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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Reading List- June 2014

Summer just brings on the need to read. Probably because it’s SO HOT and nothing else sounds as appealing as getting lost in great book. At the beginning of the month I put holds on a lot of new books at the library, and as luck would have it, they all came in at the same time. I would go pick up a book, get home, and get an email that another was waiting for me. No joke. That happened multiple times this month. So, I had, and still have, quite a pile of books I’m working through!

[3] All Lined Up by Cora Carmack (2014, Fiction): Carmack is a great writer in the new genre “New Adult”. Her books are fun, easy to read, and easy to connect with. I wrote about her first three books in November and March. In this first book of her new series it’s obvious she has grown as a writer in telling the story and building the characters. Looking forward to her next book.

[4] The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers (1997, Fiction): Why did I wait so long to read this book?? I think I was scared it was going to be “overly Christian”, but it’s not. Such a GOOD book on the very timely issue of abortion.

[2] Catching Air by Sarah Pekkanen (2014, Fiction): This book just rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know why I didn’t like it, but I just didn’t. You may love it. It sounds like she’s a great author and I will probably read another of her books before I totally give up on her.

[3] The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison (2013, Fiction): This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. An interesting style of writing. Incredibly intellectual and psychological (in fact, I was wondering the whole time how I would understand parts of it without a Master’s in Counseling). It wasn’t as thrilling as I thought it would be, but it does keep you reading. I think maybe I’m not smart enough to understand the true depth of the story….

[3] Lost Boy by Brent Jeffs (2009, Non-fiction): Another book about the FLDS church and Warren Jeffs. I am so interested in this topic! I read other books about this in November and January. Brent was Warren’s nephew, so he had a very personal experience with Warren’s rise to power and the horrific transformation of the group.

[4] The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand (2014, Fiction): An incredibly emotional book. Definitely not my favorite Hilderbrand book, but it’s always a nice getaway to be taken to the town of Nantucket for a while!

What have you been reading? What is your all-time favorite book?

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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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40th Anniversaries

In December 2012 we celebrated my in-law’s 40th Wedding Anniversary, and this past May we celebrated my parents. Even before getting married, I felt that marriage was something to be celebrated. In these days, marriages have become so short-term, the commitment so fake and selfish, that staying together for 40 years needs to be celebrated!

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For my in-laws, we planned a party. They aren’t really “party people”, but we didn’t give them much choice in the matter. Most of their family and friends all live in the same area as us, so it was easy to gather everyone. Every single person we invited came. Wow. That is amazing for a party! And it was so wonderful. Felt very much like a big family reunion with both sides of the family there and great family friends. So much love and celebration for this huge milestone.

I designed the invitation and then had them printed at Staples

I designed the invitation and then had them printed at Staples. Obviously I’ve redacted some address and phone number info!

The hardest aspect was that we are only children. Meaning, Michael and I had to plan and pay for everything by ourselves. Oh how I was wishing for siblings!! With that cost barrier, it wasn’t as “fancy” as it could have been, but we aren’t fancy people so it worked out. We rented a low-cost “hall”, made all the food, and bought basic decorations. The one thing we splurged on was the cake and I am SO GLAD we did. It was perfect.

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Since the 40th Anniversary is traditionally the “Ruby” anniversary, we went with a red theme. It sure helped that it was around Christmas time!

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For table decor, we used cheap plastic tablecloths with silver and red ornaments in vases. We used the same decor style at our wedding (except the colors were teal and blue). We also had heart shaped candy dishes on the tables with silver and red wrapped Hershey kisses and Andes mints. And some fake jewels strewn down the center (I think those were leftover from our wedding too).

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At the entrance, I placed some 40th anniversary pictures we had taken, some candy, and pens and papers to write a note to Tommy and Judy. I wish I had a better picture of the note papers, but they were just 4×6 notecards that I stamped hearts onto. I later put them into a photo album with pictures from the party that we gave the in-laws for Christmas.

DSC01697I set up a table with pictures from their wedding and a board with facts about their wedding: date, time, wedding party, reception, honeymoon.

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For food we had a ham & cheese sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, spinach artichoke dip, raspberry chipotle cream cheese with crackers, a cheese ball, and cinnamon sugar pecans.

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They were so cute!

Overall it was an incredibly successful party and their anniversary was well celebrated. So thankful for all the family who came.

That brings us to celebrating my parents’ 40th a month ago. We talked with them about a party, but we live in a different city than them and family is spread across the state. Logistically it was just going to be tough. So, we opted to go visit them and take them out for a nice dinner at one of Houston’s best restaurants- Taste of Texas.

2014-05-03 (3) 40th anniversary dinner at taste of texas

For special occasions, they take your picture and present it to you at the end of dinner.

For special occasions, they take your picture and present it to you at the end of dinner.

 

And us, of course :)

And us, of course 🙂

Such sweet celebrations! We are so thankful for parents who have stuck together for so long, honoring the vows and commitment they made to God and each other. What great examples for us as we continue in our marriage.

Now time to start planning for the 50ths!

 

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Reading List- May 2014

I’m gonna change up my reading posts a bit. I’m a little bored with the way I’ve been doing them. And, even though I have a journalism degree and one of my favorite things to write in school were book and movie reviews, I get tired of writing about every book I read.

I’m going to rate the books on a scale of 1-5 (I know, so original). [1] means “don’t waste your time”, [5] means “must read. right now.” I’ll probably also still say a little something about the book, but not a full summary or anything.

[4] Growing Up Duggar by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar (2014, Non-fiction): As I mentioned in my laundry soap post,  I LOVE THE DUGGARS. There are a few things they do that I don’t totally agree with (like skirt wearing), but overall I think they are just a genuine, loving family seeking to truly love God and love others live life to the fullest. Just looking at their older kids, it’s obvious they are doing something right. This book is obviously targeted at teen girls, but if you love the Duggars as much as me, or are just intrigued by their family, it’s a good, easy read. They share some insights into their family that I hadn’t heard before from the show or their previous books.

[5] Coming Clean by Kimberly Miller (2013, Non-fiction): This book was recommended to me by a friend who is also studying counseling. And for those of us who are interested in psychological disorders, it is a fascinating look into the lives, motives, and struggles of true hoarders. Miller grew up in a home where both parents were hoarders and she describes how that impacted her growing up and how her parents tried, and repeatedly failed, to get their lives and homes cleaned up. It is anecdotal, but also includes research about hoarding.

[2] Dune Road by Jane Green (2009, Fiction)

[4] Wild by Cheryl Strayed (2012, Nonfiction): If you read Wild just through the lens of wanting to read about Strayed’s solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, you will enjoy it. It’s when you really start to think about her as a person, and some of the improbabilities in the book that you maybe stop enjoying it a bit. Overall, it’s fascinating as Strayed hikes alone on the trail to try to “find herself” and start fresh as she has lost her family and husband and most friends. I found out there is a movie coming out, and that will be great. But as I finished, I wondered why did she deserve a book? Did she really go through everything she says she did on the trail, because I would think she would be dead.

[3] Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke (2000, Fiction): I went into this book (the first in a series of many), with pretty high expectations. It seemed to have the same “feel” as the Evanovich Stephanie Plum books and I was excited. But, Evanovich is a much more talented writer than Fluke. I almost quit reading this book, which is something I NEVER do. The dialogue is so poorly written and it was just boring and dry. But, as happens often, by the end the story had gripped me. I plan on reading at least one more in the series, maybe it gets better?

What have you been reading lately?

 

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Gallery Wall

Back on April 15th I posted about my DIY coffee table tray, and promised that next week would be a post about our newly revised gallery wall. Well, here we are about two months later and I’m finally making that post. I blame it on the lack of natural light in our home. I couldn’t figure out how to get a good picture. But I finally just took some pictures and hoped for the best. So, as usual, please forgive the bad pictures!

A few months after moving in to our house in 2012, we worked on painting and decorating the living room. We had an empty wall, one with no furniture or anything, so I wanted to do a gallery wall. Pinterest has sure set the bar high to make those perfect. After looking at many pins, I finally laid out the frames and had my husband hang them. I have a touch of OCD and things have to be symmetrical. Hence, our perfectly symmetrical and organized original gallery wall:

old for realSo that was all well and good. It was nice. But we kept running into those sconces and I got tired of the predictable look. I wanted something a little more “fun” with some elements other than pictures. So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some new frames, found some other elements, and let go of my need for symmetry.

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My favorite element is a printable created by my friend Jennifer, the owner of Prettiest Print Shop. At our wedding, we had a worship time with the song “How Great Thou Art”. I wanted that song displayed in our home and she created the perfect wall hanging with the lyrics. Though, now it gets stuck in my head every day!

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If only you couldn’t see my reflection….

I purchased a pattern from Etsy and cross stitched the “M” with gray chevron.

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I am so, so happy with how it all came together. I have to give credit to my hubby for hanging everything so perfectly! It really helped to brighten up our living room and add some life to it. Now I need to figure out how to have pictures that aren’t just of us!

 

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