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Confession, I have never read Ng's debut novel, Everything I Never Told You. I plan on rectifying that mistake as soon as possible because this novel was so, so good. This novel made me examine some of my own thoughts and opinions on family and the whole idea of nature versus nurture.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I had been hoping to read Patchett's essay, The Getaway Car, for over a year when I discovered it had a home nestled within the pages of this collection, which I could borrow from my local library. That is an excellent essay in and of itself, but this collection as an entirety is very enjoyable. I highly recommend the audio on this.

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

By now, you have likely figured out that I have finally discovered the Book of the Month club. After reading some selection, I am convinced that they can do no wrong. This book is no exception. I usually hate mysteries because I find them to be either too straightforward, in that I figure it out too quickly, or too out there to be even slightly plausible. This book fell in between the two for me. It will take you in many different directions and is very well crafted.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Don't you just love when fiction teaches you something you never knew? This book will likely do just that, at least it did for me. It alternates between present time and the Tulsa race riot of 1921 and will be the kind of book you will find yourself making time to read.

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

This is the kind of book that makes you feel like your heart is in your throat the entire time. It's a stressful read because it takes you into what is really your worst fear, being caught in the midst of a violent attack with your child.


Are you sick of wasting your time on books that are subpar? Here are some books I have read recently, that are NOT a waste of time!

Did you read and HATE one of these books? Tell me why!

A Little Playlist to Warm You Up this Winter

05 January 2018
Some music to warm you up from the inside-out this winter.
In high school I prided myself on my playlist making abilities. When I first started blogging, way back when, I shared a playlist every week. I'm not about to do that again, but when I came across this Hello Giggles' article about making playlists I decided to give it a shot. I'm a little rusty.

Earlier this week I shared my goal to make 2018 feel magical. When I think back over the various moments of my life, especially those that felt magical, music plays such a big part. 

I want to get back to the things that really bring me joy and music is one of those things. While I'm not putting together a weekly or even monthly playlist, I want to try to share a quarterly one. 

Might as well start with Winter 2018, right?

I tend to despise winter. It's too cold. There isn't enough sunlight. In an effort to combat the chill that permeates, this particular playlist will be full of songs that I think radiate warmth.

Without further ado, Winter 2018 Sounds Like:


Some music to warm you up from the inside-out this winter.

What songs are on your playlist this winter?

How I'm Attempting to Overcome My Reading FOMO

03 January 2018
I'm trying to increase both the number of books I read and the quality of those books by conquering my reading FOMO.
Can we talk about FOMO for a minute? Mom, FOMO is fear of missing out. Some people experience FOMO in regards to social events, but my biggest FOMO occurs with books.

According to an article published last January in Publisher's Weekly, there were close to 700,000 books published in 2016. Now I read far more than the average person, but even I cannot handle that kind of Goodreads goal.

Obviously not all 700,000 are destined to be my next favorite book, but I cannot help wonder.

What books am I missing out on?


I know there were some fantastic books published last year. While I managed to squeeze in some like Dreamland Burning and Little Fires Everywhere, I know that I missed out on so many more.

My FOMO on my next favorite book was hitting me in full force and I knew just what to do. I turned to Facebook groups and Instagram and asked the bookish community to tell me what 2017 releases were their favorites.

In 2018 I'm trying to read some of your favorite books.


The bookish community is full of some passionate people, who love books something fierce. I think maybe only one or two people were able to narrow down their favorites to just one book, so I had a lot of options from which to choose.

For the first three months of 2018 I have selected a book a month. I landed on each of these books in a highly scientific process that involved making note of which books were mentioned the most. I know, I know; how impressive.

I have some major reading FOMO, so in an effort to overcome it I'm reading  your favorite books. These 3 were the books mentioned the most. If you have been looking for an excuse to read any of these, then please join me on Instagram with the #ReadingFOMO.

If you have not read these books (or even if you have), I would love it if you would read along! I plan on sharing updates on Instagram via #readingFOMO and will return February 12 to share my thoughts on Beartown in this space.

Reading is always so much more enjoyable when you have someone to share it with, so I really hope I convince someone besides my husband to read along. I plan on keeping this sort of thing up throughout the year, so start thinking about books that I should not miss! Please and thank you.


Fellow readers, if you have read these books I would love to know if BeartownThis Is How It Always Is, and/or Hum If You Don't Know the Words made your top favorite list for books that came out last year. If not, what did?