1.17.2017

60 Books in 2016

In 2016, my goal was to read more books than I did in 2105.
In 2015, I read 35 books. You can see the books I read in 2015 on THIS post.
In 2016, I ended up reading 60 books!!!!!! 
I couldn't believe I read that many!
Reading is one of my FAVORITE hobbies.
Here is a recap of the books I read......
 




















Favorite Authors I discovered in 2016:
 There are 3 authors this year whose books I read for the first time this year..
I read 4 out of her 7 books, want to read more of them this year
I read all 3 of her books  & loved them all
I read both of her books & loved them both...she is coming out with a new book in February and I have already pre-ordered it.
 

Favorite Book I read in 2016: 
 This is a tough decision....I can't narrow it down to just 1 favorite book, so here are my 3 favorite books I read:

Least Favorite Books: 

Book that made me cry:
 Ummm....more than half of the books I read made me cry....too many to list.
This year I need to read happier books & ones that don't make me cry so much.
The ones that made me cry the most were....

Book that made me laugh:

Book that made me smile:
 It was so good to read another Harry Potter book, I've missed them!

Best series I read in 2016:
 This is easy....hands down the Women's Murder Club Series by James Patterson
 I started book 1 the first week of summer. 
By the end of the summer, I had read ALL 15 books in the series.
I'm slightly embarrassed by that.
But, they are SO good.
You must read them in numerical order.
And, they are based in San Francisco & the Bay Area, so that is fun.
I was so obsessed with these books that when I finished book 14 when I was in Lake Tahoe, I couldn't wait to get book 15, but I didn't have internet to buy it for my kindle on Amazon, so I went to one of the libraries in Tahoe, got myself a library card for that library and checked it out so I could read it.
That's how good this series is.
Book 16 is coming out this Spring & I can't wait!
Check out the series HERE.

Book that surprised me:
Love Mary HIggins Clark books....always surprising!

Biggest Beach/Fluff Read: 

Book I couldn't put down:
 All 15 of the Women's Murder Club Series by James Patterson
 
Most likely to recommend:
  The Women's Murder Club Series by James Patterson....you have 15 books that you get to read and all of them are great.
 
Author I want to read more from in 2017:
 
I would also LOVE to hear YOUR recommendations!
 What are your FAVORITE books of 2016?
What books do you recommend that I add to my reading list in 2017?
Can't wait to hear your suggestions & what some of your favorite books are!
  
           I can't wait to hear your book recommendations!
 I read a ton of the books you guys have suggested, so THANK YOU!
Book nerds unite :)

1.13.2017

Grammy's Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

One of my favorite recipes is my Grammy's Split Pea Soup.
Every single time we went to my Grammy's house, when we arrived there would be Split Pea Soup on the stove. It didn't matter if we were visiting her at Thanksgiving or in the summer when it was 100 degrees out....No matter what time we got there, without fail as soon as we walked in her door she would tell us to wash up and go sit down & she would serve us her famous Split Pea Soup.

This was our welcome to Grammy's house and she did this up until she was 103 years old and lived on her own. Now that she is 105, she lives in a retirement home & sadly can't cook anymore.

Because Grammy is old school (aka...born in 1911) and never used a crock pot, she would have this soup simmering on the stove for 12+ hours. 
I got Grammy's recipe from her years ago and I converted it to a Slow Cooker recipe because I LOVE using a slow cooker and I don't have time to stand at my stove for hours stirring this soup.
As you might remember, I got an Instant Pot last Fall. 
To say that I am obsessed with it is an understatement. 
You can make Grammy's Split Pea Soup in a slow cooker in 6-8 hours.
You can make Grammy's Split Pea Soup in an Instant Pot in 45 minutes!!!!!
 Amazing.
Here is what you need:

1 lb. bag of split peas
1/2 onion, diced
3 carrots
3 ribs celery
2 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled & diced
2 T minced garlic
1 bay leaf
½ T smoked paprika
¼ tsp thyme
Cracked pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable/chicken broth, plus 2 cups of water
(or 6 cups of broth, up to you!)
****Optional: A Ham Hock. Grammy ALWAYS had a ham hock in her Split Pea Soup, but if you don't have one (or if you are a vegetarian) you can still make this soup. The smoked paprika gives the smoky flavor that a Ham hock would give. Sometimes I use a ham hock, sometimes I don't, but I always use the smoked paprika!*****
Directions:
Dice the onion, carrots and celery (or if you are lazy like me......I use the mirepoix pre-diced carrot/celery/onion mix from Trader Joe's because it's already diced for you! So Easy & perfect for soups!)

Peel and dice the 2 potatoes:

Place the onion, carrots, celery, potatoes & garlic in the pressure cooker:

 Add the split peas:
 then add the bay leaf, smoked paprika, thyme & pepper
Add the 4 cups of broth & 2 cups of water (or you can add 6 cups of broth). Stir.
Secure the lid on the pressure cooker, close the steam valve, and set the cooker to high pressure for 15 minutes (Instant Pot: Manual function, set time to 15 minutes). 
After 15 minutes of high pressure, allow the cooker to release pressure naturally. 
Total cook time with coming up to pressure, cooking, and natural pressure release is less than 45 minutes.
Once the cooker returns to normal pressure, open the steam valve, open the lid, and stir the soup. 
Taste and adjust the salt or other seasonings as needed. 
Serve & Enjoy!!
 If you make this soup in a Crock Pot/Slow Cooker, then you would just add all the ingredients and cook for 6-8 hours on low, stirring every 1-2 hours.
I hope you love this soup as much as I do. It is super healthy and SO easy to make.
I make it about 2 times a month during the winter months and I eat it for my lunch.
It stores for up to a week in the fridge and reheats beautifully. 

To quote Grammy..."This soup will warm your bones"

If you aren't a fan of Split Pea Soup (I'm talking to you, Kevin) then it's okay..... I will be sharing more a lot Slow Cooker recipes that I have converted to Instant Pot recipes.
I'm having so much fun using the Instant Pot. I didn't think anything could replace my Crock Pot...boy was I wrong!
So, stay tuned & let me know what kinds of recipes you would like me to blog!
Happy Friday!

1.11.2017

10 on 10 :: January 2017

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!}
ten on ten button
Happy 10th of January! 
Here is a sneak peek into our day....it was a CRAZY rainy day here in California. 
We are in the middle of a huge rain storm which is awesome for our drought ridden state. 
What isn't good is that we are getting so much rain at once & the land isn't used to that so there have been major flooding, land slides, massive trees falling over & power outages.
Walking into school....rain is dumping!
A look at my desk....my breakfast (that I eat around 10am each day...I don't get hungry until then), my 2017 Erin Condren Planner & my cute desk calendar.
 I got a new stamp that I will use for stamping homework each day....love that I can change the date :)
After school, I picked Luke up from preschool and his shoes were soaked because his rain boots don't fit him anymore & he wore regular shoes.  Since are predicted to have a very rainy winter/Spring, he and I went to a shop downtown to get him some new rain boots.
 He is so funny to shop with...he lined up all the rainboots he was deciding between.....he picked the fire chief ones :) We also picked up some cute ones for the girls since they don't have rain boots either.

Then Luke I went home for lunch & I made a batch of my Grammy's Split Pea Soup.
 Grammy makes hers on the stove and it takes 12+ hours. I usually make it in the Slow Cooker and it takes 8+ hours. I decided to try it out in my Instant Pot....it took less than 45 minutes!!!!!!  
I could not believe it...the soup turned out perfect!!!! I will be blogging this recipe soon and I will be blogging more Instant Pot recipes because I am obsessed. 

While my soup was cooking, I got some things organized for Kate's Birthday Party.  How cute are the invites? This theme is all Kate....she came up with the theme & the colors :)
I am just now getting the invites out & her birthday is in less than 2 weeks. Yikes!!!
This always happens to me...her birthday sneaks up on me because of Christmas & New Years...then bam! Her birthday! You would think that after 10 (!!!!!!) years I would remember to get the invites out sooner. I always get invites out 3-4 weeks ahead of time...except for Kate's. One of these years I will learn. LOL!
 

I also got caught up on some R+F stuff. If you missed my bulk eye cream order, it's not too late! I ordered some extra eye creams, so if you want one, it's $60 (I am covering tax & shipping) Send me an email or leave me a comment! First come, first serve!
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com
 Then it was time to pick up the girls from school, so Luke and I drove over in the rain to get them and we went straight to gymnastics for Kate. (I signed both girls up, but Claire is still on the wait list for her age group)
 The girls have been asking for months to do gymnastics, so now that soccer (and the holidays) are over, I said they can do gymnastics. I have a pretty firm "one sport" at a time rule. In years past we have had softball & swimming overlap or soccer & dance overlap & it's just too much with 3 kids and all their activities, so for now, 1 activity per kid at a time so that we aren't so "busy"

  After gymnastics, it was still dumping rain, so we went to check out the creek near our house since it was looking full from all the rain.... This creek is usually 2 inches deep and about 2-3 feet wide.
  Can you believe it?!?!? I have never seen it like this before. It was like a raging river. People were getting sandbags ready to go. I really hope it doesn't flood...we have rain in the forecast until tomorrow night!

The kids got soaked from playing in the rain so then it was baths, dinner, books & bedtime.
Then, I settled down with some tea & watched This is Us.
 Between Obama's speech thanking Michelle & his daughters and then watching "This is 
Us"....I cried all the tears last night!!!
 
 It was such a fun 10th...definitely one that I will remember because of all the crazy rain. 
I always look forward to documenting the 10th of each month & I love looking back on them each month to see what we did in previous years on that day!

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