Last year was my first year creating a reading list. Looking back on my list from 2016, I read 5 of the 11 books on theret. I’m pretty happy with that. The reading list helped me identify the books that were piquing my interest most at the beginning of the year. I used it as a loose framework. But when I got an excited about another book, I felt totally okay to deviate. With that in mind, here are the books that I am most excited about聽jumping into in 2017. I have a good feeling I will make it through at least half since I’ve already purchased 4 of them 馃檪

My 2017 Reading List - 11 Books I Am Excited About

My 2017 Reading List

Just Kids by Patti Smith聽– If I saw this book at the bookstore I would probably not even notice聽based on the cover. I’m a big judge-a-book-by-its-cover person – sorry! However, this title has been recommended by so many people recently, that I’m going to give it a try.

In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney聽– I am certain I will be reading this one soon because I already bought it (along with a few others on this list). As a big fan of Grace Bonney, her design blog, her first book and her podcast聽about creatives in business, I was anxious to read her latest book about the same topic. Grace has set it up as a series of profiles, which I really enjoy because you can see how many infinite possibilities there are to pursuing your passion.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth聽–聽With as much as I enjoy books that聽broaden my perspective on raising children, I know this one will really reinforce the importance of cultivating resilience. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with聽but struggle in execution as it involves letting your kids聽struggle. That just doesn’t come natural to me.

Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull – Ed Catmull is one of the co-founders of Pixar, Inc. Besides being recommended by several guests on different podcasts, this book has totally caught my attention for other reasons. One of them is the book, Smarter, Faster, Better has a chapter that profiled Pixar’s road to creating the blockbuster聽Frozen.聽That ended up being my favorite chapter and left me wanting to learn more about聽how Pixar runs. Secondly, I have a curious fascination with how large companies doing cutting edge work are run.

Open by Andre Agassi – From what I read,聽this autobiography聽has little to do with tennis and is much more about the turmoil Agassi went through despite all the success on the court. The reviews and comments are extremely positive.

Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss聽– Reading “Tools of Titans”聽right now and I absolutely聽looove it. I’m going out on a limb to聽say it will probably rank in my top 3 of 2017. Tim Ferriss has compiled notes from his 200+ interviews on his podcast to whittle out the gems in each one. If you like his podcast, you will LOVE this book.聽

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown聽– Gifts of Imperfection” is the first in a trilogy that was followed by “Daring Greatly” and “Rising Strong.” As much as those two books spoke to me, I cannot believe I still have not read “Gifts”. 2017 will be the year I change that 馃檪

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight聽Another memoir on the list. Nike founder Phil Knight聽writes about how he created this company from scratch. Can you even imagine creating something of that magnitude? I cannot – so I want to know how that even happens. Rated 5 stars by thousands of reviewers on Amazon, everyone seems to agree this book is pretty amazing.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout聽– What snoozefest title and cover,聽right?Tim Ferriss talks about this book聽all the time as one of the quintessential books on marketing. Which happens to be one of my favorite subjects. The fact that “22 Immutable Laws” is 20+ years old and still going strong makes me think there is so good stiff there.

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon聽Spoiler alert…I already started this one too!聽“Steal Like an Artist” shines the light on the fact that there are no original ideas. All creativity is inspired in some part by something that is already out in the world. Austin Kleon’s book would be helpful to聽any聽creative that struggles with coming up with original ideas or imposter syndrome. The chapters are super short and are聽chockfull of visuals to illustrate his聽points.

Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa– Is this not the best title and cover for a book you’ve ever seen?I heard Danielle Krysa talking about this book on the “Being Boss” podcast. My inner critic is a big jerk too, so I want to hear about what Krysa’s says to her.

Do you keep a reading list? Which books have you been eyeing for 2017?

Best 3 Books I Read in 2016

Looking back at this post from last year with the best聽3聽books from 2015聽makes me so happy. Those 3 books still influence my life on a daily basis.

I feel like I read a little less than usual in 2016. Or it might just be that I didn’t review as many books on the blog. Some of the books I read and liked but didn’t get to review on here were “Rising Strong”, “Why Not Me?”, “Present Over Perfect”, and “Start with Why”.聽All big-hitters and best-sellers in their own categories. Definitely books I will recommend in the future. Yet still, the three books listed below lingered with me the longest.

These were the standouts from my 2016 reads:

Best 3 Books I Read in 2016

Mindset by carol dweck

“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

This book was such an eye-opener for me. I still talk about it on a regular basis. Dweck brings to light the differences between having a growth mindset and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset believes that we are born with finite or pre-determined abilities. A growth mindset believes that our abilities can be developed through time and practice. Through many examples and experiments, she shows how impactful having either of these mindsets can be. This is a book that would help any parent, teacher, coach or child who wants to free themselves from comparison & low self-esteem. The聽picture聽about mindset painted by聽Dweck聽is a very motivating because mindsets can change. When I think back on the year and which books have stuck with me the most, Mindset by Carol Dweck is definitely #1 on my list. See my full review HERE.

The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey

“The Gift of Failure” by Jessica Lahey

Intuitively, I understand letting your kids stumble and struggle is good for their growth and independence. In practice, this is much harder. I really enjoyed Jessica Lahey’s voice and her credibility as a mother to a middle schooler and a middle school teacher. Gift of Failure also provides聽many examples of the negative impact dependence聽can have on a child. She outlines many ways that the reader can begin to shift the responsibility from parent to child. I especially loved her chapters on how to proactively approach teachers and your child’s school, letting them know you support and respect them from the very first day. Much like Mindset, once I read this book, I wanted everyone I know to read it so we could discuss. In fact, we did gather a small group for a study on this one because the content is so relevant. See my full review HERE.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday - Best 3 Books I Read in 2016

“The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday

This little book was so much fun to read. Made up of short聽chapters, “Obstacle” paints a new perspective for the reader. Weaving in stories of real historical figures and aligning them with Stoic principles, Holiday then brings it back to current day and the takeaways for us. One of the聽viewpoints of聽Stoic philosophy is to look at your hardships in a different light. Instead of taking a “why me?” approach, how could you use that negative to your advantage? How might that suffering eventually lead to wisdom and invaluable experience? It certainly seems like聽a more productive way of channeling your energy in times of stress. Kudos to Ryan Holiday for making Stoicism hip and relevant in 2016.聽See my full review HERE.

Have you read any of these? What聽were your聽favorite books from 2016?

I feel like I just finished wrapping up my November favorites and now here we are at the beginning of January. How was your Christmas and New Year’s? Ours was great. Full of the traditions and family gatherings we look forward to every year. Also, no one woke up at 3am to start scoping out what Santa brought, which was also a win for this year 馃檪

I’ve been pondering a few of the intentions and habits I would like to adopt in 2017. The ideas are still floating around in my head, but I am pretty certain my best bet will be to keep it simple. Because if there is one thing I have learned about myself by now, it’s that聽I have a low threshold for busy and overwhelm. The last thing I need is to bring it on myself with a lot of resolutions.

Here’s a recap of some of things I was totally into last month.

December Favorites - The Outside and In

Photo by Amy Bartlam. Design by Blackband Design.

December Favorites:

  • Earlier in the month Blackband Design posted a reveal of a recently completed home renovation they worked on. Project Back Bay turned out SO SO good. Especially the main living area. 聽I pinned pretty much every image of their living room and kitchen.
  • Are you familiar with “The Minimalists”? The founders, Josh and Ryan, have created a movement that I am totally into – creating a meaningful life with less.聽I am not sure how I was introduced to them, but I have been listening to (and loving) The Minimalists Podcast for the past 6-8 months now. Josh and Ryan’s message is brilliant. Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things just came out on Netflix a couple weeks ago and I couldn’t WAIT to see it. The movie totally lived up to my expectations and then some. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • The sofa we ordered from Article finally came in this month and it’s a keeper. I was a bit worried ordering a sofa online, sight unseen. But it turns out I love the way it looks and lightens up the living room. The size is perfect for what we needed.聽And now we can spread out and lay down even more for family movie night – win!
  • We got Max THIS duvet cover for Christmas and it makes me so happy! It suits his taste and personality perfectly.
  • One of the people I have learned so much from over the past few years is Tim Ferriss. Are you a fan too? I just picked up聽his new book, “Tools of Titans”聽and I am devouring it with joy. Last week聽Tim did a recap and post-game analysis of his year on his podcast that was really good. In the episode, “What I Learned in 2016”聽, he talks about what he felt he did well and what habits he adopted that got him there.

So how聽was your December? Any favorites that you gifted or were gifted? Are you making resolutions or participating in any challenges?

My friend Emma decked their house out for a Christmas historic home tour and I wanted to share the pictures with you.聽Emma has been decorating and preparing their home for the historic home tour since the day after Halloween. You’ll see all her hard work paid off in their beautiful home.

Emma’s family lives in a historic house a couple blocks down from us. Her husband Chris is a builder who has been transforming this house over the past few years. Their most recent renovation was the addition of the entrance foyer and portico. I always enjoy seeing their improvements because they are so well done and blend seamlessly with their historic home.

Grab a cup of cocoa, put on some holiday tunes and enjoy these festive rooms!

Entrance & Foyer:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Dining Room:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Living Room:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Kitchen:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Sunroom:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Pool House:

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Emma's Christmas Home Tour - The Outside & In

Didn’t Emma do a great job decking the halls for Christmas this year? I know she was ready to kick up her heels and relax after the tour was over. How much decorating are you doing this year?

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

I am glad to be finally posting聽a recap of our time in the Peruvian rainforest a few weeks ago. Before Christmas gets here I wanted to share some pictures of where we stayed, what we did and some overall thoughts on the experience.

How did we end up in the rainforest over Thanksgiving weekend? Well, first, I am from Peru and still have quite a bit of family living there. My aunt Pierina and I were talking last year, and she thought the boys would really enjoy the rainforest. She invited us to come along with her and we jumped at the chance for a new adventure with one of our favorite people.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

All geared up and ready for our flight

Preparing for our trip:

Even though we had booked our travel聽6 months earlier, we really didn’t start preparing much until 3 weeks before we left. Pierina had booked our stay at Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepci贸n Lodge, which I will tell you more about in a little bit. Since they were taking care聽of all of the food and activities, there just wasn’t that much to do beforehand except pack.

When it came to packing, I did a few online searches to see what people were bringing to the Amazon jungle. A few things were apparent: it would be hot and there would be mosquitoes. Sounded a lot like Florida in the summertime. Hmmmm…

The main concern I had was trying to discern which element (heat or mosquitoes) I would want to avoid more. I assumed it would be mosquitoes. There is nothing more exasperating than itching. So we brought long sleeves and pants to protect us from getting bitten. We also got these mesh sweatshirts type things. Brian treated all of our clothes with Permethrin before we left. He also brought THIS聽mosquito spray which was a lifesaver.

Turns out the spray was so effective that as long as we used it when we were on our excursions, the mosquitoes would not bite us. Score! After we realized this,聽we were able to go out in shorts and tanks with no problems. That was a big relief, because it was pretty hot. So if you go, just remember to get a potent high quality mosquito spray and leave the long sleeves at home.

Getting there:

When you fly to Peru, you will be flying into Lima, the capital. This is where all of our extended family lives.聽After a day in聽Lima, we flew to Puerto Maldonado, the little town closest to the lodge. The flight from Lima stops for a layover in Cusco, where Machu Picchu is. After the layover in Cusco, we continued on the flight for 15 more minutes. This is why I highly recommend if you ever plan on going to Machu Picchu, you should definitely include the rainforest in your plans. It’s only a 15 minute flight once you get to Cusco! And probably 80% less tourists.

Arriving in Puerto Maldonado, we got off the plane runway-style. It was a small airport. The hostess from Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepci贸n was waiting for us with a sign along with several other guests arriving with us. From there, we got on a small bus. The bus took us through the small town聽of Puerto Maldonado until we got to the river. We聽hopped on the boat for a 20 minute ride that would take us to the lodge. There are no roads leading into the jungle. The river is the only way in and out.

When the boat dropped us off at the property’s dock, all you could see was a path through trees. Our hostess, Rina, said we had a 3 km hike to get to the lodge from there – she must really enjoy seeing the scared look on the guests’ faces when she says that because she quickly follows it up with a “just kidding” and a laugh. Phew!

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

The boats that took us to the lodge upriver.

Hacienda Concepcion:

We stayed at Inkaterra’s Hacienda Concepci贸n Lodge. Inkaterra is an eco-luxury resort聽chain in Peru with 5 properties. Three are near Machu Picchu, and two are in the Amazon rainforest. The sister property in the Amazon is called Reserva聽Amazonica. Pierina stayed at that resort 6 years ago and loved it. We stayed in Hacienda Concepci贸n because she wanted to try a different one, plus it was the newest property. We stayed for 3 nights, and I would highly recommend the same聽if you can too.

Every structure on the property has thatched roofs and has screens instead of windows. This means you have a symphony of birds, monkeys and bugs playing for you at all hours of the day. It’s such a tranquil and meditative experience. The main lodge is where you would eat all of your meals and where we liked to hang out in between excursions. The first floor has the聽dining area and bar, while the second floor was filled with places to sit and relax.

The food was very very good at Hacienda Concepci贸n. Every day they would serve the meals in the dining room and you had “your” table. Breakfast and lunch were served buffet style, although you could order hot a la carte items, like eggs or pancakes for breakfast as well. Dinners were sit-down, candle-lit and very tasty.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Pierina and Brian celebrating at the lodge after the hike to Lake Sandoval.

 

The cabins:

The cabins were rustic but beautiful, spacious and extremely clean. The four of us were very comfortable in one. They have a sitting area at one end of the space which was completely open to the jungle, separated only by a screen. One morning there was a capuchin monkey playing in the trees that we could see without stepping out. The beds have mosquito netting, which is pulled down during the turndown service in the evening.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Our sleeping cabin for 3 nights.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Nap time in the cabin

What we did in the rainforest:

Inkaterra truly excels at planning out your stay at their properties. The first day we arrived, we met our personal guide, Mirko.Throughout our stay, he was聽so friendly and eager to share everything he loved about the rainforest with us. That first night we met Mirko, he talked to us about all of our excursions and answered any questions we had. I could go on and on about the excursions, but will let the pictures do most of the talking. Here’s the quick rundown of what they were:

Twilight river cruise – looked for night creatures on the banks of the rivers. Saw lots of caymans, but our highlight was the pack of wild hogs

National Reserve hike & Lake Sandoval canoe trip – We hiked聽through the Tambopata National Reserve. As we hiked, our guide would teach us聽about the different plants and animals we would see. At the end of the hike, we hopped on canoes for a tour of the wildlife of Lake Sandoval. We found giant river otters and all kinds of cool birds.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Right before our potentially muddy hike through the Tambopata National Reserve – the resort lends you the boots 馃檪

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Learning about the leaf cutter ants from Mirko

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Leaf cutter ants doing their thing.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Canoeing to Lake Sandoval surrounded by monkeys

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Lake Sandoval

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Giant river otters

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Checking out some sleeping bats on a tree

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Walking jungle night tour – This guided walk with our guide took you into the rainforest at night to see the creatures that they could find. I knew this would include frogs, so I passed on this one.

Cachuela clay lick – This was the only excursion we did that was not included in the price of our stay. We left at 4:30am by boat to get to the Cachuela clay lick, were hundreds of parrots gather at dawn to eat the clay. After seeing the birds, we had breakfast on the boat before heading back to the lodge.

 

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Sunrise on the river

Tree Canopy Walk – The canopy walk was a series of hanging bridges at the top of the trees. The perspective was cool!

 

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Heading up to the canopy walk

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Visit to a local farm – Our guide brought us to a nearby farm where they grow all kinds of produce. We walked through the fields while grabbing聽fresh pineapple, sugar cane, cacao, and bananas to eat along the way.

Botanical garden – We toured the onsite botanical garden with our guide. He showed us all the different plants and shared their traditional medicinal properties. The boys’ favorite part was learning about the Brazil nuts and cracking them open.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Our awesome guide, Mirko

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Max cutting open a sugar cane.

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Fishing for piranha聽– One thing Brian and the boys were super excited to try was fishing for Piranha. They did catch a few, which the kitchen friend up for their dinner that night 馃檪

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Fishing for piranha

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

3 Nights in the Peruvian Rainforest - The Outside & In

Ben hamming it up for the camera with the piranha he caught.

Overall Impression:

Our visit to the Peruvian rainforest was so much fun. We really had very little expectations coming into it, and all of us came out extremely satisfied with with our experience.

A聽big part of the positive experience had to do with Inkaterra and how awesome their lodge was. Kudos to them for making us feel extremely comfortable in what could have been an uncomfortable environment. If you are ever considering visiting Peru, I highly recommend setting aside a few days to visit this amazing place.