Books made me move 3,000 miles away

One day, not so long ago, a woman started reading books. These books were all about adventures: backpacking in the Utah desert, hiking Mount Everest, diamond heists. They also included books about famous people learning to cook, or learning how to love by doing. 


As she read these books, she discovered a theme that connected all of them: these people dared to be brave, and had courage to actually do something. 

The woman wanted her life to be worthy of writing a book that people would want to read. Maybe her adventure wouldn’t be an outdoor one, but it would be about daring to walk through new adventures in life. 

When the woman was finally given an opportunity to be brave, she took it. She didn’t push the opportunity away. She had never moved more than 20 miles, so when she thought about moving 3,000 miles it was huge.

And that's how this woman moved 3,000 miles from Sacramento, California to Raleigh, North Carolina 3 years ago this week. She wanted a life of bravery and courage. When I read books like these, it helped me see I could have an adventure story too. I didn't think the books you read can make a difference in how you live your life. But I was never so wrong. Reading different types of books truly expanded my outlook. 

I thought I was just reading other people's stories. Little did I know that they had the ability to shape my thinking. That another person's story really could make a difference to me. A life lived that isn't always easy, where things didn't go as you planned, where hard things happened and the person kept going showed me I could be brave too. The beliefs we have about life can change over time. I've always heard sayings like, "readers make leaders" "what you read will be what you become". Little did I know these were accurate. 

So the next time you start reading a book, be warned it could change your life!

January 2013 Recap

January has ended. Thinking about what happened this month, I am still loving my public library. I've discovered that the 3-week window to return a book helps me read it. Maybe I should borrow some of the books I have in our own library and I might actually read them too? 

(photo credit: the Hubster

This month I read:

100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights: You can read my review here.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller: Awesome story about the parable of the prodigal sons.

Talking with My Mouth Full by Mindy Kaling: I was expecting this book to be a little funnier, but I did LOL a few times. And yes, I just said LOL in context. 

Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston: EEK. A novel of the Donner Party. I pretty much will never go to the snow again because of this book and Into Thin Air.

Although I like all of my posts, my favorite one was A Tale of Bread Pudding.

My favorite new find was Farro.

And by far, I'm most proud of my video 2012 in Photos.

Joining Beth and Erika for The List and Shelia for the 2013 Reading Challenge.

Weekly Roundup

This is my first weekly roundup for 2013! I love reading blogs, but the best part about reading is sharing awesome finds with my friends. 

Here are a few posts that have caught my attention lately:

What have you been reading lately? What posts have caught your attention?

She Reads Truth: Israelites

I started the newest series of She Reads Truth: Fresh Start last week. As I was reading, I was reminded of a truth God impressed on me two summers ago.

That summer I had begun reading the Bible in 90 Days. Shortly after God miraculously dried the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk across the middle of, there's this:

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, "Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger. - Exodus 16:2-3, ESV

The Israelites' hearts grumbled, over and over and over. Each time I read this, I found myself getting angry with them. How could they be upset with the miracles God was continuously performing? How could they not see His hand at work for their best? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks:

I am no different. {Truth dagger to the heart}

When things don't go the way I think they should. When God doesn't respond as fast I want. My heart gets hard too. I am the Israelites.

I am so appreciative God continues to be faithful when I am not. I am indebted to His continual pursuit of me. I am thankful He doesn't give up on me.

How can I be so confident of this? Look at His commitment to the Israelites!

Book Review: 100 Pound Loser

I had the privilege of reviewing Jessica Heights' new book, 100 Pound Loser.

This personal memoir describes tricks of the trade Jessica discovered as she lost 100 pounds and

Having struggled with my weight most of my life, I could relate to her story.

I had always been a chunky kid.

I found the steps she took to achieve her weight loss resonate with my own journey. Jessica describes the importance of achieving your goals (with weight and life, for that matter):

In order to reach a big goal, start with smaller goals.

The key to success and avoiding discouragement is to make your target possible to hit!

She discusses food and how there's a tendency to have a relationship with it:

Food in itself isn't bad...But when we try to have a relationship with it, use it as a comforter, stress release, etc., we find ourselves in trouble.

This week I celebrate 4 years of having lost 30+ pounds and keeping it off! Jessica briefly discusses trigger foods and I loved what she said about cravings,

Rather than feeling frustrated and potentially racking up more calories than I would have originally, I just eat what I was craving in the first place.

I couldn't agree with her more! A little bit of chocolate or a milkshake won't sabotage my weight. But overeating other foods to compensate for not eating what I wanted certainly might.

It was challenging to relearn what a reward was when I lost weight. My first instinct was to think I could eat something "bad" for doing well. Learning to reward myself with non-food rewards like clothes was a key factor of getting to the heart of changing my relationship with food.

I'd like to encourage you to redefine your concept of "treat"...I came to view a "treat" for myself as an inexpensive little gift. 

Even when I have a gain on the scale, I try and not let it discourage me for long. I remember how far I have come and the progress I've made. I loved Jessica's thoughts on this concept:

It's more important to live life and enjoy our families than to obsess over weight.

I can't express how much having Anthony's support helped me lose weight and keep it off. Like Jessica, my husband was a key factor in my weight loss story.

If this is an area you need encouragment in, buy Jessica's book

I was given a review copy of 100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights. However, all opinions are my own. This post contains my affiliate links.

Partial Goals and How "Love Does" is Changing My Life

Me at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, OR. October 2012.

I am really good at thinking up new ideas. I love planning out activities and goals I want to adhere to. But I get bogged down easily. I get discouraged by not seeing results I want immediately. 

A few weeks ago I told you I was going to try and lose 8 pounds by Thanksgiving. I didn't make that goal and didn't want to admit it, so I didn't say anything more about it. I was embarrassed. (maybe that's because of the donut I was caught eating!)

I've also said I would blog more, cook more, etc. I want to stick with my commitments and goals, but I fail often.

Anthony says, "A half-fulfilled goal is like a half-eaten donut. Some is better than none!"

Obviously goal completion is a good thing. I am finished beating myself up for all the goals I haven't completed or the ones I decided to stop working on halfway through.

On a plane travelling to Portland, Oregon, I was engrossed in the book Love Does (by Bob Goff). A few times on the plane, I began crying because the words touched my heart. Love Does is an encouraging, personal memoir of Bob Goff's life. He says love actually does stuff, it doesn't just sit back and watch. It engages. It dares. It gets involved.  

I've been thinking about ways to get involved. Brené Brown talks about this concept in her book Daring Greatly. People who live rich, fulfilling lives take risks. They put themselves out there and in the arena to participate, not just watch.

I'm learning that it's better to fail than to have not tried at all. I'm learning to be okay with partly-done goals because some is better than none. 

The reason I write all of this is I want to encourage you.

Are there things you've been wanting to do, but haven't done? Do you have a dream you want to pursue?

Take a step and do.

Linking up with Amanda (Royal Daughter Design) for Desire to Inspire!

What I'm Into (November Edition)

I can't believe another month has flown by. I love when bloggers share the things they've been reading, doing, or watching lately. Anne inspired me to write my own What I'm Into today.


I've had lots of fun reading books recommended by Shelia (Deliberate Reader) and Anne (Modern Mrs. Darcy). I am still raving about Love Does by Bob Goff.

I finished reading An Invisible Thread and I have Lived a Thousand Years. Both were thought-provoking, inspiring reads. 

I skimmed Dinner: A Love Story, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, French Women Don't Get Fat, and An Everlasting Meal

I'm in the middle of reading Bringing up bébé by Pamela Druckerman and really like the ideas and concepts she presents.


New music and me don't normally go together. I have been loving 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I bought Carl Goes Up from the Up Soundtrack. Other than that, I listen to what Anthony turns on.


Since Olivia (my niece) was due on December 5th, we had a Ready to Pop baby shower in the middle of November. I made a breastfeeding survival kit for Heidi. It included handmade burp cloths and a nursing cover.

(Heidi at her shower)

I also made Olivia a hooded towel and washcloth set and a few more blankets. 

I made two table runners and have Christmas fabric ready for a pennant to decorate our front room.

I started knitting again last night and am making a little mauve and purple beanie for guess who? Olivia! She just can't wear something that isn't handmade by her Auntie.


Last weekend I made a small Thanksgiving dinner. I successfully made a turkey and it was delicious!

(photo credit)

I've been making lots of red sauce using Jessica's recipe. And I've made 3 batches of brownies over the course of 3 days. Maybe that's why my clothes aren't fitting?


The most popular post was Homemade Vanilla Extract. My personal favorites were A Simpler Season and the DIY Natural Laundry Soap.

Blogger Love

Nearly every post has spoken to me in some way from Donald Miller's Storyline Blog. My personal favorites were:

Nikki (Christian By Association) wrote an insightful post called "Why Christians Should Say Happy Holidays." It's worth the time to read it. 

PC Walker (Ragamuffin PC) always writes posts that cut to the heart. "When you say, "I don't want to gossip, but ..." has helped me stop a few times. 

Anthony told me about Diane's blog, He Speaks in the Silence, and this Sunday Scripture was food for my soul.


I took a big leap and bought Michael Hyatt's Get Published while it was on sale last week. I haven't started the program, but I have high hopes for it helping me with my writing. 

I bought some earrings from Hannah, a necklace from Tricia, and fun cards to put on my sewing projects from Lindsay.

(Sewing projects with cards)


We went to the movies and saw Lincoln with Heidi and Caleb. It was a great movie and I thought the casting of Daniel Day-Lewis was perfect. I enjoyed the filming and appreciated the way the cameras recorded a scene from the ground.


This month we went to Disneyland with Anthony's family and had a great time. But seriously, how could we not have a great time at Disneyland?

My favorite part of our whole trip was the conversations we had while standing in line for rides and driving in the car. Because of the trip, we have nicknames: inlaws (Anthony, Donna, Brianna) & outlaws (Scott, Chad & me)!

I loved recapping this month!

What have you been up to lately?

Linking up with Leigh for What I'm Into.

Gretchen Rubin & Miscellany Monday

Culitviating an attitude of contentment and joy is a priority to me. One of the first author's I have ever read that encourages happiness in all areas of life is Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen has written a number of books, but the one she's the most famous for is The Happiness Project. Last Thursday, Anthony and I drove to the Ferry Building in San Francisco to see her discuss her newest book, Happier at Home.

The minute she took the podium I was relieved.

Relieved because she was as kind and sincere in person as I had imagined! Gretchen shared why she wrote her new book and a few key points about it. As she spoke, I found myself with a continuous smile. The happiness and joy she cultivates in little things is contagious. 

Gretchen discussed a few roadblocks to happiness that she wrote about in Happier at Home:

Possessions get in our way and clog our minds. 

Outer order contributes to inner calm and they are disproportionately related to each other 

Stalled projects clutter our minds and decrease our happiness. Sometimes you need to abandon a project.

We stood in line for Gretchen to sign my book and take a picture with her too! If you ever have the chance to hear Gretchen speak, do it. You'll be glad you did.

This weekend, I tackled a few stalled projects with the help of my cousin Rachel! I cleaned out my drawer of yarn to free up space for fabric in my craft dresser.

I fixed a dress that had ripped (on Easter) and sewed a pair of Anthony's scrubs. I uploaded the last 4 videos of our Vancouver trip!

Here's the video of what we did on Day 3. This was filmed at Granville Island Public Market

P.S. For those of you following along with my weight loss, I weighed in this week and lost .8 pounds. I didn't think it was very much until I placed the equivalent in butter on my kitchen scale. I was impressed.

How are you doing with your weight loss? Let me know if you need a little encouragement.

Happy Monday! I hope your week is full of lovely memories and beautiful fall weather.

Linking up with Carissa for Miscellany Monday.

The summer my reading took off

 Summer Books 2012 


In honor of the last day of summer, I thought it would be fun to share the books I read! I'm elated with the number and diversity. A huge shout out goes to Anne (Modern Mrs. Darcy) for publishing her Ultimate Beach Reading Guide. If she hadn't shared that list, I wouldn't have known about or read many of these books.

After reading all 14 books, I realized my favorite books are nonfiction. I love reading about the challenges people go through to accomplish something. It's very encouraging and inspiring to read someone's struggle and how they triumphed. Even if it wasn't according to their plan!

I would recommend all of the books! The most fascinating was The Perfect Storm. My Life in France made me want to start cooking French food. A Million Miles was very impacting. Garlic and Sapphires taught me what a restaurant reviewer goes through to write an accurate review. I got to read Work Shift and The Non-Profit Narrative as a reviewer! The funniest book was The Journal of Best Practices.

And guess how much I paid to read these books? Zip, zero, zilch, nada! Thanks to my public library.

Now that I've shared what I've been reading, it's YOUR turn! What have you enjoyed reading recently?

The giveaway winner of Work Shift is: Deanna! Congratulations! I'll be emailing you.

*The Journal of Best Practices and Julie and Julia both have quite a bit of cussing. I really enjoyed them aside for that fact. 

Work Shift: Review and Giveaway

This past weekend I read Anne Bogel's (aka Modern Mrs. Darcy) new ebook, Work Shift: How to Create a better blend of work, life, and family.

There are many things I enjoyed about the book. It was easy to read. I finished the book in a few hours and am already finding myself wanting to go back and re-read some sections. They were THAT good.

I loved Work Shift because of how well-educated Anne is on this topic. She used quotes when appropriate and personal stories to validate the statements she makes. As you might know, Anthony and I don't have any kids and we both work full time. Even without kids, this book had applications for me!

I appreciated that Anne addressed nearly every scenario a person might be in (married with kids, families with breastfeeding babies, single moms/dads, couples, both parents working full time, etc) and how to blend work and family life.

Have you ever heard of "share care?" I learned about this term through Work Shift. Share care is where parents share the care of raising their children. It has long been a pet peeve of mine when a mom says their husband is babysitting the kids. I don't think of a parent watching their kids as baby sitting. Sharing the care is a much better description of what is happening! 

I needed to put my thinking cap on as Anne discussed the cultural shift "work" has gone through over the years. She discusses farm life, the industrial revolution, factory work, and how the Dot Com boom enabled the internet. I loved the history and economics she walked me through with Work Shift.

Bottom line: buy the book. I'm sure you'll learn something from it.

Anne is giving away one copy of Work Shift (the ebook) to one of you! To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment letting me know you'd like to win. The giveaway will be open until Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 8:00pm PST. 

I was given a review copy of Work Shift by Anne Bogel. However, all opinions are my own. This post contains my affiliate links. The giveaway winner must be over 18 years old. The winner will be chosen randomly and notified via email.