Let's chat about cozy, warm beverages and reading because those two go hand in hand for me. If I think back to my younger days, I never wanted to stay in....ever. I remember my now husband suggesting to me in my early twenties when he was visiting me in Boston that we stay in on a weekend night. I didn't get it. It was like he was speaking in a foreign language to me. What do you mean don't go out on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night? Didn't he know there was an entire city out there just waiting for us all to join in the fun? Staying in on a Tuesday night was one thing, but the weekend? Not a chance. Well, time changes everything and I haven't gone out regularly in a loong time and if given the choice, I'd stay in with a good book, warm socks and a hot cup of tea or coffee over an 11PM pint or cocktail at any hot spot. My twenty something year old self would not recognize my forty something year old self.
With 2020 approaching, I feel like I'm continuously running into online reminders about the new decade being on the horizon. Many personal development voices are posing thought provoking questions for reflection and intention setting as we move into this new decade. The gist of the message I'm getting from these diverse voices is simple: "Did you see how fast this past decade went? You've got one life here on Earth. Are you doing what you want to be doing? Are you living like you want to be living? If yes, what do you need to do to continue on that path? If no, let's do the work to get clarity around what's working, what's missing and what you need to do to bridge the gap."
One of the biggest pieces of living with intention is what you fill your mind with...what you read, what you listen to etc. I find reading and podcasts to be a big part of my regular life these days so I thought this week's cozy latte recipe was a nice time to reflect on books that had an impact on me this past year and what I'm planning for reading going into 2020. More on the podcasts later.
Here are some of my favorite reads from 2019:
The Mindful Catholic by Dr. Gregory Bottaro- I stumbled across Dr. Bottaro's books via podcast interviews and it instantly grabbed my interest. Remaining in the present moment is one of my daily struggles. My mind historically wanders to the to-do list, the what I haven't got done yet list, the grocery list, the budget list, the what could go wrong at work list and the what my kids need list. This is all surrounded by thoughts of " I need to be more this" lists, am I giving my family as a whole, each child as an individual, my husband, my job and my home enough attention in all those different needed ways? Is everyone eating nutritiously? Does someone need a dental appointment? When did I work out last? You get it. Monkey brain. I've used prayer, exercise and the physical practice of breath, movement and yoga to settle this frenzy down and I found that Dr. Bottaro's book bridges gaps between wellness terms we hear such as "mindfulness" and "remain in the present moment" and my Catholic faith. The subtitle of "finding God one moment at a time" seriously summarizes my spiritual goals.
Pope John Paul II's Love and Responsibility. This is a book I wish I had known about twenty years ago, but maybe I wasn't ready for it twenty years ago. I didn't find it to be a fast read as Pope John Paul's theological and philosophical intellect is robust to say the least. I knew he was a very smart man before I read it but this book blew me away as to just how smart and compassionate he truly is. In a world plagued by a lack of respect within relationships, scandal and abuse, Pope JP's work feeds a lot of truth and goodness that I think the world needs more of.
The Gift of Tears by Keith Nano. This one has a personal connection for me as I worked with Keith and know him personally. His book is the true and heartfelt story about the miraculous healing from a sudden and terrible illness of his son Jacob. It's a story that reminds me that life can change on a dime and that prayer, community and purpose are pillars of life. It has a happy ending but tissues were needed throughout this beautifully written book.
Going into 2020, I'm planning to read the following...
Harry Potter- I just started the first book in this series. I know, I'm like 22 years late and this isn't the usual personal or spiritual development book that I gravitate towards. I've never watched one of the movies from start to finish but the clips I've seen peaked my interest and I'm reading it because it's exactly the type of reading I don't usually do. I'm amazed and baffled as to how an author creates this type of story, the world the characters live in and the details that go along with it. It's the opposite of the type of writing I can do well. Call on me if you need a policy, procedure, grant proposal or executive summary. Maybe that's why I like developing recipes...step by step...do this, then that...Need a creative short story that will keep readers turning pages? I'm not your girl. In fact, this blog post is likely too long to hold anyone's attention at this point. So, I'm diving into this impressively creative book series in awe of JK Rowling's creative mind and I would love to learn more about how she developed the series.
Made for This: The Catholic Woman's Guide to Childbirth by Mary Haseltine. Ok, I've actually read this one before. I found it about 3 weeks before the birth of my third child in 2018 and I was feeling all the anxious feelings as labor and delivery approached so I read it quickly...like I was cramming for a final exam or something. I loved it. The book brings to life the beauty of all those really hard parts of labor and delivery. I'm due with #4 this Spring so I'm breaking out this book again. This time, I plan to really give it time and space over the course of a few months to mentally and spiritually prepare for what I pray will be the delivery of a healthy new baby boy.
All this talk about books finally brings me to our latte recipe. This latte can be made at home without a frothing or latte machine. It's a healthier version of a Gingerbread Latte and it packs in those festive flavors without refined sugars, syrups or artificial ingredients. All you need for equipment is a fresh cup of coffee and a blender!
- 1 1/2 cups fresh, hot coffee
-1 tsp molasses
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1/2 tsp ground ginger
-1-2 tsp sweetener of your choice (I've used Swerve, maple syrup, coconut sugar)
-2 TBS unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1/2 tsp ghee or grass fed butter
Pour the coffee into a blender and add all of the other ingredients. Secure the top of the blender...double check to make sure it is on tight. As a precaution, I also hold a dish towel over the top of the blender before I turn it on in case anything should steam out. Turn the blender on low, then move up to high and blend for 20-30 seconds. Pour into your favorite mug and sprinkle some more cinnamon on top. Ta-da for a healthy, frothy latte to pair with your warm socks and reading! Have any reading suggestions for me?
And in case you're interested in some of the reflection questions I've come across as we roll into the new decade, check out Marie Forleo and her decade in review post!
New England wife and mom. Faith, fitness, yoga, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.