Goodbye, July, and Hellooooo, August


[One of my firework pictures from Fourth of July. See more here.]

I'm linking up with Allison as I say hello to the new month and goodbye to last month.

Goodbye, birthday month. 

I will miss making everyone pay attention to me. Good thing I have a pool party birthday party planned on August 10. My birthday is never over. Amen.

Hello, parents' anniversary month.

My parents are celebrating their 31st anniversary on August 7.
I have no words to explain how awesome this is. My family rocks.

Goodbye, casual summer running. 

I've enjoyed going out for runs whenever I please without having a set schedule. But....

Hello, half marathon training.

I've running half marathon #6 in October and #7 in November. I'm hoping to shave some time off my PR! (1:56) I'll be doing long weekend runs with the Oklahoma City running group and trying to maybe incorporate some sprints at the track. 

Speaking of running.... goodbye, old running shoes & hello, new running shoes. It's time for an upgrade.

Goodbye, rampant jealousy and stress

Dear Jealousy, 

It's been real, but it's time for you to go pester someone else. I'm tired of constantly feeling envious of all my friends. Yes, they have houses. Yes, one of them makes more money than Jordan and I combined. Yes, they have really cute Sperry's and I'm rocking four-year-old Converse.

But it's just stuff. Stupid, dumb crap.

I love my husband. I have a great apartment. I have a family I love. I really like my church. I have amazing friends.

So suck it, jealousy. Take your stress and discontent somewhere else. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Hello, new Bible study.

I am SO ready for a new Bible study. It's a time commitment (every Wednesday night from August to November), but I'm looking forward to meeting some new ladies from the church and being diligent about quiet time and Bible reading.

Speaking of church, say hello to Christmas decorations! Yes, I was at the store last week, and they were putting out ornaments. And Christmas wreaths. Is it just me, or is it still too early?

What are you saying goodbye and hello to?

A Box of Healthy Goodies: Kona Kase


I was super excited to have the chance to review the July Kona Kase. I've seen these featured on a few other blogs and have been wanting to check it out myself. Long story short: I LOVE IT. You guys, if I had any extra money I would totally be all over this.

Kona Kase is a monthly box subscription that arrives at your door between the 5th-10th of each month full of delicious, healthy treats. It's perfect for everyone, specifically athletic-type people like myself. Each month features a box full of premium, nutrition samples of anything from energy gels to granola bars to power chews and more. Check out more FAQs here.

Kona Kases are $15 per month and ship to any destination in the US and Canada. (Free shipping to US/ $8 for shipping to Canada) 

You can use the code GIFTSUMMER for $5 off your first kase! (Writing "kase" with a k really is quite horrible. That's probably my only complaint. Editor problems.)

Anyway, I don't have many pictures because I was too busy eating all the things! Seriously, yum. The best part is that they give you the info to order more for yourself from the product's website, and most of the items in the July box came with a discount code of its own for 10-15% off! It's a win for everyone.

Here's what was in the July box: 

1) Caveman Cookies: all-natural, grain-free, dairy-free, preservative-free, naturally sweetened

2) Garuka Bars: packed with simple, wholesome ingredients, and a percentage of each sale goes to gorilla conservation. I don't know if you can tell from this picture, but the "samples" were actually a really good size.

3) Barbara Llewellyn Granola: rolled oats, sliced almonds, sesame & pumpkin seeds, honey sweetened & spiced

4) Body Glove Surge Gel: all-natural energy gel with caffeine

5) Perky Jerky: all-natural, premium turkey jerky; low fat, low carb, and high protein with no preservatives or MSG

6) Enjoy Life: seed & fruit mix that's gluten free from the top 8 allergens; also verified non-GMO and vegan

7) Pro Bar: bolt organic chews loaded with electrolytes, B vitamins, antioxidents, and complex carbs

8) Health Warrior: chia bars with omega 3s and loaded with antioxidants and plant-based protein; 100 calories and only 5g of sugar

So check out Kona Kase and use the code GIFTSUMMER for $5 off your first box! That's just $10 for a surprise box of high-quality, organic snacks.

*I did receive a free Kona Kase to review, but all opinions are my own.

Runner Problems: My Calves Are Too Big For My Skinny Jeans


[please go here to read the rest of this hilarious comic on long-distance running]

The inspiration for blog post topics arrives in many forms. A few weeks ago inspiration came while shopping and culminated in my GIF post regarding how I feel about Target. That was pretty funny, if I do say so myself. Which I am. Saying. It was funny.

Most recently, blog post inspiration hit a second time while shopping for a pair of colored jeans. Remember my awesome green jeans? Yeah, those. It was while trying on a mound of skinny jeans in an attempt to find my size that a runner problem revealed its unruly face. 

Side note: Am I the only one who never knows their size? Sometimes I'm a 2, sometimes a 4, sometimes a 6. Heck, I've even been a 9. Stores should all have the same sizing! I'm like, "Okay, I'm a size 4. Good to know. No WAIT WHAT? Size 16?!" Darn you, Ann Taylor Loft!

But back to the runner problem.

I'm as big a fan of sexy legs as the next person, but oh my gosh does running make shopping for skinny jeans harder than it needs to be. Hence volume 1 of runner problems:

My calves are too big for my skinny jeans

This is a serious, albeit ridiculous, problem. Trying on skinny jeans when you have calves the size of an elephant's behind is not easy. People in the fitting room next to me probably thought I was pooping from the noises I was making. Or, constipated, maybe. Though I don't know if that's better. (Actually, neither is better. I'm probably going to hear about this later from my dad. "Amanda, it's not ladylike to talk about pooping in your blog posts.")

In any case, the answer was, of course, neither. Don't worry. Just trying to squeeze my mammoth calves inside these pant legs. Seriously. Runner problem. If you don't believe me, just Google the phrase "huge running calves."

It's not just me. 

My calves just don't fit! Everything else is fine. Waist is fine. Hips are fine. Thighs are fine. Even ankles are fine. But I hit the calf area, and I feel like the Incredible Hulk. They should add slits or zippers or something*.

Once I finally found a pair I liked, I asked Jordan to take outfit pictures of me (which he doing hates above all else). The first thing he said was, "Woah! Your calves look huge in those jeans!" I'm not making that up just to blog about it. He really said that.

Girl code #572: Don't tell a girl she has huge anything. 

Not cool, man. Not cool.
He might be trying to get himself fired from official style photographer duty. 
It's working.

But he's right. Stupid running. 

No that's a lie. I love you, running. Even if you do give me huge calves.

*There's a 5.2% chance I am being slightly dramatic.

it's a good thing and a bad thing


[you can download this lovely desktop image here]

August is around the corner! Crazy doesn't even describe how I feel about the fact that we're officially past the halfway mark of 2013. I used to wonder where I'd be in 5 years. I think that's funny. Five years? I don't know where I'll be next month! Oh, August 2013, what do you have in store for me?

This not knowing is a good and bad thing, I guess. On one hand, the planner in me is screaming, "I HATE THIS! I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON!"

On the other hand, I am quite certain that God is using this time in my life to teach me. I am learning many lessons, one of which is to be more flexible. Go with the flow, as they say. I don't know if you've sensed this about me from reading my blog, but I'm not so much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person. (Is that the expression? It feels wrong to me, but maybe that's because it's 9:26 p.m. on a Friday night and this grandma is tired.)

Flexibility isn't a bad thing. I've been learning to give control over to God, who is not (though sometimes it doesn't seem that way) surprised by my current life situation. For me this is a comforting thought. I would say the most comforting thought of any thought I've had lately, many of which have not been comforting at all. For example, the thought that I will never be able to retire because I will have no retirement fund and will still be living in this apartment when I'm 92.

The onslaught of thoughts that are less than comforting is probably why I've enjoyed reading blogs so much lately. It's so weird to share personal thoughts with strangers over the internet (or your IRL friends too; it's like a personal diary everyone reads!), but it's so wonderful when you read a post and you're like, "Wait. Did I write this?" because it sounds so much like something you could have said about yourself. And maybe you even have said it about yourself; you just couldn't put it into words quite as well.

I want to share a few of those posts with you, because maybe they'll speak to you too.

Earlier this week I read Jenny's post on Dealing with Disappointment. It was perfect. That's really all there is to say.

My post about how to find blogging success got crazy traffic (by that I mean more than 10 comments). It seems we all struggle with finding blogging success, and even non bloggers struggle with finding success in their own niches. Specifically regarding blogging, I appreciated Hannah's post on What's the Point in Blogging? It was a great companion piece to my post (at least I thought so).


I have been running, although the summer has proved to be a beast in terms of humidity and heat. "I love it when sweat drips off my elbows," said no one ever.

I've been averaging about 10 miles/week, which I know is like a short run to some people, but after 18 weeks of marathon training, I have absolutely loved running without caring about distance or time or pace (okay, I still care a little about pace). For the last 3 months I've been running 3 days/week with runs between 3 and 6 miles. I just kind of set out and go until I feel like stopping. That being said, I'm signed up for half marathons #6 and #7 this fall (in October and November). Training starts August 3 and then it's back to scheduled weekly runs. Anyone else scheduled for fall races?

In other running news, I'll be hitting my 2013 goal of 500 miles for the year pretty soon, which is exciting. I remember thinking 500 miles sounded like an insane amount, so it's fun to see how far I've come in a few years' time.

I loved this post from Dorothy about how to move on from a bad run. It came at the perfect timing seeing as how I'd just gotten back from a horribly disappointing run where I was like, I can run a marathon, but I can't run 2 miles?! It was a sad day, but this post made me feel much better.

Also, you might be interested to know that I started another Kate Morton book earlier this week. I loved the last one I read so much that I decided to go for another. I'm reading The Distant Hours, which is a bit slower pace than The Forgotten Garden but still full of interesting characters and plot twists. Kate Morton has definitely been added to my favorite author list.

How to end a scatterbrained post such as this? 
I suppose by reminding you that everything is going to be okay. 
Really, it is. 

What I mean is, it will be okay as long as there's chocolate.

Guess Who I'm Related To? (Hint: He's a Famous Actor)


I feel like it's high time we talked about this. 

In fact, I feel remiss for not bringing to your attention sooner the fact that I am related to an actual, legit famous person. Not like a "kind of" legit famous person. A LEGIT famous person. Yes, I'm only related through marriage. But whatever. I'm counting it.


My husband's great-uncle (fyi: great-uncle = grandpa's brother and/or dad's uncle) is the actor James Garner.  Do you know who James Garner is? I can bet your grandma does, and you do too, you just don't know you know it. (Name that TV show: They don't know we know they know we know...)

James Garner was a high-profile actor in the '70s with a TV show called the Rockford Files (1974-1980). At some point before he was famous he dropped the "Bum" in front of his last name, hence the Garner. Bumgarner just doesn't make a great stage name.

He was also the Maverick as a young lad (TV series 1957-1962) and starred in the 1994 remake with Mel Gibson and Jodie Foster.
Still don't know who he is? You might recognize him as the old man in The Notebook. 

He guest starred as the grandpa on the TV show 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and has also been in two movies with Julie Andrews. TWO! They've kissed. My husband's great-uncle has kissed Mary Poppins.

And he's been in lots of other movies and TV shows like this one with Doris Day (1963):
Just the other day, Jordan and I were looking through some old pictures at his parents' house. We pulled out one, and Jordan said, "Hey, that's Uncle Jim!" Right. A candid photograph of Uncle Jim. He's only a rich and famous actor, but whatever.

We invited Uncle Jim and Aunt Lois to our wedding. They couldn't come, but they sent us a check and a nice handwritten letter congratulating us on our nuptials. 

I know the whole six degrees of separation and all that. Somehow we're probably all related to someone famous. I just happen to think this famous relation is pretty cool. I mean, how often can you randomly flip through the channels on a Saturday evening and come across a movie or show starring your famous relative? Well it's happened more than once to me. Believe it.

EDIT: You guys, this does NOT mean I am also related to Jennifer Garner (see comments below). Let's stay on topic, shall we?

Are you related to anyone famous?

How to Be a Successful Blogger (and some thoughts on Baby Sperrys)


Once upon a time, I started a blog. 

The upon a time to which I am referring is May 2010, and my blog had a different name back then. I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what I was going to write about, and no idea who would ever want to read anything I wrote should I actually decide what it was I wanted to write. 

I remember one of the first blogs I ever started reading. The blogger had 100 followers, and I had 10. I know that's an oddly specific thing to remember, but I know because I made a comment to her about how I had a tenth of the number of followers she had. 

I couldn't imagine having--pause for effect--ONE HUNDRED followers! Everyone in the world was reading her blog! I was sure of it.

So I continued to write and sloooooowly built up to the triple digits, and I was so proud of myself. (I feel it's necessary to mention that in the time it took me to gain those 90 followers and reach 100, Amy had 1,000+. So basically I was right back where I started where she was concerned.) 

Shortly after this momentous occasion, I met a girl at church through a friend of mine. We discovered that we both had blogs, and when I went to her blog for the first time, I noticed that 1) she is hilarious and we were meant to be friends (which we are now and I love her) and 2) she had SO many followers! 

Two hundred and ninety-six, to be exact. SO MANY. Again, oddly specific. Maybe I should rethink my editing career and become an accountant. 

I couldn't believe how many followers she had! Amy's 1,000 followers was one thing. That was someone who lived in another state whom I didn't really even know all that well. But this. This was someone I knew in real life. And she was famous! Famous, I tell you!

Three years later, and I've finally realized that anything less than 1 million followers, give or take a half million, is nothing. With all the billions of people out there writing blogs and articles and books, you're not "big" unless you're JK Rowling. (Btw, what is up with her publishing under a pseudonym? Craziness.) 

Here's the truth.

There's always going to be someone bigger, someone prettier, someone fancier. Someone who wears makeup better and has cute dresses from Anthropologie. Someone who runs 9 days a week and posts fabulous pictures from their trip to Somewhere Exciting while still managing to raise Cutest Baby Ever who wears cute baby sperrys and never cries. (Who has the money to buy $80 shoes that their baby will grow out of in like 5 days?) This person also bakes cherry pies every night and then takes pictures of said pies with her fancy camera, which she claims she "doesn't know how to use."

And there are going to be those bloggers who, on their one-year blog anniversary, say, "I just love how much my blog has grown from where it was a year ago." They have three thousand followers. IN A YEAR. That happened.

I've seen lots of blog posts about how to get followers (because that seems to be a popular topic), and they're all pretty much the same: 

Have a professional blog design. 
Take pretty pictures. 
Be yourself. 

Okay. You know who writes these posts on tips to gain followers? People with huge followings. It's all well and good to "be yourself" when you average 123 comments per post. What about when you're lucky to get 2 comments? Does that mean people don't like me as much as they like you? It feels that way sometimes.

I think that kind of advice is great and can be helpful (I DO notice blog design first thing), but it won't guarantee you fifty new followers a day. And really, being yourself on your blog isn't or shouldn't be about numbers or comments or about being funny all the time or happy every day.

I have a confession: it bothers me when bloggers apologize

They apologize for not posting that day. (who has time to post every day?)
They apologize for posting "late" (what does that even mean???)
They apologize for posting something that's not happy. (you mean you're not happy every day? *mind explodes*)
They apologize for not posting a picture. (okay, you really should post pictures, though.)

I'll admit that I've done this. I apologized once for posting too many running posts. 
Why? Who even cares? I'll talk about running if I want to talk about it, and you all can hate me, but who will win in a race? Me. I will. Probably. Unless you're fast.

If you feel the need to apologize about anything you do on your blog (besides maybe calling out specific bloggers to tell them they suck) then you're not blogging for you. 

I would say that I'm a successful blogger, and that's not because of numbers. In terms of numbers, my score on the success meter is less than a monkey's IQ. But I'm successful because I've worked hard to create a place I enjoy coming to every day. It's something I'm insanely proud of because only I know how freaking long it took to figure out how to make a blog button and how many hours I spent designing a header and figuring out how to change the font for my pages at the top. Too many hours I'll never get back, yet for some reason it was worth it to me.

This is a place where I can be excited and share disappointment. A place to write down memories of moments I'd otherwise forget. (Like my grandpa's tie. My family still laughs about that one.) This is a place where I can practice writing, which is something I dearly love, even if I can't actually get my act together to write a book. (And I might never get that act fully together. I run out of creative plot ideas right around the time my characters should actually start doing something. And you can forget about interesting character names; they're all named after members of my family.)

I've made friends. Actual people I want to meet in real life because I honestly think we'd get along and have interesting conversations.


Here's the bottom line: Your blog should be a place you want to come not a place you have to come. And if you want to come to your blog and write, and if you like what you've written, then you're successful. Finding ten or one hundred or one thousand people who like what you write too is just icing on the proverbial cupcake. Or, maybe sprinkles on the cupcake. And if no one but your mom reads, then you're bringing your mom some joy, right? You'll get points in your heavenly crown for that, at least. Kidding. That's not how it works.

So.... now I guess I should apologize for how long this post was. 

I'm not sorry. You have your one picture, so either comment or move along.

Also, hi, Mom!

Is blogging "success" something you struggle with too?

Easy Weeknight Skillet Meal: Cheeseburger Macaroni


Cheeseburger macaroni is a staple in the Bumgarner house. Seriously. I'd say me make this every other week at least. Why? Well, it's easy to make, I usually have all the ingredients on hand, and it tastes delicious. Before I get into the recipe, I have to give credit where credit is due and let you know that I discovered this amazing recipe here. This is a not a creation a la me.

But I can still tell you about it now, right? Right.

This is a 1 large skillet + 1 small pot meal that takes about 20 minutes to put together, even less if you've already cooked and frozen your ground beef like I told you to do. Tell me you've started doing this, because it saves SO much time. 

*Recipe from here.


    • 1 pound lean hamburger meat
    • 1 envelope taco seasoning
    • 1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies (or petite diced tomatoes)
    • 2 cups beef broth (or water)
    • 1 cup elbow macaroni


    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


    Brown and drain hamburger meat. Stir in taco seasoning, Rotel, beef broth, and macaroni. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and cover pan. Simmer 12-14 mins until macaroni is tender.


    Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for 5 minutes until fragrant and light brown in color. Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Whisk until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese until melted. Add the salt and pepper to the cheese sauce. Pour the cheese sauce over the hamburger mixture. Stir gently to combine.

    A few notes about the recipe:
    1) We use low-sodium taco seasoning
    2) We usually just use water in place of beef broth, and I don't taste much of a difference.

    >Brown & drain meat in a large skillet. (Or pull out your bag of frozen, cooked meat.) Stir in taco seasoning, Rotel, water/beef broth, and uncooked macaroni.

    >Heat to boiling.

    >Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12-14 minutes, until macaroni is tender. You shouldn't have to stir while it's simmering.

    >While the meat & pasta are simmering, make the cheese sauce. *The entire cheese sauce process takes about 5 minutes, so I usually start making the sauce when the meat mixture has been simmering for 8-10 minutes already.

    >Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in flour until light brown. Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and thickened, approximately 2 minutes. You'll want to make sure you whisk the whole time or else it will start boiling over.

    >Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese until melted. Add salt & pepper.

    >Pour cheese sauce over hamburger mixture. Stir to combine. Serve. 

    *NoteThe Rotel makes this a little spicy, so we like to eat this with Saltines and milk.

    Makes great leftovers! Enjoy!

    **Check out more recipes on my recipe page and follow my entrees board on Pinterest!**

    * * * 

    My Style: When in Rome, Buy Green Pants


    One of the awesome things about having a birthday is that people give you money (I'm talking to you, Mom, Justine, and Laura).

    I've been craving a pair of colored, skinny, crop jeans (hello, adjectives) pretty much all summer. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're all the rage. Because apparently the 70s are back. I LOVE NEON! I don't really, but you get my point.

    Anyway, this weekend I took my birthday money and headed to the store.
    It was difficult sticking to my original purpose (skinny jeans) because the stores were filled with sales and cuuuuuute shirts and shorts and shoes. But be proud of me, because I carried on and didn't buy the cute Gap shorts for $10 that I was eyeing. 

    Instead, I gave myself a pep talk, stepped out of my gray/black/white comfort zone, and came back with these (you're welcome for me putting makeup on before I took these pictures):
    Necklace: Caroline G. Shop
    Shirt: Target
    Jeans: Gap Outlet
    Shoes: Target

    What do you think?

    I'll tell you what Jordan thinks: he thinks they're weird. To be specific, he said, "You bought THOSE?" Then, when I came out wearing them for our movie night, he said, "You're wearing those in PUBLIC?"

    Whatever, dude, you don't know fashion. I told him colored pants were all the rage, and he rolled his eyes. Men. Can I get an amen?

    I bought green pants because it was the only color that had my size in my price range that wasn't pink. I don't do pink.

    I think I like them. I've worn them twice in the past 2 days and felt rockin' both times. (I feel I should add that right now I'm only wearing these to indoor events due to the heat).

    What summer items are you craving? Do you have a pair of colored jeans?

    Why We Chose to Do the Bride & Groom "First Look"


    {All wedding photos taken by Kristen Edwards Photography}
    This is kind of a random blog post topic, but I thought of it the other day when I was browsing my wedding pictures (which I still do, two years later) and thought it would be fun to share and see what you guys think. So make sure you comment on this one! I'm interested to see which is more preferred.

    I was the first of my friend group to get married, which is funny because Jordan and I started dating after most of my friends. When we were planning the wedding, one thing we decided early on was to do the bride and groom "first look," which means we saw each other and took pictures before the wedding ceremony.

    The idea of the first look appealed to me right away. I liked the idea of getting specific pictures of our special moment while we had a chance to see each other up close before the ceremony began.

    All my friends who have gotten married since we did have waited until the actual walk down the aisle to see each other. I think whether or not the bride and groom want to see each other before the ceremony is a completely personal preference; neither is right or wrong. 

    However, I wanted to share why we chose to see each other before in case any of you out there haven't decided for sure what you want to do. And, again, I'd love to hear your thoughts (if you've already decided) on what you did/will do.

    First, let me say that both Jordan and I are very happy with our decision and don't regret not waiting until the doors opened and I walked down the aisle. 

    There's definitely something special about seeing each other for the first time, but that first time doesn't have to be in the traditional sense as the bride walks down the aisle

    Obviously I can't speak for exactly how it feels to have the doors open and see the groom for the first time on the altar, but I do know that it's such a unique feeling to have everyone standing, staring at you, and to see your man down front looking fine in his suit. I didn't feel like anything special had been taken from us because the aisle walk wasn't the first time we were seeing each other that day. While walking down the aisle, I felt just as excited and nervous and weepy as I expected to feel had we not seen each other.

    The day of your wedding, you're full of emotions: excited, nervous, and possibly stressed. Jordan and I loved having a chance to see each other before the ceremony because it helped us calm down and be less stressed. Jordan's a huge introvert and was nervous about being in front of all those people. Having the chance to see me calmed him down.

    I think there's a lot of emphasis put on the groom not seeing the bride before she walks down the aisle, but all that did, at least for Jordan and I, was make us more stressed out.

    Besides the stress factor, seeing each other before the ceremony is a great idea if only for the simple fact of photography logistics. 

    Jordan and I had our "first look" moment, and then we went into the sanctuary and took portraits. By this time, the bridal party was ready to go as well as immediate family, and we were able to get all the formal pictures in before the ceremony started. 

    That way, after the ceremony, we didn't have to tell people to stay around or force people out of the sanctuary so we could take pictures. I'd planned for a bit of time between the ceremony and reception, and we used that time to take fun pictures outside, which we wouldn't have had time for if we were taking portraits inside. We actually ended up driving to a wheat field about 10 minutes away and taking pictures in someone's backyard. 

    I know you can split it up and take all the bridesmaid pictures and the groomsmen pictures without having the bride and groom actually see each other, but something I thought was fun (that I hadn't considered before) was watching the guys get their pictures taken and just having everyone hang out together before the ceremony. (It probably helped that mostly everyone in the bridal party knew each other.)

    In the end, like I said, it's a personal preference. Neither is right or wrong. But I definitely think the "first look" is something to consider. The day is full of excitement and nerves, and it was fun to have a chance to see Jordan earlier in the day. It calmed both our nerves and put less emphasis on seeing each other right at that moment.

    Because that moment is always going to be special no matter what.

    What's your preference? Would you do a "first look" or wait?

    Book Review: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton


    I first heard of the author Kate Morton when I was collecting recommendations for my summer reading list. The reason I like having a reading list going is so that when I finish a book, I don't have to sit around wondering what book to pick up next. When I have a reading list already in place, I feel like hitting a Staples button. That was easy.

    Recently I finished part one of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons, which is the fifth book in the series A Song of Ice and Fire (better known as Game of Thrones for those of you who watch the HBO series). Those books routinely take me a solid month to finish, but they are absolutely fantastic and worth the time. But that's beside the point of today's post. 

    Kate Morton's The House at Riverton was the book recommended for my summer reading list, but when I went to the library (yes, people still go to libraries) I was only able to find Morton's The Forgotten Garden. 

    I was not to be disappointed. Garden was excellent, and I will be reading more of Kate Morton in the future. 

    The Forgotten Garden has no one main character but rather spans three time periods of over a century as we follow three women on a search to unravel the mystery of their past. Eliza, Nell, and Cassandra are the principal players, though Morton inserts narration from secondary characters as well.

    What I loved most about this book was the mystery aspect. At the beginning of the novel, we find a young child abandoned on a ship headed for Australia. Upon arrival, the child is adopted by a sailor and his wife. On her twenty-first birthday the secret of her unknown origins is revealed, and she sets out on the quest to discover her past, only to end up unraveling a mystery that goes back generations. 

    Each chapter is set in one of three periods: 1905-1913, 1975-6, and 2005. In each we follow Nell or one of her family members. 

    The story is brilliantly told, beautifully described, and kept me guessing the whole way through. I love a book that makes me put the pieces together on my own while only revealing small hints one at a time.  As a general rule I'm not very good at putting pieces together; I'm always the last to guess whodunit. So I realize some of you might read this book and think I'm crazy for not figuring out the mystery, but for me the creative plot twists were what made this book so much fun. 

    It was one of those books that kept me reading into the night. I raced to the end so I could reveal the plot, but at the same time I was sad to say goodbye to the characters (who have awesome names, by the way).

    There were a few issues I had with the plot, but considering how much I enjoyed the whole, my criticism is too minor to be mentioned here.

    I highly recommend The Forgotten Garden to anyone who loves historical fiction with mystery and a touch of romance. It was a quick read, the perfect follow-up to a thick George R.R. Martin saga.

    Summer reading list for the win! Now to choose what to read next. Check out my list here.