Cold Tangerines {book review}

In an effort to read more and to also sleep better, I’ve tried to read before going to bed instead of scrolling through social media outlets.  Last week I finished “Cold Tangerines:  celebrating the extraordinary nature of everyday life” by Shauna Niequist.  The book is a “collection of stories about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything.  It offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, giving us room to breathe, to break down and break through, calling us to our best possible lives.” (from the back of the book)

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This book was such an easy read and at times I felt like the author knew I was reading this – she was speaking right to me from the first story.

I have always, essentially been waiting.  Waiting to become something else, waiting to be that person I always thought I was on the verge of becoming, waiting for that life I thought I would have…And through all that waiting, here I am.  My life is passing, day by day, and I am waiting for it to start…But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes:  this is it.  This is it, in the best possible way.  That thing I’m waiting for, that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully.  This is it…I don’t want to wait anymore.  I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day…That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become.  The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting. – on waiting

Friendship is acting out God’s love for people in tangible ways.  We were made to represent the love of God in each other’s lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God’s love for them…True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over the broken, fragile parts of ourselves.  We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect…Friendship is about risk.  – swimming

For me, what God said when He made the world is a prayer:  It is good.  This world, it is good…I have to remind myself that it is good.  I have to create hope in my life, because there’s something inside of me that has radar for the bad parts of life…I have a dark, worst-case scenario sensor, and it takes over…It’s rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life.  It’s must easier and much more common to be miserable…I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud.  And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes.  I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now.  I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh…It is good. – cold tangerines

What book is on your list to read next?

 

Present Over Perfect {a book review}

“Present Over Perfect…Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.”  The minute I saw this book title while scrolling through my Instagram feed I knew I needed to add it to my reading list.  Less than a month after I featured it in a “Friday Favorites” post, I ordered the book and once I started reading, I was finished in a week.

I saw myself in a lot of the chapters – even though I’m quite the opposite of the writer.  As I was reading the book though, I realized that no matter who you are, you can see yourself in the words on the pages.  Everyone can relate to this book in someway.  I immediately thought of friends in some sections of the book and wanted to immediately send them a copy.

And while I loved the book, I found myself wanting more.  I was expecting more details on how to make changes in my day to day life so that I can achieve “present over perfect.”   I know some of you will run out and read the book yourself and others won’t think about it again – so I’ve left some of the “aha” Oprah moments below…

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“But you can’t have ‘yes’ without ‘no.’ Another way to say it :  if you’re not careful with your ‘yeses,’ you start to say ‘no’ to some very important things without even realizing it…’Yes’ is fun and sparkly and printed on tote bags…[But ‘no’] puts the brakes on your screaming-fast life and give you a chance to stop and inspect just exactly what you’ve created for yourself, as difficult as that might be.”

“This is what I know for sure:  along the way you will disappoint someone…But here’s the good news:  you get to decide who you’re going to disappoint, who you’re going to say ‘no’ to.”

We get to shape our days and our weeks, and if we don’t, they’ll get shaped by the wide catch-all of ‘normal’ and ‘typical,’ and who wants that? … You can wear slippers or heels, eat steak or kale, read poetry or spreadsheets…You get to make your life.  In fact, you have to.”

“Sometimes brave looks more like staying when you want to leave, telling the truth when all you want to do is change the subject.”

“[Present over perfect] is about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving.  It’s about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.”

And perhaps the author never intended to give me the tools to be more “present over perfect.”  Perhaps I have to use my own life tools and do some soul searching to shape my life in a more soulful way.

Friday Favorites

Can you believe that fall will officially be here (according to the calendar) next Thursday?  Despite my desire to live in a place where it’s summertime all the time, I’ve found some inspiration on the web that has made me a little excited about changing of the seasons.  Here’s what I am excited about for fall:  dark nail colors, comfort food and red wine.  Oh, and the wishful thinking that it will be cool enough to enjoy our fire pit and back deck.

Here are my favorites from the week:

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Favorite Transition Meal:  Late Summer Risotto with Roasted Tomatoes, Corn and Figs.  I adore risotto.  In the summer, in the fall, in the spring and in the winter.

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Favorite Fall Must-Read:  Present over Perfect:  Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living.   “You’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.”

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Favorite With a Spoon:  Creamy Thai Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup.  This soup looks like it could warm the soul.

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Favorite Drool:  Bubby’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich.  Can we just have a moment of silence for the above sandwich?

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Favorite Brunch:  Caramelized Onion Spinach Feta Savory Breakfast Casserole.  This prep-ahead one-dish recipe would be perfect for our next noon game or the next time we entertain and have overnight guests.

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Favorite Quiz:  What’s Your Home Decor Personality?  I’m Classic Glam.

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Favorite 5 Ingredients:  Brie and Bacon Grilled Cheese with Fig Jam.  1.) Brie 2.) Bacon 3.) Fig Jam 4.) Fresh bread 5.) Butter

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Favorite Break-the-Fast:  Baked Sweet Potatoes with Almond Butter, Banana and Chia.  I vow to switch up breakfast with this stuffed goodness before the end of October.

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Favorite Upgrade:  Churro Apple Pie Bowls.  Holy cow.  Apple pie filling + crispy, cinnamon-y churros.  YES!

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Favorite Fall Cocktail:  “Fall All Over.”  It reminds me of a Moscow Mule but with gin and it may be my new house signature cocktail for the coming months.

 

Cheers!

Half-Way There {2016 goal check-in}

It’s kind of hard to believe that this week marks the half-way mark of 2016.  Like, where did January through June go?  I thought it would be fun to check-in on the goals I set for myself back in January and see how I’m doing.

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Read more.  I’ve absolutely been better about reading more.  In fact, in the past couple of months I’ve finished reading “Saving Grace” by Jane Green; “Dancing on Broken Glass” by Ka Hancock; “Beach Town” by Mary Kay Andrews; and I’m almost finished with “Here’s to Us” by Elin Hilderbrand.

Focus on happiness.  This goal is something that I have to decide I’m going to do every.single.day.  Someday’s it’s not easy and sometimes I have to give myself a “smack across the face” in the middle of the day but it totally makes life easier if you focus on the good rather than the not-so-good.

Be the best me.  I think that I’m doing really well at this goal.  I could totally be a little more patient at times – but couldn’t we all?  I’ve learned to ignore some of the negatively around me because it does nothing but pull me down with it.

Practice and study to become a Core Barre instructor.  In April I attended a 3-day training in Charlotte.  I passed the written test but had three months to submit my final practical video.  I submitted my video about a week and a half ago and I am so excited to say that this morning I had an email in my inbox telling me “Congratulations.”  I PASSED!!!!!  I am incredibly proud of myself and incredibly thankful for all those that have supported me.  Bring on the pulses and tilts.

So what will the rest of 2016 hold?  There’s no telling.  Hopefully reading a lot more books (preferably by the pool), focusing on being happy every day regardless of the circumstances, being the best person I can be and challenging not only myself but also all the ladies I teach in barre every week.

 

Friday Favorites

The last weekend of June and the first official weekend of summer has arrived.  I’m looking forward to supper club this evening with friends followed by a Saturday and Sunday full of fun and sun.  I’m going to soak up every second of this low-key weekend because after this, the summer schedule starts to look a little cray-cray (in the best way possible).

No matter where you are –  I hope your weekend is full of all the good things that summer brings.

Here are my favorites from the week:

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Favorite Grilled:  Chicken, Burst Tomato, and Artichoke Skewers with Goat Cheese Dip.  As soon as I have homegrown tomatoes, this is ON.  And I think I’ll take her advice and open a bottle of wine plus grill some garlic bread for the side.

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Favorite Scoop:  Lemon Poppy Seed Ice Cream.  I have a feeling we’re going to be pulling out the ice cream maker quite a lot this summer.

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Favorite List:  13 Books Everyone will be Talking About This Summer.  I just started reading “Here’s To Us” by Elin Hildebrand yesterday. And I’m totally adding “First Comes Love” by Emily Griffin and “The Singles Game” by Lauren Weisberger to my summer reading list.

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Favorite Simple:  Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Pizza.  The key here is to use quality ingredients.  Local peaches, the best prosciutto you can find, high quality mozzarella and a homemade crust (duh).

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Favorite Summer Dinner:  Grilled Romaine, Corn and Chicken Salad with Salsa Dressing.  I could probably eat this salad Monday through Thursday and be completely happy in life.

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Favorite Accessory:  Shiraleah Natural Carmelita Pom Pom Clutch.  WANT!  And it’s totally affordable.

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Favorite In Season:  Sweet Corn Pesto Tossed with Pappardelle and Zucchini Noodles.  I’m going to really need the squash bugs to leave my garden so that I still have zucchini when it’s time to harvest the corn so that I can then make this bowl of deliciousness.  Thankyouverymuch.

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Favorite Break:  Grape and Herb Chicken Salad. A perfect Saturday in the summer starts with a long walk and coffee followed by heading out to the pool with a good book.  At about 1pm, you head inside for lunch, maybe your first cocktail of the day.  And then you go back outside for a couple of more hours before showering for your evening of fun.  This would be the perfect lunch break.  Simple yet satisfying.

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Favorite Jaw Drop:  An Epic Maine Home.  I love EVERYTHING about this house.  And can we talk about the pool?!?!  (No, seriously, you have to click over and look at this house.)

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Favorite Umbrella Drink:  Creamy Coconut Margarita. I constantly live in a fantasy world (just ask Big Guy).  And my currently wanderlust daydream is Cabo.  I’m fairly certain I could live off this drink plus guacamole and chips for a month.

Cheers to the weekend!

(and don’t forget to wear SPF)

 

 

Currently.

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Eating / butternut squash.  It’s one of my favorites.

Drinking / tea.  It’s that time of year again.  I love a piping hot mug of tea in the evenings.

Practicing / patience.

Mastering /  the art of daydreaming.

Learning / to make time for phone dates with my girlfriends.

Trying / to figure out where the Christmas tree is going this year.

Playing / Adele’s new song, Hello.

Finishing / After You by Jojo Moyes.

Reading / holiday issues of Cooking Light and Southern Living.  (And wanting to plan all.the.menus.)

Remembering / to be thankful.

Wearing / booties with skinny jeans/pants.  It’s my attempt to be trendy.

Cooking / comfort food.  Craving:  Curried Chicken Pot Pie.

Working / on my Christmas list.

Traveling / to Asheville.  I am so excited for Big Guy to see the Biltmore at Christmastime.

Wanting / a fur vest.  (me trying to be trendy again) Oh, and happiness.

{virtual} coffee chat

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If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that we’re a day late – because yesterday was National Coffee Day.  Thankfully I celebrate every day.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about my “personal” day.  You see, I woke up on Monday morning at my usual 4:17am wake-up call and my body just wasn’t happy.  I didn’t feel well and took myself back to bed (this has maybe happened 3 times in the past 5 years).  I woke up planning to head to work and I just decided I needed a personal day.  I did laundry, I baked a cake, a finished a book, I did 45 minutes of Pi-Yo for my workout, I drank hot tea, I watched “my” shows…  It was glorious.  And guess what, I don’t feel guilty at all.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I tell you that I really enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s latest book but I didn’t enjoy the ending.  I won’t spoil it for anyone but it’s not the “fairy tale” ending.  (p.s. that picture was not taken Monday – it was dreary and rainy all day long.)

If we were having coffee this morning…I would urge you to make your own garden herb salt.  I made some a couple of weeks ago and the herb flavor only intensifies with time and it’s so simple yet so delicious.  My favorite is sprinkling it over eggs.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I would beg you to order this cheese.  We used it on a pizza on Sunday and holy yum.  Absolutely incredible.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how to recreate this amazing pizza.  Like seriously – it’s so good.  First it’s homemade dough.  Duh.  Then I crisped up some bacon.  But don’t get rid of the bacon fat.  Oh, no, no, no.  Use the bacon fat to caramelize your onions.  Yes, yes, yes.  I sliced up two sweet onions and over low heat I caramelized them for 25 minutes or so.  At the very end, I added a little butter (because it was Sunday) and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Smear the caramelized onions over the top of the dough.  Add freshly shredded mozzarella and the bacon.  Then you add the goat cheese.  I used about 4 ounces of the goat cheese and just made sure I got a little bit all over the pizza.  Bake until well, it looks like that above and then sprinkle with parsley for a little pop of freshness.  I can’t even deal.

If we were having coffee this morning…Speaking of not being able to deal, have you heard that selfies have killed more people than sharks this year?  Insane.  Funny and sad – all at the same time.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I hope I don’t have to go another year without seeing Nat.  We met up on Sunday for lunch in Raleigh at Mura.  We both enjoyed a salad and then split these two rolls.  So good.  But even better to see her.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would do a “no rain” dance.  I can’t take any more.  After being in the rain for over 8 hours on Saturday, I.am.over.it.  I took the rain like a champ on Saturday but I really can’t do another Saturday like that.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would talk about our upcoming weekend.  Logan, my youngest brother, is coming to visit!  He and Big Guy have big plans for golf (hence the “no rain” dance) and I have an EPIC weekend of eats planned.  Oh, and I am getting a massage on Saturday.  Ohhhh, la la.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would hug you tight and leave you with this:

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