8 Books I’ve Loved Lately

Staying in is the absolute perfect excuse to read a great book. I’m bringing you 8 books I’ve loved lately to take you away while you’re staying in. I hope you have plenty of time to read. You’re gonna love these books.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi -If you love a good YA fantasty but you’re desperate for something unique, this is the book for you. Children of Blood and Bone is set in Africa (ish). The magic portrayed is different from anything you’ve seen before. There’s blood and tears and romance. You’ll love it. The sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengence, is also available, but I haven’t read that yet. If you have, let me know what you think.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – This book straddles America and Nigeria, and it was a real eye opener for me. As a white lady, most of what I know about the black experience comes from books, and I’ve ready my share if African American literature. This novel, though, is written by a black woman from Nigeria who lived in America. Her views on race in my country helped me see things I hadn’t considered before. Beyond all the politics, it’s also just a fantastic coming of age story.

The Power by Naomi Alderman – Oof! This book had me hooked from the first moment and delivered so many things I didn’t expect. Women suddenly discover that they have the ability to cause others pain with electricity created by their bodies. How will they use this new found power? Therein lies the adventure. Don’t miss this one.

The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood – Bonus, this recommendation is actually three books. If you’re only going to read one, the first book, Oryx and Crake is my favorite. If you loved The Handmaid’s Tale, either the novel or the TV show, you will definitely love this trilogy. Sometimes I’ll be reading a random book and wonder why I’m not reading Margaret Atwood. Her work is absolutely transporting, and this speculative fiction series is as good as any. If you want to go deep on how disease and climate change can change the world, this book will blow your mind.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – If you started to watch the series on Amazon Prime and thought it was awful, please don’t let that stop you from reading the book. If you like quirky humor and a heaping dose of mythology, this book is for you. It might feel like the end of the world, so you might as well laugh your way there.

Atonement by Ian McEwan – This book will absolutely wreck you. It’s so unbelievably tragic, I get a stomach ache every time I open it up. That being said, I think I’ve read this book three times. The language is poetic without being pretentious. The characters are beautifully drawn. Just thinking about this book fills me with emotion.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris – If you want blistering wit, read anything by David Sedaris. If you’re reading this in bed with a partner, you’ll want to read like every other line out loud to them. I mean, really just read all his books. This is the one I just happen to have on my shelf at the moment.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester – This is the only stricly non-fiction book to make the list. Technically, Me Talk Pretty One Day is non-fiction, but it’s memoir and this is history, so… This book tells the fascinating story of the creation of something that probably sounds immensely boring. You will not believe how this dictionary came into being.

What are you reading right now? I’m always looking for a great new-to-me book. Share your recommendations in the comments. And if you’re looking for more great reads, check these out.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you click a link and buy something, I receive a small commission which allows me to bring you more great recipes and other content.

Be Awesome: Stay on the Path

Be Awesome: Stay on the Path

You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t stay on the path. Life may try to lead you astray or take unexpected turns. Don’t worry, it’ll be awesome.

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 59 this year. I often wish she was here to cheer me on in my quest to become a professional food blogger. Bloggers always talk about when they were starting out and the only person reading their blog was their mom. Mine passed away four years before this blog was started, but I think she would have liked it.

While I would desperately love to have her back, I literally would not be where I am today if she hadn’t died from a brain tumor. It was the bit of money I got from her life insurance that allowed me to move to Taiwan. It was that money that allowed me to meet the my husband. I can draw a direct line from her passing to where I am sitting right now. I know none of this would have happened otherwise.

The paths of our lives are so winding, so complicated, so unpredictable. There’s simply no way to know the long term consequences of our actions from day to day.

I’ve taken a lot of twists and turns in my life. I’ve made plans that have gone so horribly off the rails, I almost lost track of who I was. I eventually managed to build something stable, though. A nice normal life that lots of people would envy. So, to have a new career goal at my age seems foolish most days. Why can’t I just be content with my 9 to 5 government job with good benefits? Why do I want to change my whole life?

I don’t know the answer, but when I close my eyes and envision my path forward, I see myself owning my own business. I see myself working from home creating recipes and sharing them with the world. Maybe I see myself baking treats for people, and I see the joy that brings them. I see myself having the freedom to travel with the people I love. I see myself helping others find the courage to choose their own path and stay on it.

In reality, this path is still unclear. I have no idea how I’m going to achieve all this. But there was a point in my life where I never could have imagined I would be where I am now. Keep working, keep learning, keep trying. That’s all there is.

There’s no way to know if what I’m doing right now will actually lead me to where I want to be. So much has happened to me that I couldn’t have planned or predicted. I do actually have a crystal ball, but I haven’t figured out how to get it to show my future yet. All I can do is stay on the path and believe that what I want will come to me somehow.

Awesome in February | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

Awesome in February

How does tiny little February somehow always seem to go on forever? The weather was horrible pretty much every day, but let’s focus on what was awesome in February.

Awesome in February | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

I went to the wedding of a dear friend this month, and it was lovely. Other than that, I’ve barely left my house. We did go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day. How you know you’ve married the right person? They take you to Five Guys for special occasions. I never get tired of a good cheeseburger and a thick milkshake. And when you can share that experience with someone you love, that’s pure heaven.

While being cooped up in the house avoiding one storm after another this month, we watched the final season of The Good Place. While it wasn’t as strong as the first two seasons, I was still so sad when it ended. It’s like saying goodbye to friends.

We also watched Parasite, and guys, it’s everything everyone has promised. It’s visually stunning, hilarious and horrifying. If you’re still resistant to watching foreign films, this is the time to get over it. After a few minutes, you forget that you’re reading. This story is completely engrossing, and you must see it.

Internet food is starting to become more enticing this month as we’ve all given up on our new year diets. Refried beans are always my favorite part of any Mexican meal, so I’m pretty excited about these Easy Refried Beans from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Speaking of Mexican food, maybe I can serve those refried beans with these incredible looking Saucy Chipotle Chicken Skillet Enchiladas from How Sweet Eats. So what if you have to go to a specialty shop in the West End to get chipotle peppers in Glasgow.

Do I have to wait all the way ’til next year to try this Pull-Apart Biscuit King Cake from Joy the Baker? I don’t know if I can wait that long.

Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Your favorite recipes this month were Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels, White Cheddar Fondue, and Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies. I’m so into it.

They say Spring is coming. It’s keeping itself well hidden for now, but we know it’s out there. Just keep turning your face toward the sun.

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

Be Awesome: Celebrate Small Victories

So it turns out that manifesting your dreams is really hard work and super discouraging sometimes. Occasionally, I hear about people who seemed to just wake up with 10,000 Instagram followers or they just made more than my annual salary in a month without really trying, and though I know I shouldn’t let it get me down, it so does. When that envy dragon rises up inside of me, it rages pretty ferociously. Envy is my wickedest demon. Maybe you can relate.

Right, give me two seconds to vent, then we’ll get on to solutions. For context, ya know. I’ve been putting the vast majority of my spare time and pretty much all of my emotional energy into growing this blog and trying to learn how to make some semblence of a business out of it for over four months now. While I’ve seen a tiny bit of growth over last year, my traffic is still much lower than it was in 2016 when I was hardly trying. I’m growing at a glacial pace, and it’s so demoralizing.

But nobody wants to hang out at this pity party all day. So let’s flip the script. When life is kicking your ass, what do you do? For me, there’s usually chocolate involved. But I also need to shift my perspective. Other people’s success don’t negate the possibility of my own. Just because someone else is releasing a new book doesn’t mean I could never write one. What comes easily to someone else might be a huge struggle for me, but there may be people who look at my life and wish they were doing something I take for granted.

Failures are so easy to spot. They take up so much space in our hearts. But hiding amongst all the work, there’s always success that we don’t see when we’re so busy focusing on what we haven’t accomplished. I made my traffic goal for January, modest as it was. I’m creeping up on 400 followers on Instagram, which isn’t much, but it’s more than what I had. I still haven’t made any money, but I’m trying to learn more to change that. And I haven’t slacked off and missed a post once since my relaunch. That’s something I haven’t been able to say for years.

Next time you’re stuck in an envy spiral, stop and look through a different lense. Find something to celebrate, no matter how small. And if you can, say it out loud. Better yet, say it out loud to someone who will tell you how extraordinary you already are. Chances are, you’ve been working too hard to remember. You are smart and creative and that thing you’re trying to do? You can totally do that. Just keep working. We’ll get there together.

Awesome in January | How to Be Awesome in $20 a Day

Awesome in January

Awesome in January | How to Be Awesome on $20 a Day

January always feels so long. From the hope and celebration of New Year’s day to the dreary cold work days at the end of the month seems like a million miles. But we made it friends. Here’s what was awesome in January.

We actually left the house at one point and went on a date. We tried burgers and shakes at a place that already appears to have shut down. So, I gues we got there just in time. I gave them a solid B so…

We also went to the theatre to see 1917. It was beautiful and horrible and intense and visceral and so so good. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Sam Mendes’s films over the years. This one was intense. My heart was racing, and I was squirming in my seat probably enraging the people around me. If Roger Deakins doesn’t get a damn Oscar the world has gone mad.

I’ve watched a lot of other good films this month as well. I enjoyed Rocketman more than I expected. It was remeniscent of All That Jazz but more mainstream.

I’m a huge fan of Knives Out and think that’s probably a movie I’ll watch again and again.

I can see why Jojo Rabbit might not everyone’s cup of tea, but I was all in. It’s definitely my pick for best production design, and Jojo’s pal is the most adorable child actor I’ve ever seen. Can I move into Jojo’s house and get Scarlett Johansson’s entire wardrobe?

I also felt myself strangely invested in Ford v Ferrari. I thought Matt Damon was great, and they somehow got me to care about car racing. This is some quality story-telling.

We also watched Chernobyl and were stunned and horrified the whole way through. If you missed this series, go back and give it a watch.

Somehow I also managed to finally finish a novel this month. Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon took me a while to get into, but it eventually hooked me, then completely mesmerized me. The language is highly stylized, and there are a lot of characters, some of whom have nicknames. There are also some non-linear points in the timeline, so you need to really be paying attention. It’s worth it, though, to get an in-depth glimpse of a very specific time and place.

In amongst all the salads and veganuary dishes, the internet did still offer up some tasty treats this month. I’m totally into this Poutine with Waffle Fries from Spoon Fork Bacon. Can you imagine the texture?

Can you believe I’ve never had Tres Leches Cake. This one from A Cozy Kitchen looks beautiful.

I would be so happy to wake up to this Cinnamon Streusel French Toast from Two Peas & Their Pod.

Whipped Ricotta | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

The posts you thought were most awesome in January were Whipped Ricotta, Frito Chili Cheese Wraps, and Amaretto Sours. That’s quite a span of tastes. I love them all.

My favorite post from January was definitely Satsuma & Dark Chocolate Brioche. I’m eating that whole loaf by myself.

I hope your January’s been beautiful, friends. There’s more light on the horizon. It’s gonna be awesome.

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