Friday, December 14, 2018


I cannot believe that 2018 is almost over and that Christmas is so close! We have had one family Christmas already and have 3 more to go! I was going to go to the grocery store today but I decided that I'd wait until Monday and hopefully have that be my last time going.  It probably won't be, but I can hope!

My favorite picture from the week:

This was before our Christmas party on Saturday!

The high of my week was volunteering in the elementary library.  I've done it the last two weeks and it's so much fun to see what the kids are reading and how fast some books come in and back right out again!

The low of my week was  crappy sleep I got last night.  I woke up around 3:30 and it was about the last time I really slept.  Now I'm exhausted.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday - Tacos, Blackberries and Spanish Rice .  I tried this recipe for the first time and it was super simple.  We all liked it.  I would like probably a little more flavor , and I did used diced tomatoes with green chilies, maybe add some more spice.
Tuesday -  One Pan Chicken Bake with peas
Wednesday -  French Toast Sticks and Scrambled Eggs
Thursday -  Make Your Own Pizza and Salad
Friday -  Spaghetti and Meatballs

The One Pan Chicken Bake was a family hit.  We will probably add this into our rotation on a semi-regular basis.  

What I’m listening to  In the Dark  and Christmas music!

What I’m watching Hallmark Christmas movies! I've got it bad.  

What I’m reading: A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo.  It's in the Kate Burkholder series and I'm on Chapter 3 and loving it!

My plans for the weekend include tonight the kiddo and I are meeting up with her friend and mom so the girls can participate at the local center for their ornament swim.  They get to swim and pick out an ornament, decorate it and have snacks.  Tomorrow, the husband and the kiddo are doing some Christmas baking and I'll probably read.  In the evening, the kiddo is attending my mom's church with her for a Parents Night Out event and we are going out to dinner and using some gift cards that have accumulated.  My mom invited the kiddo over for a sleepover so we may hit up some live music after dinner.  Sunday, the husband has to work for a few hours and I assume the kiddo will attend church with my mom so I will have some time alone to do more reading and be lazy.

What are you listening to? What are you reading?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What I've Read This Week

I've been flying through books this last week.  I've been making good selections or my mindset, which resulted in me finishing 3 books since the weekend and 4 if you count the one I finished last Tuesday.

Wonder - R.J. Palacio

I have a horrible tendency to put off popular books or books that are highly recommended.  I feel like when I read them in the midst of the hype I over analyze, so then I put them off and feel like a dingbat when I do actually read them.

Wonder is sooo sooo sooo good.  I loved it.  I loved the voice of all of the children, found it relate able to young kids and such a good book.   Please, don't be a dingbat like me and read it! I've actually gifted to a few kids without reading it, and now I will most definitely keep doing so!

Assaulted Caramel by Amanda Flower

This is the first book in the Amish Candy Shop series and it was really good.  I had previously read Premeditated Peppermint which is the third in the series and really enjoyed it.  This gives you more details behind Bailey's move to Harvest, Ohio.  It introduces you to the towns residents and is just a lovely cozy mystery! I really like Amanda Flower.

which leads to my next book...

A Plain Death by Amanda Flower

I devoured this Amish mystery! This is the first in the Appleseed Creek books! Chloe Humphrey gets her first job out of college which takes her from the big city to the teeny tiny town where her new employer Harshberger College is located.  On her way into town she meets a young Amish girl and interrupts two local thugs harassing her.  As Chloe settles into her new town and job, she makes new friends in the Troyer family and becomes embroiled in a murder case where she may be the real target!  I can't wait to read more in this series!

Today, I am staying on my Amish theme with A Gathering of Secrets by Linda Castillo.  This is the newest book in the Kate Burkholder series that I love!

What have you read this week?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Books I Want For Christmas

Not only do I enjoy giving books, I love getting books! I'm not a reader who reads all the new things, so I am pretty open to books that have been out 40 years to recently out.  Here are a few that I'm wishing for this year!

Becoming - Michelle Obama

THIS BOOK I AM MOST EXCITED ABOUT.  I may also know this wish is coming true.  Because if it wasn't I'd have already purchased it myself.  I am so excited to read this memoir by Michelle Obama about growing up and her time in the White House.  I love memoirs, I love the Obamas', I loved Barack Obama's books, I love political memoirs.  I CANNOT WAIT.

The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis

What do you know, another memoir! I have started watching the series Blackish recently, and Jenifer Lewis plays the role of mother to Dre (main character) and grandma to his children.  On the show SHE IS HILARIOUS.  I saw her interview with Trevor Noah about the book, and it became a must read!

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain

McClain who wooed me with The Paris Wife about Hemingway's first wife, has another book about Hemingway's woman loving ways. 

Description: In 1937, twenty-eight-year-old Martha travels alone to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and becomes drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly—and uncontrollably—falling in love with Hemingway, a man already on his way to becoming a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, Key West, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Ernest make their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite. But when Ernest publishes the biggest literary success of his career, For Whom the Bell Tolls, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the confining demands of being a famous man's wife or risk losing Ernest by forging a path as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own. 

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy

Honestly, I did not read Anne of Green Gables when  I was younger.  I read it as an adult, but as a young child LOVED watching the PBS movies about Anne Shirley.  I am super excited to read this book about Marilla! 

Description: A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

To be perfectly fair, on my actual Amazon wishlist for Christmas only Becoming made the real cut.  The rest of the  books on it are my book club picks for January - June 2018! :) But if I didn't want someone else purchasing my book club picks, I'd include the others.

What books are on your wishlist?

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Book Recommendations for the Grown Ups

Friday, I posted a holiday book giving guide for kids if you were in need of ideas for upcoming holidays or birthdays.  Today, I give you my recommendations for older grown up types!

The politically progressive reader

We're Going To Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

This is a memoir by Gabrielle Union and I highly recommend it, even if the person you are giving it to is not a huge Union fan.  I really didn't know much about her, but her memoir focuses way more on growing up black in an all white community and how race has played a role in her life and career.  Super fast read and good!

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea by Alyssa Mastromonaco

This is a great memoir from a former Obama staffer.  If you or the person you are looking for are a fan of Pod Save America ad their other podcasts, they will be familiar with Alyssa.  This book is hysterical, quick, and very interesting!

Tales of Two Americas by John Freeman

This is a collection of essays by authors and others about snippets of live throughout the United States.  If your or or your reader enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy, I encourage you to check this one out!

The reader who loves reading

Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence

This is a GREAT BOOK.  Written by a librarian in the form of letters to books.  It's funny, sweet, and will add even more books to the readers TBR lists.

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

A quick read of a story.  It features a girl working in bookshop who has a secret past that she doesn't share with others.  It's a great tale of friends helping friends, secrets and finding out how to trust and living life after trauma.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

This is just such a sweet story of an older man coming to terms with getting older and making friends and relying on each other.  I also feel if they love this one, there are tons of other great books by this author for them to turn to afterwards!

Reader who Loves Series

Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penney

The first book is called Still Life.  It's about 15 books in at this time and they are cozy mysteries based upon a French Canadian police inspector.  They do not have to be read in order but the character building leads nicely into each book!

Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo

These books are set in Ohio Amish country and the main character is Kate Burkholder who is an English police chief in the small town.  These are a bit more gruesome than Louise Penney's series but are not overly gruesome.  It focuses on the Amish community and her love interest in a fellow law enforcement officer.

Amish Candy Shop Mystery by Amanda Flower

This is another Amish series of the cozy mystery variety! Bailey King is a chocolatier whose Amish grandparents own their own shop in Harvest, Ohio called Swissmen Sweets.  She has a knack for finding dead bodies!

What books are you gifting this holiday season?

Friday, December 7, 2018

Holiday Book Gift Guide for Kids

I love giving books.  I basically gift a book for every reason.  New baby, birthday, Christmas, etc... If I don't give a book, I will do a gift card to Barnes and Noble.  I also do give out a toy or an experience gift but they are usually simple and I spend way more time picking out a book for little loves in my life!  And clearly some books can be given at different ages or times, but just some fun ideas I have.

Under Age 1

I usually give out board books if they are under one.  My exception is if it is a baby shower gift.  Then I will sometimes give a hardcover book for when they are older.

But Not The Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

This was one of our favorites and we read it a lot! It's cute and funny.  I love Sandra Boynton books in general!

Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. Eric Carle

I love all of the books that spin off from Brown Bear, but this is such a great beginner.  The illustrations are great, it's repetitive and you can learn about different animals and talk about their noises!

Alice in Wonderland a Baby Lit Color Primer by Jennifer Adams

A beautifully illustrated color primer and includes Alice in Wonderland characters and background! I love all the Baby Lit books I've read!

Ages 1 to 2

At this age I tend to also still give out board books or hardcover.  I don't tend to worry in my own house or in gifting if they get torn.  Books are meant to be loved and handled.

Go Dog Dog by P.D.. Eastman

This so repetitive and fun to point out the silly in the pictures.  Also, you can buy this in board book form or hardcover, so win win when you can't decide!

Ten Nine Eight by Molly Bang

Cute counting book.  It's short, cute and introduces some counting!

Ten Little Ladybugs by Melanie Gerth

This was a hugely loved book at our house.  The book is a hardcover and the ladybugs pop out.  It counts down and the ladybugs go away too.  It was a huge hit from about 9 months until age 3!

Ages 2 to 3

Pete the Cat by James Dean

OMG THIS SERIES IS AMAZING.  And if you haven't read any of them, please start here!  Great rhyming and message.

Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems

Love these books! They are great to use different voices, great for early reading opportunities and just funny!

I like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Such a great book about self-acceptance.  Good message to start young!  Love the illustrations.

Ages 3 to 4

Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

This is an adorable book with wonderful illustrations about nocturnal animals.

Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

Such a great story about people looking out for each other and helping others!

Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

This has become one of the books I give out at baby showers if I know the person is having a girl.  SUCH A GREAT BOOK.  Each page is a letter about different situations and reminders that the reader is loved, strong, and smart.

Ages 4 to 5

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Plana

This is a story about a young boy who doesn't understand why his life is a bit different than other people around him.  His grandmother answers his questions and puts a positive spin on how differences are okay.

Cece Loves Science by Kimberly Derting

This is my new go to book to gift! It is about a young girl Cece and her science partner who have to figure out a science project together and solve it.  This book masterfully integrates diversity in all aspects of the book in a way that doesn't tell you WE ARE TRYING TO BE DIVERSE.  It just is.

Simon and The Bear by Eric Kimmel

A story of a Russian immigrant who leaves his family for America.  His mother sends him with a menorah and food.  He needs a Hanukkah miracle to make it to New York City.  Beautiful illustrations.  So good.

First to Second Grade

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.? by Bonnie Bader
My kid is on year 2 of a huge love for Dr. King and learning anything she can on him. She loves this book and has re-read it multiple times since she got it in 2017!

Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi

This is a cute story with great illustrations.  It's the beginning of a series and the only one we've currently read but it's cute and we will be finishing the series!

Tales from Maple Ridge by Grace Gilman

My kiddo LOVED this series.  Devoured these books about a young pioneer boy.  Sadly, we have read all the books that are out and I'm not sure if there will be any more! The are 6 in the series and young readers will read them fast so consider gifting the whole series or the first couple!

Blast to the Past series by Stacia Deutsch
Another series favorite here! A class goes back to the past and helps famous people with problems. Great for little history lovers.  My kiddo likes that she is currently on the book King's Courage about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!

Third to 5th Grade

Wonder by R.J. Palacio 

This is such a great book and of course it is now a movie.  Hook up your young reader with a copy of both!

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
We are reading this series aloud as a family and I will say if you hand this off you need to have a conversation about racism and how people treated people that were different than them.  Also an honest conversation about taking away land from Native Americans is a good topic too.

The Watson's Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
I loved this book! It's also a movie. If you have a lover of history or someone interested in the civil rights movement, this is a great book. 

Harry Potter by JK Rowling

This really needs no description. :)

Orphan Train Series by Joan Lowery Nixon

Each books focuses on a young child who was orphaned or given up in New York City and sent on orphan trains out west.  We are currently reading through the series together with my second grader and she enjoys it because she likes learning about history.  I also enjoy reading them!

Middle School

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This is a must read for all.  Jerome is a 12 year old black boy who is killed by a police officer and sees the aftermath of his death as a ghost and the ghosts of others who were killed before him. 

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty

I loved this book.  It's about a middle school aged girl who was struck by lightning and gets some awesome math skills.  However, her people skills are lacking.  Her grandmother makes her attend at least one year of middle school and learn how to make friends before she allows her to go to college.  Such a great book.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes

This book is written from the point of view of a 12 year old girl living through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  So good!

High School

In Real Life by Jessica Love

This book follows good girl Hannah Cho on an adventure to Vegas to meet her online best-friend of four years.  She's sick of following the rules and decides to take some risks and let go of some control during her senior year spring break.  But was her online best-friend honest? Will Hannah regret lapse in judgment?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I really liked this book about Junior, who grows up on a reservation and doesn't feel like he fits in there or in the white school he starts attending.  This is a very good book.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green is awesome! So anything by him would make a fantastic gift.  This book is about a terminal cancer patient and a new friend she makes that turns her life upside down. 

Crank series by Ellen Hopkins

This is a powerful series about how drugs can shape and ruin your life.  Especially a life that was on track until one decision spirals into a horrible new path. 

I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I don't think I properly even shared all of the lovely books out there that I have read and loved.  If you have any specific requests about a book to gift someone I would love to try to think of a good one.  Please leave a comment and I'll try to help.

What are your favorite books to gift? What is a book you read this year that you are gifting to others?

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Library Haul

I love the library.  I love books.  I mean, if I could live in the library with unlimited coffee and tea I'd be set for life.  Hence, why I keep checking out books even when I have a stack at home.  The library just calls me as I drive by! This week I also started volunteering in the elementary school's library and I just love it! I love helping kids with books and checking out the selection!

The kiddo really enjoyed the Hanukkah books we checked out last week and has read more at school this week so I grabbed two more.  The Hanukkah Mice book has super cute illustrations and is a sweet story. 

Cece loves Science is a new favorite.  It's going on my list of books that I gift out.  It's a book full of diverse characters and a great book promoting science.  LOVED IT!

I am excited to read my first Kate Morton book.  I've heard a ton of good things about her books but I haven't read one yet.  I randomly ended up right in front of her books at the library and took that as a sign! I also grabbed myself a Christmas themed Elin Hildebrand because I couldn't help myself.

A friend had posted on Insta stories that her daughter loved Breadcrumbs and it is based up on The Snow Queen, so I grabbed that for us to try!

What books have you recently picked up from the library? Purchased? Gifted?