Friday Favorites

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve done a Friday Favorites post, so I thought I’d do a round up of what I’ve been loving this month.

Last week we had the carpet on our stairs and in our hallways replaced and I LOVE it! The color is beautiful, the texture is really nice underfoot, and it just feels cleaner! It was a bit of a “to do” actually getting it installed, but I am so grateful for this amazing Christmas present for our house!

When we were in Buffalo a couple weekends ago we went to Pottery Barn and fell in love with the scent of this handcream! It smells perfect for winter, especially Christmas, and unisex which is so nice! It is keeping mine and William’s hands from being too dry in this winter air!

We found these at Wegmans when we went to Buffalo a couple weekends ago and I really enjoyed them! Soft pretzels are definitely the food I miss most with my gluten issues, and these were a fun treat! While the texture and flavor weren’t perfect, they were a close substitute.

I was sent this oil through Influenster’s partnership with L’Oreal and I really love it! The scent is really nice, the texture is wonderful, it’s not heavy and I really do think using a bit on the ends of my hair before I blow dry it does make my hair shinier! I’m grateful to have the opportunity to test this product as I never would have bought this on my own.

I’ve been on a big Malbec kick lately both at home and when we go out. The house Malbec at a local restaurant is really delicious, and there is something so hearty and flavorful about this variety of red wine on these cold nights!

I’ve been loving dark chocolate hot chocolate with a bit of coolwhip and cinnamon on these chilly winter nights. Normally I prefer tea or cider, but there is something special about cocoa by the Christmas tree!

This candle smells perfectly like Christmas! We took advantage of the Bath & Body Works candle special day a couple weeks ago, and their evergreen candle has been our go to since then!

We have season tickets for basketball at the university and the games have been so much fun! The team is playing well and our seats are great! I love these built in dates with William!

I really enjoy Ed Sheeran, and have loved the different collaborations he has been coming out with for his song, Perfect. This new one with Andrea Bocelli though is amazing!

What have you been enjoying lately?

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Fall Reading

Friends, I have not shared what I’ve been reading since the beginning of August! So, today I thought I would share what I’ve read since then!

I took screenshots of the book covers from Amazon as most of these books were read digitally.

Finished August 16, 2017. 

⭐⭐⭐/5

I really enjoyed learning a bit about the woman Martin Luther eventually took as a wife and reading the historical fiction account of her life. I enjoyed the author’s writing style and found myself easily able to picture the settings and people she was writing about. This was an easy, enjoyable read that I’d gladly recommend to a friend!

I received an advance reader copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley.

Finished August 16, 2017.

⭐⭐/5

This was a quick, easy read and I enjoyed finding out the family history alongside the protagonist. I thought the big reveal of the deep trauma she experienced as a child was clever, but I feel like it was rushed in places and drawn out in others. I would have liked more at the ending instead of feeling like she stopped caring about her characters.

I received an advance reader copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley.

Finished August 18, 2017.

⭐⭐/5

This was a sweet easy read. I loved that it took place in Montana, a state I deeply love after living there for 6 years. I enjoyed the setting and characters and would definitely read more in the series.

I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher and NetGalley for review.

Finished August 18, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐/5

What a fun book of cocktails! They divided the cocktails by time of day and I found a few new ones I look forward to trying!

I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher and NetGalley for review.

Finished August 23, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

This book was both informative and hilarious. I enjoy drinking wine, visiting vineyards and trying new varietals, so I enjoyed this book immensely.  I really enjoyed the way the chapters were laid out and how approachable it made the world of wine. If you enjoy drinking wine or are interested in how to pick the best wine for someone in your life, check this book out.

I was given an advance copy of the book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review.

I can’t wait to buy a physical (not digital ARC) copy of this book!

Finished August 24, 2017.

⭐/5

I did not enjoy this book at all. It read like terrible online fan fiction and the descriptive language felt both repetitive and over the top. Don’t waste your time or energy.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley to review.

Finished August 25, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Full disclaimer, I know and love Erin. I worked under her husband’s leadership and on a team with her at Focus and she lives in my parent’s neighborhood. I count it a blessing to know her and her family. Erin and Greg are two deeply influential people in my pursuit of a counseling career.

I enjoyed this book and the tangible and practical ways we can deepen and strengthen our marriage relationships by reframing how we view simple every day moments with our husband. She offers ten easy areas to consider and evaluate in our own lives, offers guided reflection alongside short anecdotes and then offers a prayer to pray for yourself and one to pray over your husband in each of the ten areas. I would recommend this book to all women in a marriage or who are preparing for marriage because of the way this advice will help you refocus on the priorities in our communication and values in our marriage. I highly recommend checking this one out!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review.

Finished August 28, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐/5

I loved this sweet and light retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Emma. I found the authors portrayal of the characters lovable and engaging and was excited by the various relationships!

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review.

Finished September 19, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

I received this book compliments of B&H publishing in exchange for my review.

Priscilla is a teacher who I’ve enjoyed learning under in previous studies and whose writing style I really enjoy.

I love the layout of this devotional and the ease it presents for the reader. It’s a 90 day devotional, where each day is set up in two parts. First, is the devotional – one page, front and back, of reflection and scripture that Priscilla said she pulled from her own spiral notebooks. The second part is one page, front and back, to journal what that day is teaching or guiding you. It’s approachable, which I love!

I definitely recommend checking this devotional out for you or a loved one. I think it would make a great gift!

Finished September 27, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

This was a fun playful book about all things Catholic from confession to the blessed Mother to obscure saints and Catholic baby names. It was a fun read and I loved the format of the chapters – a short reflection on the topic, a relevant obscure saint, a related prayer, and a fun activity. I found this book clever and engaging for both Catholics and those who’d like to learn more about the Catholic faith.

I received a complimentary copy of the book to review from the publisher and NetGalley.

Finished September 27, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐/5

While I really enjoyed the writing style, character development and overall plot of this book, it took me forever to read. I even stopped and read several books in between starting and finishing this book, and I’m not sure why. 

I think this would be a cute bookclub read or a fun gift for fellow cider fans!

I received a complimentary copy of the book to review from the publisher and NetGalley.

Finished October 15, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Y’all, this book is heartbreaking and hopeful. It is full of deep faith and abundant sacrifical love. There is strength, conviction and heart in Katie and her powerful story of ministry and relationship in Uganda. I am in love with this book.

I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my review.

Finished October 23, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

This book was told over the ten years of Hitler’s rise to power and the outbreak of World War II. It is the recollection of a man in his nineties, told about when he was five to fifteen. 

The perspective of a child to the changing world of Germany, and the adults reactions from thinking Hitler was a fringe player to genuine loathing then fear as he became more powerful was heartbreaking to read and a powerful voice that is often lost when we look back on this point in history. 

Even in the darkest times, we can learn so much from the viewpoint of a child. In this case, one who was quite proud to be German ND fond of Hitler way on, to eventually come to hate Hitler and the Nazi party. 

I definitely recommend checking this book out. it’s a quick but powerful read, and a story worth sharing.

This book was originally published in French h, and the English translation released in 2017.

I received an ARC of those book from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Finished November 19, 2017.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Another captivating adventure with Robert Langdon as we examine the intersection of art, history, religion and science. This book relied more on modern art and took place in Spain, so I wasn’t as familiar with the allusions being made and found myself looking them up more than I have in the previous books in the series. o do love it though. I love the way these stories keep me on my toes and challenge me to make connections and see things before they’re revealed. The pace of this book feels a bit calmer than previous works, but the use of artificial intelligence alongside modern art kept me intrigued and turning the page for more. I’d definitely recommend.

This is the only physical book I read these past months apparently!

What have you read recently?

Want, Need, Wear, Read

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Ever since hearing this approach to presents, I’ve thought it was a good idea! While William and I have bought our Christmas gifts to eachother together, and are just about ready to wrap and mail our gifts to our families, I thought it would be fun to share what I’m getting this year and a few things still on my ever present wish list.

WANT

I love Nickel & Suede and the one set of their earrings I own. I’d love to own another pair or two!

 

NEED

This Christmas we’re having new carpet installed on our stairs and in our hallways. Our house needs several updates over the coming years, and this is the one we’ve chosen to do this year.

WEAR

This Christmas I asked for a couple new sweaters because in the winter I feel like cozy sweaters and fleece lined leggings are what I mainly live in. I’m getting this turtleneck and this crewneck from LLBean.

I’m also getting a new pair of these slippers – they’re the best slippers I’ve ever owned!

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READ

My book list is always growing. I enjoy reading physical books more than digital ones, but have access to so many great ARCs through Kindle, that most of my reading takes place digitally. However, William and I both love books and building our library, so we’re trying to read more physical books. The most recent addition to our library is the new Grant biography by Ron Chernow.

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What’s on your Christmas list?

Thanksgiving Week

This Thanksgiving week was extra special for William and I for a couple reasons; the main one being that we had our marriage convalidated by the church, which means the Catholic Church now officially recognizes us as married, and any future children will be easily baptized. We also celebrated our first Thanksgiving in New York and hosted my parents and brother for the holiday!

My family flew into Pittsburgh last Monday to spend time with our family there, and then drove up to New York on Tuesday. When they got in, William was at work, so my parents, brother and I grabbed a late lunch at a local tea shop before heading home to pick up the dog and head to campus to meet up with William for a quick walk and tour before it got dark. I had prepped chili in the Crock-Pot that morning, and William tried a new recipe for homemade cornbread that night for supper.

When I woke up Wednesday, I made a pecan pie for Thursday before Mama and I went on an early morning walk. Wednesday morning was our convalidation mass at the friary. It was simple, intimate and perfect because the focus was entirely on the sacrament and the intention behind what we were doing. 

It was just William and I, my parents and brother, our sweet neighbors who’ve become like family, and Father. My brother read the passages from the Old Testament, the Psalm and the New Testament, and my dad read the prayers of the faithful. 

The readings we selected we’re from Ecclesiastes, Hebrews and Matthew. We wanted to focus on the social justice teaching of the church in our readings and prayers of the faithful, because we believe so strongly in caring for our family and community. The reading in Ecclesiastes talks about how there is a time for everything, and with renewing our commitment to each other through the convalidation mass, it felt appropriate. The reading in Hebrews discusses caring for the marginalized and keeping a heart of hospitality. The Gospel reading was the Beatitudes and Father gave an amazing homily about how the Beatitudes are a new commandment that reflect the ten commandments. They’re a guide for not only how you walk through and interact with the world, but with how you build your marriage. We should be quick to show mercy, to show  understanding and to feel our partner’s sorrow as we build a life as one. It was really wonderful and encouraging, while also giving us something to really strive for as we continue building our relationship daily.

After Mass we all went to lunch at a local restaurant that is an institution in this town. The conversation and company were wonderful and I was feeling truly thankful for everyone there and the reason we were together celebrating.

After we got home, mama and I got to work in the kitchen making rolls and pumpkin pie for Thursday. That night we also cooked the turkey overnight to free up oven space in the morning.

Thursday morning we did a quick neighborhood  walk before the day was full of cooking, family and celebrating all we have to be grateful for! The same nighbors we spent Wednesday with came over on Thursday and it was wonderful to have that time and fellowship together!

Friday we headed to campus to walk the trail we love in the morning. That afternoon we went to another small town to do some antiquing and buy some of the cheese they’re known for to snack on during the Iron Bowl. That night we went out to supper at a local restaurant that just opened this summer, before catching the local Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony. It was such a happy night!

Saturday we went on another walk around the campus trail before heading to breakfast at the local maple farm. They have the best pancakes and sausage and it’s such a fun place to grab a filling meal! That afternoon we watched the Iron Bowl which was just a mess. 

My family had to leave Sunday, but we were able to enjoy a relaxing morning of hanging Christmas ornaments on the tree before they had to hit the road to Pittsburgh to catch their flight back to Colorado.

It was a week or beautiful weather, wonderful people, joyous celebrations, and true thanksgiving.

How was your holiday?

Serving Others

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When I was in high school a friend’s mom, who was married to the base Chaplin paid me the sweetest compliment that has stuck with me ever since and shaped how I try to lead my life. She told me I had a servant’s heart, and that she could see my faith in action.  I don’t know that many other compliments can both fill you you up and humble you as quickly.

Growing up, one of the tenants of the Air Force that my dad really worked to install in us kids was service before self. He encouraged us from a young age to seek ways to serve others in our life and our community. I remember going to the soup kitchen, raking leaves for neighbors, picking up trash along our favorite trails, making breads and cookies for airman who had to work holidays in the missile silos or guarding the gate. There was always some way we were doing something to try and brighten someone else’s day.

In college, philanthropy was a big reason I joined Greek life, and an even bigger reason why I chose the fraternity I did. Kappa Alpha Theta’s national philanthropy since 1989 has been CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, who act as the voice for children in foster care to make sure their needs are heard and that they have a voice in the system. Raising money, making blankets, holding teddy bear drives, all to give these kids something that was theirs and the best opportunity to have a stable support system. When family is take away, kids are left so vulnerable, so to support an organization that fights for them is amazing!

When I graduated college, the first ways I plugged into my community were through service. I became an advisor to the local collegiate chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, I volunteered at different nonprofits to help man phones or organize volunteer contact information. I also plugged into my church, a place I always found ways to serve since childhood, and became a youth ministry leader for middle and high school, and a high school theology of the body teacher. Service kept me busy, helped me connect with new friends, and eventually landed me a job at one of the nonprofits where I had volunteered.

Service to others is so important! It doesn’t have to be big or flashy. It doesn’t have to cost you anything other then time. It isn’t about you, but about the community you cultivate and reside in. Look for small acts that you can do for neighbors or your husband. Service is just a hands on language of love.

Weekend Update

This weekend began with a busy day on Friday! 

Friday was the inauguration of the new university president at my husband’s school. Mass was in the morning and beautiful! The Bishop of the Archdiocese celebrated and the choir sang. It was a wonderful way to begin the day. The actual ceremony was in the afternoon and really interesting to witness! It was long (so many speeches!), but the pomp and circumstance was cool. Growing up the way I did really makes you enjoy the formal pomp and cicumcstance of ceremonies.

Friday night, Laura and Dan arrived on their cross-state drive for the weekend. We gave them a quick house tour and then headed out to a great new (opened this summer!) bar & restaurant for dinner and drinks. It’s around a mile from the house, so we just walked so no one had to worry about being DD. The stretching our legs in the brisk fall air was really refreshing! I had a couple margaritas and their homemade loaded tots that are heavenly. 

Saturday Laura and Dan went to explore Buffalo, Niagra and Hamilton after we all grabbed breakfast at a cute local tea shop. One of my husband’s students meet us there for breakfast since she is graduating in May and interested in Laura’s career field, we wanted to create and foster a relationship in the industry for her. After breakfast we went our separate ways, so William and I grabbed our groceries for the week and headed home. We did some weekly cleaning and enjoyed some fun football games. Best game of the weekend was Iowa-Ohio State. Games like that make the chaos of college football fun! After the Alabama-LSU game ended that night, we watched the Deontay Wilder fight, and it was intense. A knock out in round 1?! That’s a way to make a statement.

Sunday morning we all headed to the cute local maple and turkey farm for breakfast. Local maple syrup and the best pancakes! Hard to beat on a rainy Sunday. After breakfast we stopped by the house to grab Mavis for a walk around campus, and were able to get a short one in before the rain became too hard. We spent the afternoon watching NFL and playing cards against humanity. We enjoyed a tasty autumn dinner of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, butternut and acorn squash, and a harvest salad. Comfort food while the rains fell. Once we got the kitchen cleaned, we headed to Mass with the college kids. Dan had never been to a Catholic mass before, and Laura grew up Methodist, so it was fun to have them there. 

I feel like I tweet about it every week, but the mass readings and homily were on fire from the Holy Spirit again this week. I feel like I could write a whole blog post about it! Basically, the readings from Malachi, 1 Thessalonians and Matthew were about leadership and abuses of power, and your intentions in leading. Do your actions match your words, or are your words empty promises? Are you doing things because it is the right thing to do, or because you want the world to notice you and think you’re amazing? Are you acting from a place of love or selfishness? Father’s homily was convicting and inspiring, and great brain, heart and soul food for the week.

How was your weekend?

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! 

This week I tested out the lipsticks I mentioned a couple weeks ago. What do y’all think?

This is the Bronze color:

This is the silver color:

I have been reading What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Origin by Dan Brown this week and both were wonderful in such different ways! I should have a book review post up next week of a large variety of what I’ve been reading The last couple months.

We fixed chili for supper on Halloween and it took me back to being a kid and the block parties we’d have with friends on the bases we lived at growing up.

My best friend, Laura, and her boyfriend, Dan, are visiting from New York City this weekend. Unfortunately it’s supposed to rain all weekend, so we won’t be able to do too much outside, but it’ll be fun to have them here! They get in today, are doing Buffalo and Niagra Falls tomorrow, then we’ll all hang out on Sunday. 

What are your favorites from this week?