Popsugar Reading Challenge 2016. Here we go!

Ok, so I'm starting up another reading challenge because reading challenges are way more fun than say fitness challenges. Seriously though, no thanks.  The only problem...the 2015 challenge took me 3 extra months. (Catch up here) So I'm already behind.  Good thing my boss gave me a book 2 months ago that I finally got around to reading...& finished it in under 24 hours. Perfect way to kick off the 2016 challenge. Clearly, I loved this book. It was such a nice, easy read given that the last two books I read were Wuthering Heights & Pride & Prejudice. I'm not entirely sure what category I'm going to use this book for, but I'm thinking "A book recommended by someone you just met."   I've known my boss for approx. 6 months, but she gave me the book 2 months ago. So 4 months sounds good to me. Given that I'm terrible at writing summaries, I'll rely on my trusty friend, goodreads to give you the best possible summary. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. 

When Kelly Corrigan was in high school, her mother neatly summarized the family dynamic as “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” This meant nothing to Kelly, who left childhood sure that her mom—with her inviolable commandments and proud stoicism—would be nothing more than background chatter for the rest of Kelly’s life, which she was carefully orienting toward adventure. After college, armed with a backpack, her personal mission statement, and a wad of traveler’s checks, she took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting.

But it didn’t turn out the way she pictured it. In a matter of months, her savings shot, she had a choice: get a job or go home. That’s how Kelly met John Tanner, a newly widowed father of two looking for a live-in nanny. They chatted for an hour, discussed timing and pay, and a week later, Kelly moved in. And there, in that house in a suburb north of Sydney, 10,000 miles from the house where she was raised, her mother’s voice was suddenly everywhere, nudging and advising, cautioning and directing, escorting her through a terrain as foreign as any she had ever trekked. Every day she spent with the Tanner kids was a day spent reconsidering her relationship with her mother, turning it over in her hands like a shell, straining to hear whatever messages might be trapped in its spiral.

This is a book about the difference between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers. But mostly it’s about who you admire and why, and how that changes over time.

Rating from goodreads: 3.76 stars
My rating: 4 stars


{Recipe} Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki

Have you ever wanted to make something in your slow cooker but didn't want to wait 8 hours for it to cook? All of the flavors, the conveniences of the crock pot, but not the hours & hours of agonizing waiting? Yes, I do realize what I am saying. But sometimes I want the ease of the crock pot but the ability to throw it together after work & not have to eat at 2am.  WELL, if you've ever felt that way (& I know you have) this recipe is the perfect solution! Healthy, easy, modify-able...oh & REALLY freaking good!  Ya'll know my feelings about chicken, but this is a chicken dish I actually looked forward to eating the next night. Clearly, that is saying something!

Now the original recipe calls for 3 lbs of chicken.  My crockpot only fit about 2 lbs (4 breasts), so hopefully you've made chicken in your pot before & know how much chicken fits. If not, good luck to ya! Downside of this recipe? It did require a bit more work than just throwing everything in the pot & walking away, but it was worth the extra steps. They weren't nearly as hard as I thought they'd be!

Serves: 4
Cook time: 2 hours 45 mins
How difficult was this for Rachel? Not bad at all! I did rely on Joey's muscles to pour the sauce out of the crock pot. Beware of that.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
4 gloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water
2 cups raw broccoli pieces
toasted sesame seeds for garnish (I skipped these)


Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Place chicken in the cooker & season with black pepper
(which apparently I chose not to photograph)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger & garlic.

Pour over chicken
Cook chicken on high for 2 hours & 15 mins, or low for 3-4 hours.
Remove chicken from liquid & shred (or dice).  Place back into the slow cooker.

Here comes the fun, pour the sauce from the crock pot into a medium sauce pan.
May I recommend doing this over the sink.
Heat until sauce is boiling.
Also, this is a terrible picture.
While the sauce is heating up, in a small bowl, combine water & cornstarch creating a slurry (a term Joey learned this evening)
When the sauce begins to boil, whisk in the slurry until the sauce thickens. 
It took us only about 7 mins.
Coat chicken completely with sauce.
Add in broccoli.  Continue cooking for 30 mins on low.
At this point, we made rice to eat with the chicken.
Remove from slow cooker & enjoy!

Adapted from: Here


2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge - COMPLETE

Well, I'm only 3 months late, but I finally finished the 2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge. 50 Categories, 52 books. DONE. BOOM.  There was a time I was posting individual posts about each book I read, but then life happened and I stopped posting for a while. (Catch up here)  So here it is, my complete list of every book I read and for what category I read it for.   Now that it's over, I almost don't know what to do with myself and all my newfound free time...oh wait, yes I do.  Erica and I decided to do the 2016 Reading Challenge...because, WHY WOULDN'T WE??

If you've read any of the books below, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

Category: A book with more than 500 pages
Book Read: Crazy Rich Asians by, Kevin Kwan

Category: A classic romance
Book Read: Pride and Prejudice by, Jane Austen

Category: A book that became a movie
Book Read: Running with Scissors by, Augusten Burroughs

Category: A book published this year
Book Read: Girl on the Train by, Paula Hawkins

Category: A book with a number in the title
Book Read: The One and Only by, Emily Giffin

Category: A book written by someone under 30
Book Read: The Bell Jar by, Sylvia Plath

Category: A book with nonhuman characters
Book Read: Nose Down, Eyes Up by, Merrill Markoe

Category: A funny book
Book Read: Me Talk Pretty One Day by, David Sedaris

Category: A book by a female author
Book Read: Tempted by Fate by, Jane Green

Category: A mystery or thriller
Book Read: You Should Have Known by,  Jean Hanff Korelitz

Category: A book with a one-word title
Book Read: Wonder by, R.J. Palacio

Category: A book of short stories
Book Read: This Is Not Chick Lit by, Elizabeth Merrick

Category: A book set in a different country
Book Read: The Vacationers by, Emma Straub

Category: A nonfiction book
Book Read: Jeneration X by, Jen Lancaster

Category: A popular author's first book
Book Read: Good in Bed by, Jennifer Weiner

Category: A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet
Book Read: Certain Girls by, Jennifer Weiner

Category: A book a friend recommended
Book Read: The Memory Keepers Daughter by, Kim Edwards

Category: A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
Book Read: A Visit from the Goon Squad by, Jennifer Egan

Category: A book based on a true story
Book Read: The Glass Castle by, Jeannette Walls

Category: A book at the bottom of your to-read list
Book Read: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by, Susan Jane Gilman

Category: A book your mom loves
Book Read: This is Where I Leave You by, Jonathan Tropper

Category: A book that scares you
Book Read: The Color Purple by, Alice Walker

Category: A book more than 100 years old
Book Read: Wuthering Heights by, Emily Bronte

Category: A book based entirely on its cover
Book Read: Valley of the Dolls by, Jacqueline Susann

Category: A book you were supposed to read in school but never did
Book Read: The Catcher in the Rye by, J.D. Salinger

Category: A memoir
Book Read:  The Tao of Martha by, Jen Lancaster

Category: A book you can finish in a day
Book Read: The Old Man and the Sea by, Ernest Hemmingway

Category: A book with antonyms in the title
Book Read: Big Little Lies by, Liane Moriarty

Category: A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
Book Read: Crazy Rich Girlfriend by, Kevin Kwan

Category: A book that came out the year you were born
Book Read: The Cider House Rules by, John Irving

Category: A book with bad reviews
Book Read: Slaughterhouse Five by, Kurt Vonnegut

Category: A trilogy
Book Read: Brilliance Saga by, Marcus Sakey

Category: A book from your childhood
Book Read: Mr. Poppers Penguins by, Richard Atwater, Florence Atwater, Robert Lawson

Category: A book with a love triangle
Book Read: Me Before You by, Jojo Moyes

Category: A book set in the future
Book Read: The Road, Cormac McCarthy

Category: A book set in high school
Book Read: Everything I Never Told You by, Celeste Ng

Category: A book with a color in the title
Book Read: Devil in the White City by, Erik Larson

Category: A book that made you cry
Book Read: Men We Reaped by, Jesmyn Ward

Category: A book with magic
Book Read: Harry Potter & the Sorcerers Stone by, J.K. Rowling

Category: A graphic novel
Book Read: Hyperbole and a Half by, Allie Brosh

Category: A book by an author you've never read
Book Read: The Joy Luck Club by, Amy Tan

Category: A book you own but have never read
Book Read: Little Bee by, Chris Cleave

Category: A book that takes place in your hometown
Book Read: Detroit: An American Autopsy by, Charlie LeDuff

Category: A book that was originally written in a different language
Book Read: The Life-Changing  Magic of Tidying Up by, Marie Kondo

Category: A book set during Christmas
Book Read: Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Category: A book written by an author with your same initials
Book Read: Sideways by, Rex Pickett

Category: A play
Book Read: Driving Miss Daisy by, Alfred Uhry

Category: A banned book
Book Read: Animal Farm by, Orson Wells

Category: A book based on or turned into a TV show
Book Read: The Astronaut Wives Club by, Lily Koppel

Category: A book you started but never finished
Book Read: The Happiness Project by, Gretchen Rubin

Overall, I loved most of the books I read. People asked me constantly when they heard about the challenge what my favorite book was thus far & I really struggled because so many of them I loved & a few were by some of my favorite authors, so that automatically gave them the upper edge.

Top 10 11 Favorites (in no particular order)
Memory Keepers Daughter
The Glass Castle
The Cider House Rules
Valley of the Dolls
Running with Scissors
Big Little Lies
Crazy Rich Asians
Everything I Never Told You
Brilliance Trilogy
This is where I Leave You

3 Books I'm Good Not Reading Again
This is Not Chick Lit (short stories ain't my thang)
The Astronaut Wives Club (I wanted so much more than this book gave on these women)
Slaughterhouse Five (I just didn't know what the hell was going on in this book)
Wuthering Heights (once is definitely enough)