Book Review- “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain

Author: Paula McLain

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Year Published: 2011

Number of Pages: 314

The Paris Wife is a fictional novel depicting the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. The story is told primarily through Hadley’s point of view, but includes third person narratives of Hemingway’s experiences and reactions in his distinctive writing style every dozen chapters or so. In addition to the relationship between Hadley and Ernest, the reader gets glimpses into the Parisian life of many of the 1920’s most famous expatriots, like Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

As a reader, I was fully invested in Hadley’s story. I worried for her in the beginning of the novel, seeing her fall for Ernest and knowing that it wouldn’t last. I celebrated her happiness, when she found passion and joy in motherhood. And I initially questioned her decisions when she learned of Ernest’s affair, but came to understand them later. 

While the novel tells the story of Hadley’s relationship with Ernest Hemingway, the true purpose of the book was to show her character growth. She started as a timid and emotionally stunted woman, and developed into a strong woman capable of being independent. 

Favorite Quotes

“Sometimes I wish we could rub out all of our mistakes and start fresh, from the beginning. And sometimes I think there isn’t anything to us but our mistakes.” pg. 220

“I could love him like crazy and work very hard to understand and support him, but I couldn’t be fresh eyes and a fresh smile after five years.  I couldn’t be new.” pg. 242

“You’ve changed me more than you know, and will always be a part of everything I am. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from this. No one you love is ever truly lost.” pg. 307

Recommend It? 



National Book Lover’s Day

I missed National Book Lover’s Day yesterday, but am making up for it today by soaking up the sun with my current read. Keep your eyes peeled for a book review of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife coming soon to Cultivate You. 

In the meantime, go spend some time outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the nature around you. Cultivate your connection with the Earth!

Book Review- “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker-Kline

Author: Christina Baker-Kline

Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)

Date Published: 2013

Number of Pages: 273

This story is about two women who have very similar childhoods. Seventeen year old Molly Ayer and ninety-one year old Vivian Daly are both “orphans” and moved from home to home throughout their childhoods. The story runs in parallels, flashing between Molly’s modern day life, and Vivian’s life back in the 1930s. 

Through their stories, the reader learns about loss of family, sense of identity, and valuing what little prized possessions you may have. The book shows how these women are forced to live in constant upheaval and rely on strangers to survive. 

This was a great story with an uplifting ending. I loved it and highly recommend it! 

Favorite Quotes:

“I’ve come to think that’s what heaven is – a place in the memory of others where our best selves live on.” pg 1

“People who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments.” pg 177

New Direction- Cultivate You.

As the school year gets closer, I’ve decided to take this blog in a new direction. Rather than focus entirely on recipes and the Kodaly method of music education, I wanted this to be a place where I can broaden my own horizons, and share what I’ve learned with you. This will be the place I share what new recipes I’ve tried, what books I’ve read, which music I’ve listened to, which shows I’ve seen, what experiences I’ve had. This will be a place for me to cultivate myself. To create the best version of me and to share it with you. And through my journey, I hope that this blog will inspire it’s readers to Cultivate You.

Mexican Lasagna

This is one of my family’s all-time favorite recipes! Inspired by the South Beach Diet, this recipe is not only easy, it’s flavorful and good for you, too.  


1 lb Lean Ground Turkey

1/2 medium Onion, chopped

2 tsp Minced Garlic

1 & 1/2 c. Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

1 c. Fat-Free Sour Cream

1 large Green Pepper, chopped

2.25 oz Black Olives, sliced

2 tbsp. Cilantro

2 tsp. Ground Cumin

1/8 tsp. Salt

2 & 1/2 c. Salsa

1 & 1/4 c. Mexican Cheese blend, shredded

4 Whole Wheat tortillas (6 in. diameter), halved


Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey. Once turkey is cooked through and no longer pink, move meat to a medium bowl. Add chopped onions and garlic to large skillet, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, or until slightly brown. Add the the onion and garlic to the turkey. 

In another medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, sour cream, green pepper, cilantro, cumin, and salt. 

Now get ready to layer! 

Spread 1 cup of salsa across the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking pan. Arrange 4 tortilla halves evenly over the salsa.

Spread half the cottage cheese mixture over the tortillas. Sprinkle black olives over entire layer, and top with half the ground turkey mixture.

Spread another cup of salsa over meat, and 1/2 cup of Mexican Cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tortillas, cottage cheese, meat, salsa, shredded cheese, and black olives. 

Bake for 30 minutes, and enjoy!  


Garden Veggie Dip

Ah, summertime! Spending my days outdoors,  and my evenings and weekends with family and friends at barbecues or picnics. And oh, the summertime food! Fresh fruits and veggies, grilled meats, and cold drinks! It’s what I’m living for! A good summer gathering would not be complete without them.

This year, I’ve started a healthier lifestyle and have made better choices in the foods I eat and make. That’s why, when it came time to choose what I’d be bringing to Grandma’s 85th Birthday Bash, I chose veggies and dip. So I chopped up some fresh veggies, and instead of getting any run-of-the-mill dip from the grocery store, I opted to make my own. Here’s my super easy and super tasty Garden Veggie Dip.


16 oz Light Cream Cheese

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix

4 oz Black Olive (chopped)

1 and 1/2 c. Spinach (diced)

1 large Red Bell Pepper (diced)

1 Green Onion (diced) 

Combine cream cheese and ranch dressing mix in a medium bowl. Finely chop or dice spinach, red bell pepper, and green onion. Add these ingredients and the black olives to  the cream cheese mixture. 

Blend ingredients together until smooth, and chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with vegetables or chips. 

And there you have it! A super easy veggie dip that is full of flavor, and good for you, too! Comment below and add pictures of what you served with this Garden Veggie Dip! Enjoy! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Over the weekend, my very best friend from college came to visit and I wanted to do something extra sweet for her. So I turned to one of the things I do well- baking! 

Strawberries and rhubarb is one of my favorite food combinations. It’s delicious in any form and really easy to make! My old standard is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, but I wanted to try something a little different this time, so I decided to make a crisp.


1 c. All-Purpose Flour

1/2 c. Granulated White Sugar

1/2 c. Brown Sugar

3/4 c. Rolled Oats

2 Eggs

1/2 c. (1 stick) Butter, melted

1/3 c. Milk

2 c. Rhubarb, diced

2 c. Strawberries, diced

1/2 tsp. All Spice


Preheat oven to 350°F (or 175° C) and grab a 9” x 9” square baking pan. Lightly coat the bottom with cooking spray. 

Combine flour, brown sugar, oats and melted butter in a medium bowl and mix. Spread half of this mixture in the bottom of the baking dish. 

Add eggs and milk to a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.


Wash and dice the rhubarb and strawberries. 


Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, granulated white sugar, and allspice to the egg mixture and stir until  the sugar is dissolved. Pour into the baking pan and spread the rest of the oat mixture over the top. 
Bake for 45-60 minutes and let it set. I let mine set overnight to enjoy the next day! 

Rather than stay in and eat our dessert, my old roommate and I decided to paint the town red, and we hit up the local wine bar instead! #sorrynotsorry

After her departure on Sunday afternoon, I spent some time with my family. I took a walk that evening with my mom, and we came home to share the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with my dad and younger sister.  We opted to warm ours up in the microwave and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream! This Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp a la mode was the sweetest ending to a weekend hanging with my best friend and my family! 




Black and Blue Berry Smoothie

Happy Friday morning! One of my favorite things about summer break is the complete openness of it. I can do what I want, where I want, whenever I want. But, being the educator I am, I still gravitate towards routine. And today the routine started with an 8:30 am wake up, followed by a 3.3 mile walk!  

Once I got back home, I was starving and thirsty, and I figured the best way to satisfy both cravings at once was with a smoothie! It doubled as my breakfast beverage and my post-workout fuel. 

Here’s my recipe for the Black and Blue Berry Smoothie.  

1 and 1/4 c. Spinach

1 and 1/4 c. Blueberries 

1 and 1/4 c. Blackberries 

1 medium Banana

3/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp Flaxseed 

1 tbsp Honey


21 Day Fix Measurements:

1 Green- Spinach

1 Purple- Blueberries 

1 Purple- Blackberries 

2 Purple- medium Banana  

1 Red- Plain Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp Flaxseed

1 tbsp Honey




Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. 


 Voila! You’ve got an easy, delicious, and healthy smoothie!