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Saturday, July 26, 2014

A June Bride by Marybeth Whalen




About This Book:

It takes a reality TV show for Wynne to realize love isn't just a game.

Wynne Hardy never thought she'd get engaged on a reality TV show, but when she met Andy on The Rejection Connection, the two of them hit it off. Now he's asked her to marry him, much to the public's delight and fascination. They're all set to wed on live TV in a seaside ceremony at the height of the wedding season.

But just as Wynne thinks all her dreams are coming true, her ex-boyfriend walks back into her life at the worst possible time. Callum broke her heart years ago, and she's still sorting through her feelings for him. Her heart isn't as clear as her head that it's past time to move on-even though she's engaged to Andy.

At a local TV talk show appearance, Wynne meets Meredith, who won another reality TV show-Marathon Mom-proving herself nothing short of a superhero. As Wynne's beach wedding plans spin out of control, Meredith offers to help, unknowingly stepping on Wynne's secret feelings . . . and exposing some secrets Meredith has been keeping to herself. Can these two reality stars get real about their feelings? Will Wynne go through with her televised wedding and be the perfect June bride the network is looking for?

My Thoughts on This Book:

I've come to love each and every one of these A Year of Weddings Novellas. This one was no different. Wynne decides to go on a TV reality show after her former fiance' leaves her. When she finds Andy, a man that seems to have a heart and care for her deeply, she decides to say yes to his proposal. This yes takes her on a whirlwind adventure of planning a celebrity wedding. One that will be videotaped for an upcoming episode of the show.

Can Wynne let go of feelings of her former fiance' Callum when he decides to re-enter her life just before her June wedding? Great storyline, I didn't feel rushed with the story like I sometimes do with novellas.. Loved it!

I received an e-book copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

30 Day Squat Challenge Results



Back on June 23rd I posted about taking the 30 Day Extreme Squat Challenge. You can read more about that HERE.

Thursday was the last day for my challenge and I wanted to post some before/after photos to show my progress.

Starting at 250 squats on Day One. I ended Thursday with 500 squats. I was skeptical that I would see a difference with this challenge. It was only 30 days and feared that it wasn't enough to make a difference. I was surprised though that you can see a difference from my before/after photos below. 

The photos on the left were taken on Day 1 of this challenge and the photos on the right were taken today 7/19.

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These photos are a wonderful example that a little makes a difference. I can see the back of my legs are slimmer and the areas below the rear are smaller. On my profile shots I can see my rear smaller and my legs toner. This challenge works all of your legs, butt muscles, your core plus the front leg and inner thigh.

I highly recommend everyone to do this challenge. You can start with the 30 Day Challenge 

 

and then the following month do the 30 Day Extreme Challenge.

I'll be embarking on two new challenges that I'll be starting on Monday June 21st. I'll put up a fresh post about this challenge here shortly. Come back and check it out. Would love for you to join me. A hint.. It's all about butt and abs..

Save the Ta-Ta's 5K Race

Last night I participated in my very first ever night race. Save the Ta-Ta's 5K in support of local families affected by breast cancer. The goal was to dress up in pink to enjoy the evening run. The trail was lit up with pink glow sticks and we were given glow sticks to wear.

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I went all out for this race. I'm not one to dress up or bring attention to myself but once I arrived, I realized I was not alone in my attire selections. My wonderful friend Amelia made my tutu for the occasion and I decked myself in more pink with my headband, shirt, shoes and socks. I was ready to have fun.

The route started at the river and went along the river trail up a nice hill to our local U.S Flag which here locally is called Flag Hill. Did a half mile loop up top and then it was all down hill from there back home. I ran it in 38:16 which is a 12:20 min mile. I find that excellent despite the running conditions. There is a large amount of fires burning in the adjacent states and also in Canada around MT and it was thick with smoke during the race. With my float on fire (no pun intended) while running up the elevated hill (smoke was thicker) I was having trouble with the desire to cough. Luckily there was water at the top to smooth the throat on the way down.

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Here above is me giving my youngest son a high five as I reach the finish line.

I enjoyed the night time idea of the race and being able to dress up made for a wonderful experience. I will definitely be running this again in the future!

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This photo was taken just after my race in my glistening condition. I was pumped and excited to finish.

Thanks to my friends that supported me and helped motivate me to do my best.. You guys are awesome!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A May Bride by Meg Moseley

 

A May Bride
by Meg Moseley


About the Book:
 
She thinks she has prepared for her wedding all her life . . . but it seems she may have forgotten the most important part.

Ellie Martin, a country girl in Atlanta, has dreamed of a traditional wedding all her life-a wedding just like the one her younger sister is planning back home. Their single mom will pay for Alexa's wedding, but Ellie started her own wedding fund years ago. She only needs to find a groom.

At a wedding at her church, Ellie bumps into a man who's one of the guests. She's noticed him around the neighborhood, but today he introduces himself as Gray Whitby. They embark on a whirlwind romance, but her mother doesn't trust freewheeling men like Gray.

When Ellie risks her own future for her sister's sake, Gray feels betrayed. Will he always play second fiddle to Ellie's family?

Will Ellie and Gray reconcile their differences so her dream wedding can come true, or will the romance they've begun come crashing down?

My Thoughts on This Book:

WOW! I've loved each and every one of these wedding novellas and this one is no different. First time reading a book by this author. I loved her ease of writing. I couldn't put it down until I was done. A quick read, perfect for an afternoon relaxing on my deck and enjoying the warm breeze. I fell in love with Ellie and Gray. I easily related to Ellie and her character which made it even more enjoyable to read. Ellie has dreamed of her perfect white wedding. At 18, she started her own wedding fund so she could have her day just as she wanted it without needing to deal with her overprotective mother. When her prince charming finally comes into her life will she be able to convince her mother that he's the one, and not someone like her father? 

I received an e-book copy of this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Cover Art 

Full Steam Ahead
by Karen Witemeyer

About This Book:

 When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?


My Thoughts on This Book:

 I have loved every single book written by Karen. This was no exception. Witty, fun, romantic, adventurous, is what you will get when reading this story. Darius lives a secluded life trying desperately to find a way to make a safe boiler for the steam ships that run up and down the rivers each day carrying passengers. He never thought he'd meet Nicole until she showed up at his place needing employment. 

The way the author portrays each character draws you into each page of the story. I couldn't put the book down from the first chapter. Not only do we get a romantic storyline but we learn new things about history as the author spent time researching this time period of river boat use and inventions to make river boat use safer. Can't wait to get the next book from this author.

Karen Witemeyer

 Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

I received an e-book copy of this book for free for 52 days in return for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest Bathroom Makeover Complete

While working on our laundry room remodel we tackled our guest bathroom as well. The floors are connected and they are next to each other. When I installed the floor in the laundry room, I knew I had to do the bathroom as well. This project took about a month to accomplish. Both rooms.

If you'd like to see the laundry room remodel you can go HERE

Here is some before and after photos of our guest bathroom.

We updated:

Crown molding
Chair molding
Floor molding
Door trim
Flooring
New shower rod
Paintable wallpaper the color of brown like laundry room
Wainscoting
Handles on cabinets
Medicine cabinet
Window trim, inside and out
Frosted windows
Light Fixture
Switch plate covers
Toilet Seal and Pipe Cover

 Bathroom Accessories:
Toilet Paper Roller
Garbage Can
Rug
Toilet Brush Holder
Frame with Scripture
Shower Curtain
Shower Caddy
Clock
Toilet Paper Storage Basket

Items on Sink:
Soap Dispenser
Hair Accessory Holder
Tooth Brush Holder
Water Glass

Organized the inside of Cabinet

(we will be getting new faucets for sink and tub to match in the near future. Just haven't found a set that we like yet and we hope to update the counter in the future.)

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BEFORE

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AFTER

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AFTER

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AFTER

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AFTER

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AFTER

Laundry Room Makeover Complete

Just recently we updated another part of our home. The laundry room. We live in a manufactured home with lots of square footage and a wonderful floor plan. The downfall though was that all the rooms with water (laundry room, bathrooms and kitchen) all had manufactured home walls. I hated them. So it was time to update. In 2013 we updated the kitchen walls. You can find the posts on that room remodel HERE and HERE and HERE.I also wrote up a post about the new flooring install in this room HERE

So here is some before and after photos of my laundry room. I'm so excited about how it turned out. I now truly enjoy going in here and doing laundry..

We added:
Crown Molding
Chair Molding
Floor Molding
Corner Molding
Paintable Wallpaper that's been painted brown
Wainscoting
Door and window trim
Inside window trim
New Light Fixture
New Flooring
New Door that goes to Dining Room
(All doors will be painted white)
New Mini Blinds for Window
Frosted Glass for Door
New handles on cupboards above washer/dryer
New light switch cover/ plug cover


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BEFORE

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AFTER

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BEFORE as I'm taping the seams

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AFTER-
you can see my finished bathroom which I'll have a post up soon..

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AFTER

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

D.I.Y Wool Dryer Yarn Balls

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Have you ever wanted to stop using those toxic dryer sheets you find at the store? Full of chemicals that emit their scent through your vent and onto your clothes to then be placed upon your skin when you wear the clothes. YUCK!

I've come across the idea to make your own 100% Wool Dryer Balls to use instead of these dryer sheets. Not only will your skin be happier, but you will also save on your energy bill.

How? 

These wonderful balls bounce around in your dryer which allows your clothes to separate while tumbling. Since your clothes are moving more in your dryer, it doesn't need as much time to dry. Pretty awesome huh?

The best part is these wonderful balls last for years. 

So how do you make them? It's pretty easy..

Find yourself some 100% Wool Yarn at your local fabric store. I purchased 3 skeins. Each one made two balls.

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You will take the end of your yarn and wrap it around three of your fingers about 20 times. Then you will slip it off your fingers and take the yarn and wrap it around the center 20 more times. Pinch the ends of the yarn together and just start wrapping. 

When you get the ball the size you want (I measured half the yarn out) then you will cut the end and tuck it within itself. I used a crochet hook.

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I did this six more times to make all the balls I'd use in my dryer.

Now it's time to stuff them into a pantyhose leg and wash it in hot water for a cycle. Then you'll place it in the dryer on hot for a cycle. This speeds up the felting process.

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Your ball will look similar to the one above. After each use the felting will be more noticeable. Over time the ball will get smaller as it continues to felt but keep in mind. These guys will last a VERY long time.. 

I've washed several loads and my clothes don't have anymore static cling and come out dryer, quicker.

I've added about 4 drops of lavender essential oil onto each ball and my clothes come out smelling so nice. This is a huge plus when you have a teenage boy in the house.. wink wink!

You can find the printable version of this D.I.Y project HERE

Monday, July 7, 2014

D.I.Y S'mores- Marshmallows & Graham Crackers


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DIY S'mores.... Marshmallows and Graham Crackers Oh My!

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 I found the most delicious homemade marshmallow and graham cracker recipes from Donuts, Dresses & Dirt. I changed it a little to meet our dietary needs and they turned out perfect. They melt in your mouth and caramelize when you roast them.. The marshmallows aren't overly sweet and they compliment the graham crackers perfectly. 

Homemade Marshmallows

Ingredients:

3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 c. organic sugar
3/4 c.organic agave nectar
1/2 t. sea salt
2 t. organic vanilla
1 c. water
Organic Powdered Sugar

Directions:

1. Coat a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper too.
2. Put 1/2 c. cold water in your mixer bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and set aside.
3. Combine sugar, agave nectar, sea salt and 1/2 c. water in a saucepan.
4. Stir, over medium heat, till sugar has dissolved.
5. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
6. Using a candy thermometer, continue boiling until the temperature reaches 240 degrees.
7. Remove pan from heat.
8. Turn the mixer to low speed being careful, pour the hot syrup over gelatin mixture.
9. Increase speed to high, beat for 8 minutes. With mixer still running, add vanilla.
10. Continue beating for 7 minutes.
11. Scrape marshmallow into your prepared pan. Using a spatula that’s been sprayed with cooking spray, smooth the top and and let cool for at least 5 hours.

Sprinkle a cutting board  with powdered sugar. Place marshmallows on the board, and sprinkle the top with more powdered sugar.

Using a knife that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cut marshmallows into 2″ squares. Coat cut sides with additional powdered sugar.

Store marshmallows in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

You can find a printable version of this recipe HERE 

Homemade Graham Crackers

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Ingredients:

2 1/4 c. unbromated white flour
1/4 c.  whole wheat flour
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. aluminum free baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. organic sugar
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)

Directions:

1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a bowl.
2. In a mixer, beat butter and both sugars till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add 1/3 flour mixture and 1/2 water; mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Repeat. Finish with remaining 1/3 flour mixture.
4. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 seconds.
5. Divide in half; wrap one half in plastic and set aside.
6. Roll the uncovered dough that has been lightly floured till about 1/8″ thick.
7. Repeat with second half.
8. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
9. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
10.Cut out the dough and place squares on parchment-lined baking sheets. I used a pizza cutter and just did lines. I may look for a square cookie cutter for next time to make sure they are all uniformed.
11. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake 15-20 minutes, or till dark golden brown around the edges.
12. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Re-roll scraps and repeat.

You can find the printable version of this recipe HERE

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Staying Fitness Focused

I've been a bit discouraged lately not seeing the scale move. In actuality it rose a few months ago and now won't go back down again. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I'm at 152 lbs. Still sitting comfortably in an 8 pants and 6 shorts with a small 4-6 top but the scale says I'm higher since I was at 144 lbs.  I've been working hard at the gym, doing squats every day, running and watching what I eat.. Still nothing.

So to help encourage me to keep going I thought I'd post a before and current photo of me to help show me that I've changed and things are better than what they used to be.

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This is me back in 2010 at my heaviest of 174 lbs.

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This is me now. I know I want the scale to say the magic number and maybe it never will so I just have to keep focusing on how I feel. That my muscles are more toned than they ever have in my life, that I have less jiggle where there used to be lots. AND.. the best part.. I feel great in my own skin.. 

I'm hitting the big 4..0.. in August. I had a set goal in mind before I reached that aged milestone and I now realize it's not going to happen. I figured by now I would easily be sliding into a weight of 130 lbs which has ultimately been my goal from the beginning.

I've now come to realize that it's not the weight number on the scale but what I look like in the mirror. I remember being 130 lbs. That was the size I was when I married my beloved back in 1997. I was a size 8 then. I'm technically 22 lbs heavier than that but am in a size 8 now. Why? Because muscle weighs more than fat. 

With all my running, weightlifting and gym workouts, I've built up muscle. I didn't have that years ago. So I guess working out and exercising is paying off.. Plus I'm living a more natural unprocessed diet. I just have to keep taking one day at a time and maybe someday I'll hit that magic weight number, or maybe not. I just need to remember, I like the new me right now so everything else is a bonus!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sloppy Joes From Scratch Recipe

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I just recently came across a delicious Sloppy Joe recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

I changed mine up a little because I was missing an ingredient that she asked. Mine came out beautifully and this will definitely be the recipe I use from now on.

She mentions it yields 4-6 servings but my family of 5 ate it and I still have quite a bit left over for some sandwiches for lunch so I changed the yield amount on the printable recipe found HERE

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:


1 medium organic onion, diced
1 organic green pepper, diced
4 organic garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds grass fed ground beef, turkey or venison (I used ground venison)
15 oz organic tomato sauce
1 cup organic ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hamburger buns, to serve ( I made my own from scratch as you can see in the photo above. Recipe found HERE )

 

Directions:

-Brown ground meat along with onions and pepper. 

-Add minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds longer.

-Drain meat if needed and return to heat.

-Add remaining ingredients, stirring until combined.

-Season with salt and pepper and simmer until slightly thickened.

-Remove from heat and serve on buns.


Leftovers can be kept in airtight container in refrigerator up to 4 days. Very delicious as leftovers..

Printable Recipe Found HERE

Hamburger Buns in 30 Minutes

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Homemade Hamburger Buns in 30 Minutes...

I've been making these hamburger buns for a couple years now and my family love them. They are easy to make and taste so much better than the store bought. The best part.. They are ready hot and fresh out of the oven in 30 minutes..

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups warm water
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of organic sugar or 1/2 raw or organic honey
6 TBS active dry yeast
1 TBS sea salt
3 free range eggs, beaten
10 1/2 cups unbromated white flour
(sometimes I use 4 cups wheat to 6 cups white flour and add to bread as needed)
(also delicious as whole wheat)

Directions:

-Mix first four ingredients and let rest for 10 minutes. It should get sponge like and bubbly
-Preheat oven to 425 degrees
-Add remaining ingredients
-Mix, then knead for 5 minutes
-Roll out to 1/2" thickness. Shape immediately using a large mouth canning jar or circular cookie cutter
-Let rise for 10 minutes.
-Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes or until done.

Printable Recipe HERE