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Friday, May 30, 2014

A Deadly Business

It's been quite some time since I've read a crime/mystery and now I wonder why I waited so long to pick up another. At first, when I realized that A Deadly Business by Lis Wiehl was #2 in the Mia Quinn series I thought I would be disappointed since I hadn't read the first. Surprisingly, I never would have known it as this book flowed well on it's own.

When Mia Quinn begins to suspect that maybe her husband's death wasn't an accident she starts off a chain reaction that leads to a very suspenseful story. What I like best about this mystery is that the lead character doesn't come across as overly beautiful, overly cocky, or as a know-it-all. I can't remember a mystery in quite some time that doesn't have all those aspects in the main character (avid readers, I'm sure you know what I mean!).

It wasn't so faced paced that I couldn't put it down before bed but it did have me wondering how it would end so I did finish it within a 24 hour time period. It was a perfect mix of suspense and mystery without being so far fetched like many mysteries. A very enjoyable read and I look forward to reading Lis Wiehl's other books!

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

June The Boodle Box Review

How surprised I was to get the June The Boodle Box in the mail this week! Becca stood behind me screaming "open it, open it, open it!" so I'm guessing just was just a tad bit excited about it!
The theme for June is "Get pedi ready!" There are two variations of The Boodle Box; one for ages 5-10 and one for ages 11+. This box is for the 11+ group.

It was colorful and exciting immediately upon opening the box. I love the first look when it looks as fun as this!
Included in this month's box was:

*Katy Perry Meow Solid Perfume Locket ($35). This is just too cute...sparkly, pink, and made well. I love this and Becca wore it with her "cat shirt" today.

*Flip Flop 4 Piece Manicure Kit ($8) So adorable...and useful!

*Flip Flop Bling Straps ($3.99) What girl doesn't want to add a little extra bling to some plain flip flops?
*Ruby Wing "Crowd Surf" color-changing nail polish ($10) How cool is that?! The color is pretty too and goes from light to darker in the sunlight!

*Flip Flop Notepad and Stickie set ($1) Becca loves paper and will put these to good use!

*Flip Flop Lip gloss ($3.50) See that cute little "shoe" by the notepads? Yep, that is a lip gloss canister. So cute and perfect for a girls purse or beach bag!

*Cosmetic Bag and Brush Holder ($12) Becca will probably end up using this as a pen/pencil case and it's a handy little case for toting around and keeping things together and safe.

Another fun box that "got" tween perfectly, I think. Becca loved this box and I thought it was a great box too! This is the perfect subscription for the girl in your life! Prices start at $19.99 and there is also an option for a one-time "gift box" for $24.99 - that would make a great birthday or special gift for someone you know.

Their shop is also now open,with items from the May Launch Box for sale, as well as the May Launch Box itself.

Disclaimer: This box was given to me by The Boodle Box in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May MunchPak Box Review

What is more fun than a box of yummies shipped directly to your door?
MunchPak is a candy subscription box. It's original in the fact that many of these products I have never heard of, nor seen in our local stores. That makes it extra fun!
Items like Tayto Prawn Cocktail, Koala's March Cookies
Sour Smog Balls (these are seriously delicious - I want more!)

The Sour Punch Straws is the only item in this box that I have tried before.
Every single member of my family enjoyed trying out these different snacks. I think this would make an awesome summer subscription for kids and great treats to throw in the beach bag or summer vacation travel bag.

There are three box size options. I was sent the MunchPak Mini which starts at $7.95 (plus shipping) and it goes up to the FamilyPak which is $24.95 (plus shipping).

Disclaimer: This box was sent to me by MunchPak in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


The kids and I had some fun thrifting today in between running errands in the "big city".
Cute clothes for Amy. Fun books for myself. Fiesta Mugs and plates, a Philosophy oxygen peel (brand new!). Literally, a box filled with color and happy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Opposite of Maybe

The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson does not disappoint as a chick-lit.

"Jonathan and Rosie have been together for 15 years, when within a span of a few months marriage is broached, break-up ensues, and a pregnancy is announced." Bottom line: lots of drama which keeps you entertained. I enjoyed the writing and it was a fun weekend read.

With that said, I didn't seem to like any of the characters except for Tony. The main characters bothered me. Jonathan didn't seem to have a personality at all and Rosie is a typical "damsel in distress" throughout the whole book.

What bothered me the most is the fact that Rosie went back and forth between men...and in the end it's only a happy ending because she has a man. While it seems to be true of most relationships these days it makes me sad seeing that even books perpetrate that you need to be in a relationship to be happy.

I can't complain though, as that tends to be what a chick-lit is made of. This would be a perfect summer beach read book. 

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

This Week

*We went from frost a week ago to hot and muggy conditions this weekend. We finally broke down and put the air conditioner in downstairs (upstairs will need to wait until tomorrow) and it's finally starting to cool off in here.
*Somehow the screens on the side of the air conditioner, protecting us from the elements, got ripped while in storage. It took me a minute to figure out how to fix the situation but then I grabbed a roll of my decorative Duck Tape and went to town on it. It actually looks pretty cute, especially from far away. My air conditioner is pretty now. :)

*I had a garage sale last week. At my house. Alone. Well, my husband was home one day but the other I was on my own for the most part. And it worked out well. The kids were big help. I managed to get rid of lots and will use the money that I made throughout the summer at garage sales I visit. In a way, it feels like swapping stuff. Things I don't need for things I do. What was left I packed away and hauled off to donate so my house is free of all that stuff! The kids even made about $20 each, stuck half in their bank account, and are saving the other $10 for summer garage sales as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Boodle Box May Box Review

The Boodle Box kindly sent me this box to review, which I was very excited about. Becca has been wanting a new subscription box but all the ones for her age group (and there aren't many) lack in the fun and value department.

First of all, The Boodle Box is adorable. Before opening it I already knew it would be a fun box.  
Even upon opening it I was met with a delicious smell. I was so excited to see what was inside and was not disappointed with my first look. So colorful, so springy, so girly!
The theme this month is "Spring has sprung..."
Included in the box:

*SunKidsGifts Lollipop Bath Fizzy ($2.50). This is what made the whole box sell like candy and I know the Becca will have a blast with this.

*Neon Silicone Chain Bracelets ($2.99 each). What girl doesn't like some "arm candy"?

*Marina's Closet Ponytail Holder ($3). Handmade ponytail holder covered with Lily Pulitzer fabric. Swoon.

*Cina Nail Creations ($4.69). Nail art, what could be better?!

*PURR by Katy Perry Perfume ($2?) If Becca didn't want this so bad I would gladly wear it!

*Nails INC. Nail Polish ($4) What a nice spring color! Not too bright for a tween but very girly.

*Lily Pulizter Lobstah Roll Market Bag ($10) See the colorful item all those things are on? Yep...I love this bag. And Becca decided to "let me use it"! What a super fun bag that is perfect for spring!

This was a fantastic box! Prices start at $19.99 a month and options are for ages 5-10 and 11+. I think any girl would be happy with this box, as I know my 10 year old loved the whole thing. After I went through it and snapped photos I boxed it all back up for her and it was like Christmas morning for her as she went through everything! Like them on Facebook to see what is happening!

Disclaimer: This box was sent to me by The Boodle Box in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

June 2014 PopSugar Code

If you're thinking of trying out the PopSugar Must Have box there is a new code for $15 off your first box! Just click here and enter
XL25K3Z when checking out.

I had canceled my subscription after the May box as I just wasn't happy with it at all. I didn't even review it because I felt it was so blah. But then, after trying out some of the products I had to reconsider. While a "$24" eye mask and an exercise DVD didn't excite me in the least, I'm finding out that the perfume included in the box (Smellbent in St. Tropaz, $45) is a new favorite. It smells just like summer to me...sunscreen! And while a lot of the reviews are bad it lingers all day and I love it.

I also have been using the Citrus Zinger Infuser water bottle ($16) daily. So maybe the May box wasn't as much a flop as I originally thought. Plus, usually when I hate a box the next month is awesome. So I'm giving it one more shot.

I'm not sure how long the code is supposed to last so sign up soon before the June boxes are sold out!

Disclaimer: My referral link is included in this post.  

9 Months

Yesterday marked 9 months since Jacob went to Heaven. It's surreal; some days it feels like he was just with us and other days it feels like it has been years since I've seen him.

I notice that as time goes on some people distance themselves from us. This grief is all-consuming and people get tired of it. It's a downer. No one wants to be reminded of the unhappiness in life. The tragedy of losing a child.

Yet that is why grief really is so tiring. It never ends. I will never stop missing him. I will never stop thinking of him. I will never stop being reminded of him. 
It hits you at the oddest moments.

Driving past the park and seeing a boy sitting on the bench watching the other kids play. His body language reminds me of Jacob. Him sitting out while the other kids play reminds me of Jacob.  A sinking feeling.

Opening a can of baked beans. Remembering how much Jacob loved baked beans. Tears.

Garage sales. How Jacob loved garage sales. He was my little garage sale buddy. Seeing Star Wars toys for sale I knew he would love. A tightness in my chest. Feeling sick. Panicked.

Watching Amy laugh and play with her brother Joe. Knowing that she will grow up not knowing Jacob. Knowing how much Jacob would have loved playing with her. Complete and utter sadness.

This is life without one of your children. Grief becomes part of your life. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fortune Cookie Soap

I've been a huge fan of LUSH cosmetics for years but the shipping is insane, as are the prices.

A year ago I signed up for The Fortune Cookie Soap box and fell in love with their products. Quarterly for $20 you get a box of samples from their newest line AND a $10 gift certificate to use on their site. I often use my $10 code for their whipped cream lotion (In the Loop, Cupcake, and That's What She Said are my favorites) but decided to try a shampoo bar and a variety sample of their soaps. 
The box smelled amazing when it arrived (it was super fast shipping, too, it arrived under a week after placing my order, which is awesome considering each batch is handmade!).

The shampoo bar is in the scent "Unicorn Farts" and smells fantastic. I've only used it once but it made my hair soft and smell amazing and it did the same for Joe's hair.

The sample variety pack of soaps was so fun to go through and sniff (every. single. person. in my family sniffed each one) and it's a great way to try out some soap without committing to a whole bar. There are a few that I don't like too much (Cotton Candy, The Mod Bod, and Marshmallow Dreams) so I'm glad I didn't waste money on a big bar. I found some favorites though, especially the Kryptonite and Vivid. Each variety pack includes different varieties so I may have to try another pack in the future!

This is not a sponsored post, I'm just sharing one of my favorite things with you. Soap makes me happy. :) But, if you do choose to place an order you can go through my referral link for $5 off your first $30 order. You can also sign up for a rewards account and based on your referrals and ordering you can earn free shipping or $5 off your orders! It's a fun company and makes your shower/bath/skin care routine extra fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sarah's Choice

Sarah's Choice by Rebecca St. James and Nancy Rue is a modern day story about something that many young women have to face: an unexpected pregnancy and falling away from God when He doesn't do what we want. While it is a fiction book it is interesting reading from the woman's point of view her thoughts and feelings as she thinks about abortion or keeping the baby.

Even with the deep subject matter it was an easy read and I finished it in just one weekend. One thing I didn't like about the book was the "Ebenezer Scrooge" aspect of the book...Sarah has three visions in the book and while the first two seemed somewhat realistic the third left me wondering why the book had to turn so far-fetched. It tuned the story upside down and made things less realistic. I think it makes a young girl/woman in this exact situation not relate so much to the book anymore. The mother of Sarah also came across as weak and preachy and not very likeable. I'm not sure if that was the intent of the authors or not.

Regardless of that, it was a book that brings up a tough subject in a not-too-deep type of way. The fact that she contemplates abortion in a Christian book brings the subject to light and it also brings to light women who have had abortions without being too judgmental. I feel this book was written with love for any woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.

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

Saturday, May 17, 2014

IPSY May 2014 Bag Review

My May Ipsy bag finally arrived! I sometimes wonder if I am the very last person to receive it as I see several reviews long before I receive mine. :/

The theme this month is "Fresh Picks". What's odd is that my bag did not include the card detailing the theme but I suppose I can do without it just this once.

Each month there is a large variety of products that *could* be in your bag (I think there was 26 products this month) and you will receive 4-5 particular products based on your beauty profile. Sometimes it a hit or miss...
This months bag included:

*Canvas Ipsy bag. This may be my favorite bag ever from them - very spring like and natural and useful!

*Balanced Guru No Frizz Hair Oil. This stuff is organic, cruelty-free, and made with essential oil. I can't wait to use this stuff (and with the warmer weather I WILL be needing it!)

*Pur-lisse moisturizer; normal-dry, sensitive, anti-aging. I like Pur-lisse so will put this to good use.
*Hang Ten Classic Sport sunscreen. Not exactly exciting but useful.

*Hey Honey take it off exfoliating honey peel off mask. This sounds like fun.

*Pacifica eyeshadow duo. I love Pacifica, not sure about the purple/white colors. Maybe it would look springy?!

This month was a bit of a miss for me. But I've been extremely satisfied with most of my bags (and really, I can use everything in this one so can't complain) and think that $10 a month is an amazing deal for this subscription. There is a wait list for Ipsy, so if you're interested in receiving summer bags you should sign up now! Occasionally you can see ways on their Facebook page to immediately get off the waiting list.

Disclaimer: My referral links are included in this post.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Just this morning as I logged onto the computer I felt a sadness about this blog. My inspiration has left me. My motivation is not there (not only when it comes to my blog but most things in life at the moment). I wondered what would become of it as my readers dwindle and if it was possible to resurrect it.

After lunch the kids and I stopped at the charity shop and found a lovely magazine about Journaling (total eye candy for a lover of paper!). On the very first page was an advertisement for a magazine titled Artful Blogging.  
I did a quick search to see if it was still in print (it is!) but I'm not willing to pay $14 per issue. So I bid on one on Ebay. Maybe this is the inspiration I need - and it couldn't have come at a better time!

So, help me out here, what do you most enjoy seeing on my blog? What keeps you around?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Loving Kitchen

I wonder if I'm the only one who gets excited about a cookbook only to find out that most recipes are elaborate, expensive, and altogether time consuming (not to mention, something my family probably wouldn't eat to begin with). The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice was not one of those cookbooks - these are real life recipes with a Southern twist.

*Cinnamon Scones

*Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

*Chicken and Rice Casserole

*Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

The list goes on an on of what I ran across and want to make while flipping through this cookbook. These recipes sound like something Grandma would make that become a family tradition. I also love the layout and the photos in the book. I hope to find that this cookbook becomes a staple in our house.

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Life of Miracles

I chose this book based strictly on the cover and the title. A Life of Miracles by Don Schulze looked and sounded good.

I was about to put the book down after the first few chapters. Something about it disgusted me. I'm glad I decided to finish it as there is a message within it, but the book still doesn't sit right for me.

The writing is good. The storyline is compelling and I like how each miracle throughout Don's life is a different chapter. That makes for easy reading.

I couldn't get past the "ask and you shall receive" mentality. Don't get me wrong, I've experienced many miracles in life that most people wouldn't believe or just shake their head and mutter "coincidence" at. I KNOW that God provides for us and have experienced it time and time again.

With that said, several times throughout this book the attitude was "I told God he would need to do it this way or tell my wife the same thing". Told was a reoccurring theme. As was healing - Don only needs to lay his hands upon someone, pray, and they are usually healed. He goes so far to basically say that if your faith is strong enough God will do whatever you pray for. This is the part of the book that disgusted me - he even healed his dog after a car accident by "Sheba, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, put that leg down and walk!" Does anyone else just get a creepy feeling from this? That feeling continued throughout the whole book.

The mentality of God loves me better because I have strong faith is what I took away from the book. It makes me sad, really, because if everything that happened in the book is true it really is a life of miracles but came across as high and mighty and not able to happen to the average person. The message will be lost on most people who had to suffer when God's will doesn't turn out to be their own.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


*The sound of bird songs is drifting in the open window along with streams of sunshine. It looks to be a beautiful morning. I'm awaiting the washing machine to finish it's cycle so I can get the clothes hung on the line and then maybe do a little gardening with Amy by my side.

*Unfortunately, I'm also downing cup after cup of coffee, trying to wake myself up after a long night of Joe being sick. Yes, the night of his 6th birthday he came down with whatever tummy virus it was that Becca had last week. He was sick off and on throughout the night, poor boy. He's still sleeping and I hope he wakes up feeling better. 
*The picture above is from last fall, I can't believe how much they both have changed!

*It was a hard day yesterday. Joe's birthday reminded me of last year on that day when Ben and Jacob were in the hospital getting his stem cells harvested. It's Joe's first birthday without his brother. After his birthday meal we stopped at the cemetery where he got out all by himself and stood at Jacob's grave, "showing him" his presents. Heartbreaking.

*I noticed my lack of energy for anything special. The best I could do for Joe's birthday was to dump his gifts into a gift bag and buy a cake. Every little thing is hard is these days. I'm glad he was able to have a special birthday outing with my mom the day before - they went out to eat on a "date" and then went shopping to pick out a gift. Joe decided to buy me a gift as well, finding a cute little hummingbird decoration and rushing home yelling "Open it mom, open it!" How sweet, to be thought of when he was supposed to picking out his own gift. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Modern Pioneering

If a book can be delicious, this is the one I would gobble up. Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini has more than 150 recipes, projects, and skills for a self-sufficient life.

The pictures and layout are gorgeous. The whole book is a pleasure to hold in your hands and a feast for the eyes. Even the pages smell delectable. 

What's more is that it's an actual useful guide for new-to-you projects, recipes, and skills. Preserving food, cooking, gardening, household projects, and more. Flipping through the book has left me excited about trying out several of the projects.

I did expect a bit more about the self-sufficient lifestyle. Maybe backyard chickens, using up more of the garden produce, etc. But then again, maybe those topics have been overdone in other books and this guide is true to the fact that the majority of what is within I haven't read/seen in other places. This is a true gem to add to my "self-sufficient" shelf of books.

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

Square Foot Gardening

Has anyone here done square foot gardening? I've finally decided to follow it this year and have my garden squared off and most of it planted. I'm curious to see how well it does.
A very helpful site I found by googling was Gardner's Site. It has directions on how to plant a square foot garden or how to plan your own. I've decided to plan my own but used ideas from their site which made it much easier this first time.

Since we've signed up for the CSA for bi-weekly boxes I hope to supplement the rest of our diet with my own garden and an occasional trip to the farmer's market.

How are your gardens growing? 

Fly a Little Higher

I knew that Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech would be a hard book to read. This is a book written by the mother of Zach Sobiech, a teen who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and decided to live every last day to fullest. His song, "Clouds", went viral on YouTube and has over 15 million hits.

The book arrived in the mail today and I wanted, and didn't want, to start reading it immediately. I read the first few pages and was sucked in. It's well past midnight and I couldn't put it down until I had finished it. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this review.

Written from a mother's perspective, it may be the most profound way to tell a story such as this. She captured her pain, her family's pain, but most of all she captured Zach's spirit and goodness. I fell in love with Zach and his lovely soul as I read this book.

The beginning and middle were inspiring, the end was both beautiful and heartbreaking. I wanted to stop reading several times but couldn't. So much of what happened I had to witness myself with little Jacob...so maybe it was a bit too soon to read a book such as this but maybe it would never be easy. 

So many things jumped out at me. Page 156, for example: "I sat, gliding slowly back and forth in the comfort of my favorite rocking chair. I had lulled babies to sleep and dreamed of their bright futures in this chair, and now I had to contemplate what it would be like to lose one. All the memories of years filled by the spirit of that beautiful boy swam in my mind and left my heart to ache like arms that clutched a weighty treasure for a long time. How could I let go of this son who brought so much joy into our lives and into our home? What would our family be like without the child who made everything run smoothly just by his peaceful presence?"

Page 220: "Each happy moment was tainted with the sadness of wondering what it would be like next year, after Zach was gone."

While death and dying is a part of this book, this book is not about dying, but rather how to live. "It is a story about a boy who showed his family, his friends, and eventually the world that everyone can choose to fly a little higher."

I can't help but look at the photos in this book and see my own sweet Jacob's soul within Zach's eyes. It only deepens my belief that God chooses special people to do His work here on earth and you can see it in their eyes. The eyes are the window to the soul and looking deep into the eyes of a terminal child shows you little pieces of God Himself.

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Catching Up

Yesterday, after my frantic post, I decided to get a start on my to-do list and was able to check off organizing the kids clothing drawers and pulling out of storage some summer items. It's difficult to do this in spring as we need both warm and cold weather clothing and our closets and drawers are stuffed to the seams because of this but I was able to get some things put away and some things put out.

It wasn't easy, as Amy is incrediably crabby and clingy right now. That is such a stress, especially when my husband is working odd hours this week and gone into the early evening. Luckily, it has also been warm and sunny the past few days (though not today) so we've been able to spend time outdoors, which is one thing that makes Amy happy. 
Once my mom picks Joe up for his storytime this morning I plan to sit down and write out a new budget. I'll get my husband on board this evening and then we will work on sticking with it.

I had great plans to get caught up on schoolwork this week but alas, Becca wakes up with a sore throat and runny nose. Which means she is also incredibly crabby and doesn't feel like doing extra today. The nice thing about homeschooling is that we aren't on a time crunch. We can go through the summer if we need to. We can work on weekends if we want. We can double up on work one day or take off another day if we need to. We have options.

Life. It happens.



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