5-Star Books of 2018

Coming at you only a couple of months late, here are my top reads in 2018. I read a number of other really good books, but these are my 5/5 picks.


Educated by Tara Westover


A truly amazing memoir by Tara Westover who grew up enduring extreme domestic violence within her survivalist family. Through encouragement from one of her brothers, she took the SAT and applied to college without any formal education and worked to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. I was frustrated and angry with most of the people in Tara’s life while reading this, and it left me with more questions than answers. It is a powerful story, and while extreme, it shed light on the effects of living with individuals with fundamentalist beliefs as well as mental illness.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah


Kristin Hannah is one of my favorite authors, so I was eager to start this book. I found the first 50 or so pages to be a little slow, but once I got into the novel, the rest of the book more than made up for the slow start. The book chronicles Leni’s coming of age in a remote area of Alaska while dealing with her volatile father. There’s love, complicated family dynamics, and a well developed sense of place.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate


I kept reaching for different books before I finally picked this one up. Don’t let the blah cover deter you from reading this book! This novel weaves the story of two families of different generations together through the horrifying adoption practices of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Before reading this, I knew nothing about this piece of American history, and it inspired me to do more research. Wingate tells a compelling story, and I didn’t want to put this book down.


40 Before 40


My 30th birthday came and went about 6 months ago, and while I really wanted to spend it somewhere exotic drinking red wine, I was 9 months pregnant. I hoped to make my list of 40 goals to accomplish over the next decade relatively quickly, but I was a little sidetracked. I now have about 9.5 years to work through my list, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have met any of the goals in the last 6 months anyway.

Happy 30th birthday to me! I’m less glamorous than I hoped I’d be at age 30.

Happy 30th birthday to me! I’m less glamorous than I hoped I’d be at age 30.


A few reflections before I share -

  1. It is really hard to think of 40 goals that are big yet attainable.

  2. I could only get to 39. For the life of me, I could not settle on a final goal, so I’m going to take some time to think about that last one.

  3. I have a lot of personal development I need to do!

40 Before 40


  • Establish birthday traditions for Mitchell + future children

  • Establish first and last day of school traditions for Mitchell + future children

  • Celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary

  • Celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary

  • Spend NYE in a different city

  • Celebrate being in my thirties

House Goals

  • Organize our basement into a comfortable and functional space

  • Print and organize photos

  • Plant a flower-cutting garden

  • Be intentional about the “stuff” brought into our home

  • Make our porch and outdoor fire pit cozy and inviting

  • Finish decorating our bedroom

Personal Development and Wellness

  • Run a destination half marathon

  • Master flipping pancakes

  • Disconnect from technology/screens for at least a full weekend every year

  • Perfect a dinner party menu

  • Learn to ski

  • Take a course in something new

  • Learn the basics of photography

  • Establish a meditation practice

  • Be okay with messes (this may take therapy!)

  • Follow through with professional goals

  • Do 25 push-ups in a row

  • Indulge in a fancy spa day

  • Break a bad habit (many that I could choose from…)

  • Read at least 20 books each year

  • Have a signature cocktail

  • Take time every year to reflect and set intentions for the next year


  • Finish having kids

  • Volunteer with Mitchell + future children

  • Spend a day with my family doing random acts of kindness (hopefully yearly)

  • Let my favorite people know what I love about them


  • Visit 3 new (to me) countries

  • Explore 5 new (to me) national parks

  • Take a solo trip (not for work)

  • Visit New England in the fall

  • Take another girls’ trip with my mom and sister

  • Go to a pro-tennis match

  • Spend a weekend in NYC during the holiday season


Ready for Baby

Baby bump at 35 weeks. Fortunately, we're holding steady at this size because I don't think I could handle growing any more.

Baby bump at 35 weeks. Fortunately, we're holding steady at this size because I don't think I could handle growing any more.


As soon as my baby bump emerged and people found out I was pregnant, I've continued to field the same question multiple times a day. "Are you ready?" The response varies depending on my mood and who is asking. The honest answer is I'm ready to not be pregnant and enjoy a glass of wine and more than one cup of coffee and wear normal clothes again, but I'm not ready to be an actual parent. This is what I share with my friends. To the random person I encounter at the park when I'm walking my dog or my office's janitor who has told me I look like I'm about to pop every.single.day of my third trimester, I usually give a curt, "Getting there."

In case you're wondering, Annabelle is not ready for a baby brother or sharing the backseat.

Now that I'm officially 39 weeks pregnant and the little guy could come any day, I'm feeling as prepared as I can be. The nursery is set up, and the car seat is installed. I've stocked up on diapers and wipes, attended all of the birth, baby, and breastfeeding classes, drafted the out of office email message, and tied as many loose ends as possible. What has helped the most is reading as much as I can about the first few weeks and months after birth and talking with my girlfriends who've recently had kids about their experiences. As much as I've read, nothing beats hearing about real experiences from friends. 

However, here are the books that I've found to be the most helpful - 

  1. Babywise
  2. Happiest Baby on the Block
  3. What to Expect the First Year
  4. Baby 411
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I've also been reading through Anna and Layla's site - My Baby Care. Anna and Layla are two moms who share their experiences with motherhood and keep their readers informed of the most up to date and best baby gear. As a first time mom, it is hard to know what gear to select when there are SO MANY CHOICES! They've taken care of the overwhelming task of compiling different options and sharing unbiased pros and cons. I recommend their site to any new or expecting mom.

If you're a new or expecting mom, what resources have been most helpful to you?


Update - 30 Before 30


Today is my 30th birthday. I'm not normally a huge birthday celebrator, but I feel like changing decades is a big deal. Last summer, I was thinking about taking a trip to Spain or somewhere equally exciting to celebrate turning 30, but at 38 weeks pregnant, I'll be happy with a piece of chocolate cake from Le Matin and a prenatal massage. I semi-joke that I'm going to celebrate turning 30 on my next birthday because I really want a trip to Spain (and a big glass of Spanish red).

Our #1 blog reader, aka Mom, requested that I do an update on the 30 before 30 list that I made on my 28th birthday. I didn't tackle everything on the list, but I did reach about 2/3 of my goals. I'll optimistically call it win because it forced me to try some new things, rekindle some favorite habits, and get out of my comfort zone. The goals I completed are highlighted below.

  1. Take a cooking class
  2. Start playing tennis regularly again
  3. Reconnect with 5 old friends
  4. Become more knowledgeable about wine
  5. Spend a weekend completely unplugged
  6. Grow strawberries in my garden - Solid attempt with little success
  7. Become a mom - Fingers crossed I'm less than 2 weeks away
  8. Travel to New England
  9. Travel to the West Coast
  10. Read 40 new books
  11. Make an original pieces of artwork to hang in my home
  12. Start a gratitude journal - I technically started one, but I didn't keep it up... whoops!
  13. Make 50 new recipes
  14. Start a book club
  15. Try the Whole 30 - I'm blaming pregnancy for this one. Maybe I'll try this for losing baby weight.
  16. Run a destination half marathon - Another one I'm blaming pregnancy for not completing. I've got my eye on a couple!
  17. Send a handwritten note a friend once a month
  18. Organize my wedding photos
  19. Become proficient at Photoshop
  20. Do paddle board yoga - Did not attempt, but I did start paddle boarding more at the lake.
  21. Take professional family photos
  22. Volunteer on a regular basis
  23. Do a full month of barre classes - I have no excuse other than laziness for this one. 
  24. Host a slumber party style girls’ night-in
  25. Establish a designated date night every week - Again, no valiant effort here, but will try to do this once we survive the newborn haze, even if it is an at-home date night after the baby goes to bed.
  26. Attend a blog conference - Nope, but hope to in the future.
  27. Learn to do my makeup well - Tried some new products and techniques, but this may be something I give up on. I'm just not a hair and makeup person. 
  28. Start a monthly supper club - No, but we invited more friends over for casual, low-stress weeknight meals on a whim.
  29. Learn to use a sewing machine
  30. Attend the Kentucky Oaks

I'm planning to make a 40 before 40 list soon, and I may carry over some of the goals that I didn't complete. I have a feeling I'm going to need all 10 years this decade to accomplish my next bucket list.

Do you have any fun and creative goals on your list?


Baby Boy's Nursery

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When we originally started planning the nursery, I was adamantly against a themed nursery. Of course I should never make strong declarations like that because a nautical theme organically emerged. When picking out bedding for the crib, we selected both anchor sheets (sold out online) and dog sheets because they were both slightly whimsical and coordinated well with this crib skirt. Then when searching for art to hang above the crib, I was drawn to these classic watercolor prints. When I spotted this sailboat throw pillow, I just gave in to the theme. Jay is an avid boater and loves the water, and I tend to gravitate towards preppier styles, so the theme isn't entirely shocking.

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I know our entire house is about to be overrun with baby gear, but we tried to keep the nursery  uncluttered and classic.

nursery 2.JPG

The nursery isn't 100% complete, but I feel good bringing the little guy home to it in its current state. I'm still considering some different options for book storage and deciding between an ottoman or poof for the glider. I've also found some blackout curtains that I really like, but I'm waiting for them to go on sale. I added the curtains to my cart but didn't purchase them the ONE day they were marked down to $25, and then the next day they were back up to $90/panel. No thanks!

Most of the items came from Pottery Barn Kids or Target, but if you'd like to know a specific source for something, I'm happy to share.