Friday, January 18, 2013

My Favorite Soup!

Today I'm linking up at Kelly's Korner to share my favorite soup with you!

I used to hate soup. That may sound strange to you, but I think it's because my parents are BIG soup lovers, and I just got tired of it. I have since found so many different soups that I LOVE and especially on a cold winter's night, there's sometimes nothing I want more than a warm bowl of hearty soup.

This soup was first introduced to me by a co-worker who served it at our weekly girls lunch. I instantly fell in love and asked for the recipe. I couldn't believe how easy it was to make! It's a regular in my rotation of meals. Sorry I don't have a picture of it, but I hope you'll try it!

Tortellini and Tomato Soup with Rosemary
makes 4 to 6 servings

3 tbls. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can dice tomatoes, drained
6 cups chicken broth
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dried
12 ounces fresh cheese tortellini
3 cups chopped fresh spinach (I use baby spinach and leave it whole)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes or until softened.  Add tomato and cook for a minute.  Stir in broth and rosemary, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Add pasta, stirring to blend, and simmer 5 more minutes.

Add spinach, salt, and pepper.  Simmer, stirring often, until spinach is wilted and pasta is just tender.  Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with fresh parmesan cheese.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Books of 2012- Part 2

Hello again! I'm back with another list of books for you! If you missed Part 1, check it out. It's all the books I read for fun last year. Again, I'm linking to the where you can purchase the Kindle version on Amazon, and again, I encourage you to check out your public library to see if you can read it for free!

I loved being a part of a book club and I'm hoping I can find one to join here in the area! For the one in Nashville, we read one book each month, switching out between fiction and non-fiction. We also gathered to watch movie versions or supplemental movies when applicable.

Books I read in Book Club:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick- This book was my favorite type of non-fiction- one that reads as fiction. Barbara Demick is a journalist and she tells the stories of six different North Koreans. This book was absolutely fascinating. I blogged about this a while back after I first read it. I highly recommend it!

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand- Ugh. This one's a beast. We allowed ourselves two months to read this because of the length. Honestly, I'm glad I read it, but only so I can say I read it. It is such an influential book and because it is referenced so frequently, I'm glad to know what people are talking about. But I really didn't enjoy it at all. At all.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand- Wow. This book was gripping, heart-wrenching, surprising, powerful, inspiring. Maybe my favorite book of the year. It is another non-fiction that reads like fiction. I flew through it and although it was hard to read, it was definitely worth it. If you read it, just remember that survival is in the title. I heard this will also be made into a movie, and I'll be the first in line to see it!

Rules of Civility by Amor Towels- This novel is set in New York City in the 1930's. A fun read, especially if you've ever visited the Big Apple! I really enjoyed it, and had the pleasure of hearing the author speak at a book signing in Nashville as an extra treat!

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown- I didn't love this book, but I think it's a good read for anyone who has experienced shame, guilt, or low self-confidence. It was a bit self-help, but I did find it interesting how the author incorporated her research. Did you know there's a science to shame?

11-22-63 by Stephen King- My first Stephen King novel! I was not sure what to expect or if I would really like this, but I really enjoyed it! Basically, it's the story of a young man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK. I'm not a fan of science fiction, but this was realistic (enough) that I was captivated and interested.

Have you read any of these? I'd love to hear your thoughts and if there are any you'd be interested in checking out! Stay tuned for the final list- books I read for work. It's a short list, but they were really good!

Books of 2012- Part 1

Last year, I set a goal for myself. I wanted to commit to reading one book every month in 2012. Little did I know I'd join a book club halfway through the year! I was really proud of myself for completing my goal and I thought I'd share my book list in case any of you are looking for some good reads! Because I exceeded my goal, I'm splitting up my list into three posts so they won't be super long.

If you are a reader, I'd suggest checking out Goodreads. It helps you organize your reading in lists- want to read, reading, have read, write reviews, and connect with your friends to see what they're reading.

I was inspired to do this post from my friend, Pam, who reviews her list of books every year.  I will link each book to where you can find it on Amazon, but I will say that most of these books I read from the library and I highly recommend it! Whether I picked it up at my local branch or checked it out to my kindle, I saved a lot of money! I can't wait to check out the public library in our new hometown!

So, without further adieu, here are the books I read in 2012:

Books I Read on My Own:
The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks- This was the first book I read on the iPad I got for Christmas last year. And that's pretty much the only thing I remember about it. I've read every single one of his books, and they are all kind of the same, but if you're needing a good "beach read," this should satisfy that craving.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini- I had wanted to read this book for a while, but I really had no clue what it was about. It was really, really sad. But also a powerful story of redemption. I also enjoyed reading about another culture so different from my own. The jury's still out on whether or not I want to see the movie version of this.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore-  This was a really quick, non-fiction read about two young boys, both named Wes Moore, who grew up in the same neighborhood and the drastically different paths their lives took. It was interesting and inspiring, and (in my opinion) affirmed the importance of education and parental involvement.

The Devil in the White City: A Saga of Magic and Murder at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson- This was another one I'd wanted to read for a while. I tend to think I don't really enjoy historical fiction, but I really enjoyed this story that takes place in Chicago in the late 1800s. It was a page-turner! I heard it's being made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio!

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris- This was probably one of my least favorite books. I really enjoyed the first part of the memoir, when David was talking about his childhood. I stopped laughing as much and lost interest as the book went on. Some will find it hilarious- it just depends on your sense of humor!

Bossypants by Tina Fey- Hilarious. Need I say more? I read this in three days. Loved it.

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond- If you read The Pioneer Woman blog, you will definitely enjoy this telling of her love story. While she's mostly known for her cooking and photography, she's actually a great writer (and hilarious!) and this story of how she met and fell in love with Marlboro Man is a fun and easy read.

Have you read any of these? Check back tomorrow for part 2, all the books I read in book club!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gone to Texas

Hello? Anybody out there? Remember me? It's me, Alyssa. Your friendly sporadic blogger.

Man, it's been a CRAZY past few months. Most of you who read this are also Facebook friends, so you probably already know that Marcus and I are once again residents of the great state of Texas. It is a very bittersweet time for me. I am SO proud of Marcus, who finished seminary at Vanderbilt and accepted a position at Grace Avenue United Methodist Church. We are so excited to make our new home in Frisco and be closer to family. But I was devastated to leave my amazing job at Blood:Water Mission and all the wonderful friends and places we loved in Nashville. To be honest, I don't really feel like I was "done" with Nashville. It feels so surreal to be back in Texas and not have a job or a place of our own (yet!). But I am so confident that God has called us here and feel very blessed for His provision in our lives.

I suppose this little blog will need a makeover eventually. Hopefully I will get back to blogging on a more regular basis that warrants a new design! I have several things I want to post about in the next month, and while I'm on the hunt for a new job, I should have plenty of time for that! To hold myself accountable, I'm listing them here.

-Completion of my Nashville Bucket List
-Books I read in 2012
-Review and Resolutions for 2013
-Progress on decorating our new house

Yes, we bought a house! I could not be more thankful for such an easy house buying experience and I can't wait to share pictures with you. Praying everything goes smoothly until we close at the end of January!

And finally, to celebrate my return to blogging, I want to invite you to join me in a Valentine's Day blogging party! I'm a big fan of The Crowley Party and Alycia has joined with four other bloggers to host this swap. It should be fun!


It's good to be back, blog world! I hope you'll stick around!
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