Aug 102016
 

I’ve actually been reading lately! It’s just taken me awhile to read enough to write a post about them. So here are some books I recommend:

1 ) The Ex by Alafair Burke

Publishers really need to stop comparing every book to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. It just sets books up to fail. However, this book was pretty good, even if I had high expectations because of the comparison.

Olivia is a defense attorney and her ex-fiance’s teenager daughter calls her for help. Her ex has been arrested for murder. Despite the conflict, she takes the case and does what she can to build a defense and clear him.

The book is well-written and moves quickly. The characters are well-developed and I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t feel like the “surprise” ending was all that ground-breaking but it was still a satisfying read.

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2 ) The Widow by Fiona Barton

Another book compared to Gone Girl and Girl on the Train. Publishers–stop doing this! Not every book is going to be like those two! And this book, while good, did not have a shocking twist at the end.

Jean is a dutiful wife who stands by her husband, Glen, when he’s accused of kidnapping (and worse) little Bella. The story is told from the point of view of the detective investigating, Jean, and the reporter trying to get Jean’s story. The story is nothing ground breaking but it is told in a unique way and I liked the book.

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3 ) The Wonder Weeks by Frans Plooij and van de Rijt Hetty

I’ve been using the Wonder Weeks iPhone App for a few months now after reading about it on a baby message board. I found it really interesting and pretty spot on for identifying the changes and development in my baby’s life. I decided to get the book from the library to read more about it.

The book is somewhat unnecessary if you already have the app. The app covers all the developmental “leaps” pretty well and in a more concise way. I felt like the book was redundant and as I read each chapter it was a lot of repeating. BUT if you don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to buy the app (I think it was $4 or so), the book is good enough to tell you what you’re baby is going through at each stage. It’s all very fascinating and cool to see in person!

 

4 ) The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett

This is a memoir about three friends in their mid-20’s who are at a crossroads, one I think many people have at that point in their lives. One is dissatisfied with her career, the other loses her job and another loses a relationship. So they decide to go on a trip around the world together for a year.

They go to South America (where they party like it’s Spring Break, and then realize they want more out of their travels), volunteer in Kenya, study at an ashram in India and then go to Asia. They stay in hostels, they backpack, they stay in nicer places too and meet all kinds of people on the road.

I love these types of books. I love exploration and travel memoirs and I had high hopes for this book. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the book. It was just not quite as good as I had hoped it would be. Part of that was that the three girls were very–blah. I couldn’t tell the difference between the three of them or which story belonged to whom (like was Holly the one that got dumped? Or was it Amanda? Couldn’t remember!).

It was trying to have kind of an Eat Pray Love vibe to it but didn’t quite make the mark. So even though it fell a little flat and felt a little soulless, I enjoyed reading about the places they traveled and the things they discovered. The main “characters” just weren’t very compelling or memorable. Don’t let that deter you from the story, though.

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5 ) Lets Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

I loved this book. It was written in such a beautiful, poignant way. The author’s writing style was just beautiful–but not in a flowery, pretentious way. It’s a memoir about friendship. Caroline and Gail meet each other because of their dogs and it turns into a deep, loving friendship that sadly gets interrupted by cancer. I wanted to share a few moving quotes from the book:

“What they never tell you about grief is that missing someone is the simple part. [pg 9]”

“Maybe this is the point: to embrace the core sadness of life without toppling headlong into it, or assuming it will define your days [pg 111].”

The themes of the book are friendship and grief. I think anyone could read this book and relate to it.

How dare you, the body and mind felt in furious accord. I’m in the middle of a life here. I was outraged because I had been working on this story line for years, and I knew it was not yet finished. [pg 111]”

“I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures [pg 182].”

The book does not feel negative or sad, perhaps a little bittersweet because of the heavy topic, but I never felt depressed reading about their journey. It was a really wonderful book.

 

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6 ) Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I really really liked this book! Ethan is 17 and his life is thrown into turmoil when he and his mother walk in on his dad having an affair with his secretary (the 20-something secretary that Ethan had a crush on). His father moves from their Manhattan home to the middle of nowhere to live in a cabin in bear country! Unexpected circumstances happen and Ethan is forced to go live with him, even though he doesn’t want to.

His dad is an ultra runner and every day goes for long runs. Ethan is trying to adjust to living with his dad, whom he kind of hates, when his dad doesn’t come back after a run. After a day of waiting, Ethan is suddenly worried something is wrong. He contacts the authorities and Search and Rescue go out looking for him–unsuccessfully. So Ethan decides to go out with two neighbors to find his dad on his own.

It’s a really well-written book about relationships and healing, anger and overcoming fears. I highly recommend this book.

What have you read lately that really stuck with you?

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Aug 032016
 

I tried a few recipes recently and I wanted to share them with you. Now onto the balls!

No Bake Lactation Cookie Balls

Yield: 20 small balls

Serving Size: 1 ball

Calories per serving: 60

From: http://www.losebabyweight.com.au/no-bake-lactation-cookie-balls/

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of whole rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • ¼ cup almonds, cashews or walnuts
  • 3 tbsp linseed or flaxseed meal
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1/3 cup dried dates, chopped
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp honey, rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp desiccated coconut, for rolling

Instructions

  1. Process the oats, nuts, linseed meal, cinnamon and brewer’s yeast until it turns into a powder in a food processor.
  2. Now add the dates, water and honey and blend again until it forms a cookie dough.
  3. Using slightly damp hands, roll small balls of dough and then roll in the coconut.
  4. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for two months for an easy to grab snack.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=50203

 

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These were so delicious! I loved the flavors. It was mild and had a nutty flavor, like peanut butter, and they were slightly sweet but not too sweet. A nice, well-balanced flavor for a snack.

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These balls are so delicious! And dangerous. It’s easy to pop them into your mouth!

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Yum yum yum! I’d make these again.

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Here is another recipe I made:

Peanut Butter Chia Energy Bites

Yields 45

Total Time: 15 min

Ingredients

1 cup oats
2 T chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 T vanilla

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, combine the oats, chia seeds, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips, and wheat germ.
  • Stir in the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla until well combined.
  • Roll into small balls and place on parchment paper.
  • Refrigerate for 1-2 hours and then store covered in the refrigerator.

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One thing I noticed immediately: they are impossible to roll into balls! They are too sticky. My suggestion is to put the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes or so first and then try to make them into balls. Otherwise it’s impossible and really, really messy.

While I was making this recipe I had to stop half way through and put the dough back in the fridge in order to finish making them into balls.

Other than that, they were really delicious! I loved the chocolate, peanut butter flavors.

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So these tasted really good and were around 50 calories each ball–which is not bad. When I was measuring out all that peanut butter I started to think…hmmmm maybe I should have done the calorie count before making this recipe! It’s going to be high in calories! But, it turned out to be not too bad!

So there ya go, two tasty recipes for when you’re craving something sweet.

Have you tried any “ball” recipes lately that were out of this word? Link it up in the comments!