Monday, October 12, 2015

10 of My All-Time Favorite Books

I know some people are enjoying a three-day weekend thanks to Columbus, and while we are not lucky enough to have Matt home with us today, I am taking full advantage of all of the sales going on this weekend!

I bought crib bedding from Pottery Barn Kids (they're running an extra 20% off everything sale), an accent pillow for Baby Girl's room from Pottery Barn (also 20% off + free shipping), and a rug for her room from Rugs USA that was 75% off plus free shipping! WOO-HOO!!

I love a good deal. Like, really love it.

Next up on my list of things to accomplish during nap is to create and hopefully order our Christmas cards- Shutterfly is offering a $20 coupon code, free shipping on orders over $39, and they sent a 40% coupon + 10 free cards in the mail. So fingers crossed my little guys enjoys a nice long nap today. :)

Since I don't usually post on the weekends, I'm sharing my Ten on the 10th today, on the 12th.
I've been on a reading kick again and have been setting monthly goals to read at least one book, so I thought I would share my top 10 all-time favorite books with you and see if you had some of the same ones on your list. Or, if there are others you have read and loved, I would love for you to share them with me! 

Narrowing down this list to ten was not easy. I tried to think back over the books I have read over the years, and know I am probably leaving out a good number of books that I have completely forgotten about. 

But here's what I came up with for my list of top 10. And don't forget to tell me your favorites in the comments section below!


The subtitle says it all- a story of survival, resilience, and redemption. If you have not read this book, it needs to be at the top of your list! Honestly it is so, so good. 

Nineteen Minutes

This book was a page-turner! I read it on the beach one year and didn't want to put it down. It follows a similar premise to the events that happened at Columbine, but keeps you guessing at who is really involved and, as Jodi Picoult always does, connects you with the characters so that you feel as if you know them by the time the book is done.

Same Kind of Different As Me

"a modern-day slave, a international art dealer, and the unlikely woman who bound them together"

I mentioned this as my favorite book on my 31 favorite things list last month. It was so hard to decide, but I chose this book because of the way it changed my perspective on homelessness and drew me in to the characters' lives. It is based on a true story and also has a sequel (which I also enjoyed). It's so hard to summarize without giving too much away, but it is a short read, and one I know you will enjoy!

Water for Elephants

I read this book so long ago but remembered not wanting it to end. I also loved the movie starring Reese Witherspoon. If you like reading books that have been made into movies, you should definitely check this one out. You can read more about it here.

The Other Boleyn Girl

I love books, movies, and TV series from this time period. And Philippa Gregory is incredible at making you feel like you are right in the time period as you are reading. This particular one is about the courtship and marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, who was his second wife. It was made into a movie and also a part of the Showtime series, The Tudors. It is a long book but a surprisingly fast read because you get so wrapped up in all of the characters' lives.

Heaven is for Real

I was skeptical of this book when I first heard about it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is about a 4 year old boy who undergoes a procedure and temporarily dies on the hospital table before being brought back to life. His parents, who are in the waiting room, are unaware of how back things got during surgery until their son starts telling them about what he saw in those moments where the doctors were trying to revive him. It is a fascinating and quick read and will really get you thinking! 

For the Love

Ahhh, you know I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. You can read my full review here. And then go buy it. You just can't not love it.

What Alice Forgot

This book was so good! It was the first Liane Moriarty book I had read and had me staying up late and catching a few minutes to read during the day whenever I could. A definite page-turner that I didn't want to end. You can read my full review here.

Bringing Up Bebe

I read a number of parenting books in the years leading up to us starting our own little family. Every time Matt and I would go to the bookstore (so basically the end of every date night... because, confession if you're new around here- that's just us- we love the book store.), he would gather some business books and I would find some parenting books, and we would sit and browse through them over coffee (for me) and figure out whether any were worth adding to our collections. Of all the books I read before we started our family, I honestly think I enjoyed this one the most.  It gave some practical advice on areas such a teaching independence, confidence, respect, discipline, and healthy eating habits. And then right before Ryan started solids, I read French Kids Eat Everything which I also loved and would highly recommend. You can read my review of that book here.

Jesus Calling

Not exactly a novel, but I couldn't make a list of favorite book without this one on it. This has been my morning devotional for years. So far, it has proven to be applicable through so many different stages of life. If you're looking for a good devotional, check this one out here.

What would make your top-10 favorite books list?!
I'm always looking for new books to read, so I'd love to hear what your favorites are!
Just leave me a comment below. :) 

Thanks, friends!

And you can check out my other Ten on the 10th posts here.


Friday, October 9, 2015

This or That?! Getting to know E and ME...

Today is all about getting to know Elizabeth and me a little more.

We thought it would be fun to share some random facts about ourselves and see if any of you lovely people can relate. So we picked some either-or categories and shared what we prefer, but we want to hear from you too!

So after you read Elizabeth's answers below, and check out my answers over at her blog, leave us a comment and let us know if you're tracking with what we love. :) 

Meet Elizabeth:

Can we talk about how cute this picture is? The plaid, the tongue, the this-is-how-we-family-picture-these-days grin from E (how cute is her outfit btw?!)... I just love everything about this.

In case you are new about here, Elizabeth and I like to collaborate on a few posts each month:
On the 15th of every month, we write a Mid-Month Confessions post and invite you all to link up your own confessions with ours. This makes our crazy seem a little less normal- that is the goal, right?! You can check out previous confessions posts here (mine) and here (Elizabeth's), and we hope you join us next week for the next confessions link-up!

And then at the end of each month, we share our Favorite Finds for the month: books we're loving, recipes we've tried, shoes we've bought, blogs we've read... if we've loved it that month, it makes the list. You can check out previous Favorite Finds posts here (mine) and here (Elizabeth's).

We both love writing and connecting with other people, so blogging for us is a chance to do both. We love hearing from people who read and/or think they "stalk" our blogs... so don't be a stranger! (P.S. We are blog stalkers too) We're really not super cool big-time bloggers, so we'll actually respond if you email us or leave a comment with a question. ;)

Here are a few on E's most recent posts that I loved:

If you haven't stopped by her blog yet, check her out!

Okay, on to our lists!

Here are E's picks:

1. Soda or Iced Tea - Soda (I've given up Diet Coke about 15 times, but I've given up on giving it up for now. I'm die hard.)
2. Early bird or night owl - Early bird (ish)
3. Pancake or Waffle - Waffle
4. Team Fitz or Team Jake - Team Jake (I'm about three seasons behind, but I think I'm Jake.)
5. Statement earrings or statement necklace - Statement necklace
6. Walk or Run - Walk (with an iced coffee and a podcast)
7. Pencil or Pen - Pen (see my favorite here)
8. Cake or Pie - Cake
9. Paper Book or E-Reader - E-Reader (I LOVE books, but I made the full switch after Sam was born because it is SO much easier to read while nursing, rocking, etc.)
10. Beer or Wine - Wine (white)
11. Yoga or Pilates - Yoga (the one time a year I do it)
12. Bath or Shower - Shower (I haven't taken a bath since 1999. Truth.)
13. Cook or Eat Out - Eat Out
14. Ketchup or Ranch - Ranch (I despise ketchup.)
15. Dress or Pants - ? (I prefer jeans mostly, but I wear a good mix of pants and dresses for work.)
16. Apple or PC - Apple (I made the switch three years ago and never looked back.)
17. TV or Movie - TV (I always fall asleep watching movies.)
18. Flats or Heels - Flats (99.5% of the time)
19. Skittles or M&Ms - Skittles
20. Mountains or Beach - Mountains
21. Fruits or vegetables - Fruit
22. See the world or find a favorite vacation spot - See the world
23. Spender or saver - Spender (Thankfully, I married a saver, or I'd be in trouble!)
24. Suspenseful movie or romantic comedy - Romantic Comedy
25. Roller coaster or Ferris wheel - Roller Coaster

Couple things on E's list- walking with an iced coffee and podcasts sounds glorious. I really need to join the 2010s and figure out the whole podcast thing. I feel like I would quite enjoy that little routine of hers. Now if only we lived closer and could make those walks together... (fun fact: we have never met in real life) ;)

Also, totally agree on the E-reader! I never read on an e-reader before Ryan was born (after my previous comment about podcasts, this is probably not surprising).

And lastly, no bath since 1999?! I am cracking up. I get one in at least once a week.

Okay, you can check out my answers here!

And last but not least, it's FRIDAY friends! For us, that means we eat dinner all together, do bath and books and put Ryan down, watch a show on DVR (most likely one Wheel of Fortune and then Scandal because we are both old souls trying to be trendy), and then we both read in bed before crashing somewhere after 10 (if we make it that far).

Yep. We party hard on Fridays.

Have a great weekend!!


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Recipe: Creamy Sundried Tomato & Chicken Fettuccine

I found this recipe on Pinterest recently and loved it the first time I made it. Then I read my blogger friend Mel's recipe that was similar to the one I had pinned and decided I wanted to combine bits and pieces of both of them for a recipe that was just right for us.

This recipe serves 2-3 people and can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group.

Truth be told, I didn't measure any of this when I made it, so don't feel like you need to stick to these exact measurements.

If you like more spice, add more red pepper flakes, if you want less cream and more wine, go for it. You can also substitute the cream for 1/2 and 1/2 or use cajun seasoning instead of red pepper flakes if you like a stronger kick. Play with it until it tastes right to you. Or just follow the recipe below if you're not a "play with it" kind of cook. ;)

1-2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1T butter
1T olive oil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced (1tsp if using pre-minced)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3/4 cup of whipping cream
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, julienne cut (looks like this and is usually near the minced garlic in produce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2lb fettuccine (or your favorite pasta)

Cut chicken breast in chunks and defat while you're at it. Heat oil and butter in a skillet. Once butter is melted, add chicken and cook on medium heat, 3 minutes each side (chicken will not be completely cooked through). Add in garlic and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add green onion, tomatoes, pepper flakes, salt, basil, and pepper. Simmer for another 2 minutes. Add cream, wine, and parmesan. You guessed it- simmer for another 2-5 minutes for sauce to thicken (this doesn't need to be exact).

Boil salted water and cook your fettuccine to al dente. Drain and add to skillet.

Garnish with parmesan and extra red pepper flakes and green onions if you choose.


Monday, October 5, 2015

14 Months!

It is crazy to look back at videos from the beginning of this month and see how much Ryan has changed in such a short amount of time!

This buddy is a walking/talking machine.

He loves to parrot what we say and babbles throughout the day. He has also gotten pretty fast with his walking and tends to move a little faster than his balance can handle sometimes. But when he falls, he stands back up and says, "Bop!" and keeps on going. Sweet thing.

Another recent "skill" of his is shaking his head "no" when he doesn't want to do something. Like give you a kiss, or give you five, or share his toy/food. Where oh where did this little opinion come from?! It's pretty hilarious though. (For now?!)

When we get close to home, he has started repeating, "Tal Tal" with a big grin on his face. And then when I ask if he wants to go see Tally he says, "YES!" and claps. Love.

He loves going up to Tally and asking for kisses:

Separation anxiety is in full swing- sweet love. We actually got called out of church this month because the sweet buddy was just not interested in anything but having us back. We took advantage of the early lunch and then the sweet thing crashed when we got home.

He has started saying "Uh-OH" and enunciates it very carefully. We're learning that things that are dropped on purpose aren't actually "uh-ohs" ;) and that his water cup goes back in the circle on his tray when he's done taking a sip, not thrown over the back of his chair- ha! 

One of our FAVORITE things he is doing right now is dancing, a lot. He loves to get going when a song comes on- any song really. If it's slow, he'll stop what he's doing and sway; if it's fast, he'll even bend his knees or drop to the floor and do what his Papa has coined the "rump bump." It's pretty amazing. And sometimes, he'll randomly bust a move to whatever music he has going on in his head:

He is saying "pees" (please) now instead of signing it, and will now sign "thank you" or attempt to say something that sounds like it- makes this mama very proud! The first time he does this without me asking him will be a sweet day. :)

This was the first month where he really "played" on the playgrounds. He loves climbing up and sliding down. And if there is water at the park, believe you me he will find it. ;)

He loves, loves, loves his shoes. He wakes up wanting to put them on: "Shhh, Shhh" and pointing to where they sit on his dresser. And when I say, "Should we put on your shoes?" he excitedly says, "YES!" and claps with his big cheesy grin. My sweet sis-in law passed down two other pairs to him this month as well and he loves them just as much. It's like he knows he is a bigger boy when he wears them. Love him. Here he is wearing his shoes for the first time:

He recently started waking up calling for me instead of fussing to let me know he's awake. It's like he realized, "Wait, I actually have a word for this. I'll just call 'Mama' instead."

He loves playing "on" and "off" with blocks, lids, tops... anything that can go on and off really. The other day, Matt and I went to get him from his nap, and when he saw Matt in there too, he sat back down in his crib and grabbed his two blocks that I keep in there and looked at Matt as he said, "on" and "off" and stacked and unstacked the blocks. It was like he wanted to show his daddy his new trick. He kind of stared at Matt afterward like he was waiting for his reaction. 

As busy and funny as this age is, it has so many opportunities for building up his little accomplishments and moments of intentional good decisions.

Here are some highlights from the past month!

Looking at pictures of "dada" while he's at work. This boy loves his daddy.

And he LOVES being outside- playing in the water table, adventuring through the backyard, playing with his red car that his Aunt Dre passed down to us. Anything that's outside is his favorite. Usually he wears clothes, but sometimes, a naked messy transfer much easier to the tub. :)

Big announcement from this future big brother!

Bouncing on the bed with dada after bath is one of his favorite things. He points to it and says, "beh, beh" as we get him out of the tub.

He loves pointing to his "eyes" and sometimes misses ;) but it's hilarious either way.

Sweet Maddox left one of his stuffed animals when he and Noah spent the night with us and Ryan was quite happy to keep an eye on it while it stayed at our house.

He's very into attempting to feed himself with a spoon. This can get a lot messy, so I try to pick times that will minimize food on the walls and let him give it a go. Honestly if this is yogurt in this picture, that would not be what I consider a food-on-the-wall-minimizer, hah- but apparently I just went for it this day.

That hair- hahah

Serenby trip!
Seeing a horse for the first time

Trying a milkshake for the first time

PDK airport park! This buddy loves to watch planes and helicopters in the sky:

He is a climber. And he is fast!

Ryan and Tal peeking in on Nonna as she painted their baby sister's room ;) ...Nonna is the BEST! And they love her so.

Watching the rain
Working on an escape plan

Play date fun! During, and after:
The hose is the greatest outside water toy ever invented in case you didn't know.

Reynolds turns ONE! Ryan has started calling him, "Rey Rey" and gets so excited to see him. It is the SWEETEST!
Love this little cheeser

Getting ready to go see Mimi and Papa- he gets SO excited about going to visit them!

First "taste" of s'mores! (And by taste I mean he ate an entire one- whoops!)
Bouncing with his cousin Riley! Love the "boy vs. girl" that this picture captured- Ryan's getting air in the background while Riley poses sweetly with a golf ball in her hand. :)

Yes he is! This is him walking over to her when she arrived one afternoon. He loves his Nonna so much!

First pumpkin

Sweet Tal- ever patients with all sorts of climbing and swatting ("petting")

This buddy can spot a farm animal a mile away. Walking through Homegoods the other day he suddenly started "mooing" quite loudly. Hahah- wouldn't you know there was in fact a cow right there for him to see.

He also loves going to the pet store:

A little "nack" on the patio :)

Exploring the halls of the school where I used to teach

All dressed up for last week's Friday night game and waiting for daddy to get home. I'm pretty sure he's setting up his line for the next play in this picture. ;) Matt and I have worked on a little agreement that our boys can cheer for FSU and our girls can cheer for Clemson. :)

This picture is so Matt as a baby. That belly and those cheeks. Goodness.

And speaking of daddy getting home- it is a major highlight of his day!

Of all the times this buddy plays shoeless and naked in the backyard, this was not the best time to be fully clothed and "shoed"- haha

Beachin' it like the cool kids do ;)

Bring on the next month! We're having so much fun with this little guy. Every day he's trying something new and cracking us up. We are so thankful for him!