Monday, May 4, 2015

What I'm Reading

Happy May!!! Let's play what-I've-been-reading-lately-catch-up. Mmm'kay?

A few quickies for y'all: Bill O'Reilly's fourth installment, Killing Patton, was great. Of all the historical figures, Gen. Patton was definitely the man I knew the least about. It wasn't as good as Killing Lincoln, but I liked it as much as the others. A worth picking up if you're a fan of O'Reilly's other books or a WWII fanatic. For this past book club we wanted something light and humorous, so we opted for the memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (of The Office and The Mindy Project TV fame). My thoughts? Meh. I really wanted to like it, but it's only okay. Mainly because her thoughts on apologizing for being fat and her body image. I would not consider her this and while she's trying to convince me she has good body image and doesn't care what others think, the fact she talks about it so much makes me think she does care. Also, this reads like a diary (and the editing it horrendous)... kind of seems pointless. As the other members agreed, it started off strong and then fell flat on its face. 

My favorite audio book of late is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Fantastic! I really, really enjoyed the descriptive narration throughout, discussing her love of books, scenery,'s probably because I'm a librarian and a very visual person, but I felt right at home. But only at the beginning because then things get weird. In a good, mysterious, and entertaining kind of way. In a few sentences, it's about a woman, Margaret, who is hired to be the biographer of a famous ailing author, Vida Winter. Tasked with telling her life story, Margaret discovers Miss Winter's disturbing past. It did stall in a few places, but picked up again. I was quite enthralled with the story so I didn't mind too much. I found the secondary characters stole the show. It's darker than I was aware of when I picked up the book to read as part of a Good Reads' group book choice. Overall, I really liked the ending and all the mysteries swirling about. You must give your full attention to this one!

A few guilty pleasures: The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer. Loved, loved, loved this story! It's Christian fiction and I've become addicted and obsessed with this literature. It's a way to get my romance and fairy tale-like endings without the unnecessary bedroom scenes. Which is all I really care about anyway. The courting. The pursuing. The falling in love. All around God and faith. And this book really displayed how God will work sometimes. Always turning evil into something good. It's beautiful standing back and watching God work. And Dan is a sweetheart. This lovely romance is about firefighter Dan falling for the small town's newcomer and single mom, Ginevieve. But Ginevieve is dealing with her daughter's teenaged-pregnancy. It's rocky and passionate. But the ending. Gahhh I wanted to see more of the dialogue between them!!! The discussion questions in the back were a great addition, and I would love to start a Christian book club with this read.

In Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter, Madison is determined to sail in the regatta for her twin brother, whom she lost years ago in a drowning accident. The town rebel, Beckett, is the man charged with training and helping her accomplish this feat. But there are secrets being kept, hearts falling, and a lot of grace going around. This is definitely my kind of romantic fluff. My kind of guilty pleasure reading. I liked so much about it...the characters, the story line, the faith.... it was a quick read. The main male character, Beckett, was my favorite by far. I just couldn't help rooting for and liking him. Plus, I always love the small, farm town Midwest stories. Feels like home. I'll be reading the second one in this series very soon, I'm sure.

My favorite juvenile pick is A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. It's been quite a long time since I've come across such a cute, sweet book for young youth. This is just too precious with a snicker of humor and a huge scoop of hope. Loved, loved, LOVED it! In short, it's about a 12-year-old girl, Felicity, who collects words and whose mother is sort of a gypsy (never staying in once place too long), and who finds herself back in her mother's hometown of Midnight Gulch, TN. There is quite the history to that little town and Felicity must discover how to bring back its magic. I was thinking about my favorite words the whole time I listened to it (the audio is an award winner). It's such a beautiful and quaint story, and the writing really places you in the middle of this small and magical town. And who doesn't like a book about magic, words, and ice cream?

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, May 2, 2015

My Beautiful Month

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

Easter adventures with the family.

My Emerald City.

He loves using anything as a pillow.

It's been FIVE years. It feels like yesterday.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eight Things I'm Loving Right Now

1. Poached eggs. Oh.My.Goodness.Oh.My.Goodness. Why did it take me almost 29 years to give these a try?! Why didn't anybody tell me about these??! (Mama, you're excused, but everybody else.... I'm looking at you.)

2. My latest guilty pleasure readings seem to be Christian Romance. I am such a sap. Such a romantic at heart. The Dandelion Field. A Marriage in Middlebury. I just finished Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter and am starting Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck. It's fluff. It's all lovey-dovey. It's fairy-tale-ish. It makes me cry. It's my current kick.

3. And speaking of... My new Vera Bradley reading glasses in Slate Blooms. And I'm not sure I even need these. But they were only $3.99. And they were cute. It's been almost a decade since I last went to the eye doctor. Mama took me and the doctor said my eyesight was fine, but with all the reading I was expected to do in college I might want some reading glasses. So we purchased some really cute, stylish red ones, which I wore mainly to coordinate with a red outfit every once in a while. Actually, I haven't wore them since unmarried life?? Maybe. I feel like my eyes are fine. Always have been. But these glasses are super cute! Maybe I should schedule an exam....

4. Polka dots and dresses. After the 70 degree-weather tease a few weeks ago, then the 40 degree-drop last week, spring seems to be poking it's head out today. We're in the 60s, people! Time to celebrate with all things spring! And let's hope it stays longer than three days. My dresses are growing impatient in the closet, and boots and tights just don't look as pretty or make them happy like sandals and heels.

5. So, through my Robeks app, I was notified about their new FITNESS SMOOTHIES made with maple water. As soon as I saw the peanut butter one I knew I had to have it. Last weekend I drove to the nearest location for a taste test. Honestly, it tastes like Teddy Grahams (the original, y'all) with a bit of peanut butter. Teddy Grahams! I loved those as a snack in my college days childhood. Yet, I could do with more peanut butter. Shocker, I know. I can always do with more peanut butter. Fitness fuel, my friends.

6. Grinding my coffee beans. Since my new coffee pot purchase a few months ago, now I wake up to the smell of coffee beans. Programmable coffee pots are the best thing since sliced bread, you know? I know. And my additional grinders are perfect for those days I want French pressed coffee. Like this past Tuesday. French pressed and Cabela's. Yep. That's my thoughts on Tuesdays in a nutshell. Time to be productive, but I'm not happy about it.

7. These Raspberry Chocolate Chip Muffins. Made with oat flour, dark chocolate, halved sugar, fresh raspberries, protein powder, and Greek yogurt. Healthy. Tasty. Breakfast-pleasing. Snack-pleasing. Dessert-pleasing. I had more than one, definitely. Check out Katie's book for the recipe!

8. This ballet core workout on DVD I borrowed from my library. I was at another branch killing time before a program, and while walking around I spotted it. It's pretty basic, but leaves you with a great burn. I'm really, really liking it. And it's something different. (Also, something I'm in need of if I keep eating muffins.)

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, April 27, 2015

Photo an Hour

7 AM

8 AM

9 AM

10 AM

11 AM

12 PM

1 PM

2 PM

3 PM

4 PM

5 PM

6 PM

7 PM

8 PM

9 PM

10 PM

Yesterday, Jessica and I went on a teeny, tiny road trip down to my parents house for a jewelry party. Jessica being friend, shotgun-rider, entertainment, and jewelry lady. Actually, party isn't the right word. Chatting with Mama and my grandma while my aunt perused the rings, and Daddy, grandpa and I hoarded the caprese salad is more fitting. It was a fantastic day-trip. And now it's Monday....

But at least it's National Tell a Story Day.

And I'm a fan of picture stories.

With Love and God Bless,

Saturday, April 25, 2015

6. Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley, how I love thee.

Love might not be the word I'm looking for.

Obsessed. Devoted. Addicted. Huge fan. Avid collector. Yes. All of these, yes.

I can't help it. It's so beautiful. Whenever I walk into a store I want to BUY ALL THE THINGS. Pattern after pattern. Style after style. Item after item.

Multiple patterns of the same style. Multiple styles of the same item. Yes. ALL THE THINGS. My coworkers laugh at me. On an average day, I come to work with a dozen patterns between all my things...purse, tote bag, lunch bag, tumbler, lanyard, sunglasses, wallet, and the list goes on.... Hey, we all collect and like something. Right after all things coffee and all things Starbucks, I collect Vera Bradley.

But last Monday was special.

Last Monday, I walked through the door with a record 21 patterns. Grant it one pattern was a gift for my coworker, and my new pack of pencils, which contained four different patterns.

The other 16 patterns?


BUTTTTTT(!) in my defense, I had just come back from my annual trip to the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. And this year it was killer. I adore everything I purchased. I adored my time with Jessica (it was just the two of us this year). I adored our traditional Cheddar's vegetable platter and drinks dinner and our Jimmy John's lunch. I adored our multiple trips to Starbucks and sleeping in a bed all of my own. I adored the hundreds of dollars I saved. Which is why I go. I go so our bank account can breathe.

This is what I tell myself. And my husband agrees. He'd rather I spend only $20 on a purse instead of closer to $100. We are all winners here.

Hello, VBOS 2015!!!!

This year was a blast as usual. We are all about the Vera. We hopped on that bandwagon years ago.

And my haul this year!!! So happy to see VB makes more patterns available for the weekend sessions. We we get back to the hotel room, I like laying out all my new purchases just as much as I like shopping the actual Sale.

My first-day haul.
SOME of Jessica's haul ;)
Apparently, our hotel room wasn't full enough. We realized we were short a few things. Like the small spinner I had my eye on the entire time we were there. It's originally $299, but when we walked in it was only $169. As we headed to the registers, the price dropped to $139.

Oh my stars! Think what it could drop to on the last day? On Sunday?! I promise, y'all, another $30-drop and I was walking out of there with a brand new, beautiful carry-on.

Yes, we went back Sunday morning....

....just out of curiosity.

While we were there, from 10-11 a.m. the price did not drop. The session did run until 8 p.m. though. Imagine the final cost come Sunday evening....???!!! Unfortunately, we both had to work Monday and could.not.stay.

I was bummed. But I snatched up another $118 purse for 20 bucks, and another $40 purse for 5 bucks. A successful trip indeed, my friends.

And since I'm sharing with you all my love for VB, check out these mash-ups of our previous trips these last four years.

This huge love affair all started with Java Blue. I fell in love with this pattern. I just had to have it. But at the time, a college student's budget is not Vera Bradley friendly. It was tough. The struggle was real. For my birthday, Jessica bought me my this lunch bag in Java Blue. I finally owned a piece of VB!!! Eventually, I bought a purse, wallet, and a curling iron holder all in Java Blue. <--- That was back when I wanted everything to match. Now, I'm all about equal pattern love. I'm all about ALL THE THINGS.

I still own my first piece of Vera. I don't use it, but I can't bring myself to toss it. It's sentimental to me.

Once I decided I was writing a post just about my obsession, I figured I might as well rummage through the entire house in search of anything and everything VB I owned. As displayed in the very first picture of this post, there is a lot. And by a lot I mean A LOT.

I counted 40 different patterns in my possession.

Oh, and that picture doesn't count the few VB things in my office or are currently on loan. (Cough, like my Kindle cover, Mama, cough.)


I'll admit, I have a problem. It's a beautiful and fashionable problem. But I might need help. I need VB Addicts Anonymous. We can compare our purses, talk about our deals, and I can pass out homemade VB cozy sleeves for our coffee.

Gahhhhh. She's a beauty!

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Favorite Black Bean Burger Salad

So, you know those black bean burgers I love?

Put those babies on a salad!

Over these last few weeks, I have been addicted to my burgers atop a beautiful plate of greens. I think it's spring fever. However, as I look out the window this morning and see the snow falling, I'm sure, completely, that it's SPRING FEVER.

Hello? Sunshine? Where are you??

But, you know, it's Ohio. We go straight from winter to summer. Always. ALWAYS. I think Ohio has a thing against spring time. I think it's the chirping birds at 6 a.m. Or maybe that's just me.

But, my point. And I do have one.

These beauty burgers are even more beautiful in a salad and drizzled with a white balsamic vinegar. Right now, I'm all about this peach version I found at the Market District. So good.

The slightly warmed burger with a sprinkle of feta is enough to get anyone to eat this salad. Trust me.

Black Bean Burger Salad

Serves 1

1 black bean burger, cooked (follow the link for the recipe)
2 cups spring mix greens
1 large tomato, sliced
1 cup English cucumber, chopped
1/8 c crumbled feta cheese
1 half of an avocado, chopped
White Peach Balsamic Vinegar, for drizzle (about 1 T)

Place greens on a pretty plate. Layer on tomato, cucumber, feta, and avocado. Top with a heated black bean burger, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Who knew these beauty burgers could get any better?

Nutritional Information:
409 calories, 17 fat, 53 carbs, 20 protein, 15 fiber, 14 sugar

With Love and God Bless,