Monthly Archives: August 2017

in the library

if you loved Practical Magic

August 7, 2017


If you ever had the pleasure of picking up the book Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, you’ll be happy to know that she has published a prequel to the story we first fell in love with. I don’t know too much about The Rules of Magic, except that it is the story of the Aunts as younger women and you know that a book about Jet and Fran is bound to be an adventure. It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon!

In the meantime, you should pick up these titles that have a similar feel about them that I think you’ll enjoy…

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

I finished this book on my kindle in one fell swoop on my day off and then promptly bought a physical copy of the book. The Sparrow Sisters was impossible to put down, not even for a bathroom break. It is about three sisters, and in this story Ellen Herrick has woven a magical piece about love, life, and sisterhood. The scenes are set off the coast of New England, and the words come to life as the author pulls you into the narrative, letting you coast along as you take in the sights, scents, and habits of these beloved characters. On the surface it is a tale of the possibility of witches; ultimately it is about loss and discovery, unlikely friendship, and the unstoppable force women can become in the face of injustice.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I found this little gem quite by accident at a library book sale a few years back.  Garden Spells is written in the same vein as The Sparrow Sisters and Practical Magic. It’s the story of the Waverley Sisters, and a rather peculiar apple tree they have growing in the garden of their ancestral home in North Carolina. The eldest sister, Claire, a successful caterer,  weaves her magic in the kitchen by preparing special dishes made from her enchanted herbs and flowers, and whose existence and abilities are at once welcomed and shunned by the townspeople. Claire’s perfectly sculpted life is suddenly upended by the homecoming of her younger sister, Sydney, who brings with her a young daughter and a tumultuous secret, and who sets in motion a series of events that will leave the people in town questioning these women and their strange gifts, and the sisters struggling to make sense of their legacy.

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen by Dana Velden

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen is 2 parts story and 1 part recipe book. Woven in with the recipes is a narrative that becomes less about the mechanics of cooking and more about enjoying what you do in the kitchen. What this book taught me is that cooking, instead of becoming a chore that I have to do, can become a daily ritual that I want to do.  I believe the kitchen is the heart of the house, and I spend a lot of my time in mine, but I tend to rush through every step as I try to finish work as fast as possible. What results is soup that is too peppery because I didn’t bother to measure, vegetables that aren’t uniform in size and shape, or chicken that is dry because I left it too long in the oven.  I did all of these things and more before a good friend of mine recommended this to me. Nowadays, utilizing the wisdom in this book, I take more time in preparing food for myself and my husband. I put on some music, my apron, I sharpen my knives, and I fall into a rhythm.  Whether I’m making a recipe to the letter or adding my own spin and pizzazz, I no longer worry about how long it’s taking me. There is no need to rush from point A to point B anymore; I know I’ll get there eventually.  I now enjoy every little step necessary for me to take in order to create delicious food. I keep a bowl of lemons on my counter now, as per the author’s advice that there is always something you can use a lemon for (try it out, because it’s true!). This book isn’t about working over the stove, morning, noon, and night, but rather finding the intrinsic joy and tranquility that can be unveiled through simple acts of repetition.


in the home

fall 2017 wellness contract

August 4, 2017

Wellness Contract

With the new school year right around the corner, it’s time for me to take a beat and start thinking more intentionally about my self care. Two years ago, I shared with you my first wellness contract, one that I developed right before starting my first year of teaching. With my third year about to begin, an intern (student teacher) on board, and a seven month old growing like the weeds, it’s time for a wellness refresh!

My previous wellness contract was very specific, with several specifics within several categories. This time around, I really need simplicity, so I’m keeping it to just one mantra for each area of my life.


Personal: Act the Way I Want to Feel–a reminder from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project that my attitude has a huge influence on my feelings about myself and the outcome of my day.

Professional: Don’t Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good–a reminder that most of the time, the things I do in my classroom or make for my classroom are good enough, even if they’re not perfectly organized or perfectly developed. (Another gem from Gretchen.)

Family: The Days are Long But the Years are Short–a reminder that our life is lived in the day-to-day tasks we often find mundane, but that when my family is grown, I’ll look back on this time longingly. (Yep, from The Happiness Project again. Literally my favorite book).

Creative: One Idea in Action is Worth a Hundred on Deck–a reminder from Elise Blaha Cripe to focus one idea, goal, or project at a time.

Fitness: Any Movement is Better than None–a reminder that swimming with Sonja at her swimming lessons, dancing with her before dinner, or taking her on a nightly walk are totally legit forms of exercise.

Friends: Friends Don’t Care…–a reminder that friends don’t care if your house is clean, if your hair is done, or if your baby is still in their pajamas. Just call them…they’ll still hang out with you.

I’m posting this on my bulletin board at work, and on my fridge at home.

What would be on your Wellness Contract for fall?


photo from Death to the Stock Photo