Thursday, February 29, 2024

the books I read in February

 


Happy Thursday, and happy bonus blog post day! I have decided that I'll always write these posts on the last day of the month, no matter the day, and no matter whether or not I've already shared a post that day. Tis the season for bonus blog posts, I suppose. I don't mind if you don't! I read some great books this month, and I feel like I'm on an upward trend with the books I've picked. Maybe this will bring you some reading inspiration! As always, click on each picture and you'll be redirected to Amazon.


First up was this one that I didn't love.



Contrary to what her parents think and want for her, Alexis doesn't need glory or fame. Her parents do not understand why she won't give her ex boyfriend another chance, but she stands her ground. What she never expected was to find someone in a small town that she was traveling through; imagine her surprise when she found out he was ten years younger than her! This doesn't bother Daniel, but it bothers Alexis. Even so, she keeps going back for visits...


I'm stopping there, because I did some major skipping in this book. It is rated R, so I skimmed a bunch to get to the meatier parts of the story, but it still fell way flat for me. This is interesting since another of Jimenez's books was a close favorite for me last year. This one felt so different that I was surprised; I don't know if I'll try another of hers again, just based on this one. Mwah mwah.


This next one redeemed that first one.



It's no secret that I adore Pamela Kelley's writing. Her books are so cozy to me, and they are everything I am always looking for. In this book, it starts out with Sophie making a trip to Manhattan to stay with her great aunt. She's been laid off from her job, and she needs to figure out what exactly she wants to do with her life. When her great aunt invites her to stay with her for a while to try out living and working in the city that she loves most, it's impossible for Sophie to resist. So, against her parents' wishes, she does just that, and she moves into her aunt's beautiful old apartment. Sophie tries her hand at different jobs while she's there working with a temp agency, but she finds a job that she loves: realty. She's just the front desk girl, but when her boss notices that she has an eye for sales, she makes a decision to start a different path. While working toward that, she meets some great people along the way: Max, her handsome author neighbor, and Caroline and Tessa, whom she will grow very close to in the coming months. Sophie deals with loss, roommate and coworker drama, and bold choices that take her out of her comfort zone. 


I loved this book! I love the familiarity of Pamela's writing, and I love the cozy scenes she creates with writing. I appreciate that she always shares about good food, different types of wine that she likes, and having routines with people you love most. The other thing I love about Pamela is that she corresponds with her readers, and she puts her books on Kindle Unlimited all of the time, meaning that if you have that, you can read them for free or very inexpensively. This book is $5.99 right now as a Kindle book!


Additionally, I read the short story that accompanied this book, and I am definitely counting that as my second book of the month. 


My next book of the month was this one by a new author.



Sloane lives a routine life; she lives in a small town, she's a bit of a loner, she works a job as a librarian. When grumpy Arthur McLachlan walks into the library one day and she has her first interaction with him, her life changes forever. He loves bickering with her and she loves giving some of that attitude back to him, as only she can. Her coworkers are all slightly terrified of him. When a few days go by and she realizes he hasn't been in the library for a while, she gets worried about him and oversteps the lines between librarian and patron of the library. But she has to check on him, doesn't she? What she finds is shocking, and he seemed almost relieved to see her; when she loses her job and has nothing else to do with her time, she becomes a regular visitor at his house and the idea of starting a book club is born. This one thing changes the path of her life forever and it turns out that everyone has a special book in their heart, and a reason to get lost within the pages.


My honest thoughts about this book are that while it does indeed sound like a wonderful book, it  fell tragically flat for me. I only gave it a three star rating, and only that because I kept reading it until it was finished. But I did a lot of skimming in this one...


Next up was this one that I paid full price for, but I can never resist her books!



Sadie never saw what was coming...literally. One minute she's celebrating the biggest achievement of her life by placing as a finalist in the North American Portrait Society competition, and the next she's lying in a hospital bed, diagnosed with a "probably temporary" condition known as face blindness. She can still see, but she no longer sees faces, only the puzzle pieces of them all jumbled together. How is she supposed to paint her portrait for the art show in a few weeks if she can't see? As Sadie struggles to cope, she discovers some new things about herself and life that she never expected. In the meanwhile, she accidentally falls into like with her new vet when he saves her dog's life, only to turn around and also start dating the endearing neighbor next door at the same time...the one she never even liked to begin with. If only her life were a little more focused, she could find her true way, but perceiving anything clearly right now seems impossible. She learns that people show up when you least expect them, and that when you look for good things in life, they're to be found everywhere. 


I LOVED THIS BOOK. I always love her books! I always love about her books the fact that it's not just a simple love story; there is always a deeper meaning in them that you have to dig to find. I think it's why her books are usually turned into movies. Are you a Katherine Center fan? 


All of the books mentioned here today are books that have been published in 2023 and more recently as well. I don't know that it matters to anyone else, but I thought I'd let you know. 


Next up was the book Exes and O's by Amy Lea. 



This is a book in a series by this author, and while I loved the other one I read last year, I didn't feel the same about this one. This book is about a social media influencer who loves to read romance novels. One the quest to finding her true love, she decides to take time revisiting relationships with her ex boyfriends. The premise was really cute, but I didn't love the language or the rated R scenes, so I skimmed really quickly over those parts and was glad to reach the end. 


I'll mention the next three quickly, because they were fast reads.


I read Njuta: Enjoy, Delight in: The Swedish Art of Savoring the Moment....





The two above were ones I flipped through, the one about Njuta I read. 


Lastly, I read an old favorite, because I wanted to end the month on a high note.




I've read this series over and over again in the last twenty years; the last time I read them was in 2020, because the world sucked that year. This will forever go down as my very favorite series of books of all time, and you can read this for free right now with Kindle Unlimited! Sharon and Penny are two moms with kids on their way out the door, and they decide on a whim to go to Finland to meet Penny's aunt, her only living relative that she knows of. Nothing goes quite as planned, but they find themselves on a great adventure to find her Aunt Marketta and they have some life-changing moments along the way as they switch gears and leave Finland early to get back to London. This trip changes the trajectory of their lives once they return home again, and I love that the book ends with an epilogue set a few years later. 


I also love that the author has visited all of the places she uses in this series, and that she has been to each of these places with friends. That's the theme of each of the books: godly friendship. That will always be appealing to me! These books were written a while back, but I think they've been recently updated to include some more modern technology. I can't say that for sure; I'd have to check my paperback copies first, but I do know the cover is different than the one I have a physical copy of. 


I can't believe I read ten books this month! I know this trend won't last, but it was a great month of reading. I'm excited to start my first book for March today; I downloaded it last night before I went to bed! What have you read and loved lately? I'd love to hear! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! 


P.s. This is my bonus blog post today, so my original scheduled post is right under this one if you want to keep reading. 

Thankful Thursday

 


Happy Thursday, friends! I hope you've had a good week. 


My week has been good, but it's been laden with sadness at the news of an old friend of our younger sons who passed away a few days ago. He was so young! Is death ever not tragic? I don't know the answer to that; I've been so burdened for the friend of mine whose son it was. I cannot even imagine the unfathomable pain she is in. Strange though this may sound, she was who I was thinking about as I wrote this post last night. I am so thankful for the gift of godly friends, and especially the ones who pray and stand in the gap for those who are hurting. I've been on the receiving end of that way too many times to count; the very least I can do is pass that on to someone in their own time of need. 


Most of us have experienced tremendous loss like this, even if not to this painful extent of losing a child. If you're anything like me, do you ever battle over what to say? Or think about whether or not you should reach out to them at all? I struggle with that all the time, and that has been the case this week. If I could extend some advice to you, it would be this: make the effort and reach out to someone that's hurting. Even if you don't know what to say to them, offer them the gift of your prayers, or a more tangible gift of food. If you're a believer and follower of Jesus, this is what the church (the family of God, not a building) does. 


A friend and I were talking about this at church Wednesday night. She had been battling the same thoughts of whether or not to reach out, and if so, what to say. I reached out to my friend yesterday morning, after I just could not get her off of my mind. I'd been having my quiet time at the kitchen table, and before I started reading the Bible for that day, I began with prayer; and before I even knew it, I was praying for their family. I've gone to bed for two days in a row with them on my mind, and I've woken up thinking about them. When I texted with her yesterday, all I said was that I was there for her if she needed someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. I offered to bring a meal or anything else she could think of, and she promised she would let me know if she needed anything. I suppose she won't do that, though, and I plan on reaching out to her again after some of the shock has faded. Then again, maybe the shock won't fade for a long time. I'm going to do my best to try to keep reaching out to her as time goes on. I know she has friends, but I want her to know that she has another one in me, even if it's been a while since I last saw her. 


All of this to say, I am thankful for friends and for the gift that prayer is to me, and to others. I never want to take that for granted! Life is hard, friends. Sometimes I shake my head over myself and the ridiculous things that I sometimes consider "problems". What I often think may be a problem really isn't at all, not in the grand scheme of life. I know we all go through things, and those do sometimes seem like a really big deal; but something like this always sheds a little perspective on the matter. I don't know how I could ever get through life if I didn't walk closely with Jesus! If you don't know Him like this and ever want to talk more to someone about Him or how to have a relationship with Him, don't hesitate to reach out to me. You can always comment here or email me at allboys@gmail.com..


Thanks for reading my blog today, friends. Love to all. 

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

what's up Wednesday

 



Happy Wednesday, friends! I'm joining in with Sheaffer and Shay for today's blog post. I'm going to jump right in! 


What I'm eating this week: We ate leftovers on Sunday night, Monday night was sausage with onions and peppers, Tuesday night was quiche, and tonight we're having leftovers. I'll probably make something with the shredded beef again, maybe the same thing I made over the weekend that was a hit.




What I'm reminiscing about: Christmas, family time, days gone by, last summer...these are just a few I can think off the top of my head. 




...like these days when one of them was sick, we all had to squeeze into the tiny doctor's office. Graham would have been in a chair next to me with Drew, Jonah, and Noah together on top, probably reading Where's Waldo.


What I'm loving: Right now I am loving my Mondays at home, particularly this week. It was super warm outside in the sunshine, so I put on a bathing suit and coverup and sat outside in the direct sunlight reading my book for 45 minutes. I only wore sunscreen on my face, because I was trying to add some colors to my legs. 🤣 




I was out there in the best part of the day. Soon after this, the sun hid behind clouds and it cooled off quite a bit. The dogs enjoyed being out there with me!


What I've been up to: Something new and exciting that I've been up to (and that I haven't yet shared) is that I've been corresponding with an author that I love recently. She offered (through social media) some free coaching on writing a book; she will be sharing insight about what has worked for her in the world of writing, routines, publishing, and following through with writing the book I've been dreaming about. She had us fill out a questionnaire for this that was a few pages long, and she received thousands of responses; I am so happy that I was one of the few that she picked! This author is Joanne Weaver, who authored one of my favorite books, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. In order to be a part of this, she and I have been emailing back and forth getting to know one another. The coaching starts next week!


What I'm dreading: I am dreading this summer, because my youngest son is making plans to move to Dallas. I'm happy for him, but sad for me because I won't see him very often. I have no idea if this will actually come to fruition, but I'm kind of thinking it will. He has a plan in motion as I write this. I'm also kind of dreading Todd's surgery coming up in March. 


What I'm working on: I mentioned the coaching above, about writing a book, and that is what I'm working on. I have had one mulling around in my brain for the last couple of years, and on Monday I sat and made an outline to turn into Joanne. I may tweak it here and there, and nothing is concrete, but I put down a tentative plan. This is scary...


What I'm excited about: ...but I'm also excited about that process, scary though it may be. You may not know this about me, but I have dreamed of becoming an author all of my life. I've loved helping write the Bible studies I've co-written; I've loved writing articles for online publications; I love writing on this blog and don't see that changing, but I really, really want to write and publish a book. 


Anyone can write and publish a book, by the way, but I want it to be something meaningful and that will also make an impact. Most of you know this about me now, that I don't take things like this lightly. 


What I'm watching/reading: I'm watching my favorite shows that I have on repeat, most of which you already know about. I've been reading a lot lately! Come back tomorrow when I share about the books I read this month. 


What I'm listening to: Lately I've been listening to a lot of eighties music. One of my favorite playlists right now is 80's Love Songs. It's so good and brings back so many memories! I'm also listening to a lot of 90's music right now, both the alternative that I loved as a teenage and the 90's country that reminds me of the days of dating my husband. 


What I'm wearing: Currently I'm in leggings and a t-shirt, but I've been pulling out my spring clothes as of late! I'd love to start wearing dresses on warmer days, which is why I was trying to get a little color on my legs this week. I miss having a tan! 🤣


What I'm doing this weekend: I feel certain that a dinner and Sam's date night will happen sometime this week or over the weekend, and I know I'll see Mom and Trish, but past that, I have no idea. 


What I'm looking forward to next month: March is the beginning of birthday season in our home! Jonah and Noah turn 21 on Sunday the tenth, Graham turns 25 the next day on the 11th, and Drew will be 24 on April 3rd. Additionally, our dads have birthdays this coming month! His will be 85 on the 26th and mine will be 93 on the 29th. 


What have you been up to lately? I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! 



Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Did you know?


Happy Tuesday, friends! I had another post scheduled for today, but I wasn't really feeling it, so I called an audible and came up with this one instead. 


(Do you know what that phrase means? In the technical world, it's when someone makes a last minute, unexpected plan instead of following through with what was on the schedule or order of service. I'm a choir girl, what can I say? I've sung and worked through many "audible calling" in my life, and I bet you have too!)


I keep a note of blog ideas on my phone, so this is where I pulled this idea from today. I think this was originally inspired by a book that I read, though I can't remember which one it was. Here are some interesting things I've learned lately that I thought you may like to know. Here goes!

  • Did you know that there are six people in the world who look like you? You have a 9% chance of meeting them someday.
  • Did you know that smiling is the ultimate anti-depressant? So is walking, for that matter! Walking for ten to thirty minutes each day is valuable to your physical, emotional, and mental health.
  • Did you know that it's good for you to sit in silence for ten minutes each day?
  • Did you know that tea bags are a great way to absorb odors?
  • Did you know that we should all be eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper? 
  • Did you know that you don't have to win every argument? Agreeing to disagree is much better for your health. Learn the art of letting go!
  • Did you know that nobody is in charge of your happiness but you? Stop caring about the opinions of others! (I'm preaching to myself.)
  • Did you know that it's good to frame every so-called disaster with the words, "In five years, will this matter?"
  • Did you know that time heals everything? Grief is excluded in this, and that is a sign of love.
  • Did you know that the father determines height, but Mom determines the weight?
  • Did you know that right handed people tend to chew their food on the right side? I assume this is also true for lefties, and now that I'm writing this, I did chew my food on the left as I had dinner last night!
  • Did you know that you can survive for weeks without eating, but you'll only live for eleven days with no sleep.
  • Did you know that people who laugh a lot are healthier than those who don't?
  • Did you know that laziness and inactivity kills as many people as smoking?
  • Did you know that the human brain has the capacity to store five times the amount of information as Wikipedia?
  • Did you know that potato chips cause more weight gain than any other food? 
  • Did you know that C.S. Lewis died on the same day as President John F. Kennedy?
  • Did you know that chewing gum after meals reduces heartburn?
  • Did you know that dogs can smell cancer, and that bees can detect bombs?
  • Did you know that the longest word you can type with just your left hand is sweaterdresses? 
  • Did you know that there is a species of jellyfish that are immortal? 
  • Did you know that falling coconuts kill more people than sharks?

Did you know any of these things? These were just the ones I hadn't heard before. What other useless trivia do you have that I need to know? I love things like this! I hope you had fun reading this today and that you learned something new. Love to all! 


I'm linking up with Joanne for this post today. 




Monday, February 26, 2024

Hello Monday

 



Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for today's post. I hope you had a good weekend! Mine was really good, and once again a good balance of doing something fun, getting things done, and relaxing. Those are the best; throw in some warmer weather and beautiful sunshine, and it was even better! 


I love Friday mornings, because I have leisurely time at home. 



I started reading in the book of Numbers on Friday, so I watched an additional video and read a few things about this fourth book in the Bible. 



I love how my Bible has a key verse for every book in the Bible; I loved this one out of Numbers. I have the She Reads Truth Bible; I've used this particular type of Bible exclusively for the last six years or so. 



Dad came over on Friday, and we had another great day together! I'm so thankful for this. We went to wash my car, fill up my gas tank again, then we had lunch at Subway. Have you had one of these sub sandwiches in a bowl like this one above? It was delicious! It's not on the menu, so you pick a sandwich and tell them you want that in a salad, then you pick your toppings. Mine was a turkey sub with cheese, so I picked a chopped lettuce and spinach blend, black olives, onions, pickles, cucumbers, oil and vinegar as the dressing, and salt and pepper. I devoured this! 




I found myself at home alone Friday night, so I made this shredded beef sauteed with onions and peppers. It was delicious! All I did was sauté the shredded beef in olive oil and soy sauce, then I added in the veggies. Noah ate this as well when he got home from work and loved it as much as I did. 



Saturday morning found me dressed like this for another outing with Mom and Trish. We started at a beauty supply place, where I bought some Ouidad curl refresher spray for my hair, then we had chips and dips for lunch at our usual Mexican place, and then we went to my favorite home decor store, John Mark's. 




This ribbon library room had me swooning!





As did all the beautiful things inside and out.





We ended our day together by going to this new and amazing  Goodwill bookstore. I loved browsing through all the books and managed to find one to buy for myself. Trish racked up on some great deals on records! I'm so glad we finally remembered to stop by here. That was pretty much my weekend! I was home alone again on Saturday night, so I read for a while and then watched a movie. This was cute! I like both of these actors; one was from Chesapeake Shores, and the other is from Virgin River. (This movie is a Hallmark movie.) 




What did you do this weekend? Whatever it was, I hope you enjoyed the time that you had! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all! 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

February Share 4 Somethings

 


Happy Saturday, friends and welcome to this month's Share 4 Somethings, where we talk about some things we loved or disliked, accomplished, improved upon or something that needs improvement, and noticed this month. I'm so glad you're here! 


Loved


I have loved the warmer days of February! Why do these feel so different (better) than the ones in January that feel gross? Is it perspective? Psychological? As in, we're getting closer to spring, so it's more acceptable? Please enlighten me. I've loved that the sun is setting a little later each day, that the wind blowing feels like a balm when I walk outside, and that spring is coming! Who am I??? I used to not love spring, but it's become dear to me. The new life growing in the earth and on the trees reminds me of the new life that we have in Jesus! It feels fresh, which you know I love. 





Accomplished


I don't really think I accomplished anything great, but the more that time goes on, the better I get with working outside of home. I'm coming into routines at work, and I love the way that feels. I have certain days that I do for certain things; for instance, Thursdays are all about the finances and catching up on purchase orders, spreadsheet details, balancing, reconciling, and anything else that needs to get done each week. (In case you don't already know, I took over as the bookstore manager in the bookstore that my church has inside of it, Cornerstone Bookstore and Cafe. And by manager, I mean one and only employee.) 


Inside of our home, I accomplished a lot in that it stays marginally clean and picked up, and that it's not falling apart at the seams. 🤣 Oh! And I washed our sheets yesterday. That's something! 







Improved upon


I've improved upon my eating this week. In case you missed it this week, after seeing a few pounds I'd lost slowly creep back on, something snapped me out of my trance and I've become disciplined again. I even did well with the church feeding us lunch yesterday! My favorite local restaurant catered a meal for us: it was salad, smoked pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, green beans with onions, rolls, and dessert. I only ate the salad, the meat, and the green beans, and I was proud of myself. I had zero regrets afterward, which was nice, and I felt really full, though I didn't eat that much. It's funny how fast things change when you get back on track. 



I have not made this salad above, but doesn't it look scrumptious?! That shrimp on top makes my mouth water just by looking at this picture. My friend Christy does the Optavia diet/coaching/whatever the correct terminology is, and she shared this picture this week. I saved it so that I can try it one night for our dinner. 


Noticed


I have noticed that the buttercups here are popping up all over the place! I love seeing those grow at this time of year, it's a sure sign that spring is coming. 



My friend shared this on her Facebook page this week. Aren't these lovely? 


I'm so glad you linked up with me today! Thanks for doing that each month! I always love reading your posts and hope that you take the time to read and comment on some of the others. The more you read and comment, the more that happens on your own blog. Thanks for reading today, friends. Love to all! 


P.s. I'll keep the link open until March 3rd, so you have plenty of time to join us! 

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Friday, February 23, 2024

Friday Favorites, 2.23.2024.

 


Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Andrea and Erika for today's favorite blog post of the week. How was your week? Mine was really good, and I hope you can say the same! I definitely have some favorites from this week, so here goes...


Having Dad back in our home last week was a favorite! I'm looking forward to seeing him today as well. 




On the days when I know I'm not going anywhere at night, my favorite thing to do is to take a late afternoon/early evening shower and let my hair air dry all the way. I went from this to that in the two pictures below...






I took those and sent them to Todd, because my hair had grown exponentially larger as the day went on Friday. I think that was the day it rained, which explains why.



New journals are my favorite! This one came from Marshall's last week.




These towel bars are my new favorite thing in our kitchen! (Click those lighter words to be taken to a separate Amazon link. Jennifer, this is with you in mind!) 





Making lists will always be a favorite thing to do! I listened to a podcast episode to give us some ideas for an upcoming girls trip to Nashville.




This was a favorite thing that I saw online this week. My sister's sister-in-law shared this one day, and it resonated with me. Nobody is perfect! Find your people who can look past all of your flaws and mess-ups, and keep them close. If people can't see that in you, let it go and move right on along. 




Todd was craving Mexican food on Sunday, but I wasn't in the mood to go anywhere that night, so we went on Monday night instead and ate some of our favorite Mexican food. It was chilly, but it wasn't too bad; the delicious food made it worthwhile. We'd been talking about this place with Alex when he came down on Sunday night, and our mouths were watering the more we talked about the food! 




Berries have been my favorite snack this week! Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries has been my dessert of choice this week, if I haven't had evening coffee.




This dinner is always a favorite! Bratwursts, and air-fried veggies tossed in olive oil and soy sauce (and salt, apparently). I did toss it around after I sprinkled some salt on it, but I got the ones on top, and it was so full so mine didn't cook all the way. I needed some added flavor! 




Speaking of Alex...




This picture he texted me is my new favorite. We texted back and forth one night this week, and he sent me all kinds of pictures of this adorable puppy that belongs to his girlfriend. He's so handsome and that pup is precious! (He recently got this new tattoo in memory of his sister, and when I told him I loved it, he wanted to come down to show me.😭 )

I bought these new favorite towels to use on the new towel bars; I am shocked at the quality of them, and how good they are! 




I was so hungry on Wednesday night, that I ate dinner alone at 4:30. I never have an issue with this when I have a book to keep me company!  Todd came down and joined me about ten minutes later. I have to eat early on Wednesdays because of work, and then I have to have a small snack when I get back home. I usually have a few tortilla chips and hummus. 




I shared this yesterday, but this new top is a favorite. It's so bright and happy!




Did you happen to catch my other blog posts this week? I'll link them below. 


Saturday was a bonus post that I titled, "what's in my Amazon cart or on my wish list".

Monday was Hello Monday.

Tuesday was my monthly "third Tuesday check-in".

Wednesday was February ins and outs.

And Thursday was a double post day with Thankful Thursday, and Fashion Files: things I love to wear.


Tomorrow is the February edition of Share 4 Somethings, where we'll talk about some things we loved or disliked, accomplished, improved upon or something that needs improvement, and noticed this month. I hope you make plans to join us! It's always the last Saturday of every month. 




What was something from your week that was a favorite? I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for reading my blog, friends! I hope you have the best weekend. Love to all!




Friday Favorites, 7.12.2024.

  Hi, friends! As you can tell, I'm forcing myself to be here often, because my life needs to resume some sort of normalcy right now; th...