What I'm Into Right Now (August 2018)

bookgirl.jpg

I'm a bit late with my monthly "what I'm into" post because of vacation but here we are, in the midst of September already! I'm so ready for cooler weather, apples picking, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin baked goods of all sorts!

Watching:
While on vacation we watched Jumanji: Welcome to the Junglewhich was quite fun! Otherwise, we've just been watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix because it's short and funny (and we love Ron Swanson).

Listening:
I just finished my latest Flavia de Luce novel on audio and the kids and I are listening to The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings together for our homeschool bookclub. I remember absolutely loving that book when I was younger.

Reading:
I just finished Sarah Clarkson's delightful and inspiring Book Girl and added some good books on my to-read list for fall. Most of them are older books, as opposed to newer, and I can't wait to dive into some Elizabeth Goudge and Rumer Godden. Over vacation I was looking for a fast-paced thriller and really loved The Likeness by Tana French. The premise was on the unbelievable side, but I could suspend belief because the story was so intriguing.

I’m also reading Not By Sight by Jon Bloom. I’m reading it as a devotional—reading the scripture he notes at the beginning, then reading the short chapter that corresponds each morning. The writing is fresh and vivid, breathing life into familiar stories.

Eating:
These Smashed Sweet Potatoes were so delicious as were a batch of Pumpkin Spice Granola. I also made a batch of our favorite Quinoa Muffins (I use cranberries) for breakfast/snacks this week. They are tasty with a hint of sweetness and so filling!

What are YOU into right now?

What I'm Into Right Now (July 2018)

bookish.jpg

July is almost over (can you believe it!) and since I wasn't able to post in June I have a nice round up of favorite things for you this month.

Watching:

We've been watching When Calls the Heart for all five seasons as a family because it's a clean show the kids enjoy. Kind of reminds me of Christy or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, remember those? Season five, however, ended in a very un-Hallmark manner with a shocker that left the kids in tears! What!?! Definitely will be interested in what plays out next season!

I still am enjoying Father Brown on Netflix. It's my laundry-folding show and it's a comfort that the bad guys are always caught and the mysteries are tidily solved each episode.

Listening:

I've become a Patron of Cindy Rollins' podcast, The Mason Jar and am enjoying the exclusive content from her site. I am literally taking notes, the content is just that good.

Also, I just finished the fourth book in Alan Bradley's charming Flavia de Luce series. I adore them on audio. I don't know anyone else personally who has read them, however Cindy Rollins and Jen Hatmaker are fans. I was really happy to hear Jen rave about them on a recent episode of What Should I Read Next. These books really need more people to discover them!

Reading:

I've read some good books lately, one of my favorites was this psychological thriller I Found You. Caveats include strong language and an especially icky assault scene, but overall I just couldn't put it down. Can't wait to try more of her books. A Murder for the Books has been a fun cozy type of mystery. Think a Hallmark movie in book form, so at times, it verges on cheesy, but a nice summer-type of read.

Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And 8 Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt was one of the best parenting books I've ever read. Seriously, there's not many more books you need to read besides this one. It was my first introduction to Leslie Leyland Fields, but I definitely plan to read more of her work!

I picked two books this summer to be my "professional development" to help me become a better homeschool parent to my kids. The first title, The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain has been hugely helpful and encouraging as I look to more year helping the boys thrive not only in spite of, but because of, their dyslexia. The other is Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass which I'm busy highlighting. It will be helpful in not only our narrations at home, but as I teach a Writing and Rhetoric class at our local co-op.

Eating:

I made these Stuffed Sweet Peppers (by one of my favorite Instagrammers) for a party and man, were they delish! Also easy, which is always a plus. The other night we also tried these Korean BBQ Burritos which were quite tasty and had a unique blend of flavors.

What are YOU into right now?

What I'm Into Right Now (May 2018)

IMG_9192.JPG

Today I'm sharing what I've been into this month. My reading slump in fiction kind of continues, but everything else was great!

Watch:
We watched a new Agatha Christie adaptation of the novel The Crooked House on Amazon Prime. I must admit at first it was a bit of a snooze, maybe the first twenty minutes or so. I might have been tempted to give up, if it wasn't that I knew Agatha Christie would deliver. And she sure did! The end was quite a shock as you figure out what's about to happen! 

Listen:
Ever since we saw The Greatest Showman we've been listening to the soundtrack. We all love it. It's so cute to listen to Ava sing, "every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head . . . "

Read:
Since my last post I've read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. Both were "meh" to me. The writing was great by Towles and the concept of the story was interesting by Hogan but I just couldn't love the characters or get caught up in the story. I am listening to the next Flavia mystery on audio, however, and am enjoying it greatly! I'm really loving the characters and setting in this series and the author really captures the time period. I'm sure a lot of research goes into these books but it never feels that way. 

Eat:
We've been eating some really yummy stuff. A friend texted me this recipe for a white pizza and we've made it twice. These Greek Lamb Meatballs with Green Goddess Dressing were amazing! I used ground beef instead of lamb and couscous and got my Green Goddess Dressing from Trader Joe's. Also, strangely enough while getting oral laser surgery done the doctor's office had the Pioneer Woman's show on and she made these Cherry Pie Cookie Bars while my mouth was open and numb. They also made my mouth water and immediately went home and bookmarked the recipe and later made it. It was such a easy but delicious recipe that can easily feed a crowd. The orange zest really makes it!

Also, while at Trader Joe's I picked up a bar of their Cold Brew Coffee Chocolate Bar. Oh my, is it ever good! I've also been paging through Joanna Gaines' new cookbook Magnolia Table. So far we've only made her overnight French Toast but it was hands down the best overnight french toast I've made. Nice and crunchy on top. Delicious and fed us for two mornings. With my crowd, that's 

What have YOU been into lately?

Finding Our Place | Grace Table

Have you heard of Grace Table? It's a beautiful website that focuses on food, faith and community. I'm privileged to be sharing there this week and I hope you will check it out.

 Image Credit: Grace Table

Image Credit: Grace Table

It was just a few weeks before Thanksgiving and we didn’t have a table.

Well, technically we did have table. An old one we had bought through Craig’s List that fit the small space in our old house perfectly. It was distressed cream and snuggly seated six.

But we’d moved into a blessing: a spacious house that boasted a huge dining room. We were hosting our first Thanksgiving and were expecting eight guests to add to our family of five. We didn’t have enough room around the table for everyone to have a seat.

We wanted our first official holiday hosting experience in our new home to be welcoming. I don’t think we were motivated to impress, but instead to nourish. We wanted everyone to have space, to find their place.

Continue reading over at Grace Table.

Lazy Day Duff

 Danielle Ayers Jones Lazy Day Duff

Summer wouldn't be summer without making my grandmother's Lazy Day Duff.

I used to always make it with wine berries picked from the local fields but now they are not as accessible for me. It's also perfect to make with blueberries or blackberries. And it must be eaten with vanilla ice cream, although I guess whipped cream would also do.

The great thing about it is it’s SO easy and uses ingredients you should be able to easily find in your pantry.

Enjoy!

Lazy Day Duff

1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/8 salt
2/3 cup milk
2 cups sweetened fruit or berries

Melt butter in a 8 in. baking pan. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, stirring until just blended. Spoon over butter. Do not stir. Pour berries or fruit over batter. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yes, it’s really that simple.

What I'm Into Right Now (June 2017)

Summer is in full swing around here! The days have been pleasantly warm with not too much heat and humidity so often experienced here on the East Coast. We've been enjoying swimming lessons, playdates, and outdoor movies. Staying up late and lazy mornings are our summer vibe.

 What i'm into right now by Danielle Ayers jones

Listening:
I listened to Clare Mackintosh's I Let You Go since my last post. Wow, what a ride--and the end! Totally implausible, but hey, the book was completely suspenseful and entertaining if you like a suspenseful crime thriller.

Otherwise, I'm just keeping up with my podcasts and totally excited for Constitutional to start up. I absolutely loved Presidential. In such a stressful election year it gave me such perspective and hope for the future. Also, it reminded me how far we've come as a nation and that there's certainly been more historically contentious campaigns than we just experienced, like this one. Basically, the podcast is a mini history of America through the lens of the American presidency. Super fascinating to this history buff! So I can't wait until Constitutional begins.

Reading:
I'm reading too many books right now! I finished up The Brontë Plot because I was looking for something fun and breezy, but it was a bit of a let down. I've moved onto the historical fiction tale of the Hidenburg in Flight of Dreams and the biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings. I'm also reading Eighty Days, which is the story of Nellie Bly's race around the world but I'm seriously annoyed by the small font in this book, what was the designer/publisher thinking? Hopefully I can get used to it because I love Nellie Bly!

Watching:
A new season of Grantchester is back on Masterpiece, so you know where I am on Sunday nights! Anyone ever try the books this series is based on?

Eating:
We went to a friend's for dinner and she made these. My kids couldn't get enough of them. And these are kids who usually won't eat potatoes at all! I made this for dessert. Ohmygoodness, creamy summer minty chocolate! And my new summer pasta salad is definitely this tortellini yumminess.

What are you into right now?

What I'm Into Right Now (Feb 2017)

Listening:
I've discovered two new podcasts that have been helping me with Instagram and writing. Hashtag Authentic has been a fascinating look at how to be strategic as a creative on Instagram and is hosted by the delightful Sara Tasker. I've enjoyed her guests too, like Philippa Stanton, who I've followed for some time. Check out her gorgeous feed!

The second show is the Ann Kroeker Writing Coach podcast. First, I love the format. The podcasts run 5-7 minutes but are jam packed with encouragement and information. It's a real boost to my writing life.

Watching:
Josh and I are loving Hinterland. First of all, it's set in beautiful and rugged Wales. Since one side of Josh's family are originally from the Welsh motherland he has always wanted to visit. The episodes are long--movie length, so it's nice on a Friday night. The pace is a slow build. Lots of time to develop characters and Richard Harrington (also of Poldark and Lark Rise to Candleford) is excellent. 

We're watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix as a family. I never read the books, but my youngest sister loved them. It's a bit scary at times for the kids but so smart, witty, darkly funny, and packed with wonderful actors. 

Reading:
I'm slogging my way through The Nightingale. Yes, shoving my way through. All my friends give it a good many stars on Goodreads and it was recommended and loved by so many who have the same taste in literature as I do, but I'm just forcing my way through it. Sorry to those of you who loved it. I hope the payoff is worth it. Once I'm done I'll post a review on Goodreads.

The kids and I are reading Listening for Lions which we are LOVING. Also listening to Nim's Island on audio, which is just as fun and delightful as the movie.

Eating:
I've been getting lots of menu-planning inspiration from Megan's blog lately. She does a Menu Monday series I never miss. Our most recent win was Garlic Butter Pasta with Herbed Pork Bolognese. Just go make it. OHMYGOODNESS! It was incredible! The noodles creamy, the meat and sauce flavorful, the kale crispy and salty on top. We will be making it again and again! It felt like I was eating in a restaurant. 

What have you been loving?

Smoothie Favorites

About a year ago our blender died. I always swore I'd buy a Vitamix next. But in the end we didn't have the funds for such a large purchase so I went with something way more powerful than my original blender but not as expensive as a Vitamix: The Ninja Professional Blender

I couldn't be happier with our purchase. It blends everything I've tried with ease and has a nine-cup capacity. I no longer have to make smoothies in "batches." Although a Vitamix has lots of options and would have been great, the truth is I really mainly use a blender for smoothies, so my Ninja has been perfect for this. 

I've missed smoothies, and so have the kids! They are a cool treat in the summer and in the winter help us get our veggies to fight colds and sickness. My boys are terrible vegetable eaters, so also, it makes me feel good to know when we make green smoothies they are getting a powerful helping of spinach or kale--and with no complaints!

Some of our favorite green smoothies are the creamy Coconutty Green Smoothie, and the Green Banana Blueberry Smoothie. My daughter loves Strawberry Peach Smoothies and I'm partial to this Peanut Butter Banana & Oatmeal smoothie.

Are you a smoothie maker? Drop your favorites into the comment section!

What I'm Into Right Now (Jan 2017)

Listening:
Lilac Girls on Overdrive. The readers are excellent (there's three different ones for each of the main story threads) and it is gripping thus far. 

Watching:
Paranoid on Netflix
We found a winner with Paranoid! It's my favorite type of crime drama: heavy on the suspense, not heavy on explicit violence. Probably one of my favorite crime series since Broadchurch. The Brits know how to do it!

I'm also enjoying Masterpiece Theater's Victoria. It's not as good as The Crown, for sure, (comparisons can't help to be made) but I find Victoria's reign interesting, especially the early years, so I can't help but find it appealing. 

Reading:
Besides listening to Lilac Girls I'm also reading The Nightingale after so many friends who have similar reading tastes recommended it. I'm not sure why I'm doing two books set in W.W. II right now though, that probably wasn't wise.

I also bought myself an issue of Taproot magazine. I've wanted to read an issue for a long time and it is inspiring!

Eating:
Our blender broke a long time ago and I swore I'd buy a Vitamix the next time my blender went bust. However, our budget didn't allow it so I went with this Ninja. However, it's just awesome! We are back to enjoying green smoothies, trying to stay healthy this winter while everyone around us seems to get sick. My boys are TERRIBLE veggie eaters (the girls love their greens) so it's a way for me to have them get a nutritious dose of spinach in them each day. This Green Banana Blueberry Smoothie is our current fave.

And this crab soup was easy and delicious.

What have you been into lately?

Community and Reconciliation

Despite my website being "down" I've still be sharing stories.

The first was a deeply personal story that I wrote for Grace Table's series called The Hospitality of Reconciliation. Grace Table is a beautiful website I hope you will check out if you are unfamiliar with it.

My story was called The Bitter and the Sweet and offers the hope of healing in family relationships. It is a reminder that "perhaps it's never too late to bind up old wounds. To start the work of healing them. To not let past generations of bitterness become our own. There will be scars, but maybe that's okay too."

 Image source: Grace Table

Image source: Grace Table

The second story was for For the Family and is about my attempt to create community in my own back yard. So many of us crave more connection with other people but don't know where to find it. The thing is, we will often find others desire the same thing we do, it just takes someone taking the initiative to do the inviting.

Creating Community Right Where You Are is about how I learned to take the initiative and not wait for perfect.

What ways do you find yourself creating community? I'd love to hear!

 Image source: For the Family

Image source: For the Family