Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Totally Read Tuesday- Escape for Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Last April while I was at the Texas Library Association's annual conference in San Antonio, I was lucky enough to briefly meet the author of this book at an event call the YART Texas Tea. It's kind of like speed dating for authors where you stay at a table and the authors rotate around and talk to each of the different tables. Mr. Grabenstein was very sweet and after he described his book, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, to those of us at the table, I was hooked. I downloaded it from my public libraries Overdrive a few days after we got back from the conference, and was not disappointed.
The common and probably overused comparison of this book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but in a library. That is a good comparison, but this book is great in its own right and doesn't need to be compared to Dahl's classic to draw people in. Mr. Lemoncello is a very wealthy game creator and he is reopening his hometown's library 10 years after it had been closed by the city. This library is state of the art and a total mystery to the whole town who are waiting for it to reopen. Mr. Lemoncello has an essay contest to choose a group of  students who will be the libraries first patron's and get to spend the whole night in the library. The students are soon caught up in all of the twists, turns, and surprises that Mr. Lemoncello has in store for them. The final surprise being the ultimate game, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library. The students must find clues and use their problem solving skills to figure out a way to leave the library, and have the chance to win some amazing prizes.

It's true that as a librarian I might be a bit biased, and I haven't met another librarian yet who read this book and didn't love it. Libraries have an image problem, with many incorrectly believing they are stuffy and quite spaces where only silent reading happens. This book shows the potential for libraries (even if they can't be as cool as Mr. Lemoncello's). It brings in all the best aspects of what libraries should represent to kids and shows readers how much fun libraries can be. I wanted to move in to Mr. Lemoncello's library, I wanted to be one of the characters going through clues and trying to figure out how to win the game. I think kids who read this will want to go to their local libraries and see all of the things they have to offer (unfortunately probably not animatronic animals, and a full service arcade). This book is appropriate for all ages and I think it could be a great read aloud book for kids 2nd grade and up. I actually bought this book for my 2nd grade niece and can't wait until she's old enough to read it herself because I know she'll love it. If you have kids in your life, or bibliophiles in general this is a great read.  Even if you are in your 40's with full grown kids, it will bring you back to the first time you read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The audiobook is also well read and was one of the few fiction audiobooks that I listened to last year. Use the rafflecopter below to enter to win your own paperback copy of this book. If you've read it then post below with your review. Happy Tuesday and Happy Reading!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

A Little Prep + An Awesome Friend =A Whole Lot of Food

I spend the majority of my Sundays in the kitchen prepping food for the week. I may make a batch of brown rice or oatmeal, cut up veggies, or cook up meats to use in lunches and dinners. I have found this has made coming up with healthy meals much easier since everything is ready throw together at dinner time. I read articles recently about spending a day making tons of crockpot meals and sharing the expense and the meals with friends. This seemed like a great idea, because we often have lots of leftovers and they don't always get eaten. It's also cost effective because you can split the expense of the groceries, which when you eat non processed and organic foods can be pretty pricey,

I have a friend who is also eating very cleanly who I thought would be game to giving this a try. I sent some recipes to her on Pinterest and we yeahed and neyed them until we found a few we could agree on. We looked at the ingredients and inventoried what we already had on hand and what we needed to buy. We ended up not choosing any crockpot meals but instead some stuff that didn't have long cooking times. She went to Whole Foods the night before to pick up the handful of ingredients we needed and also brought over some produce that she may not have been able to use before it went bad. We ended up making two complete meals, roasted butternut squash and homemade mashed potatoes. Here is the review of each dish and what we would change or add to each.

The mess, mid process
The first recipe we made was cauliflower chowder from Damn Delicious. The only part of the recipe we changed was not adding carrots because I didn't realize I was out until we started cooking. Recipe wise it was easy to follow, but there was a decent amount of prep work chopping the veggies (especially the cauliflower, thanks for that Z). Once it was finished we decided that it was too chunky the way the recipe called for so we used the emulsion mixer and turned it into more of a potato soup consistency. Flavor wise purely following the recipe it was bland, not bad just nothing special. However some smoked salt and a bit more pepper and it was much tastier. I would make it again, especially when cauliflower comes in season, and portion wise this recipe makes A LOT of soup.

Second we made Zucchini Noodles with Cilantro Lime Chicken from iFoodReal.com. This was a very simple recipe as well as long as you had a veggie spiralizer (I love mine, they have a ton on Amazon but this is the one I have.). You can cut the strips yourself, but that would add a great deal of time to the process and these are a relatively inexpensive kitchen gadget so I think they are worth the purchase. Recipe wise we did not add in any hot peppers and we cooked the chicken at medium low instead of high. This is a great tasting recipe, very flavorful and light. I plan on taking my portions for lunch the next two days and I bet they'll be awesome.

She had some potatoes on the verge of going bad that we boiled down and used the emulsion mixer, milk, and butter to turn into mashed potatoes. She plans on using these in a shepard's pie recipe later this week (I'll probably have mine as a side dish with chicken). I recommended this recipe from Ditch the Wheat replacing the sweet potatoes with mashed potatoes. I just made this the other day and it was a huge hit with everyone. We also roasted some butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and I'll be eating my portion with one of my lunches this week.
Soup finished, chicken cooking, potatoes boiling
This was a great experience for us. The cooking went by very quickly and it was awesome to have someone to prep with. We got plenty of food and only had to buy a few ingredients to bring everything together. It helps that we eat similar diets, though it did take a bit of back and forth to find recipes that we both thought looked good. We will definitely try this again in the future, possibly making meat bagels (but maybe not). I would so recommend trying this with a friend, it makes the cooking and prep time go by so much faster and it was a great experience all the way around.
Mashed potatoes and chowder ready to portion out
Everything all divided out ready to go

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Disappointment with a Dash of Perspective

Yesterday was the last day of my cleanse, I was thrilled to be done and couldn't wait for my morning cup of coffee. I'll be honest, I was about 95% compliant with the rules of the cleanse, my portions were small, my food was clean, and I drank A LOT of water. I took the supplements, drank the fiber drink, and only cheated with a few tastes of some of the food I cooked for the kids. I stayed off of the scale the whole time, even though every morning I felt like it was staring at me waiting for me to step on. Waiting for me to pass judgement on myself because of the numbers on the screen. I truly was expecting a few pounds, would have been thrilled with 4-5 pounds but happy with 3-4 pounds. When I stepped on the scale this morning this was the number staring back at me.

10 days of eating healthy, following the rules, taking the supplements and I only dropped 1.2 pounds. I was so disappointed. I was frustrated and angry. Those emotions exacerbated by a hectic morning and a less than compliant 21 months old. I almost cried. I struggled with the reality that the point of the cleanse wasn't to lose weight, it was to reset from bad eating and build healthy eating habits. I had done that. I felt better, I was less tired, less sluggish, and my pants fit better. The cleanse was a success in all aspects except the number on the scale. Just another instance where I let that number change how I felt and let it take away all of the good I had done.

Here is what I know in my head. Weight fluctuates, especially for women all month. Muscle is more dense than fat, so weight lifting will invariably make moving the number down the scale harder. Once you are only a few pounds from goal weight, those pounds are incredibly hard to shed. I know all of this in my rational brain, but it's not my rational brain that is tearing me down for only losing a pound and a half. It's the emotional, self conscious and critical part of my brain that is making me feel like all of that work wasn't worth it. That part of my brain is loud and unrelenting, that part of my brain wants me to fail because eating poorly and not exercising is so much easier (and tastier). It's easier not to go to the gym, not to meal prep, not to care what foods you eat, but I've done that. I've spent my 20's that way and I wasn't happy with how I felt, looked, lived. I have an amazing life and I am blessed in uncountable ways but seeing that is hard when you don't like what's looking back at you in the mirror.

I've spent a lot of today trying to give myself perspective, trying to be realistic about my goals and intentions. I've spent much of my life so far disliking what I looked like, most of which I tied to my weight. If I was thinner I'd be happy was a constant mantra for me, but experience has taught me that that's not true. My body issues aren't going to disappear when I fit into my goal jeans, and honestly I'm not sure yet what steps I'm going to take to work on them. What I do know is that I'm a goal oriented person and I have made improved body image my 2015 goal. It's not just about losing weight, it's about finally accepting the reflection in the mirror flaws and all and being OK with it. I've spent 31 years beating myself down, I want to spend a year trying to build myself up into a healthier and more confident me. I'm not sure of all the steps yet but I'm ready to take the first one by sharing this all with you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Totally Read Tuesday-Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

What I read can vary greatly content and I typically have multiple books going at once, mixed between audiobook, e-book, and physical book. I had Eleanor and Park recommended to me by a fellow librarian and I had heard a few students talking about how much they liked it, so I moved it to my To Read list. A few days later I saw that it was available in audio book through my public libraries Overdrive account. I tend to shy away from fiction books on audio because the narrator can sometimes ruin a story for me (A Wrinkle in Time, I'm looking at you) but I decided to try it anyway. I figured if I didn't like the narrator, I would just get on the hold list for the book copy at my library. I enjoyed the narrators and was glad they had a male and a female read the book instead of using one reader for all of the parts. This is one of my favorite fiction audio books so if you are an audio book fan I would recommend the format.

This book is set in the 1986 in Omaha, Nebraska (Rowell's hometown). The story is told in dual perspective going between Park, a half Vietnamese half Caucasian boy who has lived in the neighborhood all his life, Eleanor is a quite red head who shows up on Park's bus one morning, out of place from the moment her foot hit the bus step. Park reluctantly allows her to sit with him on the bus and that decision sets the rest of the story in motion. Eleanor is transitioning to living with her mother and stepfather again after being kick out of the house for over a year due to an incident with her stepfather. Eleanor's family life is terrible and school isn't much better but slowly she begins to form a relationship with Park as they bond over comic books and mixed tapes. Eleanor has major issues with her stepfather, mother, school bullies, and even her siblings but Park seems to be the one thing holding her together.

This book is for the 14+ crowd, it has cursing, sexual references, and incidents of child and domestic abuse. This book can be raw and gritty but it is an amazingly wonderful portrayal of a character stuck in her circumstances without a whole lot of hope. You feel for Eleanor, you want to save her, you want to have her come live with you, you want to punch her stepfather in the face. I haven't felt this emotionally attached to a book character in a long time. Rowell is a wordsmith, her writing seems simple but it holds so much weight, it moves you in unexpected ways and makes you want more. She also wrote another YA book called Fangirl and adult fiction books Landline and Attachments, I loved Fangirl and Landline and am on a waitlist for Attachments from the library. I would recommend this book to adults and teens alike without hesitation, as long as they understood that there would be the aforementioned cursing, sexual reference, and uncomfortable topics discussed. It's realistic and sometime reality, even reality set in the 1980's, isn't always pretty.

Because I love this book so much I am having a contest to give away a paperback copy of Eleanor and Park from Amazon.com. Use the Rafflecopter app below and enter to win a free copy, which I will have shipped directly to you when the contest is over.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Marvelous Macaroni Casserole and the Idiot Who Made It

One of the blogs I give huge credit to starting me on the road to better eating is called 100 Days of Real Food. She is a mom from South Carolina who started changing her family's eating habits, cutting out processed foods, cooking at home more, eating out less, and blogging about the process. She came out with a fantastic cookbook this fall and I have made many of her recipes and haven't been disappointed with one yet. I was perusing the book on Friday and saw a macaroni casserole recipe that sounded amazing, and slightly different from any homemade macaroni I had ever made before. I have failed a few attempts at homemade macaroni and cheese, mostly in the process of melting the cheese and instead burning it, so I am always hesitant of recipes where whisking milk and melting cheese is required. I decided to give it a chance, only then remembering after I had promised to make it that I in fact couldn't eat it due to my cleanse (On day 8 today, still can't wait for coffee and dark chocolate). I am an idiot because I made it anyway torturing myself in the process, but at least I had something to write about.

This particular recipe is directly from the cookbook and not on her website (which has tons of great recipes too). I take no credit for the recipe or the instructions but I will tell you the slight changes I made to it.

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup diced onion (I used yellow onion)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
2 cups of milk (I used 2%)
1 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used Colby because it's what I had already shredded)
1 1/2 cups of dry pasta cooked according to package directions (I used elbow macaroni, but any tube type pasta should work)
1 cup add-in veggies (I used leftover ham spiral ham cut in small pieces, but you can use broccoli, peas, carrots, chicken, whatever sounds good to you)
1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (I used Panko)

1. Preheat the oven to 450F

2. In large saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.

3. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and garlic and whisk continuously until the flour mixture begins to brown. Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to boil (This seemed to take awhile for me but I didn't want to turn up the heat for fear of burning it). Lower the heat to light simmer and cook until milk thickens, whisking occasionally,

4. Turn off the heat and whisk in salt, pepper, sour cream, and cheese. Add the noodles (make sure they are cooked, I didn't mess this up but I can see how someone could) and any add ins you've planned to add and stir until well coated. Don't worry if it seems like to much sauce, the noodles will absorb this while it's baking.

5. Transfer the mixture to a 8 or 9 inch baking dish, sprinkle the breadcrumbs, and bake for 14-15 minutes or until bread crumbs are brown on top. Serve warm.
After adding milk and flour

In goes the pasta and the ham

Breadcrumbs added and oven ready

Done and dinner ready
This was delicious! I allowed myself a very small portion so I could try it and it took an amazing amount of self control to stop. It was cheesy, creamy, with just a touch of sour cream flavor. The breadcrumbs gave it a bit of crunch and the ham just tasted fantastic mixed in with all of the cheese flavors. You definitely could add your own flare to this one, adding veggies or hot dogs (I recommend the Applegate Farms ones, no fillers and very few ingredients) or even just changing the type of cheese you use. Everyone in the family loved it, though the 5 year old complained about the onions (but she always does, and you could probably leaves them out). Between everyone, we had about half of this left, which I divided into two lunch portions for the husband and a small lunch portion for my daughter. I will make this again, especially when I can enjoy a slightly larger portion. This dish will make it into my dinner rotation list, though not super often, even though it's all real food ingredients it's still very high in calories (a definite sometimes food).

This cookbook is worth buying, I use it on at least a weekly basis and it has a permanent home in my kitchen. The price varies on Amazon.com but its around $22 ($20.37 right now for a hardback and 14.44 on Kindle). It's an Amazon bestseller and has fantastic Amazon and Goodreads ratings. Real Food can be still be comfort food and this dish definitely qualifies as both. I think you will love this dish and 100 Days of Real Food as well.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hack for Oatmeal Lovers, Sorry Trader Joe's

One of the habits I have tried to get into is food prepping when I have some free time in the evenings or on weekends. It has made life so much easier having food ready to go in the fridge and freezer. Any time I can I cook up extra chicken breasts, soup, or oatmeal I do and this totally speeds up my lunch packing and dinner prep. A while ago I got into steel cut oats, which I'll admit took some getting used to. I was raised on Quaker Oats quick oats and rarely ate oatmeal that didn't come in a paper pouch, so the consistency and (lack of) flavor was an adjustment. On a trip to Trader Joe's I saw they had steel cut oats in the frozen section in pre-portioned pucks.  Just throw them in the microwave, add in some honey and cinnamon and you've got breakfast. The problem was for 4 pucks (I think it was 4) it was over 4 dollars. I can get steel cut oats at Sprouts for .99 a pound regular price so there was no reason to pay that much for frozen oatmeal. I had a light bulb go off that I could make those myself. A few days later I make a big pot of oatmeal, put the oatmeal in my silicon muffin tins and put them in the freezer. This worked perfectly and I haven't bought oatmeal from Trader Joe's since.
Out of the pot and into the tins
Start by cooking up one cup of oats to 4 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and stir occasionally. It takes between 15-25 minutes depending on the burner setting, let it cool and spoon it in to the muffin tins. This amount fills up 9 muffin spaces. I put the muffin tins into the freezer and freeze until solid. Then I pop them out and put them in a gallon freezer bag. These pucks have around 66 calories a piece and I usually eat two for a big portion of oatmeal. I add in honey and cinnamon most of the time, but sometimes I like to use jam or mixed berries. I add in about a quarter cup of water or almond milk when I'm reheating. Normally it takes around 2.5 to 3 minutes to warm up when I'm doing a double portion but it depends a lot on the microwave you use. I also normally stop the microwave and stir halfway through. Throw these in your lunchbox for breakfast or lunch and you're set. I'm pretty sure this will work with regular muffin tins, but I'll be honest I have only ever made them in my silicon muffin tins so I can't guarantee how easy popping them out will be. These are easy, cheap, and healthy and there are very few foods that fit that bill. If you try this let me know how it goes? How do you eat your steel cut oats?

Frozen pucks, ready to eat

Double portion, ready for the microwave
Breakfast is served

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ham, Apple & Sweet Potato Scramble- Not as Sweet as it Sounds

Between trying to eat unprocessed foods, eat within my 10 day cleanse restrictions (God, I miss coffee) and trying to please the whole family I have been struggling. I have felt like a short order cook this week, feeding the rest of the family one thing and eating something else myself. I pinned the Ham, Apple & Sweet Potato Scramble a few weeks ago when I was hunting Paleo friendly dinners and it sounded really simple and tasty. A few ingredients and you have a healthy low-carb brunchy type dinner. The original recipe is from Paleo Newbie.
Spices all set
  • Ingredients:
  • 1/2 lb ham steak, chopped into cubes
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/4" to 1/2" thick cubes
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 4 eggs, scrambled
  • coconut oil, for sautéeing
  • Spices
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

I altered the recipe a bit, I used leftover spiral ham I had from Christmas instead of ham steak, I also was lacking allspice in the spice mix but I crossed me fingers wouldn't matter much (in the end I don't think it did). Of course I didn't notice that cayenne pepper was an included spice until I was already starting. I assumed 1/4 teaspoon wouldn't be that big of a deal, but you know what happens when you assume (more on that in a bit).
Sweet Potatoes and Onions Sauteing 
The onions cooked up much faster than the sweet potatoes did, so I wasn't sure why the recipe had the onions going in first. I would switch the order to give the potatoes more time to cook. They said to leave the two together for about 5 minutes but I probably did almost ten because the potatoes still seemed kind of raw.
Ham, Apples, and Spices Added
The instructions on the website don't pin point how long these should cook, just until the apples and potatoes are tender. As this was cooking I added around 4 tablespoons of water, I just thought it needed a little moisture added in and I think it was a good call. Once I tasted all of this together, I was unhappily surprised by how hot the cayenne pepper had made the dish One taste and I knew my daughter wasn't going to eat this. She thinks pepperoni on pizza is too spicy, so I knew this wouldn't fly. I don't think the pepper really added much to the overall flavor, it just seemed to make it hot.
All mixed up and ready to serve
The eggs are cooked separately and then added in to the rest of the mix (I used 4 regular eggs and about 1/4 cup liquid eggs whites), so I ended up saving some of the eggs and feeding the kids plain eggs and toast. I did make my daughter try some and her reaction was downing the rest of her grape juice and fanning her tongue for a few minutes (she may have been being a bit over dramatic). The husband was a trooper (he doesn't really care for sweet potatoes) and said he thought it was OK and agreed that the pepper didn't really help the flavor. 
Plated and Looking Pretty
I did like this, and plan on eating the leftovers for breakfast the next few days (since I obviously won't be fighting anyone over it). That being said I would definitely change it up if I made it again. I would take the pepper out entirely and I would have pre-steamed the sweet potatoes a bit before I put them in the pan. In this recipe the end up have the consistency of cooked carrots and I like my sweet potatoes to be a bit softer. I liked the sweetness from the apples, but most of that was drown out by the heat of the cayenne. This would be a great healthy brunch dish, and if you like heat keeping the original recipe would work, but I think it would be better without it. I think the flavors of the cinnamon and the apples would really stand out if they weren't being drown out by all of the heat. I would put this in the moderate win category but personally I think it needs some tweaks. If you make this let me know what you think? Was it too hot for you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sometimes You Just Need a Reset Button

One of the hardest ideas to get out of your head when you've lost a good bit of weight, especially when you are weight lifting, is that the number on the scale isn't a be all end all. That number has made me crazy my entire adolescent and adult life. That number has owned me, defined me (at least in my own head), and crushed me. I whittled away at it, and it got smaller only to grow again after I got married, had baby #1 and then later baby #2. I saw that number as a part of me, like a scarlet letter, I felt like everyone could see. Then I decided to show that number to the world (or at least to anyone who read this blog) over a year ago. It was scary and I hated it. I felt naked and exposed, but I knew that if I was going to change my mindset, I had to do something that made me uncomfortable.

I slowly over time worked on not letting that number have power over me, and in the last 22 months the number is smaller than it was in middle school, and guess what? That number still has power over me, just not everyday. I'm not going to tell you I don't check the scale, because I do. I check it and I get unhappy when it doesn't move down, but I'm working on it. Everyday I am working on it. Working to walk past the scale without stepping on. Working on letting how I feel in my skin and in my jeans tell me how I'm doing. There are days I fail and days I succeed and I'm OK with that. I am a constant work in progress and I'm OK with that too.

After Christmas and my birthday this year I felt sluggish and stuck. I hadn't been a total glutton over the holidays, but I hadn't been great either. I have worked hard to cut out most processed foods, so consuming them again during the holiday even in smaller amounts really drug me down. A blogger I follow Mama Laughlin (she's fantastic, you should check her out) has done this Advocare 10 day cleanse before and she said it had been a great reset button for her, and sometimes you just need a reset button. What I liked most about this was I can eat actual food the whole time. No processed sugars, no processed foods, no coffee (not in love with this part) but I can have REAL food. Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats are all allowed. Add in a fiber drink on a few days and some supplements and you're good to go. I felt like this was a plan I could handle, especially for 10 days. It's not cheap to get the whole kit, but I've paid more for things I didn't need so I decided to invest some money in myself and my health this month. I'll give an official update a few days in, but so far (day 2.5) it hasn't been bad. The biggest struggle is mental. Knowing you can't have sweets, makes you crave them. Knowing you shouldn't eat off the kids dinner plates makes you want to. I'm fighting the mental roadblocks for sure, but they are just roadblocks (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

So to begin my cleanse, both physically and emotionally I have vowed to not step on the scale for the next ten days. That will be a pretty big accomplishment for me, but I think I can do it. Here is what my scale said when I stepped on it yesterday morning, and I haven't looked again since (at least up until the time I'm posting this.) Don't let your number define you, don't let it beat you, you are more than the total weight of your parts. I'll keep reminding you if you keep reminding me.

Totally Read Tuesday

If anyone was unaware, I am a high school librarian. This of course means not only am I pretty awesome and that I read an awful lot. This also means I read mostly books aimed at a young adult audience. I love YA books, YA authors, and the idea of books being about the teenage experience (whether realistic or not). All this being said, I am also a lover of non-fiction titles not aimed at teenagers. I usually try to have a non-fiction audio book mixed in with my normal YA titles. I came across one late this fall that I absolutely fell in love with, so much so that I told my sister that she had to read it as well (and she did an loved it to). The book is called All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox on Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior.

This book is not a traditional parenting book, Senior does not spend her time telling you all the best ways to raise intelligent, respectful, well-adjusted kids. Instead she examines the stress, agony, and sometimes feelings of hopelessness parents go through trying to raise smart, respectful, well-adjusted kids. She breaks down all the stages of parenting from newborns to an almost empty nest and uses research and anecdotal stories to explain why we can feel so stressed about being parents in the modern age. Parenthood is hard, and modern society's expectations can make it seem like you are always failing no matter what you do. It's almost as if during the book you can feel a hand on your shoulder and a voice saying "See, you're not alone. Other people feel this way too." 

I talked about this book with my husband as I was listening and we had some really great discussions including a very lively one about divisions of labor in marriage i.e. why I get so frustrated that he doesn't multitask like I do. More than once while listening to this book I thought, "Man, I think she is writing about me, this is exactly how I feel." As my husband can attest, I rarely rate books 5 stars on Goodreads but this was a solid 5 stars for me. I enjoyed it immensely, it was probably my favorite non-fiction read of 2014. If you have kids, are planning on having kids, or want to understand your friends who have kids, this is a great read. Also the audio-book is well done and is narrated by the author which I enjoyed, so if you are an audio-book person this is a well done title.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I'm Back, This Time I Hope for Good

So I wish I had an amazing story of why this blog has lain dormant for the last year and a few months. Maybe I've been off traveling the world, experiencing amazing things, and just too busy to keep up. Maybe I've been living in a tiny house in the middle of the forest with no WiFi connection (definitely not!). But no, the reason isn't something cool, amazing, or even incredibly interesting. I just got overwhelmed with life, with two kids, with a full-time away from home job, with a million to-do's that never seemed to get done. I  missed writing everyday, missed sharing the ups and downs of my cooking, exercise, and general life adventures, I just couldn't seem to get my head out of my behind, sit down and write. Hopefully that has changed today, hopefully I have turned a new leaf (maybe a whole tree).

A lot has changed and a lot is still the same. The kids got bigger, smarter, and ever more frustrating. I gave up running and picked up weight lifting and haven't looked back. I started a one women real food movement in my house to mostly negative reviews, but I'm SLOWLY wearing them down one whole grain at a time. I've read books I loved and books I can't believe ever made it to print. I grew another year older but hopefully wiser (and a few pounds smaller) and I have come to a better understanding of modern life for a working mom (it's tough!). I'm still married to my wonderful husband, I still have a love/hate relationship with my body, and I still love trying new things I find on Pinterest.

So why today? I'm not really sure,  I guess it would have made more sense on the 1st of January but I've never been much for cliche so I guess the 12th of January will have to do. I woke up this morning with the idea in my head that I would resurrect the blog. I told myself if I could just start typing everything would fall into place, so here I am tap tap tapping at my keyboard, hoping my words are falling into place. I plan on sharing all my upcoming adventures (two conferences I am so excited about, a new weight lifting plan, more attempts at ridding my home of processed foods, etc.) I hope people out there follow along, I'm excited to hear from anyone willing to read.

I plan on another post later today about my first new adventure for the year, but I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pictures from the past few months. Happy Monday!
The family takes Epcot
Mommy/Evan selfie on New Years

Progress made since May 2013