7 Ways to Read More

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Nothing compares to books when it comes to opening our eyes to new perspectives, new information, learning new skills, and escaping to other worlds.

But in the busyness of life it’s easy to think that we just don’t have time to read.

I’ve been working to read more, and I’ve found some helpful tips for getting more reading into my daily life.

Check books out from the library. One deterrent to reading more can be the cost of books. Even if they’re not individually expensive, the total adds up quickly. But books, audiobooks, and ebooks can be checked out from the library to lighten the load on our wallets.

Listen to audiobooks when you can’t otherwise be reading. If you have a long enough commute or find yourself doing household chores for a while, adding an audiobook can be a good way to get more books in during your normal routine. They typically take longer to get through than reading the printed book would, so I suggest listening to them when you can’t read a print book.

Mix up the medium. I love a good old hardcover book, or even a paperback. There’s nothing like flipping through the pages and holding the book in your hand. But sometimes it’s not the most practical option, especially if you’re traveling. Reading some ebooks can be more convenient, and even if you don’t have an e-reader, you can add the Kindle app to your smartphone or device of choice.

Read more than one book at a time. This can either work really well or not at all, depending on your reading style and the types of books you choose. I recommend choosing books that are dramatically different from one another so you don’t start confusing them. You can pick different time periods, subject matter, genres, and mix nonfiction with fiction. Then if you hit a wall with one, you can switch to the other for a break.

Read in the little moments. Carry a book or Kindle (or device with the Kindle app) with you so you can pick it up when you have a few minutes to kill waiting in line or before your next appointment. The small amounts of time add up, and you’d be surprised how much it can contribute to reading more books!

Be okay with giving up on books that aren’t right for you. If you get stuck reading a book you’re not very invested in, it will likely cause you to put off reading that book or any other. If you read more things that interest you, you’re more likely to keep reading.

Track your reading to know what types of books you like and get recommendations. I use Goodreads to keep track of what I’m reading, what I’ve read, and what I want to read. It’s a good way for me to keep tabs on books falling into these categories, and I like that I can write a review to remember why I did or didn’t like a particular book. I also like that Goodreads gives recommendations based on what I’m interested in. Between that and Modern Mrs. Darcy’s podcast and blog, my to-read list is truly never going to end!

 

Are you an avid reader? What do you do to get more reading in? Do you have any book suggestions? I’d love to hear them!

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What’s Saving My Life Right Now

This is inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up as a reminder of the things –both large and small– that save our lives and our sanity in the midst of the chaos of life.

So what’s saving my life right now?

  1. Tea. It’s my drink of choice, and really comes in handy in the winter months when I need something hot to warm my hands and soothe my throat. I tried Nourish Move Love’s detox ginger turmeric tea, and while I still have to play around with the ratio of tea concentrate to hot water, it’s been really good! I like knowing that I’m putting good things into my body that not only taste delicious but also help my body function better.
  2. The Hope*Writers podcast. I sat in on the webinar last week, and it was just the motivation I needed to really work on my writing. I’ve been listening to the podcast (is binge-listening a thing? I think it is!) like crazy since then, and all the information and encouragement is so good! I’m actually taking notes.
  3. Rest. I’ve been doing a lot less in the last month or so than I was in the previous several months. Some of that has to do with the cold and dark days and the lack of motivation that brings. But I’ve also been giving myself permission to just sit and rest after work and on the weekends. I’m trying to find the middle ground between productivity and rest, and I feel like I’m getting closer.
  4. Dark chocolate. It’s just the best. Nothing makes a long day feel better like some dark chocolate.
  5. Mail-order products. I’m not talking about ordering tchotchke things from a catalog. I mean having things delivered to my house that I would otherwise go to the store for. I signed up for Express Scripts prescription delivery to save trips to the pharmacy, and notify me a few weeks before the prescription runs out. Hooray for not running out because I forget to pay attention! I also started a subscription to Cora, which is a feminine care service that uses organic, vegan products that are comparable to traditional ones, and every subscription provides products for women in developing countries who don’t otherwise have access to them. Win-win! And again, it arrives on my doorstep. Hooray! If you’re interested, you can use my code and get up to your first month free (a $7 discount): jessica6483
  6. “Yes To” products. I’ve been trying to find better personal care products, and these are great! I love the Yes to Carrots body lotion and the Yes to Tomatoes face care line. They have a charcoal face bar soap that I love! I like knowing that I’m not putting dangerous chemicals on my skin, since what we put on our skin really matters (it’s the largest organ of our body and absorbs what we put on it, into our bloodstream).
  7. Mrs. Meyers and Norwex household products. Again, I’ve been working on having cleaner products– this time for my home! I don’t like the idea of having a lot of toxic chemicals spread all over the surfaces in my home. I like Mrs. Meyers soaps (hand and dish) and their all-purpose cleaning concentrate. They have so many lovely products and scents! I also like Norwex products because of their BacLoc technology. Because of the natural antibacterial properties of the silver in the cloths, I don’t have to worry about germs. And with their polishing cloth, I can finally get windows and mirrors clean without streaks!
  8. Community and friends. As an introvert, it’s often a challenge for me to balance social commitments and “me” time. I’ve been working on finding the sweet spot in the middle, and I feel like I’ve been making some good progress. I’ve spent some fun time with some wonderful people– crafting, pampering, chatting, cooking, and more. It’s been a great time and a good reminder that I need people in my life. 😉
  9. Books. True to form, I’m reading a few right now. I’m still plugging along through The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and it’s as great as I expected. It’s massive (we’re talking 1169 pages, people!), though, so I’m going at what seems a turtle’s pace. I’m also reading Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I think my love for the original is tainting my view of the new book, but it’s interesting to say in the least. I’m eager to see how it ends. And I just finished reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: An Advent Devotional. It was lovely. I read more than a day at a time since I borrowed it from the library, and after Christmas since it was unavailable in December, so that was a little odd, but I loved it nonetheless.
  10. Netflix. I’m so grateful that my parents let my sister and me use their Netflix account, especially since we don’t have cable. There are so many good movies and shows on there that I hardly know where to begin. I like having familiar shows on in the background while I cook, and sitting down to watch a movie after dinner or on the weekend is a nice way to unwind. Sometimes I just need to de-stress and find something funny, and I often turn to Netflix for that. Lately I’m liking A Series of Unfortunate Events, One Day at a Time, Bones, and The Imitation Game.

What things are saving your life right now?

 

 

Further reading:

What’s saving my life right now by Anne Bogel, Modern Mrs. Darcy

January 2017 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the January installment! It’s a little bit late– the end of the month came faster than I was expecting!

Current favorites:

Book: I’m still loving (and plugging along slowly in) my big hardcover copy of The 387086Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s so good but so long!.

I also just finished Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift: An Advent Devotional. I checked it out from my local library in ebook form. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available during Advent, which is when it’s intended to be read. It still was a really good read. I liked how it incorporated Scriptures that I don’t generally associate with the Christmas story and had a lot of application material and questions.

Verse: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” -Genesis 50:20 and “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14. There is purpose behind everything that happens. I need that reminder.

Food: My parents got me a spiralizer for Christmas, so I’ve been playing around with making noodles out of vegetables lately. One of my favorites was Ambitious Kitchen’s unnamed-2avocado basil pesto zucchini noodles. They were delicious! I also made a taco lentil soup from AK that was amazing, and the fact that it made several servings was a great bonus!

Song: I’m really loving Beloved by Jordan Feliz. I wrote more about a few songs that have been touching my heart lately in a separate post that you can read here.

Show: I’ve been watching a lot of things on Netflix lately, and they’ve all been great! I finished watching what’s available of Bones, and can’t wait to get caught up on the last seriesofunfortunateevents_netflixseason that was on TV. I watched all of A Series of Unfortunate Events and LOVED it! I never got into the books, but the 8-episode series was really entertaining. I also watched One Day At a Time and thought it was both funny and poignant.

Memories from this month: My dad, my sister, and I went to a Phil Wickham concert at the Mall of America on a Friday night this month, and we had a great time together! I also had a crafternoon get-together with a few of my college roommates, and it was a blast! We made crafty things and chatted the whole while, and we’ve made plans to get together again to craft even more.

Looking forward to this month: I’m looking forward to The Her Initiative’s Fit for Her event in Minneapolis in a few weeks. I follow Nourish Move Love and Fit Foodie Finds, who are hosting the event, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun! I invited some friends to go with me and already bought my ticket. There’s going to be a workout, snacks, and products that support local female-run businesses. Check it out!

 

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Image sources:

Book: https://www.christianbook.com/the-greatest-gift-an-advent-devotional/ann-voskamp/9781414387086/pd/387086

Series of Unfortunate Events: mvlteenvoice.com

December 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the December installment! It’s later than usual, but I think it makes more sense to do it at the end of the month instead of in the middle.

Current favorites:

Book: I’m really liking my big hardcover copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My sister gave it to me for my birthday, and it’s been fun to read. I envision the characters much like they appear in the BBC show Sherlock, and I think that makes it even better. I’d like to think I can tie the disparate threads together to figure the 51sksyfzidlmysteries out alongside Sherlock, but alas, I am more like Watson, struggling just to keep up but enjoying the ride nonetheless.

I also just started reading Lauren Graham’s new book called Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), and it’s every bit as lovely as she is.

Verse: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'”- Luke 2:8-14. I don’t want to ever cease to be amazed by the Christmas story. For it truly is remarkable and certainly is the Good News.

Food: I made some delicious miso-roasted broccoli that I enjoyed. And my relatives were raving about the stuffing I made for Thanksgiving (okay, so not technically in December, but recent enough). I made it again for Christmas, though, so that counts, right? I also made some delicious 2-Ingredient chocolate truffles that I loved.

Song: All the Christmas songs! Really, though, I can’t pick a favorite. Some have fond memories associated with them (like Silent Night and All I Want for Christmas is You), while others are good reminders of what the holiday season is really about (like O Holy Night and O Come Let Us Adore Him). Of course, some other songs are just purely fun (You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch and Jingle Bells).

YouTube Clip: I’ve been watching Jimmy Fallon and James Corden videos that are holiday-themed, but I’ve also been enjoying Pentatonix’s Christmas videos. They’re so talented!

Memories from this month: Christmas! Christmas is my favorite holiday, hands down. I love decorating, making cookies, hanging lights, making hot chocolate, listening to and singing along to the songs, picking out presents, and spending time with my friends and family. It was so good to get to spend the holiday with so many friends and family. I had a unnamedgreat time at my church’s Christmas Eve service at the Crowne Plaza, and was surprised to see how many people we had! It was also so very good to spend some quality time with my college roommates who were in town for a reunion of sorts. Their friendship is one I truly cherish.

Looking forward to this month: I’m looking to things getting sort of back to normal, honestly. The holidays are great, but they bring a special kind of stress along with them. I also think the beginning of a new year is really refreshing, like an opportunity to start over in a way and refocus.

 

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

November 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the November installment!

Current favorites:

Book: I’m ever-so-slowly going through Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery, which is filled 6224501with short, sweet stories about characters finding long-lost relatives and encountering charming little challenges they overcome every time. It’s adorable and a great filler for short periods of waiting or for a before-bed read to end the day on a positive note.

Verse: For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” -Zephaniah 3:17. No matter how I measure up to my own or this world’s standards, God loves me just the way I am. Further, He actually rejoices over me — and over you — with singing. How crazy and amazing is that?!

Food: I made a really good jasmine coconut rice bowl with roasted veggies, curried avocado spread, pecans, and pomegranate arils a couple weeks ago. Yum! It was one of
fullsizerender those meals that made me look forward to eating leftovers. And it made my kitchen smell good every time I heated it up, which is always a plus. I also made some really tasty maple pumpkin muffins that I’ve been enjoying for breakfast lately.

YouTube Clip: This is why you shouldn’t cut your own hair. Let it be a PSA for the rest of us.

Website: She of Noble Character is a new endeavor started by my good friend Cambria. She’s using it as a way to share Scripture and encouragement with other women. And there’s a fabulous line of jewelry, too! I like seeing her posts on social media, and I’ve already gotten a couple of her necklaces as gifts.

Memory from this month: I just got back from a mini reunion with some of my college roommates. We drove out to the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin for a weekend together, and it was a blast! We ate until we were completely stuffed, toured the town square,
bought some cheese, played hours of card games, FaceTimed the girls who couldn’t make it, made homemade pizza, and celebrated a couple birthdays. I’m so blessed to count these wonderful women as my fullsizerender-1friends, and while I certainly miss living with them, it was really good to reconnect, and we can’t wait for our big reunion in December!

Looking forward to this month: I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year with my sister at our new townhouse. I’m a little nervous about it, but I cooked a turkey last December, so it can’t be that hard, right? I really am looking forward to getting the family together over some good food! And, of course, our family tradition of Black Friday shopping with our cousins. And Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life comes out on Netflix!

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

Book image source: goodreads.com

 

October 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the October installment!

Current favorites:

Book: I’ve read a few good books lately. I liked The Lake House by Kate Morton in its usethe-lake-house-by-kate-morton of different time periods and the pursuit of solving a mystery. The characters were likable and relatable, too. The plot had enough twists in it to keep me guessing, which I always appreciate. I’ve also been working through Wicked by Gregory Maguire. For some reason it’s taking me a while, but it’s interesting to read about characters who I only considered as minor when watching The Wizard of Oz. I tried reading it years ago but couldn’t get into it, and I’m proud to say I’m actually intrigued by it this time, even if it has been slow going. I also started reading No One Knows by J.T. Ellison this week, and find that my interest is piqued. It has me turning page after page, trying to figure out whodunnit.

Verse: “The Lord replied, ‘Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” -Habakkuk 1:5. “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” -Habakkuk 2:3. Sometimes it seems like things are taking forever, like our plans aren’t unfolding the way we want them to. But it’s comforting to know that God the-afters-live-on-forever-300x300is moving, even if we can’t quite see what He’s doing just yet. He has a plan, and it’s a good one.

Song: Battles by The Afters is one of my top picks lately. I like the reminder that I’m not fighting my battles alone, and there is always hope. I have God on my side, and I have no reason to fear. I started a playlist called Truth on Spotify (one of my favorite ways to listen to music!), and this one quickly got added to the list.

This current is trying to wreck me
Like castles of sand, castles of sand.
My fear, like an enemy army
Is marching again, but I’m making a stand.

You surround me on every side
Your love is my armor I fear no evil.
Darkness runs from your light
So I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid.

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

Time after time you’re my refuge,
You heal every scar you’re guarding my heart.
Your promise, the hope that I cling to,
My rescue, my friend you come rushing in.

And surround me on every side
Your love is my armor I fear no evil.
Darkness runs from your light
So I won’t be afraid, I won’t be afraid

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles.

In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
In my weakness you are strong
Every trouble you have overcome
You have overcome

You’re going before me
And oceans are parting
You’re fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You’re fighting my battles.

Food: Slow Cooker Curried Butternut Chili from Hummusapien. I’m so excited fall food img_0975season is finally upon us! I love pumpkin, apples, squash, chili, soup, spices, tea…basically all the fall things. And dark chocolate. Always dark chocolate.

Blog: I just discovered Feel Free to Laugh, a blog by Jordan Baker Watts, and it’s fabulous! She’s so funny and real, sharing highlights and lessons she’s learning the hard way, always through a lens of humor and humility.

Memory from this month: September was so full of great things! Our church celebrated its third birthday, which was such a good time. And we had a surprise birthday party for img_0972my dad. It was really good to gather the family and some old friends together for him, especially since he didn’t see it coming. I went to an apple orchard with my best friends, helped frost 500 cupcakes for a wedding, had a girls’ night, and helped coordinate the food for my cousin’s baby shower, all of which were just as much fun as I expected and more.

Looking forward to this month: I’m looking forward to celebrating my good friend’s birthday this weekend with some fun adventuring that her sister planned. She doesn’t know what we’re doing yet, but I got let in on the surprise and I think it’s going to be a great, fun-filled time! We’re even planning on turning it into a sleepover like we’re back in junior high. : )

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Book image source: www.beniceorleavethanks.com

Album image source: pathmegazine.com

September 2016 Favorites

I thought it would be fun if I took a moment each month to let you know what things are currently striking my fancy, so here goes the September installment!

Current favorites:on-which-side-of-the-road-do-flowers-grow

Book: On Which Side of the Road Do the Flowers Grow? by Wendell E. Mettey. I’ve had the ebook version of this book on my Kindle for a long time, but found myself in need of another book to read the other day, and finally cracked it open. I like the sweet stories about the people Reverend Mettey encountered throughout his life and the encouragement each vignette provides. It’s not always incredibly happy, as most of the stories end with the individuals dying, but their stories and joy live on in those whose lives they touched.

Verse: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10. I have liked this verse for a long time, going back to it often. I need the frequent reminder that I am not alone. The God of the universe is with me, so I have every reason to hope, trust, and have faith that everything will work out– maybe not the brave_moriah-petersway I always want, but in a way that is beautiful in the end.

Song: Brave by Moriah Peters is my current favorite, one that makes me turn it up every time I hear it. My sister and I were jamming to this song on the way to work this week, and I was once again reminded of the powerful truth the lyrics hold. Not to mention the upbeat tempo that makes for a great sing-along at the top of your lungs!

No one ever told me
This would be easy
But I never knew
That it could be this hard
Oh the worry the worry the worry
Is weighing on me
Could you help me break down
All these question marks
And make me

Brave
I’ll fight like a soldier
Brave
Rise like a warrior
Brave
Won’t stop till the final day
Brave
I want to be stronger
Brave
Gonna be bolder
Brave
Look up and I see the way
You make me brave

I know, I know, I’m no superwoman
But impossible is possible with You
So no, no, no more running, no more hiding
Strike the fire so I’ll be fearless too
And make me brave

…None go with me
Still I’ll follow
Through the joy
And through the sorrow
Cross before me
World behind me
There’s no turning back

Brave
I’ll fight like a soldier
Brave
Rise like a warrior
Brave
Won’t stop till the final day
Brave
I want to be stronger
Brave
Gonna be bolder
Brave
Look up and I see the way
You make me brave

Food: The best thing I made in the last month was Pinch of Yum’s BBQ Chicken Sweet img_0780Potato Pizza. It was delicious! I’ve tried making a sweet potato crust for pizza before, but it didn’t come off the pan too well. This one held together much better, and the toppings were spot-on. I was really sad when it was all gone. I guess that just means I’ll have to make another one!

Blog: Food Faith Fitness by Taylor Kiser. I like the recipes Taylor shares– they’re both healthy and tasty, made with real ingredients. Sometimes they’re indulgent, sometimes they’re not; she strikes a good balance of both. I also like that she posts Sunday Reflections, where she writes about a specific passage of Scripture and what it’s been teaching her, along with prayer requests. She’s really honest about where she’s at in life, and writes like she’s talking to a good friend. Check it out!

Memory from this month: Our family trip to Nebraska img_0805and Colorado was the highlight of the last month for me. I loved getting to see members of both sides of my extended family that I hadn’t seen for a long time. And I got to fly a plane with my cousin for a little bit!

Looking forward to this month: My church is having our fall launch this Sunday, so I’m really excited to see our hard work pay off. We’ve done a lot with new signage, a different location, and new equipment, so come check it out if you’re in the area! We also have our third birthday celebration in a couple weeks– I can’t believe we’ve been around for three years! I’m looking forward to celebrating everything God has done with my church family.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite things? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Book image source: http://moneysavingmom.com/2015/08/free-ebooks-how-to-reduce-food-waste-jump-start-your-day-plus-more.html

Album image source: thesoundopinion.com