What Are You Reading?

I love having a stack of good books in my to-be-read-next pile.  Having just plowed through a bunch of good ones recently (novels/memoirs: Unmarriagable, Inheritance, Becoming, and YA reads: No Fixed Address, The War That Saved My Life, and Nowhere Boy).

I'd love any recommendations!  What was the last great book you read?


Friday Fun

What are you up to this weekend?  We had such a gorgeous week of bluebird days and sunny cloudless skies.  There was a dash of rain today but it was barely a blip.  Loving this kickoff to Spring.

+ I've been enjoying this funny show on Netflix, which kind of makes me feel like an old lady, but I don't care (I love the dynamic between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda)

+ just finished this captivating YA tween read (this one is also excellent!)

+ Holi is underway, take a look at these vibrant colors!

+ landmark legislation attempting to ban toxic chemicals in cosmetics was just introduced in California (this bill would ban asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and 17 orther toxic chemicals in cosmetics). 

+ this post makes me want to visit Seaside, Florida

+ check out this phonetic map of the human mouth, so interesting!

+ want to try my hand a focaccia, Samin Nosrat makes it look so easy on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat


Audiobook Switch

Ever since having kids, I have a renewed interest in the audiobook.  I probably hadn't listened to a legit audiobook since my family took our annual summer road trips to rural Oregon when we were kids, bulky set of audio cassettes in tow.  However, these days, audiobooks are significantly easier to obtain, borrow, and buy, with the added luxury that bulky CDs and listening accessories are no longer necessary.  
For a while, I did the audible route.  You've likely heard of audible as they've dominated the audiobook market until recently.  After a few months, I grew weary of the high cost per book and began looking into other audiobook options that were A). both more affordable and B). supported small businesses in my local community.  

Enter - libro.fm.  Have you heard of them?  I hadn't either, but they're brilliant!  Libro.fm is your independent bookstore for digital audiobooks.  The same, easy, downloadable audiobooks you know and love fo cheaper AND Libro.fm works with independent bookstores to create co-branded audiobook storefronts.  When signing up, you select a bookstore in your local/preferred community, which will received earnings with each book sale. Basically, your audiobook listening benefits small bookstores in your local community.  Audible for sure doesn't do that!  Plus, to sign up today use the code "SWITCH" to get 3 audiobooks for the price of one. 
Here are a few of my recent favorites - and note, I'm a stickler for a good narrator.  I've been known to return many a book where the narrator did not fully capture my attention.

+ A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Educated by Tara Westover

+ Inheritance by Dani Shapiro

+ Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

+ Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

+ Becoming by Michelle Obama

+ At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

+ Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

+ Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

+ Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

And - for kids' books, there's also an enormous library!  My recommendation, Matilda by Roald Dahl (narrated by Kate Winslet).

So, there you go!  You ready to make the #audiobookswitch to libro.fm?

Dinner Last Night: Chicken Apple Wraps

This is a quick, easy, throw together dinner that makes for excellent leftovers!  I omitted the mint (since I didn't have any), raisins (because yuck!) and curry powder (mostly because I simply forgot) and added sliced almonds and I think it was even better than the original recipe.  I also used fresh mango instead of mango salsa which gave it a refreshing kick, highly recommend doing that as well.  Al in all, it was a crowd pleaser, even if my children deconstructed the entire salad and ate each component individually.  Oh well!


Lovely Little Reads

It's been a while since I've mentioned my children's book blog and instagram on this site, so wanted to fill you in about this project I've been working on. 

As a former 1st and 2nd grade teacher, currently on sabbatical for a few years while I stay home with my young kids, one thing I miss most from my teaching days is the reading and sharing of children's books.  Hence, I created my own page to share my favorites, brief synopses, and links so you can check out these books on your own.  I hope you'll follow along!

Weeknight Baking: Banana Bread

We are big fans of snack bread in our home.  Pumpkin bread. Banana bread.  Cinnamon toast.  Basically all the gluten.  My usually go-to is this scrumptious double chocolate banana bread a la Smitten Kitchen, but I figured my kids should have some recognition of banana bread that isn't a deep chocolate brown from the added cocoa powder.  I found this recipe via a quick google search and it yielded tasty results.  I used 1/2 cup of coconut sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar because mentally I convince myself I'm being "healthy" by doing this.  Whatever works, right?  Well it was delicious, and we've already torn half of the loaf in a few short hours.  Perhaps we'll save a sliver for my dear husband when he comes home.  Or not...

Cookbook Crush: Pull Up a Chair

I really don't need to pine over another cookbook.  But this one, Pull Up A Chair...it's just too delightful to resist.  Perhaps it was her lovable Kelly Capowski alter ego from the Saved by the Bell glory days, but Tiffani Thiessen seems like a much more relatable, dare I saw "normal" celebrity turned cookbook author.   She just doesn't seem to take herself too seriously in the vein that Gwyneth many others tend to do.  

Her recipes are reasonable, inventive but not too complicated, and at first glance, I felt like I'd make more than I wouldn't.   the sound of most.  A few that popped out at me; nectarine caprese salad, pickle and potato salad, and samosa hand pies with apple chutney (which I did make, and it was delicious).

Anyway, it's worth a perusal at the least. Bon appetit!

2018 Goals Recap

Well, here we are again.  2019 is 3 months in, and I'm just recapping my 2018 goals now.  I guess it's a slight improvement on last year, where I didn't get around to documenting until June - halfway through the year!

Here were my goals and how I did...

1. start journaling again 
I started journaling, but not super frequently, however a start is a start, amiright?

2. get outside as often as possible 
Yes, we have improved significantly on getting outside, regardless of weather (rain, shine, sun, and snow)

3. make cinnamon bread (my daughter has been asking to make this since we read this favorite book) 
I'm embarrassed to say we haven't done this yet...

4. paint my nails more often 
Yes, I do.  However, I often "forget" and write a note in my planner that says "paint nails tonight."  Is this a sign of getting old?

5. celebrate the little things 
YES!  With a few acquaintances getting some life changing news this year, I'm definitely striving to celebrate the little things and not sweat the small stuff

6. work out at least 3-4 days a week 
Yes and no. I have done better at exercising, some running, mostly cardio at home, but I find I do this in spurts.  A great stretch for 30 days and then I take time off, and then another 2 months, and then time off.  Need to improve on consistency

7. make smarter eating choices (avoid the sugar) 
Trying, not always succeeding.  Weekly meal planning and avoiding shopping while hungry certainly helps.

8. try and limit checking my email/social media to time before my kids are awake / rest time / after bedtime (i.e. avoid being on my phone in front of my kids) 
Yes, I implemented the new screen time limits on iPhone on my phone, so I get warnings when I'm approaching my daily time limit and have to ask for permission to extend the deadline. 

9. cut myself some slack (underlined three times)
I try...always a work in progress.

10. get a new instagram account for the blog up and running
Yes, come follow along over at @our_lovely_little_life

11. read 70 books (my current goal on Goodreads)
You guys...I was soooo close!  68/70 for 2018.  Which, if I do say myself is pretty damn good.  That's more than 1 book per week.  Favorites included A Place for Us, Educated, This is How It Always Is, and Where the Crawdads Sing.

12. save $--- for my destination travel fund, always inspired by this blog
We have saved, would like to save more...

Yes, I had a very productive last few months of 2018.

14. make montage videos for my kids' birthdays
Still working on it.  

15. try more savory (international) options for breakfast (getting sick of boring ol' granola over here)
We do a lot of sausage + hash browns; yogurt, granola, and honey, and baked oatmeal these day, so widening our palette, though most days they prefer Rice Krispies (go figure)

16. make pita bread from scratch for this favorite dinner which we always have in rotation 
I didn't make pita bread, but I did make a flat bread for a lamb flatbread recipe in Tasting Paris, I'll call that a win.

17. sub a few times this year (getting back in the swing of teaching, as I miss it so)
I did.  Admittedly only twice, but hey, better than nothing!  My hat is back in the ring!

18. enjoy every little moment. stop. look. listen. breathe.
Yes.  Always working on this one.  

Stay tuned for 2019 goals, coming soon!