2017 Summer Reading Challenge

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I love books. I always have and I think I always will. This school year was a pivotal year for Taelin, in terms of reading, so I really wanted a fun way to keep her going this summer. We have done the summer reading program at the library (and we are still doing that this summer) but that program counts all minutes spent reading. So the audio books we listen to on road trips and the books we read to her before bedtime all count. Which is great. But I really wanted her to be able to see what she is really capable of all on her own.

I also did not want to go all crazy Pinterest with this. There are so many great ideas (and I’m not knocking anyone who does them) but I know myself well enough and it just wanted to make this one simple. We talked about it for a long while and finally came up with the idea of just picking a number of books we were going to read by ourselves. I decided I am going to try and read 20 books (which is half of my 2017 goal) and Taelin decided she is going to read 40 chapter books.

When we get done with a book, we are just recording it on our paper and moving on to the next book. Now, a goal wouldn’t be a goal without something to sweeten the deal a little bit. So, if we both reach our goal, we get to go to the beach overnight. (I might have wanted a reason to plan a girl’s night at the beach.)

We have been trying to convince others to join us and, so far, we haven’t had any takers. So…if anyone wants to join us in the challenge, please do. We picked a number of books, but you could record time or pages or different genres. Anything you want! Just read!!!

I can tell we have already both added books to our list since I took this picture, but we both better get cracking if we are going to make our goal! In fact, I have a poetry book that is due to the library tomorrow that I should go and finish right now. Happy reading!

p.s….if you have an recommendations for a quick, fun summer read, tell me in the comments.

Where have I been?!?

I can not believe I let myself get so behind here. There have been so many times over the last 10 days where I thought, “I need to blog about that!” only to have another thing needing to get done. We haven’t transitioned well to a summer schedule yet and my writing time has suffered. Not to mention, we have had a few things going on.  Like this…

The total numbers of hours this girl danced in June is directly related to how much stuff I haven’t gotten done. But man, it has been so worth it.  The smile you see on her face right there (thank you Teresa for taking this photo) was pretty much been on her face the entire week leading up to and including the recital. (Except for the slight meltdown on the Wednesday when she couldn’t remember how to do about 16 counts of one of her 10 ten dances, that is.)

We had a lot of people come watch Taelin, which was pretty amazing. She was so happy that so many people were coming to watch her dance. Before having Taelin, I would have been hard pressed to believe that someone could find their passion so young, but I believe it now.

At any rate, the craziness is done and we have had a few days of settling in after all the company has left. Let the summer adventures continue!

Young at Art Class @ Santiam Brewing Co.

I am SO excited about a new adventure I have taken on this month!!! I have been teaching kids classes at Young at Art for a year this month and I have decided to branch out a little bit into the world of teaching painting classes to adults! I am a little bit nervous about it but mostly really excited to have the opportunity to try something new.

July 1st from 6:00-8:00, I am going to be teaching a painting class at Santiam Brewing Co. Santiam Brewing Co. is a local brewery that I absolutely LOVE! They have fantastic beer and a great tasting room where you can drink their fantastic beer. They also host some super fun events at the brewery and hopefully, these painting classes will become a regular part of those fun events.

Here is the a painting we are going to do…  Just perfect for the upcoming holiday!

If you are interested in signing up, you can do that here! There are only 20 spots so reserve your spot today!

Project 52: Week 22-Tree


Oh, this week’s word is rather fitting. I have been thinking about trees a lot lately..when I am rubbing my itchy eyes, blowing my runny nose, sneezing…you know, a lot. I have been so grateful for the sunshine and warm weather we have been having but it hasn’t come without a cost. Trees are one of my worst allergies and this year has been tough. When I am driving down the street and it looks like it is snowing but then I realize it is cotton from the cottonwoods, I know it isn’t ending anytime soon.


So, until it does get better, I will make sure I have plenty of kleenex and eye drops wherever I go.

This Month I Read…May 2017

What a wonderful month May was! I spent a lot of time reading and it was incredible…for the most part!

Ink and Bones by Lisa Unger had been on my to-read list for awhile. It is a creepy, thriller that I thought I would really love. But…it starts out with an 8 year old little girl getting kidnapped. A little too close to home. The story is told from a few different perspectives and it really kept the story moving. There is an element of fantasy in the book in the form of psychics and while it was central to the story, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Honestly, I think I probably would have liked the book just fine except I couldn’t get past the girl being Taelin’s age. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.

A Work of Art by Micayla Lally is the book I received when went to a class at Young at Art. I wrote about the class but didn’t review the book. I hate to say this but I really didn’t like this book. And it wasn’t just me…the friend that I took the class with didn’t like it either. The characters were shallow and I didn’t really like any of them. The writing was often rushed. Just, no.  Don’t read it. I went to re-sell it back to the bookstore and they didn’t even want it back. I gave this book a 1 out of 5 stars.

Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris was a book that a friend lent me. A friend that knows books and knows me and recommends great books. This book was set in Saudi Arabia and was steeped in the culture. I found myself fascinated by how the culture impacted the actions of all the characters in the book. A young girl, Nouf,  from a prominent family is found dead in the desert and the story follows the case to find out how this could have happened. This book was fantastic. It kept me guessing and I was totally and completely wrong when I found out at the end who-done-it.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon was a short poetry book I picked up at the bookstore on Independent Bookstore Day. It is organized into four sections and I found that I enjoyed the poems in the third section the best. Her poems covered many themes; grief and loss, family, culture, feminism. I enjoyed the book but only found a few that really made me stop and reread. I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck is a historical fiction that was recommended to me by a friend. It tells the story of several women during and after WWII. The castle, before the war, was a place of beautiful parties. It was also where a plan the assassinate Hilter was hatched. The plan was foiled, men executed and three widows come together, back at the castle. The writing in this book was beautiful and captured the struggles of the women and their friendships over time. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline was a book that had me from the first page. Things are not as they seem in this book. Set in a suburban city, the story centers around a man, Chris Brennan, who comes to teach at the local high school. He seems to be particularly interested in 4 boys, each with their own story. The twists and turns in this book kept me reading quickly and I finished this book in two days, surprised by how it ended. Scottoline is quickly becoming a go-to author for me. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney was my Blogging for Books book this month. You can find my review here!

The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney was another thriller that I picked up at the library. This book told the story of two women, both who found themselves living in an unusual situation after both of them experience traumatic life events. A house that has a huge list of rules and requirements by the architect is where both these women end up living, Emma first and then Jane. Jane learns early on that Emma died in the house but the details surrounding the death are sketchy. As the story unfolded, I was left trying to figure things out…and again was wrong, which I kind of like! I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read anything good lately that I need to add to my to-read list? Summer is here…which means more time to read!



June Classes @ Young at Art

How is it June already!?! It seems like we just started 2017!  But the beginning of a new month means new classes at Young at Art. This month, I am doing one regular class and one 2-day camp. It is going to be so much fun!

One Watermelon Seed is the going to serve as the inspiration for the first class of the summer. This adorable counting book will get us in the mood for summer and then we will paint! If you are interested, you can sign up here. The class is on June 14th and is only $10!

My first camp for the summer is on June 28th and 29th from 10:00-11:30. I am going to read some of my favorite Dr. Seuss books during these two days and then have activities inspired by the books. I know for sure we will do one canvas using The Lorax but I am still trying to finalize the other projects.  I do know it will be fun! You can sign up here for only $25.

And, of course, there are many other classes available this month at Young at Art.  Check out the class schedule page if you are interested!

Instant Pot Beef Barley Soup

I know.  It’s June.  Why am I sharing a recipe for Beef Barley soup in June? Because I am.

I made a HUGE roast the other day and I had already served it for leftovers two different ways and still had some left and so I decided to make soup. Beef barley soup is one of my favorites so I thought I would try my hand at it. Barley can take a long time to cook and it can be kind of picky when it comes to the stove top but having the Instant Pot has taken all the guess work out of it.  I kind of made it up as I went along after looking up the cooking time for barley and it turned out really good!


  • 7 cups of beef broth
  • 2 cups cooked shredded beef
  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • canned/frozen veggies


  1. First, add 5 cups of beef broth, the shredded beef and the pearl barley to the instant pot. Manual for 25 minutes and the barley is perfectly done. Change the setting to ‘saute’ once you have removed the lid.
  2. Mix the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste with the remaining 2 cups of beef broth and add to instant pot.
  3. Add whatever veggies you want.  I added a drained can of mixed vegetables which then took no time to heat.
  4. Eat it.

Again, I never add salt to my cooking because Joe adds so much to his food and I don’t use pepper because Joe doesn’t like pepper but I added both to my bowl of soup before I ate it.  It was delicious and I feel like I can barely call this a recipe but technically it is I guess.  So, this makes 2 of the 10 new Instant Pot recipes I am trying!

Project 52: Week 21-Soft

I am a sucker for warm, soft blankets. I am usually the cold one in a house full of naturally warm people so it wouldn’t be strange to see me wrapped up in a blanket. Joe got me a new one for Christmas, even though I say we couldn’t possibly need anymore blankets. I am so glad he didn’t listen to me.  This blanket, while doing it’s job regarding warmth, is seriously the softest blanket I have ever felt.  It is perfect for reading, writing, watching t.v. or taking nap.  It is seriously the best.

Oh. My. Word. I just made money writing!

I am seriously so excited about writing this post I am probably going to have to reread it far more than usual before I hit publish.  When I first built my 101 in 1001 list, I added #64 in the hopes of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.  What is #64, you ask?  Well, it is “make money writing”.  And today, I get to check this one off the list!

For awhile, I have been exploring the idea, of thinking about the possibility, of maybe doing some freelance writing but it wasn’t until this month that I committed to the idea and actually did something about it. So, earlier this month I made an account on Upwork, a website that connects people that need work done with people that can do it. I figured out how it worked and to my surprise, after my first couple proposals, was offered a chance to write an article.  So, I wrote the article.  Then, they put it on their website. And then, they paid me.


This will hopefully be the first of many opportunities I have to earn money with my writing but this first time is seriously very cool. And a little scary. But, mostly very cool.

And in case anyone here wants to read my article…you can find it here! ACK!