Books I’ve Read in the Last Few Years

Reading is one of my favorite past times. There’s nothing better than, for a few hours, escaping to someone else’s world.

For the past few years I have been keeping a running list of which books I’ve read throughout that year. It’s fun to look back on each one. It almost serves as a little time machine into who I was in that small phase of my life.

One of my favorite weekend activities is going to Half-Priced Books and browsing the clearance section. One time I left with 10 books for just $30.

Sharing with others is a such a huge part of who I am so I thought that I would release my lists out into the world.

2016:

  1. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
  2. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
  3. Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
  4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  5. Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts
  6. Happily Ever After by Nora Roberts
  7. Bloom by Kelle Hampton
  8. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  9. A Farewell to Arms by Earnest Hemingway
  10. Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin
  11. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  12. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  13. The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson

2017:

  1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
  2. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
  3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  4. Watermelon by Marian Keyes
  5. The Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin
  6. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Book Store by Robin Sloan
  7. The Language of Flower’s Vanessa Diffenbaugh
  8. Mr. Miracle by Debbie Maycomber
  9. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

 

2018: 

  1. How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
  2. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

 

If you have any book suggestions send them my way!

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Morning Routine

As part of my Lenten goal for this year, I decided that I wanted to take a break from social media and really make an effort to live in the present moment. I didn’t know how this would effect my blog writing. I decided that, if I was feeling inspired, I would write. I did not want to push myself to meet any deadlines or stretch my self to live up to unrealistic standards that I tend to set for myself.

A large part of living in the moment began with my morning routine. I have never been much of a morning person up until this year. Mornings have since become my most cherished part of the day. A great morning makes for a fantastic day.

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There is something about waking up and having time to sip some coffee and watch the sun come up. I was blessed with an absolutely beautiful sunrise this morning. Even better than watching the sun rise over the rainy clouds, was opening my copy of Jesus Calling and reading this:

“Bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Take nothing for granted, not even the rising of the sun.”

Could that have been any more perfect? God is always speaking to us. We just have to take the time to listen.

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I love to take the time to journal and pray first thing in the morning before I have the chance to become distracted by my to-do list or my iPhone. Even if five minutes is all I have to offer to God, those five minutes have the power to influence the rest of my day. God knows exactly how to speak to you and what you need to hear. This morning I was reminded of how incredibly lucky I am to be able to see the sunrise.

Meditation is another great tool for staying mindful. Many people struggle with the concept of meditation. Sitting still with your thoughts, even for just a few minutes, can seem incredibly daunting.  The key is to remember that practice always helps. Stay positive and be patient with yourself. With time, meditation will become second natured.

Guided meditation can be very beneficial to a meditation practice. There are endless options for guided meditation on YouTube or on your smart phone. I use a free app called Calm. Guided meditations can help you to stay focused and in the present. Here is a quote from my afternoon meditation:

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We have the power to have a fantastic day, everyday! Let things go by giving them to God.

Finally, have fun with your morning routine! 

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I like to start my day with a big glass of lemon water. This helps keep me hydrated and the bright citrus flavor never fails to wake me up.

 

 

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I sleep with my curtains open to make sure I wake up with the sun. This makes hopping out of bed a lot easier!

Add things to your room that make you happy. Keeping fresh flowers or your favorite stuffed animal by your bed will never fail to put a smile on your face 🙂

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House plants: A story of young love

I am coming up on a year of living in my apartment. Having been in college the last four years, I’ve moved around a lot. As in like, once a year. My apartment definitely feels like home and it’s somewhere I want to stay for a long time.

As a little gift to myself for signing a new lease, I decided I wanted to spruce up my room with a few new decorations. I did some research and got some inspiration from numerous talented bloggers on Instagram. I have been especially inspired by the style of blogger Lunar Over Linear. Check out her blog here 🙂 I began to notice how popular house plants have become. That was exactly what I needed to add some life to my bedroom.

I set out to Home Depot having done no research on house plants. I was excited when I found that they had a huge section of indoor plants available. I was nervous that this would not be the case considering it’s the middle of February.

I scanned over the plants, judging only on price and appearance. I quickly settled on a large Majesty Palm. I took it home and found the perfect spot for it in my room.

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I was so excited about how it looked. I felt like I was at the beach. My room was turning into a secret little oasis and I loved it.

Now here’s the sad part of the story. I figured out that it would be pretty smart to do some research into the care of my plant. I googled “how to care for a Majesty Palm”. Disaster struck. Every website, every blog, every post I could find, strongly warned against buying a Majesty Palm for your home. Apparently, they are one the most high maintenance, dramatic, temperamental plants you can find. They also attract spider mites… gross.

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Sorry Majesty Palm, as majestic as you looked, my personal oasis does not include spider mites.

It was back to the drawing board. This time I decided to take my time and do my research. The unanimous opinion by almost all of the online sources I found, was that the snake plant is the best indoor plant you can get. Even researchers at NASA have said that the benefits of having a snake plant in your home are huge.

I consulted my good pal Kolt. He loves plants and is very knowledgeable on the subject. He recommended that I go to a little place called Soil Service on the corner of Troost and Gregory here in KCMO. They staff were so incredibly friendly. I worked with Caleb to find the perfect Snake Plant for me. He was not only incredibly knowledgeable but also so passionate about plants.

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I am in love with my new plant. And I actually mean it. It is the perfect size and so low maintenance. It only needs water about once a month!

At night while were sleeping, the Snake Plant works tirelessly to convert carbon dioxide into fresh and pure oxygen. It also removes toxins including formaldehyde and benzene from the air. This is so beneficial for creating an ideal sleep setting. It’s pretty magical.

I have to say, this may be my first house plant (with the exception of a few succulents I already have), but it won’t be my last. Everyone should consider the benefits of owning a house plant. Not only do they provide physical health benefits, but they can also provide mental stability and wellness. Being able to love and care for something in order to promote its growth and well being is always a great thing!

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Photography by Bill Lemery, my “Poppy”

Featured on the home page of my blog is a beautiful photo of a few delicate, white peonies. I love this photo. It is hanging in my bedroom above my desk where I do a lot of writing. Its simple and clean colors inspire me to clear my mind. Something about it is just so refreshing and classic.

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The most special part about this photo is that it was a gift from my grandfather, or as I call him, my Poppy. Poppy has a true talent for photography. All of his photos capture the light just right. They are absolutely beautiful and look absolutely professional. He has natural born talent that I truly envy! Maybe I’ll inherit it one day…

I was lucky enough to get to interview Poppy about his photos and he had some wonderfully insightful things to say…

  1. Poppy, tell me a little bit about yourself

    Well, let’s see… Basically there’s three things I like to do, one is eat, two is play golf and three I like to take pictures. Its just so fun to have your phone as a camera and get pictures that are not really staged. I especially like nature pictures. You know, you just see different things in different light so I really do enjoy doing that. If I had my life to do over I really think I would like to be a wildlife photographer. And I love to travel.
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  2. What inspired you to take up photography?

    Well, a long time ago, I got a bird book and I actually drew this bird that was on the front of this little book. And then I started doing some drawings and things that I really liked and that was kind of a slow process. So when these little cameras started coming out when I retired I got this little camera, olympus I think it was. It was really small but it took great pictures. I carried it with me all the time when I took walks. I liked to get pictures of caterpillars and trees. I just really like the different shapes, lighting and the way lines go and how they contrast. It was something that was free and you could do wherever you go.

    I read one time that Monet said it is all about the light. He would take the same picture and paint it on different canvases but at different stages of the day to capture the difference in the lighting.
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  3. What would you say is your favorite subject to photograph?[Specifically in nature]. . . You know I really like to photograph animals but I don’t have a camera capable of capturing them so quickly and so easily. I really like insects as well. You see these little bitty insects that you don’t even realize are right in your back yard. I just like anything with a lot of color.IMG_5499.JPGBrian 198.JPG
  4. Do you have a favorite photograph that you have taken?Yes actually! I have a big picture at home hanging in our exercise room. It was from our trip to New England and its of an oak leaf hydrangea; it was a blue one. I really like that.
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    Blue Oak Leaf Hydrangea, one of Poppy’s favorite photos


    There’s another one, one I took in Colorado Springs. There’s a big resort there and I took some pictures of these flowering bushes. They had pink flowers. I really like that one. Those are probably my two favorites. 

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    Pink flowering bush Colorado Springs, one of Poppy’s favorite photos
  5. Is there anything else you want to add? Any advice about photography or life in general?Just be aware of your surroundings all the time, any place you go. It could be a person, it could a place, you know an insect or an animal or a tree. Take several pictures and that way you can eliminate the bad ones.img_0325Let me tell you. Your uncle Brian has taught me to live in the moment. I used to be so aggressive. I love to play golf and my idea of playing golf was to play as many holes as I could possibly play, as fast as I could. When started playing with Brian, he had to take it so slow. And I realized “You know what? I enjoy this a lot more now than when I was just trying to hurry around.” But all of life is that way. Everybody’s in a hurry to get some place. Just enjoy right now.
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    My sweet Uncle Brian has taught Poppy to slow down and live in the moment
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    My beautiful Nana and Uncle Brian

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John-David: The Biggest Blessing

There are many moments that define a person’s life. Sometimes, when reflecting on one’s life, it is hard to pick out one true defining moment. When I look back however, there is one moment that really stands out to me.

Growing up, my parents instilled in me the values of serving others. Both of my parents were always donating time and resources to those who were less fortunate. When my parents sat my sisters and I down to discuss the possibility of becoming foster parents, without a question my sisters and I all immediately agreed. I was eight years old.

We had many adorable and wonderful little foster brothers and sisters come in and out of our house. To this day people still ask me what that was like almost as if it was some sort of burden. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a blessing that was. I will never forget the feeling of finding out that we were going to have the privilege of having another little person in our home to take care of, look after and play pretend with.

With each child that came in and out of our home my little sisters and I learned a new lesson. We knew that each placement could last a few sweet days or, if it was God’s will, a lifetime. We learned to savor the time we had with our little siblings. We learned to love unconditionally and to live in the present because you never knew what could happen in the next moment. Most importantly, we learned how absolutely blessed we were to have been given our parents. They are an absolute and true example of unconditional love.

Little did I know that all of these small defining moments were leading up to the one true defining moment of my life. God knew perfectly what he was going to do next in our lives. One night we got a phone call that a little three-month old baby boy needed a loving home to keep him safe. We scrambled around, friends and family donating clothes and diapers and bottles. I remember picking out a teddy bear from my collection of stuffed animals to put in his little bed.

The next day, my mom picked my sisters and I up from school and we went to meet the social worker who would bring me my little brother. I was ten years old. I remember getting out of the car and seeing a sweet little toe headed baby boy. I was the first one to get to hold him and I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

That day was truly the best day of my life and I will cherish it forever. The incredible choices and sacrifices that my parents have made in order to show me what it is like to have a servant’s heart is something that will impact me forever. I will spend the rest of my life trying to give back to those less fortunate because of the pure love and hope that my little John-David has given me.

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