5 more Book Reviews

by Danica on October 23, 2014


One Thousand Gifts

by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp


Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. “How,” Ann wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long—and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?”

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts. It’s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we’ve always wanted … a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved — by God.

Let Ann’s beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive.

Come live the best dare of all!

my thoughts:

  • I was really looking forward to reading this book, and maybe it was praised to much to me by other people?  But I thought it was just okay.
  • What I didn’t love: the style of the writing…it took some serious focus to read because it was like reading a continuous strain of thoughts rather than organized sentences.  Does that make sense?  It was just unique and not like I’m used to – she would jump around from different subjects/topics in (what seemed like) the middle of another thought.  It was just a bit confusing at times.
  • What I did love: the book really reminded me that living in the moment is best.  I was also reminded that it shouldn’t take big things to make us happy – how often are we wishing for the future or hoping for something new to come our way?  If, instead, we’d focus on all of the beautiful things around us right in this moment, all those little things we take for granted, wouldn’t we be so much happier?  And more content?  This was the point of the book – to love where you’re at, who and what’s around you right now, and be THANKFUL!
  • I give it 3/5 stars.

If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman


In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen ­year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family. Now a major motion picture starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia’s story will stay with you for a long, long time.

my thoughts:

  • I really liked this book!  The hype wasn’t overdone on it (unlike this one).
  • The whole perspective/voice of this novel is incredibly unique.  I don’t want to give anything away about it, but it’s captivating, that’s for sure.
  • Even though this is labeled as a teen book – my mom, my sister, and I all read it and had positive reviews.
  • I have yet to see the movie but certainly want to….if you’ve seen it, did you like it?
  • I’d give it a 4/5 stars.

Where She Went

by Gayle Forman

Where She Went by Gayle Foreman


Picking up several years after the dramatic conclusion of If I StayWhere She Went continues the story of Adam and Mia, from Adam’s point of view. Ever since Mia’s decision to stay – but not with him – Adam’s career has been on a wonderful trajectory. His album, borne from the anguish and pain of their breakup, has made him a bona fide star. And Mia herself has become a top-rate cellist, playing in some of the finest venues in the world. When their respective paths put them both in New York City at the same time, the result is a single night in which the two reunite – with wholly satisfying results.

my thoughts:

  • I just didn’t get into this one like I did with If I Stay.
  • I did like the different perspective of the story, but it just seemed to move so slowly, it didn’t feel like much happened between the covers, which was a little disappointing.
  • I give this one 1/5 stars.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

by Mindy Kaling

is everyone hanging out with out me (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling


Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

my thoughts:

  • I love Mindy Kaling’s sense of humor!
  • If you’re not familiar with her, she was one of the major writers of The Office, and her sense of humor is just like that show.  She now writes and stars in (maybe produces, too?) the show The Mindy Project, which is also a similar sense of humor.
  • The book isn’t entirely laugh-out-loud funny, but I definitely smiled a lot at her perspective of stories from her past and situations in the present.
  • It was a good quick read and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone who likes that dry, brutally honest, goofy perspective type of humor.
  • I give it 4/5 stars.

The Paris Wife

by Paula McLain

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain


Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.
A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

my thoughts:

  • It had me at the beginning – I was completely drawn in and intrigued for the first 100 or so pages – but shortly after that, I kind of just lost interest :(  The storyline wasn’t as captivating and some of the content made me squirm a little (not graphic, but any discussions of infidelity or “sleeping around” really make me uncomfortable).
  • I enjoyed reading about what life was (similarly) like in Paris during the 1920s – pretty rebellious and, well, they were just crazy different times.
  • Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with the book and the ending left me more sad than content (not in a captivating way, just in a deflated way).  It also wasn’t too thought-provoking, which is something I want in a book!
  • I really just give it 1/5 stars.



Urban Remedy Juice Cleanse Review

by Danica on October 21, 2014


Warning: this is a long post, I have a lot to say!

I was recently give the opportunity to participate in a 3-day Juice Cleanse using the juices from Urban Remedy.  I accepted, excitedly, and give it a shot last week.  Here are my thoughts on the experience….

Why I decided to do the juice cleanse:

  • I get asked SO often – from family and friends, readers, and health coaching clients – about whether juice cleanses are beneficial or necessary.  I’m asked about if they’re healthy (since they’re all the rage in the media) and if I’d recommend doing them.  My answer to that is always a little complicated because there’s are a lot of factors that play into the decision, but mostly my answer is something along the lines of “No, it’s not necessary.  It’s best to start focusing on the foods you eat (the quality of them), drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, sleeping enough night, etc., which is what will make the most significant, lasting improvements in your health.
  • I wanted to prove a point, sort of….I’ve always felt juice cleanses fit into the category of “health fad” <–not in the greatest way either….In a way, I wanted to have an awesome experience with it and be proven wrong, and in a way, I wanted to show that doing a juice cleanse was unnecessary, unenjoyable, and not worth it…Believe it or not, I really went into this with an open mind!
  • I was given the opportunity to work with what’s probably the best of the best for juice cleanse companies: Urban Remedy.  There are a lot of other companies out there that I would not have gone ahead with.

Urban Remedy juice


Why Urban Remedy was my top choice:

  • they use only 100% organic, raw ingredients
  • it’s fresh!  it wasn’t packaged up and sitting on a grocery store shelf for months before it got to me
  • it was delivered right to my door
  • I agree with their philosophy that food is healing (I just may apply that philosophy a little differently)
  • all of my juices were delivered cold, in glass bottles

Super Green Cleanse by Urban Remedy


Urban Remedy juice cleanse instructions

How it works:

  • I received the 3-day cleanse, which included 18 bottles of juice, the night before day 1 of my cleanse.
    *I opted to do the Signature Cleanse, but was instead sent the Super Green Cleanse (shown above).  This was a little disappointing, as I wasn’t asked about the change, but it wasn’t too big of a deal…still juice, I figured ;)
  • It’s best to start the day off with a glass of (hot) lemon water.
  • You drink 6 juices each day at (roughly) 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm.
  • Only low-impact, relaxing exercise is recommended during the cleanse, including yoga, walking, and stretching.  Avoid strenuous and high-impact workouts like running, weight lifting, crossfit, HIIT training, etc.
  • “If you must eat…” Urban Remedy suggests organic, raw fruits and veggies or soaked nuts and seeds.

juice cleanse bottles from Urban Remedy

and now…

How it went for me…

Urban Remedy juice

Day 1:

  • I drank about 3 glasses of water (with drops of lemon essential oil) between 6:30am and 8:30am.
  • I drank my first juice around 8:30am because I simply couldn’t wait any longer.
  • My stomach growled again about 20 minutes after drinking that first juice.
  • I worked for a while (to distract myself from daydreaming about breakfast foods), and then drank juice #2 at 10:45am.
  • I tried to take my time with that 2nd juice, especially since I liked how it tasted, but by 11:15 (10 minutes after finishing it), I was hungry.
  • I wanted to workout, so I did 30 minutes of yoga.
  • Upon rolling up my yoga mat and reassembling the living room, I got super dizzy and had to sit down on the couch.  This was a major concern for me.
  • By this time it was about 12pm…I decided to shower and get ready for the day, which took like 15 minutes.
  • At 12:15pm, I wanted to eat get some more work done but couldn’t focus on anything – I seriously just kept thinking about food!!  I was also exhausted and wanted to sleep (aka no energy).
  • At 12:30pm, I cracked open juice #3.  I didn’t love the taste of this one, but I was so hungry that I drank it quickly.
  • By 1:15pm, I may or may not have said “F this”  (out loud, at home by myself), walked to the kitchen, and bit into an apple.  That, my friends, was a good decision.  I ate the whole apple and then helped myself to some leftover roasted sweet potato, which I dipped in peanut butter.
  • I had energy again!!  And I had to laugh at myself…Wow, Danica, you made it a whole 7 hours.
  • At this point in the day, my heart broke a little when I realized how terribly selfish and spoiled I was acting.  There are people out there, a lot of people, who don’t get to eat breakfast every morning, who don’t get food every day even.  And here I was, complaining about one little morning.  Talk about a reality check, huh?
  • I needed to make a decision about what I was going to do about this whole juice cleanse though because, obviously, I kind of just blew it.  But how I felt after eating was really my answer – I felt energetic, happier, and ready to tackle my to-do list.  I can’t spend 3 days laying around because I’m dizzy and tired and not eating any real food.  <–I’m certain most of you would say the same thing.
  • My decision: this juice was going to be an aid to my daily diet.  I was still going to avoid dairy, meats, and sugar (3 things I really don’t eat much of anyway, so that was fine), but I was most definitely going to eat.  This girl’s gotta eat, people.

carrots, broccoli, hummus - veggies- snack

So that’s just what I did for the remainder of those 3 days….I ate a bit less food than normal each day, and I drank a lot of nutrient-dense juice.  I was happy with this decision, and I felt great from the point I ate on Day 1 through the end of Day 3.

Urban Remedy’s juices are truly awesome, and I think they’re a great company.

Maybe I didn’t prep for the cleanse well enough or maybe it’s simply because my metabolism is functionally the way it should…either way, a juice cleanse just isn’t for me.  I think it might be okay for some people, but do I think it’s necessary?  No, I don’t.  That being said, I do think juice is an awesome addition to a healthy diet.


My general thoughts on Juice Cleanses:

  • If you’re going to do a juice cleanse, you need to prepare your body in the days leading up to it and in the days that follow it.  Otherwise your digestive system will be all sorts of messed up.
  • The quality of the juice absolutely matters.
  • Do not take doing something like this lightly – consider your schedule and what you need to have energy for, know that your days may be compromised because you won’t know how your body will react until you’re actually in the thick of it.
  • Our bodies are made to eat food, real food, wholesome food.
  • Juice is nutrient-dense and beneficial for us!  I just believe that it’s a part of a healthy diet, more like a supplement, it’s not all that we need.  Why?  Because our bodies need fiber, protein, and fat!  While there will be some fiber in juice, it doesn’t fulfill all the requirements our bodies have.
  • Juice cleanses aren’t sustainable ways of living.  So what you eat on a daily basis, for the majority of your meals, is what really truly matters most for your health – both short-term and long-term.
  • A juice cleanse does not erase all of the crap we’ve eaten before it – it’s not a forgiveness of sins, so to speak – but it can help aid in getting toxins out of the body…note: eating whole, organic foods can do this as well.
  • There are people I know who intentionally go without eating for a lot of their day – I can’t even imagine how miserable that would feel.  Our bodies need real food to function properly!

I’m not here to tell you whether or not you should do a juice cleanse, but I want you to know my honest opinion.
So in short:

Juicing is an awesome way to get a lot of nutrients into your body, and it’s a wonderful component of a healthy diet.
Urban Remedy is a company that creates the best quality juices.
Whole, organic food is optimal for the health of our bodies.

**I received 18 bottles of juice from Urban Remedy in exchange for this post.  I’m so grateful they gave me this opportunity!  All opinions, if you couldn’t tell, are 100% my own.  No other compensation was received.**
Have you ever done a juice cleanse?
What do you think of cleanses?


scenes from the weekend 10.20.14

October 20, 2014

  Friday I love how Zida just made herself comfortable on Jesse like that :) Mexican food for dinner at Tacubaya I threw this Autumn Overnight Oats in the crockpot to have for breakfast on Saturday morning – it turned out well! Saturday 3-miler with jesse we hit up Cheeseboard for lunch….throwing out my “dairy-free eating” […]

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Five things Friday 10.17.14

October 17, 2014

Happy Friday! 1.  This past Sunday, my brother Eli turned 21!  First of all, how the heck did we get so old?  And second of all, it made me really miss him and miss my family.  I promised him I’d take him out for a birthday drink when we’re in MN for Christmas ;) photo from our […]

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5 Book Reviews

October 16, 2014

It’s been quite a while since I last did any book reviews on the blog.  I’m always reading something, but with everything that went on this summer, writing about them just slipped past me. I know that blog reviews aren’t a huge hit with everyone, but I love reading and I know some of you enjoy these […]

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Link Love #1

October 15, 2014

I read a lot of health articles, posts, and blogs every week, plus I scope out a lot of healthy recipes.  As I come across ones that I really love, I want to share them with you!  I post many on Twitter and sometimes even Facebook, but I think I’ll make sharing them on the […]

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Peanut Butter Pumpkin Brownies {recipe}

October 14, 2014

There’s this whole “pumpkin craze” going on in the world right now, have you noticed? I’m certainly in on the party – the stuff is just so versatile, healthy, and tasty – but I’m not going to over-exaggerate my love for it because, quite frankly, you can go on any social media app and here allll about […]

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the weekend 10.13.14

October 13, 2014

So did you notice that my blog fell off its rocker a bit on Thursday?  I’m not entirely sure what happened (though the guys that checked on it and I have a good guess), but it was doing some crazy things.  I apologize if you had any trouble accessing posts or pages or commenting on any […]

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10 Things Not Many People Know About Me

October 9, 2014

Hey friends!  This week feels like it’s just flying by.  It’s easily my busiest week here since moving, and it’s nice (and good for me!) to be out and about more each day. I’m jumping one day ahead for this piece of the blogging challenge because tomorrow’s post will be another edition of “Five things Friday.” Here […]

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A Day in the Life {wiaw}

October 8, 2014

#8 of this blogging challenge is “a day in the life.” Since moving, my days are pretty scattered, flexible, and each one is different.  The first couple weeks I was busy just unpacking, organizing, and cleaning our place.  Getting all of that done took a lot longer than expected!  And, as you’ve seen, the weekends are pretty packed […]

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