Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Monthly Reflections | December

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of December? #currently



Oh, December. You are so fired. From a family Christmas party disaster to contracting the flu from one of my brothers, you left this hormonal and emotional gal in an exhausted puddle of tears. It would be easy to focus on all the negative that this month held, but it would be better to remember the positive. Like an encouraging text message one of my brothers sent me on Christmas night, thanking me for cooking the family meal after it was taken for granted by others. Or my nephew hugging me after I invited him to help me make a batch of playdough. Or getting lots of puppy snuggles at a time when I so miss my own fuzzy critters. The bad list was long. The good list is longer.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 42

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up at one of the local Christmas tree farms, not because we need one, but because the place looks and smells like a winter wonderland with all the evergreen and twinkle lights and the light snow that's falling. First, we'd stop off at the little beverage shed and order their famous hot chocolates, then tote of steaming drinks through the rows of live trees.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

What I Read | November

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



November was a strange month for my bookshelf. I didn't get much reading done because I was preparing for our family Thanksgiving holiday - cleaning house and cooking for twenty people on my own. In addition to having only a few books to read, I received half a dozen nonfiction books from publishers, most of them cookbooks and workbooks that needed to be reviewed. Is it cheating to count those types of books in your reading challenge total? I'd love to hear your thoughts down below.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Monthly Reflections | November

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of November? #currently



November was a month of big changes and making adjustments. It was a month of accepting some hard truths and speaking up for myself. It was a month of holding on tight but letting go of what I can't control. It was the month in which I turned forty. Physically, it didn't feel different, but mentally, I'm realizing how much space there is between who I am and who I used to be. Between who I am and who I want to be. I'm finally understanding why they call life a journey. It never ends until it does.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 41

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

I'd invite you over for a low-key date that involved a variety of flavored coffee pods and tea bags and a box of those store-bought donuts. You know, the ones with the powdered sugar on them. Even though I'm fighting a cold, I wouldn't want to miss out on my opportunity to chat with you before the holidays are in full swing. We'd plop down on the couch and probably turn on a Christmas movie to play in the background. Maybe White Christmas, which is one of my favorites.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

What I Read | October

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



October was a very productive reading month, mainly because I wasn't able to do much else but spend a lot of time in bed, devouring books. (The only plus to having a chronic illness is all the reading time I get when I'm down.) It was also quite a mixed bag between great books and terrible ones. Overall, I read twenty-one in all, and that includes four five-star reads and four titles that I had to abandon. That second one is an all-time record for me. I'm finally starting to embrace the idea that I don't have to finish a book that I don't enjoy.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 152

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful

A friend of mine was joking around on Facebook the other day and telling a story about how her young daughter exclaimed in excitement, "Mom, it's the month of the feast!" All I could think was, "I feel ya, girlie." Thanksgiving is this foodie's favorite holiday. I start planning months in advance and for the last several years, have done 90% of the cooking for a group of twenty-five or more. I love it. But aside from this holiday, November has already been a feast for the senses.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Monthly Reflections | October

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of October? #currently



I think I understand what Sleeping Beauty must have felt when she woke up and saw that the world around her had changed so much from what she last remembered. October was a hard month. After receiving disappointing news from my doctor and having to change up my medication again, my body went into a full-blown flare. I was sleeping 20 hours a day, suffered from brain fog, chronic pain, and lost most function in my arms and hands from inflammation. Then I came down with bronchitis. I slept for what felt like weeks because that's all I had the energy or willpower to do.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Five Things | What I Love About Autumn

Five things I love about autumn. #autumn #fivethings



If there was one word I had to use to sum up how I feel about the autumnal season, it would be this. Home. It would be the smell of wood smoke coming from the neighbor’s chimney, and the feel of soft flannel shirts or warm sheets. It would be that feeling I get when I watch the trees rolling up their sleeves as they release all the beauty that had been bestowed upon them in the spring and summer seasons, casting a magic spell to turn what was green into the most beautiful palette of warmth.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 40

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up at the local pumpkin patch because they have the best apple cider around, and as soon as we pull up, their bakery draws us in with the aroma of cinnamon, and clove, and baked fall goodies. I'd ponder over whether to order the mulled cider or get a cup of it chilled and decide on the latter because it's still so warm outside. We'd take our drinks and climb aboard the hay wagon that ran tours around the ten-acre farm property and made frequent stops at the actual pumpkin field, dropping patrons off and picking them up on the next circle 'round.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 151

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



With the drop of temperature in this change to cooler, more somber weather, so seems to have dropped the spirits of so many people I love. Depression is running rampant in my little circle, and I feel the heaviness of it even though I'm not battling it myself. It's one of the first years in recent history that I'm doing okay, that the daily steps I take are seeming to pay off, but so comes a new task of sitting in the thick of it with my people.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

What I Read | September

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



If there was one thing that I got out of September's reading, it was the reaffirmation of my policy on not finishing books if I'm not into them. Even if everyone else enjoyed them. Even if you got them for free from a publisher. Some books are just not meant for us, or are not meant for us in this particular time. That was the case with a few reads this month.

By the 15th, I was so bummed about my reading luck, I intentionally chose two of my all-time favorites to lift my spirits. I'm curious, what is your policy on abandoning books? Do you tough them out? Have a specified amount of pages you have to read before you ditch them? Deal with book guilt?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Monthly Reflections | September

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of September? #currently



There comes a time in every girl's life when she starts wearing jeans, cozy sweaters, and boots even if fall weather hasn't officially shown up. It is that time. So many of my Instagram friends are boycotting the residual summer heat by donning autumn attire. I stand with them. Thankfully, I woke up this morning to downright chilly and rainy vibes. Perfect for writing. I pressed play on my favorite Spotify list, brewed a big mug of tea, lit a candle, and am getting to work. Happy Monday and hope you have a lovely October.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Five Things | Why Music is the Great Connector

Five thoughts about music and why it is the great connector. #fivethings



Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent. Victor Hugo

From the beginning of time, music has played a central role in human existence. Every civilization dating back to prehistoric times has used some form of music to communicate, to celebrate, and to mourn. Music is heavily influenced by all aspects of a culture and it, in turn, weaves back in to impact the very culture that bore it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 39

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet at Starbucks and I'd order a pumpkin spice latte. Yeah, I know... I'm allowing myself to have one this fall, as a treat in celebration of the new season. While we were standing in line for our drinks, I'd confess that I'm not a big fan of the sugary beverages that become so popular. I have the type of personality who will outrightly reject anything that is trendy, solely based on principle, and I'm okay with that. I'd rather enjoy my tea and let everyone deal with the blood sugar crashes.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Chicken Parmesan Casserole (Slow Cooker)

My family-favorite chicken Parmesan casserole. #recipe


A few months ago, I had volunteered to cook a meal for my large family and just as I pulled out my ingredients, I found out I had a big work project that had to be completed that day. I knew I needed to prepare something that would be quick with minimal fuss, but still, a meal that everyone would enjoy. Italian food is always a favorite around here, and I knew I could pull something simple out of my hat. Little did I know that it would be one of my family's new favorite dishes and when I blogged about it later that week, so many people asked for the recipe!

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

What I Read | August

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



August was probably the perfect month for books. THREE five-star reads in one month is usually unheard of for me. Plus I had four four-star books. I had been struggling all summer long to find good books and ran into so many terrible ones, but this month made up for all the bad ones,  tenfold. If there was a God of books, they certainly made the stars align for me in the last few weeks. Keep scrolling to see what I read this month.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Monthly Reflections | August

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of August? #currently



I always begin these posts with some platitude about how quickly these months go by, and while that's true, I feel like I made the most of my time in August. I did as much work internally as I did externally and am starting to feel settled and happy in a season that my depression typically hits a peak. Maybe that's because I'm so ready for autumn to begin. Or maybe I'm just finally allowing myself to be at peace with the decisions I've made that brought me to this moment. Who knows? If you're reading this, I hope you've had a wonderful month.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What I Learned | Summer 2019

Today I'm sharing the lessons I learned this summer. #whatilearned



Summer is nearly over and autumn is just around the bend. As we lean into a new season, it's the perfect time to reflect on the last few months and the lessons we've learned, both big and small. Once again, I'm joining Emily Freeman in sharing a few things I've learned this summer. Like most seasons, it's been one full of ups and downs as well as many opportunities to explore new ideas and stretch my mind a little further.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 38

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up at this little cafe that has the best chai tea lattes around. We'd take our drink orders out to the wrought iron patio tables nestled under stone-colored umbrellas because it is gorgeous outside today. We are finally beginning to transition from the long humid days to a more enjoyable climate, and the warm breeze is too good to pass up.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

What I Read | July

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



It was bound to happen. I've had so many good book months this year, it was only a matter of time before that record would come crashing down and I'd get a whole month of stinkers. I can't say they were all bad. I did find one of my new favorite middle-grade authors and an awesome book of poetry that was so relatable, I screenshot so many pages and sent them to a friend I knew would feel them as deeply as I did.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Monthly Reflections | July

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of July? #currently

When you witness compassion through the eyes of a child, it can leave you at a loss for words. My niece, who is terrified of all insects, overheard me telling my nephew that I rescued five bugs from drowning in the swimming pool one day. Later that afternoon, I watched as she silently picked up the leaf skimmer and immediately dove in to rescue a bumblebee who had landed in the middle of the pool. A little after that, one of our resident eastern tiger swallowtails landed on its back in the water. She rescued him too, gently placing him on the deck railing in the shade where he could dry off and recover.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Everything Changes

Will you resist change or roll with it? #change #essays #livingwell



"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it." - Alan Watts

Friday, July 12, 2019

My Favorite Books of 2019 | January to June

A list of the books that rocked my world in the first half of 2019. #books #amreading



On January 1st, 2019, I set out on a goal to read 150 books in the next twelve months, most of them to be filled in the reading challenges I participate every year. At 88 books already checked off, I am well on my way to conquering this goal and then some. According to Goodreads, I'm ten books ahead of schedule! Woo!

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 37

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates #linkup



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up in the little community garden in the center of town, a place that has stone pathways lined with a rainbow assortment of delphinium, lupine, larkspur, cosmos, and coneflowers. We'd find a shady spot on the grass under one of the big willow trees and spread a blanket on the ground. From my bag, I'd pull out the thermos full of frosty lemonade and two cups, along with a little something for you, carefully packaged in a paper bag. You'd peek inside and find a few of my homemade mini fruit tarts - two each of apple, mixed berry, and peach. You'd select one for us to split and we'd settle in for our chat.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

What I Read | June

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



It's a great month when none of my Goodreads ratings rank below three stars. As if that weren't impressive, I had FOUR five-star books in June. That is unheard of for me, but there are so many great books out there and they all happened to find me this month. All in all, I read nineteen books in June. Keep scrolling to see what I read!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Monthly Reflections | June

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of June? #currently



The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is now past us and I'm having mixed feelings. I'm a little sad because it feels like the days will get darker, earlier, from here on out. Even though the season just began, I already feel like summer is winding down and I haven't had a chance to do any of the summer things yet. On the other hand, I am a little closer to autumn, which is my favorite season. How do you deal with post-solstice blues? Do you even get them?

Monday, June 24, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 150

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



"We are all inextricably connected - we all have strength and we all have struggle. We all need and we all give." - Brené Brown

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 36

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up for brunch at my favorite restaurant situated on a lake in the next city over. The entire outdoor seating area is a big deck overlooking the water and we'd choose a table so that we could see the ducks nesting under a nearby willow tree. I'd order a blackberry bellini and a plate of french toast with all the fruit on top.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 149

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



Begin each day with a grateful heart...

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

What I Read | May

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



It's been a GREAT month for books. I spent a lot of time in bed reading due to some health issues, but I'm not sorry about it at all. Twice over the last four weeks, all of my library holds came in within days of each other, and I already had the maximum allowance of books checked out. Luckily, I was able to fly through so many of these and snatch those holds before I would have been required to forfeit them. I read twenty-three books in total, so this is going to be a longer post than I've written in a while. Keep scrolling to see what I read!

Monday, June 03, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 148

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as a means of escape. - Bell Hooks

Friday, May 31, 2019

Monthly Reflections | May

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of May? #currently



The shades are drawn, keeping the light low. The LOTR soundtrack is quietly playing in the corner. Yoga routines have turned more into stretching my compressed spine and meditations are running a little longer than usual. My water jug is being filled twice a day and I'm eating what my body craves. I'm learning to give myself grace when willpower isn't cooperating and my body feels like crumbling. Some months are better than others. May was not one of them.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 147

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



The last few weeks have been full. I've been preparing for a packed summer work schedule, getting ready for my family trip to the beach, helping my bestie with his across-the-country home search, and cooking for lots of family gatherings, which includes our weekly Sunday dinner together. This time has also been a lesson in balance, as I've had to work through some more health complications (I'm okay - just adjusting to new med doses) and have prioritized self-care so I can keep myself in shape to maintain this wacky schedule

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 35

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet at my place, brew our favorite beverages at the kitchen Keurig, and then take them and a plate of pastries outside to the table on the deck. After two weeks of rain, the skies have finally cleared and the temperature is rising to what we should be having in May, and although it's not quite warm enough to open the pool, the mountain is springing forth with the bright colors of the season and I am here for it all.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

What I Read | April

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



It was a great month for books. Not only did I get a lot of reading done, but I managed to check off quite a few selections from my publisher TBR. Let's be real - I've fallen really behind on the ones I'd signed up to review, so I was glad to get caught up. I've got some exciting book launches coming up in the next few months, so stay tuned for those both here and over on Goodreads.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 146

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



Good morning, friends. I usually write this post on Sunday afternoon or evening, but as I'm typing these words, the clock just struck 2:30 in the morning. Yes, I've been known to keep some crazy work hours, but today, I can thank that burst of energy that comes from doing something so productive, it completely puts your soul at ease.

Friday, May 03, 2019

For the Love of Notebooks

Thoughts on intentional notebook collecting (from a self-admitted notebook hoarder) #intentionalliving #livingwell



"Officially starting a List Makers Anonymous group. Who loves well-crafted notebooks and the perfect pen?" Three years ago, I shared this post on Instagram and since then, my notebook collection has only grown. Confession: I have a slight notebook addiction. There is nothing more pleasing to my soul than opening the cover and seeing a fresh, blank sheet of paper and all the possibility that it brings.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Monthly Reflections | April

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of April? #currently



Giant bowls of pasta salad. Standing room only in the kitchen. Four generations gathered around one table. Pastel eggs peeking from bunches of daffodils in the garden. Holding in surprises for a full month. Not a single soul spilling the secret. The smile on a face that finally realized he doesn't have to be ashamed of his past. Lots of chilly, rainy days. An abundance of tears. So many opportunities to learn and grow. I am grateful for all the moments that April brought.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 145

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



Happy Monday. Hope you are starting a productive week and find lots of things to be grateful for!

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 34

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up on the walking path that goes around my local lake. The weather is warm and breezy today, so we would be able to enjoy a nice walk with our coffees. I'd take you around the long way so we could go past the dam and see where the old lakehouse stood before it burned down years ago, and I'd tell you about all the fun I had growing up there.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

What I Read | March

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



New month, new books and there were some great ones this time. Before we get to them, I want to know if you set a Goodreads reading challenge goal this year. If so, how are you doing with it after the first quarter? Have you committed to join any other reading challenges this year? 

Monday, April 01, 2019

Simple Gratitude | 144

I'm sharing my #gratefulheart on the blog. What are you grateful for today? #gratitude #feelingthankful



It's been a LONG time since I've written one of these posts and my heart feels it. I do keep a daily gratitude journal, but I always enjoy sharing a few things that blessed my life every week and hearing what's been blessing yours. My favorite thing about writing here on the blog is the wonderful community of people who come by to read what I have to say, and the gratitude posts are by far one of the most loved.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Monthly Reflections | March

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of March? #currently



Let yourself be the person you've secretly always wanted to be.

They say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. While the weather hasn't exactly followed that prescription this year, my personal life certainly did. It started out hectic and was lacking direction. Then I stepped back and remembered my word for the year. Since I started looking at things from a different perspective, the second half of the month has been a lot more intentional, measured, and peaceful. How was your March?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Things That Scare Me

The ten things that scare me and using fear to navigate life. #fear



Fear is a powerful and primitive emotion that we all experience throughout our lives. Often times, it drives us to make drastic changes in our lives to avoid having to face the things that we fear. A few months ago, a writer I greatly respect - Kacy Boccumini - shared a list of ten things that scared her. I was inspired to write a list of my own, but after pondering on and researching the topic, I wanted to dig a little deeper.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 33

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up at my place and settle down on the sofa next to the fire since the outside air still has a bit of a chill to it. I'd have some hot cocoa in my favorite mug that I like to call "Chip," because there is a little crack on the rim and it reminds me of Chip from Beauty and the Beast. I might even toss a blanket over my lap and plop a few marshmallows into my mug, all in the spirit of being extra cozy.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

What I Read | February

A look back at what I read last month. #ASGbookshelf #whatIread



Another month down and a few more books checked off my TBR. I didn't get to as many as I would have preferred, but I'm making progress on this little shelf of mine. One thing I've noticed over the last few months of reading is that my expectations for books are rising and therefore, I'm getting stingy with my willingness to give four or five stars. I'm turning into one of those "get off my lawn" readers and I'm okay with that. There are hundreds of new books published every month and I am here to be wowed. Luckily, there were a few such books below.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

What I Learned | Winter 2019

Today I'm sharing the lessons I learned this winter. #whatilearned



After skipping last quarter's post, I've returned and am joining Emily Freeman in sharing the lessons I learned this season. It certainly has been an interesting winter. I took some time away from social media and the hustle of the internet and spent it all with myself, listening and learning about who I really am. I've taken a few big chances - something that scares me - and have made some decisions about what I want my life to look like in five years. This has been a season of settling in and learning about the girl I've been hiding for so long.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Monthly Reflections | February

Wrapping up the month and sharing what I've been up to in life and on the blog. What is your favorite moment of February? #currently



It's been pretty quiet around here these days. I'm hoping to change that soon, but my brain has not wanted to cooperate with my intentions to be productive. February has been a snowy month. We've had a couple smaller storms and one large one. That was my favorite. I spent the whole day riding around in a Jeep, having a blast. It's days like those that remind me to let loose and enjoy the little moments, the laughter, the double hand squeezes. More of this, please.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

If You and I Had Coffee | vol 32

Join me for a conversation over coffee? #coffeedates



If you and I had coffee...

We'd meet up at the local donut shop for a Valentine's Day treat and a cup of something warm. I'd order my favorite - a Boston creme, because I can't resist the custard filling and chocolate glaze - and a green tea with a squeeze of lemon. We'd pull up a couple of chairs to the bar window station, and fully savor our pastries.