Cooking With Jess: Mini Waffles for Every Occasion

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We all know that I generally get excited over food, it’s just a given. However, seriously you guys, I am THRILLED to start adding my favorite recipes to my blog so that you guys can enjoy the same things that make my tummy turn somersaults. I think it's also a given that I love brunch more than anything in the world lately, so why not kick things off with a mini waffle recipe that's perfect for many different occasions. 

They're perfect for breakfast in bed, bridal or birthday brunches, on the go breakfast for you and the kiddos and whatever else you can think of. You can vary the size as you wish, I found a medium size to be perfect. You don’t want to make them square, else they lose the fun look that they have. 5-10 seconds in the microwave reheats these up perfectly and you’d never know they weren’t fresh! Make sure you try them and let me know what you think!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups flour

For the topping:

  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • (Optional) Fresh Strawberries, Blackberries or Blueberries 
  • (Optional) Whip Cream  

Instructions 

In a large bowl mix the sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. 

Add the eggs, milk and melted butter. Beat well.

Stir in the 3 cups of flour, mixing well until it's thoroughly combined. You are going to have thick, sticky batter, maybe a little thicker thab

Preheat your waffle griddle. 

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Place the batter in the middle of each waffle part (some waffle makers will have 2 or 4). You can do large or small waffles. 

Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove your waffles from the waffle iron and place on a cooling rack. 

Serve accordingly

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Topping Options:

Combine the white sugar and cinnamon for the topping. 

Dip or lightly brush the top of your waffle in butter, shake off, then dip into the cinnamon sugar mixture. 

Set back onto the rack and continue with the other waffles until finished.

Fresh berries are also a nice topping alternative

A little side note: 5-10 seconds in the microwave reheats these up perfectly and you'd never know they weren't fresh! 

Store (as if you are going to have any left) in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Happy Brunchin!

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Jessica's Food Tour : West Egg Cafe

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I'd like to think I'm a very patient person but when it comes to waiting on food, ehh, I'm still a work in progress. The fact that Atlanta has so many food spots that are driving/walking distance from each other, I've been spoiled just a little and unless it's someone's birthday or a special occasion, I pass on any wait longer than 30 minutes because 1) nine times out of ten I've not eaten and am starving and/or 2) I've already sat in traffic on 400 for 30-45 minutes trying to get to my eating destination because traffic in Atlanta is the absolute worst ever! I have always heard great things about West Egg Cafe and each time I've passed the midtown location there is usually a line so that within itself speaks volumes. 

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I finally had the time and patience to check the hype out for myself and I'd be lying if I said I didn't leave kicking myself in the butt for not coming sooner. For starters, they have FREE parking. Everyone who lives or frequently visits Atlanta knows that the parking struggle is real honey, but not here. There is a parking garage right behind the restaurant which was a blessing in itself that increased both my happy vibe and expectations as I walked in. I was told there would be a 15 minute wait which was cool because I was still on my happy high from the whole free parking thing (don't judge me, free parking is literally a blessing worth celebrating in Atlanta lol). If you follow me on Insta, you know I'm huge on vibes and am a sucker for great aesthetics. I LOVE the industrial feel of dining area. Their trendy ambiance is complemented by lights aren't too bright and the space is flooded with natural light from their beautiful, large windows. It ended up not being a much of a wait at all and my waitress was quick to bring me water and get me acquainted with the menu options.

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Seeing as though this is a food review, I unashamedly ordered two things because, uh, why not?? They have this extremely tasty dish called the the Westside Pileup and even though, I have yet to try their Shrimp and Grits, I'm sure this will be my personal favorite. I love potatoes and this bowl of skillet potatoes, topped with onions, bell pepper, cheese, bacon, and eggs did not disappoint!!! I'm talking love at first bite! The second dish I tried was their Georgia Benedict. The dish consists of your traditional benedict over a biscuit and turkey sausage patties topped with turkey sausage gravy. You get a choice of skillet potatoes or grits as a side - I went with the potatoes. You can get your eggs cooked however you like - I got mine scramble. The biscuits were light and fluffy and the gravy was creamy and not too thick.

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For my fellow coffee lovers, they have a coffee bar/ barista area where you can order anything from hot chocolate to lattes as you wait to be seated. If you are are Chai latte fan, theirs is the bomb. I'll definitely frequent West Egg going forward. They have so many more menu options that I am here for so if any of you ever want to Brunch with the kid, I'm down.

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The Southern Gentleman

When it comes to being a foodie, we like what we like but we love when we experience the first spoonful of delightfulness when we take a bite of our favorite dishes somewhere we've never had them before. There are few things better than that moment of truth that comes when you're served a plate of food that tastes better than you were expecting. One of my favorite things about living in Atlanta these past seven years has definitely been experiencing the savory tastes of my favorite dishes from some of the greatest chefs in the South. I can't tell you how excited I was to move back to Georgia and the many soul food lunches and dinners that would accompany it! I couldn't think of a better way to pay homage to my favorite restaurants than to share my favorite menu items with you through Jessica's food tour. I'm happy to kick things off with one of my favorite places ever, located in the heart of Buckhead, The Southern Gentleman. 

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When asked my favorite restaurants in Atlanta, I NEVER hesitate to brag on The Southern Gentleman at The Shops at Buckhead. Not only is my service always great, I've never had a meal I didn't thoroughly enjoy. If you're a brunch junkie like myself, their Sunday brunch is where you need to be. Aesthetically, TSG is beautiful and perfect, inside and out, for my brunch babes who love a great photo opt. Strategically placed on the 2nd floor, whether seated inside surrounded by big picture windows or outside in the shade, the beautiful view of the surrounding buildings and shops is as mesmerizing as your meal. 

Now, I'm the cliche southern girl who LOVES herself some shrimp and grits. Over the years I've learned that all shrimp and grits are not created equal and as disappointing as that can be, it gives me all the more reason to unapologetically order it when I'm at my favorite spots. I normally only like white cream based shrimp and grits but the shrimp and grits here are WONDERFUL! The dish consists of 10 Gulf shrimp tossed in and served with sweet and salty New Orleans BBQ sauce and speckled whole grain grits. The shrimp are huge and the grits are perfect....EVERY TIME! 

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Chef Q is killing it at Southern Gentleman with new flavor twists on classic southern dishes. I have so many favorites (the fried green tomatoes, the cornbread, the deviled eggs, the pancake and waffle selections, the omelets) I always leave full and happy like I've eaten my mother's and aunties down home recipes with a welcomed modern twist in flavor profile. If you want something different than the usual with great taste, this is the perfect place to go. It's great any time of day. You can't go wrong with brunch or dinner. It's great for dates, families, and groups. Waiters Kellam, Till and manager Alex are always extremely attentive and pleasant to talk with. They have live music for Sunday brunch, which adds to an already cool and "eclectic" ambiance. Their brunch menu is quite creative, offering a number of tasty (and amply sized) options and they validate parking for you for three hours. 

 I'd love to hear your favorites from TSG and if you've never dined there you know who to call if you need a food buddy! I'm excited to share my favorite places to eat and would love any recommendations you may have. Thanks so much for stopping by. 

 

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Issa Staycation

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One thing that six years of working at my place of employment has produced is three weeks of paid vacation every year. I've spent the last 9 months focusing on my finances, repairing my credit score and just being better with my money altogether. In the absence of spending just because I can, I've enjoyed seeing all the unique places my friends are traveling to in 2017, as I get travel inspiration on where I should travel in the upcoming year. Another thing I've spent the last 9 months working on is unapologetically indulging in me time. I spent the majority of my 20s not appreciating the importance of investing in myself and although I've been fighting the urge to book a flight to someplace warm and seaside, I would be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed my new discovered love for staycations and all their relaxing glory!

If you’re hoping to avoid the travel bug like I have this year, here are some tips to help you plan your perfect staycation:

1) Catch up on sleep sis!

If you know me well, you know that I am the reining nap queen, 29 years strong. I strongly believe that God designed rest for us, especially women, to refuel everything we give out in our busy days. Your staycation is the perfect time to selfishly catch up on sleep. If you’re really being honest with yourself, how many days a week do you cheat yourself out of a good nights sleep? Sleep in late, go to bed early and turn your phone off before your head hits the pillow. This way you’ll rest without interruptions and will be able to return back to your work rejuvenated and focused.

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2) Get Lost in a Good Book

Maybe it’s just my inner nerd, but I love nothing more than cuddling into my fluffiest, warmest blanket with a new book. I am currently reading God Always Has a Plan B by Zondervan and Hallmark, and I can honestly say it's been the most riveting book I've read during my twenties. We're taught that when one door closes, God has another one waiting to open for us but if we're honest with ourselves, a lot of times, it's a lot easier to hear it than actually have the faith to believe it applies to our situation. What I love the most about it is that through each scripture, parable, story and word of encouragement, the promise of Romans 8:28 ("in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him) is brought to life in a way that assures you that Plan A doesn't always fall into place, but through the grace of God, there's a Plan B with your name on it, with the promise of a new perspective, new attitude, and new direction for your life. 

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3) Spend Time Outdoors

We'll talk about binge-watching your favorite movies and shows in the next point, but spending your whole staycation glued to the television isn't where it's at sis. Get off your couch or crawl out of bed and get some fresh air. Take time to fully clear your mind, unplug from your phone and any mindless drama surrounding you. Spend your time outdoors soaking in the beauty of nature. Don’t focus on getting pictures for your Instagram feed. Just spend time focusing on your experience.

4) Netflix, Hulu and Chill

I hate that my favorite girlfriends live so far from Atlanta because all the fun Girls Night In ideas that float around in my head on a weekly basis all go to waste. (insert dramatic GIF here) Nevertheless, both Hulu and Netflix have stepped up there game this year and have given me ENDLESS binge options to curl up on the couch with my favorite snacks with. Even though I'm still bummed The Cosby Show was removed from the Hulu line-up, they've sorta kinda redeemed themselves by adding Family Matters and Hanging with Mr. Cooper. I forget how funny Family Matters was and can appreciate the healthy family values and lessons it portrayed for the African American community. 

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5) Get Your MasterChef On, Solo

One thing I hate the most about my work schedule is the limited amount of time it leaves me to cook a wholesome meal throughout the week.I'm not a meal prepping queen like a lot of my friends so I always enjoy being able to cook with no limitations while I'm vacationing. My cooking plans always start on Pinterest and after hours of tormenting myself with repins of delicious recipes, I throw on my favorite Spotify playlist and sing and dance and pretend I'm the greatest cook in Atlanta. After singing and dancing my heart out, I've usually built up an appetite and can't wait to relax and enjoy my meal.

6) Work Out

This one isn’t really for everyone which is fine! But if you’re running out of things to do or simply just enjoy a good workout, take some time to sweat off the stress and refuel your body and mind.

7) Explore Your City or Go on a Day Trip

I LOVE LIVING IN ATLANTA! There is literally something for me to do, no matter what kind of mood I'm in. My work schedule doesn't allow me to get out as much as I'd like to and the fact that I'm the homebody that I am, even after 7 years of living here, I discover something new and exciting each time I leave the suburbs to enjoy some city time. I understand that everyone doesn't share the same love I have for my city, especially if they've lived here their whole life. If that's your testimony, staycationing in your hometown can feel suffocating and frustrating, because you've run out of activities that might interest you. One way to avoid this obnoxious feeling is to plan a day trip. Every area has their go-to locations to visit. Whether it’s beaches, mountains, or downtown districts that attract you, you’re bound to find something new. Planning a day trip allows you to explore a new place without costing you an arm and a leg or without you having to get on a plane or drive too far.

8) Debrief From Current Events

This one just might be my favorite, especially with all the CRAZY that plasters the news every day. Sis, TURN OFF THE NEWS and don't check the mail, just like you would if you were out of town! When you banish sources of stress, stress itself follows suit. I promise, the earth will continue to turn even if you're not reading all about it every morning at 7:30 sharp. Sadly, the bills will still be there when your staycation is over BUT allow yourself a break for even those for a few days and watch how tolerable adulting becomes

9) Bring the Spa to YOU!

Pampering is MUST before, during and after any vacation for me. Staycationing is no different! Nowadays, spending a ton on professional spa days isn't your only option to a perfect pampering session. Bring the spa to you girl!

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  • Turn your bathroom into an aromatherapy spa. Stop in at a health-food store to pick out a selection of essential oils in scents you like (calming lavender, rose oil, or chamomile; energizing peppermint or lemon verbena). Then draw a warm bath, sink into it, and let Mother Nature do her botanical best for you.
  • Make staying hydrated a beautiful thing. Fill your prettiest pitchers with ice water and slices of lemon, orange, or cucumber. Place them (each with a glass) at various strategic points around the house and in a shady spot outside. Then, as you go about your day, stop often to take a long, cool, flavorful pull.
  • Hire a massage therapist who makes house calls. Ask friends for recommendations, or do a bit of web research. Most good day spas will dispatch a therapist for a home visit; 20 percent is the standard gratuity for house calls. If your yard is relatively private (and shady), consider having your rubdown in the great outdoors.
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10) Do Absolutely NOTHING

After running around for 40 hours a week, I thoroughly enjoy doing NOTHING at some point during my staycation. By nothing I mean, no planning, no thinking, no pressure. Life comes at us fast. Hours turn into days, Days turn in weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. All before we know it. Yes, glowing and growing is important, as well as flourishing in our careers, but when was the last time you stepped away from the chaos to enjoy the unexpected promises that come with no schedules, no text alerts, no texts, no meetings, no nothing? Some of life's best moments happen during moments of nothingness. Endulge in yours accordingly.

Staycationing isn't everyone's cup of tea but if it's yours, I'd love to hear your favorite way to staycay. Drop your comments below and if you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe to, like and share your posts from the blog!

Xo,

Jess

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Please Don't Kale My Vibe

Admit it, we've all been there...back in the gym regularly, more conscious about what we're feeding our body and constantly fighting the good fight that consist of you being mature enough to make more healthy decisions verses treating yourself (because YOLO, duh!) Trendistas everywhere are finding it more and more fit-forward to frequent their favorite juice bars to cleanse, reset, detox and glow a little before and after their workouts. Juicing isn't going away anytime soon and I'm happy that more and juice bars are popping up all over Atlanta. 

One of my favorites to swing by is Kale Me Crazy. The overly dramatic part of me feels instantly healthier as soon as I step inside!  All locations are clean and shiny and the staff is super friendly each time I visit. Whether it's for a morning breakfast smoothie, weekend pick-me-up or a post work-out recovery, there is a menu option for every situation. The times I wasn't sure exactly what the benefits of were to something, their knowledgeable staff is their to answer any question you may have and offers samples for you to try if you're still undecided. So far,  my favorites are the Recovery, Recharge, Grounded and Mega Omega. If I just need veggies or feel especially run down I get the Burning Kale because Kale solves all of life's problems right?!?! If eating is the goal their kale salad is AMAZING!!! Their Greek salad and quinoa bowl are also very tasty and all are filling. 



If you're into juicing, they have super pure and fresh pressed juices as well as shots of wheat grass, protein and energy boosters. Since they've added sandwich wraps, there's a wider array for those who want a more traditional meal. The coffee lover in me love both coffee drinks as well.

If you can't tell already, I'm a HUGE fan. Since I've been on a tighter budget I have only gone as a treat lately because visits can become a little pricey, especially if it becomes a habit. I'm definitely not complaining though. Everything is well worth it! 

XO,  

Jessica  

Target Vs. Steve Madden : Cute on a Budget!

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Just keeping it real, I LOVE TARGET!! Not only do I look forward to their collaborations more than payday, but there’s no better pastime than strolling the aisle of my local Targets "ooooooing"  and "ahhhhing over pretty much everything I see. One of my biggest goals for 2017 is to be better with my finances and save like crazy. Giving up my Target time hasn't been fun but knowing that I'm preparing now to better support my Target addiction later is enough to fuel to keep me motivated (Dear Future Husband, sorry, not sorry, LOL). 

In the world of footwear, top designers set trends that get copied and reinterpreted for the masses at all price points. Luckily for me, Target never fails fill their shelves this time of year with super cute runway-inspired looks at prices we can afford. While Steve Madden heels are one of my favorite brands to shop, sometimes I don't want to drop $90 bucks, even if it's on a pair of shoes. This Spring's  Lulu WideWidth High Block Heel Sandal with Ankle Straps ($29.99) from our beloved Target look so much like Madden's Carrson Sandal ($89.95) that it really is hard to tell the difference minus the fact that they are much more comfortable to walk in. I LOVE these heels! They are so on-trend and simultaneously so classic. The softness offered the dusty shade of blue compliments so many spring shades and offers a variety of ensemble opportunities that can either be dressy or casual. I also really love the block heel. It is amazing for walking and keeps you stable. I can always count on Target to offer comfort and save my wallet from starving in between pay periods. Being broke to look cute is NOT cute. Save those coins honey towards something more meaningful! 

Xo,

Jessica

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Okay, But First Corso...I mean, Coffee!

One of my favorite things about living in Atlanta is that I live far enough away from the city to still feel like a tourist when I stumble across new things. Another one of my favorite things about living here is that there are so many hidden but cute and quaint coffee shops to explore when I've grown tired of my usual Starbucks, McCafe and Dunkin Donut fixes. Living off 400 has it's perks, one of which being how convenient (when traffic isn't a nightmare) it is to Buckhead and Alpharetta. I don't roam Buckhead often but when I do, I usually always stumble across something that I thoroughly enjoy. One of those places is a quaint coffee spot, located in the Shops at Buckhead, that I already feel at home. I Love Corso! I've been here twice now and both times were wonderful. The coffee is amazing and the atmosphere is like a European cafe, two pluses when it comes to sitting down to get work or blogging planning done. 

The decor is upscale diner meets modern Italian(ish) cafe, but it works. The music is obvious, though not blaring and it's easy to tune out. Also, the temperature was pleasant -- on the cool side, but nowhere near the arctic temps favorited by Starbucks. While you can get some work or studying done here, the space isn't really designed for that. It's better suited to hanging out/meeting up over coffee and croissants. Also, service was quick and pleasant. Hopefully, that's a mainstay.

As for the goods: all forms of their coffee, in my opinion, is pretty tasty! I have to force myself not to order a second or third round. The food menu is surprisingly varied. So far, I've only tried their breakfast, pancakes on my first visit, and a pastry on this one. They looked good on my last stop there and I'm happy to say that I wasn't dissapointed in my selection.

All in all, Corso is a solid spot. Atlanta is in desperate need of cool coffee spots, so this is a welcomed addition. Some people will complain about the wait, which I can understand, but this isn't Starbucks and shouldn't be compared to it. If you expect to have your coffee ready in 2 minutes, you'll leave disappointed. If you have 5 to 10 (at worst) minutes to spare and want to enjoy a freshly brewed coffee (or their fresh squeezed OJ which I have yet to try), Corso is perfect! If you park in the garage, be sure to ask for a parking validation. Don't park on the street unless it's Sunday, as meters aren't validated.

What I'm Reading: January-March Favs!

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I never stopped loving to read but like many other things I neglected in my early twenties that I didn't "love" enough to make time for, I put it on the backburner so that I could have more time to "enjoy" life. Silly, silly, Jessica! I've really enjoyed the past 10 months of my life because I've gotten back in the habit of making good habits again and am now rediscovering my love and appreciation for me time and a good book. Reading as an adult is so much different for me than reading "The Magic School Bus" so that I can take (and ace I must add) an accelerated reading quiz like back in the day. I feel obligated to read things, even if it's fictional, that will challenge me to grow in an area I need more growth in or that will stimulate my "adulting" senses enough to make me develop better habits, especially spiritually. The hopeless romantic and lover of the arts won't let me retire a good romantic plot or thought-provoking book of poetry so those, along with inspirational fiction, travel books, cookbooks and literature on music are on my list of favorites tackle as the year progresses. So what exactly have I been reading so far in 2017??? Geez, I thought you'd never ask........

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Fervent: A Woman's Battle Pan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer by Priscilla Shirer:

I actually bought this book September 12, 2015. I was still running from Christ. My life was still a HOTMESS. I was still a Sunday and Wednesday night only Christain even though I was posting scriptures that I wasn't actually living. I was still bumping heads with my parents because they saw through my many facades and kept calling me out on them. I still was all over the place financially, spiritually and emotionally. Ironically, I had just deleted my blog for the millionth time and was is a position where I'd been called out spiritually and was hiding under a rock until I was off the radar. Like many other things during that season, I started reading, with good intentions, posted a few excerpts on social media, and didn't really take what I'd read so that I could apply it to my life. Oh, but how I wish I had. Praying was something I struggled with so hard back then because 1) I knew I was still a sinner and 2)Even though it was a Tonex song that was so true lyrically speaking, why would God hear and answer a sinner like me prayers?? Fast Forward to now, and the second time I read it sincerely, I can honestly say that when I tell people this book is "life changing," I don't use the term lightly. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet but I will say through each page and prayer strategy, Priscilla Shirer reminds women of the importance and power of prayer as she leads us through specific areas in our life to pray over. Reading this book and writing out personalized prayers breathed new life into my prayer time. literally! Praying specifically and really waging war in my prayer life was something I really wanted to grow more in when I re-surrendered my life to Christ last summer and this book, even after reading it for the third time, has broken so many chains of shame, guilt, and defeat from my past that had stifled my prayer language and intimate conversations with God.

The Gift by Danielle Steel

I'm a huge Danielle Steel fan. When I tell you she caters to the Jessica who cries during the sad part of a movie or cheeses extremely hard when two people fall in love for the first time, she simply does that for me in almost every one of her books. If you're familiar with Steele's writing this one may be a little predictable but the story was so lovely it didn't spoil it for me and was still worth the read in my opinion. Although it's a tear jerker, it's also a really good symbol of innocence in it most vulnerable form. You'll experience true love, separation, grief all present at its most vulnerable and raw states. Some people pass through our lives to deliver a gift. When they have delivered the gift, their work is done and they may leave us after that. I plan on cherishing the message I received from this book forever. If you're into heart-wrenching chick flicks, I think you'll enjoy the plot "The Gift" offers.

Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

If I can be completely honest for a minute when it was announced that we would start a book study on this book in my small group, a little part of me cringed at the thought. I've always had a really hard time reading non-fiction Christain literature because even though there's usually always something you can relate to, they seem so formulaic, especially when the authors start each chapter with cheesy anecdotes from their own practice. Even though I wasn't able to make any of the book study sessions because of my non-social life friendly work schedule, I'm really happy that I didn't use that as an excuse to not tackle the one genre that as a Christian I shouldn't have been so closed minded to. The ideas put forth in Boundaries have so completely revolutionized my view on the subject. The authors give solid Biblical backing for why boundaries are important, how they are formed, and how to set them in your own life. I especially appreciated that they tackled several key myths about boundaries (i.e. "Won't I hurt others if I set boundaries?" "Aren't Christians supposed to be generous and self-sacrificing?" "Isn't it selfish to think about yourself?"). Even the anecdotes felt useful in this book as they gave practical and clear examples of the boundary-making process. Despite being written from a Christian perspective, I think this book would be useful for anyone who struggles with boundaries in his or her life whether setting and maintaining them, feeling guilty about having them, or having trouble respecting the boundaries of others. I like Fervent, definitely read this one over and over again!

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

“Before loving you, love, nothing was mine:
I hesitated through the streets and things:
nothing mattered or had a name:
the world was of the air that I awaited.” 
― Pablo Neruda

I mentioned earlier that I am a hopeless romantic. I'm always saying that am, each time half teasing because I sometimes wonder if I love right, love correctly, or if I love at all and am not just mimicking what I think, what I want, I feel. For me I love all at once, I fall very fast, but rarely. I can go long loveless periods, happy and unbothered by thoughts of what passions I am missing. Even when I'm in my feelings, I've always done a great job of being unenvious of people paired in love but when I am indeed in my feelings, it's usually kinda sorta overwhelming, in the sense that I am tormented in waiting out the storm, waiting for the dawn, the exchanged "I love you" or just a sign or symbol of reciprocation. What I love in poetry, especially in this book, is that it is always (when done right) an attempt at saying what I feel can never be said in this desensitised , unemotional generation without feeling like I'm "feeling" more than the other party does. I'm willing to admit that it's possible that other people in the world have been as in love with someone as Pablo Neruda was, but no one has ever expressed it so beautifully or ardently. With the eloquence and passion of a hundred poets, Neruda crafts lines that honor love so well that most people don't even know that love could BE so consuming or so light, so natural or so still. Divided into the categories of morning , afternoon, and night, each infiltrating new or different dimensions of love is equally and realistically. Not always happy or unrealistic, Neruda is honest in his declarations of love.

A Love Supreme: Coltrane's Awakening

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As I brainstormed ways to completely utilize all the space that came with my new website template, I couldn't wait to write my first album review for you guys in this section. Whether it was falling asleep to my mother's humming, singing a fun song with her to help me remember something for school, hearing her sing through the house as she cooked and cleaned, listening to my father play his keyboard when he was home from work, watching him play the drums at church or me singing in chorus until I got to high school, music has always come with happy memories for me. Growing up in the 90's, I got my first doses of jazz music from nonother than Dr. Huxtable himself. One of my favorite things about The Cosby Show was its great exposure of amazing music, especially jazz, and the many episodes featuring some of music's greatest legends. I still binge watch it on Hulu any chance I get for that reason. I remember the first time I heard "In a Sentimental Mood" played on episode 21 of the first season, where Cliff and Claire share an apple and one of many romantic moments (that still makes the hopeless romantic in me smile til this day) at the end. I couldn't wait to be married one day and share my own special moments with a man I'm madly in love with as it plays in the background. I literally paused the episode and typed it into the search bar of my Pandora app where I stumbled across the musical genius and one of my new favorite jazz artists, John Coltrane.

It's still hard for me to put into words how Coltrane's music makes me feel. His music literally gives me all the feels and is my go-to when I cook, clean, write or just want to relax. It instantly takes me to my happy place no matter how long of a day I've had or the million and a half thoughts I have running through my head. A Love Supreme has always been one of my favorite albums of his and it wasn't until last year when I was asked why that I realized my answer "because it takes me there" (there=my happy place) needed no further explanation or super deep reasoning because there's no right or wrong answer when it comes one's appreciation for good, quality music.

I got my first vinyl player last fall and have been enjoying investing in my jazz collection. For my birthday this year, I finally bought myself a copy of  A Love Supreme and literally had chills the entire time I read John's "Dear Listener" letter inside the cover. I always knew that the album was birthed during his turn around in life after battling a heroin and alcohol addiction but it wasn't until I read "This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say "THANK YOU GOD"..." that I realized I'd been listening to his testimony this whole time. He literally put his heart and soul into every song he played on this album because God had reached down and grabbed his soul from the pit of hell and gave him a clean slate mentally, physically and musically.

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