Top 10 Books I Read in 2018

I started the year out with a goal of reading 52 books in 2018.  While I am bummed I did not hit 52, I did read 41 and I can’t be mad about it.  I would never have read that many if I did not set a goal to begin with! (I will share my full list on another post!)

Reading is a passion of mine and I am obsessed with getting lost in a good book.  Ever since I was little I remember falling in love with fictional characters, story lines and allowing my imagination to run wild as I read though words on pages.  It’s become tricky to make the time nowadays, but this is the year of #noexcuses.

I went to school for many years to become an English teacher and I honestly wonder how many books I read through my 4 years in undergrad and then a few more as I completed my Master’s Degree. I didn’t read many books for pleasure during those years, but I did read some great books!

Out of the 41 books, I chose these 10 as my “WOW” books.  These are books I think of often, connected with, learned something and really just had a great vibe with.  As you can tell, I read all types of genres!  I really want to up my memoir game, so if there are any you’d recommend, let me know.  I love me some professional development and typically listen to the audiobook version.  Hands down, my favorite way to read is an actual hardcover book, but I do use my phone/iPad with the Kindle app, Audible and Overdrive apps too.

My top 10:

Braving the Wilderness

I do appreciate Brené Brown’s books.  She puts forth a lot of research and shares her thoughts unapologetically.  This book was really worth the read, especially if you’re someone who struggles with the past election.  She talks about how we can all be different, have different viewpoints, but we must stop attacking each other.  While I am not here to debate whether our president is a good fit, she makes some valid points about how we should act.  If you get offended over mockery of Hillary Clinton, then as a HUMAN you should get offended over mockery of Donald Trump.  I had a photo I thought about sharing, of a bunch of Women marching, with signs of genitals and horrible things said about Republican women and such.  It proves Brown’s point of how is that acceptable? What are we teaching our daughters by tearing down other people simply on their political views?  My favorite quote from this book, “Stop looking for ways you’re not belonging.”  Wow.  So true!! If you look for it, you will find it.

Educated

Wow.  This memoir is so beautifully written and Tara endured a life that doesn’t even seem like it could have happened–but it did.  She didn’t receive any formal education until the age of 17.  Can you fathom? The way her father controlled her and her brothers and sisters as well as her mother, was so bizarre and yet from Tara’s point of view, as the reader you can empathize with why and how this family lived (ie. Mormon survivalists)   Her will power and perseverance is undoubtedly some of the strongest I’ve encountered.  It has some hard to read moments, but at the same time is absolutely worth every page flip. Tara is an extremely talented writer and the literary elements are beyond expectations.  If you are a lover of words and language, she strings sentences together so beautifully to tell her story.

The Wisdom of Sundays

If you love Oprah and her courage, optimism and voice, get the audio version of this book!  There are many little interviews from other amazing people, authors with their spiritual lessons.  I will most likely listen to parts of this book again this year.  (You will find other books to read from these authors!) We only get one life and Oprah helps us uncover how to live our best lives and feel everything along the way.  Our spiritual connection with other humans and purposes is one that will elevate us to the next level.

Little Fires Everywhere

Get ready for a book hangover with this book!  It’s so wonderfully written–this story and its characters will stick with you for awhile.  This coming of age story, intermixed with interesting topics of adoption– is motherhood more about blood relation or is is the bond of love?  You will be turning each page in anticipation to see where the story leads and will not be disappointed.

The Last Mrs Parrish

Coming off of The Wife Between Us I had a total book hangover. I wanted to call the characters and see what was going on.  I didn’t think this next book could hold a candle to it as far as keeping my attention or desire to read another book right away. Boy was I wrong!! I read this one probably even faster?! It had such great detail, and right away your instincts and detective skills are trying to figure out what this main character is up to and what is really going on.  You love to hate some of these people and you really develop a desire to know how it will all unfold.  It will keep you up reading til midnight.   I loved how the book ended, and while I won’t give it away, I will say it was a little over the top…but in a good way.  Sometimes what seems perfectly perfect, may not be so perfect after all.  Definitely a must read in 2018!

Where the Crawdads Sing

This was one of my last novels of 2018 and it was a quick listen! I could not put it down.  I fell in love with the main character and felt for her every step of the way.  Basically abandoned at her home in Marsh, Kya’s tale of survival and success is so beautifully told.  You’ll empathize with her in more ways than one and I promise that it’s totally worth reading until the very last sentence!  You’ll love some characters and despise others; I recommend finding a reading buddy to chat about what happens.

Small Great Things

This is one of my first Jody Picoult books and wow.  Just wow! I listened to it over the Summer when we were in the South taking in all the history, so it truly was a perfectly timed read for me.  It delves into the topics of White Supremacy and racial issues; an African American nurse is refused by a white couple to deliver their baby, and the baby dies shortly after birth.  This story was well researched and beautifully told.  It gives insight as to how or why people act, say and do things they do.  I’m for sure not saying that they are right, but you only know, what you only know–and this book is a must read for everyone.  I absolutely loved listening to this book.

Girl Wash Your Face

Ah, Rachel Hollis.  I could and should devote an entire blog post or two to her.  She’s a firecracker for sure and lays it ALL on the line.  She tells ya how it is, like it or not, take it or leave it.  In my humble opinion, those that resonate with her, are like her.  Real, honest, raw & truth-seekers.  Those that continue to attack her, her Christian faith, her ideals, morals, her choice in running an empire and the ways she mothers, really blow my mind, but like I said, another blog post.  The book itself helps out women at any age re-discover that yes, her happiness matters.  Yes, it’s okay to put ourselves first as moms and wives.  It’s okay to want to work and build an empire–she almost gives permission to go out and fail, live out your dreams, no matter what the age. My mother gained a ton from reading this book, friends of mine have and clearly I am huge Rachel Hollis fan girl.  If you are questioning your life’s purpose, self worth or what the hell am I even doing?  Read her book.  She talks to you like a friend and spills a lot of her soul; you may just find out that yes sister, you were indeed made for more.

Think your Way to Wealth

Throwing in some good stuff here.  This old school book would get some feminist panties in a bunch I tell ya! Haha.  I love Napolean Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, the “O.G.” as my husband calls it.  This is his interview with Andrew Carnegie so there are a lot of simialr themes throughout this book, but told slightly different.  I 100% agree with some of his philosophies on how to make money, stay wealthy and the steps along the way to get there. One of my favorite quotes from the book was, “Idle Minds tend to develop ailing bodies.”  Whoa, ain’t that the truth! If you surround yourself by garbage and feed your brain nothing but crazy, your body will probably fail you earlier than if you are constantly re-inventing yourself, becoming a better you each and every day.  So often I see people play the victim and sit back and give every excuse in the book as to why he’s not better, richer, smarter, more in shape, whatever.  Either you want it, or you don’t.  “Do the thing and you will have the power.” – Emerson, from this book.

The Wife Between Us

It’s been awhile since a book has really held my attention and made me devour it in a sitting or two.  This book did exactly that!! I couldn’t tell who was who, what was really happening, who was the crazy one?! It had so many twists and turns, that it kind of did feel a little loose at the ending. I won’t give anything away, but I am still left with questions…that are unanswered and that always annoys me!  However, this book was JUST what I needed to get back into the reading saddle.  I despised some characters, felt sorry for some, and really was thrown off by a few things that came up.  There was some bothersome subject matter, but overall this book kicked off our book club and if you like Gone Girl type books, I’d say totally pick this one up or at least at it to your TBR pile.

 

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Year in Review

In January we threw our 3 & 5 year old a Troll Birthday Party

Rent to Own Open House was held come February, for our real estate business.

March made me lose my mind and We got a Puppy! 

My bestie got us tickets and in April I met RHONJ Teresa Guidice!!

May brought The Most Beautiful Mother’s Day Yet!

June was stressful but we still enjoyed Father’s Day & Family Time

Joe & I celebrated July and Our 8th Wedding Anniversary

On 8.18.18 My Momma Got Married!

September brought back to school.  (I vowed myself to be a present and happy mama when getting my oldest off to Kindergarten & my youngest starting Pre-school.  I made the after school cookies, I cooked healthy meals & was very in the moment. Apparently I was so in the moment with that I barely blogged…I did share some Fall Fashion. 

October I made an attempt to blog every day, and re-introduced myself.

November came and we Stay-Cationed.

Queen of Christmas, I made sure to soak up all the things in December.

Overall, 2018 was a pretty kick-butt year.  We had some downers, and I’ve learned not to trust people so easily.  (ALWAYS PERFORM A GOOGLE SEARCH!!!!) My family grew closer, loved ones beat illness, bonds grew stronger, we traveled with the kiddos on a plane and by the way, they just keep growing bigger and bigger!  Getting a puppy was probably the most stressful and one of the harder things of the year.  Things were just getting into a groove with the kids being older, and well having a puppy is legit 10x harder than a child. I said it.

I’ve learned a lot this past year.  I feel like I’ve finally understood how precious time and who and what to give my time to.  I pretty much re-learn weekly that I need to put myself first sometimes and that in order to give, I need to take time outs for just me.

I’m working on letting go, I know I’m a control freak and I want things to go a certain way.  Like this blog; I write because my soul craves it and my heart feels so happy when I share.  However, I struggle with how much I share because anyone can read it.  I’m always real, authentic and honestly don’t know how to be any other way.  This is my happy place and if I’m going through something I share because maybe my words could resonate with someone else.

There is so much power in written words.

I pray my words will be used for good and not against me.

I’m hopeful and excited for the new year.  I will be sharing my “word of the year” for 2019 soon and have quite a few blog posts already scheduled–who dis?!

Have a beautiful New Year’s Eve and stay safe friends!

 

Staycation Re-cap

My favorite part of Joe taking off from his full time job?  Being able to be around for the little things.  I love that he’s able to get outdoors and hunt; it’s truly his only passion/hobby outside of the kids, myself & working hard/making money.

We started out the week with some warmer weather, so it was nice to take a walk with Bradley and Holly.  Brooke had some homework so I had Joe help her.  When we got back from the walk, they had turned it into a game show and she was a spelling machine!

Tuesday Brooke had a half day and we got dressed up to go out to lunch.

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The sun was shining, there were blue skies and the leaves were hitting the last of their peak colors.

After lunch we went to a mall to look for some work pants for Joe, but Banana Republic was just gone!  It’s so sad to see brick and mortar stores closing left and right.  The kids had fun playing in the play area though!

I took a lot of time to self-reflect, hone in on what makes me happy and felt a huge shift in my spirits.

Joe snuck in plenty of hunting time and while Brooke danced, Bradley and I went to the library.  It seems to be our new thing!

I had some early morning wake-ups; Joe likes to be out of the house by 6 am (or so?) and I get up to make him a hearty breakfast.  Bailey enjoys the alone time after he leaves.  It’s just us two until the kiddos wake up.

I saw this and started implementing it.  Being present in every day moments seems to help any feelings of ill ease, overwhelm, stress or anxiety.

I saw Bradley’s turkey at preschool and couldn’t resist snapping a pic.   His neck/head may be a little lower than it should be, but isn’t that what makes it perfect?

Getting to the gym a few times a week has been such a game changer for me.  Releasing toxins, sweating out the day’s stress and focusing on my health is so important.  I can never forget this again!

I feel very open to the universe lately and seem to be receiving all sorts of signs, quotes, affirmations and know that I am in good alignment.

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We finally put in a new rug in our living room again.  It’s been since March (when we got Bailey as a puppy) and she’s pretty much house trained I would say 98%.  It’s nice to have a rug again!

I took this one to Wegmans for lunch after school and clearly this photo says it all.  Pizza is life.

We even got out on a Friday night date night!!

We checked out a swanky new place, Skybar.  It was pretty cool!  We went super early since Joe wanted to go hunting the next day, so it was not busy at 9pm, obvs.  They had champs so all was well!  We can’t wait to go back and check it out when it’s busier.

This girl decided to hang out with her doll finally!! It was pretty cute.  Santa may have to bring some fun accessories for her!

I started this book! I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader copy and so far so good!! I love me a good thriller and the authors wrote one of my favorites from 2018, The Wife Between Us.

I ended the week with some family time, baking pies with my step-mom and sister.  The apple pie was delish!  Here’s to more family fun coming up for Thanksgiving.

Have you ever “staycationed”?  We do it every year so hubby can hunt. I can’t say that I mind it one bit!!

Favorite Youtubers

I do love me some Youtube!!

I find a ton of inspiration from here.  Whether it’s meal planning, parenting, cleaning, reading or working out, there are videos out there for everything.

I really started getting into Youtube when I was pregnant with my first baby.  I wanted to know all things about pregnancy and being a new mom.  It was so helpful!

Throughout the years my faves are still on my to watch list. Here are just a few!

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Way to Relax

When the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, and it will at times, the best thing to do is stop– just take a time out.  I used to think in order to really, “relax” I had to have hours on end or even a whole day.  While that is really, REALLY nice, it’s not that practical when you’re a momma of two littles, two crazy dogs, a wife to a hard working hubby and a business owner.

I have learned to ‘pause’ and steal away moments in my hectic day to relax.

One of my favorite moments was July 1st.  I woke up really early on a Sunday and told my husband I just needed a little quiet time.  I had no idea where I was going, but off I went.  I hit up Starbucks for my beloved Matcha Green Tea Latté and found myself at the beach watching the sunrise.  Being present in nature, especially with such a beautiful display of God’s creation, I was more than relaxed.

If I am home and can’t run off alone, I will sometimes make a cup of tea, turn on some quiet jazz music and put away/shut off the phone.  The act of making a cup of tea is so serene to me.  If I’m feeling lousy, a little English Breakfast Tea, half and half & tsp of sugar can cure pretty much anything.  A cute mug always helps!  I’ve got my eye on this one!

 

If it’s nice out, I’ll go outside to sip it.  Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes, just taking a little break helps me out so much!

Bradley doesn’t always nap, but if he does I force myself to sit down (around 2 or 3 pm usually) and take a break.  A healthy snack, some essential oils & tea are a perfect way to break up the day.

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I also will scroll through some uplifting quotes to try and straighten out my mindset.

I firmly believe what we think about, we bring about.

If you focus on what you don’t want, you will get more of that.

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I am the first to admit, sometimes I get too caught up in #goals and #hustling I don’t stop to appreciate the life I have.  I need the reminder to stop and pause.  It’s a must!

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Another way I love to relax is curling up with a good book.  This is my current read for my upcoming Book Club at the Wine Bar.  Feared: A Rosato & DiNunzio Novel

As per one of my last posts, I don’t watch a lot of shows on TV to relax, but I do have This is Us that I like.  (haven’t watched it much yet this season though!)

Blogging is a form of relaxation for me.

Pouring a glass of wine & cooking up a storm is pure therapy for me. It’s truly my happy place!

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I don’t do much crazy decorating, mostly because we’ll be moving soon and with two dogs and two kids, a lot gets ruined…but I do try to take time and make the house feel like a home.

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Cuddling with the kids is quite relaxing.  I also love snuggling with the pups when they aren’t too crazy, they too can be quite relaxing!

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Don’t get me wrong, a trip to the Spa for a facial, massage & pedicure are certainly some of my favorite ways to relax!  I just can’t afford to go there weekly, (darn!) so I find it so vital to sneak in ways daily to rejuvenate.  Filling my cup is so important to me.  When I provide self-care, everything runs a lot smoother.

What are your favorite ways to relax?