2017 Reading Challenge…Complete!

Last January, I started a reading challenge on Goodreads to fulfill #100 on my 101 in 1001 list. I can officially say that I have completed it and then some!  My goal was to read 40 books this year and I have already read 50 with three months to go! It has been a while since I have posted my latest reads but there have been some good ones!

Some of these were extremely heavy books. Evicted by Matthew Desmond, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, and The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner all non-fiction books that tackled the tough topics of race and poverty.  All three are important books.

Obviously, it being summer I added a bunch of “summer reads” from some of my favorite authors that were just quick, fun reads.  I can almost always count on Lisa Scottline and John Grisham to give me exactly what I am looking for.  Another really great read that I devoured this past weekend was The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware.  I will be looking for more books by her, for sure.

My other two favorites from this collection were Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. I have read a lot of WWII historical fiction and just when I think I can’t read anything new about the Holocaust, I am surprised. Lilac Girls did just that.  And Brown Girl Dreaming; an incredible memoir written in poetry. I loved Jacqueline Woodson before and I love her even more after reading this book.

I expect my reading to slow down at this point, but I have a few books on my to-read stack that I plan on getting to before the year is done!




The Secret of Change is to Focus all of your Energy, not on Fighting the old, but on building the new. ~Socrates

During the summer I had an unexpected opportunity. I was on vacation in Idaho when I heard from the Executive Director of the A.C. Gilbert House here in Salem. For those of you not local, the A.C. Gilbert House is a children’s museum in a collection beautiful old houses down by the riverfront park. We have spent many hours there since Taelin was old enough to walk.
Last year, I did some contract work for them redesigning their field trip offerings. Little did I know that a small contract job would turn into something new and exciting. Starting this month, I am the Education Coordinator for the Gilbert House and will be working there three days a week while Taelin’s in school.
There’s a lot more I could write about this new adventure but if I’m honest the weeks before starting this job were occupied with great hesitation. August was kind of one long Sunday, with lots of worry and wondering about what in the world I was thinking. And since I’ve started and now in my third week we are just trying to get into a new routine.
Monday-Wednesday I will be at the Gilbert House between dropping Taelin off and picking her up from school. Thursday and Friday I am teaching at Taelin’s school. Tuesday and Thursday evenings I’m working at Taelin’s dance studio. I signed a contract with a blog to write four blogs posts a month, although I haven’t heard many details about this yet which I am increasingly okay with.
Oh, and my house will still probably need to be cleaned, laundry done and meals made. (Unless I could talk everyone in my house to eat cereal for dinner half the time.)
It feels big. Like really big. And overwhelming if I get too ahead of myself. Which I do all the time.
I don’t know what is going to happen with this space. I love writing so much. I feel so much more grounded when I write on a regular basis. I wish I had a grand plan for how I am going to make this all happen. But I don’t.
I’m going to try and be better about asking for help. There is never been a time I’ve ever asked for help that Joe hasn’t answered “yes” every time. I’m going to try and menu plan a lot more purposefully to make the evenings I work easier. I’m going to try and be present where I am, when I am there and leave things in the space when I leave.
I need to remember to build the new and not fight the old.  Fingers crossed.

The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook by Coco Morante

I was SO excited when I saw this book on the Blogging for Books list!  I have been using my Instant Pot quite a bit lately but I am always looking for recipes that I can try and possibly add to our favorites.

This cookbook has a lot of recipes but I found something about myself. I don’t like multi-step recipes for the Instant Pot. The whole reason I have an Instant Pot is so that I can put ingredients in the pot, set it, walk away to do something else before I need to serve dinner and then eat. Many of the recipes in the book have multiple steps where you would have to come back to the pot several times. Too much work for what I am looking for.

There are a couple of recipes I am very excited to try.  I would say though that the favorite parts of the cookbook, weren’t the recipes but the other information. There is a whole section at the beginning of the book that shared the different tools that are helpful.  For instance, I learned how to steam things using the Instant Pot.  I had no idea that I could use my steamer in there…now maybe it will be used for something other than a hat!

At the end of the book, there were several REALLY helpful charts about cooking times. Honestly, one of the biggest things I have been trying to do is convert the recipes I love but take a long time to bake. With the charts this book has, it made it much clearer how I can figure out cooking times.

I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.

The Heirs by Susan Rieger

I have started being pickier about the books that I am reading for Blogging for Books after a couple of books that I didn’t enjoy very much…and boy am I glad I did.  I waited for awhile to find a fiction book that sounded really good and The Heirs was a great pick.

The story centers around Rupert Falkes, a father and husband who has died, leaving behind a widow and five sons.  There is an inheritance that has been counted on by several of the sons and the whole thing gets thrown into disarray when another women comes forward claiming she has two sons fathered by Rupert. The story unravels from there, revealing little by little that Rupert Falkes isn’t necessarily the man his family thought he was.

There were some very unlikable characters in this book. The idea of somebody being owed an inheritance is foreign to me so the shallow behavior brought about because of the entitlement some of the characters felt was a turnoff. I don’t know if that was the author’s intent or not, but the characters were all so well-developed it was hard to not have an opinion about it!

I gave this books 3 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review.