Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cantina 18 Raleigh

Cameron Village, a wonderful shopping center in Raleigh, NC is the perfect place for Cantina 18. And these beautiful summery nights are the perfect time to head over there and try out their delicious Southwestern fare with, as they describe it, a Southern drawl.

I had the opportunity to attend a hosted event there about a month ago and since I'm so delayed on all the things I haven't had the chance to get a detailed post up until - well - now.


We had an opportunity to try out some of the items on the Cantina 18 catering menu, and everything was delicious. The setting of the Cantina 18 restaurant is really perfect. I loved being upstairs with the wide open windows and view of the sky over across the parking lot. Sounds weird, I know, but it was a really pretty night. Now, before you ask what I was drinking in order to think the parking lot looked pretty - remember I said the SKY - and that I started off the evening with a refreshing beverage and switched to water soon after. But, looking for a place to say cheers with your friends? This is it.


Now, listen, I have no idea what sort of magic was in the queso, I only wish I'd discovered it sooner. I dove right in, even after enjoying their buffet of fajita deliciousness. I'd pretty much marry the queso if that was an option. In fact, I really wish I had some right now.


Oooh, this queso and the nachos from either Maverick's Smokehouse and Tap Room or Top Of The Hill - sigh, now I really want ALLLLL the nachos.

Anyway, the queso was incredible. All of the food was. I shared a few pics on Instagram to show y'all just how happy it made me. Each and every bite.


Oh - let me not forget that I really need to thank my girl Kate of Life of a Ginger for getting me out of the house! We went to enjoy this meal together and had, as always, a fantastic time.


A huge thanks to the team at Cantina 18 in Raleigh for hosting us. The food was incredible and I definitely plan on coming back - especially for more of that queso!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

How To Walk Away, Katherine Center


I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.
There are affiliate links throughout this post. Please use them to shop and buy all the books!

So, a few weeks ago I traveled to California and when I got there I finished reading How To Walk Away. And then? The very next day? I listened to Katherine Center speak and, AND, y'all!!!

I met her.

And I may have been just a little too excited about it.

Because How To Walk Away was such a fantastic read.

It was such a wonderful book.

The characters. The story. It was so so good.

Before I get into all of that - look - we took a selfie! And she gave me an autographed copy of her book to give away to one of you. But more on that later.


Now, back to the book.

Let's discuss Margaret. Soon to be known as Maggie.

Margaret has everything going for her. And I mean EVERYthing. She's got the man, the perfect job lined up, and all of her dreams are coming true.

Until. They're not.

Margaret's life changes in an instant. I mean, really really changes.

And we're devastated. Even though we only just met her.

Even though we half expected things to go this way.

And even though we're not really sure what her status is.

We're still devastated.

Now, stay with me and don't worry - I'm not giving that much away.

Center writes family in a way that makes us hold on to hope. The dynamic of Maggie's family, the way each relationship is unique to its characters, pulls us into the story until we can't put it down. We want to know what happens between Maggie and her sister. We want to know what happens between her sister and her mother. We want to know what happens between her mother and her father. And above all, we want and need to know what happens to Maggie.

I'd be letting you down if I didn't introduce you to Ian. Honestly, Ian's a bit of a jackass, but we kind of like him anyway. He's Maggie's physical therapist, and somehow he's figured out a way to help her work towards healing. Even though she kind of can't stand him.

Maggie's road to healing isn't all hearts and flowers. And that might be one of the things I loved most about the story. She's been through a lot and her life is quite different - and in some ways she is able to find her way back to being herself, whereas in others her life is completely changed forever. These aspects of the story seem very very real. For anyone who has ever experienced a life-changing event, you know - we know - that things are never quite the same, no matter how much we start to feel like ourselves again. Katherine Center brings us this and more in How To Walk Away.

Now, back to the copy I have for one of you. If you'd like to enter to win a copy, consider leaving me a comment below with the name of one of the books you've read this year and why you recommend that I read it. And if you want a second chance to win - copy this draft below - tweet it out and drop the URL to your tweet in a second comment.

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I'd love to win my very own copy of How To Walk Away by @katherinecenter from @goodgirlgonered! Enter here to try and win: https://bit.ly/2khDvHC #giveaway

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That's all. Super simple.

I'd love to send this copy off to you, as I just know you're going to love it, too.

I'll wrap this up with one of the most important things Katherine said at the conference I saw her at (Mom 2.0 Summit, for anyone interested) in early May. She spoke about writing, and why she writes, why WE write, and of the importance of well written stories.


Let the stories of others teach you and guide you along your journey, my friends. I plan on remembering the importance of doing that myself. And hopefully in my remembering I will continue to grow and share stories of my own. 

* As previously stated, and as is the case with any and all of my book reviews - all opinions shared here are completely my own. This book was provided to me by the publisher without compensation. *

Click here to purchase an amazing book or two.

And have a look at these reviews for more recommendations:

Between Me and You, Allison Winn Scotch

The Promise Between Us, Barbara Claypole White

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sweet Sixteen

This post was written a week ago, on a date that mattered to me once and will always hold a spot in my heart as one of the reasons I am who I am today. Join me as I look back for a bit, and look forward for always.

solo mom, single parent, divorce, marriage, relationships, life post-divorce, discovering myself, who I am


I'm quite reflective in my space these days.

I'm coming to a turning point in my life - or I've already turned several corners - and in doing so I've felt some storms a-brewin' inside of me.

I've noticed the intensity with which I absorb other people's stories.

I've always been a listener. In fact, a little over a year ago I had been listening and listening and supporting so many. I'd been writing, too.

Finding words to remind people that they would, WE would, move forward.

That we would grow.

That we would do so very much - with or without those around us. With or without an organization and individuals we had felt represented so much of who we were. Who we are.

And then, within a week or so, I found myself having to dig deep and think those same things, same words, just.for.me.

I'm still me.

I still grow.

I still feel the intensity I've always felt.

I'm still passionate about things that matter.

I'm still who I am and who I want to be.

I'm changing, growing, thriving - all the time.

Even in the moments that I find myself looking around and feel as though I have been standing still for 365+ days.

Sweet sixteen.

Sixteen years ago today I changed my life by saying a few words.

Signing some papers.

In the coming months I will change my life again.

By thinking some words.

By signing some papers.

Sixteen years.

I was determined today, to not really think about the date.

I didn't focus on it. Think too hard.

Facebook reminded me of anniversaries gone by, but other than that I was shown love and support by two people I receive it from unconditionally. Always.

And then, the day went on.

No flashbacks.

Photographs.

Laughter.

Tears.

Just me.

Me and my daughter.

And that's when I reminded myself.

Sixteen is just a number.

Just like 44. And 45.

Like 29. Like 34.

Like 14. And 15.

Like 10. And 11.

Numbers can just be numbers.

You don't always have to do the math.

Sixteen.

The number 16 is a karmic number, and people under its influence need to keep their feet on the path of higher learning. They must cultivate their personal willpower, independence and initiative action to enable them to overcome obstacles that come into their life experiences. 
Number 16 denotes that many will experience trials and defeats throughout their lives. 

- - From Numerology - The Vibration and Meaning of Numbers


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

No Mud. No Lotus.



There are many things I thought I'd experience in my life.

Divorce is certainly not one of them.

No one goes into a marriage with expectations of divorce.

People experience many things.

Cold feet.

Nerves.

Jitters.

Excitement.

Me?

I had butterflies in my stomach on my wedding day.

Butterflies as I experienced one of the biggest moments of my life.

I was surrounded by family and friends.

I was in love. I was loved.

I wasn't young. I waited. I found the right person.

I knew what I wanted.

I knew when I said yes.

I can see myself - feel what I was feeling.

I had a good life.

A wonderful life.

And then.

I became a mom.

And life changed some.

Parents. We were parents. We are parents.

Those moments - I'll remember them always.

Looking into the eyes of my person.

The person who experienced this shift in their life at the exact moment I did.

The person who held my hand as we three made ourselves a family.

Made ourselves a home.

The person who held my hand through the mud.

And then.

We experienced so very much.

Loss. Grief. Pain.

Laughter. Love. Joy. Happiness.

These things cycled throughout our lives.

Parenting. Motherhood. Fatherhood.

Exhaustion. Emotion. Frustration.

Work. Friendships. Relationships.

And then.

A decade and some later.

Life changed some more.

Our hands slipped from one another.

We loosened our grasp. 

We didn't know the plan.

It mattered not.

For it is not always for us to know.

Because if we did - what steps would we have taken?

What challenges would we have allowed ourselves to face?

What pain? What losses? What anger and hurt?

And so, instead we found the moments.

We find the moments.

We stop - we think - we take notice.

Do we ever expect the mud to surround us?

Even in the deepest of floods we don't anticipate that it may swallow us whole.

And when it does we don't always think we'll find our way out.

But we will.

We always do.

Our story isn't over yet.

We're strong.

We live through.

Persevere.

We grow.

We thrive.

We prosper.

We flourish.

No mud.

No lotus.



Monday, April 2, 2018

Between Me and You, Allison Winn Scotch

novel, fiction, recommendation, Kindle, reading, goodreads, Allison Winn Scotch, women's fiction, chick lit

* I received a copy of this book for review. There are affiliate links throughout this post *

Between Me and You is possibly my favorite of all of Allison Winn Scotch's novels. 

There. I said it. 

Now, I'll tell you why. 

First, I just absolutely loved the way that it was written.

The tale of two characters, the way that their words, their thoughts, their feelings, their dreams - the way that all of this played out on the page (virtual or otherwise, it doesn't matter), was all just perfectly done. 

I felt as though I knew Ben and Tatum. I could have been Ben and Tatum. Well, one or the other, obviously, not both. But still. 

The realistic aspects of their relationship just held so much weight for me. There was no flowery fanfare here when they told the story of their love. The stories that made up the years of their time together. Their marriage. All of it. 

I had no idea where this book was going to go. 

I knew there were these two strong-willed characters, with a lot to share, who were no longer together. But I didn't have a clue as to why. 

Did someone cheat?

Did someone just up and leave?

Did they lose a child?

Did one of them die?

These are the things that go through your mind as you start off reading Between Me and You.

And there was no true consistency throughout the timeline of their lives. Which, in all honesty, may have been confusing for some, but was something I kind of loved. 

I did have to take pause now and then, but this style of storytelling just drew me in more with each chapter, which is another reason I loved this book as much as I did. 

Ben and Tatum's relationship is one that has gone through many ups and many downs. And as we join them we find ourselves watching and listening to each character as they reflect back to even the days before they met. It's a tale of love and laughter. Heartache and pain. Friendship and anger. And growth and loss. 

And it's a must-read. 

Learn more about Winn Scotch by checking out my review of In Twenty Years.

Looking for more reading recommendations? Stay with me: 





* Reminder: This book was provided to me for review, but as indicated, my feelings about the story and the writing are, as always, my own. *