Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Call of Kilimanjaro, Jeff Belanger

nonfiction, mountain climbing, Kilimanjaro, movement, life-changing
*all links to Amazon are affiliate links*

With pandemic living as it is and has been, you may have noticed that I haven't reviewed a book in a while. So when given an opportunity to do so for this book, I was hesitant, but excited. 

Hesitant, because I had no idea if I'd even be able to finish reading. January was FULL of books. I read seven titles. SEVEN. Now. Ask me how many books I completed in February. Go on. Ask. 

Zero. None, y'all. So committing to a book was a bit of a tricky thing. Except I knew I wanted to read this one. And I'm really glad I did. 

Let me offer you a disclaimer right at the start. And it goes beyond the "this book was provided to me by the author" typical blogger detail. Author and adventurer Jeff Belanger is a friend. And so I really hoped I would like his book. But opinions expressed have nothing to do with that. 

Because I really did like his book. 

The Call of Kilimanjaro: Finding Hope Above The Clouds was quite the journey. 

And if you know me? You know that I am not even remotely close to being a climber. 

So, it's no surprise that before reading The Call of Kilimanjaro, I could have never imagined the experience.

I could have never pictured what it meant to make your way up that high. What it would be like to be above the rest of the world, feeling as though you could practically touch the sky.

I could have never understood why someone would be courageous (foolish?) enough to find themselves in a place where they would be so extremely aware of their own ability [or lack thereof] to breathe in the thin air.

But not only did I learn why one would want to tackle such a literal mountain, I also learned that the mountain itself represented so much more. 

I'm the sum total of my scars and my triumphs. I don't want to change those things. 

- p. 7

You know how it is, when you're reading an ebook and you're able to highlight all the sentences that represent something to you? I read a hard copy of this book, and I do not tend to highlight at all when doing that. 

Which is a very slight detriment to my review - because there were so many highlights to this book that left me assessing and reassessing my own life, my own growth, my own mountains.

But don't worry, as you can see, I have a few to share. 

One important lesson Jeff learned in preparation for this journey jumped out at me early on.

That hike showed me how I sometimes move through life: focusing on the goal, the summit, the end of the project. And often missing a lot along the way. - p. 84

Oh. Hi. How many of us have been there? The destination is always more important than the journey. The focus direct. The need to achieve matters most. 

How much do we miss when we don't avert our eyes from where we're headed? When we don't pay attention to the path? 

Fortunately this revelation came early on in preparation for Kilimanjaro. And ensured that Belanger did not miss anything on that journey. Which, I'd wager, is why I'm able to share this book with you today. 

Along with great detail on how he prepared for this climb, the descriptions and photos throughout the book ensure that we feel as though we are right there with him. 

We meet the porters and guides. His fellow adventurers. 

We take each step along the way. Without the effort. Without the training. 

We feel the temperatures drop. The air thin. Hear the wind whisper. 

We feel the weight of it all. Not just what he carries with him. But of his own body and movements, every choice that he makes and has made up to this point. 

We feel and sense everything. 

Because he shares it with us. 

I know, you already know that. Or you think you do. 

But I promise you this book will give you more than you expected. 

Even if you never ever (not in a million years) plan on physically climbing an actual mountain - I mean, it's a VOLCANO, y'all. 

This would be where I'd insert the wide-eyed emoji. 

The journey goes beyond the physical. Jeff takes us to a place we can all relate to. 

He reminds us ...

With real beauty, you're imperfect, you're scarred, you're misshapen, you're weathered, but you still stand tall for all to see. - p. 154

I thank Jeff so very much for that. 

And I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself so you can join him and take your very own journey. 

Grab your copy of The Call of Kilimanjaro: Finding Hope Above The Clouds over on Amazon today.

Meet Jeff and learn more about his other adventures on his website: 

Jeff Belanger: Exploring the Unexplained

Thursday, February 4, 2021

January: What I Read

books, ebooks, reading, recommendations

I've decided to start a monthly series here on the blog. 

I used to keep a very long list of all the books I've ever read. I still have that archived somewhere. And I do still track my reading on Goodreads. 


I'm going to post at the end of each month and share the books I've read. 

Which (HOORAY!) I actually have done in January. 

I also used to make a goal of reading 100 books every year. I never hit that goal. 

So now I'm much more realistic and opt for setting a goal of 52. One book per week. If it's possible, it's possible, if not, I won't beat myself up over it. It's still okay. But it's nice to set a small challenge anyway.

And listen, my plan was to review each book. I really wanted to do that for you. And I will try to at some point, but if I don't submit and publish this post soon I'll be adding any books I read in February to the list. So. Bear with me and feel free to ask me my thoughts on the titles listed below. 

*referral links are available for your shopping convenience*


The Once and Future Witches, by Alix E. Harrow

fiction, witchcraft, whimsical

Let me know what you've been reading so far this year! Can't wait to hear what you recommend. And be sure to tell me if you've read any of these titles and what you thought. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Peanut Butter Nutella Sugar Cookies.

It's Houseful of Cookies time again!!!

And I'll admit, I'm getting this shared right under the wire, folks. 

I had a different plan, was missing an ingredient, and so I decided to go with simple and delicious, with a hope that y'all enjoy these just as much as I do.

Peanut Butter Nutella Sugar Cookies


1 c peanut butter* 

1 c sugar

1/2 c Nutella

1 egg

splash vanilla extract (optional, but makes it better)

Optional ingredient: caramel bits

* honestly, when it comes to peanut butter I'm going to suggest you skip the health food store kind - only because I don't know how well that will do!


Mix together the peanut butter and the sugar. 

Add in the Nutella. 

Toss in an egg.

Add the vanilla extract (if you want to!).

Roll into balls and bake at 350 degrees for about 13 minutes. 

Check on them in case you're unsure of how well they've cooked. I put mine in for a bit longer and one or two cookies burned at the bottom. No clue why those two acted up. But it's okay, they're still edible!

Honestly, the cookies taste even better with the caramel bits. You can pop a few in while the cookies are just about to cool, which lets them melt a little and sit perfectly. 

You can also try melting them and drizzling on top of the cookie - which is delicious and also something I did not have the capacity for this fine evening. 

Either way, I hope you enjoy these cookies - and all the others the Houseful of Cookies participants have shared this year.

Houseful of Cookies 2020!

cookie recipes

Houseful Of Nicholes - Dumpster Cookies 
Day By Day In Our World - Granola Cookies
Love Jaime - Snowball Cookies 
How Was Your Day? - Lingonberry Thumbprints
Someday I'll Learn - Easiest Christmas Cookies
Brooklyn Active Mama - Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies
Sugar, Spice, and Glitter - Glazed Gingerbread Cookies
Good Girl Gone Redneck - Peanut Butter Nutella Sugar Cookies 

Care to check out my Houseful of Cookies recipes from previous years? 

2016: Graham Cracker Pecan Toffee Squares

2017: Perfect Holiday Saltine Toffee Treat

2019: Chocolate Rolo Surprise Cookies

Friday, November 20, 2020

'Tis the Season.

holidays, pandemic holiday, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, holiday season

And yet, it's not. 

It's not exactly the season of all the things.

It's the season, but it's not.

It's not the same at all.

Our travel plans are halted. 

Our parties are cancelled. 

Our sparkly outfits stay in the closet.


'Tis the season. 



This shouldn't take away the joy that we feel.

This shouldn't take away the hope in our hearts.

This shouldn't take away the love. 

The love.


It's there.




It's stressful. 


It's exhausting. 


Let's face it, y'all. 





The love.

The love is there. 

Whether we're together or apart.

Whether we're 500 miles away. 

And yes. 

I choose that number specifically.

I am almost always 500 miles away from my family.

Through the most important of holidays.

The most important of anniversaries.

The most important of moments.


The love.

The love is there.

Whether we're together or apart.

Whether we're 500 miles away.

The love is there.



You'll feel it, too.

I promise.


After all.

'Tis the season.

Sunday, November 8, 2020


loss, love, relationships, friendships, emotion, heartache

Have you listened to Taylor Swift's [fairly] new song, exile yet?

I can play that song on repeat a trillion times a day, and it tears me up every time. 


They're so interesting, aren't they? 

We see them in retrospect. We blink, and they appear, often too late. 

And then we get stuck. 

Like a hamster on a wheel.

Replaying and replaying.

Each and every sign. 

We find ourselves wishing.




But we can't.

We can't rewind. 

Not magically. 

Not really.

We can't see the signs that were there before he left.

We can't see the signs that were there before we lost her. 

We can't see the signs that were there all along.

We want to say we can't imagine they were there and we missed them.

And yet.

We did.

We do. 

We miss the signs. 

But what becomes most important - SO VERY IMPORTANT.

To each and every one of us. 

Is that we let them go.

We cannot stay there. 


Tripping over the signs that are behind us. 

We just can't.

So. Friends.

Let them go.

Those signs. 

They're irrelevant now.

They don't matter.

They mean nothing.

We can't change what happened.

It was not our fault.

We just didn't know.

We didn't see.

We skipped over the signs.

And we need to let them go.