What I Read: August 2021

In today’s post I’m sharing what I’ve been reading lately.

The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

I found The Book of Lost Friends (affiliate link) to be heartbreaking, yet also a book that I just couldn’t put down. It’s set in the time and place that I haven’t read many books about before. Lisa does a great job of weaving the two timelines together.

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Louisiana, 1875 In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia’s former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987 For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt–until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

I read two Elin Hilderbrand books back to back. Silver Girl (affiliate link) is inspired by the story of Ruth Madoff, who was married to Bernie Madoff. He’s known for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that stole billions of dollars. I can only imagine what it would feel like to be ostracized by not only by people who knew you, but also strangers because the Ponzi scheme had obviously been in the news.

Here’s what Goodreads had to say about it:

Meredith Martin Delinn just lost everything: her friends, her homes, her social standing – because her husband Freddy cheated rich investors out of billions of dollars.

Desperate and facing homelessness, Meredith receives a call from her old best friend, Constance Flute. Connie’s had recent worries of her own, and the two depart for a summer on Nantucket in an attempt to heal. But the island can’t offer complete escape, and they’re plagued by new and old troubles alike. When Connie’s brother Toby – Meredith’s high school boyfriend – arrives, Meredith must reconcile the differences between the life she is leading and the life she could have had.

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

The second Elin Hilderbrand book I read was The Identicals (affiliate link). I don’t know what it was exactly about this book, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I usually do with Elin’s books. Maybe it’s because I read it right after Silver Girl which I really liked? It’s definitely not a bad book, I just wasn’t drawn into it like I normally am with her books.

The Indenticals follows the lives of four women – two twin sisters, their mother, and one of the twin’s daughter. It was interesting to read each person’s perspective. It made it easy to empathize with all four characters.

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

If you’re looking for something fun and easy to read, Wedding Night (affiliate link) is the book for you. The characters make silly decisions (that at the same time are completely understandable) which leads to quite a few funny and weird situations. I think that’s what I like the most about Sophie Kinsella’s books. Even though the characters get themselves into trouble you can understand how they got there.

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Lottie just knows that her boyfriend is going to propose, but then his big question involves a trip abroad — not a trip down the aisle. Completely crushed, Lottie reconnects with an old flame, and they decide to take drastic action. No dates, no moving in together, they’ll just get married . . . right now. Her sister, Fliss, thinks Lottie is making a terrible mistake, and will do anything to stop her. But Lottie is determined to say “I do,” for better, or for worse.

Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes

I really liked reading Sheltering Rain (affiliate link). I’m a huge fan of Jojo Moyes so when I saw this one on a shelf at the library I knew that I wanted to borrow it.

It’s set in Ireland and focuses on the relationships between a mom, grandmother, and daughter. Families can be tricky and get complicated fast, and this one is no different. All three of the main characters felt very believable to me, and I could relate a bit to all of them.

Share a book that you’ve read lately in the comments below.

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Date Night + Baking a Crabapple Cake

I haven’t written a post like this in awhile, so I thought it would be fun to share a few of my weekend highlights.

I’ve been reading Sheltering Rain (affiliate link) by Jojo Moyes lately. Although it’s been taking me longer than normal to finish it, I’m really enjoying it. It’s been cooler (almost fall like) weather here in Calgary, which feels appropriate since the book is set in Ireland with lots of fog and rain.

It feels like it’s taken forever, but the tomatoes that I started from seeds back in February or March are finally starting to ripen! I went with a bunch of plants that produce cherry tomatoes since they take less time to grow that full sized ones. We have a short growing season here so I wasn’t able to plant them outside until the first week of June. There’s something about tomatoes fresh from the garden that makes them taste 10 times better than any tomatoes you can get in a grocery store.

Saturday I headed over to my boyfriend’s place. His dog Winston had gone to daycare on Friday, which always exhausts him in the best possible way. He loves playing with his dog friends and running around. The next day he’s in recovery mode and especially cuddly and takes lots of naps. He seemed to think that whenever I sat on the floor with him meant that it was an invitation to sit on me. It always surprises me that it looks so uncomfortable but he’s perfectly happy sitting on me.

He has a monkey toy that he’s had since he was a puppy that he likes to suck on. Apparently it’s a bulldog thing. He typically does it before bed, but he was sucking on it on and off for most of the afternoon. Winston was so tired that he didn’t even come to say goodbye to me when I left. He just laid down at the end of the hall and couldn’t even lift his head up off the floor. My boyfriend definitely got his money’s worth out of daycare on Friday.

We ended up watching The 13th Warrior together. It was kind of a mix between Indiana Jones and The Lord of the Rings without the Nazis and elves. It’s an older movie (late 90’s I think) and stars Antonio Banderas.

I got a text from a friend asking if I would be interested in some crabapples. She had gotten a bunch from a friend and didn’t think she’d be able to eat or use them all up. Of course I said I’d be happy to take some off her hands! I spent some time googling recipes – I didn’t want to have to go out and get any additional ingredients. I did have all of the basics for baking in the pantry though, things like flour, sugar, baking powder, and spices. Finally, I decided to go with this recipe and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

The cake was dense which was perfect because it meant that the apple slices didn’t all sink to the bottom of the cake. It smelled amazing while it was baking in the oven. You definitely knew that there were some spices in it (cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and ginger). It was also perfectly moist too, but not so much that it was mushy. The above photo are all of the crabapples I still have left after making the cake, so I’ll have to figure out something else to do with them. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. The recipe included optional walnuts and a glaze, but I decided to skip them because I didn’t have the walnuts or the apple cider for the glaze. I think I may even prefer it without the glaze, as it’s not too sweet.

I don’t have much exciting on the agenda for the upcoming week. I have a therapy appointment and that’s about it other than the usual day to day stuff. It’ll be kind of nice to have a low key week though. Do you have any fun plans for the week? Let me know in the comments below.

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30 Minute Home Workout

In today’s post I’m sharing a new workout that you can do at home in just 30 minutes.

Happy Tuesday! I hope your week has started off well. We had a really hot weekend here in Calgary. It’s cooled off the last two days which I’m very grateful for. It’s been a record breaking summer in terms of heat in Alberta. I’m hoping that we don’t have anymore heatwaves this year. It’s very nice to be able to not be sweating even when I’m sitting and not doing anything!

Today I’m sharing a 30 minute home workout. If you’re looking for a different kind of workout, check out my workout page. All of the workouts that I’ve shared on my blog are listed there and categorized so that it’s easy to find just what you want.

The only equipment you’ll need for this workout is a pair of dumbbells which you’ll need for the squats, overhead press, lunches, lateral raises, bent over rows, and chest press. If you’re looking to get some dumbbells, I like these ones (affiliate link) from Amazon. In terms of weight, you’ll want to pick a dumbbell size that challenges you but also allows you to get proper form from all reps, including the last one. If you have to switch to a lighter weight later on in the workout, that’s totally fine. It’s more important to keep your form good rather than lift heavier. A yoga mat is also handy for the core work and chest press. I love my Manduka mat (affiliate link).

You’ll be performing 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds or rest/transition to the next exercise. Cycle through this 10 exercise list three times for a full workout. If you have any questions about the workout leave them in the comments below. If you do it be sure to take me on Instagram.

  • Dumbbell squats
  • Overhead press
  • Glute bridge
  • Plank
  • Lateral raises
  • Alternating lunges
  • Chest press
  • Skaters
  • Bent over rows
  • Crunches

What’s your favorite exercise to include in home workouts?

As always, check with your doctor before beginning to workout. Honor your body and make any modifications needed to this workout to make it work for you.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog. I appreciate it!

Friday Favorites: Haircut + Timbits

Today I’m sharing a couple of my favorite things from the past week.

A much needed haircut

I finally got myself to a salon and got a haircut! It’s been a long time coming. My last haircut was nearly a year before the pandemic started, in April or May of 2019. I think my hair was the longest it had ever been. The reason I waited so long to get my haircut was because of Covid. I’ve been taking a lot of precautions still (masking when I’m indoors in public spaces, doing curbside pickup of groceries, etc), so going into a salon was anxiety provoking. I kept thinking that if I waited long enough the Covid risk would go way down, but cases are currently on the rise here in Calgary, so I figured I should get it done now before it gets even worse.

I ended up going to Red Bloom, which was a new salon to me. I had checked out a few other places, and I was impressed that Red Bloom was still taking a bunch of Covid precautions. I felt as safe as I could be and thankfully my anxiety wasn’t too bad while I was there. Mariah spend some time finding out what I wanted and by the time she started cutting my hair I felt like I was in good hands. I told her that I wanted a lot of length taken off, but still long enough to get into a ponytail for workouts. There’s nothing worse than sweaty hair in your face in the middle of doing burpees.

I’m really liking how it turned out. I have super straight hair that I have trouble getting to curl. She did some beachy waves and gave me some tips on how to re-create them at home. I also bought a couple of Evo products while I was there – the Shebang-a-bang dry wax and the Icon Welder heat protector. I have another appointment scheduled with Mariah in a few months so it definitely won’t be another year or more before my next hair cut.

Sheltering Rain

The latest library book that I’ve been reading is Sheltering Rain (affiliate link) by Jojo Moyes. I’m a huge fan of Jojo Moyes. I don’t think I’ve read a book of hers that I didn’t enjoy. The same is true with this one. I’m about two thirds of the way through it and it’s really good. It’s set in Ireland. While I haven’t visited (yet), it’s definitely on my short list of places to go. It looks like such a beautiful place. It’s also the place that my parents met. They were both vacationing there and the rest is history.

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Estranged from her mother since she ran away from her rural Irish home as a young woman, Kate swore a future oath that she’d always be a friend to her daughter, Sabine. But history has a way of repeating itself, and Kate now faces an ever-widening chasm between herself and her daughter. With Sabine about to make her own journey to Ireland to see the grandmother Kate abandoned, Kate is left wondering how they ever made it here, and what she can do to close the gap between them. 

For Joy, seeing her granddaughter is a dream come true. After the painful separation from Kate, she’s looking forward to having time with Sabine. Yet almost as soon as the young woman arrives, the lack of common ground between them deflates her enthusiasm. And when Sabine’s impetuous, inquisitive nature forces Joy to face long-buried secrets from her past, she realizes that perhaps it’s time to finally heal old wounds.

Timbits

Tim Hortons is a Canadian staple. I know that they had/have locations in parts of the US too though. They’re a Canadian chain that’s known for their donuts and coffee. They even have their own lingo like at Starbucks. My brother always orders a “double double” which is a coffee with double cream and double sugar. They have the best hot chocolate. It’s actually my favorite place to get hot chocolates from. When I was in London and met up with a friend, I brought her a canister of Tim Horton’s hot chocolate as a thank you for showing us around London.

They call their donut holes Timbits. I think it’s been years since I last had them. I picked up a coffee for my dad the other day and decided to get him some Timbits too. I ate two of them and I had forgotten how good they are. My favorite flavor have always been the sprinkle ones and I can confirm that they’re just as tasty as I remember them to be. Hopefully it won’t be years before I have them again.

What was a favorite thing of yours from this week? Leave me a comment below telling me about it.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog – I appreciate it!

Workout Playlist

In today’s post I’m sharing an all new workout playlist. It includes a link to the playlist on Spotify for easy listening.

I put together a new playlist for your next workout. I always find it more fun to workout with fun music – it somehow gets me working harder than I would otherwise. If you’re not feeling this playlist, you can check out all of my other playlists I’ve shared on Get Fit Fiona here. You can also follow me on Spotify.

Here are the songs and artists on this month’s workout playlist:

  • Human by Rag’N’Bone Man
  • Rain on Me by Lady Gaga
  • Believer by Imagine Dragons
  • Never Really Over by Katy Perry
  • Lose Control by Meduza
  • Blinding Lights by The Weeknd
  • Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa
  • Ride It by Regard
  • There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back by Shawn Mendes
  • Youngblood by 5 Seconds of Summer
  • Shape of You by Ed Sheeran
  • Thunder by Imagine Dragons
  • Dance Monkey by Tones and I
  • Uprising by Muse
  • Bad Guy by Billie Eilish
  • Wolves by Selena Gomez

You can find the link to the playlist on Spotify here. This playlist includes quite a few older songs that I’ve been enjoying lately, including Believer and Thunder by Imagine Dragons, Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, and Uprising by Muse.

As far as workouts go with me lately, they’ve been pretty simple. I’m in the middle of trying to heal my relationship with food and exercise, so I’m taking it easy on the workouts on the advise of my doctor, therapist, and dietitian. It’s definitely not an easy journey but I know that all of the stress and anxiety of it will be worth it once I’m on the other side of it. I do share my workouts on Instagram in case you’re still interested in checking them out.

What’s a song you’re currently listening to on repeat? Tell me which one it is in the comments below.

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