Friday, February 24, 2017

five on friday | book report

I read a grand total of 15 books last year. (It beats 0 from a couple years ago!) Reading books for 15 min. a day has been one of the greatest habits I've established. This is my third year sticking to this project. I shared a couple of the books I read last year in my last book report. Today I'll be sharing the rest of what I read.

1. The Mountain Between Us
book club :: the mountain between us | discussion questions (chapters 1 - 13)
A couple of us read The Mountain Between Us for the book club I hosted last year. The book is about two strangers Ben and Ashley whose plane crash requires them to depend on each other for survival. I couldn't put this book down. I was really into the whole survival story. There are beautiful settings in the novel, and I thought Charles Martin did well describing the the High Uintas Wilderness, where most of the novel is set. My complaint is that I wanted more depth to the characters. (This is my typical complaint so you know). I found Ben and Ashley to be a little flat. I would still recommend it though. I invite you to watch the movie with the rest of us who read it in October. :)

2. The Rosie Effect
the rosie effect
I picked up The Rosie Effect after reading its prequel The Rosie Project (which I loved and highly recommend). The Rosie Effect is also a contemporary romance novel following the marriage of quirky, genetics professor Don and graduate student Rosie. Rosie is pregnant and Don makes a series of mistakes throughout her pregnancy creating various conflicts between them. Though I enjoyed portions of it, and thought it was funny, I wasn't as smitten by the sequel as I was the prequel.

3. Fangirl
I am a fan of Rainbow Rowell's books. She writes young adult novels. I read Eleanor & Park from Rainbow Rowell after having read that it was going to be made into a movie. (It's not being made into a movie as of right now). I gave a short review of E&P in my last book report. Fangirl is about Cath, a college-aged introvert, who writes fanfiction (hence the title). Cath doesn't cope well with starting college and being separated from her too independent twin sister and her overly dependent dad. I really liked this book. I appreciate the complexity and depth of Rainbow Rowell's characters. I'm thinking I need to pick up another book from her soon.

4. All the Bright Places
This book is about Theodore, a depressed teen with a troubled home life, who meets Violet, who comes from a good home, but is also depressed following the death of her sister. They are both high school students and follow very different crowds. I didn't love this book. I didn't think Theodore was realistic. He was depressed, but also life-giving and inspiring? I found that hard to buy.

5. I read several nonfiction books last year because I'm all for personal growth. I read Boundaries in Marriage by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend after having read their book Boundaries. I can't recommend this book enough to married couples and those looking to get married. I also read their book Safe People last year. I am currently reading their book Boundaries with Teens. It's safe to say I'm a fan of their books. I've learned so much. At the end of last year, I read The 5 Love Languages, which I've read in the past, but decided to reread. If you're not familiar, this book is about learning to speak your spouse's love language in order to communicate that you love them effectively. It's simple and straightforward. I think it's a good resource for committed relationships.

Have you read any good books lately? Please share some recommendations. :)

10 Tips for Reading More Books
Questionnaire about Reading Habits
My Current Hobby - Reading the Books Before I Watch the Movies

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

currently in february

currently in february 2017
(Printable Pineapple 2017 calendar)

looking for another book to read for my virtual book club. We read The Mountain Between Us last year. (By the way, the expected release date for the film is October 20, 2017. If you read along with us, I hope you'll watch the film for some follow up questions. There's still time to read it, too, if you'd like! :) I'm thinking about reading another book being made into a movie this year. Check out 21 Books to Read Before They're 2017 Movies by Shannon Vestal Robson and if you're thinking about joining us, let me know what you'd like to read.

wanting to paint all the things. I don't typically like to paint anything (it's so messy), so I need to move forward with this feeling quickly before the feeling goes away. I'm thinking I'd like to paint our bedroom a charcoal color. "Embrace darker colors" is one of Grace Bonney's 10 Ways to Make Any Room Feel Cozier.

considering lowering my thermostat at night after reading that colder temperatures help one sleep better via Danyelle Mathews' The Importance of a Nightly Routine. Also- nighttime routines have been on my mind after reading Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. She stressed the importance of wearing pajamas to bed instead of exercise clothing or everyday clothes because our bodies listen to what we put on them. It makes sense that one's body can't rest well after wearing the same thing that was worn all day. 

absorbing this advice: "When you reach a certain age, never put anything on your face that came from a tube. Or a bottle. Certainly never a pump. Just jars, honey. Just jars." But even more so to this: "Here’s how you can look younger than you: Decide to.
Slather on the non-drying retinol formula because you want to, because it smells good or feels rich and moisturizing or helps you wind down after a long, hard day. Write a few sentences in your gratitude journal. Brush your teeth. Jump on the bed; find Build Me Up, Buttercup on Spotify and sing into your hairbrush with a toddler. Let the day be finished; dance it away." -Just Jars by Erin Loechner
P.S. Excellent story telling in a sponsored post.

learning how (what) (and who) to prioritize. I find that it's getting more difficult as I get older. How to Prioritize When Everything is Important by Kate Arends is a good place to start.

making time for more date nights with Jesse. We went to see La La Land this past weekend. I'm not a big fan of musicals (sorry), but La La Land was amazing. I was close to crying watching the trailer just now. Looking forward to the Oscar's this weekend! Molly Madfis' Printable 2017 Oscar Ballot is super cool.

reflecting on authenticity, success, love and how they all correlate to a fulfilling life (has been on my mind after watching La La Land).

binge-watching House of Cards and The Office. I recently completed The OA, a Netflix original series this month. I was on the edge of my seat; it was intense. If you watched, what did you think of it?? I also recently finished Downton Abbey with my sister Jasmine. We had the final season to watch and just got around to it.

planning to surprise Jesse with breakfast before work date soon. Great idea from Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott: 5 Romantic Date Ideas to Maximize Your Quality Time.

feeling the grace in Margarita Tartakovsky's Are You Yearning to be the Perfect Package? Takeaway: "It’s OK to be human, to contain multitudes and contradictions, to quit conforming to a distorted culture."

sticking with no social media browsing before noon and at bedtime. I should probably cut this out altogether. (I stuck with this goal I set in January).

drinking this tropical, green smoothie for breakfast for the last several days. I forgot how refreshing and not green it tastes. ;)

eating breakfast, waffle sandwiches for dinner maybe a little too often. It's rare that we all unanimously like the same meal though! I haven't been making the waffles from scratch. (#lazy) We've been buying Eggos (the advertising worked on us, Stranger Things!) and using breakfast links instead of bacon. I like these new waffle sandwiches better than the original ones.

itching to get my space in order after reading Laura Gummerman's Tips for Organizing Your Craft Space. (I like the idea of finding unique storage options. I use tray baskets quite a bit in my craft space).

trying hard not to overthink things. Sometimes things take me 3x as long because I'm thinking too much about it. Tell me I'm not the only one...

Hope you have a good one!

Friday, February 10, 2017

33 favorite things

I turned 34 this past December. I intended to share a post of 33 favorite things before I turned 34, but you know how that goes. #life. I looked over last year and have compiled a list of 33 favorites things to share with you anyway.* :)
february 2016 goals
goal setting 2016
Elise Cripe's printable, daily tracker - I've been using Elise's daily tracker since 2015. She releases a new printable every year. I hope she never stops because I love it. I've tracked my attempts to read for 15 minutes every day since 2015. I've habitually tracked that and my daily step count/exercise. Which brings me to...

Fitbit One - I have this activity tracker and it's the best. I was used to Weight Watcher's Active Link, which was discontinued, so I had to find a new activity tracker. I obviously looked into the Fibtbit, but I didn't want to wear something on my wrist. The Fitbit One can be clipped onto a pocket, belt, or bra. It works perfectly for me.

Greek yogurt - no surprise here. As I mentioned in this post, Greek yogurt is a worthwhile staple in my diet (and yours!) for multiple reasons including that it is high in protein, aids in weight maintenance/weight loss, a good workout recovery snack, a good source of calcium, aids in digestion due to its probiotics, and it regulates blood sugar. I'm on board. As you may know, I'm attempting to make Greek yogurt 52 ways. I eat Greek yogurt often for breakfast and try to make healthy desserts with it, as well. I have 2 favorites from last year:
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 34 lemon yogurt cake
Ina Garten's lemon yogurt cake - I love this cake!

greek yogurt 52 ways: # 35 carrot cake pancakes
Carrot cake pancakes - I don't make these enough!

green smoothie tips for newbies
Green smoothies - I make my green smoothies with Greek yogurt, as well. I like to "eat" my vegetables this way. I shared Green Smoothie Tips for Newbies if you're interested.

NutriBullet Pro - This is a powerful blender and it breaks down the toughest ingredients. (I had an unpleasant experience with kale using my last blender. Kale blends easily in the NutriBullet).

Pilot retractable, multicolor gel pens 0.7 - these are good, quality pens. I use them every day.

Olay eyes ultimate eye cream - I noticed an immediate difference! My eyes looked brighter, fresher, and less puffy.

author Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell's books (in particular Eleanor & Park)- As I said in this book reportEleanor & Park "explored domestic/child abuse and bullying themes. The unlikely romance between Eleanor, a full figured, insecure girl with red, curly hair and Park, a half Korean, also insecure adolescent, is beautifully written." I met Rainbow Rowell at the Yallwest Fierce Friday event and had her sign my copy of E&P and postcards featuring E&P artwork. I also read her book Fangirl and liked that, as well.

summer manifesto 2016
Seasonal manifestos - I started writing seasonal manifestos this last year. I enjoy looking over my list every season and having it inspire my activities and especially my family's weekend activities.

five on friday- helpful articles for establishing an evening routine
My morning routine - I stuck to my morning routine as best I could this year. (I had to tweak it a couple times, so it would be just right for me in my life at any given time). I try to stick to my morning routine most mornings. It sets me up for a more productive and fulfilling day.

Prayer journaling - My mom gave me a beautiful journal last year. I have been using it for prayer journaling nearly every day. (I highly recommend this Red Letter Prayers episode by Andy Stanley if you need more direction with your prayers. Click the MP3 button if you'd rather just listen to the episode than watch it).

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend - I completed the book Boundaries at the beginning of last year. I can't recommend it enough.

currently in january
Anxietea mug - because I need the daily reminder. ;)

Pairing a kid-friendly dinner and a movie for Valentine's Day - I started this two years ago, we did it again last year, and we'll do it again this year. (I loved this idea on Tracy's blog as you can see).

march 2016 goals
The Rosie Project - As I said in this book report, "I read through this book very quickly because I enjoyed it so much. I laughed out loud throughout the novel. Don Tillman is a quirky, genetics professor in search of a wife. He creates a questionnaire with several, rigid preferences for his future wife. He meets Rosie, who does not meet many of his requirements. Their interactions are hilarious. This is another one I highly recommend."

currently in april
Makers Gonna Make tote bag - this tote was made for me. I got it at Artisanal LA when I went with my friend Kerri.

five on friday
Strawberry lemonade - I'm still having strawberry lemonades pretty regularly. They're only $1 (and only 40 calories) at Del Taco.

The Pomodoro Technique - the idea is to use a ticking timer (it's a timer in the shape of a tomato- "pomodoro" means tomato in Italian) to accomplish a variety of tasks. The ticking of the timer reminds you to stay on task. Once you complete your task (for 25-30 minutes), you can take a break (5-10 minutes typically). It's a good way to manage your time, see how long things take to complete, and how you can become more efficient by avoiding distractions. (I use this method all the time).

five on friday
Faux fishtail braid - I do this quite a bit on my girls' hair. It's so pretty and so simple.

Baked spaghetti - Very early in 2016, Tracy shared a recipe for baked spaghetti with meat sauce. It involves topping spaghetti with extra cheese and throwing it all in the oven (or broiler) so the cheese melts. Do I really need to convince anyone that this is the right thing to do?

Burrito Bowls - Last year I started making burrito bowls (also inspired by Tracy). Jesse loves burrito bowls. We make plain or Spanish rice, top the rice with ground turkey and black beans seasoned with taco seasoning; sour cream; shredded, cheddar cheese or whatever cheese we're feeling; guacamole; salsa; and fritos. The fritos are a must.

My craft cart - Jesse made a scrapbook cart for me last February. I really need to share it here soon!

Sister dates - My sisters and I went to a cute cafe together, sat outside, and talked for a long time. We need to do that again.

33 favorites
Brunch dates - Going to brunch has become commonplace for Jesse and me when we have time to go on a date. We like hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

Marriage meetings - I want to tell you right now that we don't ever have marriage meetings at brunch. ;) We don't really have formal "marriage meetings" either, but I like the idea of this. Jesse and I also learned about sharing "withholds" this year. We do often share 3 withholds (a positive, negative, positive withhold- shared in that order) without talking about the negative withhold for 30 minutes (as instructed). The withholds should be something withheld within the last 48 hours.

summer break diary: week # 3
Beach, dinner dates - Jesse and I had a dinner date at the beach this past year. When we go to the beach, we typically go with all of our little ones and have a great time. It's obviously so much more work when we go with our little ones, too. I didn't have to worry about anyone drowning when I went with Jesse. ha. We watched the sunset together. It was really fun (and romantic!).

summer break diary 2016: week # 6
Moonlit hikes - This sounds more romantic than it is. A moonlit hike is a nighttime hike in which the moon is lighting your way. (Maybe that's obvious, but I thought I should explain anyway. ;) There is no use of flashlights on the moonlit hike. Jesse, our little ones, and I went altogether one time and Jesse and I went alone another time. We really liked it and plan to go again this year.

Stranger Things - SO HOOKED. I was initially interested in this Netflix original series, but thought, "No, it looks too scary." My brother-in-law's brother shared that it isn't all that scary and that it's a good show. The genre is science fiction-horror though. It is scary at times, but I love it! I can hardly wait 'til October when the second season airs.

House of Cards - this is another Netflix original series. It's a political drama. Jesse and I have been binge-watching for weeks. (There are some unsavory scenes. It may be prudish, but we forward through those scenes).

33 favorites
Coffee cake - My sister-in-law introduced us to the coffee cake at Carolyn's Cafe Redlands in Redlands, CA. So good. If you're local or passing through, I highly recommend it! Jesse and I went for brunch late last year. Yum.

The Voting Game - our friends introduced us to this adult party, card game at their Christmas party. Each card has a question like "Whose Google search history would you like to see the most?" or "Whose last photo on their phone was a selfie?" or "Who has a tattoo that they regret?" The players then vote anonymously and see who got the most votes for the question asked. Really fun.

Have a great weekend!

*Elise inspired this post. I've been reading her Favorite Things posts for years. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

greek yogurt 52 ways: #37 blueberry, spinach smoothie

I've been having this green smoothie for breakfast every morning since the beginning of the year. My oldest daughter Lani asked me, "Why have you been having smoothies for breakfast?? It's so cold!" I laughed and told her that I've been feeling like having healthy smoothies lately.
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 37 blueberry, spinach smoothie
A few months ago I shared Green Smoothie Tips for Newbies. In that post, I shared that I have 3 go-to green smoothies that I use:
  • This tropical, green smoothie, which includes: 1 cup of coconut milk; 1 c or more of spinach (or kale); 1 banana; 1/2 c of vanilla, Greek yogurt; 1/2 c of frozen pineapple, and 2 tbsp of shredded coconut. 
  • This orange, banana smoothie (I add spinach or kale and omit the strawberries): 1 c of orange juice; 1 c or more of spinach (or kale); 1 frozen banana; and 1/2 c of vanilla, Greek yogurt. This is a good recipe for those not used to green smoothies yet. The orange juice is primarily what you taste. 
  • This simple, green smoothie: 1 c of soy milk (I've also used almond milk and coconut milk); 1 c of more of spinach (or kale); 1 frozen banana; and 1/2 c of vanilla, Greek yogurt. 
My template, green smoothie recipe is:
  • 1 c of a liquid
  • 1 c or more of spinach or kale
  • 1 protein serving (typically 1/2 c of Greek yogurt)
  • 1 sweet fruit (typically bananas)
  • at least one frozen fruit (I like my smoothies fairly cold)
  • maybe more fruits (to enhance flavor)
The recipe I am sharing today follows that template. 
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 37 blueberry, spinach smoothie
For this smoothie, I blend the following in my Nutribullet until smooth:
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 container of Yoplait's Greek 100 Protein: Vanilla (it has double the protein serving with 14g of protein)*
  • a handful of spinach 
  • 1/2 c of frozen blueberries
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 37 blueberry, spinach smoothie
This smoothie is refreshing, delicious, and satisfying (because of all that protein).

*This post isn't sponsored. I just loved that this Greek yogurt option had double the protein serving!

I now have 4 go-to green smoothies! :)

Have any Greek yogurt, dessert (or breakfast!) recipes you'd like to share? Leave your recipes or links in the comments. :)

If you try a recipe I share, be sure to let me know! Use the hashtag: #greekyogurt52ways.

**I'm making Greek yogurt 52 ways. Read about why I'm doing this project right here and read about the health benefits of Greek yogurt right here. See all of the ways I've incorporated Greek yogurt into my dessert or breakfast so far here. I recently completed a 52 sandwiches project. Read more about that project here.**
greek yogurt 52 ways: # 37 blueberry, spinach smoothie

Friday, January 6, 2017

january 2017 goals

Happy 2017! I am thinking about how to live better and make healthier choices this year. I'm sure many of you are, too. I sat down earlier this week and looked over my goals from last year and realized that I'd like to stick to (and expand on) most of them. As you may know, I set big, overarching goals for the year; and with those goals in mind, I then set smaller, actionable goals for the month; and then finally, I set even smaller, actionable goals for the week/day. I have blogged about my goal-setting method in the past:

Related: Goal-Setting: 2016

I'm sharing my list of goals for this year below. They are almost exactly like last year's goals.
january 2017 goals
(Pictured: Sugar Paper planner for Target, Printable Pineapple 2017 calendar, Elise Cripe printable, daily tracker, Elise Cripe "Just Start" rubber stamp)

But first... my goals for January:
  • Make plans with friends
  • Go hiking
  • No mindless social media browsing before noon
  • and no social media browsing before bed
Overarching goals/projects/resolutions for the year:
  • Read at least 15 min. a day
    • This is my third year aiming to read for at least 15 minutes a day. I've used Elise's daily tracker to track my reading for the year. (I'm happy she offered her tracker as a freebie to her newsletter subscribers this year). Reading daily has become habitual for me. There are days when I don't get to read, but I allow myself to make up the time by reading any other day in as many 15 minute increments as I'd like. I'm hoping to stick with this goal again this year. 
  • Exercise 5x a week/incorporate strength, interval training 3x a week || Reach 10k steps a day
    • I lost weight last year (10 pounds) though I didn't stick with this goal as much as I would have liked. I had success losing weight using Jillian Michael's DVDs some years ago. 25-30 minutes of effective exercise is appealing to a busy mom like me. I really like Jillian Michaels' kettlebell Shred-It with Weights workout. The first level is on Youtube if you want to give it a shot before you buy the DVD. This year I aim to incorporate interval training 3x a week and any other form of exercise appealing to me that week twice a week. (I've been going to a Zumba class lately). I also plan to go mall walking (it is an actual thing!) and hiking this year. 
    • I am super motivated by my Fitbit, which I've been using for more than a year now. I feel so accomplished when I reach 10k steps a day. 
  • Document our memories
    • I fell off of the Project Life bandwagon this past year, but I plan to pick it up again this year. I need to simplify my process. (I may go back and document 2016, but for now, I'm just starting fresh with 2017). I think I get daunted by how much time it takes, but it shouldn't take all that long. I can invest only what I'm willing to invest. In the past, I've used a 12x12" book for most of the year and 2 smaller 8 1/2x11" books for my summer book and for my December Daily. That has worked for me before, but I may need to rethink my system for this year. I don't want to be overwhelmed by scrapbooking this year. I want to enjoy it as I have in the past. 
  • Declutter/minimize the junk in our home ||  "redecorrange"
    • Last year I completed this "4 Weeks to a More Organized Home" challenge. I'm hoping to declutter seasonally (inspired by my friend Denise). It would also be nice to refresh our home from time to time by rearranging furniture and repurposing spaces in our home.
    • This is the layout of the front of our home.
  • Eat healthy desserts
    • I can never ever ever give up dessert. I have a major sweet tooth, but I can have healthy versions of my favorite desserts. (I plan to complete my Greek yogurt 52 ways project this year. The point of that project was to research and try new healthy, dessert recipes).
  • Drink more water
    • I still want this stamp for tracking water consumption.
  • Stick with my morning routine and afternoon/evening routine
    • I highly recommend considering what things you want to incorporate into your everyday life and figuring out how to fit them into your schedule. Routines are powerful ways of improving the quality of your days and including life-enriching activities into your life.
    • I'm aiming to have my girls stick to their morning/afternoon/evening routines, as well.
  • Blog often
    • Blogging is one of my favorite hobbies. I took an unintentional, long break this past year. I hope to be more consistent about blogging this year. 
What are some of your goals this year? Hope you have a good one!