What I'm Reading Wednesday {May Reads}

Hey y'all,

It's June! I always feel like I read more in the summer and that might be from only allowing "fun" reading to occur in the summer. As an English literature major, I had too much reading to complete during the school week to allow fun reading except during breaks. I am proud to say that I have read 27 of the 55 books I challenged myself to read this year. While May was not filled with reading, I did knock some books out. Here's what I read.

Immortally Yours (Argeneau #26)

Immortally Yours (Argeneau #26)One hundred and twenty-five years is a long time to nurse a crush. That’s how long it’s been since Beth Argenis first met Cullen “Scotty” MacDonald and he instantly became the star of her most X-rated dreams. Back then, he was rescuing her from a Rogue Immortal. Now Beth’s a Rogue Hunter—a damn good one. She doesn’t need saving anymore, despite what Scotty thinks. What she does need is the fierce, wild desire that finally erupts between them.
Scotty has hesitated to claim Beth as his own. But one explosive kiss confirms what he’s long suspected: She’s his life mate. But Beth is tough, fearless, beautiful…and in immortal danger. Unless he wants to lose her forever, he’ll have to rethink everything he once believed about love and destiny as well as confront an enemy who’s terrifyingly close.


I liked the beginning of the Argeneau series by Sands but I feel like we are now pulling for straws on who to connect to the family. This book was a quick read and luckily not focused as much on the Rogue Hunter issue in South America that has dominated the last three in the series. I would say read the first 10 of the series and then move on. 3/5 stars.

Truly Madly Guilty Truly Madly Guilty

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?
Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.
Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.
Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

I have loved other books by Moriarty that I loved but this book was slow and not enthralling. I got the audiobook version after the hard copy was hard to connect to and that still didn't help. I felt that the reveal of the BBQ happened pretty early and the rest of the book was unnecessary. 2/5 stars.


My American Duchess

25817386The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford - an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fianc├ęs.
But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.
The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear: All is fair in love and war.

 This book has sat as a "to-read" for a while and I finally sat down and read the whole thing. I felt it was slow to start but in the end was a cute story. 3/5 stars.
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What's on your to-read list? 

Best,
 

TBB Asks {June-Summer Lovin'}

Hey y'all,

I can't believe that it is summer time already! The weather has been pretty toasty here in NC but today looks like the humidity is calming down. I am linking up with the ladies of the Blended Blog for their monthly "TBB Asks" series. Today is all about summer time!
 

1. Walk or Bike Ride?

Walk. I love a walk after dinner or on the beach. I have never been a big bike fan unless we are talking a cycle class.

2. Favorite Picnic Food? 

I love my mom's pasta salad. It is chopped full of veggies and has a simple Italian vinaigrette from a seasoning packet. It blew my sister's mind when she found out it was a seasoning packet. 

3. Pool or Lake?

Pool. My parents have an in ground pool at their house and I love taking advantage when I visit. I also grew up taking swim lessons in the summer and being on the swim team so chlorine has a lot of memories.

4. Favorite Flavor of ice cream?

Chocolate. My favorite is at Marble Slabs/Coldstone adding strawberries and gummy bears to plain chocolate ice cream.

5. Ice Cream Cone or in a Dish?

Cone. DQ cones are the best.

6. Flip Flops or Slides?

Flip Flop.

7. Jean Shorts or Jean Capris?

Neither.

8. Favorite summer Fruit?

Pineapple and Watermelon

9. Corn on the Cob or Cut Off the Cob?

Corn on the Cob. I think from years of having to cut corn off the cob due to braces, I love the freedom of just eating it straight on the cob. Does anyone else have a lot of memories shucking corn on the porch in the summer? There is a farm less than 10 minutes from my parent's house that sells their veggies at a stand and fresh corn from there is always a favorite.

10. Favorite summertime song?

I love listening to country music in the summer.  I love Rascal Flatts' Summer Nights.

11. Favorite summertime activity?

Beachtime! I love taking day trips to the coast of NC during the summer. Other favorites include BBQs, Durham Bulls games with friends, and trips for ice cream.

12. Favorite Berry? Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry or Blackberry?

Strawberry!

13. Bikini’s, tankini’s or one pieces?

One Piece. I have found the cutest ones at Target over the last few years.

14. Dresses or Skirts?

Dresses. One piece and you are out the door.

15. One Word to describe Summer?

Reading. I always associate summer with pools and library trips.

What is one thing on your Summer Bucket List?

Best,
 

Currently {5.24.18}

Hey y'all,

I cannot believe that it is already Thursday. I felt like last week flew by as I was in training and had a lot of off site meetings but this week has been much quieter as we gear up for the long weekend. I thought I would share another currently post as it has been a while.
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Wearing
All the swing dresses. Between petsitting and training at work for two days last week I packed only swing dresses. They are great for this humid weather and perfect to just add fun accessories. I love LOFT and Old Navy for swing dresses. Today I am wearing this one (plus size version, maternity version) and it's currently under $40 ! I have also been loving these pants for work .

Reading
I just finished My American Duchess and started reading You Are Free. The book has been on my nightstand for almost a year so it was time to dig in.
My American DuchessYou Are Free: Be Who You Already Are       
Listening to
The Titanic Soundtrack. I was reminded how much I love the Titanic soundtrack when one of my friends played it on her instastories as one of her favorites. I have been playing it at work non-stop.

Working out
B3 of course! I hit 100 classes this month and then on Sunday they hosted an amazing team teach class for Member's Appreciation. It was fun to rotate through five instructors in one class. This weekend there is a guest instructor on Saturday that I am excited to take.


Watching
Splitting Up Together. I am loving this new family drama about a family as they navigate co-parenting while they are getting divorced. I think the writing has been thoughtful and funny and there are some amazing actors on the show.
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Project Runway. I have been watching past season on Hulu including past All Star Seasons. This is the perfect show to put on during chores. I love to fold my laundry or clean the main living space with a show on in the background.
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Evil Genius. My roommate and I started this show last night on Netflix. I would recommend watching with a friend or not late at night as it is kind of creepy. It is a true crime docuseries about the murder of a pizza delivery man in Erie, Pennsylvania in 2003.
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 Eating
Trader Joe's ciabatta rolls. I have not wanted to cook for the last few weeks as the temperatures have climbed into the 90s and the humidity has gotten out of control with all the rain. Therefore, sandwiches and easy dinners are on repeat. These little rolls are perfect for a nice sandwhich and a great way to switch it up from my regular wheat loaf.

Anticipating
The long weekend. It is going to be nice to have that extra day this weekend especially since I have no major plans on Saturday or Sunday. My bible study is getting together on Monday for a cookout (weather depending).

Loving
These leggings from Athleta. They might be expensive but the Powervita fabric is so soft that you will want to wear them 24/7 not just to the gym/studio.
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What are you currently loving?

Best,
 

TBB Asks-May-Entertainment

Hey y'all,

I am super late to the game but I thought I would still share my answers to the Blended Blog's questions for May regarding entertainment. As we enter into the summer months I think entertainment is on everyone's mind as they prepare for long nights and fun weekends. Here we go:

1. Comedy or Drama?
Drama 

2. Fiction or Non-Fiction?
Fiction 

3. Movies in Theater or At Home?
At Home. I love going to the theater for some shows but most things I love being able to press pause and have all the snacks. Also, if I am at a theater I am usually the one in jeans and a pullover even if it is 100 degrees outside, I freeze in movie theaters.
4. Musical or Play?
Musical!
5. Which Meal of the day is your favorite to eat out?
Dinner. I love coming home and having no dishes to do.
6. Favorite Book ever read? 
I am partial to a few. I still love Ella Enchanted from when I was little. Mansfield Park was my first Jane Austen novel. I also could reread To Kill a Mockingbird and the Harry Potter series every year and never tire of them.
7. Game Night: Yes or No? 
Yes.

8. Favorite Outside Game to play?
I am terrible at yard games. Seriously, you never want me as your cornhole partner.
9. Favorite TV Series ever?
 Gilmore Girls. I have the entire series. I just do not enjoy the remake on Netflix. Honorable Mentions would be

10. Sitcoms growing up or Sitcoms of today?
 Friends.
11. Miniature Golf or Bowling?
 Miniature Golf. I actually went Mini-golfing for my 18th birthday.
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Casually hanging out on the rocks at the golf place.
12. Favorite Movie Theater Candy?
 Buncha Crunch but typically I will get the kids tray at a theater. It typically is under $8 and has a drink, just enough popcorn, and fruit snacks or Skittles.

13. How do you like your popcorn?
I am lactose intolerant so I err on the side of more salt. Skinny Pop lightly salted is a go to.
14. 3D movies with the glasses; Yes or No? 
I am not a 3D movie fan. I have gone to some but I prefer the regular theater experience. 
15. Favorite Genre of Books to Read? 
 Fiction-Romance.
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Best,
Jess

Five on Friday {May 11}

Hey ya'll,

Can we all say amen that it's Friday? It has been a week! I had thought it would be a quick and simple week leading up to a bit of a busy week next week but nope. This week was filled with dinners with friends, a stressful work call, babysitting a little who ended up getting sick, and very little sleep. I'm hoping for a calm weekend to refresh and restart for a busy week next week! Here are some things I am loving this week.

one. Simplified Planner. 

It came! I ordered my Simplified Planner for the 2018-2019 Academic year on May 2nd when they launched and my beautiful planner arrived on Monday night. I have started to set it up but know that I have two more months in my current planner. Let me know if you want me to post on how I set up my planner and my system!

two. Recipe Challenge. 

I don't know about you but I tend to make the same meals a lot and I have wonderful cookbooks that I don't pull recipes from enough. My goal for the rest of the year is to make one new recipe each week from my cookbook collection. It can be a sauce, side, main, or even a dessert. I plan to document them here including the ease of preparation, taste, will it be added to the rotation, and any tweaks I make/would make in the future.

The first recipe I am going to attempt to make is The Merc's Queso (TPW Come and Get It). I am headed to a friend's Birthday Fiesta and I volunteered to bring nachos and the fixings. This makes about 6 cups which is perfect as the next night I am headed to supper club and told them I would bring chips and queso. 1 recipe, 2 nights of fun.


three. Derby Gathering.

On Saturday after serving at church I headed over to Laura's house for her annual Derby Party. I hate that I missed out last year but I was excited to attend. While I ended up picking Vino Rosso to win (I pick based on name and jockey silks) it was fun to see friends, eat yummy food and watch the fastest 2:04 minutes in sports.

four. Quick Chores

This past week I have been trying to fit in a few chores each morning. They are all things I can do in 15 minutes and simple tasks like folding laundry, starting a load of laundry, emptying the dishwasher, etc. This has started my day on a productive note and makes it so much easier when I return from work knowing I have less household responsibilities and I can relax.

five. Mother's Day! 

Of course I can't write my post today and not think of celebrating my Mom! While I will not be with her on Sunday I know that she should be celebrated always! Last year I collaborated with my Dad to pick up her favorite chocolate covered strawberries from a deli in our town but this year, Amazon Prime to the rescue as she told me she would just like the next season of Outlander. My parent's watch this show together so it's nice that I am essentially gifting her nights in with my Dad.

Fun links:

Have y'all seen the new Draper James collection with Eloquii? It's a beautiful collaboration of the sweet style of Draper James for plus size women.
This fun list of 32 books to read this summer helped me add a few to my next library trip list.
Did you see the Met Gala fashion? I loved Blake Lively and Emilia Clarke.
These gluten free cheesecake brownies look amazing!

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika, Narci, and Andrea

Best,
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April Reads

Hey y'all,

This might be a bit late as it is already May 10th but I thought I would hop on and share some of my recent reads. I always feel like the pull to read is so much higher in the summer so I would love any book recommendations that you have! Reading+pool time=a perfect weekend in the summer. Let's get started.

The Alice Network

The Alice Network1947. 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.

I started this book while on vacation in late March after so many had recommended it to me. I love the connection between both WWI and WWII and the stories between both Eve and Charlie. I think if you enjoy historical fiction you would enjoy this book. I only gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads as I felt that the romantic element that comes into play felt off and that it came out of nowhere.

Hello Stranger, Ravenels #4

Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4)Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett's skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he's ever known.


I was excited for Garrett's book as I think it is such a neat change in historical romance. You do not often see women with careers especially that of a physician. I love that Lisa Kleypas actually modeled her after a real life woman physician of the time. However, I wasn't in love with the story as with other Kleypas books. It was cute but not my favorite. 3/5 stars.

Devil in Winter, Wallflower #3

Devil in Winter (Wallflowers, #3)Easily the shyest Wallflower, Evangeline Jenner stands to become the wealthiest, once her inheritance comes due. Because she must first escape the clutches of her unscrupulous relatives, Evie has approached the rake Viscount St. Vincent with a most outrageous proposition: marriage!
Sebastian's reputation is so dangerous that thirty seconds alone with him will ruin any maiden's good name. Still, this bewitching chit appeared, unchaperoned, on his doorstep to offer her hand. Certainly an aristocrat with a fine eye for beauty could do far worse.
But Evie's proposal comes with a condition: no lovemaking after their wedding night. She will never become just another of the dashing libertine's callously discarded broken hearts—which means Sebastian will simply have to work harder at his seductions... or perhaps surrender his own heart for the very first time in the name of true love.


I had been waiting for this book from the library for a while. This book is from the original Kleypas series as the Wallflowers are neighbors to the Hathaways and the Ravels are the next generation. Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3) is actually the son of Evie and Sebastian. I liked the story and glad that Evie was able to get away from her family. However, I didn't love all of the story after their wedding when they were living at the gaming house. 3.5/5 stars.

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between UsWhen you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.
You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.
You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.
You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.
Assume nothing.


I really don't want to give much of this book away as it is a nice suspenseful novel. I listed to it on audiobook which was great as I tend to have the urge to flip forward in some books to confirm if my suspicions are correct. It was very compelling and I highly recommend it because even to the end there were some twists and turns I did not expect. 4/5 stars.

What are you currently reading? 
Best,

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Five on Friday {April 27}

Hey y'all,

We made it to Friday! It still feels like a Thursday for me as I had two short work weeks with my college roommate in town from Friday-Monday. I am ready for the weekend though! My April has been very hectic with something happening every weekend-Easter, a friend in town for a wedding, bridal shower, college roommate in town, and I was supposed to attend a baby shower this weekend but due to a scheduling conflict I will be seeing the mama to be in a few weeks to give her her gift.

I am however, not having a calm start to the weekend as tonight a group of friends and I are headed to dinner and then a high school lacrosse game. Our friend is the coach and we are going to support her. This girl though has no idea how lacrosse is played so it's going to be fun cheering from the sidelines with no clue what's happening.

Now onto some of my favorites this week:

one. Simplified Planner.

If you did not know, I am a huge fan of Emily Ley and the Simplified brand. I have used the Simplified planner for the past two years and this week they revealed their covers for the new planners. I am currently using an academic weekly planner and will be ordering a new one next week. Now to decide a cover. I am leaning towards the waterflower floral or the thin happy stripe. Let me know your favorites.


two. StepBet.

On Monday I am hosting my first ever StepBet. If you have not heard of this, it is an app. You join a game and bet (in this case $40) that in six weeks you will hit your step goals. The goals are personalized to your step history. For example, the game I am running has 4 active days and 2 stretch (a little more than your active goal) days with 1 rest day. My active day goal is in the 7,000 step range and my stretch goal is in the 9,000. I am at a desk job so that makes the most sense but I have friends that are teachers and nurses so their individual goals are a lot higher. If you meet your goal you get your money back (plus part of the pot of those that do not make their goals).

Let me know and I can invite you to the game.
 Of course, my steps from Saturday's 4-mile walk won't count as the game begins on Monday(the first week is a warm-up so no one gets eliminated)

three. Self-Care Sunday.

For the last couple of weeks I have made sure to carve out some time on Sundays to do a little self-care. With such a crazy month, I have enjoyed making sure I have some me-time built in. Lately, the self-care has meant a Barre3 class followed by a nice epsom salt bath. I am loving this epsom salt, these bubbles, and then putting on either this face mask or this hair mask from Trader Joe's.

four. La Farm

Just a reminder for those in the Triangle area, if you have not been to La Farm in Cary-GO! It is one of my favorites and I love that they have a small bakery in the new Cary Whole Foods. I took my college roommate to La Farm on Sunday while she was visiting and we had to make a stop on Monday before she hopped on her plane so she could take scones back to her family.

five. Administrative Professional's Day.

My sweet co-workers surprised myself and the other administrative professional in our division with sweet flowers on Wednesday for Admin Pro Day! The lillys have already opened up over the week.  If you have any admins in your office, don't forget to send them a sweet note. It really is appreciated!

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika, Narci, and Andrea


Best,
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