All posts by Beth Berger

About Beth Berger

Hi there! Finding Delight is a lifestyle and lifelong learning blog written and curated by me in Alabama. Along the way, I attempt to tackle the rough real world with books, budget-livin', brainpower and all the beautiful stuff you can find when you really look. Won't you join me? The true delight is in the finding out.

A Budget Friendly Meal Plan for Busy Seasons

There are usually two scenarios that find people diving head first into the world of meal planning — they need to save time or they need to save money. But at this point in the year, it often seems those two go hand and hand. We’re in the heart of the fall semester, activities are ramping up, and something about the waning evening sunlight makes it feel like a mad rush between the end of work hours and climbing into bed at night. There’s no time for planning and executing a healthy dinner on the fly!

Then you’ve got money saving. Ah yes, I feel you there. Maybe you spent a little too extravagantly on summer travel or plan to spend extravagantly on the upcoming holidays. Either way, there’s no room for extravagance in this in-between!

Enter the power of the stupidly simple meal plan…

Shopping List

Breakfast

  • Oatmeal
  • Yogurt
  • Bananas

Lunch

  • Bread
  • Lunch meat
  • Cheese
  • Salad
  • Salad Dressing

Extras (Snacks, desserts, and lunch add-ons)

  • Granola bars
  • Fruit (apples, oranges, berries on sale)
  • Crackers
  • Hummus
  • Peanut butter
  • Cookies

Dinner

  • Chicken
  • Rice
  • Stir-fry vegetables
  • Bulk frozen veggie
  • Pasta noodles
  • Ground turkey or meatballs
  • Pasta sauce
  • Tortillas 
  • Shredded cheese
  • Avocados
  • Refried beans or black beans
  • Green peppers
  • BBQ sauce
  • Hamburger buns
  • Chips

Meal Plan

Breakfast – Oatmeal or yogurt topped w/ bananas

Lunch – Sandwich or salad w/ 2 sides of choice (and/or any dinner leftovers)

Dinners – 

Monday/#1: Chicken stir fry w/ frozen veggie

Tuesday/#2: Spaghetti w/ fruit salad

Wednesday/#3: Quesadilla w/ beans and guac

Thursday/#4: Stuffed peppers w/ frozen veggie

Friday/#5: Panini and chips

Saturday/#6: BBQ chicken sandwiches w/ frozen veggie/fruit salad/chips (whatever is left)

Sunday/#6: Eat out

What meals are on YOUR stupidly simple meal plan? Here’s to a stress-free and money-saving AUTUMN!! 🍂 🍁 🍂

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mid-week round-up

What have you been up to? My birthday was over the weekend, and I had the perfect day! Chet made a bunch of envelopes for me to open throughout the day, each with a different activity for us to complete. We went to the bagel place up the road for breakfast, hit up the thrift stores, browsed the bookstore so I could pick out some book gifts, and even saw the Downton Abbey movie! Hope you all have a great rest of your week, and here are some internet treasures I thought I should pass along…

Schools should go back to teaching teens Adulting 101.

A pro athlete on what to pack for every type of hike.

Royal correspondents on what it’s like to write about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton.

How living near a Trader Joe’s can affect home values.

Everything you need in a 72-hour emergency backpack.

36 hours in Milwaukee.

I wonder if this lint roller works.

Will you be listening to this podcast?

This map shows you what Indigenous lands you’re living on.

The most adorable jacket for fall.

Jojo Moyes has been accused of publishing a novel with crazy similarities to another book.

The ancient world was full of warrior women.

P.S. A few Finding Delight posts you may have missed — A Decluttering Thought Exercise and How to Spruce Up Your Neutral Rental.

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 2

Part 2 for each book is typically where we dive into other works by the author of our current read. So, let’s get to it!

Roxane Gay is currently a visiting professor at Yale University as well as a writer and editor. If you enjoyed Hunger, you should absolutely pick up some of her other work…

An Untamed State

A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

 

Bad Feminist

A collection of essays  spanning politics, criticism, and feminism. Through this collection, Gay reveals herself as one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

 

World of Wakanda

Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey were the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel in this spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title. In it, Gay spins a Wakandan love story.

 

Difficult Women

A collection of fictional short stories that follow different women as they journey through a traumatic experience or something that sets them apart from the societal norm.

 

More on SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
More to READ: The Year I Learned Everything, We Do Not Speak of Graceful Things, On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies, and MORE.
More to WATCH: On writing tips, The Nickel Boys, and Pretty Woman.

Pictured above – Roxane Gay presenting “Confessions of a Bad Feminist” which you can watch HERE

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! And if you want exclusive book club content (incl. the full reading list and FREE printables) sent straight to your inbox — SIGN UP HERE

Part 3, coming soon!

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #7 in the Finding Delight Book Club. If you’re new to this series, I’m reading 12 books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. The current pick is Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay.

For the full book list CLICK HERE. I’d love to have you along for the ride!

“This body is resilient. It can endure all kinds of things. My body offers me the power of presence. My body is powerful.”

Synopsis

In this intimate and searing memoir, the New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls ‘wildly undisciplined’. She casts an insightful and critical eye on her childhood, teens and twenties – including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point in her young life – and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life.

With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

“Living in my body has expanded my empathy for other people and the truths of their bodies. Certainly, it has shown me the importance of inclusivity and acceptance
(not merely tolerance) for diverse body types.”

Initial Thoughts

Hunger is a gut-wrenching, vulnerable memoir that, at times, was super difficult to read. Yet, Gay’s wit and intelligence, coupled with short chapters, make it quite the page turner, nonetheless. You could easily devour this book in a day or take your time, letting the stories wash over you more slowly.

Gay recognizes all the ways in which our culture associates larger bodies with feelings of shame. She also shares all the ways in which her own body, and her relationship with food, have shaped her life and how she exists in this world. She shares stories of her life that speak to these themes, from her early childhood all the way to now as a bestselling author and sought-after speaker. While many of these experiences are painful and highlight all the ways our society could DO BETTER, they are never shared as an admonishment. Just stories, truth, as if Gay knows her audience are trusted friends.

I think anyone would benefit from reading this memoir. The writing is compelling. It’s a tough read, but the takeaways are so, so important. I saw one review online say Gay succeeds at “tough reporting from the inside out” and I couldn’t agree more.

“In our culture, we talk a lot about change and growing up, but man, we don’t talk nearly enough about how difficult it is. It is difficult.”

Read this if you’re interested in: body politics, women’s stories, feminism, society & culture

Read this if you loved: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood, The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, Sex Object by Jessica Valenti

Other books by Roxane Gay: Difficult Women, An Untamed State, Bad Feminist, Ayiti

Keep a lookout for Part 2! I’ll be posting it soon.

And don’t forget — if you want the full reading list CLICK HERE. You’ll basically become a card-carrying member of the Finding Delight Book Club! ❤

mid-week round-up

Gosh. It feels like forever since I’ve posted a good ol’ mid-week round-up! What have you guys been up to? Last week I visited Savannah, GA. I mostly hung out with my adorable nephew and we also toured the Wormsloe Historic Site and attended the Savannah Jazz Festival. Hope you have a great Wednesday, and at long last I can offload some of these links I’ve been hoarding…

This is the kind of content I LIVE for.

I would love to eat at all 10 of these new restaurants.

An interesting read on American dental care and classism.

Loose leaf or NOTHING after reading this.

Meal prep for Fall.

This family married and divorced 23 times to scam the Chinese government.

Michelle Phan was YouTube’s biggest beauty star. Then she vanished. 

On being raised by Hells Angels.

After watching A Very Brady Renovation, I desperately need to read this book.

‘Hangry’ is the word (& feeling) we can’t get away from.

Why it matters that ‘Emily Doe’ in the Brock Turner case is Asian-American.

Vaccine hesitancy is one of the top threats to global health. Why did it become so trendy?

P.S. Want more MWRU’s in the future? Consider supporting this blog HERE.

Gilmore Girls Readathon Picks

The other day, a very enticing YouTube video popped up in my recommendeds. Announcing a GILMORE GIRLS READATHON! Of course I was curious what that could mean and of COURSE I clicked.

The video explained that the readathon was a challenge of sorts, inspired by none other than the Gilmore’s themselves — Lorelai and Rory. The YouTuber explained that the aim of the challenge was to choose 7 books, inspired by 7 different Gilmore Girls categories, and to read as much as you could between October 1st and October 15th. I loved all of her suggestions, but  I wanted to come up with a few of my own too!

Now, I probably won’t manage 7 books in 15 days (a girl can dream, but a girl has a job!). But I do think this is a super fun way to choose a Fall reading list. Afterall, Gilmore Girls is such a cozy, autumn-vibes show. Wouldn’t it be fun to rewatch and read your chosen books all season long?

Here are the 7 categories with a few of my suggestions for each! All of the books I picked are either ones I’ve read or they’re on my “to be read” list.

1. Book with a school setting (in honor of Yale & Chilton)

My picks:
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
T
he Secret History by Donna Tart

2. Book featuring a mother/daughter relationship (in honor of Lorelai & Rory Gilmore)

My picks:
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

3. Cozy book set during fall/winter (in honor of Stars Hollow & smelling snow with Lorelai)

My picks:
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
One Day in December by Josie Silver

4. Book with complicated love interests (in honor of Dean, Jess, and Logan)

My picks:
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Thinking Reed by Rebecca West
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

5. Book written by an Asian author/has Asian representation (in honor of punk rocker girl Lane)

My picks:
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

6. The next book in a series you’ve yet to finish (in honor of A Year in the Life)

My picks:
Uglies series
Shatter Me series
Crazy Rich Asians series

7. Book with food on the cover/apart of the story (in honor of Luke’s diner)

My picks:
All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

What do you think? Are you up for the challenge? 

P.S. More books for Fall. And movies, too!

My New Photo Wall

mixtiles photo wall

Guys! I am so obsessed with my new photo wall. I’ve been toying with the idea of putting one up for months now but it always just seemed like SOOO much work. Choosing the photos, getting them printed, then framed, and – MOST DAUNTING OF ALL – hung.

(Hung straight and without making the wall look like swiss cheese with all the nail holes, that is.) 

Well, then I discovered Mixtiles and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally pull the trigger on the photo wall of my dreams! I still took great care to choose my photos, narrowing down a field of many to 12 of my favorites. I wanted them to all have a cohesive color palette (blue, red, green, and light maroon) so that the arrangement would look nice in our living room. This helped weed out some contenders. Also handy was the fact that the Mixtiles website will tell you if a picture is going to be lower quality when printed as soon as you upload it. So that eliminated a few more.

My 12 winners included:

  1. Chet at the aquarium
  2. Me on a trail with my trusty Tom Bihn
  3. Katie at the shuffleboard club
  4. A snap from a trip to the Everglades
  5. Andy, Mom, and I at Sunken Gardens
  6. Chet and his Mom at his doctoral graduation
  7. Chet and I on a trip to St. Pete
  8. The weekend we moved to Alabama
  9. Breaux Bridge
  10. My Mom in Miami
  11. Wink enjoying some outdoor time
  12. and the Berger siblings

All I had to do was upload the photos, select the type of frame I wanted, and the next thing I knew they were on my doorstep. And best of all? They hang WITHOUT nails and are removable, reusable, and leave no marks. Perfect for people (like me) who are indecisive and want to play around before they settle on the ideal placement.

I would highly, highly recommend Mixtiles if you’ve always wanted a photo wall but were too scared to take the plunge! I’m already itching to order more!! They are beautiful quality and the perfect addition to any home.

Do you have a photo wall?

Hobbies to Try If You’re a Creative Soul

There is no denying that life is busy. And as we get older, the hobbies that we used to have can fall by the wayside. But isn’t it so wonderful when we can carve out a few hours here and there that can be used to explore hobbies and find fun creative outlets? 

Hobbies are therapeutic and great for happiness too. So here are a few creative hobbies that you can try. 

hobbies to try if you're a creative soul

Card Making

Handmade cards, with all their layers and personal touches, are really special. Using glue dots, you can build whole beautiful scenes. You can make a card whenever the mood takes you, or create a stash ready for Christmas or other significant events. If you really enjoy it, you might even be able to make a business out of it by selling your creations to friends for a few dollars or even setting up your own Etsy shop.

Writing

You might choose to start a blog, or you might just really want to keep a diary. Writing can be so therapeutic. You can write fiction and let your imagination run wild, or you might want to write about your daily life — talking about things you have enjoyed, what makes you happy, things you are grateful for and so much more. 

Calligraphy

There are tons of books out there centered around teaching yourself hand lettering. Not only does calligraphy look beautiful, but it is a skill that can grow over time. If you aren’t sold on the idea, you should take a look at some hand lettering videos. If you have decided to keep a journal, then you can use this skill to embellish it. Grab a pack of watercolor pens and see what happens!

Photography

Everyone has their own unique point of view. When you get to let loose with a camera, you might be surprised what you come up with. And it isn’t just DSLR. You can experiment with film, plates, instant and more. Picking up camera magazines will give you hints and tips about how to improve your style. You can work with the style that suits you best — some people love portraits, others black and white landscape. The joy of photography is being able to tell a story through images. There are many free courses online that can help you get to grips with some of the finer points of using your DLSR manually. But the main thing is to have fun. 

Soap

Soap making is a lovely and practical hobby. You can choose different scents and textures, and use molds too. There are so many tutorials on how to create natural soaps – which is excellent if you have sensitive skin or have family members who do. They make a great gift and can be infused with a lot of skin-loving ingredients. 

Baking

Baking for fun is fantastic. Not everyone can bake with ease, for some, it takes a lot of time to find out what they enjoy making. But if you enjoy eating scones and fresh bread, then learning to make it brings a new element of joy. Another bonus to learning to bake is having the smell of fresh bread wafting around your home. It is so cozy, and once you master a basic loaf, you can move on to more exciting bakes. 

Knitting

This is a real skill. Many people have tried and given up, but with a little persistence, you can knit tiny booties or scarves. You don’t need too much more than a set of knitting needles and some yarn to get started. If you’ve never knitted before, you are going to want to either pick up a knitting magazine with some basic patterns in or find some free online courses. Just think, by the time winter comes around, you will be able to gift everyone with something cozy and warm. 

Cross-stitch

You can buy mini kits that have everything in it. Or if you want to create something without a guide, you can pick up some cloth, cotton thread and get started. You can affix these to cards, or frame them and put them up as art. Because of the slow, repetitive motions, it is very therapeutic. 

Coloring

If you want to color in a Peppa Pig coloring book, then go for it, but if you want something more adult, check out this swear word coloring book (LOL) or coloring books featuring really intricate patterns. Coloring is something that millions of people are now including in their mindfulness and self-care routines. If you are a perfectionist, then you are going to take even longer – which is ideal if you want to while away the hours indulging in your hobbies. 

Quilting

Using clothing that you no longer wear, kids clothing that is too small, or even quilting squares, you can create a quilt for your bed, or give it as a gift when you are done. There is some mental work involved when you are piecing it together or deciding on what you want it to look like once it is done. There is something quite lovely about giving people a handmade quilt as the winter rolls around. 

Floral Crowns

Making floral crowns aren’t as tricky as they might look. You can buy plain headbands and hot-glue flowers all over it, or you might choose to use fake flowers with thin wires and twist them around to create a full crown. Have a chat with the local florist and see if you can collect flower heads that have fallen off and won’t be sold. You can offer to pay, but you might end up with a few bags at a time. 

 Letting your mind unwind and your hands work for a few hours a week is a great way to lower stress levels and have time for yourself. What do you think? Which one is your creative soul itching to try?!

September Playlist

Do you want to take a peek at what I’ve been listening to lately? I’ve shared my SEPTEMBER playlist  below!

Admittedly, I usually turn to podcasts when looking to fill moments of silence. But lately I’ve been trying to be a bit more balanced with what I pop into my earholes! It’s not that I don’t like music, it just takes so much work to find music I LOVE. Whereas listening to a podcast or NPR just feels like a sure thing. (Hello, yes…classic enneagram 9 here. Nice to meet ya!) 

So that’s all to say, I took a lot of care to select songs that resonated with me and I plan to jam to them all month! Maybe you’ll like ’em too! Give it a listen and let me know what you think. xoxo 

 

P.S. Pop any suggestions for my October playlist in the comments below. I’m slowly but surely expanding my repertoire beyond FM radio and old mix CD’s from a decade ago. Please and thanks!!

The Best Souvenirs

Now that summer is coming to an end, and all the travel that goes along with it, I’d love to know…Did you pick up any fun souvenirs on vacations this year? 

When I was a kid, souvenirs felt like SUCH a necessity. Visiting kitschy shops at beaches, amusement parks, and roadside attractions felt like a cruel joke if I didn’t at least get to select ONE item to come home with me. The allure of some magnet with my name on it or a toy representative of the past day’s adventure too difficult to resist whining about.

Nowadays, souvenirs fall into that careful balance of knowing I don’t need any additional tchochkes cluttering my home, but also wanting to take out an insurance policy on fleeting travel memories. With that in mind, I’ve developed a few categories of purchases I employ when looking to commemorate a trip…

Little things to tuck in a memory box, like a postcard or patch, are a go-to of mine. Not a huge investment, so I feel ok that it’s only going to be admired in those days I’m feeling extra nostalgic and pull down the box to sift through my collection of random ephemera.

But I don’t mind splurging on a high-quality consumable. A bottle of wine local to the area that can be uncorked months later. A lotion with a scent to transport me back to our travels. A candle from a sweet seaside shop or a box of local chocolate from the corner store.

And speaking of chocolate, let’s go ahead and put cooking ingredients in a category all their own. Something like a beautiful bottle of local olive oil, whole bean coffee from a cafe you fell in love with, or a couple teeny tiny jars of spices that easily tuck in your backpack. I also love this as an option if you’re tasked with bringing back a goodie for a co-worker or family member. A friend of mine gifted me a little tin of paprika she bought on a trip to Hungary and I thought about her and her adventure every time I sprinkled it in a dish for months to come.

Finally, there’s what I consider the daily item. These I reserve for truly special trips. I want to be transported to those memories frequently, so something like a piece of jewelry or a scarf fits the bill. For a lower budget option, I would go for something like a coffee mug or a small print I can transport carefully home and frame. Basically an item that I can seamlessly incorporate into my daily life…not one that is emblazoned with the city or attraction I visited. Those seem like a good idea in the moment, but then get shoved to the back of a closet.

Which of these categories do you normally go for? Have your own strategy when it comes to souvenirs? Let me know in the comments below! xoxo

P.S. This would be a fun way to commemorate your trip once you’ve returned home!