Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Book Recap

August was a good month for me for reading.  I didn't feel like doing much so I spent a lot of time curled up with a book.  Here's a reap of what I bought and what I read.

I made it through all my August to read books except The Tipping Point which I am currently reading, and I even snuck in two old picks that I hadn't read in the month I was shooting for.  Sarah's Key was on my June reading list, and Me Before You was supposed to be read in May.  But, I finally got around to both of them this month.

First up, let's talk abut what I read:
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch was not at all what I was expecting.  It was more a biography than anything.  I think this book definitely gained traction because Randy was dying when he wrote it.  Everyone wants to feel like they will have something that outlives them and in Randy's case, his children were so young when he found out he was terminal, he felt like he wanted to leave some words of wisdom, stories, and such behind for them.  I don't want to sound like I'm ragging on this book, because you gotta respect the place it came from, it just wasn't as amazing as it was hyped to be, but still worth the quick read. 
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was good.  It stuck with me for a while after I put it down.  I'll be honest, I pretty much read it because I like to read the book before I see the movie, and I heard they're filming the movie version of this one right now.  It was an interesting read, had good characters and I really liked how they developed and grew.  Even the secondary characters were at least decently fleshed out.  I don't want to give anything away, so if you haven't read it yet, it's worth the read. 
  • Unafraid by Susie Davis was reviewed by me here. 
  • Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott was pretty interesting.  It's a collection of biographical essays.  I like her.  She reminds me of my friend Chris, who's a massage therapist.  They always seem to be able to find the good in people and they have very clear ideas of who they are.  I'm excited to read more of her writings.   
  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rossay left me with mixed feelings.  A whole spectrum of 'em.  I had never heard of the Vel d'Hiv Roundup during the German occupation of France, and I don't really understand why not, because it's sounds pretty horrible.  The book alternates between Sarah's story during the round up and Julia's story taking place sixty years later.  The book was suspenseful and heartbreaking, yet had a few happy points too. The ending is what really turned me off.  It felt like De Rossay's editor told her the story needed a little more romance so they slapped together this not really believable chain of events to tie the two stories together even more and give Julia a happy ending.  It was worth the read, but the ending really didn't feel realistic in my mind.

What I Acquired:
For once it's the same amount as what I read.
  • Missing You by Harlan Coban was on my book wishlist.  I don't remember why or when I put it there, but when I saw the book available on Bookmooch, I figured I'd snap it up. 
  • The Garden of Beasts is by Erik Larson, one of my favorite history writings.  I already read Devil in the White City and really liked it.  I had also bought a copy of this one for Jolene when we were paired up in a previous CG Books and Bloggers swap. I found it for a couple bucks at Goodwill and had to get it.
  • A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rossay was found on the same Goodwill trip.  I hadn't read Sarah's Key yet, but this was on clearance for .99 so I thought I'd take a chance on it.
  • On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson was acquired when I won a blog giveaway over a Just Bee and came with a super cute mug too.  I love the shape of it.  Anyways, Hannah had all good things to say about this book, and sense I like fantasy stories, I was super happy to win it.
  • Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott arrived in the mail yesterday.  It was another Bookmooch find.  It's fiction, but sense I liked  Traveling Mercies so much, I'm interested to read more of her works.
2015 Totals
Read: 30
Acquired: 42

What about you?  Did you read anything good last month?  Let me know!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore

I've never been a fan of diets. Anything that makes you cut out whole food groups never seemed sustainable or enjoyable to me. But that doesn't mean I don't think about what I eat.  This summer I read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer and both advocated a simpler way of eating.  Summed up, it's this: eat real food!  Crazy, I know!  Basically, you buy food that is food, not food that is made up of twenty other ingredients, half of which you cannot pronounce.  This is often called "clean eating".

So, when I found "Everyday Detox" I thought it looked like it'd be right up my alley.  It's by Megan Gilmore who runs Detoxinista.com (which is a great place to find even more recipes and information).   She's a certified nutritionist consultant and a reformed lover of junk food. 

Her book lays out a method of eating that promotes better digestions by focusing on eating certain food categories at each meal along with non-starchy vegetables.  It's not a vegan diet, meats and dairy are allowed but not mandatory.  You aren't feeling deprived because you can eat a wide variety of foods, just not all in the same meal.  She also lays out a seven day meal plan that includes a grocery shopping list that I thought was nice.  I may even try it in the future.

But the thing I thought was cool about this book was all the recipes!  Eat. Nourish. Glow. has some recipes, but is more diet advice.  This book is just the opposite. Mostly recipes with just some straight forward advice.

 So, how are the recipes?  Well, I tried two so far.  One was for broccoli cheese soup.  It was alright, but I'm a Wisconsin girl, and even thought there's some chevre in this soup, I prefer mine creamier and cheesier. The other recipe I tried was the cauliflower fried "rice", which makes a huge batch of yumminess.  It has lots of veggies and even some scrambled eggs added in.  It was flavorful and comforting and I think I'd definitely make it again! (Although maybe only a half a batch.)

My Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
There's lots of other recipes I plan on trying too, like the double chocolate brownies, lentil chili, and the cauliflower flatbread pizza pictured on the cover.

Basically, if you're trying to cut processed foods out of your diet, or you enjoyed Eat. Nourish. Glow. then you would enjoy this book.  Or, if you're just interested in learning more about clean eating, you should check this book out.  Megan also includes recipes for making your own salad dressings, frostings, gravies, sauces and nut milks.  It's a great resource book with a wide variety of recipes.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Books & Bloggers Swap is Now Open!

Guess what time it is! Time for the last Chaotic Goddess Books & Blogger Swap of the year!  This is one of my favorite swaps that Chaotic Goddess hosts.  I think it's because books can be so personal.  You can get to feel like you really know your partner when you guys send a couple emails talking about books you love and who your favorite authors are.  It's always a great swap and I can't wait see who I get paired up with this time!  My previous partners this year were Kelly from Love, Kelly Lorene, (who recently got engaged- congratulations!) and Stephanie from Wife. Mommy. Me. Both were awesome partners!  (If you want to see the books they sent me, here's the link to what Kelly sent and what Stephanie sent.)

So here's how the swap works: You chat with your partners, check out their wishlist, and then you get together three books for them.  One is a book from their wishlist, one is a book you've read that you think they'd enjoy, and one is just a book that sounds like something up their alley.  It's always so fun picking books for someone and I always love seeing what they pick for me.  Then, once you've gotten your package, you write a little post showing off what you got.

Think you want to join up?  Just follow the link over to Chaotic Goddess' page and sign up.  Once you're accepted, you just post something like this to help get the word out, and just wait for your partner to be assigned.  It's a lot of fun and a great way to meet other bloggers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Will Flourish... In My Work

Today I'm linking up with Brittany from  The Kardia and sharing how I will flourish.  This month's theme is flourishing in our work.  But before I get to that, I'm supposed to share ten things I'm thankful for, because as Brittany says, "Gratitude changes everything."

Grateful for this Month:
  1.  My husband who supports and encourages me.
  2. Strong friends who encourage me to stretch myself.
  3. Beautiful Wisconsin summer weather.
  4. Downsizing.  Having less stuff actually feels pretty good.
  5. Time to read books.  I love reading!  And have been able to do a lot of it as of late.
  6. My two cats.  Pets really do bring so much joy.
  7. Bees.  This year I'm really noticing all the honey bees buzzing around and everytime I see them, it makes me smile.  They're buzzing from my apple trees, to cucumber plant, to coneflowers.
  8. Fresh veggies.  I love all the produce available this time of year!
  9. Coffee!  There's something so nice about waking up and savoring a cup of coffee in the morning.
  10. Which brings me to my favorite thing about my job!  I work second shift, so I can spend my mornings welcoming the morning with my coffee, and not running to get ready to be to work bright and early.  I don't mind coming home from work and going right to bed.
And how to flourish at my job?  I don't think it's a secret that I don't love my job.  I kind of wrote about it here.  But a girl still has to work, so what to do?  Here are some my best tips for making work feel less like drudgery.
  • Buy your own supplies.  This depends on your job.  But I work as a health unit clerk and the hospital I work at uses the worst pens ever.   They're kind of waxy and they don't write nice and they're constantly running out of ink.  You'd be surprised how much frustration was relieved just by buying my own pens.  I wear scrubs so I just stick one in my pocket when I get dressed for work.  My favorites are these Pilot Acroballs (which you can get way cheaper at Target or Walmart).
  • Treat your self.  If you're having a rough day, buy yourself a coffee or a decent lunch.  Sometimes a little treat is enough to perk you up.
  • Keep your skills up and don't be afraid to learn new things.  Even if you don't need continuing ed for you job, encourage yourself to learn new things on your own. It doesn't even have to be something intrinsically tied to your line of work.  Learning new things keeps you excited and engaged.
  • And my number one tip for flourishing at work:  Focus on brightening others days.  Help others without waiting for them to ask.  Give sincere compliments.  Bring treats.  Try to be positive.  And for any of you who are like me who hates feeling fake,  positive doesn't mean fake happy.  Positive just means not negative.  :)
So, want to see how everyone else is flourishing?  Check out the link up below.  And be sure to share your tips for flourishing at work in the comments below.

The Kardia

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Book Review: Unafraid

I recently signed up for Blogging for Books, which is a cool program, where you can select a book from a wide variety of genres.  They send it to you for free, you read it, and then give a fair review of your thoughts regarding the book.

Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World

For my first book, I chose Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis.  I'm not really sure what drew me to this book.  I'm not usually a very fearful person in my day to day life, but it sounded interesting, so I wanted to check it out.

The author, Susie Davis, was thirteen years old when a classmate came to school and shot one of her favorite teachers, right in front of her and the rest of the class.  This was in 1978.  Following the shooting, the kids in her class were loaded on to a school bus, hauled to the police station to give statements, and then sent home with their parents.  There were no counselors, no psychiatrists, no idea how something like this would impact the kids.  Susie had panic attacks, and struggled to try to control her life by obsessively checking door locks, developing bulimia while in college, by constructing rituals for even the most mundane events like bringing groceries home from the store, having to check for any intruders who may have broken in while she was gone.  She was unable to stay home alone overnight without panicking.  This went on for years- beyond college, after she got married, even after her kids were born.

She was constantly exhausted from worry and her rituals that she thought would keep her safe.  She helicopter parented and constantly worried something bad was about to happen to someone she loved.  In the 1990s, she finally had a breakdown, which lead to a breakthrough.

She realized she wasn't trusting God, she was trusting fear, and this was causing her so much unnecessary worry and strife.  I think we often feel that way about God.  Like He's there, He sees everything going on, but He doesn't want to get involved in the down and dirty stuff of life.  We feel like He's got more important things to do or doesn't really care about our day to day problems.

I liked how honest this book was.  Susie didn't admonish or criticize.  She simply told her story and laid it all out there.  It was inspiring to see how her life changed and she finally was able to overcome her fear.  At no point did it feel preachy, and I really liked that.

I think this book would be great for anyone going through a fearful time in life, who has been struggling with the whys of life or who has someone in their life dealing with fear.  There's also a study guide in the back of the book with questions and notes.  I think it's a great read and I really like Susie's writing style.  She uses a lot of analogies and really breaks insights down in easy to understand ways.

I received this book for free, in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books, but all opinions are my own.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Try out Kiva for Free!

I know I've talked about it here before, but now's the perfect time again.  Kiva is one of my favorite charities. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, here's a short run down of how it works.
  1.  Someone needs a loan.  Typically a small amount and for a specific issue- i.e. $500 for a home repair or to buy some cattle or to add inventory to their store.  These borrowers are typically oversees, although some are from the U.S.
  2.  Say the loan is for $500 for a couple dairy cows.  Kiva lists their loan on their website and tries to find 20 people will to each give $25.  If you want to loan, you make a $25 payment through Paypal.
  3. Once the $500 is raised the borrower has money for their new cows and now has to start paying that money back.  The terms can vary- some pay back all at once at the end of a time period, some pay a little each month until the loan is paid back.  Some pay a little each month and then have a large balloon payment at the end.  It all depends on the terms of the loan.  All terms are spelled out in each loan's listing.
  4. Your money is deposited as a Kiva credit.  Any time you have a credit, you can relend it, transfer it back to your Paypal account, or just do nothing and let it sit in your credits.
  5. Eventually, the borrower repays his loan.  And voila, you've successfully made a micro finance loan and had it repaid. 
What to try Kiva?  Right now they are encouraging current users to invite their friends to try it for free.  Due to sponsorship, you can make a loan using someone else's $25.  There's no risk to you.  If you click any of the links in this post, I get to make a free loan too.  (Note: repayment will not be paid to you or me, but to the sponsor that put up the $25.)  It's a great way to try out Kiva and see what a difference $25 can make in another person's life, with no risk to you.

Have any questions?   I've made 30 loans to date.  Lay them on me, I'd be happy to answer.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

DIY Coffee Scrub

Looking for something to help smooth out rough skin and wake you up in the morning?  The answer is in your kitchen!  Coffee scrub is easy to make, smells great, and is an awesome way to pamper your skin in the shower.

Here's what you need:
  • 1 cup of coffee grounds
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sweet almond oil
  • Honey
  • Clean jar or container for you finished project
  1. Mix coffee grounds with salt.  
  2. Add oil and a swirl of honey.  
  3. Stir until combined.  Mixture will resemble an Oreo crumb crust.
  4. Spoon mixture into your container and add lid. (I used a 1 pint mason jar, which actually requires more than a single recipe.)
  5. Enjoy!

This scrub works great after gardening.  I prefer to use it in the shower, because it is a little messy, but that's just me.  To use, just take a little of the scrub in your hand, add water and smooth over needed area.  I've seen coffee scrubs marketed as cellulite reducing scrubs, due to the caffeine in the coffee, but can't really vouch for that.  I like to use it on elbows, knees, and feet.  It's going to make your shower smell like you're bathing in a giant latte, which I think is a great way to wake up in the morning.

  • I look for cheap coffee.  The Starbucks I used was marked down to $2 a bag because it was outdated.  (I've also heard you can use already used coffee grounds, but have not tried that myself.)
  • You can use salt, brown sugar, or white sugar.  I usually just use whatever I have handy.  
  • Don't have sweet almond oil?  Any carrier oil will work- jojoba, avocado, etc.  You could even use olive oil if need be.