2015 Fall Reading List

I loved having a summer reading list so much that I thought I would make myself a fall reading list.  And even though I won’t be able to post-up poolside on a lounge chair with a fruity drink in hand now that summer is over, I can curl up on the couch with a cup of tea (or a big glass of red wine) and read for hours.

  1.  Who Do You Love? by Jennifer Weiner


An unforgettable story about true love, real life, and second chances…

Rachel Blum and Andy Landis are just eight years old when they meet one night in an ER waiting room. Born with a congenital heart defect, Rachel is a veteran of hospitals, and she’s intrigued by the boy who shows up alone with a broken arm. He tells her his name. She tells him a story. After Andy’s taken back to a doctor and Rachel’s sent back to her bed, they think they’ll never see each other again.

Rachel grows up in an affluent Florida suburb, the popular and protected daughter of two doting parents. Andy grows up poor in Philadelphia with a single mom and a rare talent for running.

Yet, over the next three decades, Andy and Rachel will meet again and again—linked by chance, history, and the memory of the first time they met, a night that changed the course of both of their lives.

2.  After You by Jojo Moyes 

(a sequel to one of the books I read this summer!)


When one story ends, another begins. The sequel to the beloved New York Times million-copy bestseller, Me Before You.
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .
For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

3.  Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave


There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide….

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets….

4. China Rich Girlfriend by Keven Kwan

(another sequel to a book I read this summer)


On the eve of her wedding to Nicholas Young, heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Asia, Rachel should be over the moon. She has a flawless Asscher-cut diamond from JAR, a wedding dress she loves more than anything found in the salons of Paris, and a fiancé willing to sacrifice his entire inheritance in order to marry her. But Rachel still mourns the fact that her birthfather, a man she never knew, won’t be able to walk her down the aisle. Until: a shocking revelation draws Rachel into a world of Shanghai splendor beyond anything she has ever imagined. Here we meet Carlton, a Ferrari-crashing bad boy known for Prince Harry-like antics; Colette, a celebrity girlfriend chased by fevered paparazzi; and the man Rachel has spent her entire life waiting to meet: her father. Meanwhile, Singapore’s It Girl, Astrid Leong, is shocked to discover that there is a downside to having a newly minted tech billionaire husband. A romp through Asia’s most exclusive clubs, auction houses, and estates, China Rich Girlfriend brings us into the elite circles of Mainland China, introducing a captivating cast of characters, and offering an inside glimpse at what it’s like to be gloriously, crazily, China-rich.

5. What Katie Ate on the Weekend by Katie Quinn Davies


The James Beard Award winner returns with a dazzlingly photographed collection of her favorite recipes for relaxed entertaining (American edition). 
Every month, Katie Quinn Davies’s award-winning blog, What Katie Ate, receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe, and her world-class photographs are adored by many of the most prominent names in food.
Davies’s acclaimed debut cookbook, What Katie Ate, won the 2013 James Beard Award for photography. In this superb follow-up, What Katie Ate on the Weekend, Davies focuses on her favorite simple dishes for weekend entertaining. More than a hundred delicious new recipes for flavor-packed pizzas and pastas, tapas, cocktails, and decadent desserts are included here, along with stories from Davies’s own dinner parties and Sunday brunches. Readers will learn how to minimize their time spent in the kitchen and maximize the enjoyment of delicious meals shared with friends and family.

What are you reading this fall?


2014 Summer Bucket List {check-in time}

My summer will unofficially end in two weeks.  It seems like the unofficially start of summer was just yesterday.  That means that I have two weeks to complete my 2014 Summer Bucket List.

This post is a check-in.  I need to know what exactly I have to accomplish before the end of August 29th.  Because once the Pirates kick-off on August 30th, my summer is over.

Use fresh herbs from the garden as much as possible, especially in cocktails.  CHECK!

I have been so good about using all the produce in the garden this year.  I have started to give away some tomatoes but I’m also eating them by the handful.  Hopefully our fall garden does well and I won’t have to say goodbye to homegrown produce just yet.  Look at my spinach growing (below) – I can’t wait to be able to make huge salads for lunch right from my backyard.

Read five books.  The One and Only by Emily Griffin is on the list.

I am almost finished with Save the Date and I know this will be finished before the weekend is over.  I’ve also read Wild, Fault in Our Stars and Ladies’ Night.  I better purchase The One and Only pretty fast since I only have two weeks left of summer.

Take a last minute weekend trip with Big Guy.  We’re not spontaneous enough in life. CHECK!

Probably the most fun item to check off the list.  I will never forget our weekend in Savannah.  In fact, it may be in the top 5 weekends ever.  It was amazing and exactly what we needed this summer.

Experiment with gin.  Because I can put cucumbers and mint in my drink with gin. CHECK!

I’ve tried a couple of recipes with gin and I’ve also ventured out and ordered a gin cocktail a few times this summer.  It’s so refreshing!

Make homemade ice cream.  Twice. CHECK!

Plan our next BIG vacation. 

This is currently in the works.  2015 is going to be amazing when it comes to us and traveling.

Enjoy cookouts gatherings with friends. CHECK!

We’ve enjoyed everything from double-dates to brunches to a girls weekend at the beach.  We even have a fun night planned with friends for tonight.  We have some of the best friends here and we always have a blast.

Make a trashy and/or gourmet hot dog and call it dinner.

This is totally happening on Sunday and I am more excited than should be allowed.

Plan a fun weekend with family at our house. CHECK!

While we never had a huge group at our house, we did manage to have my parents in town one weekend and then my sister another weekend.  We were also blessed to spend some time with family at OIB last month.


So here’s my to-do list for the next two weeks:


Finalize a few vacation plans for 2015.

Eat a hot dog.

That’s the most fun (and random) to-do list I’ve ever had.

What I’ve been reading lately.

Let me catch you up on some books I’ve recently finished.  And I promise lots of killer recipes coming your way – including one crock-pot dinner that’s will please anyone sitting at your table and a vegetarian soup/stew that Big Guy went crazy over.

I have to be honest – I’m not sure where I left off with my book recommendations so forgive me if I repeat myself.

Take an instantly recognizable social dilemma—attending a wedding alone—add a good laugh (and maybe a cry), and meet The Singles, the warm and witty debut by Boston Globe “Love Letters” columnist Meredith Goldstein.

Beth “Bee” Evans’s first vow as a bride is that everyone on her list be invited to bring a guest to her lavish, Chesapeake Bay nuptials. When Hannah, Vicki, Rob, Joe, and Nancy one by one decline Bee’s generous offer, the frustrated bride dubs them the “Singles,” adrift on her seating chart as well as in life.  –Amazon Book Description

I enjoyed reading this book.  It’s not in my “top 10” but it was an easy read and got me through a few steady cardio sessions at the gym.  I found myself getting some of the characters confused but overall, a good read.

What do you do when you’ve just graduated from college and aren’t sure what your next step should be? Jenna Weber, whose Eat, Live, Run blog has a huge following, turned to culinary school–but to become a food writer, not a chef. Jenna’s charming coming-of-age story follows her ups-and-downs as she confronts the rigors of training, gets her first job, deals with a family crisis, and enters into a love affair.
Amazon Book Description

I adored this book.  It took me 3 days to finish!  I’ve been following Jenna’s blog for years now and I simply love her style of writing and the recipes she shares with her readers.  This book is honest and not full of fluff.  I want to go to culinary school after reading her book.  The best part about reading this book – it doesn’t have to end once the book ends…you can keep up with her on the blog!

I’m currently trying to decide what book to read next!

I do have my eye on a book that comes out April 23th – it will definitely be a honeymoon read!  Which is fitting…

Lottie is still licking her wounds from a failed relationship when Ben, an old flame, calls and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at 30. She jumps at the chance, and after a quick march to the altar, they are Ikonos-bound, for a honeymoon on the sun-drenched Greek island where they first met years ago. But the Gods — and a few friends — are trying hard to save them from what they see as a catastrophic mistake.

Have you read any good books lately?

Finally Friday Favorites.

All week I’ve been one day ahead…meaning yesterday was supposed to be Friday in my mind, but it wasn’t.  But it is today!  Hurray.

Here are my favorites for the week:

Favorite Fake-out:  How cute are these sand dollar cookies on a bed of brown sugar?!?!?!

Favorite Beach Accessory:  Speaking of sand, I want need these wine glass and bottle holders.  Now if only I could get Big Guy over his hatred of sand…

Favorite Must-Read:  I love all things food-related.  So of course I’m a fan of Top Chef and want to read Gail Simmons biography.  I would love to be a professional eater.  Just sayin’.

Favorite Dog:  And I don’t even like animals…

Favorite Pizza Combo:  Butternut squash, sage, goat cheese, prosciutto. 

Favorite “Splash” of color:  leopard with bright yellow

Favorite Addition to Thanksgiving Dinner:  Pumpkin Pie Shot.

And on that “strong” note, I’m out.  HappyFridayGoPirates.


1.  Cold weather is coming.  Boohiss.

2.  I just finished reading One Day.  Now I need to see the movie.

3.  Speaking of movies, I really want to see Bridesmaids.  I’m determined to make this happen on Sunday.

  4.  Other things on the agenda for Sunday…carving pumpkins!

5.  Big Guy loves carving pumpkins.

6.  Big Guy also loves these muffins.  Sour Cream Chocolate Chip muffins. They were super simple to make.  According to Big Guy, they’re best when served warm.

7.  Speaking of treats, I think I’m going to make these for the tailgate tomorrow.

8.  More sweet talk…there’s a new fro-yo place in town!  I went with a few of the girls Wednesday night and had fro-yo for dinner.  Yum.

9.  See, we do more than “read” books and drink wine. 😉

10.  I just started Sarah’s Key. 

11.  HappyweekendgopiratesTGIF!!!!!!!!!


1.  It’s National Waffle Day.  Of course I celebrated.

2.  TJs Wheat-Free Waffles are my new favorite thing.  Waffles, you see, are my true breakfast love.  I like ’em crunchy on the outside.  And a plop of almond butter doesn’t hurt either.

3.  Did I mention it’s Friday?  Well it is.  And I have a date tonight.  And you’re not invited (well, you are Big Guy).

4.  The nutty noodles are even better leftover.  And cold.

5.  I started reading Hush last night.  I love it because it’s already got my attention and I want to keep reading but I hate it because there are typos left and right.  Where’s your editor?

6.  We’re “co-hosting” a paarrrr-taaaay on Saturday night.  Wanna get leid?

7.  I had a very disturbing dream last night.  Thankfully waffles make everything right in the world.

8.  29 days ’til Pirate football.

9.  Is Meat Head home from Aruba?

10.  Let’s get this party started.

picture from centurynovelty.com

Noodles and Books

Let’s talk food first.  (P.S. I almost called this post “Double O” because “noodle” and “book” both have “oo.”  Lord help me I’m random.)

Food.  Noodles with Asian Vegetables and Peanut Sauce.  

You’ll need bok choy.

I’ve never cooked with bok choy.  Well, until now.

Gather the rest of your veggies.  Snow peas and carrots.

Instead of Udon noodles, I used brown rice spaghetti pasta from TJs.  These noodles get 5 out of 5 stars.  They didn’t fall apart in the water and I loved the “chewy” texture once cooked.  Way to go, Joe. 

Now let’s get saucy.  Water, PB (I’m against reduced-fat PB, they take away good fat and add sugar – stick with the full-fat PB – or any nut butter for that matter), brown shhhhuga, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil (so fragrant!), cornstarch, chili paste and gaaaahhhhlic (I went with 3 cloves).

Simply whisk all of the saucy ingredients together, bring to a boil and whisk for one minute.  It thickens up, kids.

That’s it!  Add the sauce to the noodles and veggies and dinner is ready.  (Note:  I added the bok choy to the noddles during the last 30 seconds of boiling.)

Noodle Bowl.  A super sticky noodle bowl.  Deeeelicious.  And of course, my little toucan chop sticks.  Love those things.  They make eating fun.  Wait, eating is always fun.

Let’s talk books now.

I just finished this last week:


I love Jennifer Weiner’s books.  This one was no exception.  It was an easy read and kept me wanting to read more.  I found myself saying, “one more chapter and then stop” and then I would still be reading three chapters later.

Last night I finished this:

This cover of this book cracks me up.  In no way did I read this for political reasons.  I simply think Tina Fey is funny and I heard this book was a hoot.  And it is.  I was reading it while ellipticaling away a few mornings ago and I found myself laughing out loud.  “Absolutely delicious.” – a guy that eats books

I finished this book in about 4 days and if you need a laugh or two, I recommend this book.

Sooooo, what are you reading these days?

And I want a nook.