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Weekly Book Club {9.5.18}

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What a great group of books I’m going to share with you guys today! All of these came from my local library and all of them were hits for me! 

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How Hard Can it be by Allison Pearson– Allison Pearson’s brilliant debut novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It, was a New York Times bestseller with four million copies sold around the world. Called “the definitive social comedy of working motherhood” (The Washington Post) and “a hysterical look―in both the laughing and crying senses of the world―at the life of Supermom” (The New York Times), I Don’t Know How She Does It introduced Kate Reddy, a woman as sharp as she was funny. As Oprah Winfrey put it, Kate’s story became “the national anthem for working mothers.” Seven years later, Kate Reddy is facing her 50th birthday. Her children have turned into impossible teenagers; her mother and in-laws are in precarious health; and her husband is having a midlife crisis that leaves her desperate to restart her career after years away from the workplace. Once again, Kate is scrambling to keep all the balls in the air in a juggling act that an early review from the U.K. Express hailed as “sparkling, funny, and poignant…a triumphant return for Pearson.” Will Kate reclaim her rightful place at the very hedge fund she founded, or will she strangle in her new “shaping” underwear? Will she rekindle an old flame, or will her house burn to the ground when a rowdy mob shows up for her daughter’s surprise (to her parents) Christmas party? Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I loved this book! I think I loved it so much because I could relate to a lot of what Kate was going through. The story sucked me in and I could feel what she was dealing with. I could easily put myself in her position and that helped keep me totally engrossed in the story. I found myself giggling at a good portion of this book, nodding along in solidarity, and getting teary eyed at some parts. Definitely recommend this one. 

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Go Ask Ali by Ali Wentworth– At once endearing and hilarious, thoughtful and far-fetched, this third collection offers Ali at her wisest and wittiest as she delivers tips, pointers, and quips on a host of life’s conundrums and sticky situations, including the funny, sometimes embarrassing yet unforgettable situations that have shaped her inimitable world view as a wife, mother, actress, comedian, and all around bon vivant. Thoroughly entertaining, Go Ask Ali is packed with thoughts and musings from “the girlfriend you want to have a glass of wine with, the one who makes you laugh because she sees the funny and the absurd in everything” 

My Rating: 4 Stars

I love Ali Wentworth. I adore her. This book was really funny, honest, and down to earth. I could picture myself sitting on her couch with a cup of coffee having a chat about life while I was reading this book. It made me laugh out loud and cringe with empathetic embarrassment. I thought it was as funny as her other books and I definitely recommend it!

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Save the Date by Morgan Matson– Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect. The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster. There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge. There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo. Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute. Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

My Rating: 5 Stars

I adored this book and I almost didn’t read it! I downloaded it from the library on a whim without really knowing much about it. I’m so glad I did! I can’t believe I almost missed out on this one. I loved this family so much. From the sibling interactions to the parents to the extended family- they are all awesome characters! I laughed, I gasped, I groaned, I teared up. It was seriously like watching a favorite movie- I put it in the category of The Family Stone or This is Where I Leave You which is a huge compliment because I adore both of those movies! Definitely a must read!

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The Ever After by Sarah PekkanenJosie and Frank Moore are happy… at least Josie thinks they are. As parents of two young girls in the Chicago suburbs, their days can be both busy and monotonous, and sometimes Josie wonders how she became a harried fortysomething mother rather than the driven career woman she once was. But Frank is a phenomenal father, he’s handsome and charismatic, and he still looks at his wife like she’s the beautiful woman he married more than a decade ago. Josie isn’t just happy—she’s lucky. Until one Saturday morning when Josie borrows her husband’s phone to make a quick call—and sees nine words that shatter her world. Now Josie feels as if she is standing at the edge of a sharp precipice. As she looks back at pivotal moments in the relationship she believed would last forever, she is also plunging ahead, surprising everyone (especially herself) with how far she will go to uncover the extent of her husband’s devastating secret.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I almost didn’t read this one. The subject matter is a difficult one for me to read. But it was recommended by a friend so I dove right in head first and hoped it wouldn’t be a mistake. The book was hard for me to read, probably because of just how much I could relate to the main character. It was uncomfortable and took me back to dark places in my life. But it was incredibly well written and the emotions/actions of the main character were spot on in my experience. The book stuck with me for quite awhile, which rarely happens with as many books as I read. Definitely recommend!



2018 Monthly Goals: September

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Where did August go? How is it already September? I feel like I blinked and August is over. I guess the stress of back to school made the month go by much faster than normal. But looking back at my goals for August- I rocked them! 

August Goals:

1. Finish buying uniform pieces. DONE. All 4 kids have full uniforms for the entire year! It’s such a relief to not have to worry about finding uniform pieces until next year. 

2. Get back on the monthly meal planning train. DONE. I’ve been really good with the meal planning. I’m going to start doing a weekly meal plan post again soon, I think. 

3. Get back in the school year groove. DONE. It was painful and it sucked all the life out of me. But we did it. Kids are waking up with their alarm clocks every morning, I’m going to bed before midnight, all the laundry is done on the weekend, and dinner is at 6:00. Go me.

4. Enjoy our last 2 weeks of summer. DONE. We enjoyed the heck out of our last 2 weeks of summer. Carowinds, swimming, the movies….we enjoyed every last minute.

5. Get organized. DONE. All my calendars and planners are up to date, closets are organized, pantry is organized. It feels great!

September Goals:

1. Spend more one on one time with the kids. Maia, in particular, needs some one on one time right now. She’s still having a hard time. I need to be more conscious of taking her out for coffee or to window shop. 

2. Celebrate 2 birthdays. Zoey turns 8 and Camden turns 16 this month. We’re planning parties, and outings, and school celebrations. 

3. Volunteer. I’m class coordinator for Zoey’s class again this year and I’m co-chair of the used uniform committee at their school. I want to do more volunteering on a weekly basis in the middle school though. 

4. Have a minimal spending month. Birthday presents are already purchased, uniforms are purchased, weekend clothes are purchased, shoes are purchased….I want to spend nothing extra this month. 

5. Try 5 new recipes. I’ve found so many new recipes that my family loves since buying the Instant Pot and there are so many more out there! I can’t wait to try even more. 

 



Weekly Book Club {8.29.18}

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This week’s book club is full of amazing reads. All of these are 4.5 and 5 star reads for me, which hasn’t happened in awhile! And all of them were once again downloaded from my library!

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Beyond Control by Kat Martin– When Victoria Langford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go. Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere. That’s what its new owner, Josh Cain, wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble. One look tells Josh the pretty redhead with the adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But he’s seen trouble before, and he doesn’t scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend back in Phoenix is abducted and brutalized. Not even when it looks like their current problems are only the tip of the iceberg. But if he gets too close to fierce, determined Tory, Josh knows his nights are going to be anything but quiet. And that’s one possibility no amount of training can prepare him for.

My Rating: 5 Stars

This book was so good. So so good! I was hooked from the very first page and could not put it down! I think I finished this one in less than 4 hours- that’s how good it was! The action, the emotions, the characters…they all grabbed me immediately. I highly recommend this one!

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Shadow Keeper by Christine Feehan– The paparazzi can’t get enough of infamous bad boy Giovanni Ferraro. But unknown to them–and the women he beds–he’s just playing a role. Keeping the spotlight on himself keeps it off the family business. And if this lethal shadow rider can’t hunt in the dark, he’ll find his pleasure elsewhere. Sasha Provis grew up on a Wyoming ranch and thought she knew how to protect herself from predators. But in the nightclub where she works, she’s fair game–until one of the owners steps in to protect her. Giovanni is gorgeous. He’s dangerous. And his every touch takes her breath away. The devil at her heels may have finally met its match.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

This is the first book I’ve read from this series. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of other Christine Feehan’s series. They’re amazing and I re-read them often. I wasn’t sure about this new series though. It’s very different. And it turns out- I loved it! I loved the characters, I loved how strong the female characters were, and I love me some alphas males. This book had tons of action, romance, stress…it had it all. I will definitely be going back and reading the other books in this series. 

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Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts– Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies’ room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone–until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art. But one person wasn’t satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait–and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

This book was so so close to a 5 star read for me. I think the only reason it’s not is because of the huge time span the book covers. It made it a little distracting for me. But the story line is great, the characters are great, and the ending was great. Nora Roberts books are usually either hit or miss for me. And this one is a hit! She tackled a really touchy and time relevant subject and did it in a way that made you feel all the emotions. 

 

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Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell– THEN: She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. NOW: It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter. And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a café and sweeps Laurel off her feet. Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. Poppy is precocious and pretty – and meeting her completely takes Laurel’s breath away. Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age. And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? Who still has secrets to hide?

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

I really enjoyed this book! It was so close to being a 5 star read for me. The reason it wasn’t is something pretty minor but I couldn’t get past it. I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t say more about it. Just know that it was something that probably wouldn’t bother 99% of people. I’m just weird. The story itself is good! It draws you in and then won’t let go. I had to know what happened and how it ended and I felt like the story was wrapped up with enough answers to satisfy my curiosity. Definitely recommend this one!



Easy Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

I have found so many amazing recipes to make for the Instant Pot. This is one of our favorites. I tweaked it a little bit and changed some ingredients based on our personal tastes and it was delicious! Definitely a favorite!

Ingredients:
1 can beef broth
1 cup milk
3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1.5 cups water
16oz egg noodles
1 pkg frozen meatballs
1 cup sour cream

Directions:
1. Combine beef broth, milk, mushroom soup, and water in Instant Pot.
2. Add meatballs.
3. Add noodles.
4. Seal lid and set to manual high pressure for 8 minutes.
5. Use quick release and stir in sour cream.

My kids ate every single bite! They loved it and they’ve asked me to make it every single week. Definitely a keeper!



Weekly Family Highlights {8.27.18}

What a crazy busy week! I forget how draining the first week of school is and every year I’m shocked by how exhausted I am at the end of it! Ha!

1. Zoey’s teacher this year is so amazing. She has set up a little photo sharing account so the parents can all see images of their kids doing fun stuff all year long. I love that! These were from the first couple of days of the school year. 

2. This kid. He is Mr. Procrastination. His trainer bugged him for 2 weeks to take his IMPACT test for this football season and he left it until literally the last hour. It drives me nuts. But he snuck it in just under the deadline and now the trainer has an updated baseline test just in case. 

3. I’m not sure who gave this girl permission to look so old. I need it to stop. She’s been experimenting with hair and make up tutorials on YouTube and now she looks 16. Make. It. Stop. 

4. Tyler was a captain in the football game last Friday night. The coaches rotate captain duties between the seniors and pick the ones that they think led by example during the week of practices. I love that. We played a long time rival school that is a full conference above us. We lost 28-14 but our guys played hard and strong. Tyler moved back to his normal left tackle position and then filled in at guard when we had an injury. He also played nose guard and defensive end. He had a great game and played really well. 

5. A parent took some amazing pictures of Tyler during the game. I’m so grateful to have these images of Tyler’s senior season, especially since he missed so much of last season. 

6. Zoey came with us to the game and had a blast with her bestie, whose brother also plays on the team. Maia and Mason went to a friends house to have a bonfire and roast S’mores. They all had a great time!

7. Poor Tyler had a rough Saturday. He didn’t get home from the game until 2am. Because of his concussions he has to meet with the trainer after every game. She evaluates him and then downloads the info from his helmet to make sure nothing was missed in the game. He also took an ice bath with the other guys who played most of the game. So he rolled into the house tired and sore at 2am. Then he had to be up at 7am because he was taking the SAT the next morning. He left the house looking tore up y’all- shirt inside out, mismatched socks, crazy hair….it was bad. Ha! He got home from the SAT at 2pm and got to take an hour nap before leaving for work at 4pm. Welcome to the real world, kid. It’s rough.