What's Up Wednesday: February 2019

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It's hard for me to believe that is already the end of February.  I know it is a shorter month, but it feels like it just flew right on by!

What I'm eating this week...

Monday - chicken sausage, shredded brussels sprouts and butternut squash zig zags
Tuesday - a repeat of Monday, minus the zig zags...chicken sausage, shredded brussels sprouts
Wednesday - take out
Thursday - chicken shawarma, tabbouleh, hummus, rice
Friday - leftovers

What I'm reminiscing about...
The year thus far...usually the end of the year seems to move faster, but goodness, does it all seem to fly by now!

What I'm loving...
I HAVE A NEW NEPHEW!  Baby Will was born on Monday and I am SO excited to meet him!

What I've been up to...honestly this month seems like a blur, I am having a hard time remembering, haha!  I know I have gotten in lots of organizing, lots of relaxing, lots of busyness, lots of church stuff...just pretty much 'life'!

What I'm dreading...
Any more snow...I love snow (when it doesn't impair driving), love the dreary winter weather, but even I am ready for spring!

What I'm working on...

Still decluttering / purging and organizing.  Along with that I am trying to stay on top of things.  There are times when I push things off and think oh, I will just get to that later, but it builds up and causes unecessary stress, and takes more time than if I were just to keep at it as it comes.  

Mail is one of those things for me.  I feel like it can build up in no time!  To help with that, I sort through it as I am walking back from the mailbox, and anything that right away I can tell is unnecessary goes into the recycling can.  And I am trying to ensure I go through the rest right away, or by the end of that night (which sometimes ends up being the next day, but no longer!).  I find that helps with a ton, doing those two things.  I have also found sorting through mail is something to do while making dinner.  If I have to be watching over the food, might as well be a little productive, too!

What I'm excited about...
MY NEPHEW!  I cannot get enough of the pictures, and hearing about how everyone is doing.

What I'm watching...

Real Housewives of New Jersey.  New Jersey is my favorite of all the Real Housewives, and this season did not disappoint.  I am so sad that it is almost over.  Other than that, I am constantly playing catch up on DVR'd things.  I finally finished The Blacklist, so it's back to regularly scheduled television for me, although reading has won out most nights here of late.  

What I'm reading...
Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino.  I am pretty sure I have seen this on multiple blogs, and the plot always sounded intriguing.  I kept forgetting to request it from the library, though, until Kelsey reminded me.  I haven't quite finished it, and I am curious how it is going to end.  I am pulling for a happy ending!

What I'm listening to...
I mentioned a couple Fridays ago that I was listening to the Beats for Studying station on Pandora.  Well, Lindsay commented on that post about Jazz for Studying.  I instantly started listening to it and love it just as much as Beats for Studying.  The Beats one is more upbeat, and more current songs, but the Jazz is oh so soothing.  And of course, I am listening to the Oldies.  

What I'm wearing...
Honestly, I feel like I haven't worn anything too exciting lately.  A lot of the same old, same old.  Which is kind of why there was no Work Wear for the Week post this month (you can see January here).

Although, now that I think of it, I pulled together and outfit for church that I really liked, and hadn't ever worn before.  I just paired a simple long sleeve tee from Target with one of my favorite flippy skirts from Loft.  I finished it off with tights and booties.  Simple, yet I thought it was really cute! 

What I'm looking forward to next month...
Getting out of town to some warmer weather, getting my bedroom painted and furniture ordered, and meeting my newest nephew.  Not to mention, my birthday!!!  It's going to be a great month!

Linking up with ShayLindsay and Jessi.

New Trader Joe's Favorites

I don't have a recipe round up for you this month, so instead, I thought I would share some of my more recent Trader Joe's favorites.

I love when people share their favorites at places like Trader Joe's and Costco, because those are the stores I feel like you can easier miss some good stuff, if you don't know exactly what to look for.

Here is my top ten from last year (link here), and I would say that most of the items are still must buys for me, with the exclusion of the dark chocolate peanut butter cups (they have started to upset my stomach), and the cinnamon almonds (no longer available).

And here are my more recent favorites, in no particular order (I tried to find pictures of most of the items, but wasn't able to for some - sorry!)...

Cilantro & Jalapeno Hummus.  I wanted to try this, but wasn't worried I wouldn't like it, and then would have a whole tub wasted.  But, there is a three layer option, which contains the regular hummus, cilantro and jalapeno hummus, and the spicy hummus.  I grabbed it on my last trip, and while all three of the different hummus options are good, I LOVED the cilantro and jalapeno the best.  It has a little kick from the jalapeno that is offset by the coolness / freshness of the cilantro.  It's so good!  I still need to finish of that tub, but I definitely plan on getting just the cilantro & jalapeno hummus next trip.
Image result for cilantro jalapeno hummus trader joe's

Bite Size Everything Crackers.  If you like Everything but the Bagel seasoning, you will love these!  They are great plain, and with the hummus.
Image result for trader joe's bite size everything crackers

Roasted Plantain Chips.  I grabbed these after hearing other people talk about them, and I have loved them since.  You get the crunch of a chip, without actually eating a chip.  I like them plain, with salsa, or even thrown in a burrito type bowl instead of tortillas.
Image result for trader joe's roasted plantain chips

Cauliflower Gnocchi.  This item has become super popular, with good reason.  It's delicious.  And to me, the cauliflower taste isn't overpowering, like with some other cauliflower substitute items.  In my last recipe round up (link here), I shared the way I like to prepare it (roasted), but there are other options too, like pan frying, or even air frying.  Everyone says not to follow the actual instructions, though.  You can find these in the freezer section. 
Image result for trader joe's cauliflower gnocchi 

Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto.  If the name of this scares you a little bit, just think of it as regular pesto.  Because I honestly can't tell much of a difference between this and the Bertolli I used to buy.  Just thinking of this stuff makes me mouth water.  Lately I have been mostly pairing it with the cauliflower gnocchi, but it's also amazing with mozzarella, and tomatoes in a caprese like salad, or even with plantain chips as a dip.  I bet it's an amazing spread for sandwiches, too.
Image result for trader joe's vegan kale cashew & basil pesto

Butternut Squash Zig Zags.  They are a great option if you are needing an easy way to get an extra veggie in, or if you are trying to eat lower carb and avoiding potatoes (pretty much the reason I picked these up last year, haha!).  The butternut squash comes pre-cut in these little zig zags, so all you have to do is prepare them.  I have roasted them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, which I enjoyed.  A quick search online shows a bunch of different ways to prepare them - definitely going to think about looking options up next time I grab them.

Lightly Salted Edamame.  My sister in law introduced me to edamame last year.  I had heard about them previously, and how they were really pretty good for you, but never ended up trying them until later last year.  I am so glad I did, because they are good!  I saw these in the frozen section at Trader Joe's and grabbed them to have on hand.  I like salt, so I opted for the lightly salted ones, but they also have plain, too.  So good!
Image result for trader joe's lightly salted edamame

Chicken Gyoza Potstickers.  Mallory Ervin shared these on her instagram at one point in time, and I took note, because I love potstickers.  Another frozen section find, you can have 7 of these guys for 200 calories.  And they are good.  I pair them with the frozen edamame, a little soy sauce, and voila, an easy, relatively healthy, meal is done in minutes!  Perfect for a quick and easy lunch, or dinner.
Image result for trader joe's chicken gyoza potstickers

Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta.  On my previous favorites list was the brown rice penne pasta, which I obviously liked, so I figured I would give the spaghetti a try.  And as I said last time, it pretty much just tastes like wheat pasta.  I haven't done a real compare as to which is actually healthier, brown rice pasta, or wheat pasta (I am sure there are pros and cons to both), but I know it's better than regular pasta, so I think that's a win!

100% Whole Grain Whole Wheat Fiber Bread.  When I saw the word fiber on this, I grabbed it.  I've read how it's good to have a decent amount of fiber in your diet, so that pretty much did me in, along with it being whole grain / whole wheat.  Pretty regularly I would have slice (or two) of this with breakfast, topped with some butter and jam.  It's good (sometimes similar breads taste too healthy to me, but this did not) and doesn't get super dry like some other breads I have tried.   
What are your favorite Trader Joe's items?

Weekend Recap: Rolling Pins & Trivia

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Hey all!  Another weekend has come and gone.  This was a good one, with mix of productivity and fun!

Friday was pretty low key.  I had cleaned most of the house in the beginning of the week, and it was so nice to come home to that to start the weekend.  I spent the majority of the night catching up on some shows, and doing a little bit of reading.

I was up early on Saturday, and quickly finished up the little bit of cleaning I had left.  I finally tried cleaning the stains off my blouses.  I soaked them in vinegar diluted with water for at least a half hour, then threw them in the wash.  It worked like a charm!  My favorite antique mall in town was having a warehouse sale, so I headed there shortly after it opened.  It was INSANE - the parking lot was full, there were cars along the road, extra parking lots filled up...I had never seen the place that packed before!  I found an ornament and some rolling pins, which I would say made for a successful trip.  I have been collecting rolling pins for the past few months to hang in my kitchen.

I had a trivia night Saturday, so I prepped a veggie tray (my new go to for any type of get together) and brownies.  The trivia night was really fun - it was for a local elementary school, and the theme was 60s.  My team didn't dress up, but it was fun to see those that did.  And what was really fun, was the fact that my teammates were AWESOME, and we came in second, just 2, maybe 3 points behind first.  I say my teammates because my only contributions were knowing the ingredients to a California roll, and that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries were married 72 days.

I stayed up way too late reading when I got home Saturday night, and my alarm came way too early Sunday morning.  It was off to Sunday school and church, then home to do laundry.  I swear that for one person, I dirty a lot of clothes!  I started reading a new book, Confessions of a Domestic Failure (recommended by Biana), which is so good.  It's about a new mom struggling to reconcile her reality of motherhood to what she sees online, specifically with one mommy blogger turned TV host / furniture designer / basically ALL the things.  It's just one of those enjoyable reads, and very fitting for anyone really who does social media.  I did tear myself away from the book to do my taxes, set up my new phone, with my pretty pink case!, and watch the Oscars.  

The next few weeks are going to be busy ones, and pretty much the whole month of March is going to have a lot going on, so I was trying to savor the relative quietness of this weekend, which I think I did pretty good with!

Hope you all had a great weekend! 
Linking up with Biana anLindsay.

Friday Favorites: Bedroom Updates, A New Cookbook, Bunny Plates & Confessions

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Hey all!  Happy Friday!  What is it about short weeks that always seem so long?  It's like we didn't even get that extra day off.

1.  On Tuesday I shared a picture of this large mirror I saw at a local antique mall.  I went back there Tuesday after work to measure, and it was the perfect size.  And a great price - those large mirrors can be expensive (mutiple hundreds for the look I was wanting), and this one came in at $129 + tax.  The only issue was transporting it to my place.  My car was too small, the movers they recommended were expensive, and it seemed like renting a truck from Lowe's, Home Depot, or UHaul was going to be an ordeal.  All I have to say is thank goodness for good friends with large cars, haha!  I was going through all this with a friend right around lunch time, and he was like let's go now.  I was a little flustered because I was not prepared and felt bad asking for the help, but we left work right then, somehow muscled it (very heavy!) into the car (it just fit!), and then over to my house.  Where we dealt with loads of mud and water and a little slush from the melting snow, and got it into my house.  And I just absolutely LOVE it.  And am so thankful for good friends like that!  Right now it is just sitting in the upstairs hallway, but it will eventually go in my room, once it gets painted.  Just so very excited about it!!  

2.  Another bedroom related item came in this week - my bed!  I had been eyeing a metal bed like this for awhile now.  Multiple places sell a bed like this, but I found the best deal to be at Target.  I don't plan on setting it up until I get my new mattress, so I won't know how sturdy it is until then, but fingers are crossed!  Now I just need to paint my room, buy a mattress, get sheets, buy nightstands / dresser, get curtains / curtain rods, figure out my decor...the list may be long, but I do feel like the end is somewhat in sight!  Which is a good thing, because my current room situation is driving me a little nuts.  

3.  Do any of you have the Half Baked Harvest cookbook?  I cannot get enough of that blog.  She does an amazing job with her photography, and everything looks so darn delicious!  I have been pinning quite a few recipes to try - the 30 minute butter chicken meatballs really caught my eye.  I also really like her instagram - she often posts videos of making her recipes which I love to watch.  And while I know I can just get her recipes online, I feel like you can't beat an honest to goodness cookbook.  Granted, I need another cookbook like I need a hole in my head, but boy do I want this one!  

4.  If you have read here before, you know I have a thing for seasonal plates.  I came across these lemon plates at The White Rabbit, and think they would be so darn cute for a summer tablescape.

Of course, we have to get to spring first, and that means pulling out my bunny plates!  I have these sweet little pasture bunny plates, but if you like more color, these hilltop garden plates are absolutely precious.  They even have little duckies on one!

5.  I did a confessions post yesterday (post here), and as soon as I hit publish, I thought of more confessions to add.  I love how random those posts can be, and since I thought of a few more to add, another post is in the making! 

I hope you all have a great weekend.  I have a busy few weeks coming up and I am hoping to make use of this weekend to prepare for them!

Linking up with WhitneyErika and Andrea.


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I am pretty sure any time I write one of these posts, or read one of these posts, Usher's "These are my confessions..." runs through my head.  I don't think I will ever not think of that song in conjunction with a confessions post!  So without further ado...

I confess...I am already tired of the Get Fit Done workout program, and it's only the start of Week 3.  I don't know what it is with me lately, but I have not been able to find a program I really enjoy, and in turn, stick with regularly.  I think I need to get out my mounds of programs, and come up with my own 'program' so to speak.  Something with a lot of variety.  That or I just really need the weather to start cooperating, so I can incorporate some walks into my routine.  I don't know - just something to get me out of this rut!

I confess...I have started and stopped three books in the past few days.  I just cannot get into any of them.  And I try, because I am one of those people that hates not finishing a book I started.  It's just been very disappointing.  Especially because all I want to do is get into a good book!  I started a fourth last night, and I am hoping this is the one that breaks the cycle.  Fingers crossed!

I confess...I love cooking and making things from scratch, but I cannot get enough of Knorr's Taco Rice.  In the Magnolia Table cookbook, Joanna recommends this brand with her enchiladas, if you don't have time to make homemade.  Since I had Monday off, I was all set to try the actual recipe she has in the cookbook, but instead decided why mess with a good thing, and gabbed two packets of rice while I was out (one for now, one for later) to go with dinner.  And you know what...I am not sure I will ever end up trying that recipe because this stuff is just truly so good.  

I confess...I still have only made hard boiled eggs with my instant pot.  It's way too big of an appliance (and too expensive) to only use it for that.  I realllly need to give some real meals a try.

I confess...I love binge watching.  Some shows I even let build up so I can just watch them right in a row, rather than wait week after week for something new.  It's a bit ridiculous.  And my DVR is always close to full because of this reason, haha.  So silly!

I confess...some nights there is nothing better than getting to bed early, complete with a face mask and freshly painted nails.  I have been doing this on Thursday nights (usually - this week it was Wednesday night), and it's the perfect way to head into the weekend (or pamper yourself mid week!).

I confess...I am wayyyy too invested in the latest going ons with Khloe Kardashian.  And by going ons, I mean what has come out about Tristan hooking up with Kylie's very best friend.  My word!

I confess...I got in Girl Scout cookies this week and my restraint with them has pretty much been non-existent.  What is it with those cookies that make them so addicting?!  My favorites are the Tagalongs, Samoas, and Thin Mints (of course).  So, so good!

Weekend Recap: President's Day 2018

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Happy Tuesday!  This weekend was a good one - a mix of relaxing, productivity, and fun.

The weekend started a little early for me, as I finished up the work day at home.  The snow started coming down around lunch, and while it ended up not being all that bad, I still wanted to get home before it started to stick.  And I was able to do so, thankfully!  I spent the evening catching up on shows, and then reading.  I stayed up wayyyy too late reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - I just had to know what happened!

I was still up kind of early on Saturday, but I didn't mind it, because that allowed me to get going on my to do list.  I wrote down all the things I wanted to do, and started chipping away.  I didn't get everything done, but still got some things done, like hanging the key frame my dad did, as well as adding a little greenery to my half bath.  I had gotten some greens at IKEA over the weekend, but they just didn't work out, so I ended up using this little topiary that my mom passed along to me.  And after having my new phone for a week, I finally ordered a new case.  My last case has been the Otterbox Defender, which is pretty heavy duty.  I went down a notch and got the Otterbox Commuter, along with the glass screen cover.  I am hoping I don't regret it.  I can just be really clumsy and would hate for anything to happen to my phone.  I was so excited, though, because the case itself was on sale, Ebates had 5% cash back, and they had a discount code for free shipping and 10% off.  Talk about a deal!  And instead of the plain old gray I previously had, I went with pink!  It looks so pretty online, I am hoping it will be the same in person.  I spent the evening watching Blacklist and going through papers.  I finally finished the 5th season of Blacklist, and I am not sure how I feel about where things left off.  Season six is airing on TV right now, but the first few episodes aren't available On Demand, or online, so I guess I will just have to wait to start in again until they become available!

St. Louis got some more weather overnight, but luckily the temps stayed at freezing and the roads were fine for church.  During service, we have a children's moment, when all the kids go up to the front, and the pastor has a special little sermon / moment with them.  This week's was too cute.  In keeping with the theme that God is love, and that we should look at things through God's love, he gave the children heart sunglasses, which he picked up at Party City during the post Valentine's Day sale.  Basically using the heart frames as a reminder that you should look at life through love.  I just thought that was really neat, and a clever way to tie it together.  I headed to Target after church to pick up items for baby bundles the church is putting together.  I bought some blankets, little outfits and diapers...and had the best time doing so.  The little baby stuff is just the sweetest thing!  I just wanted to buy it all, haha!  

Later in the day it was time for a little staycation to celebrate Valentine's Day.  We headed downtown, and had the best dinner at Cinder House, a South American inspired restaurant.  They had the best bread, amazing rice and beans, and the steak was legitimately the best I have ever had.  My mouth is just watering thinking about it!  The restaurant itself is really neat, too.  I loved the interior, and one wall is all windows, overlooking the rooftop area that had a water feature and lots of twinkle lights, as well as some of the downtown buildings and of course, the Arch!  

Monday I was off, and spent the day doing laundry, reading (or attempting to read - I could not get into any of the books I started!), and running errands.  Before running my actual errands, I stopped at the local antique mall.  I love browsing those places, and it had been quite a while since the last time I was in.  I found an awesome mirror, which I think will be perfect for my bedroom.  I need to measure for the mirror, but I am really hoping it will end up working.  I am planning to buy all new furniture for my bedroom, and I think having an mirror that isn't brand new will add some extra character.  I always like having a mix of old and new!  Which, speaking of new furniture, I purchased my bed.  I have been eyeing a metal bed for a while now, and after finding a few on various sites, I decided to move ahead with one this weekend, given the President's Day sales.  I purchased this metal bed from Target, and I really hope that it is as nice as it looks online!

Oh and something else really neat over the weekend - I participated in Steph and Jana's Show Us Your Books Readathon, and won a prize!  How cool is that?  Now I just need to decide what books to buy with the prize (a gift card to the bookseller of my choosing). 

It's back to the grind today, but I feel much more prepared for the week, so I am hoping for one that is a little less hectic than last...fingers crossed!

Linking up with Erika.

Friday Favorites: Ramblings & A Pandora Station

It's Friday!!!  TGIF!

I have been all out of sorts this week.  I think with coming back on Monday, instead of Sunday really threw my for a loop.  And then work kind of blew up this week.  I was NOT expecting it to be as busy as it was, plus adding in some after work errands that I hadn't planned on made it seem even more hectic.  Basically I felt like I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off for the majority of the time.  Definitely surviving, as opposed to thriving.  I pride myself in mostly having it together, but I was far from together this week!  And, mother nature has decided to go crazy again this week...64 yesterday, and a high of 23 today with expected snow.  They are likening it to the Friday in January that caused ALL the problems on the road.  Cool, mother nature.  Cool.  

Since I haven't really gotten it together, I only have one favorite for you today.  And really, the reason that I even have this one is because I wrote this earlier in the week, haha!  Otherwise it probably would have been radio silence today.  So, my one favorite for this Friday...

A long time ago...well, at least it seems like it was a long time ago.  My gauge of time is pretty terrible.  If someone says they are on their way, I will feel like they are taking forever, when in reality only a few minutes have passed.  But I am rambling, so back to the point.  At some point (which was not super recent) Andrea @ Momfessionals shared a Pandora station called Beats for Studying.  I think she said that she plays this during school sometimes - something like that.  When I was at work this week, I wanted some music to listen to, but none of my 'normal' stations were cutting it.  I remembered that I had jotted down the station Andrea had recommended on a stick note, so I looked it up and gave it a try.  I absolutely love it!  It's all instrumental music (violins, piano, etc.), but of more current songs.  It's so good!  Perfect background music that isn't too distracting.

Thanks for listening to my rambling above.  Even though I know my 'off' week really pales in comparison to other, real problems, sometimes you just gotta get it out!

I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Linking up with WhitneyErika and Andrea.

Weekend Recap + Valentine's Day Home Tour

Hey all!  Well, we are just one day away from a new weekend, but I am going back to this past weekend for a quick recap.

I was off Friday, and headed home to my parents' house.  My cousin's shower was on Saturday, and I figured taking the day off would all me to not rush back home, and also help my mom with any last minute shower things.  Traffic was ridiculous for mid morning on a Friday, and the wind was crazy, but I made it home without any real problems.  It was super nice when I got in, because my mom had lunch ready to go!  Soup and salad, which is always good.  The soup she had was a zuppa tuscana from Costco - it was SO good.  I love the zuppa tuscana soup at Olive Garden, but I think this was even better.  I had to work for just a bit, and then finished up the favors for the shower.  I got my Valentine's Day presents from my parents' - the prettiest blush colored Nike sweatshirt, some coil hair ties, and a pizza in the freezer from Lou Malnati's to take home with me!  If you read here last Friday, I mentioned how I had my dad go pick me up some coil hair ties from Charmed.  Well, unbeknownst to me, my mom had decided that they would be part of my Valentine's Day gift.  And when she got home, and saw the ones my dad picked out for me on the counter, she was sooo confused as to why they were there, because she hadn't gotten any for my present yet.  The whole thing was just kind of funny!  We ended the day with my favorite pizza, Mario's.

Saturday we were up early.  To stay on track with the Get Fit Done program, I needed to log in 30 minutes of cardio.  I got in a quick elliptical work out before it was time to get ready for the shower.  My mom and I hit the road, headed to my grandma's, then to the restaurant for the shower.  It turned out so well!  There were a ton of cute details and I took a ton of pictures that I plan to share in its own post.  My cousin seemed like she had a great time, which is all that matters.  And I finally got to meet her fiance!  They have been together for years, but somehow we always missed each other at family events.  I was starting to think it wouldn't be until the actual wedding that I would get to meet him!  After the shower, we dropped off my grandma and then my mom and I headed to IKEA.  We weren't really looking for anything in particular (except things to hold the corners of rugs down, which I totally forgot about until we had already left), and it was nice to have a leisurely walk around the store with my mom.  Once we got home, my dad made us popcorn (he makes the BEST popcorn), and I was asleep on the couch before I knew it.

Even before I left to go home, I had been monitoring the weather, because it was fine getting there, going home was a different story.  I knew that Sunday would be a wash, because St. Louis was an icy mess in the morning, and by the time that would be cleared, I would be stuck in snow.  After a grocery run, a quick walk, and a coffee run, we settled in for the afternoon.  My mom made homemade spaghetti sauce, beef vegetable soup, and meatloaf...it was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen.  I'd like to say 'we' made that stuff, but I kept getting distracted by the puzzle my parents were working on, so I don't know how much help I actually was.  I headed down to the basement to 'help' my dad with a house project.  And by help, I mean I was more moral support than anything, haha.  In the grouping above my couch, I wanted to do a frame with old keys.  And I wanted them contained within the glass.  So my dad figured out how to do so with some foam and wire.  It turned out great!  The rest of the day was pretty low key...lots of TV and reading.  My mom and I watched the Grammy's.  I wasn't overly impressed with all the looks,  but the talent of all the artists was pretty amazing.  

I was able to head back to St. Louis on Monday.  I knew rain was coming, so I was anxiously watching the temperature climb to above freezing during my drive.  Which, thankfully it did before I hit any weather.  And the rain I did see wasn't too bad at all - thank goodness!  I spent the rest of the day working at home, and trying to ready myself for the week.  I am not sure how well that worked out, because I have been all out of sorts this week.  No clue what day it is, and somehow Valentine's Day just snuck right up on me.  Normally I like to send a card to my grandma, and a little gift to my nephew.  I got it in the mail this morning, but it's going to be a little late.  Whoops! 

Speak of Valentine's Day, I snapped a few pictures of my mom's decor this weekend.  She had so many cute little touches around the house.

My Very Favorite Books & Authors

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I absolutely love to read.  It is one of those things that I fell in love with when I was younger, and still love today.

I find books to be such an escape.  They can take you anywhere and everywhere.  They can make you feel a whole slew of feelings, ones that make you smile so big (or even laugh!), and ones that make you cry.  When you think about it, books are truly amazing.

I have read quite a few books over the years, but there are some that really stand out to me.  Below are my favorite books of all time, as well as some of my very favorite authors!

The Bridal Quartet by Nora Roberts.  If I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would probably be Happy Ever After, book four of the bridal quartet.  I absolutely LOVE all these books, and have reread them multiple times.  The books follow four women who run a wedding business together, and their ups and downs to finding the ones they love.  The fourth book is my favorite, just because the character is my favorite.  But really, all of them are so great.  

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist.  This is one of those books that really hit me and made me feel.  It's a bunch of little stories about the author's life.  I am not sure if it is because she lives in Chicago (my favorite city), or vacations in Michigan (where my family vacations every year), or what exactly it was, but the book truly touched me.  And it has recipes (the bacon wrapped, goat cheese stuffed dates are THE BEST)!  

It's Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst.  This is my most recent favorite, and I know I have mentioned it a bunch already, but I feel that it is that good - it needs to be mentioned that many times, and probably even more!  I do think everyone would find something to take away from it, but it's especially good for those people who might be struggling with hardships and in turn, struggling with their faith while experiencing those hardships.

I can't remember any other favorite books - does anyone else have that problem - when it comes time to name your favorites, you can't think of them all until after that fact?  I am sure that is going to be me after I post this!  Anyways, I thought I would share some of my favorite authors instead of books.  I pretty much always check out these authors when at the library, just in case there is a book they have in I haven't read yet.

Nora Roberts.
Mary Kay Andrews.
Sandra Brown.
Nicholas Sparks.
Maeve Binchy.

What is your favorite book(s)?

Linking up with Shay, Erika, Lindsay and Jessi.

February 2019 Book Review

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I have finally gotten back on the reading train.  I had been sucked in by Netflix, so much so, that reading had fallen a little to the wayside.  And while I am still a bit addicted to Netflix, specifically The Blacklist, I have been trying to get in a bit of reading, too!  Here's what I have read since last month's book review (post here).

Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts.  This is the second book in the Chronicles of The One series.  It took me awhile to read the first, because I wasn't sure of the concept (a 'Doom' that knocks out a majority of the population, and lots of magic), but I am so glad I read the first one, because it really sucked me.  As did the second.  I really enjoyed it, right up until the end.  There is a big fight scene, and honestly I felt like the writing was jumbled and I wasn't sure which character was being referred to.  It could also be that I was a little sleepy when reading the ending, but I feel like the rest of it was good, up until that point.

It's Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lyse TerKeurst.  I shared this in an earlier post, but I first heard about this book via a podcast.  After I looked it up, I bought it immediately.  The title of the book just really grabbed me, as did her story (martial issues, health issues, just life issues all happening at once).  And after I heard on the podcast that she wrote the book during her struggles and how she handled her faith within those struggles, it made me want to read it so much more.  Because I felt it would be very genuine, or at least that was my hope.  Which is was.  This book exceeded all my expectations and is one that I think everyone could benefit from reading.  And I would highly suggest buying it, because I know for me, it's a book that I will reread over and over again.  In fact, I already am, because this book is part of a small group study at church.  But really, I can't say enough good things about it. 

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult.  I think Jodi Picoult is such a great author.  She tackles some really tough topics in her books (most recently - racism, abortion), but in a way that is really well done (I think) and one that makes you think.  I felt that way about Small Great Things, and again about this book.  The one thing about this book, though, was I felt it took soooo long to figure out what happened.  The book starts kind of at the end, then works backwards.  Which is neat in a way, and kept me reading, but at points I was wishing that she would flash forward again at some point.  Still a really good book, though!       

Linking up with Steph.

Friday Favorites: Hair Ties, Food, Fitness & More Food

Happy Friday!  This Friday is especially happy for me, because I have the day off!  Cannot beat that!

1.  Well, 5 days in, and I already broke my no spend month.  I was scrolling through instagram when I saw that my favorite boutique, Charmed, had coil hair ties back in stock.  I have been wanting to give those a try, and there were so many cute colors.  Not even thinking of my no spend month, I text my dad to see if he would stop in there after work to pick me up one.  Yes, I asked my poor dad to do this since my mom was out of town, haha!  Being the great dad he is, he stopped by and got me not one, but 3 hair ties!  And only after the fact did I remember I was trying to NOT spend money on unnecessary items.  Whomp, whomp.  Granted, they are only a buck a piece, but it kind of defeats the purpose.  Anyways, I am still super excited to give them a try!  Now, I just need to avoid checking out Charmed for the rest of the month.  But, if you aren't doing a no spend month like me, you can check out the Charmed website here, or follow Charmed on instagram here.

2.  Back at the beginning of January, I picked up a Smithfield Homestyle Pork Roast from the grocery store.  I remember Erica @ Whimsical September blogging about this brand at some point, and thought it would make such a quick and easy meal.  And by quick, I am referring to the prep.  All you have to do is throw it in the crock pot with a little bit of water and you are done (there are also instructions for cooking in the oven, but it takes multiple hours and since I was making it during the week, I didn't have that kind of time to be at home)!  The roast got thrown in my freezer after that shopping trip to be used at later date, and this week so happened to be that later date.  I stuck it in the crock pot before I left for work (I did let it thaw in the fridge the day before), added a bit of water, and set it on low to cook.  The house smelled amazing when I got home from work, which is something I always love.  Especially on a cold and dreary day.  The pork shredded super easily in the crock pot, and tasted so very good!  I ate it with a salad and green beans, but I also think it would have been delicious served over rice or mashed potatoes...really anything.  And, it was sooo good.  And the pork roast makes a ton - perfect for making at the beginning of the week and eating on throughout!  

After a quick look on their website, they seem to have a few different flavor options, as well as different cuts of meat.  All of which sound super good.  I definitely plan to grab more next time I am at the store to keep handy in the freezer when I want an easy meal!     

3.  I started a new workout program this week - Get Fit Done, which is an e-book that Megan @ Honey We're Home put together.  So far, it's been good.  Hard, but good.  The moves can be a bit difficult, but suggestions on how to modify are included, and it gives me something extra to work for.  It's a 4 week program, so almost 1 down, and 3 to go!  

4.  I eat blueberries almost every day with my lunch, and when I saw they were on sale, I grabbed two containers.  Well, I over estimated a bit on how many I actually eat, and had almost a whole container left.  They weren't going to last much longer, and I hated to waste them, so I decided to make blueberry muffins!  I actually got the idea from Beth @ Reaching Beyond Mediocrity, when I saw she posted a blueberry muffin recipe.  I wanted to be a bit healthier, so I made Ina Garten's Blueberry Bran Muffins.  My mom first made these for Easter last year, and I just fell in love.  I made a batch and popped them in the freezer.  Paired with a hard boiled egg, they will make the perfect breakfast! 

5.  I shared what I think is the best sugar cookie recipe earlier this week (post here).  My mom and I started making sugar cookies a few years ago at Christmas, and I finally got the recipe on the blog.  They would be perfect to make for Valentine's Day!

Linking up with WhitneyErika and Andrea.