Friday, April 30, 2021

Book Club: April


It's Book Club Day!! We just love this day each month. We chat books with each other a lot behind the scenes so it's fun to give you a peek behind the scenes of what we've read, what's up next, and all the thoughts we spill to one another as we read along. We love hearing your thoughts too! 

We also love love love this time of year for reading. We love most genres, but if we had to pick our very favorite it's what is determined as "the beach book" genre. Our favorite authors all release books this time of year, and we can't wait to pool/boat/beach with all the good ones! Fruity cocktail in hand of course. 

If you're right there with us, then stay tuned for Monday! We have been working on our annual Best Books of Summer list for months now. We've chatted with authors and publishers, gotten sneak peeks at what is to be released, and have some fun surprises for a few of you too! 

So MONDAY - BIG DAY if you are a reader. 

But first, let's knock April's book reviews out of the way.



In last month's book club I said that I had picked Colleen Hoover's Ugly Love as my next read. I bought it on Audible, downloaded it, and halfway into the first chapter it hit me that I'd already read this book. I was honestly bummed that I'd wasted an Audible credit on a repeat book until Jen let me know that you can "return" a title on Audible. I had NO idea you could do that, but for anyone that might end up in the same situation, now you know! 

Because I REALLY enjoyed Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren last month, I wanted to try another one of hers.  I ended up with Beautiful Bastard and oh my was it SO very different.  I was surprised because I felt like there was so much depth to Love and Other Words and while it was a love story with some romance scenes, it really tugged at my heartstrings.  Beautiful Bastard was not like that at all.  It was super spicy, not much of a plot, and a ton of very rated R romance scenes. Not complaining, just really different than what I was expecting. If I'm being honestly though, I probably could have predicted what I was getting myself into from the title and cover art. 

Jen suggested Back in the Burbs by Avery Flynn and Tracy Wolff so that was my next pick this month. It follows Mallory, a woman in her mid-thirties, who it just seems can't have anything go her way.  She is going through a bad divorce, has never really reached her full career potential and learns that she has inherited her late Great Aunt's home in the suburbs.  It was such a cute story and anyone living in the suburbs can relate. From Stella & Dot parties to crazy HOA regulations, Mallory starts to fix up her Aunt Maggie's house and in turn starts to fix up her life. There is a hot neighbor living across the street that adds a little romance to her life and together they help each other find happiness.  

After two easy-breezy love stories I decided to dig a little deeper and listened to Good Morning America's Book Club pick, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.  It has about a zillion great reviews so I was excited to see what the fuss was all about.  The story opens with Nora, a mid-thirties woman, who is extremely depressed, cannot find anything good about her life, feels incredibly lonely, and decides to end her life by overdosing. Between life and death she visits this library where she finds an infinite about of books containing different versions of the story of her life. All the variations are based on decisions she made and how things would have turned out of she had made different decisions. She gets to try out many different lives to see if any of them would truly be better than the one she was living. In the process of trying out these other lives she learns all of her many regrets are not really regrets after all.  It touches on parallel universes and all of that was a bit much for me, but the idea of being able to see how the many decisions we make in our life effect the outcomes was fascinating to think about.  One lesson that was repeated throughout the story was to: 

"Never underestimate the big importance of small things." 

This message, along with many others in the book made me realize why so many people rave about this. To me it is one of those books that I feel like is good to read and be able to talk about with people because it is so popular, but it isn't really my cup of tea. However, I did enjoy that it makes you stop and think about your own life, the many different paths we can decide to take, and the power we all have to make the most of the life we are living.  

| THE WIFE STALKER by Liv Constantine | TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE by Martha Waters | SURVIVING SAVANNAH by Patti Callahan | EVERYTHING AFTER by Jill Santopolo |


Right now I have a massive "to read" pile stacking up on my bookcase. In April, I pulled out a few to read and let everyone vote on what I should read first. TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE won out by a smidge over SURVIVING SAVANNAH. But no worries - I read them both! And a few more. 

Okay, a lot more. There were several long cheer mom car rides in April. So Audible and noise canceling headphones were my survival. 

The good news out of it all...I have a little something for everyone this month. Historical fiction, thriller, romance, mystery - I've got you.

THE LOST APOTHECARY by Sarah Penner was first up for the month. This is one I actually started in March, but didn't quite finish in time for last month's review post. I heard so many great things about this debut novel, so I couldn't wait to sit down and read it. I absolutely loved this magical historical fiction journey that Penner took us on! It's a mystery and historical fiction all rolled into one with two separate timelines and several heroines. From the first page I was sucked in. A fun read that I have a feeling will be popular for years to come! 

By popular vote TO LOVE AND TO LOATHE was next on the list. 
To Love and to Loathe is the an adorable Regency era enemies-to-lovers rom-com that is just plain CUTE. I hate I don't have a better adjective, but from start to finish this is a read that will have a smile on your face. The witty banter and the fun story line make To Love and to Loathe the light hearted romance novel we all need right now. I loved the constant back and forth between Diana and Jeremy, and their friends' commentary on their "bet/proposition" is just as entertaining.

This is the second novel in Water's Regency Vows series, and already can't wait to see which characters of her sassy ton she features next. If you enjoyed watching/reading the Bridgerton series this one will be up your alley. 

SURVIVING SAVANNAH by Patti Callahan is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read! The topic is so intriguing, and being a Georgia native I was so shocked to learn of such a tragedy attached to a place I’ve been a dozens of times and never realized.

The story is written in duel timelines from several points of view, and is based on the true events of the 1838 Pulaski Steam Boat disaster. Dubbed “Titanic of the South”, the Pulaski was a luxury boat carrying the south’s most prominent and wealthy families to their summer homes in New York. One fateful night of the journey, everything goes wrong. Patti Callahan weaves a magical tale of love, loss, and survival between those of the tragedy and those in present day surviving their own. Not only do you learn so much about the real life events, but you get a sense of truly relating to the families and what they experienced through the amazing cast of characters Callahan presents.

In the modern day spin, Callahan introduces to us Everly Winthrop - a women trying to mourn and survive her own losses when she is presented with the ultimate job opportunity. Her whole life, Everly has heard tales of the Pulaski and now she has the chance to curate the recently discovered shipwreck and its treasures for her museum. But the findings hit a little too close to home.

I could not put this one down! From start to finish it was intriguing, addicting, and has an end that ties everything together, but is so beautiful you just want more. Well done Patti!!!

From start to finish I loved BACK IN THE BURBS by Avery Flynn and Tracy Wolff (Side note: Tracy Wolff is the author of the Crave series we are both now addicted too. However this is SO different.). This is one of the few rom-coms that made me actually laugh out loud. Several times. I loved the banter between the main characters, and the slow burn romance had you begging for more at each page turn. It was funny, witty, relatable (even if you aren’t going through a divorce, renovating a decor nightmare as your inheritance from your favorite Aunt recently deceased, job hunting, and dealing with 47 HOA violations), and super sweet. Throw in some wine, a few book boyfriends that will have you scouring your local Zillow listings for fixer uppers, and major family drama - Back in the Burbs is the book I’ve been recommending to all of my girlfriends this month. 

For the back half of the month, I switched things up a bit. I needed something a little more along the lines of "edge of your seat/keep me awake so I don't crash" genre so that I could stay entertained on long road trips. After perusing Audible, I landed on EVERY VOW YOU BREAK by Peter Swanson. Okay - for me - this one was a little dark. The story follows a couple on their honeymoon. It's a rich husband/saved broke young woman living in New York scenario. The women enjoys "one last fling before the ring', and then happily marries her dream man. Quickly the honeymoon becomes tangled in a web of mystery and terrifying events begin to occur. Her fling shows up, and things quickly go south. About halfway through the novel it takes a really dark twist. I don't want to spoil it, but if thriller novels are your thing - this book is for you. As for me...I think it was well written, and definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. But also up at night. I think I need a little less "thrill". 

WHAT YOU NEVER KNEW by Jessica Hamilton is like the perfect ghost story...for adults. I listened to the audio book of this and it was excellent! I was instantly invested in the story, and couldn't stop listening. The story is told from two POVs: Two sisters. One sister is a ghost and one is alive. They both recently found out that their mother never sold their family vacation island from their childhood, even though she told them she had while they were in their teens. One event leads to another and the remaining sister decides to work through her grief at the island. But then strange things start happening, secrets start emerging and ghosts (both past and present) appear. There is twist after twist, with a murder mystery wrapped into it. I enjoyed What You Never Knew from start to finish, and refreshingly the ending was a total surprise. I look forward to reading more books by this author in the future!

FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT - This book was just plain fun! From start to finish I laughed out loud several times. Finlay Donovan is a recently divorced mom of two and it seems like every part of her life is falling apart. Bills are piling up, her ex and his fiancĂ© are making a case for full custody, and her latest novel was due like yesterday. Just when things couldn’t get worse a chance meeting in a Panera Bread turns Finlay’s life on a crazy rollercoaster filled with murder, Mob bosses and male attention in the unlikeliest of situations. With Vero, her nanny/partner in crime/accountant Finlay sets out to solve a laundry list of crimes, write the next best seller, and maybe keep her run down van working for at least another week.

The end of the book leaves us wanting more and I already can’t wait for the sequel to continue this hilarious mom turned accidental hit woman series. Oh and to get a little more of the hot lawyer underwear model bartender. ;) (If you didn’t want to read before, you do now, right?!)



After something pretty deep I needed a light and fun read so I'm getting ready to start Mary Kay Andrews' The Newcomer.  I feel like it's going to put me in the mood for summer, which is just around the corner for us! 


I think I am going to follow suit with Carrie Beth and read THE NEWCOMER too! MKA is one of those authors you just want to be besties with, and her books are always so fun to read. Bring on all the fun summery beach novels! 



January | February | March |

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Kitchen Confessions: Sheet Pan Supper ~ Lemon Brown Butter Salmon

A few weeks ago I shared about Sitka Salmon Shares, which is a community supported fishery that offers monthly shares of wild-caught seafood from a collection of Alaskan fishing families.  The fish is responsibly sourced, flash frozen, and shipped directly to your doorstep!

I got my second shipment last week and couldn't be happier. If your family eats a lot of fish it is definitely worth checking out.  You can use code MAGNOLIAFISH for $25 off the 2021 Premium Share Box. 

I've been cooking some sort of fish once a week and I saw a new salmon recipe the daughter of one of my friends shared that I couldn't wait to try just the day before my box arrived!  The timing couldn't have been better. I'm a big fan of sheet pan suppers because obviously one pan means less dishes!  Also, I feel like the options are all there and my kids can just take what they like and leave what they don't. I've done a lot of sheet pan suppers involving chicken and roasted vegetables, but never thought to do it with fish until now. 

The original recipe was from Half Baked Harvest (click HERE for the original recipe), but I altered it just a bit to fit our tastes and because I wanted to simplify it just a bit. I will say, a question I get from everyone in my family just about every day is, "What's for dinner?" When I told them about this night's plan they all oohed and aahed over it because it just sounded so fancy, but it was SO simple to make. 

Lemon Brown Butter Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Parmesan Asparagus  


1 lb baby potatoes 

olive oil 

salt and pepper 

salmon filets 

2 Tbsp cajun seasoning 

1 Tbsp lemon juice 

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed 

1/2 cup grated parmesan 

4 Tbsp butter 


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash/dry potatoes and cut in half. Toss with 2 Tbsp olive oil and seasons with salt and pepper. 

3. Bake potatoes on baking sheet for 15-20 mins. 

4. Remove potatoes from oven and add salmon to the center of the pan. Rub with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and  cajun seasoning. 

5. Add asparagus to the pan and top with parmesan. 

6. Bake everything about 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked to your liking.  I like mine more "well-done" so cooked it closer to 20 minutes. 

7. While salmon and vegetables are cooking add butter to a medium pot over medium/high heat and allow butter to brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and add 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Stir to blend well. 

8. Drizzle brown butter over salmon and potatoes, and enjoy! 

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Small Shop Love: Cherokee Rose Candle Co.


I'll admit it, I am a candle addict. I own several drawers full. I light them daily, and bask in all of their yummy cozy scented glory. If I find one I really like, I've been known to order a case full of them in the off chance they ever go out of business or discontinue that scent. 

It's a problem, I know. 

If there's a meeting I can attend for it, shoot me a DM. Otherwise, I'll just be over here living that candle hoarders life. Happily. 

When a local mommy reached out to us to introduce us to her candle company, I jumped at the chance to give it a try. I mean, just look at the candles. They are SO pretty! 

Cherokee Rose Candle Co. is run and operated by Amanda. She lives locally with her adorable family, and her candle company reflects her love for creating a cozy space. Her well-crafted homemade candles are 100% soy and made with top quality fragrances that she infuses with essential oils. 

Trust me, when I say they smell heavenly! 

Cherokee Rose Candle Co. candles can be found all over Atlanta in boutiques, but through the website you are able to order direct to your home, ship as a gift, and send anywhere. She's always adding new products, but our favorite are her rustic pieces. We fell in love with her Wooden Dough Bowl Collection and her Cheese Mold Candles

They are extremely well made, and we love that they make a beautiful statement piece as well as smell delicious. When they are all used up they can be used as a decor piece or refilled. Amanda shares tons of great candle tips on her social media accounts - everything from how to style the candles to how to fix any issues you might have with other candles. 

We just adore Cherokee Rose Candle Co. candles and know you will too! Amanda was nice enough to give us a code to share with our readers. Use MAGNOLIAMAMAS to get 20% off your entire order. 

Check them out, say hi, and join the joy that is candle hoarding with me! 

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Cheer Weekend Recap + Covid Disney Tips

It's Wednesday and I think I've finally recovered from my UCA cheer comp girls weekend to Orlando. I had both the girls with me, and with the Covid times still upon us, I decided to drive instead of fly from Atlanta. At several points, on the way down, I regretted this decision. Eight plus hours together in a car, with endless arguments and screeching that even the best of my noise canceling headphones couldn't drown out, will do that to a mom. 

But all hearing loss aside, it was a super fun weekend. I went into this competition season as a cheer mom newbie, and now I can do a winged eyeliner with the best of them (thanks youtube make-up artists), and will forever shed glitter where ever I travel (it's an upgrade from just the dog hair I normally shed). 

| Sometimes God does answer prayers.|

My daughter has loved every. single. second. And seeing her big smile and a passion for a sport she loves (and trust me - it is a sport) has made every extra practice, long drive, and drama over the (direct quote) "worst hair pulling and hair brushing" she experienced each comp weekend - totally worth it. 

I'll take this brief time to shout out to the good people of various Hilton properties for never calling DFACS on the mom with loud screams coming from her child in her hotel room. That bun was always high, tight and right all season. 

UCA weekend was FUN. There's just something about having a comp in the "Happiest Place on Earth". 

We spent our first few days solely focused on the competition and hanging out at the hotel swimming during our free time. 

Our hotel was right across from Disney Springs and hop, skip, and Florida humidity filled jump across a bridge we sweated our way towards Planet Hollywood one day for lunch. The kids loved it. 

And they love their over the top drinkable dessert creations even more. 

The hotel had an amazing set of pools, complete with an oversized hot tub, lazy river, and game area. On the weekends it features a live DJ. Needless to say for a bunch of 5-12 year olds it was heaven. 

There is also a large bar. Needless to say for cheer moms, it was heaven. 

But don't let all the fun and games fool you. These kids work HARD. From top to bottom this season they have overcome every Covid hurdle thrown at them this last year and it shows. Not to brag on them (but I totally will) - they WON! 

But I think what struck me more was the fact they loved doing it with each other. They cried coming off the stage, and not because they were excited to win or upset about something with their performance. They were crying tears because they love each other so much and this was the end of their season. They end of what they accomplished together, and they know they did it with the sweetest group of friends. My seven year old recognized the importance of that. As a parent, what could I not love about that?!

As day two wrapped up, I made a last minute decision to take the girls to the Magic Kingdom. I had tickets to Epcot because that was the only reservation at the time available, but when I saw Disney had Magic Kingdom availability I switched our tickets and hopped quickly on the Monorail before something could happen. 

I'm a planner, but the spontaneity of this moment worked in our favor. Capacity at the park for a Sunday was low. We walked right in. 

A mini-parade (because in Covid times parades, character visits, and shows are things of the past) was occurring and the Minniest Magnolia made all her dreams come true - Minnie Mouse waved right at her. 

We rode rides. We didn't wait in any lines! We ate all the yummy food. And we just had a blast together. 

Disney is waaaaay different. Wearing a mask all afternoon in the hot sun wasn't the most pleasant experience, but we did so happily. (And if you happen to forget or pull it down for a second a cast member will pop out of the nearest perfectly landscaped Mickey shaped bush and remind you.)

I was nervous when I saw Fast Passes were no longer a thing, and feared we would be waiting in long lines. My fear was unfounded though because we rode several rides back to back to back due to no one being in line. The girls thought it was the greatest day of their lives. 

And then my winning cheerleader (totally still bragging) decided to ensure it was the most memorable day of her life and lost a tooth. Thank you to the kind strangers who helped locate it on the cobblestone roads in the dark of the evening with the golden lighted power of our cell phones and our Ariel musical bubble makers. 

Tinker Bell. Trophies. And Tooth Fairies. 

I'm not sure about you, but the murderous hair brushing can totally be over looked. 


I thought I would write these down for you on a quick sheet in case needed. Most info you can find on their website. But I didn't know I would need to use the app as much. Lots of things are hands off, and I wasn't expecting to have to mobile order food. Overall it's an easier Disney experience with some of the traditional fun missing. It didn't slow my kids down one bit, or make them feel like they were missing out on anything. Several of our teammates also felt the same way - it was enjoyable. So if you have an upcoming trip...

Disney Covid Tips & Facts

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