Reading Challenge Update and Some Random Things I Like Right Now

Yesterday’s blog was a bit depressing – so I thought today I’d lighten the mood a bit and give you an update on how my self-imposed reading challenge is going.  I’m also going to throw in some links to few things I’ve found lately that have made me think, smile, and/or cry. Hope you enjoy!

Book Challenge

As you may remember, this year I challenged myself to read 40 books. I set up my challenge on Goodreads – and I am happy to report, I have completed 21 of 40 books thus far in 2018!  It is all very exciting!  Only 19 books left and I’m feeling pretty confident in my ability and resolve to accomplish this goal.

Here are a couple books that I really enjoyed and a couple sentences to describe them.  These two books are what I consider good “summer” reading – so if you are interested in a quick, light and enjoyable way to spend some summer reading time, you might check them out.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

Cover art

Three generations. Seven days. One big secret.

I found this to be a fun and heart warming story about family secrets and how they impact not only the ones keeping the secrets but also those from whom the secrets are kept.  A character study of 3 generations of women in a tight-knit family all of whom have their own damage, heartbreak and ultimate redemption.

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg


I found this to be thoroughly charming.  This author has also written a book called Delancy about her and her husband’s adventure to open a pizza restaurant in Seattle.  It is delightful as well.  Food memoirs just make me happy.  Check this out if you are hungry for a good story and some good food!

Ok, so that’s the book part.  Here are a few other recommendations for things I’ve come across lately:


Set It Up on Netflix

Image result for set it upIn the mood for a good romantic comedy?  Check this movie out. It was cute and funny and light and airy and well Taye Diggs is in it – so that’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon!  I really enjoyed this movie, and it made think that it has been a LONG time since a decent rom-com has been out.  And that is just a shame!


How I Built This

Image result for how I built this

“How I Built This is an American podcast about “innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the stories behind the movements they built” produced by NPR.”

Talk about inspiring!  I stumbled across this when I heard it referenced on NPR after the passing of Kate Spade (she and her husband are featured in a episode a couple years ago) and went to find it immediately.  I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not having known about it earlier – but that simply means I have a lot of listening to look forward to! There are interviews with all types of people from the inventor of Spanx to the founder of Starbucks and a ton in between.  Episodes are from 30 – 60 min long and so well done.  Highly motivational and idea sparking.  I thoroughly recommend.

The RFK Tapes


“From the creators of ​Crimetown​ and Cadence13, this is ​The RFK Tapes—an audio documentary series that takes a new look at the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. For the past fifty years, authorities have claimed that the case was open and shut. Sirhan Sirhan was captured at the scene, gun in hand. He admitted to the crime and is serving a life sentence. But some say there’s evidence of a larger conspiracy.”

I’m a sucker for a conspiracy theory and all things Kennedy – so this hits a lot of my “must listen” boxes. Crimetown is another favorite podcast of mine, so I had high hopes it would be good – they were fulfilled (so far).  This is a 10-part documentary podcast and so far there have been 4 episodes released, but I’m loving it.

TV Show:


Image result for younger

“Forty-year-old Liza (Sutton Foster) passes herself off as 26 to land a job — and now, she has to make sure no one discovers her secret.”

I recommend this with trepidation – because there are some adult themes in it, but it is set in the book publishing world and reminds me a bit of Melrose place without the cheesiness of the 90s mixed with Sex in the City without the trashiness of HBO.  All previous seasons (1-4) are available on Hulu and season 5 just started a couple of weeks ago.  Tuesday nights on TVLand.


Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole (don’t judge)

Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole- simple, delicious, and hearty. Perfect for a weeknight dinner!

  • 2 pounds extra lean ground beef, browned (I brown with garlic and a bit of diced onion and black pepper for taste)
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 8 oz tub of sour cream
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or more if you like more cheese)
  • 1 package of frozen tater tots
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with cooking spray.
  3. Layer the beef of the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a small bow, mix the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Then spread on top of the beef.
  5. Layer the cheese on top of the sour cream mixture.
  6. Layer the tater tots on top of the cheddar.
  7. Bake covered for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes.
  8. Serve with ketchup and mustard for that cheeseburger taste!

This is SO not healthy, but oh so VERY good.  It has all the things you shouldn’t love but just can’t help yourself.  It is on a pretty steady rotation in my house.  Sometimes I make a salad as a side – just to make myself feel less guilty.


That’s all for today.  I hope you are having a fun summer so far!

See ya soon!


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Mommy, Historian, Wannabe Writer.

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