Ties That Bind (Review)


I've been a fan of Cindy Woodsmall since Ada's House series. After reading that trio, I moved onto reading Amish Vines & Orchards series. Both were amazing storylines with powerful undertones. I devoured them with much gusto, so when I realized she yet another series out, Ties That Bind, I was excited to dive in the new book.

The book starts out at a slower pace than what I'm used to, but eventually picks up as the mystery surrounding Ariana's family begins to unravel. Told in true Woodsmall style, she's not afraid to share nitty gritty details of Amish lifestyle, while incorporating hard hitting topics.

Ariana's parents have both been harboring a secret that is eating them alive. Now, that they realize they have to address the deceit of their past, doing so will threaten to tear their family apart. In doing so, Ariana's first love is commited to shielding her from the pain of rejection. But, she's moved on to someone else, so sparks are starting to fly as jealousy descends.

While I've enjoyed this book, I found it hard for me to identify with Ariana on any level. Which is crucial for me to "fall in love" with the characters. It may be that the storyline is still new, or maybe I'm just trying to compare Ariana to Rhoda (My favorite Woodsmall character). Needless to say, the book was a good read, just not quite my favorite (yet).

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

Thank You Lord for Everything (Review)


This book arrived a few weeks ago, and it quickly became Evie's favorite. She may be only 1 1/2 years old, but she has already shown an interested in books (read: she likes to pull alll the books off the shelf all day everyday...haha). Needless to say, she also understands that some books are hers to carry around and play with. With this book, we have both found her sitting on the floor turning the pages. To say that the colors and pictures really stand out would be an understatement.

She also loves to listen to me read it to her. The storyline is just long enough to keep her entertained, and short enough that she doesn't lose interest. Out of all the children's books we've reviewed this year this one is my favorite. It's just a precious book, and one that we will refer to again and again as we teach the importance of giving thanks.

The topic is simple: Giving thanks to the Lord for everything. It's a great book to begin planting seeds of character development, and introduce a simple devotional reading to younger kids.

I received our copy in exchange for an honest review from the kind folks at BookLook Bloggers.

Happy Homemaker Monday (Vol. 8)

My silly toot. ;)


The weather outside is:
Starting to cool down a bit. The mornings & evenings feel wonderful! 

On the breakfast plate this morning:
English Muffins with Pumpkin Spice cream cheese, and an iced latte sweetened lightly with brown sugar. It was delightful. ;)  

As I look outside my window:
Partly Cloudy. I'm hoping it will rain soon. We need a good rain, and another round of "falling leaves". 

Right now I am:
Blogging, finishing my coffee, and thinking through my days activities.  

As I look around the house:
I need to do a top clean, and work on the bathrooms. I also have two loads of laundry to put away, and several items that need to be put away.


On today's to do list:
Wrap my brothers gift.
Put away laundry.
Clean Evie's room.
Clean bathrooms.

On my mind:
We have a few things to take care of around the house. Mainly the final touches in the nursery, and I have a load of items to donate to Goodwill. I feel like I'm getting better at staying organized as I type out these lists for myself. At least, I tell myself that. ;)

On the TV today:
Josh, and I have started watching Murdoch Mysteries. I'm surprised at how good it has been to watch. I also finished watching the Secrets of Highclere Castle. It was pretty interesting to learn about! 

On the menu this week:
Monday - Out to eat with family
Tuesday - Sub Style Sandwiches 
Wednesday - Taco Soup
Thursday - Breakfast for Dinner
Friday - Leftovers


What I am creating at the moment:
Hopefully, memories. I'm trying to choose new photos to print, and frame. I've also been thinking about putting together a gallery wall in our hallway.

Happy Monday!

5 For Friday!


Reading: I started "The Best Yes" yesterday, and I've already been convicted. You know it's gonna be a good read when the second chapter steps on your toes. I may do a full review when I finish! I've also got my heart set on reading a couple of biographies this fall. Any suggestions?

Listening: I've been trying to scale back on our TV time, and instead turn on some music while Evie plays in our living room. I discovered the disney children's channel on Pandora and it's great!! As always, I listen to adult contemporary a lot (think Henry Connick Jr., etc.) by myself.

Smelling: Oh, I had to talk about fall scents. I'm a HUGE scentsy addict. Just ask my friends! I have a giant zip lock bag that I keep in our laundry room, and generally rotate scents out every other day. I'm waiting for some new scents to arrive, and I'm going to  party next week. I should be stocked and set up until spring!

Thinking: About simple ways to better myself, and take better care of the time that's been given to me. I know that each moment is a gift, and I don't want to forget that.

Decorating: We have a fireplace that is VERY rustic. I have struggled with decorating it for years, but decided to just embrace the rustic look. Here's a vidoe of my fall decor. I'm trying to step out of my comfort zone and have a little more fun with blogging...hence the youtube video. Don't laugh!
;)



Happy Friday! Linking up @ Friday Favorites with Andrea!

21 Things To Do This Fall {My Bucket List}



My blogging friend, Stephanie, posted a fall bucket list, and I just loved the idea. I've written a Christmas bucket list before, but not one for fall. Since it's my favorite season, it only seemed natural to write one, as well. So here's my list of 21 Things to Do This Fall...


  • Watch the Anne of Green Gable Series (for some reason this movie just screams fall to me!)
  • Go on a nature walk collecting different colored leaves.
  • Do a fall deep cleaning around the house...and sell unwanted items on ebay.
  • Make homemade hot chocolate to sip on the back porch. 
  • Go on a wagon ride at the pumpkin patch. 
  • Go through a corn maze with friends!
  • Find a good pumpkin bread recipe to make.
  • Take fall themed pictures.
  • Start a Christmas shopping list & wish list.
  • Go to the Zoo!
  • Watch "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown".
  • Collect fall themed board books.
  • Make A Candy Corn Volcano (using Playdough).
  • Make a Craft Turkey with Evie.
  • Try Leaf Rubbing for the first time.
  • Find a new recipe to make for Thanksgiving.
  • Visit the neighborhood yard sales (fall has the best ones in our area)!
  • Try making gingersnap cookies.
  • Try fingerpainting with fall colors.
  • Make Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie! 
  • Go to an outdoor concert.
So there's my list! What would yours look like? I love getting ideas for fun activities.
Linking Up: Roses of Inspiration | Pin Wednesday | Friday Favorite | Gallery Party |

Paris: A Trip Down Memory Lane

It's been over six years since we tied the knot and headed to France for our honeymoon. It was truly the trip of my dreams, and I am FINALLY getting around to putting together life albums for our family. I just finished Evie's first year album, and now I'm working on our wedding & honeymoon albums. Doing so requires me to dig up pictures, and sort through them, figuring out my favorites. I thought it would be fun to share some of them here.


We stayed in the heart of Paris during our 9 days in France. We decided aginst renting a car, so we could take the underground train system wherever we wanted, and we were also able to visit the coast of France via car tour. Our first day in Paris was slightly overwhelming. Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb! We were dropped of (via Taxi cab) right in front of the Opera House. We spent a few minutes walking around before deciding we should probably drop our luggage off before taking on the full role of tourist. ;)


We took a day to visit the Palace of Versailles. This took most of our day mainly because of travel time, but also there was so much to see. The Architecture was astounding, as was the ornate detail. I honestly can't fathom what it would have been like to actually live in a palace like that. The only we thing that we didn't take the time to do was to tour the gardens. By the time we finished the inital tour, we were exhausted and headed back to the city for food. Funny thing? We met two other couples from Arkansas during the train ride to the palace. Small world!


We of course had to visit the Louvre, but it was closed to visitors that day. We toured the outside grounds, went underground (they have large windows where you can see some of the artwork), and then ate at the small cafe. It was a beautiful building. We thought about arranging another day to visit, but we had so many other locations to cover we decided against it.


I think the favorite part of the trip was visiting the Arc De Triomphe. We took our time getting there, as the area is a beautiful shopping district. We saw shops like Louis Vitton, Nespresso, and the like. We stopped for a Nespresso, and the little store was literally guarded at the front door. We had no idea how expensive the coffe would be! I think the barista took pity on us, and offered a sweet treat with the espresso. We ended up only ordering single shots, and boy were they powerful. When I say single shots, I mean literally single shots. No cream, no fluff. And each shot cost $7. We still laugh about that espresso to this day. To make for the lack of what us Americans consider "true coffee" we stopped at a nearby cafe and enjoyed traditional latte's, and pastries. We met a french woman who asked us what we had seen, where to go, etc. She also offered advice on where not to dine in order to avoid the high dollar tourist traps. We took her advice that evening and enjoyed a fun pizzeria!

Anyway, the Arc De Triomphe was just amazing to view from the streets. I didn't take enough pictures to capture it's grandeur in my opinion. Another neat thing that we learned, is that you can actually climb to the top! The views were breathtaking, and we waited for sunset to capture a few more pictures. It was worth all 1,336 steps. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but the climb was not for the faint of heart. There I am again, talking like an American. ;)


The view from the top!


As we headed back to our hotel, we decided to just walk the streets for a while. We folled the Eiffle Tower, and were able to watch it "dazzle" . It was magical!!!! <3


We hope to go back in a few years. I hope to see most of the same tourist sites, but I would also love to hunt down a few of the lesser known attractions. I would also love a day to just shop, and hunt down the quaint antique shops.

Giveaway! Count My Blessings



Evie is finally at the stage where she will sit and listen to short story books that offer lots of picture and interaction. This vibrant little hard back was a perfect tool to share about the importance of blessings.

While she may still be young to fully understand, I firmly believe we can never start too early in planting seeds in the hearts of our children. I really enjoyed this sweet book that also provided learning opportunities for both shapes, colors & numbers.

It would make a great stocking stuffer for the little ones in your life!

Want to win a copy? Just follow one of the steps below to get your entry in:


  • Leave a Comment Telling me what you are thankful for this week.
  • Pin this Giveaway to Pinterest. 
  • Follow me on Instagram .
Giveaway closes  at noon! 9/24/15 Open to US residents only. Void where prohibited.

Chocolate Face & Menu Plan Monday



My brother, Shaun, brought brownies over the other night, and wanted Evie to have one. Needless to say, I think she rather enjoyed it. We may have another chocolate lover on our hands...can't say that I mind much. Haha. ;)

Menu Plan for the Week:

Monday: Crock Pot Orange Pork Chops with Asian Salad
Tuesday: Tacos with Homemade Salsa & Chips
Wednesday: Turkey Hot Dogs
Thursday: Chicken, Broccoli & Rice Casserole
Friday: Leftovers

Are you trying out any new recipes this week? The Pork Chop dish is new to me, so I'm hoping it turns out yummy. Happy Monday!

Linking Up: Menu Plan Monday

Who's Coming to Dinner?


I haven't done a "Just for fun" post in a long time, so I thought I'd link up with Momfessionals today. The topic is who you would invite to your "dream dinner"...


Laura Ingalls-Wilder

Oh my, I just love, love, love the Little House books. I loved learning about her life, and her legacy. I visited her home (the one she built with Almanzo) when I was a kid, and it's my dream to go back one day. I can't wait to read her books to my girls when they are older!

My Great-Grandma Eleanor

She lived well into her 80's so I got to spend time with her each year when we would visit during the summer. She was a funny lady with a LOT of wit!! I wish I could sit down and talk to her now. I feel like her era had SO MUCH CLASS. I miss the days of elegant women.

First Lady Laura Bush

I have always been enamored with the Bush family legacy, but even more so with First Lady Laura Bush. She always seemed so poised, and graceful. I also loved that one of her main platforms was literature. I'm passionate about reading, and loved that she encouraged children to embrace books!

Esther

I have always loved the story of Esther. I think she must have had incredible courage to stand up for her people, and to be used by God in such a powerful way. I would love to glean from her wisdom and hear her first hand account of what it was really like to be queen.

Happy Homemaker Monday (Vol. 7)



On the weather front:
The weather has been slowly changing to fall. The mornings are cool & crisp, but the afternoons still tease with heat. The weather change has brought on a serious hot chocolate craving...including extra whip cream. When I ordered one yesterday, the above picture is what the waitress brought out. It was lovely. 

On my bedside table:
Glass of Water

Vitamins
Books

On my TV:

Walker Texas Ranger
Frazier 
I Love Lucy (I love watching re-runs...)

Favorite Youtube Video last week:
Hmmm...I don't think I've watched anything recently. However, I'm a sucker for homemaking videos, especially anything to do with organization. :)

News story that caught my attention:
Local stories of petty thefts, violence and car hijacks. I just don't understand people. This world is NOT my home. I have to remind myself of that.


On the menu for this week:

Monday: Homemade Chili

Tuesday: Sub Sandwiches 
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Brocolli, Chicken & Rice Casserole (one of Josh's favorites!)
Friday: Out to Eat

New Recipe I tried or want to try:
I am looking for a really good pumpkin bread recipe. I tried one last week that turned out horrible! If you know of a good one, feel free to send it my way. :)

On my To Do List:

Speed Clean

Laundry
Sweep/Swiffer
Dust
Vaccuum
Bathrooms (5 minute wipe down)
Put Laundry Away
 
In the craft basket:
Finish Evie's Baby Book

Looking forward to:
A shopping trip to finalize big items we need for baby girl (Crib matress, baby bath, etc.)

What I plan on doing for myself this week:

I would like to give myself a facial, manicure, and pedicure. Been feeling a bit "blah". Those things usually help me feel a bit better about myself. ;)


Lesson learned the past few days:
True friends are few and precious. I'm very thankful for mine.

We're Having A...



So last week was the "big reveal". It actually took a while for the doctor to get a good look, but we are most definitely having another GIRL!!! Since then, we have painted the nursery, finalized her name, and have a crib being shipped soon. It's starting to feel very "real" to me that we will soon be adding another little one to our home. 

I'm nearly half way finished with this pregnancy...and if she's anything like Evie, then I'm over half way done. Haha! I really wanted to have little details finished and in place before Thanksgiving. I know once the holidays arrive there won't be as much time to prepare....not to mention I'll not be feeling as chipper. 

On Saturday, we went yard selling. It had been a while since I'd had any luck, but had noticed there were quite a few adds featuring baby items, and toddler clothing. We ended up hitting an amazing yard sale. Tons of quality, like new baby clothes. I bought roughly 30 outfits for about $20. Not bad! So baby sister has her own little wardrobe started. I went through a lot of Evie's newborn clothes, and while man outfits will work, I needed to invest in warmer outfits. Evie was born in the dead of summer, while baby sister will be born in the dead of winter. 

Last night, Josh took me to the city next door to take care of a few things. We ended the night sharing a pumpkin spice latte (which was DELICIOUS), and on the way home it started POURING rain. It was insane. When we finally got home we all sat on the back patio and listened to it hitting the tin roof. It felt so good to feel the temperature drop. I think fall is finally making her appearance around here. I went to bed feeling very happy, and thankful for our life. God is very good, and gracious in all the things He has done to remind us of His love.