Sunday, January 27, 2019

January Reads

It's 2019! Time for my first reads post of the year! I am so excited to dive into the pages in 2019! Are you ready?!
I read 5 books this month.

1. An Anoymous Girl by Greer Henkdricks and Sarah Pekkanen: Ya'll know how much I loved The Wife Between Us by these gals so when this one popped up as a Book of the Month club choice, I just had to get it. I really liked this book! It was a great thriller to start the year. It's about a woman who signs up for a psychological study and things get.....creepy. And weird. This is a girl power read and had me on the edge of my seat. I think I read this one in a weekend.

2. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick: This book is very very very similar to a Man Called Ove. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but this one is pretty predictable. That said, this book is super sweet, a definite feel good read, and overall a charming book. It follows the story of an elderly man and his search for answers about his late wife's life through the charms he finds on a bracelet she's tucked away. If you're looking for a cozy and heartfelt read (without a lot of "meat"), check this one out.

3. The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank: So random story about how this book ended up in my possession.....on our way home from Oregon over Christmas break, our flight was majorly delayed and during one of my many walks around the airport (we were there for 4 hours), I came across a free airport library. What a brilliant idea is that?! This book was sitting there and maybe it was a moment of weakness and I was dillisional from my second bag of airport trailmix, but I snatched it up. This book was just okay---not sure I'd recommend it at all. It's sort of a lame version of Elin Hilderbrand books.  meets The First Wives Club. That said, I loved the vibrant setting of Charleston (Southern Charm, anyone?) and fun characters. This book seems like the type you might find in a Walgreen's.....or a free airport library.

4. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty: I have read and loved all of Moriarty's books. This one is bit different from her other books, but it reads just as well and I had a hard time putting this one down. It's about a health spa, the "offbeat" staff, and the nine individuals who find themselves put in an outrageous situation and how they all come out of it together. I won't give too much away, but the characters in this one are brilliantly written and I was a fan of the chapters told from multiple points of view. This one is odd, but very good. I loved the ending, too.

5. Happy Teachers Change the World by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare:
I received this book as part of my Donor's Choose "Classroom Mindfulness" library. I am a huge advocate for practicing mindfulness and teaching it to young people. Today's world moves fast, and teaching kids to be mindful of their place in the world, is, I believe, critical for their mental health and the future of our planet (Yes, I think it's that imperative). This book is an excellent resource. I would recommend this book to anyone.....even if you are not a parent or don't work with young people, this is a very nice guide to beginning a mindfulness practice in your own life.

What are you reading now? Add a comment or share this post!
Savor Your Sparkle,

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


This was an awesome weekend and I remarked to AJ that this was the first weekend in a long time where I've felt truly relaxed and chill. It's been blissful. And, the best part of this weekend was that we celebrated AJ's birthday! We (Hank and I) so love AJ and appreciate all he does for us. I'm so thankful I get to live life with him by my side. Happy Birthday, AJ!!!!

On Saturday Hank had his one year old check up and we went out to breakfast afterward. Sweet boy was so brave for all of his shots!

That afternoon, I got a mani, and made bread pudding for AJ's birthday (it was Paula Deen's recipe and so so so good!). On Sunday, we lounged and read more (heavenly!) and we went to a birthday party for a friend at The Little Gym.

Today (Monday), we woke up to lots of snow! AJ opened his gifts (I got us tickets to the Alabama concert this summer. I'll be honest, I've never heard an Alabama song, but AJ is pumped so that's all that matters!). We met up with my family for a Mexican food lunch and then came home where we did some chores, cleared the DVR, and relaxed. YES! 

 I'm so thankful for this wonderful relaxing weekend.
Savor Your Sparkle,

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Let's Talk Podcasts

I never used to be a person into podcasts....ummm why? I have books and TV. BUT---lately I've gotten super into them. It's a great thing to listen to on a commute or while doing something mundane like folding laundry or walking on the treadmill. I would love to hear your podcast ideas and suggestions!

Here are some of mine:

1. The Popcast: Definitely my favorite podcast. The hosts Knox and Jamie are so fun and their witty banter about all things pop culture related make me LOL on the regular. New episodes drop every Wednesday and I always can't wait to see what the topic is. I stole my new phrase "spicy take" from this show.

2. The Big Boo Cast: This is truly a podcast about nothing in particular. Just two Southern mamas chatting about football, beauty products, Jesus, life randomness, recipes and more. Sophie Hudson (Boo Mama) and Melanie Shankle (Big Mama) are two blogs I've been reading for years and years. Their podcast is the perfect blend of silly and sweet...just like they are.

3. Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness: If you like Queer Eye at all, you need to be listening to this podcast. JVN is hysterical and while this podcast can be a bit scattered and there are more than a few ads, it's still so good. He is open, honest, and I love the variety on this show. I got into it when a friend told me to listen to an episode called "How Can We Be Less Rude to Bees?" and since then, I've learned about journalism, cults, the Chinese economy, being an ally, recycling contamination, migration, and much more. He recently did an episode with Jodi Piccoult that I loved. Side note: Her name is pronounced PICO (like de gallo....that blew my mind).

4. Oprah's Super Soul Conversations: This podcast is deep. It can be heavy and certainly a lot to digest, but it is so good. Oprah interviews everyone from celebrities, to authors, to religious leaders, politicians, activists and more. Oprah asks amazing questions that certainly do not have easy answers...questions like "Who is God?" and "What's one thing you know for sure?" This podcast really gets me thinking and makes me want to add so many books to my TBR pile.

5. Cold: Ok, this is a new one for me. I've only listened to 1 episode, but I'm looking forward to listening to more. This one is about the devastating murder of a local woman at the hands of her husband. It's feels similar to Dr. Death or Dirty John.

Sometimes I'll listen to recorded Sunday messages from church or occasionally Dave Ramsey, but those first 4 are my go-to's!

Yay for podcasts!
Savor Your Sparkle,

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

That January Life

Guys, I really wanted to name this post "Life Lately," but do you know what my last post was named? You guessed it. Blogger Amateur move. So I'm keeping it real, and calling this one "That January Life." Although, the more I thought about it, the more I realized life is so very January right now and I kind of love that. January is all about the reset, the decluttering (of physical space and of mind), and fresh beginnings. That's where I'm at lately. And I'm digging it.

a fresh mani + a hot latte + Hamilton soundtrack=good morning vibes

Hank is basically a grown man now, so there's that. My little goofball turns 13 months this week and he is a delight. Some of his faves: The Little Gym, pulling out all (and I mean all) of his books and opening as many pages as he can, quesadillas remain his obsession, and we've gone on a few walks lately and he is actively seeking the skies for planes. He's walking along assisted (hands on walls, cabinets, couch) and crawling so fast that our house is legit baby proofed. I can't even tell you how many times I've cursed opening the pantry and discovering the child lock. Why can't I seem to remember it's there? Overall, Hank is just as happy as can be and we so enjoy that little man.

My sister Libby celebrated her 23rd birthday last week and it was fun going to dinner as a family and celebrating her day. It's so fun having Libby living back in Utah!

I've been reading some good books so far this year and will have a January reads post coming up in a few weeks. Yay!

Shows----They are back, and the DVR is getting a workout. I'm currently watching: Teen Mom 2, My Big Fat Fabulous Life, The Bachelor, The Good Doctor, Teachers, Seeking Sister Wife, I am Jazz, Scientology with Leah Remini, This is Us, 90 Day Fiancee, Married at First Sight, Schooled, Modern Family, Shark Tank, and Dateline. Do you agree that I need to quit my job and go to a hotel for a few days and drink wine and snack on all manner of dips while I catch up on all this? I mean, really, it's about grit.

I've been in tidying mood lately (I have read the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but I still need to check out the Netflix series) and did a thrift store drop off last week, organized all our drawers and cabinets, and "space bagged" all of Hank's too small outfits. A friend told me about the Ziploc space bags and they are amazing. I have gotten all of Hank's outgrown clothes (there's a lot) into 3 under the bed storage containers using them. I know spring is not for a while, but I am ready to pack sweaters and bring out dresses, skirts, and open toed shoes! Anyone else??
car wash---vacuuming out the Cheerio dust from Hank's carseat brings me joy

thrift store drop offs bring me joy too! 

I started my Math endorsement last week! Here's the deal: I hated math as a student but I really enjoy teaching 1st grade math. I am excited to learn new tips and tricks to share with my students. It makes my Tuesdays epically long, but I hope it'll be worth it.

AJ is an amazing hubby and this past weekend he surprised me with my first ever published article (from Sharing magazine for parent loss) framed. He is the best. I wrote about it on FB and Insta, but HERE is the link to the article if you want to read. Share is such an amazing organization that supports families affected by loss and I am so honored to be part of it.

Finally, I leave you with this side by side....Hank inadvertently recreating one of my fave memes.

Happy Wednesday!
Savor Your Sparkle,

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Life Lately

Hi There,
    January is here like a whirlwind! Life has been busy lately, but I kind of enjoy that for the new year. It's snowing buckets here now and I'd like to tell you I have a nice frothy mug of cocoa with me as I curl up and write this, but I'm going with a McD's sweet tea this afternoon. #reallife. So, what's new with the Steeles lately? We are enjoying life with our ONE YEAR OLD! (Click to see his Lumberjack Birthday Party). He is such a funny little guy. Hank is on the move all the time and it's so fun to really play together now. I miss our stroller walks and am looking forward to warmer weather so we can hit the pavement again. All the bottles are packed away (happy not to wash alllll those bottle parts anymore, but sad my guy is growing so fast) and he is eating all "real" food now. Mandarin oranges, honey nut Cheerios, and quesadillas are, without a doubt, his favorite!
taking off his shirt is his latest trick....he thinks it's hilarious! 

Tuxedo Onesie on NYE 

These jammies. I cannot handle his cuteness 

School started back this week and thank goodness we didn't start back with a full week! It was good to see my kids again. I think we can officially say we are back in the swing of things. I don't mind a bit, I love a good routine. I set aside some time last week to write out some goals/plans/dreams for 2019. Nothing major---I want to play with Hank as much as possible, keep dating my hubby, learn some new teaching techniques (I'm starting my elementary math endorsement this week, eeek!), write more, keep reading (HERE are my 2019 Top Ten Reads), slow down, be there for others in tangible ways, finish the Everyday Holy Devotional book, and continue getting my Boot Campin' on.
Another one of my resolutions was to take better care of my skin in 2019 (This girl isn't getting any younger!). I've had various different products and regimens over the years and a few weeks ago, I started using Philosophy skin care products and I'm really liking them! I use Kirkland makeup wipes to remove eye makeup then I've been washing my face morning and night with Purity Skin cleanser and I apply the Purity moisturizer then as well. Twice a week, instead of the Purity wash, I've been using their Microdelivery Exfoliating Facial Scrub. I also started using The Supernatural (another Philosophy product) which is a tinted gel cream with sunscreen. I've been trying to use a detox mask twice a week as well. It's only been a few weeks, but I'm liking it so far!

A skin selfie....this is with the Supernatural and a swipe of bronzer. 

We had a pretty chill weekend. On Friday I was in bed by 9 and it was glorious. Saturday we can errands (PSA: Huggies are on sale at Costco!), relaxed, and after Hank went to bed we watched Bird Box. I had to see what all the hype was about. I really liked it. It was super captivating and I think it may have even been better than A Quiet Place. Today is for some meal prepping and afternoon Little Gym class for Hank.
I'm looking forward to a full and fun week.....especially since THE BACHELOR starts tomorrow!! (ETA: If Tia makes an appearance, I'm out. Be done, girl. BE. DONE.) Ahem, anyway....Have a great week!

Savor Your Sparkle,

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018: A Year in Books

Ok, Here it is! My final book post of 2018....even though it's 2019. Just work with me, mmmkay? This was an amazing year of books. Between updating the library app, connecting with reader friends near and far, being gifted the Book of the Month Club, and being dedicated to always having a read going, I can proudly say I read 72 books this year. My goal is typically 50 and I'm cool keeping it there for next year. Now, throughout the year, I kept a log of my reads with stars by the ones I liked the best that month. You can read all my 2018 book reviews HERE. I am so glad I noted which ones I liked best because then it made this Top 10 thing way easier. However....narrowing down to my Top Ten and ranking them was HARD. There were so many great ones this year! Are you ready for my TOP TEN BOOKS of 2018. They are sort of in order, but mainly they were too hard to choose from. I really enjoyed these 10 reads. 

10. I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
9. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendriks and Sarah Pekkanen
8. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
7. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
6. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
5. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
4. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

And now for the top 3........

3. The Mommy Group by Elizabeth Isadora Gold

2. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan

1. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine 

Ahhhhh!!!! Really, those 10 are all winners in my opinion. So from that list, I suppose I can conclude: I like thrillers, female empowerment, heartfelt characters, tough topics (abuse, abortion, crime etc.), second chances, relatable narrators, love stories, and suspense. 

I hope if you are not a reader, you consider making 2019 your year. I always tell my students, there is no such thing as not liking to read, it just means you're not reading the right stuff. Here's the a 2019 full of connections, laughs, tears, revelations, and "aha's"...all through the written word. 

Savor Your Sparkle,

PS) Want to see the complete list? Here it is......

*1. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
2. When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Whalen
*3. Confessions of a Domestic Failure by Bunmi Laditan
4. Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
*5. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
6. Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
*7. The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell
8. Parent Hacks by Asha Dornfest
9. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
10. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
*11. Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hagar and Barbara Pierce Bush
12. Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
13. Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado
14. The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert
15. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
*16. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
*17. Sugar by Kimberly Stuart
18. Achtung Baby by Sara Zaske
*19. The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sara Pekkanen
20. Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman
*21. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
*22. The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
23. Mindless Eating by Brad Wansick
24. Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
25. Our Father by Pope Francis
26. Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
*27. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
28. Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
29. You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfled
30. This is Me by Chrissy Metz
31. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
32. The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir
*33. Calypso by David Sedaris
*34. We're Doing It Wrong by David Michael Slater
*35. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
36. The Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk
*37. Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
38. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
39. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
40. There Are No Grown-ups by Pamela Druckerman
*41. Educated by Tara Westover
42. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
*43. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
44. The People We Hate At The Wedding by Grant Ginder
*45. I'll Be Gone in The Dark by Michelle McNamara
46. People I Want to Punch in The Throat by Jen Mann
47. Hello Sunshine by Laure Dave
*48. My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan
49. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
50. From Scratch by Allen Salkin
51. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
52. Heartland by Kimberly Stuart
53. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
*54. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
55. By The Book by Julia Sonneborn
56. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
57. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
58. The Other Woman by Sandie Jones
*59. The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg
60. Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
61. The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
*62. Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins
63. An Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
64. Fashion Victim by Amina Akhtar
*65. A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
66. Ruthless by Bo Stern

*67. Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand 
68. What To Expect The First Year By Heidi Murkoff
69. The Wondering Years by Knox McCoy
*70. The Mommy Group by Elizabeth Isadora Gold
71. The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center
72. Girl in Snow by Danya Kukofka