Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Against The Tide by Elizabeth Camden Book Review

From the back cover:

   After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.
   Lydia's talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.
   When Bane's enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane's mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.
   When forces conspire against them from without and within, can their love survive?

My take:

   Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden is a breath of fresh air! It is a very different Christian/Historical Fiction read. Lydia Pallas has had a very unconventional upbringing and has always had a knack for languages, including learning English upon arriving in Boston at the age of nine. 
   We catch up with Lydia several years later as she is working for Admiral Eric Fontaine at the Navy Yard as a translator. Lydia is very content at this point in her life with a good, respectable job, an apartment of her own, and several friends. During her tenure at the Navy Yard working for Admiral Fontaine, Lydia begins to have interactions with Alexander Bainebridge. Over time, Bainebridge turns to Lydia for help with the translation of various, seemingly useless documents. 
   Lydia is prepared to quit translating these documents after she begins to suspect that Bainebridge has feelings for her and is using these random documents as a means with which to see her. Bainebridge offers her a job working for him in his quest to root out the opium trade on the East Coast and across the world. However, this position is short lived as circumstances change suddenly and Lydia's life begins to unravel.
   I found it unusual that this book had illegal activities in it. Although, like it is discussed in the book - "Is it moral?" Against the Tide is a sequel to The Lady of Bolton Hill. While reading Against the Tide, I felt that I had read similar subject matter before and couldn't put my finger on it until I came across The Lady of Bolton Hill in the back of the book. 
   You can check out the book here or at Amazon. I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Bloggers Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I love Cuptakes!

Hey Guys,

         As you know I have an iPhone, finally, after waiting patiently with what I thought was the best phone/operating system on the planet...the "dearly departed" Samsung Galaxy...Anyway, this isn't an Android bashing post. I wanted to tell you about my favorite accessory for my iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Macbook. The Cuptakes app. This app is so cute!! Each month it is updated with holiday and monthly lock and home screen themes/wallpapers. If you have been looking for a way for your iDevice to stand out from the crowd-this is it! It is a steal at only .99 cents! (The Mac App is $4.99).  I had the Cuptakes app on my old iPhone last year and expanded to all of my iDevices. Cuptakes also makes adorable cases as well for $34.99, which is reasonably priced compared to other highly sought after cases. If I hadn't had my heart set on a customized fleur de lis case, I would have gone with a Cuptakes case.

       Also, they have an amazing customer service. I have contacted them on a couple of occasions and have received a reply the next day! Most recently, I mentioned a design suggestion-branching out into a Cuptakes Planner App., which I would absolutely LOVE for my iPhone and iPad. They mentioned that this is something they are putting thought into. My husband thinks its ridiculous that I spend $ on a planner each year with all of my iDevices, but the planning apps I have come across aren't cute or "bulky" enough for me to give up my paper planner. Once Cuptakes comes out with a Planner App. I will abandon my Paper planner.....

      That reminds me I am on the hunt for the perfect planner for 2013. It is my favorite end of the year/start of the year "tradition" to find the perfect planner. I became hooked on planners when we we're given them in Middle School as a way to track assignments (which we got a grade for). Now I can't imagine my life without a planner. Checking items off my list each day makes me feel accomplished! (That's my type A personality kicking in....).

Be sure to check Cuptakes out! They are also on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grad. School Update

Hey Guys,

  I thought I should let you know the reason behind my month long absence from the blog. I have been really working really hard for the past month to get my dissertation prospectus approved and get my paperwork approved, signed, and submitted to attempt to graduate in May 2013. Last thursday, I had my prospectus meeting with my committee members. They approved my prospectus although they had some comments about things that need to be changed for my dissertation. On friday, I took my paperwork to the main campus for the November 5 at 5p.m. deadline for May graduation materials and celebrate with my husband at my favorite Mexican restaurant, which we no longer have near us thanks to Hurricane Katrina. So now that my prospectus is approved, I have to really work hard to make great progress on my research (and finish it), take and pass comprehensive exams (oral and written), write my dissertation, and give my dissertation defense. To graduate in May, all of that has to be completed by March 18, so I'm shooting for sometime next year, not necessarily May. Although, I would absolutely LOVE to know I am graduating in May by my birthday - the end of March. We shall see how quickly I can check off my list of deadlines. What huge obstacles have you overcome lately? What plans do you have (already) for 2013?


The Trouble with Cowboys:A Big Sky Romance by Denise Hunter Book Review

From the back cover:

Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.
Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.
Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.
Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.
The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.
When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

My take:

 If you love cowboys, animals, and Big Sky Country, this book is probably for you. This book doesn't follow they typical bad guy meets good girl plot scenario - Annie's sister and nephew have a large part in how this book plays out. Annie and Dylan share a love and respect for horses, in addition, to a deep love and devotion to their families. This story definitely has a twist I have seen in other books, although it seems to fit just right into Annie and Dylan’s story.

If you enjoy reading stories about cowboys and the West, like I am, you will be gripped by this romance from Denise Hunter. I have seen the plot twist regarding Annie’s sister before. At first I was skeptical of its occurrence, but in this book in particular it definitely works well with the story. This book’s Christian influence could perhaps have been more obvious, but nonetheless makes a heartwarming read. Like I said before if you like this type of romance, you should enjoy reading, “The Trouble with Cowboys: A Big Sky Romance” by Denise Hunter.

You can check out the book here or at Amazon. I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Hey Guys,

I'm still working through the Fall Into Blogging with the SITS Girls...Today's topic is "Share your favorite fall craft or autumn recipe or share what you're eyeing on Pinterest". Ok, guys. By now you probably know I'm going to post something with pumpkin and you would be absolutely correct! On Sunday, I had some pumpkin left over from adding it to my coffee in last weeks attempts to find the perfect pumpkin coffee (which wasn't too successful BTW), so I decided to bake something with it and ended up making basically Pumpkin Bread, you know like Banana Nut Bread, but without the banana and nut? The recipe I followed went like this:
Pumpkin Bread
2 1/3 cup Heart Smart Bisquick
1 1/2 cups Pumpkin (Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin) - It was probably more like 2 cups.
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 9x5x3 loaf pan. 
2. In large bowl comine all ingredients, stir until well blended. Pour into greased pan.
3. Bake 45 - 60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 
4. Let cool, remove from pan, and enjoy!

I actually used a "8.5" loaf pan to make 2 loaves, very uneven sized loaves. I also only cooked mine for about 45 minutes, but it seemed done enough to me. I would have added more sugar and less vegetable oil, maybe cinnamon applesauce instead to have less calories and more flavor. I should have used Sweet N' Low, but didn't consider the WW points until after I ate a couple of pieces. (I tend to slack on the weekends and when it involves pumpkin.) If you cut this into 12 pieces it's 6 WW points per slice I believe, which is why I should have tweaked the recipe. It's waaay to many points...Oh well. It was delicious, but I'm sure I'm biased in my crazy love of any and all things pumpkin. I don't have any pictures to show you at the moment. I finished the first loaf this evening. I ate like half the loaf Sunday evening, before I felt bad about ingesting all those points and took it slow until now. If I remember when I get the other loaf out of the freezer I'll post a picture of it for you. 

What are your favorite fall recipes? Do you have any that involve pumpkin? Let me know!


Monday, October 8, 2012

What I look forward to in Fall

Hey Guys,
  This is a continuation of the SITS Girls Fall Into Blogging series that I missed a couple of weeks ago. Today's topic is "Share one of your favorite fall memories or something you look forward to each fall." This is actually Day 3's topic, but I don't think taking a picture of the view outside my house would make you believe it's fall. I'm surrounded by Pine trees...

I look forward to Pumpkin _(any and everything)_ each and every fall. In recent years it has been the Pumpkin Spice Latte (Frozen/Blended) from Starbucks, in addition to Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cream Rolls,Pumpkin Cookies, Pumpkin Spice Creamer, Pumpkin Spice K-Cups...I think you get the idea. However, this year I have tried several great looking Pumpkin Spice Latte recipes from Pinterest and around the internet  and although they look amazing - to me they taste nothing like Pumpkin Spice Lattes. While browsing through sneekpeaq today, I realized that I need to try the Pumpkin Syrup recipes around blogland to get the pumpkin spice flavor I'm looking for. The Sonoma Syrup company page on sneekpeaq made me realize that with their product: Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup. I found a great recipe for Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup on Katie's Creatively Living Blog. I think with this recipe I can have delicious Pumpkin Spice Coffee at home!!
 (From Creatively Living)

 <a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4099053/?claim=3jgx3rx3kpz">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Friday, October 5, 2012

Best School Memory

I really wanted to participate in the Fall Back Into Blogging event with The SITS Girls, but just didn't get around to it so I will be posting my responses to those topics over the next little bit. Day one was entitled, "Best School Memory".
    My best school memories I think are the majority of my senior year of high school. After being in school together for at least 4 years together (I was a part of this class for 5 - 8th grade to 12th grade.) it seemed like senior year we all really grew up, got over all of our petty differences and started acting like a cohesive, "loving" class. We started doing things together - a great turn out for our class homecoming float and accompanying activities, school/class spirit, getting together to do things (parties, birthdays, senior skip day), and graduation and all the accompanying activities and festivities. It was really sad our last full day of high school knowing that we may never see some of these people ever again, and others we would see on a regular basis, at least until we (I) move out of my hometown.

Great Giveaway at Sour Apple Studio DIY

Hey Guys,


  Lindsey from Sour Apple Studio was a science teacher and is now a full time web designer!! (I think it is amazing - a.that I found another science teacher/web designer (I'm not the only one out there!) and b. that she is now able to do web design full time!!! (It gives me hope I can do this at least part time after I finish grad. school until I can find a teaching position.)) She is having an amazing giveaway, which I entered, because let's face it I haven't been very quick about trying to improve my blog's looks lately have I? (Hint: The answer to that is no.) Her giveaway is an amazing product - DIY blog design!! Please go check out her site and enter the giveaway. You have until 11 pm PST on Monday, October 8th to enter. You can also snag one of her designs for only $59!! What a great price!!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012



Today I wanted to talk to y'all about aquariums or fish tanks. I have had fish tanks for the majority of my life and have recently (in the past year) gotten back into fish keeping. I started with the 12 gallon tank that my husband bought for me while we were still dating and stocked it with four danios, a pleco, a blue/dwarf gourami, and most recently a male halfmoon betta. (Currently, the aquarium contains four danios, the gourami, and the betta.) A couple of weeks ago a friend and colleague of mine sold us her 30 gallon tank and stand. We strongly considered setting this one up for saltwater, which was what it was being used for, but chickened out at the last minute. So our 30 gallon tank is currently home to two ghost shrimp (one died), three Glofish electric green tetras, and a pleco. I don't think the pleco is going to make it. He has been acting funny today. I really didn't want a pleco in the first place because I have had horrible luck with them in the past. Although, I don't know what other bottom feeders would be better. I want to eventually work our way up into a reef+fish tank, but I think that will be awhile. I chicken out EVERYTIME (so far). I'm afraid to invest serious money into fish and equipment right now and have a $50 fish or a tank full of $50 fish die! That would be a huge hit right now. Do you keep any fish? Freshwater or saltwater? What are your suggestions for a 30 gallon community tank(FW) and starter saltwater tanks (sizes and fish suggestions)?

I really look forward to your comments on this!
*Update: 10/5/12 The pleco died yesterday. But here is a picture of my tank currently! Hopefully, tomorrow we will see about picking up some more fish for it. (Guppies I think!)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

To Love and Cherish Book Review

From the back cover:
Escape to a Beautiful, Historic Island Resort

Bridal Veil Island, Georgia

Melinda Colson has been waiting months for Evan, the assistant gamekeeper at the Bridal Veil Island resort, to propose. Without an offer of marriage, she must return to Cleveland with the family she works for as a lady's maid.

Evan isn't afraid of hard work, and he hopes to be promoted soon. He wants to marry Melinda--but not until he's sure he can support her and a family.

Letters strengthen their romance until a devastating storm strikes the island. With no word from Evan, Melinda knows she must journey back to Bridal Veil in search of her beloved.

But the hurricane isn't the last calamity to shake up Bridal Veil. Melinda finds a new job on the island, but still no offer of marriage comes her way. Has she given her heart to the wrong person? Will she ever find a man to love and cherish?

My take:

 This is the second book in the Bridal Veil Island series. Melinda Colson is a companion to the affluent Mrs. Dorothea Mifflin. They own a cottage on Bridal Veil Island and winter there. Melinda and Evan met on the island  several years ago and their friendship has grown into talks of marriage. They write to each other during the year and spend their winters together on the island. 
  The books starts with Melinda being on Bridal Veil for the Season with the Mifflin's. She is meeting Evan for a picnic and just knows that he will ask her to marry him. Although, Evan and Melinda have a conversation that is the product of miscommunication and their perspectives on how their relationship should progress, and how quickly. Melinda leaves Bridal Veil Island earlier than expected because Mrs. Mifflin is going to have an important visitor in a couple of weeks. 
  Melinda is becoming increasingly unhappy in her employment with the Mifflin's for a variety of reasons including: her mail being read by a maid, Mrs.Mifflin's treatment of Melinda, and Melinda's attitude being affected by her time with the Mifflin's. Melinda's brother Lawrence comes into town and is unhappy that Melinda is working for the Mifflin's. Meanwhile, a hurricane hits Bridal Veil Island and nearby areas. The reporting of the hurricane to Cleveland is very spotty. Melinda and the Mifflin's hear varying reports of the storm and eventually lie to Melinda about Evan and the hurricane so Melinda, with Lawrence in tow, set off for Bridal Veil Island. 
  Melinda and Lawrence arrive at Bridal Veil Island which is in desperate need of workers to help clean up after the hurricane and make improvements before the upcoming season opening. They are both employed at the Island and Evan is given additional job duties. Melinda and Evan seem to be at odds for most of the book. Eventually, due to an emergency they, along with Lawrence, seem to mend their relationships. 
  Overall, this was a very good book. I was really glad that this series continuation was available so quickly. This book was very different than that of the first in the series and that made it all the more interesting. I cannot wait for the next installment in the series. Although, I don't like that the series are not connected other than they are set in the same location. 

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review!

Monday, September 17, 2012

When Hope Blossoms Book Review

From the back cover:

Amy Knackstedt hopes a new start in Weaverly, Kansas, will help heal the pain of losing her husband and provide a better future for her three children. But her new neighbor, Tim Roper, is not pleased to have an Old Order Mennonite family living next to his apple orchard. Tim left the Mennonite faith years ago and doesn't want any reminders of his former life.
Yet when circumstances throw Amy and Tim together, they form a friendship that surprises them both. Will past hurts always be a barrier between them, or will this tentative relationship blossom into something more?

My take:
This novel was very interesting to read. I haven't read a novel involving Mennonites in a long time. I think it is very interesting how many authors choose to depict their stories involving Mennonites when there are only "pockets" of this religious group across the country. I'm not aware of their statistics, but to my knowledge the closest group to me is found in Tennessee. This group of people should be very much appreciated and applauded for their unwavering lifestyle and nonconformity, for the most part. They are living life "set apart" very literally. 

The novel starts with Amy Knackstedt and her children Bekah, Parker, and Adri moving into their new house in Kansas. They have moved next door to Tim Roper and his apple and grape orchard. Tim and Amy have a rough start, because Tim wants Amy's kids to keep their distance from his orchard to protect it from further harm. Eventually, the children grow on Tim, and Tim, in turn, grows on Amy. They are pushed together through a variety of events that seem quite normal and could happen to any of us. It's not as though there are very unusual circumstances bringing them together. Both Tim and Amy have heartaches of their own they have to work through and overcome before they can move on. Tim and Amy are both reluctant of each other because of their lack of  faith and because of their faith respectively.

The children are definitely obviously attached to Tim and he to them, I don't necessarily see that Tim and Amy could develop that much of a friendship as depicted in the ending, maybe a start to this with the outcome happening eventually but not in the timeframe as depicted in the novel. Tim seemed like a much more developed character than Amy was. Even Amy's daughter Bekah seemed more developed than Amy. I would have liked to have seen more of the interaction between Tim and Amy's family and the local Mennonite order and Tim and Amy. It is always very interesting to me to see the depiction of the Mennonite faith and there interaction with others. Overall it is an ok book 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Check out Kim Vogel Sawyer!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

A Little Shopping...

            I don't know how many of you participated in the Burger King Family Food promotion.We did. Although, we found out about it about four weeks ago. We aren't big Burger King fans (We're not real big McDonald's fans either. We prefer Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut.). Anyway, we accumulated several game pieces (~5). The week before last I took off early on Friday and ran errands and wasn't prepared for eating lunch out, so I stopped and picked up one of my Free Whopper's (via game piece) and a water (~$2.50 savings). I went to a local fish store and looked around. I'm trying to decide what direction to go in with my new saltwater aquarium that I'm getting from a friend who is moving to Canada to start her post-doc (post - doctoral research). I am "patiently" waiting to pick it up. I went by another Burger King after leaving the fish store on my way to do some more shopping closer to home and picked up a Free Small Frappe (Mocha ~$2.00 savings), which was a nice treat to fortify myself for the rest of my shopping (which I don't do as much as I would like, but I'm on a grad student budget). I continued on to Ulta to pick up my Ulta Rewards Gift (I was in tier 1.) and snagged Ulta Nail Lacquer in Coral ($2.00 savings). I continued shopping browsing Michael's looking for the perfect frames or shadow boxes to create DIY Shell Art  like that of Kim's at Sand and Sisal that I came across on Pinterest. (I use to love reading her blog, but got away from it when I switched to Cspire last year and never reinstalled Google Reader on my phone, but that's going to change since I got another iPhone finally!) I didn't find frames that I loved, but that's ok. I'm not in any hurry. I finished up my "Window Shopping" at Petsmart looking at fish and aquarium supplies for my new tank. (They don't have marine  fish, but I could always use more in my freshwater tank.)
My iPhone case finally came in and it looks like this!!!! I am so happy with it!! Although, I think I'm going to eventually get an Otterbox or Lifeproof case like this instead of the regular plastic case. I'm just to hard on phones...I'm terrified I'm going to break my phone. Check out Monogram Frenzy on Etsy!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye Samsung Galaxy...Hello iPhone 4S!

       We switched from AT&T cell service with iPhone 4S's about this time last year to Cell South (now Cspire Wireless). As a result, we received two promo Samsung Galaxy's, which according to all of my non-iPhone friends was absolutely amazing because it was an Android device and all Android devices are supremely better than measly Apple products. I loved my Samsung Galaxy for all of three months, until November of 2011 when Cspire got the iPhone 4S, which I promptly bought for my husband for our anniversary because his Galaxy did crazy things on a regular basis. Shortly after this my Galaxy proceeded to do all kinds of crazy things: powering off, vibrating for no reason, never receiving notifications of phone calls, texts, or voice mails with full service at the time, opening the home menu on its own, freezing daily (requiring battery removal each time), etc. I could go on and on about the wonders of my Samsung Galaxy, but I will refrain. I will tell you I ended up with a couple replacements which did the same thing. A couple of days ago we hit our year anniversary with Cspire and as a result I could purchase a new phone for a discounted device replacement fee of $150 (down from like $350 if you try to get a new phone less than a year from signing up), plus the price of the phone. I was told by all of my iPhone friends to wait for both the upcoming 4G Network and the mysterious new iPhone, which I was planning on doing probably around the end of September, however, I ended up missing my morning alarm, several phone calls, texts, and voicemails and woke up in a panic, because 1. I was waking up WAY to late, and 2. I didn't receive a phone call I was expecting (which had been made 4 times to me + a voicemail). I check my phone which appears to be fine until I notice it is frozen on 10:54 PM the night before and I can't unlock it without taking out the battery. So after getting through my morning routine in a rush (I was already late anyway. What did it matter?) I went to the Cspire store and waited for over an hour to get my iPhone 4S in white this time. When we were with AT&T I had a black iPhone 4 and my iPad is black but lives in it's amazing Griffin case so it's safe from my abuse (i.e. dropping it, falling off the couch, bed, etc). My previous iPhone was housed in a Otterbox Defender case, which I thought was bulky and sticky (a magnet to dirt and dust and dog hair).  So even though a new iPhone is coming out VERY soon, so we are led to believe - I am just as happy about having my white iPhone 4S and not my Galaxy. Although, the Passbook update is going to be sooo cool!!
      Although, I basically said all of that to tell you about this amazing shop I found on Etsy MonogramFrenzy based in New Orleans, LA (I picked this one over other stores based on the "close" proximity. Support your local small businesses!) and because I can get an amazing, custom iPhone case with my favorite - Fleur De Lis!!! I can't show you the exact design I'm getting because it's a custom design of two designs that I fell in love with on the MonogramFrenzy site. I decided to try using just a minimal plastic case for my iPhone this time and see how it goes. My Galaxy survived every abuse I threw at it, but its own problems I couldn't handle. Although, I think the iPhone is less sturdy, but my husband has done well with his without a case for almost a year, except for the one in his accident which got bent, but was replaced for only $50 with Applecare!! (Get the Applecare people, it's worth every penny!!!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Short-Straw Bride Book Review

From the back cover:

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride.
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a long-standing debt compels her to take the risk.
Years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer comes across a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt prompt him to attempt to rescue her once again.
Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she vows to stand by his side. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her as merely a short-straw bride?

(Also found on the Bethany House site.)

My take:

This is the first book of Karen Witemeyer's that I've read. Although, she has only published three other books. I love historical fiction and any element of the Old West and Cowboys you can throw into a story! I couldn't put this book down. I haven't read a book at all in several weeks and picking this one up was a mistake! I didn't think I would be able to go to bed without finishing it! (I did manage to finally put it down to go to sleep, but woke up early and finished it!) The description of the Archer brothers make them all sound very ruggedly handsome and very gentlemanly. Meri's position as the typical damsel in distress was very interesting and in the end portrayed her as an individual who grew into her own person not a helpless female, which I don't care for (the helpless females). The story of Meredith and Travis takes awhile, but it doesn't overpower the storyline. This book has left me wanting to know about the stories of the other Archer men. I hope that the story continues. Although, as other reviewers have mentioned there isn't as much spiritual content in this as I would have expected, and liked to see. If you are looking for a gripping historical/Christian fiction read this is for you!

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isaac and an Update

All of you in the path of Isaac, myself included, I wanted to send you best wishes, good luck, and God Bless! Those of us that live on the Gulf Coast are old pro's at the tropical storm thing, but nonetheless stay safe!

Also, on an unrelated note. I wanted to give you some insight into where I have been lately. My dad recently published a book, The Second Amendment Party Book One: A Stranger to Die For,  which you can read more about at his website www.thesecondamendmentparty.com. I have been helping to transcribe the book, set up his website, and figure out how to get it on Amazon Kindle. We are hoping to have it on Amazon Kindle soon! Please take a moment to check this out or spread the word!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

From the back cover:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not. 

When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

My take:

This one of those books, from a new author, Becky Wade, that grabs your attention early on. You feel a connection with Kate early on in the book and want to find out how her story progresses. 

The cover art gives you the feeling of two normal, perhaps small town people. You get an unexpected character in Matt Jarreau, who is anything but your average small town handyman, he is a world class athlete. Kate's social worker character was somewhat expected, but is definitely a good fit for the person you find in Kate's character. 

Venturing to Redbud, Pennsylvania to Gran's hometown seems like a logical move to keep Kate from burning out. The relationship or lack of relationship between Kate and Matt seems to set a very good foundation for the main storyline. However, you find that Kate is a very strong character and will give up her wants for God's plan for her life and that of Matt's. The seemingly leap from lack of relationship between Kate and Matt to the ending seemed a little bit of a stretch, but indeed could happen in reality, certainly with God's help. 

I very much enjoyed this book and ended up reading it very quickly, as I do most books. I would love to see this evolve into a trilogy to see what happens with some of the other characters in the book. I look forward to reading more from Becky Wade!

Check out Becky Wade

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To Have and To Hold: Bridal Veil Island by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller Book Review

This is the first book I can say for certain that I have read by these authors. The setting for the book (The South, a fictitious island off the coast of Georgia to be exact) is a place I can connect easily with because I have lived in the South my entire life. I am somewhat of a history buff so I greatly enjoy Historical Fiction such as this.

The book takes place in a post-Civil War South on what was once solely a family estate, but due to rising takes is being taken over by developers. The main character, Audrey Cunningham, moved back to her childhood home, and her father’s ancestral home, on Bridal Veil Island from Pittsburgh. Her father is a recovering alcoholic who has recently found God.  In what appears to be an answer to prayer, developers begin construction on a resort on the island and an old friend of her father, Marshall Graham, comes to visit and eventually to work on the island.

Boyd Cunningham, Audrey’s father asks Marshall Graham to look after Audrey. This proves to be a difficult task if their first impressions of one another are to be believed. Construction on the island proves to be a treacherous task, with accidents at every turn, and Marshall’s position seems to hang in the balance, along with his stay on Bridal Veil Island.

I agree with other reviewers that the courtship/romance happened pretty fast, but this seems to be typical of this era, at least from a literary perspective. I look forward to reading the other books in this series. Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hi Guys! Please excuse the double header. I'm trying to find the problem...My computer took a turn for the worst Tuesday, so I had to take it three hours away to Baton Rouge and got to spend the weekend with my inlaws...While I was waiting for my computer to be fixed at the apple store,I went into Sephora for the first time -Wow! Was that place amazing! I think I want to try the Stila and Urban Decay brands in the future. Maybe some will come in my Birchbox next month? What makeup brands do you prefer?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jurlique Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer

Hi Guys!
 As you may or may not know, I am currently in graduate school working on my Ph.D. My field is Marine Microbiology. We wear gloves while in the lab as a precaution, although, generally the bacteria we work with aren't too poisonous. During the course of a day, we go back and forth from the lab to our offices or to the prep room to make media or operate the autoclave - the result several glove changes, hand washes, and hand sanitization's throughout the course of a day. To be honest I get tired of the Germ-X or Purell Hand Sanitizer smell....
Over the weekend, I came across a FABULOUS product on the Birchbox website (if you aren't a subscriber please sign up here). The FABULOUS product I found was the Jurlique Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer made with MINT!!! WOW! Maybe the amazing curators at Birchbox will slip a sample in my May box, I would love to try it, if not come payday I'm ordering some of this!!

This will definitely become a staple at work and at home as a replacement for the smelly (not in a good way....) hand sanitizers I normally use!! (Did I mention that I LOVE mint? Well I do. From Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies to the Olive Garden Andes Mints to my Mint Chocolate Chip candles....)
Is there a particular smell or fragrance that you are absolutely in LOVE with? Please leave me a comment and let me know! I would love to hear from you! (As you know I recently found a new fragrance Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien...What's yours?)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Natural and Organic Products

Natural and Organic products. Why are we so apt to jump on that bandwagon? We all want to do what is best for the environment and for ourselves and one way we can do that is find natural and organic products, makeup and skincare products included. Personally, natural and organic skincare and makeup products, for me, are part of my goal this year to learn how to utilize skincare and makeup more effectively, while helping to do my part to conserve what is left of the environment.

Skincare and makeup products, like foods and cleaners, just because they are labeled as such doesn't mean that they actually uphold those beliefs. Juice Beauty is a skincare and makeup company however, that has a very good belief system and has a substantial lead on the organic content, compared to other brands, an organic content of 95%. Check out Juice Beauty!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Creative Girl Media and a Free E-book!

The Blog Designer Network and more specifically April of April Showers Design Studio now also of Creative Girl Media are absolutely AMAZING! She taught my class at TheBDN and she is an incredibly talented blog and web designer. She can teach you how to become a blog and web designer yourself, create AMAZING templates, or build you a unique custom site. Her previous (and still active site is April Showers Design Studio, but recently she started a brand new site called Creative Girl Media. If you are an aspiring designer, need a background template, or want a very creative site seriously consider Creative Girl Media! While you are on her site, take a minute to join her newsfeed and download "The Essential Blogging E-book" for FREE!!!

March and April Birchbox Reviews

If you haven't experienced Birchbox......check it out!!!

In the March Birchbox, my first experience of this amazing service, I received Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien perfume. This stuff smells absolutely amazing!! I am going to take the plunge after I finish my sample and pay a whole $85 for the full-size. I have never spent much money on perfume or body spray, but this stuff is definitely worth it!! The Color Club's Age of Aquarius is a nice teal/green shade, which I love and it is great for this time of year. A vibrant toe nail polish for spring and summer is definitely a must! The Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint in Bronzed was definitely WAAAY to dark for me. Like I've said, I love the introduction of organic products, but One Love Organics was another product that I have a love/hate relationship with. I LOVE how it made my face feel, but the oily/greasy texture and residue on my hands I HATED! I'm definitely on the fence about this, because I can't decide if it's worth the fuss or not. Orofluido's Beauty Elixir I haven't tried yet. I'm not sure if I should add any more oil to my hair, so this will have to take a back seat for the time being. The lifestyle extra Tea Forte's skin-smart teas are amazing! They taste wonderful! Although, I am skeptical about a tea having much power to improve anything internally....

For the April Birchbox, which I received super quickly contained J.R. Watkins Hand and Cuticle Salve, which I don't tend to use (cuticle salve), but the smell is absolutely AMAZING! I received the lavender scent. Also included were willa Gentle Cleansing Lavender Facial Towelettes, which I felt were for a teenager. I tend to prefer citrus scents for my face, and this smell was a little odd, but it was in a convenient packaging and is very affordable. Also, Taylor Swift's Wonderstruck perfume was included. I didn't care for the scent after falling in love with Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien. Zoya's TRUE Spring Collection in Bevin is a great color. I like it more than I did The Color Club's Age of Aquarius, because it's not a neon color, so I can wear it to work. This month's lifestyle extra was dropps Laundry Detergent. I love "pod" type detergents so the powder doesn't end up all over my laundry room!!

Check out Birchbox for these and other amazing products!

February and March Beauty Army Reviews

I wanted to take a minute to give you my thoughts on the February and March Beauty Army boxes. Inthe February Beauty Army box, I received from mama mia skincare the Shrink to Fit Hip & Thigh Cream. I thought this wasodd, because there is absolutely no way in a sample size of a firming/tightening cream can you decide if it works. However,I loved thescent and it felt like it was tingling after applying it to my legs. I don't know if thisis indicative of what it is supposed to do, but it felt nice. (No. Upon completing the sample size, I had no idea if it was working or not. :) anyway....)

Next up in my February Beauty Army box, was from Control Corrective Skincare Systems the clear med 5%. People let me tell you! I loved this product! I truly felt that it was clearing up my acne breakouts! Although, it contained sulfur so there was a little bit of an odor. I would advise using this at night, if you think it may interfere with your perfume of the day. I will definitely be scooping this stuff up!

I also received Eye Prep from FX. Although, I haven't had the chance to use this yet. (Have I mentioned I still haven't gotten in a routine of wearing a lot of makeup). The premise of this product makes since though, use a "primer" for your eyeshadow and foundation just like you would do if you were painting a wall. (Makes sense right?)

Indie Lee The Body Wash was also in my box. I love the idea of introducing more organic products into my life, but not this one. I could not stand the smell! To me it was WAAAY to much of a lemongrass smell and not enough of a citrus smell. Also, it was VERY greasy during application and the rest of the day. (Not my favorite product in the box, by a long shot!) The sample was enough for about a week's worth of showers. I gave myself plenty of time to be sure that this product wasn't for me!

Shea Terra Organics Bananas and Baobabs Body Cream was absolutely AMAZING!! It smelled absolutely WONDERFUL!! In body cream's I have come to expect a little greasiness and this wasn't any different. I used this at night and smelled good enough to eat!! (....at least I thought I did.) I will definitely be purchasing this after I run out of my sample. I use this at least once a week and still have quite a bit left. (I've had it since the end of February.)

I am a big fan of dry shampoo. I use them from time to time in the afternoon and evening, especially if I am going somewhere after work to take some of the shine out of my hair (not the good kind of shine - oil.) Freeman Beauty Pssst Instant Dry Shampoo works as well as the name brand products I have used in the past. This size makes it handy to stick in my purse, unlike other products I've used. This rounds out my samples from the February Beauty Army box. Let's see what I received for March!

The first product from my March Beauty Army box is the FX Skin Prep, like February's Eye Prep, I haven't used this yet either. One day when I feel like using makeup I will have both the Eye and Skin Prep by FX to utilize!!

Next up is Kellet Clarifying Acne Treatment and Weleda Almond Cleansing Lotion. I loved the Kellet Clarifying Acne Treatment even more than I did the Control Corrective, because I felt like it was really working and NO SMELL!!! I also used the Weleda Almond Cleansing Lotion as a moisturizer and it worked beautifully! It gives my face moisture but didn't make it oily! It and the acne treatment pair beautifully for me!!

Also, included in the box was Sun FX Body Wash in Aloe and Chamomile and Indie Lee Coconut Citrus Body Scrub. I amazingly loved both!! The Sun FX body wash had a nice light scent, was non-abrasive and had a last scent and kept my skin smooth during the day. I wasn't a big fan of Indie Lee's Body Wash so needless to say I was VERY skeptical of this month's body scrub and was very impressed with it! This stuff is VERY abrasive, just what you want in a body scrub. Although, my body scrub was caked into the bottom of the container upon arrival, no doubt a product of the high humidity here already in April.

The last product in my March Beauty Army box was Boo-Boo Coverup, like the other makeup products I've mentioned, I haven't used this one either, but it has a clever and memorable name and cute packaging going for it!