Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tea Collection Japan: Exclusive Sale

The newest destination for Tea Collection clothing is out and it's inspired by Japan.  Beautiful prints for girls and fun graphics for boys (and girls too).  I've got my eye on this fun robot tee for my middle son!

Right now only readers of this blog get 20% off all Tea branded items on their site with code JUSTFORME20.  You won't find this code on the site so be sure and enter it before you complete your purchase!

Check out all the adorable dresses for girls and these fun tees for boys.  I might have bought another pair of the cargo pants for my son too, he loved them so much last year and amazingly enough the knees didn't wear out all winter.

The sale runs August 24th and 25th only.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Alaska: Life and Anniversaries

Who knew going to Alaska meant I would get to meet up with a ton of old friends I hadn't seen in years.

Amber and I were housemates in the "casita" 15 years ago when we went to Portantorchas together in Costa Rica.  It was fun having breakfast and catching up on where she is now.

Thursdays are homeschool day at Dahlia's house and between the 4 families we had 20 kids there!  It was high school history so all the big kids were downstairs and of course babies don't do Legos, but all the middle group of kids were here.  How do you catch kids?  Apparently put out a big pile of Legos!

Cory found a book with ideas and created this zip line for some Lego guys.  Later there was even fishing line strung between the porch railing and the cabin down below and/or the garage farther down!

I really really couldn't get enough of this view.

Too bad one of the few days we had nice weather was a school day because most days the view looked more like this.

I failed to realize that Alaska summer ends at the first of August so when we arrived they had had weeks of lovely weather and then it rained half the time we were there.  Whoops!  Will plan better next time (and oh yes, there will be a next time!)

Friday the 29th is our anniversary so the kids stayed at the house while Brian and I drove in to Anchorage for the afternoon.  Or I should say evening since it was almost 6pm when we found a parking space, but the light was still throwing me off so badly it felt like mid-afternoon!

Dessert first at the Cake Studio on 4th St.  If you ever get to Anchorage I highly recommend it! This was my vanilla mousse chocolate bomb.  Then some cool art (it's a special trip tradition) from the Sevigny Studio next door, and finally dinner at the Glacier Brewhouse.

There was a very long wait unless we wanted to sit in the bar.  Sometimes it pays to be out without children!  I had fresh halibut and Brian had steak.  Once in a long while a very fancy dinner tastes amazing!  Usually we decide we could have made it better at home for less, but not this time!

After dinner we went down to the "waterfront", if the mud flats can be called that!

The train from Fairbanks was pulling in when we hit the Coastal Trail.  My parents have ridden this a couple times and the colors are so different than the trains we have around here that it was fun to see.

Just for fun we sat and waited for sunset and watched the planes come in.  The airport is off to the left, south of downtown.  I really couldn't believe how incredibly flat the whole bay and valley around Anchorage are.

Unfortunately this is all the sunset we got and below the spot where you can see it, it completely disappeared behind the clouds and didn't give us anymore colors.  But I did notice waaaay off in the distance that you could see a snow covered mountain range.  I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me until I used my zoom lens and could actually see defined ridges.  Too bad we never did get a clear enough day to see Denali.

On the way home we saw a moose on the side of the freeway, but thankfully it didn't decide to cross!  And then we got home at dusk... or 11:30pm!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Alaska: True Vacation

The view from their front windows, I simply couldn't get enough!

I'm not sure it's possible to put into words just how amazing this vacation was for me.  We went to stay with some long time friends at their new home about an hour outside of Anchorage.

I have not seen Dahlia or her kids since we went to visit them in 2008 in Arizona, so neither had she met any of the rest of our kids besides Cory (and David only met Noah briefly just after he was born).  But we have talked on the phone off and on for years and she is so laid back it makes it easy to get along.  Plus we have 4 kids in common!

Noah and Shalom playing mini Uno
After day one, which was us ladies shopping expedition to Costco and Fred Meyer to stock the cupboards for 12 people for 2 weeks we were ready... to relax!

The next day we trekked down to the river, you can see it in the top photo, and played in glacier fed water!

That's the Knik Glacier in the distance, in the middle just above the trees.  Funny enough, the water didn't feel that cold, until we'd been out there an hour or more and had to wade back across the shallows from the sand bar.  Then it was cold!

The boys had a blast playing in the silt.  They made dirt bombs complete with puff flower fuses.

So of course the girls had to copy them.

Macaiah is a rugged mountain man and keeps a canoe in the small lake between the road and the river.  I really think Noah would be just like him if he could... nine year age difference, but he was his little shadow.

Cory also got a turn in the canoe and with more paddling and swimming experience they went down around the point to check and see if the salmon were coming upstream yet.

Discussing the merits of skipping stones with David

Brian spent his weeks with one of his best friends, playing games and nerding out with a new 3D printer.

This vacation really had nothing to do with the place (although yes, Alaska is beautiful) and everything to do with the home of our friends and their welcome of us into it.  Three stories for the girls to roam, tons of new toys, outside adventures (even moose in the yard!), and older kids to help keep an eye on them so I didn't have to be "on guard" very much at all.

Plus just having a girl to talk with every night for many hours, yes once we even saw it get light again.  We were very short on sleep (kids don't go to bed when it's light out!), but my mental exhaustion was so much lessened in those two short weeks.  What a treat!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

And Then We Went to Oregon

After driving by for so many years we were actually relatively early this time (does it actually get easier to pack as the kids get older? someone pinch me!) and on a whim stopped at Multnomah Falls.

The kids were happy to get out and stretch their legs.  It was a little cool.  And in a couple more years maybe we will be able to hike to the very top.  I was there once as a kid!

This time we just went up to the first bridge and checked it all out.

First morning at Grandma and Grandpa's house... a tea party with cousin Cassia and our friend Isha.

There are always plenty of takers if anyone will read a story.

Time for snuggling on Grandpa's new couches!  (which seems to have almost entirely cured my allergies in their house, hallelujah!)

Don't forget swimming in Grandpa's pool!

Cousin Cassia floating all around and Uncle Brian trying to teach cousin William how to kick!

This is the crew, six cousins from 2 to 9, all in the pool!

And that was just the first weekend!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Girl Quotes

All the kids will sometimes ask to be tickled.  Brian likes to say he's going to "count their ribs".  So tonight Hope asks, "Daddy, will you count my ribbons?"

Joy: Hey mom, are we in a planet?
Yes, planet earth.
When are we going to another planet?
Geography by 3 year olds is hard when all your favorite cartoon characters go into space all the time! (Yes, I've been saving these for awhile)

The girls call the deep end of the pool the "deepness".

They have decided they will name their future babies Rosie Rose (Joy) and Sparkles (Hope).

Always when it's time for bed they want to "tell you a question" just one more time or say "I just remembered that...".  It's their, cute, yet annoying way of stalling.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tea Collection Summer Sale

It's the heat of the summer and you may not feel like shopping, but I guarantee if you take a few minutes to shop this sale it will be worth it! 

Tea Collection is clearing out their spring and summer collection from destination Italy and these are the best prices you'll see as things start to sell out.  Take an extra 40% off styles already marked down for savings up to 70% on some items!  Use code EXTRA40 today through Tuesday.

If you're all set for this summer pick up a few things for next summer.  I promise you won't be sorry.  At these prices you really can't get the same quality in your local mass market stores.  They won't be badly pilled after just one wash or so faded that you can't even see the graphic designs.

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The sale runs June 30th through July 5th.

Happy shopping!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book: Jilted

Lynda Turner has struggled with depression since her husband abandoned her and their young daughter fifteen years ago.

Yet unexpected hope awakens when a local ex-convict shows interest. As long-hidden secrets resurface, Lynda must fight for her emotional stability and for a life where the shadow of shame is replaced by the light of love.

Jilted tells of a woman who has lost the joy of living, a man determined to draw her back toward happiness, and a town that must---once and for all---leave the past where it belongs. It is a gentle reminder that all things can work together for good.


This book is the third in a series and I highly recommend reading them in order.  There is some more back story added in this one, but you really need to read the first two to understand it best.  See my review of book one and the summary of book two also on this blog.

Wow, Varina Denman is on my very short list of "authors I will always read".  I am so impressed by the quality of her story telling and the way she makes the characters true to life in all their struggles and triumphs.  

I'm really glad that all the pieces of this three part story were covered at the end.  That's not to say that it all had a happy ending, but at least you weren't left hanging!  

Lynda's story is told in the first book through her daughter's Ruthie's eyes, but you don't really get to know Lynda at all until this book.  I found it fascinating how my perspective changed while reading this story, even throughout the book.

We have a lot of giant windmills near us and I also have long been a big fan of Don Quixote so it was fun to see the part they played in this story.  The cover photo is superb choice for this book.

How to even summarize the story without giving any of it away... Lynda has a lot of choices to make.  Choices in how she reacts to life and things that have happened to her many years ago.  Choices in how she reacts to people currently in her life.  It makes you realize that while you can't control others and what they do or say, you do have a choice in what you do and how you react.  And in many ways that can affect them for good or bad and the cycle goes on.  

That is not to say that those choices are easy, far from it, but making good choices is so important.  Isn't that a life lesson we all want our kids to learn?  Maybe we still need it when we're older, just in different ways.


Purchase your own copy and read other reviews.  And don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Jilted Varina Denman

Varina Denman is author of the Mended Hearts series and a native Texan. She spent her high school years in a rural town and now writes stories about the struggles women face in similar small town settings. She and her husband live near Fort Worth, where they enjoy spending time with their five mostly grown children.

I received this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.