January (2018!) Wrap Up

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I listened to this on audio book and it was, simply put, AMAZING. In this dystopian novel, the themes and happenings hit uncomfortably close to home, and I found myself thinking “oh my goodness, what if this actually happened?!” I particularly loved the ending (SPOILERS!), as we never got to really find out what happened to Offred. It was so unsettling, but really forces the reader into the protagonists own shoes. She never got to know what happened to any of her loved ones either, so why should we?   I would highly recommend this book, as well as the hulu tv series. SO so good!

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The Graces by Laure Eve ⭐⭐⭐

Ahhhh this book left me SO confused on how I felt about it. For the first 20 pages I actually found myself kind of laughing because the main characters voice and thoughts were SO overdramatic and ridiculous. Admittedly, there was something about this book though, that made me continue reading. I was fascinated enough by the friendship themes and mystery to keep flipping the pages. I don’t think I’ll continue the series, as I really just did not like the main character, but I’m glad I gave this book a shot! Also, the cover is just stunning– easily one of my favorite covers to date. 😍

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The Numberlys by William Joyce ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Feel free to make fun of me, but I have recently rediscovered my love for picture books. Yep that’s right, I like children’s books! They are just SO dang beautiful to look at you guys. And the stories are whimsical and fun, and always have wonderful meanings. I’m in love with all those things!

Anyways, I specifically really adore William Joyce. I remember reading books like George Shrinks and Dinosaur Bob over and over again. I would check out PILES of books from our local library, and I truly loved his stories. Turns out, he’s still writing and collaborating with incredible illustrators, and I am determined to collect all of his books. The Numberlys was SO cute, contained incredible art, and I would strongly recommend for any parent to get this one for their child! 4 stars because it was exceptionally short.

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The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another one by William Joyce that I adored. This was a touching story about a boy who loved reading and writing, but it was all taken away from him after a storm swept through his town. He slowly picks up the pieces and is able to once again have a library of books to keep him company. (I’m explaining it poorly though– just go read it!) Beautiful, wonderful book.

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A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was my first ever manga that I read! Yay for trying new things! I must admit, I had to look up how to read it at first, as I wasn’t sure about which panels/pages to read once I turned the page– but once I figured it out, it was easy to get used to!

This was such a good start to a series. It’s about a boy, Shoya,  that bullies a deaf girl, Shoko, when they’re in 5th grade. She ends up transferring schools because it gets so bad, and then years later he decides to seek her out (to apologize, I’m pretty sure!)

I was shocked at the awfulness of those little tryants. Kids are so mean, ya’ll. As someone who was bullied pretty hard as a kid, my heart went out to Shoko. I felt so bad for her, as she was truly innocent and deserved to be treated much better. What stunned me even more was the actions (or lack thereof) of the adults! The parents, teachers, etc. were so careless in how they treated the situation. That was easily the most tragic theme.

The novel ended by fast forwarding a few years after all the bullying, with Shoya going to meet Shoko. I need the 2nd one right NOW to know what happens! I think I might have just started a new love for manga.

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The Selection (#1) by Kiera Cass ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am such a sucker for the series, I can’t lie. The Selection Series is 100% my guilty pleasure. It’s like The Bachelor meets Hunger Games.

There really are a handful of problematic themes in the book, as well as a giant cliche love triangle. For these reasons, I don’t recommend this series if you’re looking for anything more than a fluffy contemporary full of princesses (in training), dramatic scenes, cat fights, and pretty dresses.

In a nutshell, this book is a dystopian YA where a bunch of girls of different class systems are selected to be sent to the castle for the Prince to court them and eventually select his wife and future Queen. It’s such a fun concept and there are some really solid friendship aspects, as well as the romantic relationships (ugh swoon). I think the first book is a really solid start!

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Little Monsters by Kara Thomas ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (Or, ALL THE STARS!)

THIS WAS THE BEST, CRAZIEST, MOST FUN READ! Okay, caps off. But please listen… if you event remotely enjoy YA Contemporary, Mystery/Psychological Thriller, you need to give Little Monsters a chance.

I’m not sure if it was because the last book I read in this genera was such a let down, or if the audiobook I listened to for this was just super on point… but I seriously fell SO hard for this book! It was so addicting, the characters were fleshed out and I had ZERO clue who did it (and I’m usually really good at guessing the ending!). I also really enjoyed the family dynamics. They were really present throughout the whole book, which is usually rare in YA.

Okay now someone else PLEASE go read this so we can talk about it for 2 hours!

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Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 stars)

I think this might be my favorite graphic novel to date! The art is so beautiful, especially the color scheme. The sub-character Wood Man made me actually laugh out loud. If you’re a fan of the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time — you’ll enjoy this story and art! I just wish it were longer (guess I need to buy & read the rest)!

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Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 stars)

I loved Nevermoor! Easily one of the best Middle Grades I have read in a while. I flew through the beginning, but it did seem to lag a little in pace over time. This was such a FUN read and I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store!

I’m not sure why this didn’t feel like a total 5 Star read for me! :/ It was enjoyable, but I didn’t feel like it was mind-glowingly good as most people have rated it. Granted, I think for any book being compared to Harry Potter would be hard to measure up.

All in all, I enjoyed Townson’s writing style so much and really loved the characters. Jupiter, Jack, Fenestra, the Vampire Dwarf, Hawthorne… what a wonderful cast! ❤️ hurry, book 2! I can’t wait!

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Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5 stars)

Scythe is a super fascinating read! Easily one of the darker books I’ve read. This genera (YA Science Fiction/Dystopian/Fantasy) isn’t something I usually gravitate to, but it was $5 on audible, so I thought I would take a chance on it. And I am SO glad that I did!

The whole concept of these “Scythes” (aka, grim reapers of the world), keeping population in check after the world has “perfected” itself and natural death is no longer an issue was very intriguing. I found myself completely wrapped up in this concept and world. Shusterman did a fantastic job world building throughout the novel. The character development was a little slow at the beginning, but really picked up toward the halfway mark. The cast of characters was fantastic, and I had all the feels (hated some, loved others).

I think the only thing that irked me was the “love interest” between Citra and Rowan. I really didn’t care for it, and felt strongly that they should have remained close friends. I just didn’t think that the two of them being in love was believable and felt forced.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any sci-fy, fantasy, dystopian lovers out there!

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

WHOO this YA mystery was crazy! Basically, if you know anything about the Amanda Knox trials/case/have seen the Netflix documentary, you already know the plot of the book. I do kind of wish the book and author were more forthcoming that this is essentially inspired and a re-write of that real word case, as I really had no clue until I started reading. However, this was so much fun. Easily the most fast paced book I’ve read all month, as the chapters are very short (love that), and jump around in the timeline of the story.

It’s safe to say the ending GOT ME, y’all. I WAS SHOOK. I was actually happening that the ending was going to go that way, so it actually made me give the book more stars because of that. I did enjoy this one, but still did not love it as much as but not as Little Monsters.

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Books Read in 2017 (in order & ranked)

JANUARY

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Illuminae ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe 
  4. Sideways Stories from Wayside School ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Throne of Glass  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Wrath and the Dawn ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. Tell Me Three Things ⭐⭐⭐
  8. Paper Girls, Vol. 1  ⭐⭐⭐
  9. Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

FEBRUARY

  1. The Book Thief ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Caraval 
  3. We Are Okay 

MARCH

  1. Holes ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Ready Player One ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

APRIL

  1. The Love That Split the World ⭐⭐⭐
  2. A Court of Mist and Fury ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Eleanor & Park ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

MAY

  1. A Court of Wings and Ruin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them⭐⭐

JUNE

  1. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

JULY

  1. Geekerella ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. The Hate U Give ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Sugar ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

AUGUST

  1. Windfall ⭐⭐
  2. Orphan Island ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier ⭐⭐⭐

SEPTEMBER

  1. Bridge to Terabithia ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. The Doldrums ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The XYZs of Being Wicked ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

OCTOBER

  1. Wintergirls ⭐⭐⭐
  2. Ghosts ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Little Prince ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Juniper Berry ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Nightmares! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Coraline ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NOVEMBER

  1. The Year of Secret Assignments ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Burned ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Holding Up the Universe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Such a Pretty Girl ⭐⭐
  5. One of Us Is Lying 
  6. The Sun Is Also a Star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DECEMBER

  1. Stolen: A Letter to My Captor ⭐⭐
  2. You Can’t See the Elephants ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Secret Garden ⭐⭐⭐
  5. Elsewhere ⭐⭐
  6. Milk and Honey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. The Yellow Wall-Paper ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Drama ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Greenglass House ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Here’s Why I’m Totally Obsessed With Smoothies

I’m sure it’s no secret by now that I LOVE SMOOTHIES. And ever since I got my amazing Ninja Blender for Christmas, I’ve made smoothies nearly every day. Not only are smoothies crazy delicious, but they have the ability to be jam packed with the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals our bodies both crave and deserve!

Yeah, I’m not talking about this “ready made smoothie mix-loaded with added nasty sugar-and let me put some ice cream in too” junk. I’m talking about smoothies that contain real fruits AND vegetables (kale FTW!). Healthy smoothies are those that are loaded with natural sugar (found in fruits), vitamins and nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and even some healthy complex carbs! Say whaaaaaat! I know. Freaking awesome, right?

The FDA recommends that we get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. (And no, fruit loops and veggie straws don’t count.) Now, how many of us can truly say that we are getting that much? Even though I try to eat clean, I often fail to reach that number, especially when it comes to vegetables! That’s where smoothies can be really beneficial.

I often get asked what recipes I follow when I make my smoothies. I can honestly say I’ve never really followed a recipe! That’s one of my favorite things about smoothies. There’s no recipe! Throw your favorite (frozen or not) fruits, vegetables, milk or base of choice, maybe some ice, and BAM. You’ve got a crazy delicious, antioxidant rich, nutrient dense, and super filling smoothie!!

Here are some of my staples when it comes to smoothies:

+bananas
+spinach
+frozen berries (any and all kinds!)
+oranges
+kale
+spinach (I PROMISE you can’t even taste these!)
+cucumbers
+avocados  (healthy fats, yes!!)
+chia seeds
+hemp hearts
+steel cut oats (complex carbs…so good for breakfast or lunch!)
+natural nut butter (almond or peanut is usually what I have, NO added sugar!)
+unsweetened almond, rice or coconut milk 
+coconut water 
+cold pressed, 100% juice bases 
+ice 

Favorite Toppings:

+caco nibs
+goji berries
+pomegranate seeds
+nut butters
+coconut flakes
+chia seeds
+hemp hearts

Now before you go and make yourself a crazy awesome delicious smoothie, stick around for this information, because it’s SUPER IMPORTANT HOW YOU EAT YOUR SMOOTHIE!

Yeah! I’m serious! The more I research I have found that smoothies NEED TO BE CHEWED. That’s why I make sure mine are thick and topped with tons of goodies! Smoothie bowls specifically are AWESOME because you’re tricking your mind into thinking you’re eating a meal and you’re getting used to chewing your smoothie.

Here’s why  it’s important to swish, or move your jaw up and down, when consuming your smoothie: digestive enzymes. Our saliva contains crucial digestive enzymes that help digest the food from the smoothie and deliver the nutrients to our cells! So if you’re not chewing your smoothies (or juices!), you’re not actually getting all the nutrients you think! In other words, remember that smoothies ARE food, so chew your food! 😉

I hope that this post helped to shed some light as to why I’m totally obsessed with smoothies. You simply cannot beat the nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins that smoothies deliver to our bodies.

As always, any questions and comments are welcome. Happy blending, friends!!

**Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist. This information has been taken from a few years of trial and error, research, and studying. If you have any serious questions or health concerns, please seek professional help.

dreams for twenty-sixteen

I LOVE NEW YEARS. Yeah, I’m that girl. I love gold. I love glitter. I love midnight. I love champagne. But most of all– I love fresh starts. I love goals and dreams and all things new, and that is exactly what New Year’s brings.

Here are some of my goals and hopes and dreams for 2016:

+Less time with Netflix, more time in books. My goal is to read and record a minimum of 4 books a month. I LOVE reading, and am really excited to achieve this goal!

+See a really great live show in Memphis. Like, a really, REALLY great live show.  There are so many amazing bands that come through this city, and I want to take advantage of this!

+Continue to study nutrition, and to the best of my ability, attain my certification!

+Get involved in two major ways at a church in Memphis. One of those MUST be leading/sining in a worship team. I’m not sure what the other way looks like, but I’m going to be praying hard that God would reveal this to me in His time. +Run, run, run more!!

+BLOG MORE. At LEAST once a month. I really want to get better at this. I have things to say, but often let fear get in the way of writing. I don’t want to do this anymore!

+Say buh-bye to SUGAR (added sugar, not natural). This year I’ve done fairly extensive research, and the more I study I learn just how insanely TOXIC sugar is to our bodies, and the more I desire to stay far, FAR away.

+Get rid of my scale. This is kind of the craziest one for me, because usually I want to lose a certain amount of weight within the year. However, for the past few months, I have learned so much about nutrition and our bodies, and how incredibly different they are! Because of this, the number on the scale really doesn’t say much of anything regarding one’s health. This is why I am done with my scale.

**This year, health wise, I desire to feed and fuel my body with proper nutrition. I will not be constricted to counting calories, but rather how I feel. I know when I’m feeding myself garbage, and I know when I’m getting my vitamins and nutrients. The scale has nothing to do with that!   Along with that, I will be more intentionally active throughout each day! (see running goal:) )Mentally, I will love myself. I will tell myself truths, and love my body exactly for what it is, the journeys it has been on and will continue to carry me through.

I desire above all else to grow deeper in my relationship with God in 2016. I have so many changes coming so soon with my move to Memphis, and I can’t WAIT to see what 2016 holds. I surrender it to you, Lord. Your will be done. 

 

Goodbye: 2015

2015, what a year! Here are the highlights:

+I graduated from the most wonderful college on the whole planet, and subsequently, said college closed down. I can only say that I feel so incredibly thankful that I was able to call Northland my home for a year and a half.

 

 

+I moved back in with my parents and got closer to my family. Mostly my little sister, whom I love so much and am so grateful we were able to spend more time together. She’s forever my sister, and one of my very best friends. With each passing year, I believe I come to understand the importance of family more and more.

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+ I completed my fourth Spartan Race, and got my butt totally kicked. This time around I hardly trained, and barley made it out alive! However, I am so glad that I did it anyways. It’s always such a challenge, but a huge reminder to me of what I have overcome in the last three years!

+I dyed my hair red and lost 20 pounds. Hey thanks, 2015!

+I fell in love with nutrition, and realized my love for learning about it. Especially in the last few months, I have spent a lot of time in research and studying nutrition. I’m uncovering the deep love I have for food, and find myself in awe of how simple being healthy truly can be and how God has given us all the tools we need to heal ourselves through the power of food!

+I got a job at Starbucks! This job totally helped me discover my love for coffee. Not only that, but taking a step back now, I realize how much God had to help me through my shifts at Starbucks. I pray constantly that He would help me to love those around me deeper and it’s definitely not always easy loving customers who haven’t had their daily caffeine fix yet.  I’m so thankful for my time here though, and those I got to meet through the experience.

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+Lastly, I fell even more in love with Andrew. Feel free to stop reading now if cheesy writing makes you want to vom, but I can’t talk about 2015 and NOT mention the man who has had made such an impact on my life within the last year and a half. Never in my life have I ever felt so loved by a human being. There isn’t a day that goes by that Andrew doesn’t speak to me in love, light, and truth. He tells me he loves me, and never for a second do I doubt it. This year he moved 14 hours away for school, and though it’s been a difficult transition, never have we been closer. I am so incredibly, unwaveringly, madly, crazy, undeniably in love with him. God has given me such a gift in Andrew that I do not deserve, but earnestly pray that I would never take for granted. Andrew loves me so sacrificially, and it’s through that I am able to ponder the deep love and grace that Jesus has for his children, including me. I think: “If Andrew, a flawed human being, loves me this deeply and is able to forgive me daily,  how much MORE must Jesus love and forgive me…”  It’s thoughts like this leave me in awe and deep gratitude for such a blessing.

 

Thank you Lord, for another year of growth, love, challenges, and most importantly, deepening my relationship with You. For there is nothing greater.

A Farewell to 2014

I am so thankful for this year. In 2014 God blessed me with so much that it’s actually a bit overwhelming to think about. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, and the lessons I’ve learned have all been such a gift and I cannot express how deep my love and gratitude is for getting to experience it all.

Here’s my favorites:

• Northland and everything that comes with it.

• The Tishters;)

• Seeing my little brother get married.

• Spending the Summer in Sturgeon Bay with my brother and sister in law and making many friends there.

• Meeting Andrew and falling in love for the very first time.

• Deepening my relationship with my Heavenly Father and submersing myself in His word and learning more and more about doctrine, theology, and his deep love for me.

• Leading worship in many incredible places with such talented and fantastic people.

• Fighting for my health. (Running, lifting, Spartan races, eating clean, having surgery)

• Seeing my family move out East and have crazy adventures. (Also getting to visit them this Christmas!)

All in all, 2014 has been such a wonderful chapter to my book. I am so blessed and cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store!

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This Week: Success and Failure

Tomorrow is another day. Thank you Lord for second chances. …and third chances. …and fourth chances…

I’m pretty sleepy, but this week is about to get CRAZY, and I wanted to make sure I took the time to not leave my blog hanging on the last post I wrote, in which I was pretty upset.

SO. This week has been basically a roller coaster. I’ve had equal success and failure. I’ve actually needed the week weight-wise exactly where I started it. which leaves me to feel kind of indifferent, but definitely disappointed in myself.

At the start of this past week I was more upset than I had been in a very long time about my weight. I knew I’ve gained some back, but when I stepped on the scale and saw that I was officially the heaviest I’ve been in the past two years… I was sent over the edge. I’ve fought SO hard to lose this weight and I swore to never go back there… so why am I watching this happen?

Anyways, after that day, I buckled down. Counted all my calories, worked out HARD, and drank an entire gallon of water. By the end of that day I felt very proud of myself. I kept that pattern up for the rest of the week and by Saturday I was down 4 pounds.

AND THEN THE WEEKEND. …sigh. This weekend killed me. A and I went out on a special christmas date and I had a panini and fries and then we went out for ice cream after. Then today I hadn’t gotten to eat more than a granola bar and three bites of a salad until we went to a Christmas party and by that time I was SO hungry, I didn’t even care that I had two helpings of dessert. …argh.

Yeah. I know what the scale will tell me tomorrow. I’ll be back up in weight and very disappointed. I’m considering not even getting back on the scale until January first. I have HUGE plans for 2015, so maybe I should just chill on the whole scale thing and just work hard regardless of the number.

The only thing I’ve kept up since I’ve started it, is drinking a gallon(+) of water a day. I’m so grateful that A suggested that I do it. I pee a LOT, but I can feel my body actually getting healthier. My acne is actually clearer; I’ve had no new breakouts. and even though my eating hasn’t been on point, I haven’t been feeling too sick over the foods. I’m really excited about drinking all this water actually and incredibly determined to keep it up!

This week is Christmas and it’s going to get very busy. Will be on the worship team for Xmas eve, so that means I’ll be at church most of that day, and then that following morning I fly out with my siblings to visit our family out East. That will be super fun and I’m beyond stoked. Really praying I will make good choices while I’m there.

I probably won’t write another post for a while, but as of right now, here’s where I’m at:

I’ve made really solid improvements this week and overall in my health. This weekend was a bump in my plans, but one that will not stop me from getting what I want. I am focused, I am determined, and I am calm. Nothing will get in my way of becoming the girl I believe God has created me to be. He has made me strong and stunning. I radiate with the light of Christ, and because of that I know nothing is impossible.