Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Beautiful Month

In case you aren't on Instagram, or don't follow me, here's a peek at my Insta-Life lately.
[*All photos are taken from my Instagram account.]

Starbucks was handing out free coffee samples. What?!

Frozen yogurt with this little man. (Dairy free, of course.) YUM.

Some much needed recipe book organization!

I had the chance to attend the Ohio Library Council (OLC) Northeast chapter conference this past week with a few of my co-workers. I love conferences and workshops and learning and networking. I'm a social butterfly. I'm a nerd. The above picture is from my "Storytime Boot Camp" session. Now this was the kind of boot camp I can get behind.

Books. Books. More books! This is the most current read. I heard good things, like addicting-can't-put-down-go-crazy things. I can't wait.

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What I'm Reading {And Good News!}

I have been enjoying some great books lately. I'm currently absorbed in our newest book club choice (or I should say, my current book club choice, because we all picked different ones this month). I chose Rachel Hartman's YA novel Seraphina, which is all about humans and dragons living in a world of truce until the king is murdered....I only put the book down when I have to, and unfortunately I'm finding this happening a little too often. As of now, I'm contemplating how much sleep I need to get me through the next two days....

But, anyhoo, concerning the books I finished....I read Joyce Maynard's Labor Day for last month's book club. It was my turn to pick and I printed a list of titles with movies coming out this year and suggested every one pick something from that list to read. Since I was interested in seeing Labor Day and it was the first to be released, I selected it. I was intrigued with the characters from the beginning, however I found the story odd at times. It's very interesting learning this story from a 13-year-old's perspective. I would not call this a "sexy page turner" as some reviews have suggested. But from what I heard about the trailer, it doesn't seem to follow the book. This makes me even more interested in seeing the movie. But not run-out-this-minute-and-see-it kind of interested. I'll see it eventually, possibly in the form of a dollar- or 50-cent movie. We are a fan of the cheap over here. It's how I can afford my Starbucks. Give and take, people.

I heard about Julie Kibler's book through another blogger, Jenna over at Eat, Live, Run (which if you've been following me for any bit of time know I'm a huge fan). Calling Me Home alternates between the past (during the civil rights movement) and present day. I was invested in this story from the very first few pages. The writing is great, page-turning, easy, and wonderfully thought out. This story touched my heart, truly, and left me with many tears. I'm sure it will be adapted to the screen some day.

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren F. Winner is excellent. Excellent. While I didn't read this as my book club choice (a few months ago), one of our other members read it. I was intrigued instantly upon hearing her review, and happy when she offered to let me borrow it. Now I will be purchasing it and giving it to my mama to read. Winner (who converted to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism) makes very valuable points, causing you to think a little more. And while I do some of these suggestions already, I'm re-examining my reasoning, or shall I say bringing a deeper spiritual reasoning/reminder/thought-process to these acts. I am a Christian who tries every day to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, and these tidbits were quite insightful as to this purpose. I was very interested in the idea of one's marriage being not private but a community endeavor, and the doorposts suggestion. I'll be passing this book along to many, many people. (Bonus: it's a very slender, but heavy read.)

Women Living Well is definitely a must-run-out-and-buy-and-refer-to-often-throughout-the-many-seasons-of-my-life. Although there are a few suggestions I don't agree with completely, Courtney Joseph's knowledge of scripture and examples of what works for her in all of the four areas discussed (God, husband, children, and homemaking) are great resources for women of faith to reference. I discovered this devotional while emerged in the midst of my Good Morning Girls Intentionally Focused Bible study. (Joseph is one of its co-founders.) I recommend picking up this book for the husband challenge alone.

I'm bringing a Book It! page to Sweet B's. You can now click on this tab and quickly find any book I referenced on the blog. Cheers to being organized and a little OCD.

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Sweets

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It's been a long, long while since I did a Sunday Sweets post. I miss them. I miss the sharing of my "current eats" and favorites, as well as a few inspirations. I changed it up a bit each time, and now I'm changing it up again. My plan is to focus each "Sunday Sweets," and I thought I'd center my first around yoga.

at my early morning yoga class

However first thing's first, this morning I enjoyed a tasty breakfast: an egg white scramble and iced black coffee with my yoga smoothie (1 c water, 1 c unsweetened almond milk, 1 c frozen berries, and 1 T almond butter). This smoothie is probably my most favorite.
Before heading into my yoga class, I hit my mat for a quick warm-up session with a few morning stretches and a couple of Sun Salutations. My yoga pose focus for today's practice consisted of deepening an asana inversion twist. Ahhh, feel that deep, wonderful stretch in the legs, back, and arms. Hold. And breathe.

I love getting deeper in poses and focusing on each part of my body. With each inhale I move deeper, and with each exhale I hold.

I was extra excited for this morning's yoga session at One Love Yoga Boutique in Kent. Normally, I am getting ready for church/in church when this Vinyasa Flow is class scheduled and can't attend, but Mr. B and I made it to last night's service leaving this Sunday morning free. I took advantage and headed straight to the studio. So happy I did because I miss my yoga classes. I haven't been able to attend regularly because a) it can get pricey, and b) honestly, the classes I want to attend never seem to fit into my schedule. I'm either at work, or driving to and from, when they're offered. I'm still doing my yoga at home, which is one reason why I'm a huge advocate of yoga---it's so easy to develop an at-home practice. But there's just something inspiring, invigorating, motivating, and healthy about practicing with others, in being a part of a yoga community.

Our yoga instructor, Linda (and she's my favorite; I know we're not supposed to have favorites, but she's my favorite), gave us balls to roll around on, getting the kinks out of our backs and shoulders before beginning the days' class. I focused mainly on my shoulders, but couldn't help rolling it under my feet. Feels sooooo good.

Another thing I like about this yoga studio: the clothes. Love the clothing (leggings, shirts, and dresses) and products, like active-wear detergent, mat cleaner, and balms) available at the boutique. (Plus, you won't find me complaining about the Robeks inside either. After a hot yoga session, a refreshing juice or smoothie hits the spot.)
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The above leggings immediately went to the top of my birthday wish list. In teal, please! And this dress is just too cute. Click on the links to see other yoga must-haves.
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Don't forget to check out their Facebook page, too!

Here's a little something I found which put a smile on my face.

Oh, and I really, really, really want to make this Mayan Dark Chocolate Pudding with my favorite nut, the pistachio. I imagine this is absolutely sinful.

Happy Sunday! I hope y'all find some relaxation today.

With Love and God Bless,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Must-Bring-To-Every-Family-Gathering Cornbread Casserole

Mmmmmm. Mmmmmmm.

This is so good, my friends.

So good that if the family is gathering together, I'm asked to not forget this dish!! It's perfect for cookouts, holiday meals (Thanksgiving, of course,), and it's even a great casserole side to drop off at a sick family member's house or to help out a new mama. And the best part, it's super easy to double and feed a crowd. I always have these ingredients on hand, so I can easily throw it together when I have unexpected guests for dinner.

I don't do corn in my my cornbread. I have my cornbread casserole for that.

Every time I make this, Mr. B and I are fighting each other constantly for the end pieces. Don't be surprised if you stop by and all that's left is the very center. Granted, we'll vie for that last bite as well, but when I make this just for us, we start with the outer parts. It makes for a very un-photogenic picture. I had to smack Mr. B's hands away more than once so I could provide you with a few mouth-watering photos. If you're not drooling yet, wait until you take your first bite.

Cornbread Casserole
*health-ified from the Sunday Night Football Cookbook (<--- these football players know their food. YUM.)

Makes 8 slices

1 8 oz box of corn muffin mix
1 c corn (frozen, fresh, or canned)
1 c creamed corn
1 c plain soy yogurt
2 eggs (if making it for just me and the hubby, I'll replace one egg with one flax egg = 1 T ground flax seed + 3 T water)
4 T organic butter, melted and cooled slightly

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix until smooth. Pour into a pie dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes in pan before cutting.

*Note: the yogurt makes this dish super moist, so don't over-bake!

With Love and God Bless,

Monday, March 17, 2014

Yes, I'm a Children's Librarian

Top o' the morning' to ya! Happy St. Patty's Day! 

I'm not really into St. Patty's Day. I don't care for shamrock shakes. I don't eat green eggs and ham. But I do wear green. That's the one thing I do because I don't want to be pinched. Ouch. Going through my closet this morning I realized I am lacking seriously in the green clothing department. I found one green sweater I was just not stuffing myself into today, one green t-shirt I've had since the 7th grade (honestly, go show choir ---> Bulldog Express), and a few summer dresses and tanks with a hint of green. My only option seemed to be a brown sweater jacket with a green stripe. It was comfy enough. However, now I need to "think green" during my next shopping excursion.

Plus, I'm heading to the doctor's today, so I need comfy. While I wait around for my appointment, here's a peek at my last Saturday as a children's librarian. You can read my last post here.

8:30-9:30 a.m. While checking emails, I was filling out sick day forms, my time card so I can get paid next Friday, and requesting books for a few upcoming story times. I gathered supplies for crafts next week, and figured out which books I'd read at today's Butler program (see below).

9:30-10:30 a.m. I had an hour to kill before heading over to one of the library's branches to help with a princess program, so I decided to peruse through some children's movie and music titles to see which ones I'd like to order for my collection. I didn't begin to make even a dent in the list. (Guess what I'll be doing next week....?)

10:45-1:00 p.m. Princess Palooza! @ another library branch.

As soon as I arrived, with a lot of pink sprinkles I might add, I began helping Miss Jill (one of my library system's other branches children's librarian) finish any last-minute set-ups while she got into a lovely emerald green princess gown (which would have been perfect for St. Patty's Day, by the way). Guess who forgot her crown on her desk at her far away branch? Yes, sadly I was a crown-less, ball gown-less princess. But we had plenty of other princesses to go around. The program was for children ages 4-8 and lasted about an hour. As the little ones came in dressed in their beautiful dresses, they told me all about their favorite princesses while I filled out their "Princess for a Day" certificates. The most popular princess was by far Ariel.

After they had their certificates and the parents filled out photo permission forms, the princesses had three crafts to entertain them for the first half hour. They could make crowns, create their own miniature princess, and make a princess bracelet (pictured above). At 11:30, Miss Jill gathered all of the princesses together for one big photo, and then I led them into another room where our surprise guest, Princess Snow White, was waiting. Snow White read a story to the little princesses, and afterwards answered questions about the dwarves, her children, how she stays so beautiful, and her prince charming.

Next, all of the girls gathered together for the Princess Hokey Pokey, and then Miss Jill surprised them with the song "Let it Go" (from the latest princess blockbuster, Frozen) in which every single girl, at the top of her lungs, serenaded Snow White with because she did not know the song. While everyone was singing and dancing, I quickly put out the crown sugar cookies to be decorated with pink frosting and sprinkles galore. Along with their royal treat, the girls enjoyed pink strawberry milk (or water).

Around noon, the princesses slowly started leaving, and I began clean-up duties. Snow White did a wonderful job, and it was nice hearing someone else read to the kids. This program might be repeated at other locations this fall....

1:00-1:30 p.m. Lunch time! After helping Miss Jill get her children's department somewhat back to normal, I headed back to my branch where I enjoyed a quick lunch of leftover spaghetti, and a few pages of my latest book before heading down the street to The Butler Museum, the Howland location.

1:45-2:30 p.m. Family Day at The Butler

One Saturday a month, September through April, the Butler Museum and my library team up to host a "family day" where the kids hear a few stories (read by a children's librarian, usually me because I'm the closest), learn about whatever art happens to be on display at the time, and then finish with an art craft relating to the museum's latest art works. This month, as well as last month, pin ball machines have decorated the Butler rooms. Would you believe how hard it is to find a children's book with a pin ball machine in it?

Last month, Sandy (the volunteer who directs the art portion) had the kids paint with marbles because that's kind of like a pin ball. This month she had the kids create a bird out of plaster because 1) spring is near! and 2) most of these kids enjoy playing Angry Birds, which allowed her to compare that game with older games, like pin ball. Normally, I read two longer children's books (since the age range for this program is 5-10), and this time I read Puffin Peter by  Petr Horacek (which featured different types of birds with great illustrations) and I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman (which featured a pig running around the county fair getting into quite the colorful mess). Then I quickly highlighted any big upcoming programs at the library, and after the kids walked around looking at the art, err game machines, while a volunteer pointed out some feature that will tie into the art activity.

Here is the bird craft the kids were very excited to make.

2:45-4:00 p.m. I spent the rest of the day at my branch catching up on some new book arrivals, emails, and figuring out my Tuesday night Yogi Kids program. Since I knew I was taking Monday off, I had to make sure everything was ready for when I come in on Tuesday. This month's yoga program is pajama-themed and for children in grades K-3, so I'm planning games and an owl moon craft. The main game is a BINGO yoga, and laminating the cards and getting together the prizes took up most of my time.

4:00-5:00 p.m. My last hour of the day consisted of a major department clean-up. The children's area and shelves were a complete mess. I'm not sure if there were a lot of kids in on Friday afternoon or during the day while I wasn't here, but good night! Children were busy! Books were everywhere and out of place, and stuffed animals and games were strewn about. Plus, one of the circulation staff members found another job, so the staff is short and I was assisting them when needed. I was busy re-shelving children's books, yet I think they kept multiplying on the cart. Right before closing, I ran to the basement (a.k.a. storage central/craft supplies heaven) to grab a few craft supplies, and the humongous tote of Legos to be shipped off to another library branch for their upcoming Lego's program next Saturday.

All in all it was a busy, program-filled Saturday at the library :)

With Love and God Bless,

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Morning Layered Oats

This is my current breakfast obsession. Like eating-it-every-day obsession.

Except for this morning. Mr B was home and made me a tasty breakfast, err an early brunch, of hash browns, sausage patties, and (his favorite) French toast. All I had to do was brew the coffee.

He does spoil me so.

Anyhoo, back to my latest bowl of oats, which I'll probably have tomorrow because I work the early shift, and although Mr. B is off, I doubt he'll happily get up at a dark 6:30 to make me another tasty breakfast.

But these oats. These oats are quite simple. It's just my favorite yummy breakfast: oatmeal with whatever fits my fancy. Lately, it's been bananas. I go through phases with bananas. I can eat them every day, with nut butter or in a smoothie, for days. And then I want nothing to do with them for weeks. But I still buy them. And after watching them go bad as my husband tries to finish them off, he'll ask if I don't like bananas any more. (Btw, I can't stand to see any brown on my banana; once it develops a brown spot, no way am I eating that. The greener the better.) And then a few days later I can't get enough of them and put them on everything, like this oatmeal. every. day.

Layered Oatmeal

serves 1

1/3 c cooked rolled oats
here is where I'd normally layer on a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt <--- why I'm not doing that currently I'll explain in a whole other post soon :(
1 T chia seeds
splash of unsweetened almond milk (usually I add enough to surround my oatmeal)
dash of ground cinnamon
handful of fresh berries
1/2 banana, sliced
drizzle of raw almond butter

In a bowl add ingredients layer by layer making it nice and pretty. Enjoy!

Eat it as is, pretty layers on each spoonful, or get crazy and mix it all up. It's quite simple.

With Love and God Bless,

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


I'm currently.... good ole FRIENDS. I felt the need for a great laugh, so I put in an episode, which turned into me watching an entire season, which turned into me going through all of the seasons. They're my favorites. BTW, I was laughing so hard at one of the first season's episodes that Mr. B just sat there and stared at me. For like five minutes. When I finally stopped laughing he said, "It wasn't that funny." Ohhhh, Mr. B, yes it was. (It was the one where Ross is practicing his "dirty talk" on Joey.) hahahaha

Eating....I am addicted to these vegetable chips. I can't get enough. I turned into Mr. B, the man who can devour a bag of chips in less than 24 hours. I open the bag and I can't stop they are soooo good.

Planning.... my Summer Reading 2014 programs. This year's theme is all about science, "Fizz! Boom! Read!" to be exact. I have thoughts on body, weather, and healthy science programs, and this year we're having a magician for my branch's kickoff, and switching out Jungle Terry for Outback Ray...we'll see how this goes. Right now I'm just trying to breathe, or trying to get my boss to breathe...this summer we will have two of our YS staff members out on maternity leave. That's more than 70 hours a week we're losing in coverage. Thank goodness for last-minute subs and passive programs!

Reading.... I'm halfway through Joyce Maynard's Labor Day, and I'm really, really, really liking it. Yes, I do have plans to see the movie after I finish the book! Also, I'm reading a lot of youth nonfiction, some topics include parrots, the Irish potato famine, the civil rights movement, elephants, glaciers, and the invention of neon colors.

Inspired by....this book, 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue. I just started reading it last night and can't wait to dive into this devotional. Hopefully, during and after the 30 days, I'll be more mindful of what and how I speak. I sort of combined it with my Lenten observance this year. I promise to give a review when I'm finished.

Excited about....VERA BRADLEY OUTLET SALE in 34 days!!! (Read up on all the excitement from last year here, and the year prior here.) Thursday, April 10th

I'm in dire need want of a few items....

And cry just as hard every.single.time. they walk away from that apartment....

Also, don't forget today is Ash Wednesday. What are you doing to observe this Lenten season? If you need ideas, feel free to check out this post, or this one. Also, visit YouVersion's Bible app to start one of the many devotionals offered to help prepare you for Easter.

I'm forgoing dairy. You heard it here first, y'all. I'm finally doing it for longer than 12 days. And I'm watching my tongue (see above), and taking the time to give more thanks over every food/meal, and more gratitude for what I have.

"My Jesus, I am going into the wilderness today to speak only with You, my Master and my Lord. The earth be silent, and You alone speak to me, Jesus. You know that I understand no other voice but Yours, O Good Shepard. In the dwelling of my heart is that wilderness to which no creature has access. There, You alone are King." ---St. Faustina Kowalska

With Love and God Bless,

Sunday, March 2, 2014

OSCARS Sunday!


I quite enjoy award season. I didn't use to, but for the last seven years now I've been devouring anything and everything Oscar's.

And I'm most looking forward to seeing Mr. Jeremy Renner ;)

Isn't he just so handsome? He's my favorite.

Okay, one more, I promise. And this one is for you my dear Jessica.

It's also my Oscar tradition to make Jenna's gnocchi. This is probably my favorite gnocchi combination, and you know how much I enjoy my gnocchi. (If not, check out this and this.) It uses goat cheese and a little pasta water to form the sauce that coats these delectable pasta pillows along with fresh basil and bursting cherry tomatoes. (Don't forget a healthy seasoning of black pepper. YUM.)

It's so simple. It's so darn good. It's my Oscar Sunday meal. It's tradition.

While I'm judging the red carpet arrivals (and, be honest, who isn't?), I'm in heaven with this perfect pasta dinner. And when the awards finally commence, I bring out my tasty popcorn. I'm always trying out new popcorn varieties, but right now I'm on a nutritional yeast kick. It's quite elementary. Just take 1/3 c popcorn kernels and place in a brown bag and heat in the microwave for about 3 minutes (But keep an eye, or ear, on it because it could finish before and you don't want it to burn. Yuck.) Pour into a big bowl and add a drizzle of melted coconut oil, a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast, a sprinkle of salt (and sometimes pepper) and lightly toss. (When I'm feeling it, sometimes I add a a little bit of dried dill or thyme.) Enjoy.

Now for my Academy Award picks! (I hear it's quite the tight race and the award is up in the air for most categories....)

But I'm going with Cate Blanchett (Best Actress), Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor), American Hustle (Best Costume), Gravity (Best Cinematography), Frozen (Best Animated Film, Song, etc. ....obviously), and for Twelve Years a Slave to clean up the rest, including Picture, Director, and Supporting Actress. (I'm thinking Jared Leto for Supporting Actor.)

I'm sure I do not need to go into detail about how I feel with all of the snubs Jeremy Renner has received this season....

Annnnd a few years ago he should have won for The Hurt Locker, which was phenomenal.

If you are unfamiliar, check out the trailer here.
Come on, Hollywood!

With Love and God Bless,