Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Future Book Challenge

As we're coming to the end of the year I'm thinking about what reading challenges I want to do next year. Every year I do the Goodreads reading challenge but I also do other reading challenges that I write down in my planner. This year I had a planner and a sketchbook I used for my trackers. It was too hard to keep track of both of them and since the planner held all the info for my work and Haleigh's school stuff, I needed to keep that a priority. Next year my trackers are going right back in my planner and I will keep up with them. Which is why I am looking at new reading challenges. I don't think I'll follow any single one. I might make one or two of my own. 

What reading challenges are you looking at? Do you do the Goodreads challenge? I signed up to challenge myself to read 50 books this year and I succeeded and surpassed it. I'm not sure if I'll up my goal next or stay with 50. Tell me what you're doing next year!

Friday, December 8, 2017

You Were Born With The Strength to Rise

Today I found out that a book I have been wanting to read was on Kindle Unlimited! I was so excited so while the kids napped I read the whole thing. 

Have you read this book? There are so many pieces(?), poems(?), sections(?) that I loved! One of them was:

if you were born with
the weakness to fall
you were born with
the strength to rise

Brilliant right? When I finished this I wanted more and luckily Kindle suggested another book to read

This was really good too. I was glad for the suggestion and glad to have read her poetry. This is her only book but hopefully, soon I can say this was just her first book. I would definitely read another book of poetry of hers. One piece that really resonated with me was:

She's a forest fire, 
but she practices self-control

She taught herself to put it out because 
some people can't handle incandescence. 

So beautiful. Now I'm listening to The Glassblower. I needed a good book to listen to while I crochet which I haven't been able to do because my hands have been to shakey. I have a lot of things to catch up on!

I'm hoping it's really good because it's part of a trilogy and I struggle not finishing a series once I start it. What are you reading today and this weekend? Share with me and maybe I'll add it to my TBR!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wintertime Fun

    With winter right on our tails, this Top 5 couldn't come at a better time! This week I'm talking about my Top 5 favorite things about winter. Really mine boils down to two things family time and snow but I'll break it down a little more for you.

One of my favorite things to do in wintertime is come together as a family, Grandma, Mom, Tyrone, Haleigh, Angela, Greg, Gregory, and myself, and decorate Grandma's Christmas tree. Grandma and Mom pull out all the ornaments and hand them to us to put on the tree. We listen to Christmas music and drink hot cocoa while we wait for an ornament and the stories to go with them. I love hearing the stories about where the different ornaments came from or what they mean to each family member. I love watching Grandma and her great-grandchildren loving on each other and sharing in the tradition. I love watching my mom sneaking cookies or candy canes to the kids while giving them a squeeze and a kiss. Grandparents love is so amazing.

Another thing I love about winter is time just seems to slow down. Maybe it has to do with the weather slowing things down for us but I feel like we always get more quality time together in the winter. We always seem to spend more time together doing things as a family than other times throughout the year. Games get played more, we cook as a family more, just all in all wintertime means family time.

Winter time food is always another favored thing in our house. Like most homes, we tend to cook more stews, soups, and chilis when it's cold outside. I love when my mom makes her chicken and rice soup. Right along with soothing my belly, it soothes my soul. I love trying new chili and stew recipes. We are always looking for an alternative for carrots in stews and soups because Haleigh is allergic so if you have any suggestions we would be very grateful!

Whenever the weatherman is calling for a big snow, we pack everything up and head to Grandma's house. If we're going to be snowed in then we're going to be snowed in there. I look forward to snow days every year because I love waking up with snow on the ground and a house filled with family. I love my morning coffee time with Mom and Grandma and then sledding or fort building (or both) with Haleigh.

All of this is great but my all time favorite thing is winter is a really big snow. That moment when you look everywhere around and there's no one in sight. There is a peace and calm in the air and no one is driving so the snow is still fresh and sparkling. I love just standing outside and seeing snow covering everything. Watching animals trek through it and leave their prints behind. Watching birds shaking off the snow from above in the trees. Seeing the sun or the moonlight bounce off the snow, showing just how sparkly snow really is. I love it all so much. Then I love being the one to make the first footprints, to be the one to make a path and build a pile of snow for a good fort or igloo. I really hope we get a big snow this year!

What are some of your favorite things about winter?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I Did Nothing But Read

    Other than being really sick and mostly down for the count I have no idea how I managed to read this many books this month. There's a lot so let's get to it!



     The next series I was ridiculously excited to read because some of my book club ladies and I will be going to Boonsboro, MD to a Nora Roberts book signing this weekend. Once I read the trilogy, I looked into the actually Inn Boonsboro there and found out it was actually Nora Roberts and her husband who went through the process of restoring it. If you get the chance I highly suggest this series!




   I absolutely FLEW through this next series. Once I started reading it I just couldn't wait until I could start reading the next one. I often fall down rabbit holes when reading this kind of books. Oh well, it is what it is because I know I won't stop reading these types of books. I can't wait for the next book to come out in December!








    12 books! How great is that?! I can't believe I read that much, actually, I can because I accomplished NOTHING this month but reading. Oh well, I enjoyed it all! I know there were way different genres but what can I say? I like a variety of subjects. What did you read this month?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cheesy Potato and Bacon Soup Recipe

Cheesy Potato and Bacon Soup
in the slow cooker

- 8 large potatoes (add more if needed)
- 1 pound bacon
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 cups shredded cheese (I used two big handfuls then some for topping later)
Seasonings (I never measure)
- Pepper
- Garlic
- Onion Powder
- Chili Powder (I used this instead of Cajun and it worked so I'm sticking with it)

- Cook bacon - save the grease. Crumble up bacon before adding to the slow cooker
- Wash Potatoes, skin them then cube. Not to big but not too small because that will result in mush
- Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker except cheese, flour, and half & half
- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours
- About halfway through cooking, in a separate bowl, mix together the flour and half & half. Stir until all the lumps are gone - if need be, add a little stock from the slow cooker. 
- Add the mixture to the slow cooker once it's lump free.
- Add cheese to slow cooker 15 minutes or so before serving. Make sure it's completely mixed in and melted

- Feel free to add a little bit of cheese and bacon if you kept any out (I didn't because it would not have made it the 8 hours without being eaten). We have some 'real bacon' bits in the fridge so I ended up adding this later on for a topping. 

The original recipe is here. I am one of those people who looks a recipe and uses it as a starting point. This time I actually wrote down the differences in case my family loved the soup (the did). I'm making sure to post it so I can look back later and have the recipe. 

I hope to be doing more of this in the future! 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Junk Brownies Anyone?

     I never know what to do with all the Halloween candy Haleigh gets. We go to multiple events and always end up with a huge amount of candy that we still have a year later. This year - thank you Snapchat - I saw my older sister making 'junk brownies' with my niece. I, of course, asked what exactly does making a junk brownie entail. Then I was enlightened with a genius recipe that I am now going to share with all of you!

First, you take a bunch of your chocolate candies and cut them up. I used probably 3/4ths of what Haleigh got this year (they are not all shown here). I tried to cut them up pretty small.

Second, you take them all put them in a bowl and pour them into your awaiting brownie mix

Third, bake it. The brownies took an extra 20 minutes or so to bake with all the extra goodness in it. That's okay though because they were definitely worth the wait!

The last and best step is to enjoy! I do recommend cutting the brownies into smaller pieces then you normally would because they are really heavy. Heavy but delicious!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Some Things Just Call To Me

     I am not a person who follows the age-old saying "never judge a book by its cover." I have always judged books by their cover and most likely always will and that's okay with me. I have found some of the best books just because I loved their cover. So today I'm going to share my Top 5 favorite cover buys. Now, this doesn't mean I absolutely LOVED these books some of them I haven't read and one I just can't finish - I will because I am no quitter - but it's dragging. These are just my Top 5 book covers that I love and that I bought just because of the cover art.

If there is a big old tree with long reaching branches on the cover I am most likely going to pick it up. There's something about big, wide, twisty trees that call to me.

The soft colors, water, and summertime. I'm all about that.

Again with the soft colors. Doesn't it just LOOK great? Okay, but really why is it taking me so long to get through?!

Yarn, tea, and a comfy chair? I mean really how much better could this cover get? 

I only own Home Front by Kristin Hannah but any of her books I would pick up. LOOK at those colors! They all call to me!

     What are some of your favorite cover buys? Is there a certain author who you always end up picking up their books - not because of their writing but because of their cover art? Share with me!