What I'm Reading Wednesday {June Reads}

Hey y'all,

Typically summers have always meant lots of reading. I think it comes down to the fact that I loved the summer reading challenges at the library growing up and then in college, I only allowed myself to read "fun" novels during holidays as I had so much reading during the semester. However, this summer I have not been reading as much over the last few weeks. I think a lot of changes have distracting me from wanting to crack open a novel at the end of the night rather than watching Netflix's The Staircase or Queer Eye.

Here are the three books I read in June:

Long Way Home

A Long Way HomeWhen Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost home town half a world away, he made global headlines.
Saroo had become lost on a train in India at the age of five. Not knowing the name of his family or where he was from, he survived for weeks on the streets of Kolkata, before being taken into an orphanage and adopted by a couple in Australia.
Despite being happy in his new family, Saroo always wondered about his origins. He spent hours staring at the map of India on his bedroom wall. When he was a young man the advent of Google Earth led him to pore over satellite images of the country for landmarks he recognized. And one day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for.
Then he set off on a journey to find his mother.

My book club's selection for June, this is the memoir that the movie, Lion, is based off of. The book is a quick read and very emotional as it goes through Saroo's life story of being lost, adopted and moving from India to Australia, and searching for his family.

Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians (Crazy Rich Asians, #1)When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick's formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should--and should not--marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider's look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich.

 This is my book club's selection for August. Actually, my sorority big, Shannon, reccomended the book to me over a year ago and I started it but only got a few chapters in. I think the book is a little slow at the beginning but I enjoy all the family drama that eventually gets involved. I am interested in reading the rest of the series.

What a Difference a Duke Makes

What a Difference a Duke Makes (School for Dukes, #1)Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.
Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won't be quite so easy to control. And there's something else she can't seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.
As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she's the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win?

This was a cute and quick romance. I'm interested to read more from the series.

What are you currently reading?

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Five on Friday {July 6}

Hey y'all, It's Friday! After a second Monday yesterday, I am excited for a weekend without any major plans. I have some goals of getting some more packing completed in prep for my move in 22 days! Other than that, a night of babysitting tonight, teaching my Pre-K kids at church, and Barre3 classes are the only things in my planner. As usual, I am taking some time this Friday to share some of my favorites from the week:

one. Young and Hungry.

I stumbled upon this show on Netflix as a recommendation. I love a cutesy comedy and this one has been nice as background while I pack. It's one where you don't have to be laser focused on like my typical crime shows. The episodes are fairly short at only 25 minutes and I am already on season 2 (there is only 10 episodes in the first season).
Image result for young and hungry

two. Lowes Moving Boxes.

Random favorite but I grabbed 10 small packing boxes on Sunday to being my packing this month and I have successfully filled them already. I love the Lowe's packing boxes since everything stays consistent in shape for easy stacking in the moving trailer. Now all my bookshelves are packed and I have some more packing to get to this weekend.

three. Standing Desk.

My new office is very kind in allowing us to select our our office furniture. I decided to order a standing desk and it arrived this week. About an hour later and I had put my desk together. I love it!

four. Air Conditioning.

On Sunday night our air conditioning went out. With temperatures in the high 90s this was not okay especially for little, Max Cat. It took them two days to fix so we had a windo unit one night but it was a reminder of the luxury of having air conditioning.

five. Dutch Tulips by OPI

This fun red color has been my nail and toe color this week in honor of the 4th of July. I had taken a break from having my nails painted for the last few weeks and I am loving the pop of color.

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

What's on your radar for this weekend?

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Thyme for Thursday {PW Queso}

Hey y'all,

I talked a bit about it in this post but I am trying to challenge myself to actually utilize the cookbooks I have (I completed a major purge this spring) rather than have them collect dust on my shelf and eat the same 4 meals.

The first one I tried was the Merc's Queso from the Pioneer Woman's Come and Get it Book (pg. 88). Due to a lack of chorizo in my supermarket and making the recipe for two separate parties I did make some modifications so here is my version of the recipe and it has been requested to show up at parties again.

1 16oz package of Velveeta
1 cup shredded cheddar
3/4 cup milk (I used 1% and whole before so whatever you have is fine)
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies-Mild
1 lb ground chicken-ground turkey or beef would also work
1 small/medium onion, diced (the amount is up to your preference for onion)
1 cloves of garlic
Taco seasoning  (I used the taco seasoning from Against All Grain's Meals Made Simple book. I used about 1.5 tbs for 1lb of meat.)

The original recipe makes 6 cups of queso so I ended up halving the recipe and brought home left overs each night in my bowl so unless you are hosting a large crowd (30+) I would suggest halving as well. My measurements are for half the original recipe.

 1. Brown the ground chicken. Drain if it has a lot of liquid. Then add the taco seasoning.
2. Add the onion and garlic to the meat mixture and sautee on medium high heat for a few minutes until the onions have softened.
3. Cut up the velveeta into small cubes. If using a crockpot, add them to the base of the dish. If using the stovetop, place them in the bottom of the pan and begin to melt the velveeta.
4. Over the velveeta, add in the meat mixture, milk, can of diced tomatoes, and shredded cheddar.
5. If using a crockpot let heat on high for 45 minutes. If using a stove top, let everything melt and let simmer for 30 minutes (stirring occasionally).
6. Stir the crockpot, turn to low and heat for 20 more minutes.
7. Enjoy with chips!


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10 on Tuesday {Summer Bucketlist}

Hey y'all,

It is officially summer since June 21st rolled around. Now, summer is not my favorite season. Here in the South it is oppressively hot for my tastes and I am waiting for Fall to get here (although, that doesn't technically start until September 22nd). In order to savor my season a bit, I decided to create a summer bucket list. These are all pretty simple ideas as I do not want to overwhelm my calendar as I tend to get a break from a lot of commitments in the summer and I get to relax more. Here we go:
Image result for evelyn henson summer bucket list
artwork by Evelyn Henson

one. beach trip.

My small group is actually headed to the beach in August but due to my move I am going to have to miss the trip. I am hoping to head down to the beach one weekend even if it's just a day trip.

two. durham bulls game.

I love taking a night to go watch the Bulls play. The stadium is always a fun trip with friends and sometimes you can score by going on the $1 concession nights.

three. host a dinner party

I love to entertain and while I will not be entertaining during July as I have already broke out the moving boxes, I hope to have people over in late August/early September to have a housewarming gathering.

four. decorate my new space.

I think decorating is the most fun part of a move. I have been in the same space for four years so it is going to be fun to reenvision my items. Plus, I have fun friends who I know are excited to come and help and a new Hobby Lobby just 15 minutes away.

five. Send a care package to my best friend for the International Day of Friendship-July 30th

My best friend moved from Chicago to California this summer so now she is even further away, but only 30 minutes from my mom's side of the family. I'm excited to put together a little bestie box for her to celebrate the International Day of Friendship and her birthday at the start of August.
six. Eat homemade ice cream.

seven. Go to an outdoor movie.

If you are in the Triangle area there are so many options for outdoor movies. From Southern Village, NCMA, Koka Booth, to even a drive-in about an hour away there are a lot of options. I am hoping to get a group together for a picnic and movie soon.

eight. Spend a Sunday by the pool.

I grew up always spending summers at the pool with swim lessons and then swim team. My parent's even have a pool so a lot of the summer during high school was spent floating in the backyard. I want to set aside one Sunday to put off all the to-dos and spend a few hours in the pool.

nine. Enjoy a new fun cocktail.

I love to mix up my favorite cocktail drinks especially during the summer. A few years ago, my roommate and I made a wine cocktail with rose, grapefruit, and lime juice and it was the perfect combination for the hot weather. Send me your favorite fruity drinks!

ten. Celebrate National Read a Book Day-September 4th.

Of course I had to have a reading goal. I love that there is a national read a book day and of course I will be celebrating by reading on that day. I might even share some of my favorite summer reads in a post that day to celebrate.

What's on your summer bucket list?


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TBB Asks {July-Vacation}

Hey y'all,

I can't believe it but we are halfway through 2018! Since it is July, it's time to link up with the Blended Blog for their monthly questions. This post is specifically all about vacation!

1. Will you go on a a summer vacation this year?
Nope. Between trips to California in March and October I have no summer vacations planned. It actually worked out as I transitioned to a new job and I am packing up my apartment for a move at the end of the month.

2. Do nothing but relax or a pack it all in vacation?
Relax! I like a schedule so I can pack properly but I like a good mix of relaxing with some sightseeing/activities. I read 4 books on my last vacation, watched a few Hallmark movies, but also attended a family wedding, went to Universal Studios, and Legoland.

3. What month do you like to vacation?
I tend to vacation in October. This mainly happened as it was a calm time in the academic calendar when I was working for UNC.

4. Cruise: YES or NO?
I have never been on a cruise.

5. Favorite vacation tradition?
I don't have a vacation tradition.

6. Most memorable vacation? 
I would say a lot of our Europe trips are the most memorable. Living in Germany for three years meant lots of fun vacations to London, Venice, Paris, Ireland, etc.

7. Pack light or Pack it all?
I'm a big overpacker. I try to pack lightly but I always end up with some outfits I didn't wear, books I didn't get to, and some extra snacks.

8. Hotel, Condo or House? 
I tend to stay at friends or family's homes but I don't mind a hotel.

9. Favorite thing(s) to eat on vacation? 
Ice Cream! I also love to eat something local/only found in that area, like In-N-Out whenever I make a trip to the West Coast.

10. Warm or Cold Destinations.
Warm! I love a good beach day. However, the last few years my vacations have been visiting friends mostly and they tended to be in colder climates. 

Where was your favorite vacation?

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Five on Friday {July Goals}

Hey y'all,

It's the last Friday of the month and I thought I would share some of my goals for July. With a lot of changes going on in my life I want to make sure my goals in July simple and attainable. My biggest goals for July will be of course packing my apartment and moving everything to my new place. Here are five other goals for the month:

one. Continue reading the Bible chronologically and Annie F. Down's 100 Days to Brave.

One of my big goals for the year is to read the entire Bible and I am using a chronological plan. I am over 45 days behind with my reading but I think any progress on this goal is great. I have also started reading Annie F. Down's new devotional, 100 Days to Brave.

two. Eat a vegetable at lunch and dinner.

Amidst all the changes, packing and moving that will happen in July, for my nutrition goal this month I want to keep it simple with just making sure I eat a serving of vegetables at both lunch and dinner every day. My other health and fitness goals include maintaining my Barre3 schedule of at least 3 classes a week.

three. Move my retirement account to my new 401k.

Now that I have set up my 401k at my new job, it's time to work with my previous retirement program to have them transfer over my amount. Yes, this goal makes me feel like an adult!

four. Complete the Emily Ley Simplicity Challenge

As I gear up for my move and begin packing, I am going to complete the Emily Ley Simplicity Challenge. There is a one action a day challenge and it is perfect to take small actions towards simplifying my current items and my future home.
via Emily Ley

five. Blog at least 2 times a week.

My ultimate goal would be three times a week but I am currently working on some posts so I have some content to go up each week considering a lot of my free time will be filled with boxes, wrapping paper, and trips to Goodwill.

six. Enjoy time with friends amidst the chaos of a move.

I have been invited over to my friend Kathryn's house for a cookout on Wednesday for the 4th and I am excited to enjoy a nice time with friends in the middle of the workweek/early packing stages. The rest of the month includes at least one gathering each week between supper club, book club, and hosting a baby shower for a sweet friend.

What's one of your goals for July?

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

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What's Up Wednesday {June}

Hey y'all,

I am linking up with Shay, Shaeffer, and Melissa to talk about What's Up in June. 

What I'm Eating This Week...

Nothing super exciting on the food front here. This week has been lunches of sandwiches or tacos. Dinners the last few nights have been brown rice with vegetables and teriyaki chicken. Tonight I am going to grab a salad off the Whole Foods Hot Bar after Barre3. Tomorrow, Traci is hosting me for dinner.

What I'm Reminiscing About...

Early this month, I reminisced about little Max as he turned 6. It's crazy that he has been in our family for the last 5.5 years.

What I'm Loving...

My current wishlist includes ordering lake pajamas. A splurge but so many people endorse them. For my new place I am eyeing this throw. For my desk in my new office, this Pineapple Pen Cup. And if you know me you know I have a tiny obsession with the swing dresses from LOFT. This Daisy Chain one is sweet with the tiny floral pattern.

What I've Been Up To...

June has been a busy month, ending a job, goodbye lunches, supper club, starting a new job, touring apartment complexes, dog sitting, and lots of reading in prep for book club.

What I'm Dreading...

Packing. I have just over one month until I get my keys to my new place.

What I'm Working On...

Decorating my new office. I am still debating on what desk option I want so once I have my furniture settled, I am excited to start decorating.

What I'm Excited About...

Moving into my new place.
Settling into my new job more.

What I'm Watching/Reading...

Queer Eye Season 2-grab the tissues and enjoy. I love watching this while folding laundry on Sundays.
The Staircase is also a Netflix show about the Peterson trial here in the Triangle in the early 2000s. I remember the trial on the news.
Image result for the staircase documentary
The Bold Type is back on Freeform. This is a show about three young professionals in the magazine industry.

Face Off is back for it's final season. I love this reality competition focusing on Makeup Effects Artists. It's on SyFy on Tuesday nights if you want to check it out.

For books, I am working on a post on Monday that includes my books from May and June.

What I'm Wearing...

Monogram Sweatshirt. My office is cold at work so I have been keeping a sweatshirt there to keep warm.

What I'm Doing This Weekend...

Watching the Great British Baking Show on Friday.
B3 on Saturday and Sunday.
Beginning to Pack.
Book Club.
Meal Prepping.

What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month...

Getting the keys to my new place!

What Else is New...

I feel like so much is new between a job and apartment so I think that is enough for a bit.

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Five on Friday {June 21}

Hey y'all,

A lot has been happening in my little bubble of NC so I thought I would make this Five on Friday a little bit of an update and some of my June favorites.

one. New Job.

Yep. I quit my job at my alma mater and joined the private sector. If you were unfamiliar, I had been working in University administration for almost six years between two different departments. Last Friday was my last day. On Monday I began a new position and I have been loving the change so far. It is definetly different in both the nature of the job but it was exactly what I needed. Now it's time to look for fun pieces to decorate my new office space. Yep, a full office! My past positions have had me at open desk areas so this is a bit of a change.
 A quick selfie in my office yesterday for National Wear Your Lilly Day!
The extent of my decorating so far as we are ordering another desk for me.

two. Barrington Bag

One of my favorites for the month has to be my new bag! I ordered it in the middle of my last two weeks of work as a celebration for my new position and a fun new work bag as I knew I would be toteting a laptop around for my new job. I have been looking at barrington bags for years and finally bit the bullet. I love my new tote and it has been perfect on the job this week.
What I wore on my first day of work.

My bag!

three. New Apartment.

As if one major change wasn't enough, this past weekend I looked at apartments for my move this August. My roommate is moving about an hour away and I had yet to find another roommate so one bedroom life it is. On Saturday I toured over 7 apartments in the area as I love where I currently live and decided on a one bedroom less than 10 mins from my current place in a complex where one of my friends lives. It will be about 10 mins to my new job and still close to my bible study, Aldi, Target, and B3 Chapel Hill. I move the last week of July/first weekend of August. Now to look at sectionals and dining chairs as those are the only pieces of furniture I will have to invest in.

four. Barre3 Anywhere.

This week kicked off the B3 summer challenge of B3 Anywhere. The free challenge has 10 min workouts each day along with suggested workouts if you have B3 online access or take a studio class. I have been loving the 10 min workouts each morning and some have had me dripping in sweat in the short time while others have been more restorative. I can't wait to finish out the week and see what week 2 brings.

five. British Baking Returns. 

The Great British Baking Show returns to PBS tonight and I can't wait! What a better way to end my first week of work at a new job then one of my favorite shows. Season 5 is actually Series 2 from the Great British Bake Off. If you are unfamiliar with the show, Netflix has 4 seasons available but the US has only received 5 of the 8 that have premiered in the UK.

Other June favorites:

My sweet friend Lindsey got married a few weeks ago.
 We met in a bible study over four years ago!

This guy celebrated his 6th birthday.

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

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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.
What's on your to-read list?