july reading list


Reading for pleasure is something I looked forward to all of grad school. I couldn't wait to dive into my stacks and stacks of books, everything from All of the Light We Cannot See to A Year Without Pants to Station Eleven to Yes, Please (no, I still haven't finished it). I was going to tear through book after book, catching up on years of reading.

Yeah…that didn't happen. I've finished two books in six months. I read for pleasure more in my last semester of grad school than I have since graduating. I blame Netflix. Ask me how many shows I've watched since December 13th.

I've decided to create a reading list for each month. I'm giving myself three options, and the goal is to finish two. At the beginning of the next month, I'll publish my reviews and list my options for that month. I'll get through my stash of unread books (my splurge in life) and maybe even get to the point where I can actually use my library card without feeling guilty. And I'll feel super productive if I manage to finish all three in one month.

Feel free to follow along with reading the books. It'll be like an informal book club! 

For July, I'm looking at these three books:

  1. Finish Yes, Please (I'm only two chapters in)
  2. Finish Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I'm a third of the way through it)
  3. Station Eleven

Have you read any of these books? What am I in store for? Let me know in the comments!

changing your definition of success


 Photo source: Arriane Serafico


I was listening to episode 53 of Elise Cripe's podcast one day about what success means. I'm not what it was, but I really resonated with the episode and the discussion about how your vision of success changes over time. Driving though farm country makes me think too much.

Ten years ago, I thought I would be making major bucks working as an engineer at NASA , traveling the world as a renowned international journalist, or kicking Russian butt in the CIA. Seriously, those were my three careers in high school and I totally thought I would have achieved all of my major career goals by 27 (ok, let's say 30 to give my younger self some credit). The common theme between them, besides being pretty difficult to obtain by 27, is that I always defined "success" by how awesome my future career would be.

And then a recession and adulthood hit and changed how I would view success.

I graduated college in 2010, in Florida no less. I thought I would have a full-time, high-paying job the day I graduated with my international studies degree (let's laugh at that), but I didn't have any job for six months after graduation. When I did find a job, it was tutoring math part-time in a high school. For someone who was so career-goal-oriented, this was a huge blow. Here I was, stuck in the middle of a recession not having enough experience to land even a secretarial job. Recessions suck. I know that first hand now. Every day I had to remind myself that I was pretty successful, despite the tough times going on. I was in grad school studying something I loved AND I was making some income on a reliable basis. In 2010, that was pretty damn successful for a social science grad who had made her first round of career decisions while living through a boom time. They weren't smart, but how is a 17 year-old in 2005 supposed to know that?

As I progressed through the early stages of adulthood I saw my ideas of success change from career-oriented to life-oriented. I settled into a career and into a stable relationship. I started wanting more than just the cool-sounding job title. Success for me looks so different than it did in 2005. In the short-term, success means finally getting that k2tog tbl stitch to work or to nail the cooking time on that rack of lamb. In the long-term, it means being able to contribute for my family. Yes, this is all a natural part of adulting, but coming of age during that recession really taught me to go with the flow and enjoy the small successes in life.

I still want to be a successful person (who doesn't?), but my vision is less about being a rock star and more about just being happy.

How has your idea of success changed over time? Let me know in the comments below!

sweet potato + black bean breakfast bowl


Who loves a hearty, savory breakfast? I do! I will take a giant bowl of eggs and beans over sweet carbs any day.

I created this the morning after my nasal surgery. I was starving after not really eating anything the day before, but I needed something that would be easy to chew. Side note: it's amazing how sore a mouth gets after nasal surgery.


I simmered canned black beans and sweet potato slices in chicken broth with cumin and garlic until everything thickened up. Really, that's the base. I cooked an egg over easy (and in a perfect triangle shape somehow) and topped everything with verde sauce, cilantro, and feta cheese. Super easy, super delicious.

Do you have any savory breakfast bowls that you love? Let me know in the comments!

crispy kale + bacon pizza


Let's talk about a favorite food today! I love pizza, and it's always better when it's made at home. Ok…the dough isn't homemade for us. We're lucky to have a good pre-made dough available at the grocery store for a great price. It's so easy to pick up a ball of dough on the way home for a fast, great homemade meal.

For this pizza, I bake kale chips and cook some bacon to make something oddly delicious. I start by tossing torn kale with olive oil and garlic salt. Spread the kale on a cookie sheet in a single layer at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. The kale shouldn't be crispy yet, but close to that. While the kale bakes, render the fat from 2-3 slices of bacon. Drain the bacon and assemble the pizza with your cheese of choice. Feta makes an awesome addition to classic mozzarella. 

I bake my pizza at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, depending on how thin I roll my crust that day. I don't use a pizza peel or stone, but if you do follow the directions for your set-up.

What are your favorite pizza toppings? Do you have any secrets to the perfect homemade pizza? Let's talk in the comments!


Creativity books

I'm heading out to Portland, OR for an economic and community researchers conference this week. I haven't lined up anything regular for posts this week and I may be slow to respond to comments. 

See you guys next Monday!

feeling so excited about my trip this week, but sad to leave Johnny for so long

wishing that Portland wasn't in the middle of a heat wave this week. I'm leaving 90* temperatures, so I really do not want to face the same when I get all the way to Oregon

seriously obsessed with outlining e-course content

reading Creative Confidence and The Creative Habit. Next up: Show Your Work and Creative Block

eating not so good again. I need to start cooking at home more when I get back. Bonus: content fodder

drinking a terribly sugary frappuchino creation because I can

enjoying one more day off at home before leaving

listening to all the creative entrepreneur podcasts (ask me for recommendations if you're interested)

planning out all of my free time tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday morning like a crazy person (Powell's, Voodoo Doughnuts, Stumptown Roasters, all the hipster restaurants!)

looking ahead to later this month for certain reasons

loving our new couch and recliner so, so much

cooking not so much. Maybe tacos tonight? #lazy

appreciating how loving Johnny is and how patient he is dealing with the conference trip

thinking about spending my day off knocking out future posts

looking for a cheap place to print 200+ pictures (mostly 4X6, but some 4X4 too)

wondering how tonight's hockey game will go

watching all the people at Starbucks on a Monday morning. How are this many people here? It's a work day (says the girl who took the day off and is here)

celebrating one year on the blog