The Couple Next Door {book review}

I’ve read several “motherhood” books over the past few months and while I’m sure I’ll continue reading nonfiction-parenting books, I don’t want to forget about my love of fiction and reading after the baby is born.  I also don’t want to become a Netflix-junkie now that I know how to stream it from my iPad.  Instead, I’d like a mix of reading and watching t.v. during feeding sessions.  So I have a written list of books that I will continue to add to all year long and hopefully I’ll knock out a book or two each month.

The first book of 2018:  “The Couple Next Door” by Shari Lapena.


It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

I could not put this book down!  I’m not sure if it was the best book to read while pregnant but I’m certain that reading it with a newborn would not have been better.  You see, I’m afraid of everything – even my own shadow – so a book about the kidnapping of an infant definitely made my worrying kick in to high gear.  But like I said, once I start reading this book, I didn’t want to stop.

And I was honestly surprised by the last few chapters – like I had no idea how it was going to end.  I read a lot of books that are so predictable (Nantucket love stories that play out like a Hallmark movie) but this book kept me on the edge of my seat bed.


Up next:  I’m not entirely sure.  I want to re-read one of my baby books (I am determined to have a child that is on a sleep schedule) but then I’ll probably read an Elin Hilderbrand book (I’m trying to catch up and ready she’s written – I think I have five left to read).

What books are on your list for 2018?


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)


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…



“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.

{virtual} Coffee Chat

{image via}

If we were having coffee this morning…I would want to transport us to Miami where the sun is shining and the air is warm.  We would order iced coffees because it’s so hot.  And The Ritz-Carlton did their iced coffees up right:  iced coffee plus coffee ice cubes means no watered down coffee.  It was even more delicious because I splurged and added cream.  Oh, and the fact that I had a 75 minute massage before the iced coffee made it even better.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would confess that there hasn’t been a lot of cooking going on this week.  I got home on Monday night and the rest of my week nights were full of social commitments.  And the fact that Big Guy hasn’t been home since last Wednesday doesn’t make me want to cook any more.  But don’t worry – I’ll be back in action next week.

If we were having coffee this morning…I might try to recreate my favorite breakfast in Miami.  On Saturday morning we were up bright and early (literally before the rest of Miami) and went on a walk.  My request:  fresh-pressed juice.  The fruit is unreal in Miami and I had been dreaming about green juice for weeks.  We stumbled across Sunset Juice Bar and were the first customers of the day (it was still before 8am).  I ordered a cold-pressed spinach, kale, collards, cucumber, apple and lime juice along with a yogurt bowl that was studded with the most gorgeous berries and crunchy nuts.  What I would do to be able to walk to breakfast every Saturday morning.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would recommend that you read The Husband’s Secret.  It was the perfect beach read – with a mojito on the side.

At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…

My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…


If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how much I adore Big Guy.  Don’t get me wrong – our life isn’t all mojitos and trips to Miami – there’s real life in the middle of all that but I couldn’t imagine going through this wild ride with anyone else.  And as demanding as his work life can be, we were both able to relax and enjoy this past weekend.  Oh, and he was that guy that went to Miami, realized that he forgot a hat and then proceeded to buy a camo hat.  I had nothing to do with that purchase – I was getting a massage. Camo, the preppiest bathing suit at the pool and a frozen drink – that’s my guy.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about one of the “hottest places to drink” this summer.  And “hottest” is used both figuratively and literally here.  Bar Centro at The Bazaar  at the SLS boutique hotel was not only the place to be but it was quite warm.  Don’t worry – I cooled off quickly with a gin and tonic.  We also didn’t have dinner reservations until later that evening so we also grabbed a few nibbles while we were there.  Most notable:  Foie Gras PB&J – foie gras torchon, peanut butter, raspberry jam.  The fanciest peanut butter and jelly I’ve ever had.  But oh.em.gee.  It was unreal.  Melt-in-your-mouth with the most true PB&J flavors.  I’m drooling just thinking about these little sandwiches.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that our weekend in Miami may be over but it won’t be soon forgotten.  #cottoninmiami was the perfect way to celebrate 2 years of marriage along with many, many years we have ahead of us.  Cheers!

Smoothie Debate

Juicing seems to be “the in thing” right now.  Everyone is drinking green juice and getting their greens.  Except me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting my greens and sometimes drinking green things but it’s not juice.  I don’t get the whole “juice” thing.  I’m more of a blender.  Smoothies are more my thing.



Lately I’ve been drinking a smoothie or two a day.  I was inspired by the book “The Body Reset Diet.”  But please, please, please note – I am not following this diet.  I am simply being inspired by some of his words and points (valid points) that he brings up in the book.  There is no way on Earth I could survive off 3 smoothies a day for 5 days straight.

You see, on “The Body Reset Diet” there are three phases, I won’t go into too much detail because that’s why he is selling the book.  In the first varies phases you drink smoothies, eat snacks and walk.  Walking is the only exercise he recommends during phase one and well, that’s not me.  I enjoy my time at the gym.  I enjoy lifting weights.  I enjoy spinning.

And besides, diets don’t work.  Moderation works.

So why smoothies over juice.  Well, for one, my smoothies contain the calories of a meal with a balance of carbs, fat and protein.  All three of those components are necessary and vital to our health.  Juice contains one of those components – carbs (in the form of sugar, yes, natural sugar, but still sugar).  Juice is not a meal.  Secondly, when you juice, you remove all the GOOD stuff and it gets left behind to go into the trash or compost.  That “trash” is fiber.  Which is so, so, so important.  Most American’s don’t get the recommended 25 grams of fiber each day.  When you juice an apple, you’re left with just the juice.  But when you blend an apple, you get all the nutrients, including the fiber that’s find throughout the fruit and mostly in the skin.  Also, you can blend protein and fat.  You can’t juice protein and fat.

A typical smoothie for me includes a protein (almond milk with Greek yogurt or protein powder), carbs (apples, bananas, grapes, berries – pretty much any fruit you can think of) and fat (nut butters, flax, chia seed, avocado).  I also like to add green to my diet.  Up until this week, the green was spinach.  Spinach is tasteless.  I promise!  But I branched out this week and tried baby kale.  Love!  But I would recommend starting with the spinach.  Without one of those components it’s just not a complete meal.  Smoothies run you at about 300 to 350 calories.  So if I’m drinking smoothies, I am snacking more to make sure I’m getting enough calories.  Also, sometimes I’ll leave the fat out of the smoothie and eat that on the side.

Am I trying to lose weight?  No.  The number that appears on the scale doesn’t matter to me at all.  But I do feel lighter this week.  Is it something that I’ll do for the rest of time?  Nope.  I probably won’t drink a smoothie this weekend or over the honeymoon (but I will be drinking pina coladas).

So there you have it.  That’s why I’m drinking smoothies.  And that’s why I’m not drinking juice.