4 things to consider before starting your own book club

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How to set up your own book club

4 things to consider before starting your own book club

One evening each month, I can be found in the cosy cubby of a pub, spending the next few hours diving into the pages of that month’s read with a group of diehard bibliophiles. I’ve always felt that there was something romantic about book clubs, not solely in the sense that they make great meet-cutes for main characters, but because they feel old-timey and warm, and they are a means of coming together and connecting over what is normally a solitary hobby.

Book clubs open doors to new worlds, new genres, as well as to lasting friendships, and topics and experiences that you hadn’t previously considered.

Thinking about setting up your own book club? Here are some points to ponder and tips to help you get started.

What are you going to read?

With so many options out there, how do you decide what you’re going to read? Well, you might choose to have a theme for your book club, for example, is this club going to be devoted to minority or female writers? Or is it going to focus on a certain genre, such as crime books, or fantasy? Alternatively, the club could be devoted to working through prize lists, like the Booker Longlist.

If you don’t want to go so niche, you could consider changing the theme each month (romance, then translation, then a book set in your region), or find other ways to narrow the pool, such as only picking paperbacks under 300 pages. From there, you just need to figure out how the decision process is going to work – will you put forward options and allow the group to vote on which book they’d like to read as you go? Let a different person pick each time? Or will you take lots of suggestions from everyone, and allocate books throughout the year?

Who are you going to invite?

First things first, how many people do you want to have in your book club, and what kind of atmosphere are you looking to create? Do you want intimate chats, where each person has space to freely express their thoughts, or are you looking to create a larger group where everyone jumps in and thoughts are bounced around?

You might have queues of friends and family who are keen to join the club and get reading – in that case, all you need to do is send the invites out. But if you’re looking to get to know new people, and connect with other readers over a shared interest, you might want to turn to the internet.

You can start your own group that people can search for on sites such as MeetUp, where others hunting for book clubs like yours are likely to discover them. Or you could try putting a call out in local Facebook groups.

4 things to consider before starting your own book club

Where are you going to meet?

You might prefer the physical presence of your book clubbers, in which case you need a space to meet up. Would you like to come to an arrangement where you meet in each other’s homes, and take it in turn to host? Or would you prefer the neutral ground of a pub or other social space?

If you have a lot of people attending, it might be worth seeing what spaces are available to hire in your area – such as town and village halls, and other community hubs. These spaces may charge an hourly rate to hire, so depending on how much that is, you might wish to ask your group to chip in to cover the cost.


Brown Sugar Butter Syrup

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Brown sugar and butter simmer together and create a caramel toffee flavored homemade syrup like nothing you’ve ever tasted.

This sauce is no substitute for maple syrup, maple syrup is its own bit of wonderful that nothing can replace. Butter Sugar and Butter Homemade Syrup is awesome all by itself.

brown sugar syrup with butter

I drizzled this syrup over some Banana Nut Oatmeal last week and my boys liked it so much, they requested it on their oatmeal again the very next morning. I couldn’t resist making a batch of our favorite waffles for the last of the syrup.

This syrup is on par with our family’s beloved Waffle Sauce; it’s an entirely different kind of deliciousness and I already love it. If you enjoy homemade sauces and syrups as much as we do, you’ll want to try this awesome Buttermilk Syrup too, for another terrific homemade syrup option.

When my friend Rebecca told me about her recipe for Brown Sugar Butter Pancake and Waffle Syrup, I was immediately taken back to childhood when my mom used to make a simple sugar homemade syrup for our pancakes. This version, oh Mom forgive me, this version puts that one to shame times about 1000.

This is one instance where butter not only makes it better, but it transforms the recipe into something that will take your breath away with its deliciousness.

Your kitchen will smell amazing and you might even be left without words to describe it.

homemade syrup with brown sugar and butter

How To Make Homemade Syrup

  1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Add the butter and stir until the butter has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the extract if desired.
  3. Let the syrup cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a pitcher or jar for storage. Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a month.
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“What does it all mean?” Understanding existential crisis (and what can help)

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If you’re feeling anxious, low and questioning what the point of life is, you could be having an existential crisis

“What does it all mean?” Understanding existential crisis (and what can help)

There are certain things that happen in life that make us question the meaning of it all. The death of a loved one, illness, the breakdown of a relationship or other life transitions. For many, the pandemic and the general state of the world have left us reeling in uncertainty and angst.

It can be hard to know what to do with this feeling, but putting a name to it can help. Everyone is different of course, but I think some of us are having existential crises.

What is an existential crisis?

This is a term used to describe that sense of unease you feel about the meaning of life, the choices you make and your freedom. You may be asking ‘what is the meaning of life?’ or ‘what’s the point if I’m going to die one day?’.

You might feel isolated, overwhelmed and unmotivated. This feeling may have come out of the blue, but many of us experience existential crises after a major life event. Some mental health conditions like anxiety, BPD, depression and OCD can also make you more prone to existential crises, but they don’t cause them.

If this is all sounding painfully familiar, know that you’re not alone in how you feel and that there are tools to help you break free.

Questioning the meaning of life and thinking about ending life are different entities. Learn more about passive suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts, and where to get help.

What can help?

First of all, it can be helpful to recognise that an existential crisis may not be a wholly bad thing. It could give you the nudge you need to reassess what makes you happy in life and how you can find a sense of fulfilment.

When we’re in the midst of existential thinking, we’re zoomed way out. We’re thinking about the big picture and some big topics, so it’s no surprise that we get overwhelmed. Thinking in this way isn’t necessarily bad, but if it’s causing you anxiety, it could help to zoom back in.

Try to narrow your vision to your life and what you find enjoyable and meaningful. Gratitude journaling can be a helpful way to keep track of what makes you smile and what you find personally fulfilling. Connecting with loved ones can also help to lift any feelings of isolation and bring you back to the here and now.

Speaking of the here and now, mindfulness could also be a tool to try. Helping you ground yourself in the present moment, mindfulness encourages us to simply ‘be’, which could be exactly what you need.

What is existential therapy?<

116: Sticking to your goals over the holidays

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Hi friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful week and hope you have the happiest Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love. Please know how thankful I am for all of you. Your support with the blog and podcast means the world to me and I love the opportunity to hang out with my virtual besties every day.

For today’s podcast episode, I’m sharing a recording that Julie did with me about my strategies for staying healthy over the holidays and sticking to your goals during such a busy season. I did a similar episode when the podcast was a baby, but some of my strategies have changed and figured it was worth posting for those who may have missed the last one. This podcast was recorded for Julie and Kari’s show, Take the Upgrade, so it’s a reverse podcast interview situation 🙂 I hope you love it!

Here’s what we talk about:

– How to set yourself up for success with nutrition, even when there are more cocktails and treats around than normal

– Navigating two months of holiday events

– Stress management techniques and why HIIT may not be the best choice during this time

– My pre-party strategy

and so much more.

Take a listen here:

The weather is cooling down, and I’m still obsessed with my sauna blanket. It feels even BETTER when it’s chilly outside and you can use the code FITNESSISTA15 for 15% off! This is one of my favorite ways to relax and sweat it out. I find that it energizes me, helps with aches and pains, I sleep better on the days I use this, and it makes my skin glow. Link to check it out here. You can also use my discount for the PEMF Go Mat, which I use every day!

I love love love the meals from Sakara Life! Use this link and the code XOGINAH for 20% off their meal delivery and clean boutique items. This is something I do once a month as a lil treat to myself and the meals are always showstoppers. I’m enjoying a delivery this we

Cranberry Pancakes

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Tangy cranberry pancakes sweetened with maple syrup make getting out of bed on the weekend a little bit easier.

pancakes with cranberries, butter, and syrup on black plate

Cranberry Pancakes

There is something almost magical about getting out of bed as a kid and going to the kitchen in your pajamas and smelling warm pancakes. It is a thought and smell that takes me right back to being a kid again.

It is such a warm cozy feeling to see and smell that stack of pancakes or waffles. So many fond memories are why I have such a love of making pancakes for my family. Not to mention you can create so many versions and flavors, from savory to sweet they never get boring.

In all my pancake-making years though I only recently learned that many people throw away the first pancake. Do you do that? I never have and I can’t recall my mom ever throwing it away.

At first, I thought it was surely a joke or maybe that was the “chef’s treat”. But apparently, it has something to do with the temperature of the pan, the oil temp, and the cold batter. The first pancake is never right, supposedly. There is an entire Reddit thread about it.

Let’s get back to making these awesome pancakes. Cranberry buttermilk pancakes will have a thicker batter than you might be accustomed to making.

After mixing the batter and adding your cranberries, let the batter rest for a few minutes while the griddle or pan heats. Resting allows the baking powder and buttermilk to work. When you start to see popped bubbles on the surface of the batter; then you are ready to cook.

Frozen or fresh cranberries work just fine for cranberry pancakes. If using frozen let them thaw a bit before mixing them in. If you don’t you will end up with little frozen batter balls. This could create raw batter spots in your pancakes around the cranberries.

To thaw the berries I suggest pouring them onto a pan or plate on the counter when you get started, before mixing up the rest of the ingredients. That way they’ll have a bit of time to warm before adding them to the batter. It is okay if they aren’t completely thawed when you add them. The goal is to avoid frozen batter chunks.

syrup pouring over cranberry filled pancakes on black plate with plaid towelRead more