Hello from Panama City Beach! We arrived in the panhandle of Florida in the early evening on Wednesday after a 9+ hour drive. It was a long one but we made it and we’ve been enjoying sunshine and salty sea air.

We’re here because Ryan is participating in his first full Ironman race tomorrow. He said he’s feeling a whirlwind of emotions — anxious, excited, nervous, intimidated — but he also feels ready. He knows this race will be different from his four previous half Ironman races and will demand much more from him and his body. I am admittedly feeling nervous for tomorrow because I fully realize that what Ryan is about to do is incredibly intense and demanding. I just want him to finish feeling okay and injury-free (clearly his bike crash from his Roanoke half is still in the back of my mind) and know tomorrow is going to be an intense and emotional day for a myriad of reasons.

I’m also incredibly grateful my sister and her family surprised Ryan on his 40th birthday by telling him they’d be joining us to cheer for him and having more race day support is only ever a wonderful thing. The day after the race will be a travel day for our family but I will do my best to have a race recap up on the blog as soon as I can next week. In the meantime, keep on scrolling for this week’s roundup of Friday favorites!

Things I’m Loving Friday

I love the look of dark nails in the fall and winter months but for whatever reason I don’t feel like I can pull off black nails. I just feel ridiculous whenever I try but I found a color that’s a little less intense than a jet-black but still dark and fun for fall. Hellooo ExprEssie Left on Shred! This navy blue polish found its way into my Amazon cart earlier this week and I couldn’t apply it to my nails fast enough after it arrived. It’s actually my first time trying Essie’s quick-dry polish and I’m a fan. I love a wide nail polish brush for easy application and, true to its name, it dried quickly on my nails. The darker color meant my nails needed two coats but I loved the look once they were done and know I’ll be reaching for this color on repeat in the coming colder months.

I’ve been on a huge granola kick lately and repeatedly find myself reaching for granola when I’m feeling snacky. I typically make my own granola (this easy coconut granola is my go-to right now) but I bought a bag of Purely Elizabeth granola at Whole Foods last weekend and flew through it! The granola was sweet and salty with the perfect amount of crunch, a stellar ingredient list and even a little boost of protein and fiber. I ate the granola by the handful but I would imagine it would be a fabulous topping for yogurt or smoothie bowls, too.

My rating: A-

I stand by my thoughts that Abby Jimenez is the queen of witty, fun and hilarious dialog. Her books are always filled with banter that makes me laugh out loud and The Happy Ever After Playlist was no exception. It’s the second book in a trilogy (The Friend Zone is book one and Life’s Too Short is book three) but every book can stand on its own. (For what it’s worth, I liked it more than The Friend Zone but slightly less than Life’s Too Short.) While the plotline in this book was not exactly believable, I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel and flew through it in three days.

The Happy Ever After Playlist begins when a lost dog finds its way into Sloane Monroe’s car. For the past two years since she experienced a heartbreaking loss, Sloane has been a hollow version of herself, shutting herself off from the world and the things she loves most. Something about the lost dog begins to pull Sloane out of her shell and she quickly realizes Tucker may be exactly what she needed to find happiness again. And then she gets a phone call from Tucker’s owner, Jason, a musician currently on tour in Australia, and he says he wants his beloved dog back when he returns.

As Jason and Sloane discuss Tucker, Sloane realizes he really loves his dog and she shocks herself by feeling a connection to this man she’s never met through their texts and conversations over the phone. When they finally meet in person, all of Sloane’s expectations are blown out of the water… but where can this connection really go? Jason’s career is on the cusp of exploding and Sloane is still feeling guarded after her loss? Is it all worth the risk?

My rating: C+

I had high hopes for this book when I saw it was part of Reese’ Book Club as I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of books recommended by this book club. Unfortunately this one fell flat for me. I listened to the audiobook version and while it entertained me enough for me to finish listening to the story, I never really felt invested in the characters or the plot. Though I enjoy a book that jumps back and forth from the past to the present, I found this one predictable and unrealistic and not really all that thrilling for a book that’s supposed to be a suspenseful thriller.

From Amazon: 

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.

Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.

At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin…

Winning Cornbread Recipe (Pairs perfectly with a warm bowl of chili!)

Winning Cornbread Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats (A kid-friendly fall favorite!)

Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats

Question of the Day

What is one thing making you smile this week? 


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