Monthly Mentionables {February}

Books, Recipes, & Articles in February

Though I joined the Smartphone World almost two years ago, it's taken awhile for me to figure out exactly how to use it in the most useful, least annoying way.  I'm still learning, and as you'll see from some of the articles listed, I've begun to wonder if the line is beginning to blur between me controlling IT and IT controlling me...but that's for another day and post.  That said, there is a lot that has enriched my life this month that I wanted to share with you and I'd love to hear of any related resources you have found this month.  Just leave a comment below the post!  Also I'm attempting to figure out Twitter, so if you want to follow me, you can find me here.  So far, I mostly feel like a schoolgirl looking in while the cool kids chat ;-) 

For what it's worth, this is what I found to be "mentionable" in February: 

Books (my goal is to read two a month, so done and done)
Beautiful Ruins: A Novel, by Jess Walter
Read this book to the end and you'll find yourself in tears--most likely in a public setting, because, of course.  The story shifts between present day and the 1940's to show how the lives of several individuals intertwine.  The characters are fascinating, but also believable.  My husband and I loved the insider perspective on the entertainment industry. 

Favorite quote:  "There are only two good outcomes for a quest like this, the hope of the serendipitous savant--sail for Asia and stumble on America--and the hope of scarecrows and tin men:  that you find out you had the thing you sought all along" (p. 284).

Looming Transitions, by Amy Young
Written for those either preparing to go abroad or returning home, I actually found so much of this book to be applicable to any of life's transitions.  You can read my review of Looming Transitions here, but this was probably my favorite quote (which I mentioned in my post "Motherhood and the Big Picture"): 
"This transition will not become of the sum of your life...It's natural for people to mark things in terms of before or after events: graduation, marriage, a certain job, a baby, a painful breakup, a big move, or a serious health issue. But those events don't become the story. They become a page in the story or possibly the beginning of a new chapter. They join a plot larger than the transition each one creates. Part of staying fertile, then, involves reminding yourself of of the bigger picture--the bigger story--that came before and will live on after it" (pg. 37).

I haven't actually used this yet, but ThredUp is an online thrift store/consignment shop that you can buy from and sell to.  The great part about it is that unlike a real thrift store, you can do specific searches for exactly what you need.  Lately, I've been thinking more about possibly buying all of our clothing second hand (though I haven't actually made the commitment yet...), so this sounds like a great way to shop without having to go to a ton of stores.

Circle (with Disney)
I first heard about this from the podcast I listen to, Sorta Awesome.  Though my kids are still young, this sounds like an amazing way for parents to keep track of all the devices in the house.  From the site:  "Manage all of your home’s connected devices. With Circle, parents can filter content, limit screen time and set a bedtime for every device in the home."  It costs $99, but the downside is that it's only for Apple.
This is a Christian radio directory that a friend told me about where you can listen to sermons from hundreds of different people all in "one place."

The 30 Second Bible Series
This is the introduction straight from the site:  "The #30SecondBible series features dozens of voices reflecting on the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, you will hear summaries of each book and reflections on the good news they contain. Follow along each day to hear progressive and liberal voices claiming the Bible as book that they know and love. This is the Bible for busy people, thirty seconds at a time."  A great resource if you have limited time!

6 Recipes I Tried This Month:
We've been trying to be more intentional about having people over (thus the lack of T.V. or movie recommendations this month), so it helped me to stay inspired to try out some new recipes.  Here's my take on the ones I tried (note that I didn't necessarily LOVE all of these).

1. Eggs Benedict Casserole (Chew Out Loud)
This was amazing.  A woman brought this to our Bible study and blew us all away.  Just know that the cooking time takes longer than the recipe states and you should probably let it sit for about 10 or 15 minutes after you cook it, thus avoiding the situation I found myself in with 8 of my family members trying to get out the door and waiting on a liquidy casserole, resulting in plan B, bagels;-(

2. Sweet Potato and Green Rice Burrito Bowls (Cookie + Kate)
Though I used butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, this turned out really great.  My only problem was that it took longer than I expected and my kids didn't want to eat green rice.  So sad.

3. Healthy Mexican Casserole (Pinch of Yum)
If I make this again, I will definitely add some kind of meat because it seemed to be missing something.  Other than that, it was very colorful and tasted good (enough) and we had lots of leftovers for lunches.

4. Spicy Fish Taco Bowls (Pinch of Yum)
The fish in this was ah-MA-zing.  Yum.  Pan fried crispy and slightly spicy, it was so delicious.  The slaw was okay, though I made the mistake of trying to put the cabbage into the food processor instead of chopping it, so it had a strange consistency.  And we noticed that the slaw had a bad odor the next day, though it still tasted fine.  But other than that, I'll be making this again.

5. Easy Crockpot Carnitas (Pinch of Yum)
I made this for a family of 6 who came over for dinner and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  It didn't seem like enough to just have the meat and tortillas, so I combined it with the Sweet Corn and Black Bean Tacos I made last month (from Cookie + Kate) and it was just perfect.  Plus, it makes your house smell great all day long as it's cooking up in the crock pot!

6. Creamy Chicken & Quinoa Broccoli Casserole  (Pinch of Yum)
This was probably my least favorite new recipe this month.  I didn't like the texture of the quinoa in the casserole and it had kind of a strange BBQ flavor that clashed with the other ingredients.  If I try this again, I may replace the quinoa with rice instead.

7 Articles from the Web:
1. A Stay-at-Home Parent is not a 'Luxury,' by Allison B. Carter, The New York Times

"I am not here to argue who works harder: a working mother or a stay-at-home mother. I stand firm on my belief that it is hard for everyone. What goads me are the financial and lifestyle implications this statement carries."

2. For all the 'World-Changers' Now Driving a Mini-Van , by Ashley Hales, The Mudroom

"But what if “vocation” is not booming? What if vocation is small?
And what if, “calling” is actually doing something very tiny, so miniscule that no one even sees? What then? Is it still valuable?"

3. How I Quit My Smartphone Addiction and Really Started Living, by Jenna Woginrich, The Guardian

"I’ve been clean a year and a half now, and I’m doing fine. I get plenty of work, I don’t miss invitations, and I’m no longer scared of my own thoughts. These are not small victories in a world where constant communication isn’t just a convenient accessory – it’s a second skin."

4. I'm White, but I Married the Son of a Black History Icon--and This Is What I Discovered About Color, by Cara Meredith, For Every Mom
"So, examine your privilege. Turn privilege into understanding, and let understanding guide you toward a desire to learn. Then, when your insides are itching and screaming and thundering for equality, let this desire be funneled into activism."

5. Series from Christianity Today for women on sex: Why Christian Women Need to Talk About Sex

"Welcome to the first post in a series we’re calling The Sex We Don’t Talk About, exploring elements of female sexuality that rarely come up among Christians. While the church has grown more comfortable with addressing sex in sermons, seminars, and marriage books, rarely do we hear a female perspective on teaching meant for the whole church."

6. This is actually a video:  If This Video Doesn't Convince You To Put Down Your Smartphone, Nothing Will

7. 60+ Marriage Resources for Christians, Sarah Bessey blog

"Some of these resources are theological in nature, others are more practical application. Some are overtly egalitarian while others simply embrace that theological position without labels. Most are overtly Christian, all are from diverse traditions, some are interfaith while others are appropriate for agnostics and atheists. You’ll have to see what works for you!"

New (to me) Blogs:
The Culture Blend
As someone who thinks and writes about crossing-cultures, this blog is a gem. 

Small Town Laowai
In the mood to laugh?  If you've spent any amount of time in China, this white woman's take on China and culture clashes is hilarious.

Scraping Raisins:
Top Post in February:  White People Are Boring

Thursday Thoughts for Writers Series:  When I Forget to LoveChristian Art, 10 Quotes for Writers

4 Bits of Writing News
If you didn't get a chance, check out some of the articles I got published this month (my second and third EVER). 

1. When We Fear, (an article on the theme Hesed) for Velvet Ashes

"Hesed is the “yet” in the middle of our fear.
Hesed is God’s steadfast, loyal, unfailing, unconditional, merciful love. It is an anchor love that roots us solidly within the storm. It is following our headlights straight into the darkness and trusting them to lead us as we drive on. It is the love of Jesus who, like a small child playing hide-and-seek, jumps out of hiding the second we begin to seek Him, crying, “Here I am! Find me!”

2. Dear Single Missionary, for A Life Overseas
(This was actually the first public article I wrote for this blog in August of 2015, so I was so honored to have it published.)

"I write this to my 26 year old self who had just sold her car and possessions, quit her job, and left all her prospects for marriage to go live in the middle of nowhere (only four foreigners in the entire city and an eight-hour bus ride from an airport) and obey the call of her Jesus."

3. Our love story is now featured at Kindred Grace, a site for Christian women about love and relationships.

4. I'm attending my first writing conference in Denver on February 27, called Writers on the Rock!


What did you come across in February?

Next Post:  When's the last time you did something terrifying?

Linking up with What I'm Into with Leigh Kramer and Literacy Musing Mondays

Books, Recipes, & Articles in February

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