Monday, 25 January 2016

Book Review: Walk to Beautiful by Jimmy Wayne

Jimmy Wayne’s Walk to Beautiful takes you on a journey from Jimmy’s troubled childhood in and out of foster care to his successful country music career and his efforts to give back and help raise awareness of what foster kids go through.

Jimmy had a hard life. At a young age he learned to fend for himself, after learning that his mother wouldn’t. He saw his sister married off to an abusive older man when she was only fourteen. He was homeless and often in foster care. Eventually, Jimmy was taken in by a kind older couple who inspired him and led to him changing his viewpoint on life. From there, Jimmy graduated high school and college and started his music career. After enjoying some success, Jimmy realizes he wants to give back. He then planned to walk half way across America in order to raise awareness about the lives of foster children. In fact, he is part of the reason that many states have stopped “aging out” foster kids at age 18 and now allow them to transition out at age 21.

I was thoroughly inspired and impacted by Jimmy’s story. He is a good story teller and knows how to keep an audience’s attention. I would definitely recommend this book, even if you don’t typically read memoirs or non-fiction. The book has a great story element to it that will keep you interested and engaged. I always hate saying that books about painful real life events are “good reads” but for lack of a better phrase that is what I will use.

*I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Packrat Puddin'

I'm a terrible packrat. I hate to throw away anything that can be used again, especially food. So, when I made apple strudels this weekend and only 2 of the 8 survived the soggy bottom monster my mind started turning. I turned to both Cupcake Project and 365(ish) Days of Pinterest for inspiration and troubleshooting. They suggested a trifle, apple crisp, baked french toast and bread pudding. I'd wanted to make bread pudding for some time now so I jumped at that suggestion. I think this would turn out really good if you had some leftover slices of pie or strudel or turnovers. Like such a thing exists. Just be sure to crisp up whatever you use.

I cobbled this recipe together from Paula Deen and Alton Brown.


3 cups toasted cubed apple pie/strudel/danishes/turnovers
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2 cups milk
5 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla
****If your original recipe did not include cinnamon, add 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup granola (I used Lisa Leake's with pecans for the nuts)
1/2 stick of butter, softened

1/4 cup cognac, rum or brandy
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 stick butter butter
1 cup sugar sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine granulated sugar, milk, eggs, spices and vanilla. Pour over cubed "bread". Let sit for 10 minutes.
3. In another bowl, combine  softened butter, brown sugar and granola.
4. Pour egg and bread mixture into a 13x9x2 pan. Top with granola brown sugar topping.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until set and golden brown.


1. Combine sugar, butter and vanilla in a pot over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
2. Pour in alcohol of choice. Stir well. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until pudding is ready. Pour over top.

What do you like to do with leftover or sabotaged dessert? I usually go the trifle route. Do you even have leftover dessert?

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Throwback Thursday: January 2015

Last January, I was in South Korea reminiscing about where I'm from and griping about where I lived. This January, I moved back to my hometown.

Last, January, we took a trip to celebrate the new year. This January, we celebrated with dear friends and shot off fireworks on the cul-de-sac.

Last winter, we were having snow and a cold, windy winter. This year? Last week was the first week it was actually cold!

So many more things have changed. We've moved continents. We sold and bought a car. We moved back to my hometown. My husband got a non-teaching job. I'm looking for a non-teaching job.

We went from living above a school to living within one. We are so much closer to our friends and family.

We can read the labels at the grocery store and we have learned to read them.

We went from living in a tiny apartment to living in apartment with a walk-in-closet that is roughly half the size of of the former.

We have an oven.

Lots of good and exciting things going on!

What about you. how has your life changed in a year?

*This post was inspired by a Mama Kat prompt.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Building a Healthy Lifestyle

Embarking on any new thing requires knowledge. I want to know more about healthy eating, cooking and preparing healthy and delicious meals so I spent my birthday money on a few cookbooks that focus on those things.

I received the first of them yesterday afternoon. I purchased the cookbook published by Lisa Leake, at 100 Days of Real Food. The books is divided into two main sections, information and recipes. I've learned a lot by pouring through this real food textbook and I can't wait to try out the recipes.

I've also ordered Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone, Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze by Jessica Fisher and Milk by Anne Mendelson, to help me sort out what I want to focus on making and create my own healthy eating plan which I hope to have in place more or less by February. And, I'm still utilizing The Homemade Kitchen.  My original goal was to start January 1st but with moving and everything that didn't give me the time I needed to learn how to shop and stock real food. Also, I'm adjusting to cooking for mainly one person as my husband gets to eat and is intending to eat the majority of his meals on campus. This will give me more flexibility with cooking  the "yucky things"  that I love like tomatoes and mushrooms and cut down on my time in the kitchen cooking as I will only need to make 2-3 dinners a week. This should give me more time to create and freeze staples like chicken stock, soups, granola bars, muffins and snacks for my hubby like pizza bites.

I'd really like to focus on eating 80% real food because when I want a treat, I want the real thing. Also, when I do eat dinner in the cafeteria or in a restaurant I just want to be able to order something and enjoy the night out.

As for exercise, I plan on doing harder workouts (3+ mile run and a combo of weights/squats/booty/ab workout) three days a week, paired with two lighter days of  walking and abs and two days off.

What are your health and fitness goals for this year? What keeps you motivated?

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Book Review: The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila

I discovered Alana Chernila after her first cookbook came out. I followed her blog and put her cookbook on my Amazon wishlist but I'd never actually published it so I was thrilled when I got a chance to own her second cookbook.

Alana's cookbook is a beautiful and inspiring cookbook. Thus far, I have made the following recipes out of The Homemade Kitchen. I've listed the recipe's title and my thoughts about the recipe:

  • Chicken Potpie: This was absolutely delicious. In the past, I've tried potpie recipes that were good but not as flavorful as this one. This one was very flavorful. It is topped with biscuits which helped to balance out the herbs.  I want to try the winter variation featuring squash instead of the green peas.

  • Apple Pecan Muffins: I loved these! I hate it when muffins are as sweet as cake and these were definitely not sweet. They made for the perfect breakfast. However, they only baked for about 27 minutes as opposed to the 40-50 minutes called for.

  • Burritos: I tried the beef variation. I thought it was tasty but wished it has more flavor. I felt it was lacking in the seasoning for the beans, beef and rice.

  • Pear Gingerbread: I crave gingerbread and this really hit the spot.

  • Spicy Pumpkin Hot Chocolate: I really wanted to love this but I thought the pumpkin taste was overwhelming and I couldn't taste the chocolate at all.

My overall opinion is that I love how Alana teaches you her recipe and then tells you how to customize based on your preferences. I have  a list of other recipes I'd like to try including kimchi tata, pork tacos, honey wheat bread, her cheese recipes and garden pie. However, after the time issue with the muffins and the lack of seasoning I'm a little on the cautious side. If I could make any changes to the book, I would have each recipe list the prep and cook time at the top of the recipe. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Building My Brain

This year, my word of the year is "Build". In that spirit, I've constructed (haha!) a reading list of books that I would like to read this year.

Inspirational and Instructional

Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman 

I've wanted to read this for sometime now. This Bible based book is supposed to teach women how to say what they want to and how to curb their tongue when things need to go unsaid. I really could benefit from this as I have a very quick tongue when I'm angry yet other times I struggle to speak up for myself. 

Made to Crave by Lisa TerKeurst

This book deals with food but it is also inspirational so I've listed it here. I want to read this book so I can better understand why I relate to food the way I do and to re-frame my life so that I relate to both food and God in the way He intended us to. 

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey

Before I left for Korea, I worked at a place that held weekly Bible study and prayer meetings. We read a similar series of books in that study. I'd like to learn more about culture and times of people in the Bible. 

Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobeich  

This memoir is the story of Laura and her son Zach, who died of cancer. After receiving his diagnosis, Laura prayed that if Zach must die that it be for something big. This is that story. 

The Fringe Hours Making Time For You by Jessica N. Turner

This book has been recommended by several blogs I follow. I think it will be a good read to get organized. 

Women of the Bible One Year Devotional by Ann Spangler

I really enjoyed reading Spangler's Wicked Women of the Bible and hope to learn even more from this devotional.  

Food Related

Year of No Sugar  by Eve Schaub
In her memoir, Schaub recounts how she quit her sugar addiction. I'm reading this because I want to follow in her footsteps.

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver 

This is the story of a family who moves to a farm and vows to eat locally for a year. 

+ I bought a few "real food" cookbooks that I hope to read through and test out in the coming months. 

Just for Fun

The following were recommended to me by friends and family last year and I didn't get a chance to read or finish them:

  • Silent Tears by Kay Bratt
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
  • The Husband's Secret  by Liane Moriart
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
  • House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

These books I have read before and hope to enjoy again this year:
  • Sword of Truth Series
  • Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
What books are you hoping to tackle this year?