Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else


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A Spark of Light

Many years ago I went on a Jodi Picoult reading binge. I didn’t dislike any of them I just needed a change of pace eventually. Her books would still always come up as recommended so I decided to give one her new a shot. I honestly had no idea what A Spark of Light was about when I started reading it. I don’t always read synopses of books, especially if I know friends have read it or it’s been on certain lists. That’s not to say I would not have read it, but everyone should be prepared for a heavy story line.

A group of women sit one morning at a women’s clinic in Mississippi when a man comes in and starts shooting. You find this out early so I’m really not spoiling anything. What’s also unique about this book is that the timeline goes backwards by the hour and during each hour you learn about what’s happening from each character’s perspective. There’s the doctor, a nurse, a girl and her aunt, the shooter, the hostage negotiator, the shooter’s daughter, a pro-life protester, and a patient who just had an abortion. There it is. The heavy topic of the book is abortion. The clinic is the only one in the state that does abortions – along with general women’s health.

I’m not going to get into a political debate or talk about my views but the book was very interesting. Each character has a very different opinion about abortion. Many see it as a black or white issue while others have varying degrees of agreement or opposition. Picoult obviously did her research and I think it took a lot of guts to write a story like this, especially with social media and public access to writers, celebrities, etc.

It’s a good read but don’t start it looking for a lighthearted beach read. You have been warned!

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Give Me Your Hand

I love a good audio book when I’m on a road trip. It literally makes the drive fly by. I haven’t done a good audio book in a while because most of road trips now include my husband and then you have to try to find something that everyone will like and then what do you do if you don’t get to the end and you have to find time to finish it together and it’s just way to complicated.

But I recently took a solo trip to my brother’s for my nephew’s birthday, so I audio booked it up. If you are not familiar, your library probably does audio book loans and I play it through an app on my phone. Brilliant!

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott was a mysterious thriller. It is the story of two girls who become close friends in high school but abruptly end the friendship when one girl shares a very personal secret. They end up reuniting many years later, after college, and dredge up all kinds of pent up feelings and memories and then add to the trouble to make the relationship even more complicated.

I jumps back and forth in time, which can sometimes be hard to follow in audio form, but the chapters were clearly labels ‘then’ and ‘now’ so it was super easy to follow! I definitely recommend it and it’s not very long. My round trip in the car was about 10 hours and I maybe had an hour left to finish, which was perfect for the train ride to/from work the next day!


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1 Year

We have survived one year of marriage! Actually, survive is not at all the correct word to use because this past year has been the best year of my life. Getting to do life with someone you love is better than I could have imagined. No, it’s not all perfect and it takes work and getting used to, but I think I love my husband more than I did a year ago when we said “I do.”

And we got to kick it all off with the most incredible day with family and friends. I’ve linked to it before but I’m still in love with this video and memories. Thanks again to everyone who helped make the day special! Happy Anniversary, Love!

We’re enjoying some time on the west coast to celebrate so look forward to upcoming posts about that!


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You and Me Forever

We are part of a married small group through Buckhead Church. We really enjoy being able to spend time with other married couples who are in a similar stage in life – and we all are because we’ve all been married less than a year – and have great leaders who are a little further along in their experience. We’ve done various studies and recently finished You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis and Lisa Chan.

If you’re not familiar with Francis Chan, he is a very “real” writer and speaker. He will tell you how it is and doesn’t sugarcoat things. The main premise of this book is that by making things right with God and striving for a life Jesus would be proud of, you will also have the benefit of a meaningful and fulfilling marriage. Now we all know no one can actually accomplish a life anywhere near to that of Jesus. But that is the goal. It was hard to read and think about the fact that in heaven, you won’t have a husband or wife. That we should be anxiously awaiting the day that Jesus returns and have no problem with that happening tomorrow regardless of what you still want to do or accomplish here on Earth. But that should be the ultimate desire of Christians.

There were videos to go with each chapter which I always like and each chapter had parts written by both Francis and Lisa. It did feel repetitive at times, which made it drag on a little bit. But it triggered some great discussion in our group as well as at home. And it’s good for newlyweds and for couples who have been married a while. It even has a chapter on parenting!


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Little Fires Everywhere

I have finished a few books recently so am behind on my reviews. I read Celeste Ng’s other book, Everything I Never Told You, a few years ago. After starting Little Fires Everywhere, I remembered more about that book, or really Ng’s writing style.

Little Fires Everywhere was an interesting book about suburban America, set in a real Ohio town where Ng grew up. It covers a lot of issues – adoption, parental rights, parenting, race, social class, family dynamics. Possibly too many issues. Overall I thought the book was slow, which is how her other book was for me as well. I also was not thrilled with the ending.

A single mother, Mia, and her daughter Pearl find their way to Shaker Heights, an suburb touted as the best in America. They never stay long in any place, but Pearl quickly makes friends with the children of a typical, wealthier Shaker Heights family, the Richardsons. Throughout the story, glimpses of Mia’s secretive past creep in but eventually, a local scandal pushes Mrs. Richardson, a local journalist, to dive deep into Mia’s past. The local scandal is a family attempting to adopt a Chinese baby who was left at a fire station, but the mother resurfaces and wants her daughter back. I cannot imagine how hard this would be from either side. The Richardson children end up with various relationships and debts to Mia which Mrs. Richardson will not accept.

Little Fires Everywhere is an interesting outsiders look at a Stepford-like town, both from the reader’s perspective and Mia’s outsider perspective. Again, it’s a little slow so I wouldn’t expect to fly through it. And it covers more serious topics, so don’t expect to laugh. But it was interesting and a great commentary on social relations in a small town.


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Pure Barre

I’ll admit that I can get sucked into fitness trends. I like to switch it up and not do the same thing ALL the time. When I lived in Nashville, barre studios were opening like wildfire. And I hit them all up using various Groupons and Living Socials and first month cheap deals. It was a great workout.

So when Pure Barre opened a studio a mile from my condo in Brookhaven, of course I had to check it out. I think I got a pre-opening one month deal. But I didn’t continue after that because, to be honest, it’ not cheap. But then I got engaged. And who doesn’t want to look amazing on their wedding day?! My friend had done the pre-wedding Pure Barre regime and looked amazing so what did I have to lose?! I didn’t necessarily have weight to lose, I just wanted to be toned, feel healthy, and feel good about my body!

So I started with a pre-wedding package at Pure Barre Brookhaven a few months before my wedding. Right from the start, everyone was super nice and welcoming and every single class was challenging. And that can be hard to achieve at 5:30 in the morning. Yes, I’m a morning person and have to exercise in the morning or it just won’t happen.

Well after a few months I was hooked. And as with many things, the more you buy, the better the deal. So we worked it out in the budget and I committed to a year. Two to three months after that I reached 100 classes and got some cool socks.

And then this past weekend I hit 250 CLASSES (and got some more socks and a gift card)! Each class is about 50 minutes so that’s 12,500 hours of tucking, crunching, lifting, toning burning, shaking, and sweating. It truly is a full body workout.

The best part about it is that they celebrate achievements and do challenges to help push you. And challenges always have prizes. I have SO enjoyed my year+ at Pure Barre Brookhaven! And yes, every class is still hard and challenging. If you’ve never tried a barre class, you definitely should. No dance or ballet experience required. No formal exercise training required. The instructors will make sure you know what you’re doing and doing it correctly.

Sadly we are moving soon and I will not be close enough to a studio. But maybe I can still pop in from time to time to get my tuck fix. Thanks Pure Barre Brookhaven for an amazing workout and for helping me stay in shape! Here’s to my last 2 weeks!!


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French Boneless Chicken

I have a wonderful cookbook called Entertaining with Friends and it was made by the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, where I was a patient through college. It was a wonderful place that does great things for kids and families. I think a friend gave me the cookbook but honestly I can’t remember.

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t do a great job of using my cookbooks. I usually have a couple of recipes from it that I make and then it gets put to the side and forgotten about. This is one my go-to recipes from this cookbook that I wanted to share.

It’s a pretty easy recipe and we actually had everything we needed when I thought to make it recently. I remembered to take pictures a little late so they’re not quite as detailed as I usually like for recipe posts but you’ll get the idea!

Start with your ingredients and some prep. Pound and season the chicken. I also cut the breasts in half. Chop the onion and quarter the mushrooms. We accidentally chopped the mushrooms because the recipe right next to this one requires chopped mushrooms. But it’s still mushrooms all the same!

Briefly sauté the chicken then place in a baking dish. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken. Then make the sauce in the same pan, adding each ingredient and letting it cook. First the onion, then mushrooms, then the wine and simmer.

Pour the onion mixture over the chicken and bake!

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We also baked some delicious brussel sprouts with our go to recipe – salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Add a salad, bread, rice, whatever other sides you want!

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French Boneless Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken pieces
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, cut into quarters
  • ⅓ to ½ C white wine
  • 1 C (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰
  2. Pound the chicken to a uniform thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Heat 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a skillet. Add the chicken and sauté briefly. Remove to a baking dish.
  4. Melt the remaining 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté until tender. Add the mushrooms and sauté until tender. Stir in the wine. Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Sprinkle cheese on top of the chicken. Top with mushroom mixture.
  6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the chicken is cooked through.

Yields 4-6 servings

Happy cooking! Print the recipe here: French Boneless Chicken