*Thrifty Living * Homeschooling * Natural Living * Creating * Baking * Learning * Exploring * Subscription Boxes * Childhood Cancer* Death of a Child*

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shades of Mercy & Giveaway

When Moody Publishers contacted me to ask if I'd like to do a review and giveaway, I jumped at the chance after hearing what the book was about.
Shades of Mercy by Anita Lustrea and Caryn Rivadeneira is set in the 1950's on a farm in Maine, three topics I love to read about. It's not another fluffy romance, but rather digs deep into the racial tensions of the townspeople and the Indian Tribe of the Maliseets. 

I typically don't like books co-authored by two authors or more...the writing style often reflects two different styles of writing and seems disjointed but this book had nothing of that sort. The book flowed along perfectly. The Christian slant to this book flows nicely as well, without being preachy at all except for a chapter in the middle. The romance aspect of the book actually seemed realistic, unlike most romance books.  A few things didn't quite add up for me, such as the town's people not liking the Maliseets at all and yet loving the food of a new chef in town, who had a Maliseet working in the kitchen, but I often find little things in books like that which bother me so it isn't held against this book.

I must admit, I read half the book the very day I received it and grabbed moments throughout the next day in order to find out how the book ended. It kept my attention the whole time and I enjoyed the characters. The ending leaves me wondering if this will be the first book in a series as it did end a bit abruptly.

Moody Publishing was generous enough to send three additional copies to give to my readers. With the cold weather upon us this would be a wonderful book to snuggle up in a chair with. I think teens to grandparents would enjoy this story! To enter, just leave a comment below and I will pick three winners on December 4th. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I had planned to skip Thanksgiving totally this year but somehow the kids talked me into making some special food. The smell of pumpkin pie in the oven is delicious and bittersweet...one of Jacob's favorite desserts. Missing him so much today, and everyday.

Today I am thankful to God for loaning us an angel for 8 years. Those 8 years feel like a dream to me - having such a sweet little boy in our life who changed us forever. I wish I could have just one more minute to hug him, kiss him, and smell his head again but one minute would never be enough. Having a piece of me in Heaven means that I am able to glimpse pieces of Heaven here on earth, for that I am blessed.

I'm thankful for God placing the right people in our lives. Thank you to everyone who stood by us this year to help us, pray for us, and be there for us. We couldn't have gotten through without all of you.

Thank you for continuing the random acts of kindness. We can all make our corner of the world a better place, one act at a time.

What are your Thanksgiving plans this year? Anyone going to brave the crowds this year for shopping?

My thoughts on Black Friday (wouldn't it now be called "Black Thanksgiving?") is much different after working at Wal-Mart last year among the crowds of shoppers is basically sadness. I am all for a good deal but don't think it should invade on family time or turn into such a pig-fest of fighting, pushing, and trampling. 

Our Christmas this year will be much, much different. With that said, I'm not against a little online shopping with some of the good deals I've seen posted, though I have yet to purchase anything. I'm, again, kind of sad about all the e-mails from stores today promoting their sales. Can't it wait until tomorrow, at least?

With that said (rolling my eyes at myself), there is an awesome deal on PopSugar Must Have Boxes. If you've been wanting to try them out use the code GIFT10 for $10 off your first box. Wanting a longer subscription? Use code GIFT25 for $25 off a 3 month subscription, GIFT50 for $50 off a 6 month subscription, or GIFT75 for $75 off a year subscription. December boxes are still available and I'm crossing my fingers for an awesome box so close to the holidays!

I'll post other deals that I may run across but am hoping the majority are waiting until tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Start Saving

Remember this weekly savings chart I was going to follow? This year kind of got hectic and after a few weeks I was unable to continue to follow it. Funny how that happens. We've been living paycheck to paycheck this year so didn't have that extra to put into savings. Hospital bills, birth bills, an ambulance ride, a different vehicle, time off from work, and a funeral will do that to you.

Let me just tell you how happy I was that we have been so strict with our money in our marriage because the last three years tested our financial strength. It's impossible to tell you just how expensive it is to have a chronically ill/terminally ill family member, unless you've experienced it yourself. We were blessed to have so many people rally around us and help alleviate some of that burden but it's astounding how it starts to sink you financially (as well as emotionally). The funeral, plots (my husband and I made sure to purchase our plots alongside Jacob's), and headstone alone were over $10,000.


It is possible to prepare for an emergency before it hits. I know God prepared us well in advance to weather this storm, both emotionally and financially. The fact that we were able to get our finances in order just before Jacob became ill, the fact that we were used to living beneath our means, the fact that we knew how to cut corners. God also blessed us with people who helped us financially along the way.

Because of all this we will be okay, financially. It may take awhile to get back on track, but it is do-able.

One step is going back to saving money (which means I'll bring some money saving articles back to my blog) but also building the savings back up. I plan to start the savings chart in the new year.

The first step, whether you are deep in debt or financially comfortable, is to build up a savings for an emergency. Too many people feel that a small savings won't help them in a big situation such as this but small is better than nothing. You have to start somewhere. "Pay yourself" first is the key to being financially stable. Even if you are $15,000 in debt you need to have something to fall back on, without going further into debt.

Start adding to your savings account weekly, even if it is just $5 a week. Don't have an extra $5 a week? Look at your budget. Do you get take out? Do you get a drink once or twice a week? Have a big cell phone plan? Have cable? There are so many ways to cut costs in your life that you should be able to find an extra $5 a week. That adds up to $20 a month. $240 a year. It seems small, but it is a start.

By following the savings chart you could have $1,378.00 in savings by the end of 2014. That is a cushion. A start to financial freedom.

The time to start is now.   

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Favorite Subscription Box Finds

One of the reasons I love subscription boxes is that I am able to try items that I normally wouldn't buy or haven't even heard of. Below are three new favorites, that we use daily.
Happy Family happy creamies and happy yogis from the Ecocentric Baby Box. These are tiny little snacks that melt in baby's mouth and have pre & probiotics and are quite healthy. Amy loves the happy creamies the best, which are dairy free and made with creamy coconut milk. Honestly, we have all been found to snack on these as they are delicious. I need to find some coupons for these because I think they are kind of expensive in stores.
Moroccanoil hair treatment from the FabFit Fun box (which I no longer subscribe to). This oil is wonderful for my hair and makes it so shiny and healthy. This stuff is close to $40 a bottle, so I won't be buying more after mine is gone but luckily I have half the bottle left so I don't have to be sad yet.
Fortune Cookie Soap Whipped Cream. I didn't get this particular scent (In The Loop - smells exactly like Fruit Loops!) in a subscription box but I was introduced to their body butter in their subscription box. This is thick lotion that absorbs right into the skin without feeling greasy and smells sooooooo great! Every scent I've tried smells good enough to eat.

While I've found many different favorite items in boxes these are the ones I use daily. Maybe I'll do more favorite posts in the future. :)

Curly Girl Winner

Random.org chose #3 as a winner, which is:

I would love to see what it says. Does the library have the book too I wonder? I have wavy, frizzy hair so I understand what you mean. I don't know about throwing my shampoo away though, not sure I could do that! :O)
Carol Ann Singleton

E-mail your address to babys_mama1 "at" yahoo.com and I'll get that book mailed out to you this week. Please let us know your results! :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Where's Amy?


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walking With Mary

After watching my own sweet son slowly pass from this earth this year I've felt more of a connection with our Blessed Mother, Mary. Not many people truly stop to think about her role in birthing our Savoir, much less how she had to have felt watching her son be crucified. I felt an inkling of her pain this year.

Which is why I had high hopes for the book Walking with Mary; A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross by Edward Sri. I wanted to get to know Mary more as a person and feel what she felt.

I did learn a little more about Mary but feel the book was too text-book like and less for the lay person. Granted, Edward Sri didn't have a whole lot to go on as Mary is not mentioned in the Bible that much. Writing a book from a mere several verses would have been difficult. Which may be why I felt the book drummed on and on about the same topic at times.

I think reading this at your leisure would be better than a marathon read, like I did. It would help you absorb more and break it down better. Overall I did learn more about Mary but wish I could have felt more of a connection with her as a person through a more personal writing style.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Curly Girl Hair

I've always battled my curly hair, which typically would have better been described as frizzy hair. Most of the time I kept my hair in a pony tail or straightened it with a straight iron. Occasionally, only in the winter, I would have a good hair day and wear it down but that's about it.

I've heard about the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey but never paid much attention when it was recommended to me as nothing I tried ever worked for my hair before.

When I ran across the book at a thrift store for 10 cents I picked it just to see what all the fuss was about. 
After just two weeks of trying the methods in the book I'm actually loving my hair. I'm embracing the curl and notice hardly any frizz any longer. The below picture is just two weeks after implementing the directions in the book. I expect the "canopy" (the top part of my hair) to continue to get more body.
The idea is quite simple, mainly throw your brush and comb away (and only finger comb in the shower) and stop using shampoo and load up on the conditioner. I did have to modify that part since after several days of only washing with conditioner my scalp was greasy. I had to go back to shampoo but only use it directly on my scalp and not my hair.

The book instructs you on how to style the three different types of curls (corkscrew, Botticelli - the type I have, and wavy).

I'd love to help another curly girl fall in love with her hair by passing my book on to them. If you'd like to win this book write a comment below and I'll draw a name on Tuesday, November 26th.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stones for Bread

"Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread. From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft."

I'm not sure what attracted me to this book, maybe the cover more than anything. I'm not much of a bread baker so a book revolving around that seemed a strange attraction to me but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book by Christina Parrish.

The writing was eloquent, much like poetry. The descriptions made me feel what the main character was describing. I even have a better understanding of the art of bread and it made me wish we had a bakery nearby like Wild Rise.

The characters in the bakery drew me in and I fell in love with them all. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same way with the little girl or her dad in this story - I wish that they would have become "real" to me as they were an important part of the story and they just did not have any depth to them. That's my only complaint.

Christina's writing style is excellent and I look forward to reading her other books.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November PopSugar Must Have Box Review and Code

I finally received my November PopSugar Must Have box! For some reason I always get my box way after other people.
This month the theme was "With the holidays kicking into high gear very soon, we wanted to make your life easier with practical but swoon-worthy pieces". It was a random mixture of useful items.
*Michael Stars Wrap ($42). I hated the design at first but think it is growing on me. The wrap is a lovely soft material and nice and thick. I can't decide if I'm keeping this or if I should put it in the "gift" pile.

*Canvaspop $30 gift card

*The Soap & Paper Factory Roland Pine Shea Butter Soap ($8)  This is a great pine scent and will be put next to the sink in December for some festive hand washing.

*Absolute! Nail Polish Remover Pads ($1.99) These will come in handy with all the nail polish I have received in boxes!
*Lands' End Single Canvas Wine Tote ($14.50) I don't carry bottles of wine with me but this with a bottle of wine would make a good gift.

*Illume Candle ($15.75) I received the Naughty candle which has a spicy wooded scent. Others have received the Nice candle which is a sweet vanilla scent. I love candles and will be burning this in December.

*Maison De Monaco Strawberry & Blackcurrant Cream Preserves ($6) I can't wait to try this on toast or biscuits.

*Barefruit Crunchy Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips ($1) A yummy snack!

The total value of the box was $119. This was not my favorite box but it was fun and some items will go for gifts. I can't wait to see the December box! The price of each box has risen to $39.95. Use code REFER5 for $5 off your first box.

Disclaimer: Referral links included in this post  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

This Week

*I think I may losing my mind. This cold, dreary weather can not be good for people's mental states. How do people in Alaska deal with so much darkness half the year? Does anyone else have SAD in the cold winter months? 
*I'm reevaluating our budget. I looked over my previous budget posts from years back and gulp from all the spending that has been going on recently. A lot can't be helped - bills pour in when you have a sick child and then a funeral to pay for. But I need to get back on track with the grocery budget and our "extras" each month. I remember when I could feed us on $75 a week; lately it has been double that, if not more. How much is your weekly grocery allowance?

*Amy is crawling and getting into everything now. At only 7 months old she is constantly moving and wanting attention. She can entertain us for hours with her shenanigans!

*How did I live without a divided hamper (or is it called a sorting hamper?) for so long? Seeing a pile of whites, or kids clothes, or my husband's work clothing makes me know when they need to be done (no more having my husband get ready for work only to realize there is no clean work pants - oops!). Joe now has the job of rounding up dirty clothes though out the house and organizing them in the hamper. He thinks it's fun and it makes it so easy for me. $10 well spent (yes, I went for the cheapest hamper!).

*Halloween was hard. Can I just skip all the rest of the holidays this year?


She's Crawling!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What Once Was Lost

I like historical fiction, especially when it is based in the 1800's. A book about a "poor farm" interested me. I was quite taken in with the story line. While it was easy to see where the story would go there were a lot of twists and turns throughout the book that kept me entertained.

One thing that annoyed me was not once, not twice, not three times, but rather on four separate occasions a character in the book was interrupted while right in the middle of spitting out something very important, which in turn brought added drama to the story. It seemed a little too much but I have seen this style in other books so it is not just this particular author/story that it's bothered me.

It wasn't as sappy, nor as cheesy, as a lot of Christian fiction can be. I liked the characters and got attached to the little blind boy especially.

Disclaimer: I was given this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, November 1, 2013

If the Shoe Fits

I love Chick-Lit books so was excited to read If the Shoe Fits; A Contemporary Fairy Tale by Sandra D. Bricker. I was wanting to see what a Christian Chick-Lit would turn out like.

It ended up being an easy read. Quite predictable, as most chick-lit books are. The Christian aspect was nice (no one night stands included in this book!) but a bit over the top at times (inviting a date to Bible Study just a few moments into the first date?). I can't really knock the book based on that as most Christian fiction seems to be a bit pushy or not flow right with real life.

All in all it was a great book to read on a rainy weekend. It is basically like all other Chick-Lit books (easy read, predictable, the main female character is quite clueless, mixed signals, etc.) but I liked the fact that some morals were included in the story.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.


Related Posts with Thumbnails