5 Books on My Reading List

Hey everyone! First of all I want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has reached out to me about my post this week. Sharing real and heavy things can be daunting but thankfully I have so many AMAZING people in my life who only encouraged me yesterday. You guys are the best and made me feel so surrounded with love. I know this season of life is temporary and that the Lord has a bigger plan for me. Just trying to see past the yucky stuff right now. Anyways, I always love to share about what I am reading and I have quite a few books on my "to read list." Here are my top 5 that I am super excited about.

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

get it here

This is the third book involving Jojo Moyes' character, Louisa Clark. I LOVED her in Me Before You and After You. She is quirky, funny, and utterly charming with all of her little faults. She seems like a real person whom you would want to be friends with. Who doesn't love that?? I'm sure by now most of you have read Me Before You or at least seen the movie. The next book is definitely worth a read but I am excited to see Louisa off on her own in New York. I will let you know how it goes! 
Amazon Synopsis: 

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life. 

As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you find the courage to follow your heart—wherever that may lead?

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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I know I am a little late to the game here because this came out in 2014 but Mark is OBSESSED with it and I have heard so many good things from friends. My girlfriend Ashley gave me the first two books so I am saving them for spring break. She says I will devour them so I am stoked! Here is the synopsis from Amazon:
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.
But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.
Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power.  He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine 

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I have heard that this book is sooo good! I can't wait to read this and it seems right up with my alley with all the twists and turns. I love a good thriller!
Amazon Synopsis:

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. 
To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.
Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces.
With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

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This has been on my "to read" list for awhile now and I am super excited to actually start reading it. I love historical fiction especially anything that has to do with WW I or II. I am really intrigued about the idea of a  female spy in the early 1900s and her role in the WW. This should be a good one! 
Amazon Synopsis:

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie's parents banish her to Europe to have her "little problem" taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she's recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy's nose. 
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth...no matter where it leads.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

get it here

Oh I am soooo excited to read Kristin Hannah's newest novel. I have loved pretty much everything she has written and I hope this one doesn't disappoint. This book is set in Alaska in the 70's which is so different from anything else I have read. I love how Hannah draws you into the characters and really makes you feel a connection, even if it's a situation you have never been in. I am super interested how she is going to develop a relationship between Ernt and Cora.

 If you haven't read The Nightingale or Firefly Lane by Hannah, go get them now! Both are so good!! 
Amazon Synopsis:

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. 
Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown. 
At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. 
But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves. 
In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

Stress is Stressing Me Out

I am coming to you real and raw today. I've had something on my mind this past week and just needed to get it out. So here we go!

One thing that I don't do very well is handle stress. I know this about myself and have made soooo many attempts to change this but then I go right back to my perfectionist/ need-it-to-be-a-certain-way tendencies. Why can't I focus on self care and do what I know is the BEST for myself? Why can't I focus that perfectionist tendency into helping me to be less stressed? It seems that this is the one area that my mind doesn't let me obsess over, or maybe I actually am obsessed over it ha?!

Recently, I have been reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and I have come to realize all the lies I feed myself that have to do with increasing my stress level. **If you haven't picked this book up yet, DO IT NOW!!!**
I will tell myself things like: 
Yep, staying up late to find the next best tech tool for my class will definitely be the thing that makes this school year better.
My life needs to look a certain way because otherwise people won't like me.
I need to stay after school to work on these lesson plans because that will make everything run smoothly.
I'll work out tomorrow because x, y, and z are more important today. 
Taking time to rest when the house is a mess is lazy.
I don't work hard enough, therefore that's why I am not where I want to be.
Or how about this one, I can't have a "balanced life" because things will start to crumble.

Am I the only one that has this kind of self talk? I know I can't be but we really don't say this stuff out loud enough. Thanks to social media we get to see the highlight reel of everyone's lives which is totally 100% accurate picture of what it's really like, right??? No! lol but still I manage to look at this stuff and feel like crap. I think okay, I'm not working hard enough or putting in enough effort into this area. This work harder, push harder, be better mentality is an addiction that I didn't realize I even had. Sure, do I want to be the best possible teacher I can be? Yes, I do! Do I want to advance in Rodan+ Fields and hit big goals?? Yep, take my name down for that goal too. The question is when did I stop caring about my emotional well being and focus on everything else first? I seriously don't know when this happened.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that striving to be your best is bad. I think having goals is an incredible motivator and who wants to be mediocre?? I think sometimes most of the time I choose things like working harder over things like getting enough sleep, working out regularly, and filling my time with things that bring me joy, etc.

Now I know there are those of you who are killing it in every area and I applaud you. That's awesome that you have figured out how to manage stress and balance life, I'm just not there yet. This is something I REALLY have to work at and think about on a daily basis.

So what am I doing to destress?

 I am giving myself permission to actually sit down when I get home and not start doing a bunch of stuff. I blame this habit on my mom. :) She never sits down and is always cleaning, cooking, folding something, etc. She is a woman on the go! Growing up, our house always looked great, there were home cooked meals, laundry done each week, and she was a full time teacher. I seriously don't know how she did it. I do think it caused her a lot of stress though and it has taken her years to put that energy into herself. Now she recognizes the importance of self-care and uses pilates as her outlet. I wish I had her dedication!

I am trying to be less critical of myself when things don't go as planned and just to realize that tomorrow is another day. I am trying to leave school at a decent time and remember that I need to have a work/ life balance. I have even committed myself to 31 days of physical activity whether that's at the gym or at my house. I will get some kind of workout in! I am hoping this will become a new habit.

So here is me making a commitment to myself to work on self-care and to not put myself last on the list of things that need attention. I especially need to remember this today because it was a doozy. Tomorrow is a new day though.

How can you tweak things in your life so stress doesn't consume you?

Five on Friday {Currently}

The weekend is *almost* here!! Hallelujah! It's been a doozy of a week because of losing an hour. It's crazy how that one hour can throw us off so much! Anyways, I thought I would catch you all up on some things I've been loving the past few weeks.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

buy it here

I just started listening to this audiobook and WOW it's so good! I was in tears within the first few minutes, but in a good way! Just inspiring and really hits home. If you haven't read it yet, go grab it on Amazon or download as an audiobook now. The author is actually the narrator of book, which I LOVE. Just trust me, you need this!

Peplum Love

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I am a huge fan of peplum shirts. They add a little something extra to an otherwise boring t-shirt but they also hide my midsection. Win win! I got the mint green version but I also loved this peachy-rust color as well. So comfortable too!


I have been making a consistent effort to work out 4-5x a week. I used to be so consistent but with all of our IUIs and fertility related stuff going on, it has made it tough. When I was doing the IUIs, I couldn't workout for 2 weeks a month. Then when I could work out again, I just couldn't get into a good routine. Then our move happened, a new job, blah blah blah... you know how it goes. I am really trying to push all those excuses aside and making time for working out. 

I recently joined the Belle Fitness & Nutrition online training group and I am really liking the workouts. They are simple to follow (which is a breath of fresh air) and can be completed at the gym or at home. This helps on those super busy days when I can't make it to the gym. Also, following along with the Precision Nutrition program, I have a better grasp on what I am putting into my body and how I should be fueling myself. Still a major work in progress but it's getting better!

New Duster

Buy it here

I have been looking for a lightweight duster to transition into spring weather... well if it ever warms up here lol. Anyways, I found this one at Nordstrom Rack and it is so comfy! I've already worn it a few times and love it! This is the plus size version but mine was just regular. I can't seem to find it linked online by the local Nordstrom Rack here had tons of sizes. 

New Podcast

This is for all my teacher friends out there. I recently started listening to a new podcast called the Google Teacher Tribe. It's by Matt Miller (the author of Ditch that Textbook) and Kasey Bell. First of all, if you haven't read Matt Miller's book... do it now! It's a game changer!  I really love their tips and tricks when it comes to the G Suite and I have already used a couple in my classroom. I have been listening to this nonstop and it's definitely worth looking into. 

Blue Apron Review

I finally decided to try Blue Apron a few weeks ago. I feel like I am the last person on the planet to try a meal delivery service but I always had my reservations. I decided to go with just two meals a week and I chose the 2-person option until I decided if we wanted to continue with the deliveries.  If you're unfamiliar with how this works, I'll give you the super quick version...

First, you set up an account and decide if you want 2 or 3 meals a week and if you want the 2-person option or the 4-person option. Next, you can select the meals that you would like to receive for that week. They have a picture and a description of the recipe. You can also set up the following weeks as well or decide to skip those.  Then they are delivered to your house on your selected date. They are all packaged in a box with an ice pack and individual items for each meal are packaged together. The recipes come with the box with step-by-step instructions and you are good to go!

Korean chicken tacos- these were sooo good!

Greek Chicken with orzo and Brussel sprouts. yum!

We've had four weeks of deliveries and here are my overall thoughts...


- The meals are delicious! We have LOVED everything we have tried except for the sweet potato chili. It wasn't bad, just not my favorite and I have no idea why I picked it lol.

- The variety of the food is great. I've made all kinds of things that I've never made before. The ingredients are unique and it has definitely expanded my horizons.

- The quality of the food is super good!

- It is sooo convenient to have all the ingredients together. I can't tell you how many times I've started cooking dinner to realize something has gone bad, I don't have enough of an ingredient, etc. With all the ingredients perfectly portioned and together in the box, it's so nice!

- It actually makes me excited to cook dinner during the week. I LOVE to cook but not on a work night.

 - The schedule is flexible so you can skip weeks if you need to.

- You can choose the meals you would like instead of something being automatically sent to you.


- The two person meals don't have enough food for leftovers the next day. When I cook, I normally make enough so I can have leftovers for lunch. It makes lunch so much easier for me.

- It's a little more than I would normally spend on making two meals.

- The portions seems small to me but I guess that also helps us eat the right amount. If Marks wants a second helping, there isn't any left :(

- The family plan has different menu items. I wanted to bump it up to the bigger portions for next week but the menu items are different and I didn't like the options. I know they change weekly so I will try this again another week. 

Overall, I really like Blue Apron and will continue ordering. Even though it's more than I would normally spend to make two meals, I feel like I am actually saving money. Sometimes last minute plans come up or the night is crazy busy and I don't want to cook... that food goes to waste unless I can find another night to cook it. I hate throwing food away but it happens every week. With Blue Apron, we are eating everything we cook and loving it too. It's a great way to try something new, plus you can keep all the recipe cards and remake the food on your own. I am planning to do that this week with the Sesame Glazed Chicken... so good!