Style, Surviving Chaos

2020 Year in Review: Favorite Books

Although 2020 didn’t quite work out the way we planned….we still managed to get some reading done. I ended up reading more books this year because we’ve been staying at home to stay safe. I found myself reading books in new genres like fantasy, historical fiction, books written by women of color, autobiographies, trilogies and more. Diving into a good book has helped me stay sane, especially during the chaos of this past year and gave me some me time away (self care) from everything happening in the world. It’s been a tumultuous year!!! Below is a list of my 5 favorites books from this year, some you have heard of and others you may not. Although these are my 5 favorite books, I did have some honorable mentions that are definitely worth picking up on your next trip to the bookstore. Happy reading!!!

Queenie” by Candy Carty-Williams

Queenie is a great exploration of being black modern women in today’s world. I was so glad to read a book from our perspective and dealt with issues within the black community that are rarely discussed. Summary: Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth. As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”


Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

Where the Crawdads Sing is a wonderful novel based with strong appreciation for the natural world. I really enjoyed being part of the main characters journey and she navigates childhood to womanhood, love and loss, growing independence and survival. Summary: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.


The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library was definitely a book that took me out of my comfort zone. A story about life, regrets and missed opportunities, this book will definitely have you reflecting about your own life. I love the philosophical nature of the book and all the lives the main character thought she wanted only to come back full circle to her own life. Summary: Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.


Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris

If your looking for a good page turner, Behind Closed Doors is definitely it! I love the suspense of this book, the twisted nature of the characters and being on the edge of my seat. This book is definitely worth reading. Summary: Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.


The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season is book 1 of a great fantasy trilogy with lots of twists and turns. I loved the level of detail that intricately connects the characters and their story lines. Plus I love seeing the representation of my ethnicity and culture portrayed throughout the book. Summary: Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. Across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land to save her daughter.


Notable Mentions

  • A Song of Wraiths and Ruins by Roseanne A. Brown
  • Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • The Turn of A Key by Ruth Ware
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Family, Surviving Chaos

2020 Christmas Guide

We’re doing things a little differently this year for Christmas. This past year has been a trying time for everyone around the world; we’ve lost loved ones and seen our livelihood turned upside down during the pandemic. We feel it is so important to come together as a community, nation and world to support each other through this difficult time. So instead of providing a list of gift-able items, we have curated a list of organizations to support that need our help now more than ever. Whether you choose to donate time or money, we hope that you support these groups as they help support our community and the world.


Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is an independent, impartial and neutral global movement providing medical aid where its needed most. They develop and produce per-packaged medical kits that be transported within hours of a disaster. Many doctors work within conflict zones, long epidemics and other long-terms settings. With offices in 21 countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Doctors Without Borders are available at any time. You can support Doctors without Borders by donating here which will go towards programs, medical supplies and logistics.


Feeding America

The Feeding America network is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, working to connect people with food and end hunger. Donors, staff, and volunteers all play an important role in our efforts to end hunger in the United States. They work with manufacturers, distributors, retailers, food service companies and farmers to gather food before it goes to waste. Our communities need a healthy variety of foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein. Each year, Feeding America does more to secure these foods for our nationwide network of food banks. You help Feeding America in a number of ways, check out the opportunities they have available here.


Texas Baptist Children’s Home

Texas Baptist Children’s Home (TBCH) embraces children and families in need in order to empower and equip them for a promising future. Children and single mothers who come to TBCH are often lost, hurting, and hopeless, without a place to turn for help during their time of greatest need. Their residential program provides a safe home and a stable family environment where they can learn, grow, and ultimately experience a happy, healthy future. There are many ways to support TBCH; check out all the opportunities here.


Red Cross

The Red Cross provide provide compassionate, through volunteers, to care for those in need. The Red Cross network of generous donors, volunteers and employees share a mission of preventing and relieving suffering, here at home and around the world. We roll up our sleeves and donate time, money and blood. We learn or teach life-saving skills so our communities can be better prepared when the need arises. We do this every day because the Red Cross is needed – every day. The Red Cross provides a number of services from disaster relief to blood drives; you can find more ways to volunteer and support the Red Cross here.

Food, Surviving Chaos

Gyeran Mari: South Korean Rolled Eggs

Eggs can be eaten in many different ways…scrambled, hard boiled, poached…but have you eaten them rolled?? Gyeran Mari are rolled eggs that can be eaten as a side dish and at any time. These eggs are not just for breakfast! Customarily eaten as a tasty side dish; Gyeran Mari makes an appearance outside of breakfast and can be found in kid’s school lunches in South Korea. My husband has enjoyed this dish in his past visits to South Korea. You can find out more about his trip to Seoul here. This recipe is easy to make and is an egg-cellent addition to any meal!

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small carrot finely chopped
  • 1 green onion finely chopped

Let’s Make It!

  1. Crack eggs into bowl and add salt. Beat eggs well with fork or whisk.
  2. Lightly grease medium sized (9 inches or 23 cm across) pan with vegetable oil. Place pan over low heat.
  3. Once pan is hot, pour half of egg mixture. Swirl (don’t stir) the egg to entirely cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the carrots and onion on top.
  4. When the bottom of the egg starts to get firm but the top is still wet, roll it from one side to about the middle of the pan.
  5. Slide the rolled egg back toward the edge of the pan, and pour half of the remaining egg into the empty side of the pan.
  6. When the new egg starts to firm, roll it again from the edge to the center of the pan.
  7. Slide the rolled egg back toward the edge of the pan, and pour the last of the egg into the empty side of the pan.
  8. Once all the egg has been added to the roll, carefully move it from the pan to a cutting board.
  9. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Mashisseoyo (Delicious)!

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Family, Travel, When in

How to Travel with Pets

With the holidays fast approaching, you may be visiting relatives that live near by. Your getting yourself organized and ready to go….you’ve made a list of road trip essentials (check out our list here) or your preparing to take a short flight. But what about your pets??? Pets need a vacation too and make great companions when your traveling. Whether your traveling by car, train or air, I’ve put together a travel guide to help navigate the “getting there” part of you trip with your pet in tow.

Before You Em-bark!

  1. Fit for Travel: Make sure your pet is fit for travel; your veterinarian can help with this! Talk to them about your destination and how your getting there so they can advise if your pet is ready.
  2. Pet Identification: Make sure your pet has an ID tag for their collar with a phone number where you can reached. Also, microchipping is another great option for identification.
  3. Travel Accessories: A pet crate or carrier is a must when traveling; make sure it is well ventilated and big enough for them to sit, turn around or lie down. Introduce your pet to a new carrier at home before your trip. You don’t want them freaking out when its time to leave.

Travelling By Car

  1. Buckle Up or Carrier: Pets should wear their seat belt – yes, pet seat belts do exist. If your not comfortable with that, put them in their carrier. Also, don’t let pets sit in your lap while driving. Major distraction!
  2. Paws In: Make sure you pet keeps their heads and paws inside a moving vehicle. You can crack a window for them to feel the breeze; just make sure they can’t get their full head out.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip and don’t feed them in the car. The last thing you want is a motion sick pet…..
  4. Pit Stops: Don’t forget to stop every 2-3 hours for bathroom breaks and exercise (for both you!).

Travelling by Air

  1. In Cabin: Currently not allowed due to COVID-19 but if your pet is an emotional support animal they are allowed. Pets must be small and less than 20 lbs to accompany you in the cabin. NOTE: Check with your airline first!
  2. Arrive Early: Get to the airport early to allow you pet a little exercise before your flight.
  3. Light Meals: Give you pet a light meal at least 4 hours before your trip. Pets can be prone to air sickness so keep things on the light side.
  4. No Sedation: Don’t sedate your pet during air travel because sedation medication can increase heart rate and aggravate respiratory issues. Additionally, sedatives interfere with their balance and equilibrium!

Travelling by Train

  1. Small pets: Amtrak, the nations largest passenger train carrier, allows pets 20 lbs and under to travel by train on trips up to 7 hours. NOTE: Be sure to check their policies before you book your trip.
  2. Carry on Luggage: A pet in their carrier is counted as 1 carry-on luggage so pack wisely.
  3. Food & Drink: Bring collapsible food and drink bowls to feed your pet on the train. Remember, a light meal a couple of hours before your journey.
  4. Utilize Scheduled Stops: Take advantage of scheduled stop(s) by taking a brisk walk on the platform and a quick potty break. Your pet will thank you!

No matter how you travel, your pet can be a welcome companion on your journey. They enjoy getting out as much as you do and probably love all the sights, sounds and smells they encounter. Just be sure you have everything you need to make your trip successful and stress-free.

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Food, Surviving Chaos

Vibibi: Kenyan Coconut Rice Pancakes

Vibibi or little coconut rice pancakes is a delicious dish from Kenya. Hundreds of years ago many different nations arrived to trade in Kenya along its coasts. Many of these countries influenced and blended with African traditions within Kenya. In cities like Mombasa, Arab and Indian influences help form the spice blend we see in Vibibi. In Swahili, Vibibi means little ladies and more than one so this recipes makes about 6 pancakes. But if you only want one, just say “kibibi”.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup (125 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups (304 ml) rice flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.5 ml) cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil

Let’s Make It!

  1. PLAN AHEAD: It takes an hour for the batter to rise for this recipe.
  2. In a small bowl, mix yeast, water, and pinch of sugar. Let stand for about 5 minutes and the mixture will start to foam.
  3. In a big bowl mix sugar, rice, flour and cardamom. Then add coconut milk and yeast mixture. Stir well.
    1. Note: The batter should be pourable like pancake batter. If not, add a little water.
  4. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it alone for at least an hour.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan on medium heat. Pour roughly 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and spread to form a small pancake.
  6. When bubbles start to form, flip the pancake to cook the other side.
  7. Repeat steps 5-6 to cook the rest of the batter. Be sure to heat a little more oil on the pan before pouring.
  8. Serve with fresh fruit and enjoy!

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