Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What I've Been Flipping Through: Book Reviews

If you're looking for a gorgeous, gorgeous book to look through, this is the one! What a delight for the eyes! I was initially attracted to this book by the title-- So Much to Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through. I love holidays and seasons, and it's so much fun to celebrate them with special little touches...particularly food! When I received the book, it was different than I anticipated in both positive and negative ways. So I'll fill you in. ;) The good: It was soooo pretty. I love flipping through the pages and just seeing all the beauty in the book-- artfully arranged flowers and decor, delicious-looking food, feminine floral outfits, and creative themes for parties and gatherings. I could just look at this book and dream and dream. The not-as-good: it feels a little over the top or unrealistic, at least for my current place in life (that is, raising little ones on a budget!). Many of the parties were way more than we could afford to throw, and several of the recipes seemed time-consuming to prepare with kids or a little too unique for me (Fish Tacos with Grilled Corn Slaw and Strawberry Mango Salsa). That being said, it was a book to aspire to. Even if I couldn't do all the ideas presented, I could still be inspired by them and do them in my own way (for example, there was a Milkshake Social...what a cute idea for a party!). I would still recommend this book, but more for the fun of looking through it and getting ideas, rather than for a practical, realistic guide for celebrations. 4 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Booklook Bloggers for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

I've been wanting to read this one for years, as it's a Christian classic. Essentially it's an allegory of when the soul chooses to follow Christ and leave behind the past fears and burdens. The main character "Much-Afraid" learns to leave her family, The Fearlings, and follow the Chief Shepherd to higher places. I've struggled to get into this one more than I thought I would. It's a really sweet story, and I generally like allegories. I have not finished the book yet, but am struggling to relate to the main character-- even though I like have all her issues myself, haha! Maybe it's a little too much obvious with the allegory, and a little too sweet. I think it would almost be better if I read it in my early teens, or read it to an older child. I do think the book has great potential but it has not captivated me as I thought it might. This particular edition is beautifully illustrated and has some journal spaces too. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

[Thank you to Tyndale Blogger Network for my complimentary review copy. This review contains my honest and original thoughts.]

Friday, March 23, 2018

Quick Takes Friday: Welcome, Spring!

I started writing most of these when I was in a pretty good mood yesterday...which is a good thing because today has been somewhat the opposite thus far. G has not been sleeping well (or napping, which has already interrupted this post so far) and woke up crying several times, I had to wait a half hour this morning for my hour-long Non Stress Test at the OB simply because a front desk person didn't notify the nurse I had arrived, and other annoying little details of the day that really should not change my mood in the big scheme of things...but well, #thirdtrimesterhormones be raging. Nonetheless, I'm going to sip my Peaceful Mama tea (I'm trying, people, I'm trying!) and catch up on some blogs and blogging as well as pray Lectio Divina (see #2). Anyway, onto the more happy writings from yesterday. ;)

1. March has proved to be a much more positive month for us, so spring really does seem to be arriving in many ways and I'm grateful! Today G and I had to meet daddy halfway from work because he had left his computer here at home. We met at our church, so it was lovely to have a little mommy/daughter date at the Adoration chapel and then take a walk around the block in the sunshine. Pregnancy has slowed me down so much...but sometimes it's for the better as I let go of my natural tendency to plan and rush and instead live more in the moment.

2. Lent has been unusual for me this year. I can't decide if I'd consider it a failure or a success. I've failed in several of my chosen things to do (totally cheated with social media and can't figure out why I didn't have the motivation this time!)...yet I've also established some good disciplines I hadn't chosen originally, like a daily lectio divina prayer routine at naptime. I've also stopped more often at Adoration or quiet churches to pray and realized it's not as tricky with a toddler as I (or the devil makes me) think.

Ash Wednesday...her little cross was mostly rubbed off
by the time mass was over :D

3. On the note of the devil, I started reading this book and it's SO GOOD so far. The book club I host read the author's book Unleashed last year and we loved it. This one is proving to be just as powerful. My parents generously surprised me with a Kindle last month and I'm in love. I never thought I'd enjoy e-books as much as a paper copy I could hold...but it is SO convenient to read one-handed (esp with a newborn coming soon!) as well as instantly download books from the library. If you have a Kindle, tell me your favorite ways to snag cheap or free books! ;)

4. It's getting more and more real that we're going to have a baby sometime next month. I'm super excited to meet this little one...and I'm almost just as excited to be able to eat and breathe normally again. ;) So many third trimester symptoms and still lots of medicines and testing but it's okay. Baby and I are both healthy and doing well. I'm also feeling pretty good about preparations but there's always more I'd like to do. We set up a crib and mini nursery last weekend and it's adorable! I'd show you a picture but it would give away the gender, so you'll just have to wait. ;) Yesterday my brother came over and helped me make five chicken pot pies. We ate one for dinner, froze three, and dropped the last one off at my friends' who just had their first baby. We are blessed to have a church community that is big into meal trains for postpartum moms, but I know it will be nice to have some freezer meals for when that tapers off and I'm learning to cook with two kiddos around!!

This little girl is going to be a huge help! Look how she
has mastered cleaning and caring for a 'baby' at the same time!

5. Do you all use Shutterfly? I'm really kinda in love with their photobooks...mostly because I haven't found a great system for printing and saving our pictures, and their "free" photobooks (pay shipping but it's worth it to me) provide a way for me to compile some great pictures of our past year and create a family album for us. However, I'm currently struggling with the teeeeedious task of uploading my husband's phone's pictures to use as well (mine automatically upload because of the Shutterfly app). Tell me how you do pictures!! I was just lamenting to a friend that I almost wish we still had rolls of film we developed and you got what you got....rather than going through hundreds of digital takes.

6. We hosted a young single woman for dinner this week who recently moved to the area and is looking for Catholic community. It was so nice to invite her in and learn more about her. I'm hoping we can connect her with some great people. I also realized with the invitation that I've learned to streamline my hosting to be welcoming yet not overly stressful perfection. It was a freeing realization that I can still welcome people into our home even with a toddler and a giant belly. My tips: tidy at the last minute (because #toddlers), plan a simple meal that doesn't take a lot of steps (mine was Caprese layered chicken, a salad mix, a loaf of grocery bakery French bread, steamed broccoli, and a crockpot fruit cobbler), quickly clean the bathroom they would use (as in wipe down the sink and shake the rug, haha!), and be so friendly that they don't notice any of the other imperfections of the evening, hahaha.

7. I really would love to hear from some of you bloggers about your personal motivations to blog in the midst of parenting. I've found in this pregnancy that I've really retreated into a smaller space of my family and home, my local community and church family, and simplicity in day to day life. Yet I also love the connection and community of blogging. I don't aspire to be a big blogger, I don't always feel like choosing writing over other pursuits during naptime, yet I can't quite give it up despite always toying with that idea. Tell me how you manage it with littles and that it's worth it. :)

Until next time, have a fabulous weekend and a beautiful Palm Sunday!

Linking up with Kelly!