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Adoption Day and Birthday Sign

Yesterday was our sweet Oliver’s 2nd Adoption Day! And since we don’t know his actual birthday, we celebrate it as his birthday. It’s the day of his birth into our family! I tend to go all out. I just love our boy so much and want to celebrate him. He is the perfect addition to our family. We couldn’t have asked for a more loving, sweet dog.

We are planning to have a party for him this weekend with some of his friends from school, but last night the three of us celebrated together with some fun at the dog park, gifts, special treats, and lots of pictures. 🙂


It was a GORGEOUS day. Fall is slowly arriving in Texas. The dog park was so fun. He sure was a happy boy.

2014-10-13 (17) oliver's adoption day!

2014-10-13 (19) oliver's adoption day!

Whip cream and cheese- his two favorites. (We give in moderation! He did NOT get all that whip cream).


Gifts! A new Hedgehog (his current one is all torn up), a football, salmon treats, and a Halloween bone (that he actually found where I’d hit it and started chewing on a few weeks ago!).

2014-10-13 (32) oliver's adoption day!

I’m a tad bit of an insane dog mom (as if that’s news), and wanted to make one of those chalkboard birthday signs people do for their kids. I didn’t realize that most people make them on the computer and print them out, but that explains how they’re so perfect. I, of course, took the hard way and did it all by hand. But I feel so much more proud of it, even though it took me about 7 hours total to make!



I used black foam board and Crayola Gel Markers. These markers were great and gave a good “chalk appearance”, but I did have to buy two packs because I used up the first white one.

I apologize for this really awful picture.

I apologize for this really awful picture.

It took me HOURS to choose fonts. Lots and lots of time on Pinterest.


Once I picked the fonts, I typed everything, printed it, and placed it on the board to see where I wanted everything.


To trace the words onto the board I used a method I saw on Pinterest. I rubbed chalk on the back of the words, then traced over them with a pen. When I pulled the paper up, a chalk outline was left. Then I went over that with the markers. This process worked SO well and was really fast and easy.


I am so pleased with how it turned out!!


What a fun day celebrating our sweet, sweet boy. Next week there will definitely be a post about his party!



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My Reading List- September 2014

I read some REALLY good books this month. Like, books that are now in my Top 5 all time favorite books. I also read A LOT. Part of that is thanks to 32 hours spent in the car driving to and from Colorado. I used to get incredibly car sick if I read in the car, but I think God knew I needed something to do this time or I would GO CRAZY because I was able to read for hours and not get nauseous at all.

[5] Roses by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2010): I LOVE THIS BOOK. Amazing historical saga of three families in the south.

[5] Somerset by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2013): I LOVE THIS ONE TOO. This is the prequel to Roses, but it is perfectly fine to be read after Roses. In fact, I think it makes it richer because you can put some pieces together. Oh my goodness, such a gripping, emotional story to get swept away by. Both of these books are just over 600 pages, so prepare yourself. But SO WORTH IT.

[3] Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Fiction, 2001): This is the second book in the Hannah Swensen series. I’m finding these aren’t the most well-written books and the dialogue can be pretty awkward, but they are fun, light murder mysteries.

[5] Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham (Fiction, 2012): Though this is written by Meacham, it is not related to Roses and Somerset, it’s a stand-alone book set in modern day that focuses on three friends and tells the stories of their lives and friendship through the years. Not as good as Roses and Somerset, but it’s still a good book.

[4] The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley (Fiction, 2014): I loved this book until the end. It’s always so disappointing when you are totally engrossed in a book, and the end just falls flat. It’s like Buckley realized she had written over 400 pages and needed to quickly tie it all up. A lot of the depth of the story lines got lost in the quick ending. But that disappointment doesn’t take away from the engrossing, suspenseful story. It tells the story of a kid with “XP”- a deadly sensitivity to light. It was interesting to learn about that disease and how it impacted his life, and the life of his family.

Y’all, for real. Read Roses and Somerset.

What have you been reading?

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Monthly Cleaning, Month #2

Do people even use the “#” to mean “number” anymore? Do we actually have to write out the word “number”? Kids these days are probably so confused when someone tells them they are “#1”.

Anyway, one month of cleaning down! My room for last month was the office/craft room/where Oliver hangs out during the day. We actually finished cleaning it on time and it feels SO good to have it cleaned out, organized, and cleaned. The biggest project in there was the closet. For some reason that closet gets out of control very quickly. I organized it real nicely last year, but had to do it again this year.

In last month’s post I wrote that I wanted to get rid of at least 10 things per room. I’m not sure if paper counts toward that, but we had an entire trash bag full of papers to throw away, and a few “real” items too. We actually had two garage sales this month to help a neighbor out. Two weekends back-to-back in the hot Texas sun! But I love the feeling of getting rid of things and making money from them! We’re going to have a third one in the fall sometime to help him continue to get rid of things. And hopefully by then we’ll have a few more things of our own to set out!

So, the room for September is the Living Room! I’m way too excited about this. I’m hoping I get it all done within the month because we will be on a trip for a bit. Here is my PDF 2- Living Room.

Did anyone start in August on this plan? What room did you do?

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Reading List- July 2014

I’ve read a lot this month! Mainly because at the end my husband had his wisdom teeth out (that has been quite the ordeal and is still ongoing…), so I’ve had a lot of alone time for reading. I also didn’t read any non-fiction this month, odd for me. But I’m currently making up for that so you’ll see those in the August post.

[3] The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams (2014, Fiction): I think this is supposed to be a really great book. But I just found it pretty boring. It is written in alternating chapters of present day and in the past, and I just don’t go for that style much (but this was one of three books I read this month written like that!). The story is good once you get to the end and all the pieces come together, but I was very bored while reading.

[4] All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (2014, Fiction): This story follows a “normal” mom and wife through the stages of drug addiction. It highlights how easily it can happen, the effects, the struggle to get out. It’s a fascinating book and I had to keep reminding myself that it was fiction!

[2] The One & Only by Emily Giffin (2014, Fiction): I’m still processing how I felt about this book. On one hand it was a light, easy read about football in Texas and love. But on the other hand it was creepy and weird and left me feeling very unsettled.

[4] Home to Holly Springs by Jan Karon (Father Tim Series #1) (2007, Fiction): This is a continuation of the beloved Mitford Series by Karon. It has been over a year since I read that series and I so wish I had read this book soon after that. I’ve forgotten so many of the details, events, and characters. But, nonetheless, this was still a sweet book of Father Tim returning to his hometown and remembering his childhood and reconnecting with the many people who he grew up with.

[2] In the Company of Others by Jan Karon (Father Tim Series #2) (2010, Fiction): For some reason I had really high hopes for this book. It follows Father Tim and Cynthia on a trip to Ireland where mishaps continually happen and enjoy the company of others. I was bored and skimmed through a lot of it. And I must have missed some important detail or something because I was LOST through most of it. Had no idea what was going on and  I was so relieved when the book was over. BUT, I thought this was the last of Mitford and I was sad, but then I was researching, and due to popular demand, Karon is writing more Mitford books! The next one comes out on September 2. Super excited!

[5] Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich (2014, Fiction): I LOVE the Stephanie Plum series. I’ve been reading them for years and they never disappoint. Evanovich writes with just the right balance of humor, mystery, and romance. This one I found very funny, some great dialogue. And it was kind of intense! More than just the regular happenings in Trenton.

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Favorites Friday #2

Today is officially my favorite summer day ever. Temps in the 70s/80s, rainy. It is amazing. You can almost smell fall approaching. If only we didn’t have to make it through August first. But maybe there will be more of these amazing summer days ahead. And we leave for a Colorado trip in 7 weeks so that weather will be AWESOME.

Time for some more of my current favorite things!

The U Smooth flat iron: My hair is very, very thick and wavy. But not cute wavy. Out of control wavy. I started straightening my hair back in high school (well, more accurately, my mom did it every morning. Love you, Mom!). We got a CHI and it was amazing. Sometime in college I ended up acquiring another CHI from a friend or something, and that was a good thing since I took my original one to England and it got fried (thanks electrical conversions!).  But my second CHI died a few years ago and at the time I couldn’t afford another one, so I got a cheaper ceramic flat iron. It’s been fine. It does it’s job if I put the time and effort in. But I’ve gotten to where I don’t want to do that. So my hair lady suggested the U Smooth flat iron. I bought it a few weeks ago and I LOVE it. It has titanium plates which make it so much smoother and easier and faster and makes my hair look amazing. I highly recommend it. (But, as I was looking for the web site to attach the link here, it appears that the company has gone of out business. So that doesn’t make me feel so great….).

Tripod, Tripod mount for phones, and wireless remote: I recently had the brilliant idea that I NEEDED a tripod.  I don’t know why this has never occurred to me before now. I take A LOT of pictures. I always want every moment documented and sometimes that’s challenging since I don’t have a little personal paparazzo following me around everywhere (I am currently accepting applications for that position. You will be paid in hugs and baked goods). Well once I got this idea in my head, I had to act immediately. I ended up purchasing a table top tripod at Best Buy- the Sunpak Mini D tripod. It’s not perfect, but it fits in my purse and will get the job done.  For the smartphone tripod mount, I went with the Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount. Again, not the best one available, but I haven’t had any issues yet. It’s so easy to use. In researching the remote, I discovered I could either spend a lot of money, or go with one with questionable reviews. I chose the Kootek, with many questionable reviews, but has worked fine for me. Then my parents lent me their full-size tripod. So I am ready for any picture taking opportunity! I love the freedom this equipment brings and am excited to take it on our Colorado trip and not have to take so many selfies!

HEB Sparkling Water: Now, I’m not an HEB fan (I know, that’s blasphemy for a Texan to say), so I hate to promote one of their products, but this stuff is seriously good. I have only tried the lime flavor, but it tastes just like Sprite. I’m planning to try the White Grape flavor, seems like that may taste like the sparkling grape juice that is so delicious.

The Office: I know, I know, another “old” TV show. But I’m currently watching this all the way through for the fourth time in less than two years and just this week decided that it’s my absolute favorite show ever. The humor and sweetness just doesn’t get old. Now if I could just get my husband to watch it….

Pizza Logs: This is a Weight Watcher friendly recipe from the Emily Bites Blog. Egg roll wrappers, pizza sauce, and string cheese. So quick and easy and so delicious. We’ve been having these once a week with a salad and it’s the perfect meal.

Thanks for reading! What’s one of your new favorite things?

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Favorites Friday #1

For awhile now I’ve been wanting to do a post about just some of my favorite things, hence, “Favorites Friday” was born in my mind (so original, I know). It probably won’t happen every week (that’s a lot of favorite things to come up with!), but I hope it happens semi-regularly. So, without further ado, some of my favorite things right now:

The Pandora Relaxation station: Ok, I know that Pandora isn’t so popular anymore, but I’m still a big fan. And the Relaxation Station is what has put me to sleep for the past month or so. I used to have to fall asleep to the TV, but now every night I look forward to turning my relaxation music on, setting the sleep timer, and drifting off.

The Gobble Stopper: This is an item that you place in the dog’s food bowl so that they don’t gobble up their food so quickly. It’s quite a great invention! It has a suction cup to stick to the bowl, but we’ve never gotten it to stay stuck, but it still works! And though Oliver acts annoyed by it, I think he secretly enjoys lifting it up to see if there’s any food hiding beneath it!

“24”: This show has taken waaayyyy too many hours, days, of my life away. Last summer I binge watched it on Netflix by myself. So addicted. I would watch 5, 6, sometimes 7 episodes a day. And it’s not exactly a show you can multitask with. Earlier this year, I convinced my husband to watch it again with me. We had been searching for a show to watch together that would keep him awake (Y’all, this is a serious issue in our marriage, he cannot stay awake to watch tv/movies. If anyone has advice, help, please share). I thought this would be the perfect one! Plus, I wanted to watch again to freshen my memory for the new season! So we’ve been watching for several months now, we are only able to make it through an episode a day, sometimes two if we’re lucky (Note problem mentioned above. Help.), but I am SO addicted again. It is just THE BEST SHOW EVER. We are currently in the middle of season 8 so just about 12 more hours to go before we can start the new season!!

 Blue Bell ice cream Cups: You know, those little cups you always had at parties as a kid? They have been a lifesaver to this struggling Weight Watcher. A few weeks ago I was in the ice cream aisle of the store longingly staring, wondering how to buy some and not eat the entire cartonright away, when I saw these. And even though they’re kinda pricey, I bought them. And they have saved me. They are 4 Points each, and are the perfect treat to look forward to as we watch “24” in the evening. Usually, the thought of getting to eat my ice cream cup keeps me from giving in to temptation throughout the day. I LOVE THEM.

Well, I think that’s enough for now. Want to save some things to talk about next time! What’s one of your current favorite things or best new find?


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Dog Training Journey

On February 18, 2013 our little family of 3 started a journey into the world of dog training.

Oliver acting a fool at his first night of dog training

Oliver acting a fool (and being super cute) at his first night of training

We had high hopes of fixing some specific issues and learning how to communicate better with Oliver, and him to communicate better with us. All of our expectations were achieved, and exceeded. We have been going every single week (we only missed if our teacher was out) for a year. We went through private lessons, Beginner class, Intermediate class, and Advanced class.

Intermediate class graduation!

Intermediate class graduation!

Then this past Tuesday (February 18, 2014- exactly a year!) Oliver graduated from Advanced class!  (Although technically we are finished, we will continue going to work on his socializing with other dogs).

Our serious little graduate

Our serious little graduate


He has matured so much through this, as have we. I highly recommend going to training, no matter what age your dog is. Since this has consumed a lot of our life over the past year, I thought I would share some thoughts/tips/advice I feel we’ve learned along the way. (I am NOT a certified trainer/vet/etc., these are just some thoughts and recommendations from our personal experience. Always seek professional counsel if needed.)

  • If at all possible, find a trainer you and your dog really connect with. We were very lucky with this. We all immediately had a connection with our trainer and really love her so much. Especially when we were doing the private sessions, to me training had the same feel as a counseling session. You want to trust your trainer and what they’re telling you and feel comfortable bringing issues up other than just what’s taught in the class. Which leads me to…
  • Find a trainer who works with you and your dog on everything- not just commands. Our trainer played a HUGE part in Oliver’s food allergy journey. She’s helped us with things like small medical concerns and reminding us he needs his nails trimmed. She also has used personal time and her own dog to help us work on Oliver’s socialization issues.
  • Our trainer is great about interacting with the dogs, as well as dog parents. Having someone who communicates well with the humans is a must.
  • There are different methods of training. We used reward based (treats), but clicker training is another effective method. However, be wary of shock collar or isolation training methods. I’ve heard some really sad stories about cases where these have gone bad and permanently harmed the dog. For the most part, we as humans learn through reward based, so it should work for dogs too!
  • But in addition to the one method, there can be other things to try if something isn’t working. We have used a spray bottle and ultrasonic noise for various issues and both worked well, with no harm to Oliver.
  • Go somewhere your dog loves going to! If we say the word “school” Oliver goes CRAZY with excitement. As we pull into the shopping center each week he starts whining and cannot wait to get out of the car and go into school to see his teacher. It’s really cute, but also so important in this process. If he wasn’t excited about it, then what would be the point? Training should be fun and enjoyable for the dog and for you.
  • Commit! Over the year, there are a few people who have stayed the course, but a lot kind of flake in and out. If you’re going to do this, and spend the money, then make the time! Few things should be more important than getting on the same page with your dog, teaching him, and spending some quality time with him. Putting in this effort will help everything in your home life go so much smoother. We are really the only ones who have been every week. The two weeks between Christmas and New Year’s- we were the only ones that attended. A few weeks ago it was cold and getting icy- we went anyway, no one else did. Commit!
  • A plus of training is the awesome quality time you get with your pet. At home there are so many constant distractions, but for that hour each week, you have time to just be with them. It really helps in building your relationship with your pet.
  • Practice is important in this process. But it doesn’t have to become a chore. We usually practice with him for about 10 minutes each evening. He enjoys it and gets so excited. And for us it’s a way to make sure we’re spending some quality time with him. I created a way to practice everything randomly, and it makes it more fun for me.
  • Don’t just practice the commands- find some other ways to integrate fun into learning. We purchased Oliver a game for Christmas that we all enjoy working with. We got ours from Petco, but they also have several at Petsmart (Toys R Us brand).
  • Be consistent. For example, Michael feeds him in the mornings and I generally feed him in the evenings, but we both give the same commands and have the same expectations (Sit. Wait. Take.). When going on a walk/putting his leash one (On your spot. Wait. Go.)

Overall I hope that everyone with a dog makes the time to do some training and experiences the joy, fun, and growth that comes from it. It is really one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We don’t have a whole lot of money, but are so glad that we chose to make this a priority. And it has been the best investment we could make.


See Related Posts:

Dog Adoption Day Party

Dog Allergies

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IF God is real….

[Since starting this blog I have really struggled with what is the PURPOSE of it. I don’t think I should just be putting words out on the internet without a purpose, a vision behind them. But for almost a year, I’ve done just that. Supposedly all you readers out there enjoy it, and I get good feedback. I do enjoy sharing recipes, dog info, home projects, hubby projects, and so on… But I think occasionally I would like to post something that matters. That has purpose. Otherwise, why blog at all? So, that is what I’m going to do today… even though it’s scary…]

Last weekend over 40,000 women joined together worldwide for the IF: Gathering. The main event was in Austin, TX, but there was a live simulcast option for whoever wanted to take part. I participated with a group of 250 meeting in a movie theater just up the road from Austin.

“What is IF?”, you ask? Well, that’s what most of us were asking ourselves even as we walked into various venues across the country and world, and sat down. All we knew is that it was going to be something big, something great, probably something life-changing. Founder Jennie Allen compared it to the noise of a dog whistle. Her and her team blew the whistle, and women came running, just drawn to this event, coming just because they felt like they needed to. That’s how I felt, and many others I met. There was just something so different about the authenticity of the leadership and the lack of true plans for the weekend. It was inviting.

Before the conference even began I had already done something life-changing: gone alone. I don’t do things alone. Especially not go to conferences and gatherings. But when I couldn’t find anyone to go with, a friend encouraged me to be brave, and I signed up and went. Because I was alone I was able to meet with God more freely and also build relationships with wonderful women I wouldn’t otherwise have met. Going alone was a brave decision, and has made me feel I can be brave in other areas of life.

IF God is real… THEN what?

This question, along with Hebrews 12:1-2, framed the weekend.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So many things set this “conference” apart from others. Still, a week later, I am still processing all I learned, all God did; this posting doesn’t come close to covering it all. And from what people are saying on Twitter, I’m not the only one. For me, one of the best parts was that there were so many speakers, all from different backgrounds, different politics, different races- but all united under Jesus. All proclaiming Jesus. All pursuing Jesus.

And the same went for the attendees (in person and online)- different backgrounds, states, countries, theology… but all about Jesus.

Friday night Esther Havens, one of the speakers/leaders, summed it up perfectly with this tweet: “Tonight I experienced a piece of what I think heaven will be like”  Yes and Amen.

What can God do when tens of thousands of women gather together, equip themselves, and are unleashed upon the world to

Walk in faith, one step at a time,

Seek freedom,

Stop comparing and competing,

Run their race, eyes fixed on Jesus,

Live mercifully,

Seek justice for the oppressed,

Stop living in the past?

Bianca Olthoff said it best,

“If God is for us, who in hell can be against us?”

As I’ve processed, what keeps coming back over and over are “If… Then statements” IF God is real….

…Then my blog needs to have purpose

…Then I can go places alone in order to better grow in Him

…Then I need to choose risk and unknown over comfort

…Then I need to choose love over judgment

…Then I need to abide with Him daily, hourly, constantly

…Then I can do big things, through faith, and join the “cloud of witnesses” named in Hebrews 11

…Then I need to run my race well, fixing my eyes on Jesus

IF didn’t stop on Saturday evening at the conclusion of the gathering. The videos were posted online through Monday night, and can now be purchased as a download here. You will not regret the money spent on these words, hearing these speakers be real and faith-filled and hopeful for what’s next.

IF: Equip is a weekday Bible study for anyone, anywhere. Women all over the world reading a passage together and discussing it. Beautiful.

This “movement” is about coming together. Community. Loving one another well, in order to love the world well.

“Ask (God) for a heart that wants to serve, and just move” -Jen Hatmaker

What is your IF…Then statement? What do you need to do If God is really real?

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2013 Book List

As I compiled this list I realized how few books I read in 2013! I got distracted for several months by crossword puzzles and Netflix. But it sure feels nice to be reading regularly again now. Keep in mind that though I mark my favorites, that doesn’t mean the others aren’t awesome too! Maybe I should just start marking the ones I didn’t like. On this list that would really only be The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

2013 Book List

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Reading List- January 2014

Has this felt like the longest month ever to anyone else? I’m not sure why. It wasn’t a bad month. Maybe the unusually cold weather we’ve had made it feel long. Or that I didn’t have many sub job opportunities. Or starting Weight Watchers- watching my food every second of the day was tiring. I don’t know, I just kept thinking “oh my gosh, it it STILL January???”  And now it’s over and we move into February. Finally. Time to get the year started!

Despite it feeling like a long month, I didn’t read as much as I could have due to, yep, you guessed it, good ol’ Netflix. I got drawn into several shows including “The Next Great Baker” and “Tanked”. Michael and I have also started watching “24” together. For a long time we’ve been searching for a show to watch together that hubby can stay awake through, so we’re attempting this action-packed one. I watched it all the way through last summer, but I’ve forgotten a lot of the details. We are slowly making our way through season 1. Michael isn’t as good of a binge-watcher as me, probably because he has this thing called a job….

But, I did get some reading in!

Orange is the New Black- Kerman (2010, Non-fiction): I was first introduced to OITNB through the Netflix series that began this past year. I heard everyone saying how great it was, so I watched it. And it was great, but not something I can recommend. I was pretty shocked at what Netflix allowed. But, the story of Piper, a white, upper-class woman imprisoned for a 10-year-old drug charge, intrigued me. And the way the characters were portrayed in the show made me want to know them better, know more. So I decided to read the book, hoping it wasn’t as graphic as the show. And it wasn’t. I LOVED this book. Probably one of my favorites ever. Which is crazy. But it is just so good. It is significantly different from the show (and when I researched that, I learned that Kerman allowed Netflix to take massive liberties in the content of the show as long as it still portrayed the major themes she wanted to convey). The book follows her story of how she got involved in the drug scene, her returning to normal life, her indictment, sentencing and then, what the book is about, her prison stay at a Danbury minimum security camp. (Where Martha Stewart almost went- that’s discussed a lot in the book…). It is interesting, gripping and so emotional! The ladies she did time with are brought to life and you come to know them and love them, and it brings to light a whole other side to prisoners and prison life that most people would never think about or know about. It gives great insight into life in prison, as well as the bureaucracy that the prison system can be and suggests that maybe prison isn’t always the best choice. It is such a good book and I highly recommend it.

Triumph– Jessop (2010, Non-fiction): This is the sequel to Escape, which I read in December. Jessop uses this second book to bring further insight into her life while in the FLDS and then to share her story of starting her new life once she escaped. She shares some stories that were not included in Escape, revealing more abuse, more control, making her new life seem even more miraculous. The book was hard to read at points, and sometimes was a bit slow, but overall helped to complete this amazing journey of this very strong woman.

The Castaways– Hilderbrand (2009, Fiction): This novel is set on the island of Nantucket (as all of Hilderbrand’s novels are) and follows the ups and downs of four couples who are best friends. It is a rich and captivating story of friendship, love, marriage, tragedy, and forgiveness. The structure is different- rather than chapters, it is divided as each person gives their point of view and the story flows through these memories, stories, and thoughts on the events as they occur. Was a wonderful book that I read in just a couple of days because I couldn’t put it down!

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