Jul 3, 2017

Summer Reading List

I just finished reading The Luckiest Girl Alive so now I am gathering the books I want to read throughout the rest of this summer! I've put together a selection of books that are at the top of my list to share with you!

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers - Louise Candlish
Christy and Joe Davenport just moved into the perfect house on the perfect street. But for some reason, the house was on the market for a very low price, even though it was completely renovated a year ago, and none of the neighbors will talk to them. Christy is curious and finds herself drawn into the mystery of the house's former owners and the secret that tore the street apart.

The Wednesday Group - Sylvia True
This is the story of five women who are in a group for wives of sex addicts. All of the women have completely different stories but the one thing they have in common is that their marriages are in trouble and they are lacking self confidence because of it. The women start sharing their darkest secrets and soon they each have to face their painful truths.

It's Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) - Nora McInerny Purmort
This is the heartbreaking and very true story about Nora and Aaron's life together and how it all ended. She talks about finding out about his cancer, their marriage, and their first child together. Then about the loss of her father, husband, and second child all in a few weeks. Have a box of Kleenexes by your side when you're reading this one.

A Study In Charlotte - Brittany Cavallaro
This is more of a YA book but sometimes that's exactly what you need for a beach read. This is the story of the teen descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. They end up at the same boarding school in Connecticut and Charlotte Holmes wants nothing to do with Jamie Watson until a classmate of theirs dies under suspicious circumstances.

Everything We Keep - Kerry Lonsdale
Aimee had her entire life planned. Marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parent's restaurant. But then her fiancé disappears in a boating accident and she ends up at his funeral instead of their wedding. Aimee starts diving deeper into his disappearance an she discovers secrets that make her question their entire life together.

What do you plan on reading this summer? Are there any new thrillers that you think I should bump to the top of my list?

Jun 9, 2017

Blueberry Rum Lemonade

Summer is officially here which means it is time for refreshing fruity beverages! This blueberry rum lemonade is easy to make and full of flavor.

12 Blueberries
1/4 Cup Rum
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp sugar
Ice Cubes

In a shaker muddle together the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Add the rum and two ice cubes, shake and pour into a short glass with a few ice cubes. Top with Sprite and you're all set to enjoy! Garnish with some frozen blueberries and a lemon slice if you want to make it pretty!

If you're more of a whiskey fan check out my blackberry bourbon lemonade!

Jun 4, 2017

The Ultimate Portland Tour Guide

For Christmas this past year Kirk and I decided to buy plane tickets for a vacation instead of buying each other presents and it was the best idea ever! We scheduled a trip to Portland, Oregon for Memorial weekend which was so much fun. Portland was a city that we had been wanting to visit together since we started dating four years ago and it did not disappoint. We were lucky enough to have gorgeous weather and not a drop of rain for our entire trip. We stayed Thursday - Monday and on Saturday one of my best friends and her husband traveled down from Seattle so it was so fun to see them as well.

I've put together this Ultimate Portland Tour Guide so if you ever decide to visit Portland you'll know some of the amazing places to check out. If you've been there before and I missed something let me know!

- Alberta Art District
This neighborhood is the first place we stopped at on our trip to Portland on recommendation from someone on our flight actually!
Great Notion Brewery
2204 NE Alberta St #101, Portland, OR 97211
We headed to Great Notion Brewery for lunch and it was a great first stop! They have an amazing outdoor patio, a large beer selection, and delicious food. I highly recommend it.

McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR 97211
This neighborhood also has a lot of restaurants that are open for the dinner rush. For our last evening in Portland we went to McMenamins in the Kennedy School which is an old elementary school that was converted into a hotel and restaurant.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream Shop
2035 NE Alberta St. Porland, OR 97211
This is one of Portland's most popular ice cream shops! They have three locations (and a few in other states) and they're always busy and this one had the longest line I've ever seen for a restaurant! They have so many unique and handmade flavors that you should definitely check out.

Various Shops and Restaurants
This area is a great place to spend an afternoon walking up and down Alberta Street because of all the cute and unique stores. You'll also get the chance to see some fun murals!

Downtown Portland (Multiple TriMet Stops) 
Powell's City of Books
1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
If you like books then you have to go to this store! Even if you don't like books it's still a fun store to walk around! It's the largest new and used bookstore in the world with multiple color coded rooms, a cafe, and a huge selection of books, magazines, and souvenirs.

Nike Flagship Store
638 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97201
This is a quick stop but it's fun to see! It's almost like part store part museum and even features the evolution of Air Jordan's throughout the years they've been on the market.

Seven Bridges
There's 7 main bridges throughout Portland and all of them are unique in their own way. Be sure to keep an eye out for them when you're exploring the city.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park
If you're looking for a more relaxing section of the city make sure to check out the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. It's runs along the river and it's a great opportunity to see the bridges!

Washington Park (TriMet Red & Blue Line Access)
Washington Park has so many places to visit that you could spend an entire day there so keep that in mind when you're planning your trip!

Oregon Zoo
4001 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland, OR 97221
The Oregon Zoo is 64 acres and located so close to the center of Portland! It is so much fun to walk through because of all the tall trees and great exhibits. It's definitely one of my favorite zoos I've been to.

Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
There is a shuttle service that drops you off at the different attractions throughout Washington Park so after the zoo make sure you stop at the Japanese Garden! It is beautiful and so calming to walk through. This was one of my favorite places in Oregon. 

- Rose Garden
400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
     Across the street from the Japanese Garden is the Rose Garden. If you go at a good time of the year you'll see them in full bloom! Unfortunately for us, there was no flowers yet.

If you're looking for some lunch or dinner near by you can take a walk through the park (or take an Uber) to Nob Hill where there are a lot of cute shops and restaurants.

Skidmore Fountain (TriMet Red & Blue Line Access)
Portland Saturday Market
2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204
This arts and craft market is so much fun to visit and walk through. It's filled with vendors that are all selling such unique pieces. It's open Saturdays from 10:00am - 5:00pm and Sundays 11:00am - 4:30pm. 

Voodoo Doughnut
22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
When you're at the Saturday Market be sure to walk a block down and stop in to Voodoo Donuts! There will more than likely be a long line but it moves fast and the donuts are worth it.

Keep Portland Weird Mural
350 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Across the street from Voodoo Donuts is the Keep Portland Weird Mural that's painted on the back of Dante's.

Portland Oregon Old Town Sign
31 NW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97209
When you're walking through the Saturday Market be sure to look up and you can see the Portland Oregon Old Town Sign!

Destinations to Drive to
Multnomah Falls
Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah County, Oregon
The falls are about 30-40 minute drive from downtown Portland. I highly suggest getting there early (we arrived around 7:30am) because it gets really busy in the early afternoon! Be sure to walk all the way to the top of the falls. The walk and incline is a little brutal but it's so worth it. And up there you'll have access to the Larch Mountain Trail #441 which leads to even more gorgeous waterfalls.

The Screen Door Restaurant
2337 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214
This was one of my favorite restaurants we went to on our trip. We stopped for breakfast before heading to the airport. We got there 20 minutes after they opened and it was already packed! Once we left there was people waiting outside for a table. They offer southern style food including chicken and waffles and the most delicious biscuits and gravy!

Por Que No Restaurant
3524 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
This restaurant might look a little sketchy when you first see it but when you see the long line out the door you know it's going to be delicious. It looks like the owners converted their house's garage into a restaurant and it's built into a hill so it's very unique. We ended up waiting in line for about 25 minutes but I'm happy we did. The tacos, guacamole, and salsa were so good and some of the best food I've had.

That's my round up of Portland, Oregon! I hope you enjoyed! If you've ever been there let me know what you're favorite place was! Now I'm off to day dream about my next vacation.

Apr 27, 2017

One Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Today I am sharing with you one of my all time favorite recipes! I created this recipe based on a few recipes I found online when I was prepping for my radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer. I had to be on a low-iodine diet for two weeks prior to my radiation which was so hard until I found this recipe. I couldn't eat anything with iodized salt, no dairy products (which meant no cheese and was the hardest part!) and no seafood! And I love shrimp so this was also really hard. However, the diet pretty much forced me to make all my own food with fresh ingredients and that's when this recipe was created!

8 oz mini heirloom tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
8 oz spaghetti noodles
4 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

First, cut up your mini heirloom tomatoes in half or quarters and mix on a baking sheet with your minced garlic and diced onion. Drizzle with the olive oil, mix once again, and broil them for 10-15 minutes so everything starts to soften. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't burn.

Once they're done broiling place them in a large pot that has tall sides and add in the basil, red pepper flakes, and uncooked noodles. Add in the broth and turn the heat on high until it boils. Once it's boiling reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. You'll start to see the broth, tomatoes, and basil turn into more of a sauce. Keep cooking until you get to your desired thickness. I topped mine with Parmesan cheese and served it with this garlic monkey bread!

If you try out the recipe let me know what you think!

Apr 21, 2017

5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day is an annual event that is celebrated each year on April 22nd to support environmental protection. It's a great opportunity to gather with your community and work on a project to improve the environment where you live! Take the time to get outside and make an impact and use this day to start other environmentally friendly habits! Here's five things you can do on Saturday to celebrate.

Check out your state's DNR website or visit a local nursery to find out what flowers and plants are native to where you live! It's very important to use local plants so you don't fill your garden with invasive species so make sure to do your research! Then start planting! 

Bike and walk where you can and research routes you can take that will encourage you to do the same throughout the year. Using your car less doesn't have to be limited to just Earth Day!

Try and plant some of your own vegetables or herbs that you can use throughout the summer months! This is a great time to start seeds in your house that can eventually be transplanted outside. It's so nice being able to cook with fresh foods and will help you incorporate more vegetables into your diet. If you don't have an area for a garden find a local community garden where you can rent a plot of land.

A lot of cities host earth day events that you can volunteer at! They might include planting trees or cleaning up a local park and are a great way to be involved in improving your own community! If you enjoyed that maybe consider doing an adopt-a-highway or an adopt-a-park throughout the year to help clean up not just on Earth Day.

Did you know only 1 out 5 plastic bottles is recycled? And that 100 million plastic bottles are used worldwide everyday? That is so much waste! There are so many great alternatives like a reusable water bottle or a water filter for your faucet. Use this day as the day you choose to stop using plastic bottles.

What are you going to do on Saturday the celebrate Earth Day?

Apr 16, 2017

Currently... April 2017

It has been quite some time since I've last posted on here! But the past month and a half has been so hectic! My best friend got married in early April so I've been busy helping with all of those festivities and in early March my boyfriend bought a house! We have been renovating and refreshing it before we move in and we've spent almost every weekend and most week nights there. It has been way more work than we expected but it's really starting to come together and it's going to look great when we can move in. I am so excited! So, those are just two of the reasons I've been so busy lately but I'm hoping once we're moved in then I'll get on a more regular posting schedule. For now, this is what I've currently been up to!

This has been a city that Kirk and I have been wanting to visit together since we first started dating so it's so exciting that we are finally going! I have been researching all the best restaurants to eat at, places to visit, and outdoor areas to explore! One of my best friends lives in Seattle so she and her husband will be coming down for a couple days when we're there to visit! Our next big vacation after this one will be Portland, Maine!

This book has been a bit of a struggle to get into. The last book I read, Behind Closed Doors, was so good and more of a thriller that it's making it really hard to get into this more slow-paced zero thrill book. If I can't get into it soon I'll have to put it on the shelf and try it out another time. What are some of your favorite thriller books? I'm always looking for a new suggestions!

When Ed Sheeran released his two singles Shape of You and Castle on the Hill I knew that Divide was going to be one of his best albums yet! Sure enough, it's amazing and I can't stop listening to it. Check out my Spring 2017 Spotify playlist to see what else I've been listening to lately!

I am obsessed with this show right now! Netflix only has the first season right now but you should still start watching it! It's kind of like Pretty Little Liars meets the FBI so it always has you guessing what's going to happen next.

Now that the sun is shining all I've been thinking about is fruity, fresh summer drinks! Especially raspberry mojitos which I'll be sharing a recipe for soon!

I received this sweater from my parents for Christmas and I have been loving it! It's perfect for a mellow day at the office or for a day trip to Taylors Falls for a hike. 

Keep an eye out for this recipe soon! I discovered this extremely easy and savory dish back in November and I've made it about 10 times since. It's amazing how few ingredients can create such a flavorful meal!

We've been getting really lucky here in Minnesota lately. As I'm writing this it is 60 degrees and sunny. This weather is giving me spring fever and I can't wait for it to continue! I recieved some flower seed packets for Christmas and I can't wait until it's warm enough for me to plant them!