Summer Bucket List

Hey y'all,

I thought since Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, it's time to share ten things on my summer to-do:

one.
Paint my desk.
I have had the same desk since I was a child and while it was originally green when my older brother had it, we painted it tan back when I was in eighth grade. I'm thinking of painting it navy to stand out against all the other white pieces of furniture in my room.
I seem to not have any photos of my desk apart from this one when Max was helping change my sheets.

two.
Duke Lemur Center Walking with Lemurs Tour. My parents and I are taking a walking with lemurs tour at the Duke Lemur center this summer for my Mom's mother's day gift. She had been wanting to go so I made it happen.
Image result for duke lemur center

three.
VBS. I volunteer regularly with my church's kid's ministry and every other year I volunteer for their kids week. I love helping out during vacation bible school since I meet children I don't regularly see and help them learn more about the gospel. Here's to the summer of wonder!
Image result for summer of wonder vbs

four.
Staycation. I am taking a week this summer to relax on a staycation. I am planning lunches with friends that week, barre classes, and lots of reading. I currently have one lunch on the calendar and I am waiting on a few friends to confirm their schedules for the other three days.
Image result for staycation images

five.
Read from my bookshelf. I am challenging myself to read from my bookshelf this July rather than my library. I will be of course picking up holds as they come in but no wandering around the library stacks or adding to my holds list during the month. I have more than 20 books on my shelves at home that should be read before I wander the library.
This was before a book purge this January.

six.
Try out 8 new recipes. I have some amazing cookbooks and follow great food blogs but I don't always try out the recipes so I am challenging myself to a new recipe a week. This week's recipe: chicken hibachi with veggies from Healthy Little Peach.

seven.
Exodus part II. I went through the Exodus part I study this past fall with a group of ladies at my church. This spring, they hosted part II on Monday mornings and I could not attend with my work schedule. I want to complete the Exodus study with this 11-week dive into the second half of the book. I already started and completed the introduction week and read chapters 19 & 20 in prep for the first week of questions this morning.
Image result for exodus part 2 wilkin

eight.
Dining chairs. I have my grandparent's old table in my dining room but since I inherited the table without chairs I have been on the hunt. Unfortunately, dining chairs are not cheap and it is hard finding chairs that match my table's finish/style. I am making it a goal to have dining chairs in my apartment before September 30th (the end of my current lease). I am currently looking at these chairs.
Apparently, the best photo of my dining table I have is from the Fall.

nine.
See my Big. My sorority Big sister lives in Charlotte and we try to get together at least every other year. We are currently looking at weekends in June to get together.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and night
At a recruitment event back in 2010. We were babies.

ten.
walk 100 miles. I know that seems a bit crazy but it actually breaks down to about a mile each day from now until Labor Day. I love to take walks so I am challenging myself to get out there and walk on the trails on the weekends or around my apartment complex after dinner. I am going to use this tracker.
Keep track of the miles you run this spring or summer with this free running mile tracker printable!  Challenge yourself to run (or walk!) 100 miles by a certain date. #100miles #miletracker #runningmotivation #miletrackerprintable
What's on your summer to-do list?

Best,
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Five on Friday

Hey y'all,

We made it to FRIYAY! It's going to be a rainy weekend here in NC which is unfortunate but I have a jam-packed weekend with church, barre3, a potluck, and a friend's 30th birthday party. I am sad to be missing out on Laura's Derby party so I hope you all bust out your fascinators to watch the race on Saturday night.

Just One More podcast.

I have been loving this body positive podcast. The two hosts are friends, one a "normal person" and one a personal trainer and nutrition coach. The episodes cover all sorts of things but focus on breaking up with diet culture, intuitive eating, and being the best version of you.

Lake Lynn.

On Sunday, a group of us in my small group got together at Lake Lynn for a walk. It was everyone's first time at Lake Lynn apart from me and it was fun showing my friends one of my favorite walking paths in Raleigh. I mean, who doesn't love a paved, mostly shaded walk around a lake with some turtle sightings?

Wake County Library Sale.

Yesterday kicked off the Wake County annual library sale. The sale is a mix of donated books and library discards and the funds raised go back into library programming. This was my first year hitting the sale on day one and I scored big with 11 books for $30. The sale runs through Sunday at the State Fairgrounds if you are in the area.

pool.

My apartment complex pool is now open! While the weather this weekend stinks for pool time I am hoping to spend time reading by the pool next week after work.

Work and Play podcast

Another podcast I am loving this week is Nancy Ray's new Work and Play podcast. There are three episodes and I would encourage you to listen to them all! They are packed full of great content.

Fun Things

This video of Taylor Swift getting her third cat
Jordan Wieber is named a NCAA head coach (and at 23!)
My parents are back in the US! My parents went on a 15 day cruise which meant 15 days without my daily call to my Mom. I'm glad to have them back and can't wait to hear all about their trip.

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika, Narci, and Andrea
What does your weekend look like?
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Throwback Thursday {Eat What You Love Tour}

Hey y'all,

I realized I never recapped my trip to downtown Raleigh for the Eat What You Love Tour back in January. I discovered Danielle Walker back in 2014 when I was on my first Whole30 and I have followed her since my diagnosis of lactose intolerance in February 2015.
Danielle has an autoimmune disorder which is helped by eliminating all grains from her diet. She has a very successful blog called Against All Grain and Eat What You Love is her fourth cookbook.

I purchased the tickets in the Fall to go with my friend Brooke to the book signing as VIP members. The event occurred on Brooke's actual birthday and a week before mine so it was the perfect way to kick off birthday week! Brooke and I were nervous about meeting Danielle after following her journey for so long! We chatted with her about our favorite recipes from her, got all of my books signed, then took a picture all together. Danielle was so sweet and I loved this moment together.

Then we sat down and peaked through our swag bag before heading to eat the samples as the other ticket holders entered the party. The food was amazing! The caterer took three recipes from Danielle's new book. We munched on cauliflower hummus with bare sweet potato chips, sweet potato fries with the New Primal BBQ sauce, and butterscotch pudding and snickerdoodle cookies. I was not a fan of the pudding but I am not a butterscotch fan but those cookies were to die for!
Then everyone sat down for the chat and cooking demo portion. Danielle talked about her journey and began making the snickerdoodle cookies and pudding with Lisa Leake as her guest.
 
I am also a big fan of Lisa Leake, not only because she is an NC blogger but her cookbooks are filled with quick, simple, meals.
Overall it was a fun night out in downtown Raleigh and I am excited to have met Danielle. I have yet to make anything out of the cookbook, whoops, but my goal is to make something before the end of the month. You can also read Danielle's recap on her blog here. While you are on her blog, I recommend making her chocolate veggie muffins! They are my favorite in the summer.

Have you ever been to a book signing event?

Best,
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What I'm Reading Wednesday {April Reads}

Hey y'all,

I cannot believe that it is already May! The weather in NC is warming up and I am ready for weekends spent reading by the pool in my complex. I am surprisingly on track to read 75 books this year as I finished my 25th book this week. April was a month of good books but not a whole lot of standouts except for the final book to the All Souls Trilogy. Here are the six books I finished this month.

Wicked Intentions

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1)Infamous for his wild, sensual needs, Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire, is searching for a savage killer in St. Giles, London's most notorious slum. Widowed Temperance Dews knows St. Giles like the back of her hand - she's spent a lifetime caring for its inhabitants at the foundling home her family established. Now that home is at risk.
Caire makes a simple offer-in return for Temperance's help navigating the perilous alleys of St. Giles, he will introduce her to London's high society so that she can find a benefactor for the home. But Temperance may not be the innocent she seems, and what begins as cold calculation soon falls prey to a passion that neither can control-one that may well destroy them both.

This is the first book of the Maiden Lane series which I accidentally started by reading book 6 last month. Maiden Lane is the street where the foundling home resides in St. Giles and this book begins with one of the home's caretakers looking for benefactors to keep the home running. She meets Lord Caire while on her way back from rescuing an infant. The story was a quick read and set up a lot of the characters for the remaining books. 3.5/5 stars.

The Book of Life-audiobook

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)Bringing the magic and suspense of the All Souls Trilogy to a deeply satisfying conclusion, this highly anticipated finale went straight to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In The Book of Life, Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

This is the final book in the All Souls Trilogy. I loved this series and there was a lot of action in this final novel. I think it was helpful that a lot of the questions you would ask in the first book finally had answers. While I wish there was more to the series since I love Matthew and Diana, I am glad Harkness came out with a book with some of the characters called Time's Convert which I hope to read in May. 4.5/5 stars.

Notorious Pleasures


Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancĂ©. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . . 
Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane #2)Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?

This is the second in the Maiden Lane series and I wasn't in love with the premise. I mean, can romance authors stop with the girl falling love with the brother of the guy she is engaged to? I did enjoy other characters in the book and wanted to keep going in the series especially for Silence's story which begins in this novel. 3/5 stars.

Scandalous Desires

Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3)Can a pirate learn that the only true treasure lies in a woman's heart? Widowed Silence Hollingbrook is impoverished, lovely, and kind - and nine months ago she made a horrible mistake. She went to a river pirate for help in saving her husband and in the process made a bargain that cost her her marriage. That night wounded her so terribly that she hides in the foundling home she runs with her brother. Except now that same river pirate is back . . . and he's asking for her help. 'Charming' Mickey O'Connor is the most ruthless river pirate in London. Devastatingly handsome and fearsomely intelligent, he clawed his way up through London's criminal underworld. Mickey has no use for tender emotions like compassion and love, and he sees people as pawns to be manipulated. And yet he's never been able to forget the naive captain's wife who came to him for help.

Book #3 in the Maiden Lane series and the book that I had been waiting for after so many glimpses of Silence in the previous books. It's the classic bad boy story with a few twists. This book continues to focus on the gin problems within St. Giles and reveals one of the main villains in the story and adds a lot of context and background to the area. Another quick read that continued to immerse me in Elizabeth's Hoyt's world and now I need to know more about the Ghost of St. Giles. 3.5/5 stars.

This is How it Always Is-audiobook


This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess.
This is How It Always IsWhen he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl.
Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.
This Is How It Always Is is a novel about revelations, transformations, fairy tales, and family. And it’s about the ways this is how it always is: Change is always hard and miraculous and hard again, parenting is always a leap into the unknown with crossed fingers and full hearts, children grow but not always according to plan. And families with secrets don’t get to keep them forever.

This was my book club's April pick and I hate I missed the meeting as I am sure this sparked a lot of discussion. This novel weaves together the family drama of walking through a child with gender dysphoria, discussions of safety for those that are different, and fairy tales. It did end very sweetly which I don't think is the most realistic in these situations but also presents some of the tragedies that occur in the transgendered community. 3/5 stars.

Verity

VerityLowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.
Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.
Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.

I am usually a big Colleen Hoover fan, but this change to a thriller was not for me. I love a good thriller but I felt that this one was a bit predictable and I was never really surprised when a "twist" occurred. I hope that the next Hoover novel is back to her quick, heartwrenching romance books that I cry over rather than another "romantic thriller." 3/5 stars.

What's on your to-read list?
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