Good Things Friday (v.6)

1. Videos from Sean Hayes (forever Just Jack to me!) that crack me up. I love everything about these: his attitude, his smile, his near laughter.

2. It’s Friday. A silly thing to be happy about, but this week was long and weird and exhausting and I’m just glad it’s done.

3. Baseball is back! This means I get to see more of my favorite pitcher, Wainwright, both on the mound and being silly in the dugout: earlier this week he did a little ballet move. It was pretty awesome and adorable!

4. Reading a book that I love (The Girl Who Chased the Moon). In fact, I love everything by Sarah Addison-Allen; if I could live in one of her novels I most definitely would.

5. Car dancing on my way home from work because lately the music has been on point (or should I say fleek?) with lots of throwbacks to my college days.

6. Taking lunch to a new momma friend, lots of good girl talk and holding a baby. A win all around.

7. Texts that make me laugh out loud from a faraway friend.

What’s on your Good Things Friday list today? 

Review: Little Beach Street Bakery

You know how sometimes the perfect book shows up right when you need it? That’s how I felt about the timing of me reading Little Beach Street Bakery: I needed this story, every single word on every single page. It was at once a light and lovely and whimsical story and also a story of overcoming the odds, perseverance, believing in yourself and dealing with loss. I couldn’t put this story down, reading it in just three nights.

I loved Polly and her knack for baking (warning: this story may have you grabbing fresh baked bread or a cupcake or two as you read it), her attachment to a puffin named Neal, the town of Cornwall, the closeness of the community and everyone she encounters along the way.

I loved the reminder that we don’t always know the full story- why the lady who works at the corner store is grumpy, or why the fisherman commit themselves to a life at sea instead of at home with their wife and children, or the reason a dude from Savannah, GA comes all the way to Cornwall to make honey. It’s a reminder that everyone has a story, a cross to bear, things they are sorting through. It’s a reminder to be a little kinder, listen a little harder, love a little bit more.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in this series to see what’s next for Polly.

Little Beach Street BakeryAbout Little Beach Street Bakery

• Paperback: 448 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 31, 2015)

In the bestselling tradition of Jojo Moyes and Jennifer Weiner, Jenny Colgan’s moving, funny, and unforgettable novel tells the story of a heartbroken young woman who turns a new page in her life . . . by becoming a baker in the town of Cornwall

A quiet seaside resort. An abandoned shop. A small flat. This is what awaits Polly Waterford when she arrives at the Cornish coast, fleeing a ruined relationship.

To keep her mind off her troubles, Polly throws herself into her favorite hobby: making bread. But her relaxing weekend diversion quickly develops into a passion. As she pours her emotions into kneading and pounding the dough, each loaf becomes better than the last. Soon, Polly is working her magic with nuts and seeds, chocolate and sugar, and the local honey—courtesy of a handsome beekeeper. Packed with laughter and emotion, Little Beach Street Bakery is the story of how one woman discovered bright new life where she least expected—a heartwarming, mouthwatering modern-day Chocolat that has already become a massive international bestseller.

Includes 7 Recipes!

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Purchase Links

Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

About Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan is Scottish born and bred, born in Ayrshire in 1972, but currently lives and works in London. After graduating from Edinburgh University, Jenny worked for six years in the health service whist moonlighting as a cartoonist and doing stand-up in the outer fringes of London’s comedy circuit.

Find out more about Jenny at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you read any of Jenny Colgan’s other stories? What’s the fastest you’ve ever read a book (hours, nights, etc.)? 

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for the purposes of my review; all opinions are my own.

Adulting

You know you’re an adult when…

* You geek out over the monthly budget spreadsheet that you keep and even more so when you are able to make a change in a monthly payment (i.e.: lower electric bill, deleting a payment completely from the sheet, etc).

* The topic of refinancing provides an easy 30 minutes of conversation at dinner with your friends.

* Two glasses of wine + dinner at 5:30pm with friends is your idea of a fun Saturday night. Bonus if it includes an impromptu stop for ice cream and PJ’s on by 9:30pm.

* You and your spouse/significant other/roommate have a weekly schedule synching/planning talk about who has what & when, what’s for dinner, and exercise planning, too.

* Receiving an email that one of the digital books you requested from your library is *finally* in for you to download and read. You then stay up too late reading aforementioned book and simultaneously regret and yet not regret it the next morning at work.

* You have a serious conversation at least once a month on any of the following topics: retirement planning; what’s next in your career; parenting; other ways to save money; dream trips that you hope to take in the next few years.

* Home improvements like a new roof or new windows makes you happy. Same goes for things like getting your oil changed, renewing your license plate early or any other number of auto things.

What’s on your list of “you know when you’re an adult when…”?

Good Things Friday (v5)

You know the drill by now. Let’s jump into the good things for this week, shall we?

* Attending our first parenting class on Love & Logic. It’s hard having the girls only in the summer since their usual home life is night and day different than ours. For the most part, Knight and I do well but sometimes, like most parents, we get frustrated, attempt to reason with the kidlets and commit other silly parenting faux pas. I’m already in love with this framework and am anxious/excited to try out these new methods. I’m working on incorporating some of the phrases and approaches now (Love and Logic can work in situations besides parenting), too. It’s refreshing to connect with other parents, get insight from the experts and to learn new things!

* Online Buy/Sell/Trade Groups may be my new favorite thing ever. It’s a great way to sell/ditch things that are still full of life and use, just not in our household. It’s also a great way to find things for the kidlets that we may need, without shelling out brand new prices. It’s still a bit strange since there is all sorts of lingo and abbreviations and a lot of it relies on the honesty and goodness of people but so far, so good.

* Lots of thunderstorms this week. I love rain so this is no surprise it’s on the list.

* Scoring a few big deals at work.

* Apart from one week of this summer (hoping for a Groupon, if not I’ll bite the bullet and pay full price), I have all camp sign-ups and payments completed for the bonus kidlets. This is huge!

* A fun-filled + low-key weekend: dinner with friends tonight and tomorrow; some time set aside for just me and the hubs and that’s all I know so far.

* Hanging out with one of my new momma friends on Monday afternoon for a bit; it was just the two of us & her baby girl. Time with my friends is good for my soul and I can’t wait to do it again!

* Managing to fit in workouts (even if that means doubling up!) this week, powering through & sweating it out. (Bonus for being sore, finding new muscles to work and loving every second of it!)

What’s on your list of Good Things this week? 

Work it Out: Legs & Buns

A few weeks back I wrote about my cardio workouts and promised to write about my leg & bun workouts that I incorporate into my week.

* I work a combination of these workouts in three to four times a week, depending on the week, my soreness and my mood (sometimes I love to shred my buns to the point it hurts to sit down!)

* Some of these work outs are not hard or no big deal when you do them as standalone, but if you string two to three workouts together, trust me, your buns and quads will be burning during the workout and the next day.

* I do wind up getting in leg workouts with my cardio routines as they inevitably include jump squats and lunges, tuck jumps and burpees, mountain climbers and toe jumps. These workouts are more focused and more… killer!

My favorite workouts:

Printable at Home Leg Workout, I do this entire circuit twice (so a total of 4 reps for each workout. For the lunges I do 4 reps each leg). I couple this workout with a 10 minute-ish bun workout (do the entire thing twice) and just for fun, I add this 15 minute-ish Sexy Leg Workout.

The 10-lb. Slim Down Leg Circuits: your pick of a 22 minute version  or a 41 minute version. If I do the 22 minute version, I add in the Adriana Lima leg workout because there’s something like frog squats and falling towers that really make it burn (and worth it).

BeFit Team workouts. Each of these videos is 20 minutes in-length and when I do them together, well, OUCH! (Fat Burning Abs & Legs +  Leg, Thigh & Butt Workout.)

Other workouts that I add-on, depending on my day and the mood: any of the celebrity focused XHIT Workouts: Miley Cryus, Jennifer Lawrence or Beyonce. They sound ridiculous but like I said, string them together and you’ll be pleased with the results!

My rear is more firm & is sitting higher, I have the desired “Butt indent,” on the side, and my thighs are both slimmer and more contoured. It’s a constant work-in-progress but I’m going to stick with it.

What’s your favorite leg/bun workout? 

Good Things Good Friday (v4)

Happy Good Friday y’all (or to those of you who celebrate)!

* The new Lip Sync Battle show on Spike TV. You can’t beat a classic Lip Sync with all sorts of celebrities, LL Cool J as the MC, and catchy music. It’s full of happy, silly and lots of fun and is a great way to kick-off the almost weekend. (It airs on Thursday night at 10/9c.)

* I”m working a half-day today! Plans include lunch with my boys (Dad and Knight), visiting a new momma friend, and my hardest workout of the week (30 minute Tabata for cardio & legs + Tabata for arms and abs).

* The last few days we have had lots of rain and thunderstorms, my favorite! Such a treat to hear thunder after a seemingly long winter.

* A few weeks ago, Knight upgraded our thermostat to the Ecobee with room sensors. You guys, I don’t normally geek out over these kinds of home improvements but this one rocks. In the last week our heat has gone on a total of four times thanks to this system sensing what rooms we are in, the outdoor temp, our habits, and averaging out all of that data. The system is supposed to save us 23% on our heating/cooling bills per year. I’m loving it so far and look forward to seeing the savings on our bills.

What are your good things on this Good Friday? 

 

 

 

On March & Intentions

It’s the end of yet another month and once again I find myself saying “where did the time go?”. That phrase seems to be uttered more and more frequently as I get older….

This past month it was fairly easy to tell where the time went: two of my dear friends had babies (one boy, one girl) so Knight and I were busy taking food to the new parents, holding babies and making sure our friends didn’t feel too alone during those first few weeks. I also celebrated one of my high school BFFs at her bachelorette party and bridal shower, both of which were superbly planned and a lot of fun. It’s so clear how in love she is with her future husband, and he with her; I can’t wait for the wedding over Memorial Day weekend. This friend also asked me to be a reader in her wedding which is a honor I’ve yet to have bestowed upon me; I’m taking it very seriously and have asked for the reading so I can practice. (I may be searching for the perfect dress to wear to the wedding, too.) A three-day weekend with my handsome husband which was full of everything and nothing all at once. He makes me laugh and smile, we work together so well and I just love having time with just him (a rarity these days between crazy work & working out schedules, lots of weekend plans and etc.) March saw a lot of highs for me because there is something about new life and celebrating love that can’t make you too sad, but there were a few lows.

Celebrating my mom’s birthday without her which really isn’t much of a celebration at all and more of a weep fest. Getting really teary-eyed meeting the two new babies and realizing if Knight and I walk down that path together, my momma won’t be here to see it, to hold the baby, to throw my shower. Just writing that sentence makes me cry. Finding out a couple close to us is getting a divorce. Finding out someone close to my family has cancer.

As one of my dear blog friends, San of the In Between is Mine, said last month in my February recap, my recaps are about what life is: full of highs and lows. So true!

The close of this month also means that we are at the end of the first quarter of the year which has no significance to me other than the fact that it’s been three months of me working on my intentions.

Intention #1, to walk 10-15 miles a week on the Treadclimber: I accomplished this by mid-February and then decided to switch it up. I’m doing cardio 3-4 times a week with strength built in and then strength only several times a week. (I blogged about my current Cardio loves last week and will be talking legs & buns later this week.) I’m averaging 6 days of working out a week and I L.O.V.E it. I’m feeling strong, toned and sexier (well, most days).

Intention #2: Read 62 books. Don’t think this will be a problem as I’m at 23 for the year. Reading is one of my escapes and coping mechanisms (more on that later) so there is no shortage of reading in my world right now.

Intention #3: Take a real lunch hour one to two times a week. Big. Fat. Fail. I’ve done it maybe two or three times a month? I prefer to eat at my desk and leave at 4pm rather than take a lunch hour for myself but I need to change this, I know I do. It’s better for my productivity, focus and it is just a nice break. Needs improvement for sure!

Intention #4: Get back to journaling. Score of 50% on this one. Right now my one-sentence-a-day journaling is sporadic at best so I need to step it up.

Intention #5: Take no crap? Yup, I’m doing really well with this one. I’ve untangled myself from a few sticky situations and I have to say, I love it. Life is too short to be in situations that make you unhappy, make you feel uncomfortable or repeatedly hurt you.

Intention #6: No TV two nights a week. I think we’ve been doing this about 75% of the time. Each time we do it, Knight and I realize how much we have to talk about and how quiet the house is. We love it!

The other hopes I have (crafting, t-shirt quilts) haven’t happened yet but I think by the fall they will. I’m also happy to report that Knight and I have made sure to have a few date days/nights a month. I’m always amazed at how much fun I have with my husband, how he never bores me and how I just love being with him (I know, totally cheese-fest here right now). Overall I’m pleased with my progress, most especially my dedication to working out which has always been one of my favorite stress relievers.

How was your March? How are your New Year’s goals/intentions shaping up? 

Children’s Book Review: Horse Valley Adventures

The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully DonkeyThe countdown to when my bonus daughter’s will be with us for the summer is on so, in my true to bookworm self, I’ve been looking for new children’s books to share with them that I know they will be able to relate to.

Enter the Horse Valley Adventure books, written by Liana-Melissa Allen, a young author.

The fist book in the series, The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey is a spin on the classic tale of the Three Little Pigs. Jack, Lax and Max, the three little horses, are brothers who find themselves without a home. As they go about trying to find a new location, building materials and etc. for their house, they encounter the Big Bully Donkey who takes it upon himself to thwart their new-home efforts. This book teaches great values and morals about never giving up, dealing with a bully and it includes great illustrations by Allen herself! This story would lend itself to read-aloud sessions to younger children and for kids who are at a first grade and higher reading level. Parents reading this book will get a kick out of the illustrations as Allen makes them a bit comical at times!

The second book in the series, Donkey’s Kite, Jack, Lax, Max and Donkey are back for a kite flying adventure. Now that the Three Horses are friends with Donkey (thanks to the first book), they decide to go on a picnic and fly kites. Donkey is quickly disappointed when is kite doesn’t work like everyone else’s does. Through friendship and teamwork, kindness and lending a helping hand, (and thanks in part to a goose named Gusty), Donkey's KiteDonkey is able to fly his kite and the three little horses learn an important lesson about being selfless., Donkey is able to fly his kite and enjoy the day with his friends. The second book by Allen incorporates more morals and values, presented in a fun and colorful way that is sure to engross children. The illustrations in this book are more colorful and vibrant that perfectly complement the story.

I love that these books are written and illustrated by a young author; sends a great message to kids who want to write, draw, and be creative!

Book Description for The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey (Book 1):

A tale (based on the “Three Little Pigs”) about three little horse brothers who suddenly lose their house that is destroyed by a fire. The young horses are totally alone and thrust into the reality of having to depend on themselves and each other against a bully donkey, who wanders the forest wrecking homes and bullying the other animals. This warm-hearted tale promotes strong values and has a fun premise. Written and humorously illustrated in vivid color throughout by Liana-Melissa Allen, the story is a proven winner for reading aloud to children.

Book Description for Donkey’s Kite (Book 2):

The three horses Jack, Max, Lax and their friend Donkey are back!

In Horse Valley, it’s a perfect day to go kite flying. Jack, Max, Lax, and Donkey decide to get creative by putting together their own homemade kites. However, Donkey’s kite doesn’t work. No matter how hard he tries to get it to fly, it just keeps tumbling to the ground. How will poor Donkey get his kite to fly? A friendly goose named Gusty is delighted to help him out.

In this Horse Valley Adventure, Donkey learns not to give up when all seems hopeless. The friends all learn a lesson about helping others and true friendship.

Author’s Bio:

Liana-Melissa Allen is a young author and illustrator of children’s books and books for youth. She has written, illustrated and published six books. Her most recent one is the colorfully illustrated children’s book “Donkey’s Kite”, the second book of “A Horse Valley Adventure” series. The first was “The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey”. The lovable cartoon characters, Max, Lax, Jack and Donkey makes them a favorite of first and second grade students. She is now working on her third book of “A Horse Valley Adventure”.

The magical world of fantasy has inspired Liana’s imagination since as long as she can remember. Part of this was fueled by her dad reading aloud to her every day when she was younger. As a result, reading is her primary passion along with music. These two passions feed her imagination into stories and drawings, which she joyously sketches out into storyboards for a potential book.

Liana-Melissa is also a dedicated classical/jazz pianist, and mostly enjoys older music, especially from the big band era and the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s. While playing the piano, her imagination often leads to a great amount of improvising. Frequently, Liana will improvise a theme for one of the stories she is writing. Capturing this improvised music became a priority, which ultimately resulted in theme music for “A Horse Valley Adventure”. The “Horse Valley” theme will be used for a short animated video featuring her Horse Valley characters.

Liana-Melissa loves to hear from her young readers. Please visit her website at www.lmabooks.com for more information, and to contact her by email. Visit her on Facebook too.

Where to buy the books: On Author’s Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

​Enter the giveaway:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Win one of ten sets of A Horse Valley Adventure books! One winner will also get a $30 Amazon gift card. Open internationally.Ends April 17.

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Disclosure: I was provided complimentary copies of these books for the purposes of my review. All opinions are my own. I was not otherwise compensated. 

Good Things Friday (v3)

* I’m not working today! I wrapped a big project that I’ve been working on since November yesterday so figured that meant a celebratory vacation day was in order. Knight has the day off, too, and while the weather is chillier than I’d like (mid-40s) for spring, we’ll find something fun to do. We have no real plans, either, just taking it as it comes.

* I have a cold/allergy/sinus thing going on but no fever. This is a very good thing because usually my sinuses make me sick as a dog and I can’t do anything for a few days. I’m attributing this goodness to the supplements I’ve been taking, the exercise I’ve been doing and the fact that maybe, finally at the age of 31, I have a knack for how to prevent really horrible sinus infections.

* Cute books. Those are worth being mentioned on Good Things Friday, yes? I’m reading a really fun one called “Read Bottom Up,” written all in texts and emails from the perspective of a couple who just started dating, as well as their best friends. It’s fun, it’s quirky and I’ve even dog-eared a few pages because it’s very real-life-y.

* Because of my awesome meal planning over the weekend, I haven’t had to cook a single meal yet! Leftovers for the win in a big, big way (especially since I’m a little under the weather).

* My dad is out of town for a few days visiting my Godparents which means I get to drive his car with SiriusXM (and he gave me his gas card to fill up with, too!). I love the variety of stations and not having to listen to painful commercials all the time. I love my 2007 paid-off, totally functioning & awesome car but there are moments I wish I had cool radio and Bluetooth features in my car.

Happy Friday, friends. What would be on your good thing list for today?

Work it Out: Cardio

I’ve had a few people ask me in the last month what my workout routine looks like these days which got me thinking, maybe others are interested, too! (Also, thanks to Stephany for the blog-spiration to share this. Check out her post on the workouts she loves for more workout ideas!)

A few things about what works for me/us:

* I don’t belong to a gym. I did for a few years but the payment I was making relative to how often I actually went wasn’t making sense for me anymore. I love the fact that I can work out at home, morning or evening, no drive time. It just works for me.

* We have a home gym in our basement: free weights, resistance bands, a “cage,” , a weight bench, barbells and dumbbells, huge rubber/foam matted exercise area and a tread climber (purchased on Craigslist for 1/3 of the price of a new one) and my favorite workout equipment: YouTube and Pinterest along with the fact that Knight set-up the basement so that I can stream music if I’m doing videos or circuits or watch Netflix if I’m on the Climber.

* I like to mix up my workouts every few weeks or so by either adding more rounds to a Tabata, more weight, or a whole new workout entirely.

* I love running but my knees hate it so I’ve had to find other ways to get in my cardio.

* Each week I write out my workout plan and decide which workouts I’m going to do and when; I do “cardio” three to four times a week. I put cardio in quotes because even on my strength days, they are circuit workouts that include bursts of cardio, and even these cardio workouts combine body weight strength. I mark off the workouts as I go and I write them down in two spots on my planner so I can keep myself accountable.

My current cardio routine is comprised of me alternating between three workouts that I found on Pinterest. These workouts combine cardio with body weight strength exercises and are great for getting & keeping your heart rate up.

1. Killer Cardio Workout, repeat 3 times. I’ve shaved a lot of time off this workout so I’m adding a 4th round of the workout this week and plan to do so going forward. I’m a sweaty mess any time I do this one but oh how I love it so. It’s the workout that I credit with amping up my push-up game!

2. Killer Cardio (Air) Jump Rome workout. If you don’t like to sweat, don’t do this workout.

3. Super Sweaty Tabata Supersets with cardio & strength intervals. Because it’s easier for me and the Tabata Timer I have on my phone, I do 4 rounds of each exercise (even the strength ones) and in between each round I rest for 35 seconds. I will also add this arms + abs circuit after this Tabata for some extra oomph – and soreness- once a week.

I have goals for myself on each of these workouts, some are time goals, others are getting in a specific number of reps in a set; once I reach them then I will either add weight, more reps or sub-in some other exercises from Pinterest for my weekly cardio fix.

Stay tuned next week for my Work It Out: Legs/Buns edition.

What’s your favorite cardio workout? Feel free to share links or recommendations as I’m always adding to my workout list!