A Novel That Kept Me Up Late at Night...

You know that feeling you get when you start the first page of a book, and you think, "Oh, yes, this should be a good one..."?

Well, that's what happened with me, while devouring "Traces of Guilt". I've read Henderson's books for years. Literally. And I've loved just about all of them. However, this particular title had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and forgoing chores just so I could find out what happened next. It's been a while since I've been that deeply committed to a particular novel.

Traces of Guilt follows detective Evie Blackwell as she travels to a small town in Carin, Illinois. There she meets Gabe, the local sheriff, who's as intent on solving a high-profile missing persons case as she is. What follows is a series of events that unfolds secrets, heartbreak, yet ultimately offers healing to those it has wounded the most.

It's not your average fast paced mystery. Instead, it's a slow-paced, very detailed novel. I don't usually enjoy these, but Henderson so perfectly weaves together her characters that you enjoy knowing more about them. They feel real. Not too polished. Just honest people trying to make the world a better place, with real life issues and problems. 

While I was sad to finish the novel, I'm excited there will be more mysteries, and more details about Evie, and the Thane family. I'm ready for book two!

A million thanks to Bethany House for my free copy. All opinions are my own.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Found these pretty Hydrangeas at the city museum during a walk.They seem to soften the blow of summer with there luscious blooms. Happy Wednesday!

Happy Homemaker Monday Vol. 20

The weather...
It's very warm.The middle of the summer woes have arrived in full glory! ;-) That just means more inside time for us. ha!

Right now I am...Sipping my iced coffee, blogging, and working on my to do list today. I really enjoy my Erin Condren planner. They are a bit pricey, but I found a coupon to use that coincided with a good sale, so I got it for a fraction of the cost. It helps me stay on track with meals, and things I need to do for work, etc. 


About the world. I am praying for peace. Peace within our families. Peace within our churches. Peace within our country. And for peace around the world. 

On my TV...

I didn't get a chance to watch tv this week!

What I'm Reading... 

A novel by Irene Hannon (forgot the title)

On the menu for this week...

Missisipi Mud Roast (first time trying this recipe!) with mashed potatoes and green beans
Loaded Black Bean Nachos
Crock Pot Chicken & Green Beans
Broccoli, Rice, and Chicken Casserole
Summer Sandwiches (we like ours with cheese, cream cheese, meat, and loaded with veggies!)

On my to do list...

Speed clean
Update work stuff
Load/Unload Dishes
Make beds, tidy bedrooms, etc.

Looking forward to this week...
Making chocolate covered strawberries for a date night at home after the kiddos are in bed. :)

ing Up with Diary of A Stay at Home Mom!

Free E-Book Downloads for Nook

Oh, goodness. I logged onto my Nook, only to find a few FREE gems this week! I thought I'd pass it on, because well, FREE. And good books?

{Click on links for free downloads!}

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Ya'll, it's still one of my favorie series. Pettrey masterfully weaves suspense, mystery, and romance with those 'side lined' plot twists that make you stay way up past your bed time. Give it a try if you haven't already!

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

I've enjoyed most of Jen Turano's books. Her story lines tend to weave light hearted romance, with just enough humor to keep it interesting. Fun, and light. :)

A Rush of Wings by Kristen Heitzmann

I'm a big fan of Kristen Heitzmann. She writes in typically Christian romance fashion...slight mystery, and a whole lot of romance.

One more tip... Did you know you can download free titles through ChristianBook.com? Check it out here!

What have you been reading? Would love some new titles to dig up! Also, be sure to add me on GoodReads!

Little One, God Loves You (Review)

This sweet little book, "Little One, God Loves You" was a delightful story for Evie. The illustrations are beautiful, and filled with bold colors. We received this around Easter time, but the story-line is one that you could read throughout the year. We read it after art time, as we identified colors throughout the book that she had used with her watercolor paint.

It would make a wonderful gift for the young toddler or pre-schooler in your life! An added bonus, was the fact we received the board book version. Which is great for toddlers who get a little too eager while reading! ;)

Many thanks to Book Look Bloggers for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Do You Want To Create New Habits?

I've always enjoyed learning about personality types. I love learning more about myself, because the more I understand, the better I am able to give in other areas of my life. For example, if I understand what depletes me as a wife and a parent, I can better protect my boundaries so that I can be a better steward to my family.

Interestingly enough, while reading "Better than Before", Gretchen Rubin digs deeper to understand different personalities and what makes us tick habit wise. Why do some people thrive at eating healthy, while others struggle with constantly eating junk? Why do some people easily change workout habits, yet they continue to thrive with their commitments to working out? 

She tackles these questions, and more.

One of the main things that stood out to me were her notes on creating a "clean slate". Often, we try to merge new habits into our life during hectic times. Which often leads to failure. Example: If my goal is to create a new workout habit and I start in the middle of the week when I'm already exhausted and with a full schedule, chances are, I won't stick to the new habit. The busyness of life will be my excuse to quit. However, if I were to tackle a new workout habit at the beginning of the week when I can pencil in this new venture, I will have a greater chance to succeed. 

I'm interested in creating a few "clean slates" in my life. I plan to put into practice a few tips that I picked up from this book, and will share later on. 

What about you? Do you enjoy learning what makes you tick? If so, I think you'd highly enjoy "Better Than Before" by Gretchen Rubin. In true characteristic form, Rubin gives us an honest take on her own journey to making and breaking habits that lead to a happier life. 

Many thanks to Blogging For Books for my free copy in exchange for an honest review.

From One to Two

I love being a mom. I still remember that first pregnancy test, and seeing those two little lines. I was filled with excitement, and whole lott of fear. I mean, there is so much to learn as you become a parent. Life changes quickly, and drastically, and suddenly you don't know as much as you once thought you did. Ha!

When Ella (our second) came along, I had visions of the transition going smoothly. And while there were many good days, we had a lot of rough days. Recovery was much longer, and harder the second time around. Evie was having a hard time adjusting. Top that with your regular 'ol hormones, the craziness of life, and I quickly found myself struggling just to get by.

Now, six months in, I'm still struggling, but I've found that things DO get easier. You do find your groove again. It's not always a cake walk, but it certainly is worth it! I thought I would just share a few things that have helped me as I've transitioned into a mother of two under two...

Give Yourself Grace: This is the most important lesson I've had to learn (and one that I'm still learning!). There will be days that the laundry doesn't get done, and yoga pants will have to do. And that's okay! We are usually our harshest critic. So tell yourself it's ok if everything is not perfect or as it used to be. Eventually, you will find a new routine that works.

Take Time For yourself: In a society that glorifies being busy, we often feel guilty for slowing down and taking time for ourselves. I'm learning that a few minutes to read or a hot shower can do wonders for my attitude. Anytime I feel myself getting overwhelmed, I realize that it's just a matter of taking a step back, re-focusing my energy, and having an old-fashioned time out.

Pray Without Ceasing: I realize that this is a given, but it's worth sharing. Prayer has been the number one tool to help me tackle the crazy days of motherhood. Anxiety? I pray about it. Fear? I pray about it. Uncertainty? I pray about it. It's the most powerful tool we have as Christians. And how much more effective will my role as a mother be if I utilize prayer throughout my day?

All in all, life is still slowly transitioning into a new normal as a family of four. It's not always perfect, but it's ours. And it is good.