5 Cozy Winter Reads

Winter Books for Adults

You guys, IT’S SNOWING! Last year we got zero snow days, and that was very sad for me. I had great dreams of a second honeymoon with my boo where we wore sweatpants all day and drank coffee and read books. But alas, that was not in the cards for us last year. Today, however, we get an extra Sabbath via an unexpected snow day.

It’s been a lazy day – we stayed in bed until midmorning, had a delicious brunch, and then I’m cozying up with a good book.

Winter is my favorite time to be a reader, because it’s the perfect excuse to say no to anything else except books and fuzzy socks and extra cups of coffee (or tea.)

50 Books in 12 Months

Over this year, I am going to start incorporating more book-ish posts. Last year I completed 24 books over 12 months, and this year my goal is 50 books over 12 months. I am keeping track of my progress on Goodreads and also on this little bookshelf I drew for myself in my planner. As I read each book on my list, I’ll color it in on the shelf. Any additional books I read I’ll stack up next to the bookshelf. I’ll be posting my progress on my Insta-story because I’m so goal oriented and I also like affirmation.

Winter Booklist

I’m the type of person who has book preferences based on the time of year. In the summer, I love to read books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In the spring, I love to dive into books of poetry – Nayyirah Waheed, Rupi Kaur, and Mary Oliver are my favorites.

In the winter, however, give me a big book full of detail and whisk me away into another world.

5 Books You Should Read This Winter

Winter Book List

This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you click/make a purchase through those links you are supporting Hugs & Lattes! 

 The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

I am slowly but surely working my way through this series. I never got through it as a kid! However as an adult, I know this is a series I will one day want to read to my future children. I can only read The Chronicles of Narnia in the winter. Maybe Narnia is forever winter in my mind. Next on my list is Prince Caspian! Y’all, it legit might take me 7 years to read this.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

A lot of people hate Wuthering Heights, but it was quite possibly my very favorite read in my Victorian literature class. I love the gothic themes, and I feel like it is a more well-written high brow version of Twilight.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

This is another Victorian read that I couldn’t put down my senior year of college. The Bronte sisters are so strong and sassy, and I had a secret desire as a little girl to be a governess one day. Then I grew up and realized I lived in the 21st century instead of the 18th. I also had a not-so secret desire to own a goldendoodle and name him Mr. Rochester. My husband never acquiesced on the goldendoodle or the name.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

You guys – I just put this book down at 12:30 in the morning after trying to escape from real life every chance I could get. It was one of those books that kept me awake afterwards just thinking about it. The way Anthony Doerr describes the surroundings and life of his two main characters makes you feel as if you are at an art museum, spending hours in front of two particular paintings. I highly highly recommend. (Plus it completes your 500 page requirement if you are doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge!)

Rules of Civility – Amor Towels

This is one of my book club’s recent reads. It took me a few pages to get into, but if you like The Great Gatsby, you’re going to love this book. It is a) impressive that Amor Towels writes from the persepctive of a woman so eloquently and b) like a literary Gossip Girl of the 1930s.

What books would you add to this list? 

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Why Your Marriage is the Best

 

Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best Marriage

I was talking to one of my good friends the other day about the tension between talking about your relationship in a healthy way versus bombarding everyone with how “perfect” your lives are.

In today’s social media society, the feed is constant. We are seeing what everyone ate, what they are wearing, and why they are celebrating this and that. Being a lifestyle blogger who likes to talk about relationships, I’m very aware about what image I set forth. I first and foremost want to honor my husband in everything I say and do – whether in person or online. So you won’t see me over here airing out our dirty laundry. In instances where I have talked about an argument or point of tension, it is always something I have first cleared with him, and I am sharing it so as to speak constructively to that issue.

Even though Mr. M and I laugh, and have healthy and constructive conversation 85% of the time, 3% of the time I’m being whiny and dramatic, and 2% of the time we do pick at each other and argue.* (The other 10% of the time is filled with important things like paying bills and watching Netflix.)

*It is here that I would like to send out a general forewarning to all single and engaged women: husbands find it funny to purposefully annoy you or hide behind doors and jump out and scare you as you’re walking up from your creepy basement.

When I was in college, I was having dinner one night with my same friend as mentioned above, and her boyfriend at the time (now husband.) She had gotten up from the table to go get something from the cafeteria, and while she walked away, her boyfriend turned to me and told me how amazing she was and how much he loved her. Listening to him talk, I found myself wishing that one day I would get to marry a man who would be as verbally affectionate about me as my friend’s boyfriend was about her.

(Fast forward four years later, and my friend is now married to her college sweetheart, and I’m married to a man who is incredibly verbally affectionate towards me and about me to other people. Anytime I hear him talk about me to someone else, it warms my heart and makes think back to that time where I got to witness that kind of love between my friend and her man.)

Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best Marriage

In Dating

At that time, I was not dating my husband, and since I was not yet married, it was appropriate for me to notice something that worked well in someone else’s relationship that I wanted too. I was able to see how my friends and their boyfriends treated them and see what I wanted in a healthy marriage relationship one day.

When you are single or dating someone, this is the season to observe the relationships of those around you. In the season of singleness and/or dating, this observation period is vital for the health of your marriage one day. If you see an unhealthy relationship through your friend, you know what not to do and what not to look for in a partner. Whereas if you see a character aspect you like, then you get a better idea of what characteristics you would like to see one day in your future spouse.

In Marriage

In marriage, things look a little different. Once you have said, “I do,” your goal is “till death do you part.” So when you see something you love about your friend’s relationship that is absent in your own, it would be inappropriate to dwell on that aspect in comparison to your own relationship in a negative light because it can cause resentment against your spouse.

What do I mean?

When you see something in someone else’s marriage that you want, celebrate it for their relationship. If it is something you want to bring into your relationship, ask yourself a few questions:

Why do I want to incorporate this into my relationship?

How would this positively affect my relationship with my spouse? 

What can I do to incorporate this into my marriage? 

Noticing what works in other people’s relationships is healthy and should be recognized. If it something that convicts you and makes you realize you want to be better at X,Y, and Z with your spouse, then celebrate that as you bring it into your marriage. But using others’ highlight reels as a measurement against what doesn’t work in your own relationship is a dangerous downward spiral.

Why You Should Think Your Marriage is the Best

I am a huge advocate of “If you don’t think your marriage is the best, you’re doing it wrong.” Why is that? Because I want to enjoythe uniqueness of the type of relationship Mr. M and I have. Much like those around us, our relationship cannot be duplicated. There are so many nuances and quirks that each of us bring into this relationship that can either make us laugh and draw us closer to each other, or irritate us and push us away from each other.

Let’s take working out – for instance.

I’m a super whiny work out partner. I wish I wasn’t, and I’m sure my husband wishes I wasn’t too.

But lately I’ve been bucking up and going at my work outs like a beast.

Until.

He made me do something that was hard that I didn’t want to do and I whined to him in front of all the cool strong kids at the gym. Not my finest moment, I know. But he knew what he was getting into before we got married.

If he looked around and saw another couple who was killin’ it and said, “Look at them! Why can’t we be more like them?” Then I would  have been DEVASTATED (and probably started passive aggressively lifting something really heavy to get my angry energy out.) But instead of looking around and comparing us to someone else, he took my whineyness in stride (and laughed rather than getting angry.) It frustrated him, but like I said – he knew what we was getting to before we got married. And even if he doesn’t like that sometimes I’m dramatic in the gym, he celebrates me and he honors the type of relationship we have.

Your relationship is not going to be like anyone else’s. So celebrate the gift that each of you have brought to the table. When you are able to look at your spouse and truly appreciate them for who they are, then you will have the best marriage you know.

Celebrate Your Marriage!

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10 Things to do When Feeling Overwhelmed

What To Do When You're Overwhelmed

Sunday afternoon either brings about two emotions: The first being, “Ahh, I got SO much done this weekend; I’m ready to relax before I jump into this work week.” The second being, “AGH I got NOTHING done this weekend” and then it spirals down into a vortex of stress and overwhelming anxiety of all the things I need to do before the work week starts.

Yesterday I experienced the latter, and as a result, so did my husband. It’s in these moments of whirlwind and panic that I am so thankful I have a rock for a husband. When I get overwhelmed, I turn into an uglier version of myself. I snap at people, I have a meltdown, and I practically get nothing done.

Being overwhelmed often leaves us unproductive and stressed. And stress makes us look old. No one wants that. So here are 10 things you can do right now if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

What to Do When You're Overwhelmed

Brain Dump

Doing a brain dump is SO effective. Take a few minutes to just write down everything stream of consciousness style. Yesterday’s brain dump looked like: Things I have to do this afternoon, Reasons I’m Stressed, and Chores I Need to Complete. After you complete your brain dump, you have mental space to make a list or jump into action.

Take 5 Deep Breaths

Why is that we forget to breathe when we are stressed or doing a heavy work out? Taking 5 deep breaths will lower our blood pressure, thus ease the sense of being overwhelmed, which will help jumpstart our brain back into making sense of everything.

Pour Yourself a Cup of Coffee

Or tea. . . or 8 glasses of water. . . Find something little that brings you joy and indulge in that for a few minutes. Sometimes I have an afternoon cup of comfort coffee, just for the flavor and the warmth.

Put Your Phone Down for 5 Minutes

I find that when I’m overwhelmed, I just sit in a stupor and distract myself with social media. By the time I snap out of it, I find I’m more overwhelmed than I was before! Next time you feel overwhelmed, set your phone down for 5 minutes. Look outside, stare at a wall. It will help you think through what you’re feeling overwhelmed about and then you can make an action plan!

What to do When You're Overwhelmed

Meditate for 10 Minutes

I’m not into the yogi practice of clearing your mind, however, I do believe spending 10 minutes of positive affirmations and meditation on Scripture goes a long way in overcoming overwhelming moments.

Do One Small Thing

If you’re a list maker, make a to do list and find one small thing you can check off your list. It will get the momentum going for you to do other things that will help you to feel less overwhelmed!

Eat Something

OK I’m not advocating for stress eating here, but I have noticed that if I haven’t eaten anything in a while, crunching on a protein bar may solve the problem. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, check your hunger levels. If your hangryness could be cause for overwhelm, find a healthy snack.

Related: 5 Strategies for When You’re Overwhelmed

Take a Bubble Bath

This is always my go-to for when I’m feeling overwhelmed. I pour in some bubbles, Epsom salt, grab a hydrating drink and light some candles. 45 minutes later, I’ve emerged a nicer, cleaner, more relaxed version of myself.

Work Out

Honestly, I can’t believe I’m saying that. But #NewYearNewMe and I’ve discovered work out classes are my jam. I had a fantastic sweat sesh on Saturday at a hip hop dance work out class. So now my new favorite thing to do when I’m stressed is to go for a short run, attend a work out class, or spend some quality time with the elliptical. The endorphin’s are definitely a boost to the mood.

What do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

PS – please fill out this blog reader survey! 

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5 Relationship Goals You Can Make in 2018

5 relationship goals to make this year

This week Mr. M and I have been getting up early, I’ve been putting my makeup on at home rather than at my desk at work, and we’re actually eating breakfast every day. (Something we never do.) Hashtag New Year, New Us! I’m kidding. But really, we are both trying to be more intentional throughout our day.

On New Year’s night, we sat down and went through a journal together chronicling the highlight moments of this past year. We also talked about what we wanted 2018 to look like for us individually and as a couple as well. You could say that we made. . . relationship goals.

In the spirit of the new year, I think that goals help to restructure, refocus, and realign with your spouse. And this doesn’t necessarily have to be something that is done only in January. You can do it on your anniversary, your birthday, or a random Tuesday night. There is just something about newness that brings about excitement and hope for change.

Why You Should Make Relationship Goals

An Opportunity for Evaluation

Relationship goals are not something that you make for your significant other. Setting goals for your relationship is an opportunity to evaluate what you are doing now, and tweak something to make you a better couple together. For instance, like I said earlier this week, Mr. M and I realized we were watching WAY too much TV. Mr. M was never much of a TV watcher until he met me in the midst of a Grey’s Anatomy binge. It’s how I cope with stress – I binge watch TV.

An Opportunity for Change

So Mr. M  and I decided (without even saying anything really to each other) to stop watching as much TV. Over the past week, I have watched one thing total: a documentary (Living on a Dollar a Day – I highly recommend; it’s on Netflix!) We have filled up our no-TV time with other things: spending time with friends, working out, and going to bed at a semi-decent time.

The Benefit of Relationship Goals

Growth

Setting aside time to evaluate and make new goals gives you and your partner a safe space to be vulnerable in areas you have struggled with, and come together and hold each other accountable with encouragement and support. I am a firm believer that it takes healthy conflict to grow with your partner. While setting relationship goals may not require conflict (although let’s be real, sometimes it happens), it does require you to push each other towards something (which also can cause conflict when you’re feeling particular insecure on any given day.)

Connection

It’s easy to get into a rut and into the routine of things without even realizing that you have not spend any quality time with your partner. In the Christmas season, Mr. M’s work is so busy that the only time we spent together was either when we were with other people, or when I was helping him at work get everything ready for the Christmas distribution. While this isn’t the greatest example of a rut or a routine, both Mr. M and I have a tendency to become tunnel visioned and hyper-focused on one thing when we are busy. So during the slow times, we take advantage of the opportunity by refocusing onto our mission statement for our family and for our lives. When we consider our purpose separately and together, we are able to prioritize and connect with each other.

Related: 5 Ways to Connect in the Busy Seasons

5 Relationship Goals to Make This Year

5 Relationship Goals You Can Make This Year

Now, I’m not one to tell you what to do. But I’m a first born, so take with it what you will.

Financial Goals

Way back when – last year, in December of 2017 – I was excited dreaming up about the New Year and all the goals I wanted to make. And then Mr. M stifled my creativity by suggesting we make financial goals. Blegh. My financial goal is to buy new workout leggings, I don’t know why we need more than that. (I’m kidding, Dave Ramsey.)

The New Year is a great time to sit down and reassess your budget. Where are you spending too much? (Local coffee shops.) Where can you pull back from to save more? (Local coffee shops*)

*On an unrelated note, please send coffee gift cards.

Health Goals

Y’all. Marriage Happy Weight is nooo joke. I was one of those people who was like, “I will not gain weight!” It’s not even that my diet has changed much, so maybe it’s just my mid-20 metabolism slowing down. Who knows. But in line with the New Year, everyone seems to be making fitness goals, so why not make one together as a couple?

Determine to work out x number of times a week, take a fitness class together, or commit to cooking more, looking at labels (WHY IS THERE CORN SYRUP IN EVERYTHING?!) and eating out less.

Date Night Goals

This year I am determined to read Gary Chapman’s “Five Love Languages” because I am so obsessed with talking about our love languages. While you as a couple may not experience “quality time” as your primary love language, spending time together is STILL incredibly important. Mr. M and I try to have date night every Monday night. Sometimes we go out, or sometimes we stay in and cook together. Often we take turns planning the date night, and may choose to plan it in a way that caters to that person’s love language.

This year, commit to spending quality time with your significant other! Pick one night a week, or one night a month and devote that time for each other. Block off that time and protect it, because it is so easy to let stuff slip in the way.

Travel Goals

If we had the money, I would quit my job and travel the world. Or maybe find a way to work while traveling the world. But instead, we settle for little getaways here and there right now. If you and your partner haven’t traveled much in the past, make this year your year! I am confident that traveling brings you closer – even if it is just a six hour drive to visit family. You get to see your partner on “vacation mode” and all the joys and stresses that come with it.

Sit down, map out one or two places you want to visit this year, and then start to save for it! (This is where those financial goals come in handy.)

Family Goals

While Mr. M and I are a family of two right now, we each have quite a bit of people in our immediate and extended family. So our family goals this year look more like going to visit family and spending intentional time with our immediate family.

For those of you who have kids, family goals can be as fun as “have a family movie night once a month” or “take family pictures this year.” Whatever works for you!

5 relationship goals to make this year

Have Patience in Your Relationship Goals

Goal setting can be fun this time of year, but it can also be overwhelming. I’ve decided the first week of January feels like one big syllabus day. You’re making changes and setting goals, and sometimes you can feel bogged down by the potential! So have patience with yourself and with your spouse as you make active and healthy changes for your relationship this year!

And please fill out my reader survey so I know how best to bring you great content this year!

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Three Keys to Living Life on Purpose

New Year's Resolutions

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop, reflecting on 2016 and planning for 2017. Looking back over this past year, I am amazed we are standing alive and well in 2018. Thanks to a Youtube video I glimpsed at in 2015, I really thought the world was going to die last year, which is why I made sure to get married in December of 2016, so I at least got a solid three weeks of married bliss. And this, my friends, is why I generally don’t watch apocalyptic movies.

But for real, I’m excited for this new year, and I am so thankful to be in this season of life Mr. M and I are in right now. Last year was a season of adventure. My word for the 2017 was Be Brave, and I believe I did put that into practice – whether that was going wakeboarding at the lake, enduring a tough summer, or learning how to gently confront someone who kept calling me Tina. I stepped out and discovered that wakeboarding is really fun and terrifying, I can do all things with Christ’s strength, and people respond graciously when you gently ask them to call you Christina instead of Tina.

When thinking about my word of the year for 2018, the first thing that came to mind was actually a phrase: Live Life on Purpose.

Living Life on Purpose

For the past few years, I feel like life has been living me rather than me living life. In 2015, I had just graduated and started a new job, so there was graciousness in that as I was trying to figure out the work/life balance. Midway through 2016 I got engaged and planned a wedding and that was an all-consuming endeavor. And 2017 brought about the navigation of newlywed life. Now here we are in 2018. A little battered, bruised, exhausted, and full of hope for this new year.

When deciding that I wanted to Live Life on Purpose this year, I knew there were three things that I had to do.

New Year's Resolutions

Turn off the TV

Mr. M and I have a really healthy coping mechanism when we are exhausted and it is called “Binge watch Empire.” When we finally caught up to season 4, we turned it off, vowed never to return, and said we needed to check ourselves because we watch WAY too much TV. In reality, we are doing something almost every single night of the week, so when we have a moment to rest and relax, TV it is. But it’s like when you decide to eat a whole bag of Doritos. It’s super tasty and fun in the moment, but then afterwards you feel sluggish and icky.

If you are wanting to live your life on purpose and more intentionally this year, what is one thing you do now that you can do less of? Find that thing, and turn it off – whether it is the TV, your phone, or unhealthy relationships.

Reevaluate My Life

Mr. M and I are both dreamers – he more so than I, but I’m learning. My problem is I have so many dreams that I never implement because I always feel too overwhelmed by the busyness and clutter in my life. Almost every night of the week, Mr. M and I have something going on – whether it’s leading our respective small groups, a church function, or spending intentional time with friends. We love our life, and we love the busyness of it.

But being a goal oriented person who is not accomplishing my dreams, it’s easy for me to be hard on myself.

And so I asked myself why. It’s because I lack discipline.

When I ran a half marathon in 2014, I trained for three months and only took 3 days off. Even when it was 15 degrees outside, I was out running. When a friend asked me why I was so crazy, I told him the truth: I’m truly a really really lazy person, so I have to be incredibly disciplined. Where did that disciplined girl go?

Into a swimming pool of queso. That’s where she went.

I’m tired of dreaming and never seeing those dreams come to fruition. I’m tired of making goals and only making it halfway there.

So it’s time to buckle down and start living life by becoming more disciplined.

When you look over your life, what is keeping you from accomplishing your goals? Spend some time reflecting on what is stopping you, and what you can incorporate into your life to be more intentionally focused towards your goals this year.

New Year's Resolutions

 Become Disciplined 

This year, I’m not necessarily making goals. Instead, I’m practicing a 12 disciplines – a discipline for each month. I haven’t quite fleshed out all my disciplines yet, but I know that I want to focus on my mind, body, and soul. I want to flourish in my spiritual walk, in my health, and in my thought life. When I am healthy in all three areas, I have the capacity to fulfill my dreams.

Over the next year, I’ll be sharing my journey with you as I walk through each discipline (for accountability.) You won’t see an military styled discipline guru over here (because I’m too emotionally weak for that), but each month I will share an update on the discipline I practiced for the month and how I measured up.

And while I’m definitely not a deacon or deaconness, I take heed to Titus 1:8: “Rather, [s]he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.”

I want to be someone who loves what is good, who has self-control, who is upright and holy, and most of all – disciplined.

So I’m saying NO to being a couch potato and YES to productivity and moving towards my dreams.

Where can you become more disciplined in your life? Think about those areas, write it down, and commit to spending a certain amount of time practicing discipline in that area of your life.

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In line with the New Year, I’m looking to make some exciting adjustments for 2018 on Hugs & Lattes. I would love your input and advice! Please fill out this survey; if you put your name and email address at the bottom, you will be entered to win a $10 Starbucks gift card!

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