17 April 2020

Five Favorites on Friday {April 17}

Hey y'all,

We made it another week. Last week was a hard week and this week was a good start. I started to change up my schedule and workout as a transition almost like a commute as soon as I finish up work for the day. I did it M-W and yesterday had to run and grab my groceries. I have been doing Barre3 online but I am going to try restorative yoga on the Peloton app today.

one. Facetime Friday.

This makes week three of having a standing Friday night Facetime with two of my best friends. Its great to have something to look forward to at the end of the week and I love spending almost two hours each week catching up and taking about the most random things like cleaning youtube inspiration. We have had themes the last two weeks of party hat night then pajama night. Tonight is Fancy Friday. I'm lucky to have these sweet friends since Fall 2008 when we all joined Phi Beta Chi!
Throwback to our semi-formal Fall 2009

two. Saranoni blanket.

I love my Saranoni blankets. I first heard of them thanks to Andrea and grabbed my first one in July during Prime Day and then grabbed two more in a grab bag later that summer. I have been grabbing for mine more and more as I snuggle on the couch during days filled with data entry or quick research. This is the size I have in white and I also have the home throw size.

three. Grout Scrubber.

This is super random but I grabbed this grout scrubber from Rubbermaid when I did a Target pick-up order and it is amazing. I first saw it on Instagram thanks to @goclean.co and since scrubbing the shower is one of my least favorite chores I thought I would give it a chance. It is amazing. I have only done a few sections and will deep clean my shower grout this weekend. Yes, I am excited to clean my shower which tells you the product is amazing. You can grab on Amazon here but the Target option came with both brush heads.

four. Meal Planning Inspiration.

I don't know about you but I can often get in a meal planning rut. I have been really enjoying YouTube videos for both recipe inspiration as well as ideas on how to monthly grocery shop. I have been following these accounts:

five. Simplified Team Lives.

The Simplified Team has been hosting happy chats on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays with the women of the team. I have loved Monday's chat with Dusty all about food prep and then Wednesday was a chat on Whitney's garden. Today's chat is with Jessa Bray that paints some of the covers. You can find the chats here.

I'm linking up with Erika, Narci, and Andrea

And linking up with TifBeckyDellaWhitney, and Whitney.

What are you up to this weekend? Any home projects? Currently reading?


16 April 2020

NC Apartment Tour {Living Room & Coat Closet}

Hey y'all,

As I shared last week, I am taking this time to finally photograph and post my apartment. I have lived in this space for over a year and a half and it's the perfect size for a one-bedroom one bath. If you missed last week's post, I shared my dining room. I have an open concept main space so it made sense to start with these spaces first. Here's my living room and the coat closet. I also use this closet to store a few random things like my sleeping bag, queen sized air mattress, luggage set, and my vacuum. I also store my extra paper goods in this closet.
Am I the only one that kept their high school and college regalia?
Here's the overall view of my living room when I stand in my kitchen.
While I do get a lot of natural light in my apartment, this room has no overhead lighting so I rely on the entry overhead light and my two lamps.

This starburst mirror was a HomeGoods find and hold my name-tag badge for BSF.
I have had this organizer since my first apartment. The cube of books on the left are ones from my shelf I want to read soon. The cube on the right is all my library books I have yet to read. When I finish a library book it goes in the "J" canvas tote. The two bins are filled with my scarves.
I'm obsessed with blankets and all things cozy so this basket holds my T-shirt blanket, sloth blanket, two Saranoni blankets, and one other random HomeGoods throw.
My TV stand is from Target. I received the TV as a gift from my parents when I moved out after college. I use a Fire TV stick to stream all my shows. I keep candles in the canvas bins and games on the bottom shelf. 

The giant Volcano candle was part of the Nordstrom sale last summer. 
This chair and pillow are both from Target. I also grabbed this bookshelf my junior year of college at Target and it still going strong 13+ years later.
I keep my home gym equipment in this bin along with a foam roller and yoga mat that hide behind the chair. This book shelf is focused on my devotionals and Christian living books. I also have my Jane Austen collection over here. The wicker bins hold my She Reads Truth study books and my coloring supplies for when I want to do some adult coloring. It even holds my crayon tower which I got when I was in college and would color for stress relief.
Max's toy basket is actually an old American Girl basket. My cat is also weird and even though he has a water bowl right next to his feeder, he only drinks from this Tupperware in my living room. His little cat tower was actually an Aldi find.
My little shrine to my Alma Mater. I worked at UNC for over five years post-grad and one of the departments I worked at gave me the Carolina book and everyone signed it.
On the other side of my window is this nook. I grabbed both of these prints from Hobby Lobby.

My monogrammed boat tote (I have the Extra Large with zipper top. They were running a 50% sale so I would check back often if you want one) holds more blankets and during the summer I put all my pool towels there. The plastic tub holds my counted cross-stitch patterns and projects.
I did have a floor lamp that was sacrificed during my first week of social distancing when I knocked it over and broke the bulb and shade. The lamp itself was actually broken at the base which I discovered and then it started to fall. That lamp had been my grandparent's and had been at my first postgrad apartment. This lamp was a target clearance find and I am looking for a new shade. The pillows are an Ikea purchase.
Here's the majority of my book collection. I purge my books regularly and only keep those of my favorite authors or ones I think I will reread. I donate all my old books to the library in my parent's town. They sell their donated books and library discards in a sale four times a year. The sales raise about $30,000 a year for the library's programs and special events.
My couch is from Ashley Furniture (the Chamberly collection and is part of a larger sectional option. I liked that idea since if I end up purchasing a home soon I can always purchase more pieces to create a large sectional. I did slipcover the pillows that it came with since they were a yellow print. My slipcovers are all from Ikea.

The coffee table is a Target purchase and one of the few things Max likes to scratch when I am not at home. I keep my extra dining table linens and some guest towels in my coffee table.
On my tray I keep tissues always since I am prone to cry during a tv show or movie. I have also been doing my devotionals more and more on my couch so I moved some pens and highlighters to the tray. I always use coffee mugs as pen holders since I have been gifted so many.

My coffee table books:

What Max should scratch instead of my coffee table.
My cedar chest holds extra comforters for guests and Max liked to lay on the chair cushions for naps in the sun. I picked up this cat scratcher from T.J. Maxx. The curtains are from Target from over 5 years ago.

What are your go-to stores for home decor?


15 April 2020

Recent Pantry and Freezer Eats

Hey y'all,

It is weird to think we are on week five of social distancing. I thought I would share some of the meals I have made over the last month to help give you some ideas. I promise nothing I make is complicated and most are pantry staple friendly. I grew up in a family of six and learned to love leftovers and simple meals. I also lucked out that I received a Butcher Box the week before social distancing began so I have plenty of chicken and ground beef for making meals for one so I haven't purchased any meat from the grocery store. I am currently following the WW Green plan and if you have any questions or also follow WW let me know. I am happy to include point values if anyone wants them.

Vanilla Non-Fat Yogurt with Safe + Fair Birthday Cake granola
Pancake Bake. Take Pancake Mix and follow the instructions (this was a just add water mix) put in a cake pan and bake at 350 for about 20 mins. I served it with chicken breakfast sausage from Aldi and strawberries. 

My favorite cereal Berry Berry Kix with almond milk.
More cereal
Plain bagel thin with whipped cream cheese. canned pineapple chunks with a few enjoy life chocolate chips.

Simple turkey and colby jack sandwich with veggie straws. I also made ranch dip with the Primal Palate garden ranch mix to eat with some carrots.
Another sandwich - hard salami, mustard, american cheese. White cheddar Cheetos.
Alexia House Cut fries and Popcorn chicken (from Aldi)
Homemade Pizza. I used a thin crust from Whole Foods, mozzarella, pepperoni, and a some tomato sauce. I whipped up a quick Caesar salad.
Bagel Thin sandwich - turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo. Veggies. Ranch dip. White Cheddar Cheetos.

Trader Joe's frozen turkey burger patty. Alexia House Cut Fries. I mix spring mix and the sunflower crunch mix salad.
Baguette from a local bakery. Butter. Ham. White Cheddar.

Carrots and Ranch Dip
Applesauce with cinnamon and mini chocolate chips
Zesty Ranch Veggie Straws
Scoops and Salsa
Fuji Apple. Celery. Peanut butter. Raisins.
Veggies and Ranch Dip

Macaroni and Cheese. BBQ Chicken (chicken breast cooked in the slow cooker with BBQ sauce)
Chicken Hibachi (from the Defined Dish). Brown Rice. Makoto Yum Yum Sauce.
One-Pot Hamburger Helper from the Defined Dish
Pasta Salad - Italian seasoned pork tenderloin from the freezer. Mozzarella (string cheese chopped up), olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, Parmesan, rotini.
Spaghetti with sauce I made and froze a few months ago. I served it with a side salad and used the Olive Garden Italian dressing.

What have you been eating?


14 April 2020

What I Read in March

Hey y'all,

March was a strange month adjusting to our new normal so I didn't spend a whole lot of time reading and with my commute and all driving really ending in the middle of the month I don't even have an audiobook to add to the list. It also didn't help that I decided on two pretty heavy books this month that had me in tears so I rounded out the end of the month with a bit of romance fluff. Here's the four books I read in March.

Cilka's Journey

In this follow-up to The Tattooist of Auschwitz, the author tells the story, based on a true one, of a woman who survives Auschwitz, only to find herself locked away again.
Cilka's Journey: A Novel (Tattooist of Auschwitz Book 2) by [Heather Morris]Cilka Klein is 18 years old when Auschwitz-Birkenau is liberated by Soviet soldiers. But Cilka is one of the many women who is sentenced to a labor camp on charges of having helped the Nazis--with no consideration of the circumstances Cilka and women like her found themselves in as they struggled to survive. Once at the Vorkuta gulag in Sibera, where she is to serve her 15-year sentence, Cilka uses her wits, charm, and beauty to survive.

I loved the Tattooist of Auschwitz last year (it was actually my book club's pick for March this year) and was intrigued to hear that the author was going to continue the story with Cilka's journey. This story was heartbreaking and full of hope like the Tattooist of Auschwitz as Cilka journeys from the Nazi controlled concentration camp to Siberia to work at a work-camp due to her "collaboration" with the Nazis (really being raped and trying to survive). If you enjoyed the first book, I would recommend this book as a follow-up. It is different as Morris did not interview Cilka personally but rather interviewed others who knew her and those that lived in the Soviet work camps. I had not heard much about Soviet work camps until this story so it was again a different perspective of the WWII historical fiction that is popular right now. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Before and After

From the 1920s to 1950, Georgia Tann ran a black-market baby business at the Tennessee Children's Home Society in Memphis. She offered up more than 5,000 orphans tailored to the wish lists of eager parents--hiding the fact that many weren't orphans at all, but stolen sons and daughters of poor families, desperate single mothers, and women told in maternity wards that their babies had died.
Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children's Home SocietyThe publication of Lisa Wingate's novel Before We Were Yours brought new awareness of Tann's lucrative career in child trafficking. Adoptees who knew little about their pasts gained insight into the startling facts behind their family histories. Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees in this book, many determined Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families.
Before and After includes moving and sometimes shocking accounts of the ways in which adoptees were separated from their first families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In Before and After, Wingate and Christie tell of first meetings that are all the sweeter and more intense for time missed and of families from very different social backgrounds reaching out to embrace better-late-than-never brothers, sisters, and cousins. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with Wingate and Christie to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children's Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results.

Another follow-up book which requires tissues. I was appalled reading Before We Were Yours last year and learning about the Tennessee Children's Home Society for the first time. I am so glad that the adoption process has changed drastically over the last 50 years to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. I literally cried in almost every chapter of this book as those that were in the home or connected to Georgia Tann tell their stories. Stories of abandonment, being stolen, miscommunication, and more. My heart breaks for all the families affected by the TCHS and the children buried in Memphis who lost their lives in the home most likely due to neglect and lack of care. I am glad that some have found the truth and some version of closure through this story and the reunion and I hope for those still searching, the records can be found and they can be connected with their birth families. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Good Luck Charm

36977659. sy475 Lilah isn't sure what hurt worse: the day Ethan left her to focus on his hockey career, or the day he came back eight years later. He might think they can pick up just where they left off, but she's no longer that same girl and never wants to be again.
Ethan Kane wants his glory days back. And that includes having Lilah by his side. With her, he was magic. They were magic. All he has to do is make her see that.
Just when Lilah might finally be ready to let him in, though, she finds out their reunion has nothing to do with her and everything to do with his game. But Ethan's already lost her once, and even if it costs him his career, he'll do anything to keep from losing her again.

I grabbed this book at the library the day before it shut down when I was browsing the romance section. I have previously read Meet Cute last summer by Hunting so I thought this would be another great read. It’s a quick romance about two former high school sweethearts that reconnect when Ethan is traded back to Minnesota for what could be the end of his NHL career. They both deal with a lot of insecurities in their relationship but it ended sweetly. ⭐⭐⭐/5

Chasing Cinderella - Ravenels #6

44285731Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.
Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.
When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride: Never underestimate a Ravenel.

I love the Ravenels series that spins off from the Wallflowers series also by Lisa Kleypas. This is the final book of the series I believe that begins with Cassandra and Tom meeting at Cassandra twin, Pandora's wedding. I love that Cassandra is very strong in her beliefs and will not simply marry to marry. It was a fun end to the series. ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I'm linking up with Jana and Steph
Life According to Steph
Also, since I have been blogging more I thought I would give you a heads up of what I will be posting the rest of the week:
Wednesday - Quarantine meals. I will be sharing what I have been eating since we are on week five of social distancing. These are all simple meals with pantry staples.
Thursday - NC Apartment Tour v.2 - my living room and coat closet. I shared my dining room last Thursday.
Friday - Five on Friday. Five favorites from this week.

What did you read in March?

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