Thursday, January 3, 2013

My 2013 Reading List

This year I've decided to be more deliberate about what I want to read so I took the time to look over recommendations from Amazon, Crystal at Money Saving Mom and what I've already got loaded on my Kindle. I tend to "buy" at least 5 Kindle books a week because whenever something that looks even slightly interesting becomes free I snap it up- I'm up to nearly 400 books.

I picked out 12 non-fiction and 14 fiction books that I'm planning to read in 2013. I predict most of the fiction will be no problem though I'm not familiar with some of the authors. I'll certainly TRY to read each book but if it's a stinker I'm not going to finish it just for the sake of crossing it off my list.

The non-fiction books will be tougher for me. I'm great at starting them but not at finishing.

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World by Robert K. Goff

Deliver Us from Me-Ville by David Zimmerman

Holy Parenting: Making the Common Sacred by Benjamin Kerns

Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis

"Do What You Can" Plan, The (Ebook Shorts): 21 Days to Making Any Area of Your Life Better by Holley Gerth

Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions by  Lysa TerKeurst

The Well-Lived Laugh: Designing a Life that Keeps You Smiling by Rachel St. John-Gilbert

Indescribable: Encountering the Glory of God in the Beauty of the Universe by Louie Giglio and Matt Redman

Simple Living - 30 days to less stuff and more life by Lorilee Lippincott

Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis

Shadow Woman: A Novel by Linda Howard

Dark Places: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by  Orson Scott Card

Iced: A Dani O'Malley Novel (Fever Series) by Karen Marie Moning

Historical Fiction
The Lady Most Willing...: A Novel in Three Parts by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway

Nefertiti (Rai Rahotep) by Nick Drake

Christian Fiction- Modern
Reinventing Rachel: A Novel by Alison Strobel

Operation Bonnet: A Novel by Kimberly Stuart

Christian Fiction- Historical
Liberator Series by Tricia Goyer

Wildflowers of Terezin by Robert Elmer

Pearl in the Sand: A Novel by Tessa Afshar

Blood of Adam: Generations of Noah (Volume 1) by Rachel Neal

Michal: A Novel (The Wives of King David) by Jill Eileen Smith

Love's Sacred Song: A Novel by Mesu Andrews

Any more suggestions? What should I add to my list?
(Note: some links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Top Books of 2012

I love to read. Mostly I love reading escapist fiction books that take me away to a different world but I occasionally venture out of my comfort zone into non-fiction too.

I've often thought if I had to give up my TV stories or books which would I be willing to loose. I love a few TV shows and Joe & I often enjoy them together along with movies. Every time I contemplate this conundrum (of my own invention) I realize that books win. They take me away into my own imagination- one of my favorite places to be- and open new worlds up to me.

So without further ado here are my favorite books that I read in 2012:

This was my beach read in June while my boys took swimming lessons and it was awesome. 7 is the true story of how Jen took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. At the heart of the book was a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that draws you to a radically better existence. I love Jen's snarky voice that questions, challenges & invites you to consider your own excess and what changes you can make. This is a topic I'm well acquainted with but still felt I learned more about from Jen. 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

This book reads like a novel about the poorest slum dwellers of Mumbai. From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo this amazing work of narrative nonfiction tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.
This was another beach read for me during my spring break trip to Florida. I read that this was one of the best books of the year so I thought I'd give it a try and I ended up absolutely loving it. Boo introduced me to a world I knew nothing about and made it real and sympathetic. With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects people to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries you headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions  by Rachel Held Evans

I love Rachel Held Evans. I started reading her blog and found her a fresh voice about faith. Evans adds her unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue about postmodernism and the church that has been going on in the Christian community in recent years. She's not afraid to ask the tough questions of the Bible and the church. She doesn't have all the answers but in our culture where new ideas threaten the safety and security of the faith, Evolving in Monkey Town is a fearlessly honest story of survival.
As a result of reading this book I considered my own doubts and found my faith renewed.

Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

Dark, disturbing, compelling- just a few words that come to mind when reading this book of a marriage gone terribly wrong. I saw Gone Girl in many a magazine before I gave in to reading it. I thought I'd just give it a chapter or 2 to see what the fuss was about but once I started I couldn't put it down. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed this book “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” That was definitely what happened to me as I stayed up way too late reading this one. Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
I was disturbed in only the way a great book can get me.

Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

I have a little used degree in art history so just the title of this book was enough to intrigue me. Throw in some Nazis, spies and the French liberation in 1944 and I was hooked. Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler are racing to rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands. The authors and main characters are Christians and their faith is a subtle theme in the book.

I read a lot more in 2012 than five books but I narrowed it down to just my favorites. Now I'm working on my list of books to read in 2013 and I'll share that soon.

What were your favorite books of 2012?
(Note: some links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January Menu

Happy 2013! We've made it to the new year and it's put me in a planning frame of mind. This is the first time I've planned my dinner menu for every day of the month. It was definitely a challenge for my undisciplined brain but now that it's done I love it! I printed the menu for the month and some of the recipes and posted them on my fridge so every day I'm ready to cook.

I haven't made any resolutions for 2013 as that's not my style. However I do want to clean up my eating after the over indulgence of holiday treats so I've decided I will not eat any refined sugars for January. That means no cookies, cake, candy, chocolate or any sweets for the month. I did this last January as well and it was a good detox for me as I tend to gorge on chocolate.

I also decided to go gluten free for January. I'm not sure if gluten is a problem for my body so I decided to use this month as a test to see if I feel better without bread, crackers, etc. My hope is that without sugar and gluten in my system my complexion will clear up and this month is my 31 day test to find out.

My menu below contains mostly gluten free recipes. The only 2 things I included that contain gluten are the Pizza and the Salmon Cakes which have bread crumbs mixed in. I'm planning to leave out the bread crumbs from the Salmon Cakes and use a small amount of flax meal instead. On pizza night I'll either make a gluten free pizza with a cream cheese crust (which Joe doesn't like) or I'll have a salad while the rest of the family enjoys their pizza.

I'm on a crockpot kick again and my crockpots will get a lot of use this January! I've got 3 different ones of various sizes and they will all come out of the cupboards. For many of the slow cooking meals I'm relying heavily on Stephanie O'Dea's Make it Fast, Cook it Slow cookbook which is full of many wonderful recipes.

I found the Autism Cookbook at the library and it's packed with gluten free and low sugar recipes that are ideal for kids on the spectrum. My oldest is and because of him the book caught my eye and I brought it home. I love how most pages have pictures to go with the recipe and the recipes are simple but flavorful.

All right January, I'm ready to cook up a storm and eat healthy for the new year! 


1 Twenty Clove Crockpot Chicken with carrots & potatoes

2 Baked Salmon, quinoa, steamed broccoli

3 Tacos with Ground Beef

4 Peking Pork Chops, baby carrots, brown rice

5 Pizza

6 Lemon Herb Crockpot Chicken with baked potatoes, steamed broccoli

7 Crockpot hickory smoked brisket, steamed green beans

8 Salmon Cakes, sweet potato fries

9 Crockpot roast, carrots & potatoes

10 Crockpot Chicken Tacos

11 BBQ Crockpot Ribs, steamed broccoli

12 Pizza for kids, Strawberry Poppyseed Salad for parents

13 Grilled Chicken Skewers (from The Autism Cookbook), roasted sweet potatoes & apples

14 Broccoli Beef in Crockpot

15 Baked Tilapia, Quinoa, Steamed green beans

16 Balsamic Chicken with veggies in Crockpot

17 Tacos with Ground Beef

18 Sesame Ginger Chicken and Asian GF Noodles (from The Autism Cookbook), steamed broccoli

19 Pizza

20 Crockpot Chicken with carrots and potatoes

21 GF Spaghetti & Meatballs (from The Autism Cookbook)

22 Sesame Tuna with Avocado, tossed salad

23 Crockpot Carnitas in taco shells with toppings

24 Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, steamed broccoli

25 Crockpot BBQ Beef, steamed green beans

28 Skillet Pork Chops, steamed broccoli, roasted potatoes

29 Salmon Cakes, sweet potato fries

30 Crockpot BBQ Brisket, baked potatoes, baby carrots

31Tacos with Ground Beef

You can find even more menus at Menu Plan Monday.
Have you made plans to eat healthier in 2013?


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