My Best Smoothie Bowl Tips…and a Fall Bowl

I have spoken of my love for smoothies and smoothie bowls. You throw it all in a blender, blend and go, right?

Well, no. I have learned through trial and error some tips to get my best bowls in taste and texture. I am sharing them with you today.

  1. Use a mix of fresh and frozen fruits and veggies. I have the best luck with, say, an unfrozen zucchini and frozen bananas and berries. All frozen can make the blender need more time and stops and starts to scrape or tamp the ingredients down.
  2. When using lots of frozen foods, do a pre-chop step. I have never done this with a less expensive blender, but it works great with my Blendtech. I will put frozen zucchini, bananas, berries, etc. in and whirl for 10 seconds. Then I add other ingredients and end up with a very smooth bowl.
  3. Use the least amount of milk possible to keep from adding lots of ice. I stick with about 1/4-1/2 cup per bowl. Too much ice waters down the taste.
  4. Put greens like spinach or kale on top of other ingredients. This keeps protein powders or nut butter from going straight up and needing to be scraped off the side of the blender. I want my almond butter in my smoothie, not on the side of the bowl, right? 😉
  5. Pour the milk over everything last. This also wets things down so they don’t all fly on the sides of your blender.

A great fall smoothie bowl is The Carrot Cake Bowl pictured above. I tweaked a recipe from Simply Quinoa and just love it.

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or milk of your choice)

1/2 cup chopped frozen zucchini

1 1/2 frozen bananas

2 carrots, chopped and peeled

1/2 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Almond protein powder (optional) Otherwise add 2 T of hemp seeds, etc. for a protein kick

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t pumpkin spice seasoning

1/4 t ginger

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t allspice

ice as needed

I topped with some hemp seeds, a drizzle of almond butter (of course!), and granola. Bananas are good too.

What are your best Smoothie Bowl tips and tricks? Let me know in the comments. Also, tell me what you think about the carrot cake bowl.

Why I love Pilates

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A few people have asked how I came to Pilates. It’s a long story but I thought I would share it here so you can be encouraged to keep moving and find something that works for you. And so you will know that what works will change over the course of your life…and that is okay.

I started exercising in the early 1990s. I was in my late 20s and noticed some weight “creep” and the spandex and lycra leotard group was the rage. I joined a women only gym where we jumped and pranced and ran in place to thumping music. Then we entered the step aerobics craze. This time, we jumped up and down and around our aerobics step. All the while ignoring the important components of weight training and flexibility training.

Somehow in my mid-thirties, my body began to change yet again. I was aging, had three pregnancies and births under my belt, and just had less time and energy for a gym and high-impact aerobics. I began to lift weights and still do my cardio and my body composition totally changed. I looked fitter and firmer. Now mind you, I was still pounding the heck out of my joints with high impact, but I could still take it.

In my forties, I began running to cross-train. And that was fun for a bit(except for the near constant shin splints I had.) I have issues with my flat feet and back curvature that really don’t like all the jumping and pounding. But I thought that was what exercise entailed. And I was a “go hard or go home” person.

So I entered my late forties about twenty pounds heavier and full of aching joints. I hobbled if I sat too long and my hips ached nearly constantly. And I was always nursing some sort of injury. I changed my diet and tried barre for a bit. I lost the weight but now my knees ached, along with my hips. I was discouraged and thinking that exercise should not have to hurt to be effective.

I had tried Pilates in the past but thought it was too easy to be effective. Remember, I was a “go-big” person. A friend told me about Lisa Pentony of Pilates By Lisa and an upcoming challenge she was hosting, complete with a meal plan and online support. I figured a month couldn’t cause me too much weight gain if I decided to lie down and work out, right?

Oh, how wrong I was! In that month my clothing got looser (and I really didn’t’ follow the meal plan at all), my energy soared, and, most remarkable of all, I no longer hurt. Soon I could sit cross-legged on the floor again. I had absolutely zero pains in my hips and low back. I was amazed.

The best part was having a trainer in Australia who was super-responsive to any question I had. Over the two years I’ve done her workouts, she has honestly become a good friend and I even had the privilege of meeting her last November when she was in America. It was seriously like meeting up with an old friend.

Today I walk and do Pilates. That’s pretty much it. I feel good and still fit in my clothing. 😉 And I am just so disheartened when people say they’re exhausted from going to the gym or running all the time.

The thing is, you don’t have to hurt to be healthy and fit. You just need to find the thing that causes you to feel good. Yes, our bodies were made to move. And maybe yours was made to run, unlike mine. That’s fantastic. But above all, I want us to all experience a mind shift. Fitness and exercise should be about taking care of ourselves so we can live our lives fully, abundantly, and with joy. Exercise isn’t the goal:  living life is. So I encourage you to find that type of movement that lets you do just that.

How do you like to move and stay healthy? Drop me a line and share your thoughts, tips, or journey with me. I love hearing from you.

Oh, PS~If you try Pilates with Lisa, be prepared to be humbled. She does have a free 10-day trial and a fantastic beginners series. You can get 10% off your first payment with the coupon code MEMBER.

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The Beauty of What If

I mentioned in passing that I have struggled off and on with anxiety. I am a first-born, Type A perfectionist who is also a people pleaser. It has been a difficult road to get to the place of embracing doing things well versus perfectly (which doesn’t exist) and realizing what others think doesn’t really matter.

I am gifted with a vivid imagination and that has a dark side: what if. If you struggle like I do with worry, fear, or anxiety (and who doesn’t from time to time), you will immediately get this.

But along the way, I have learned a wonderful truth: in every negative quality we have lies a gift. The key that unlocks it is my attitude.

The quote below was written by a wonderful Bible teacher and author, Chuck Swindoll. It became a defining “ah-ha” moment for me when I first read it. Check it out:

So, how has attitude-the ability to approach a situation with a positive or negative mindset-helped me? I see my WHAT IF as a good thing. When my mind says, “what if this bad thing happens, ” I stop and think, “yes, but what if …” and list the good things that can occur. And my imagination suddenly becomes a positive asset to me.

So how can you adjust your attitude? Do you see physical limitations as a bad thing? I have flat feet, bunions, and slight scoliosis. I can’t run without getting shin splints. But I have discovered a world of fun walking my dog, or with friends, or learning to dance and try other forms of cardio. And I cheer on my runner friends and family and lend a sympathetic ear to those struggling with limitations, aches, and pains.

A positive attitude is not something a person is born with. You work at it. Some days my attitude stinks. But I get up, practice gratitude, and keep learning. What if… at the end of my life, I can look back and think I made my days count rather than worrying them away. Now that’s a WHAT IF I can get excited about.

Let me know your struggles, thoughts, tips, and tricks to develop a healthy mindset.

Skin Care I’m Loving

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People ask me what I do to care for my skin in my 50s. The biggest factor is that I’ve always looked younger than my age…that is pure genetics. My mom has very few wrinkles on her face in her mid-70s so I was dealt a good hand there.  ( I have terrible vision and am 5’1 3’4″ so the genetics there could be better, haha. We take what we’re given).

I am also pretty fair and had a melanoma scare in my mid-20s. Those two things mean I’ve always worn sunscreen. And, I”m allergic to cigarette smoke so I’ve never picked up that habit.

Other things I think really help are good nutrition(I drink tons of water and eat lots of fruits and veggies, many of them in their raw state) and plenty of sleep. I’m not always great about the sleep but I’m trying to make sure that happens.

Now for the part I get asked about a lot:  products I use. I have found that expensive doesn’t always work and what my skin needs changes with age. I’ve got sensitive skin that’s prone to a bit of redness so I’ve figured out a few things that are simple, inexpensive, and just work for me. I’ll share a few products I’m loving lately.
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

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This is super gentle, removes makeup and dirt well, and is not a bit harsh or drying on my face. I love that it’s not expensive and that it has a pump so I can get just the right amount I need. It’s also fragrance-free.   Neutrogena Hydrating Cleanser

 

Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water

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I love this product. I use it in place of a toner and it removes all extra traces of makeup and keeps my skin soft and not tight. I will say that I don’t use waterproof formulas, but if you do, they make a micellar water for waterproof makeup.Micellar Cleansing Water

 

Rosehip Oil

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My current moisturizer of choice is Rosehip Oil. I got this bottle from Amazon and really like it. It doesn’t have a smell to it and a few drops go a long way. I have said before that I got this tip from my friend Lisa Pentony of Pilates by Lisa and it has seriously been a game changer. You can use this to make your own tinted moisturizer, it works well under makeup, and helps my skin not get so dry when I use my night cream with retinol. In the winter, if I get really dry, I use pure organic coconut oil. Simple and effective.  Rosehip Oil

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-wrinkle Cream with Retinol

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Three nights a week I use this Neutrogena cream with retinol. I like how it helps with fine lines and helps my skin stay smoother. It’s fairly inexpensive as retinol products go and it lasts a long time since you don’t need to use a lot.  Neutrogena Night Cream with Retinol

 

CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion AM, SPF 30

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This is my go-to facial moisturizer with sunscreen. it is fragrance-free, gentle, and has a good amount of SPF sunscreen in it. It blends well and isn’t too dry feeling under makeup(although I often use a bit of rosehip oil on my face before the moisturizer). I really like this product. Cerave Sunscreen

There you have it. Simple and quick and it works for me. Everything I use is fragrance-free and doesn’t bother my sensitive skin.

Share with me any skin care products you’re loving.  Do you enjoy indulging or are you a drugstore maven like me? Let me know your thoughts.

Why I Strength Train

 Women’s wars are a thing now, aren’t they? Mommy wars about how to feed children, co-sleeping, and working vs non-working moms abound. Vegan vs Paleo, cardio vs strength training, cross-fit vs yoga,  Republican vs Democrat, and so on. And I say enough!

You can find dozens of articles out there to support your side. I could give you scientific reasons why I favor Pilates and my weights over lots of cardio. But here’s the thing: I’m not a scientist or fitness pro. I’m just a woman in her 50s who has exercised since her late 20s who has tried it all on her self. A certified experiment of one. So today I’ll share with my beliefs about why I think building some muscle is great.

 

When I  first started to exercise in my late 20s, I wanted to lose some unwanted pounds. And life was all about cardio then. I joined a gym and we put on our spandex leotards and did step aerobics or floor cardio, jumping around like crazy. Other friends ran. And life was good. The pounds left and I felt better.

But fast forward to my mid-30s. Marriage and three babies later, I was tired and my weight had shifted. And cardio was a burden. I heard about strength training and tried some weight work at my gym. My weight went UP a few pounds and my clothing size went DOWN. And, cardio seemed easier. That was a total eye-opener for me.

In my late 40s, things changed again. I was still using weights, but my body ached. And I was about 20 pounds heavier. Clearly, something had to change. And a lot of that was what and how I ate…which is another post. But I realized all those years of high-impact jumping had taken a toll on me. So I changed how I exercised(switched to barre and Pilates) how and when I ate. And lost the weight and healed my body of the achiness.

Today I focus on Pilates and walking. And even though I am about 8  pounds “heavier” than my lowest cardio-craze weight, I wear a smaller size in clothing. My sleep is better. My anxiety has improved (I have struggled with anxiety off and on all my life). I am more relaxed and can sit on the floor and bend and squat at work with the 21-year-olds. And health markers actually improved over doing lots of intense weight and cardio work.

If you look at the studies, they will tell you the following about strength training:

  1. It increases muscle mass
  2. It increases bone density~adding more muscle to your skeleton increases its load so bones are stimulated to strengthen and grow
  3. It improves strength
  4. It improves cardiovascular endurance
  5. It improves your mood

 

All of which I personally experienced. And that’s why I love it so much.

Do you strength train? What type is your favorite? Let me hear your ideas and your stories about strength workouts. And tell me your favorite way to exercise. I love hearing from you.

To The Mom Whose Child is Off to College or Work…”

 

Dear Mom of a young adult,

You are not crazy. You are not alone. And whatever you feel is so normal.

Spending hours looking at pictures of your child/children as babies and toddlers? Me too. Thinking about the time they spilled the milk…again, and you were harsh with them? Been there too.

Every parenting mistake you ever made will be fresh in your mind. You will wish a million times for do-overs. To go back and relive that one perfect day or one normal day. To hold them, breathe in their fragrance, laugh and stay up late and let the chores go. To live stress-free, playing and laughing in the park with them. To recapture for a second those sweet days of yesterday.

You’ll probably go by their room and cry…or sigh. Perhaps sit in there. Maybe close the door because seeing the empty room hurts too much.

You will wonder if it ever gets easier. And the answer, of course., is yes..and no. You will still hurt, but you get better at living with the ache. Living with the tension between being so incredibly happy for your “baby” who is starting to live her life and so terribly sad for you as a mom. And for Christian moms like me, your prayer life will improve.

So let yourself grieve. You are letting go of a huge part of your life. Talk to someone who gets it. Find a new hobby, find a new time in your life for you to try new things. Sit in the bathtub full of bubbles with a glass of wine and let the tears run down your face. Just know you are so normal. And that someone out there gets it and is praying for you. Because I am.

And as always, reach out to me if you need someone to chat. And let me know how you deal with your children growing up!

 

Warning: Reading this Blog Post Could Cause You to Nap!

We live in a world of extremes. Extreme diets, extreme exercise, extreme work schedules…which leads to extreme anger and confusion and exhaustion. And frankly, social media is a huge culprit in perpetuating this. I refuse to be one of those bloggers, people, or friends.  I’m all about being well in mind, body, and spirit. So you won’t see the terms “eat clean,”  “go big or go home,” or, my personal favorite, “suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in.” Seriously???

 

In the quest for whole-body health, we need balance. Movement is vital because, anatomy wise, we were made to move! Food is a necessity but should be about so much more than just “fueling your body.” It’s time to slow down, enjoy family or friends, and savor life with your five senses. Work is important so we spend our lives helping others and being productive (and yes, staying at home counts as work)! 🙂 But the vital link so overlooked today is rest.

 

I’m not talking about SLEEP. You’ll see plenty of articles on this necessity~although many are geared toward getting enough sleep to optimize your physical training and results…whatever that means. I’m talking about deep, peaceful relaxation. True soul rest. It’s rare and often confused with laziness.

 

Stick with me while I unravel something for you a bit. I’m sinking into some language arts and foreign language nerd talk…taken from my studies of the Bible. And even if you don’t believe a bit of that is true, hang with me because you will learn something important for living your best life.

 

The Bible is written in several languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These languages are much richer than English as they often have multiple words for what we express in only one. The word rest is one of those. In the first half of the Bible, (the Old Testament before Jesus was born), there is more than one word for rest. The one I want to highlight today was known as nuach.

 

This word means rest, relaxation, stopping work. But it also has a meaning I absolutely love: settle down or settle in. I think of my dog Tucker, pictured above, turning around multiple times to pick just the right spot to relax. He finally lies down, sighing deeply with obvious contentment. Settling down.  Or imagine getting ready for movie night. You get your favorite blanket, snack, family or friends or pet. You get comfortable. You dim the lights. You settle in.

 

We have got to stop and let the dust settle. Regularly. I would argue DAILY, even if it’s just for minutes at a time. If we don’t, we become grumpy, angry, frustrated, and isolate ourselves. Our productivity wanes and we lose our sense of purpose and joy.

So how do we rest? Find something you love to do for the sheer pleasure of it. Throw the list of goals out the window and just think of what makes you feel joy. I find this in looking back at Cheri as a kid. I loved to go outside, to read, to sing and listen to music, to daydream, color, and write in my journal. So daily I try to do one of those things for at least a few minutes. And one day per week, I take the time to do something for several hours that just makes me feel alive.

 

What makes you happy?  Shopping? Hiking? Having coffee with a friend? Drawing or painting?  Promise me you will do it. This week. Today. And drop me a line and tell me how it makes you feel.

 

As for me, I want to color with my favorite pencils and go take a short nap. What will you do?

 

 

 

Two Things I’ve Learned That Will Help You At Your Job

So, it’s funny I would write this after being employed exactly one week…following twenty-two years as a Stay-At-Homeschool-Mom! But in that short of time, working in retail, I’ve already seen two things that will almost universally help each of us perform well and enjoy our job more.

Now I realize I don’t know your workplace dynamics, etc. And there are things that are out of our control. But I’ve observed my coworkers and have talked with my managers and customers and realize that there are a couple of things we can control. And they really help. And honestly, it boils down to one thing: attitude.

You really do have something to contribute. And people really do need you there. So believe that and think about these two things.

People Bring Their Unique Stories and Personalities to their Job

Seriously, there is no one at your company, school, store, or workplace like you. That’s lived your life, had your experiences and has your personality. I have coworkers who are bubbly and extroverted, quiet, male, female, older, and younger, and all are good at what they do in their own way. So for me, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, a homeschooler, a pastor’s wife, student, and middle-aged person. I’ve lived in three different states. I’m introverted but love people. And, I’m intuitive and can often read people well. So I bring all that to the table and can share with my customers from my perspective that no one else has. You have that too with everyone you meet. So do you and do it well. You’re special.

 

People Crave Connection

Others we work with, whether in the public, our supervisors or coworkers, want connection. We are all made for relationships. And we want to be heard. Since you’re a one-of-a-kind person, you have the ability to connect with people like no one else on the planet. Seriously. The best thing we can do is know our story and listen to the story of others. Then we can connect in ways that help us meet needs. Can we always make others happy or satisfied? No, but we can try our best to connect. That makes even the difficult situations more bearable, in my opinion. So listen and try to understand a perspective that isn’t your own. It will make a big difference to you and to other people.

Honestly, I didn’t learn this in a week on the job. I’ve learned it in all of life. As a mom, a wife, a friend, student, pastor’s wife, and fellow human being. People matter. When that becomes my priority, to honor others (and I personally do this as a way of honoring God), then there is a satisfaction for me even at the end of those really hard days.

Tell me the best things you’ve learned about working and doing life with others. Leave me a comment, drop me an email, or visit my page on  Facebook.   I would love to hear your story and learn from you!

 

 

My 10-10-10 Fitness Plan for Super Busy People

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I shared a bit about my plan to stay healthy and active in a post about moving. Several people mentioned that they enjoyed reading about that concept. So I'm expanding on it a bit here so you can get some ideas about how to stay active on your busiest days.

I deeply believe there is something mental involved in taking care of our health and well-being. That mental issue is our concept of time. Most things we procrastinate on are things we label, "I don't have enough time for that."

That's why I think like in terms of ten minutes if I am procrastinating. Even at my busiest, a ten-minute window seems do-able without adding extra stress to my thinking. So that's  how I came up with a 10-10-10 plan for those times my life gets crazy. It adds up to 30 minutes of activity during my day without me even realizing it and is nicely balanced.

10-10-10 Fitness Routine

Get Strong

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For me, this is all about Pilates! (Yes, that's me mid-rollup)! I love it and will do a ten-minute routine Pilates arm routine, lower body routine, abdominal routine, total body on different days during my busy weeks. I do this the first thing in the morning so it's done and I can't procrastinate. Plus, there's something almost magical about ticking something off of my to-do list first thing (I'm a HUGE list maker). There are many strength style workouts you can do if Pilates isn't your thing (although I think everyone should do it, that's another post)! If you love lifting weights,  doing body weight work like planks, squats, and lunges,  or practicing yoga, do that. Whatever it is that taxes your muscles and helps you build some strength to get through those busy day is perfect.

 

2.   Get Moving 

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Get your blood pumping, your body moving, and your mind working.  You can walk your dog (my favorite), pop in a DVD or stream a Cardio or indoor walking workout (check out Leslie Sansone or Jessica Smith), run, do jumping jacks…heck do burpees or ballet if it's your thing. I promise you the best thing about this is how energetic and awake you feel. That's why I like to sneak this in during lunch or a break. It clears my mind and gives me a brighter outlook.

3. Get Loose

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Now, now…I mean stretching! 😁 Your body gets tight from moving, sitting, standing, lying…basically anything we do for prolonged periods of time. Our bodies are amazing and intricate and created for movement. So flexibility is crucial. This is super easy to sneak in during the evening. Almost everyone has ten minutes while watching TV. Sit down and stretch. You will love this ritual as it can relax you(especially if you do forward bends and twist your spine). Pure bliss.

There you have it. Easy and simple. And you can incorporate coworkers, spouses, kids, or friends into your routine. You will feel fantastic and will inspire others.

Tell me if you try my 10-10-10 Routine. And share your favorite ways to move and stay healthy, here or on my Facebook page also named Almond Butter Babe. I love hearing from you.

Confessions of a 50 Something YA Reader

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Okay, it's out there. I would rather read Harry Potter and The Hunger Games than Fifty Shades of Gray (I mean, yuck!) or Mary Higgins Clark. Somewhere along the way of homeschooling for the last 14 years, I continued my love affair with Children's Literature (does it get any better than Anne of  Green Gables or Charlotte's Web?) and then developed a crush on Young Adult Literature. I read the Harry Potter Series and The Hunger Games with my avid teenage readers and even ventured into Twilight land (interesting but not destined to be a classic by any means).

My two sons began reading other things I wasn't as interested in (like books on fly-fishing and gaming), but my daughter and I kept having similar tastes. We still do. Today I thought I would share a couple of series in this genre I've read and what I enjoyed about them. Who knows, maybe you'll discover a new world in books too.

The Dusk Gate Chronicles

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Breeana Putroff has created a magical world in her Dusk Gate Chronicles. You get modern-day life intersecting with medieval times in this fantasy.  Quinn Robbins is a high school girl who is smart, has a job, and two younger siblings, a mother and step-father who love her. And, she is now dating the most popular boy in high school. Yet she is intrigued by another boy, loner William Rose. After noticing that he seems to disappear once, she begins to follow him and crosses over a bridge…into another world. She can't get back for two weeks and nothing in this world is like her own. Yet, she is oddly drawn in.

There are seven books in this series and I devoured them this summer. I loved that all the characters involved, including several of William's siblings, have a richness to them and were complex, human, and believable. They were also all well-developed over the course of the seven books. I loved the intersection the two worlds and how the story progressed throughout the series. And the idea of being caught between two worlds and two sets of responsibilities, where someone will "lose", so to speak, is something so relatable to me. Definitely, give this series a look-I believe you'll love it.

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This series is by Julie Kagawa and is a bit older. It follows high school junior, Meghan Chase, as she finds out that she is destined to be part of the world of the fey, including many characters from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Meghan too is caught between two worlds, and two boys, and is drawn into intrigue and adventure. I like the world of the Fey because it's gritty and terrifying. But it's so very human too, as we can all be very self-centered and focused on "winning." I loved watching two of the Fey, in particular, come to the realization that their past lives and decisions don't have to continue to shape their futures. There is danger, war, violence, and romance in this series. If you liked the vibe of The Hunger Games,  this series may be a great match.

I love Young Adult Literature because the authors often paint characters who have flaws that are exposed in difficult situations.  I get to see growth, have set backs, do things they never thought possible. That's so much what life is like, isn't it? love being whisked away to worlds so different from my own. Fantasy encourages me to dream and think outside the box about the complexities of my own life. And it reminds me to take "the road less travelled" and embrace adventure. As a person who tends to be a homebody and crave security, I always need that reminder. 🙂

What types of books do you read? Do you like Young Adult literature like I do? Share some of your favorite books with me so I can find a new read!