Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: 10 Years

For better or worse.  And these last 4 years have been mighty crazy!  I couldn't have imagined what my life would look like now and I can't imagine it any other way!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tea Collection: Citizen Blue and India extra 25% off!

It's here, for three days only the Tea Collection Citizen Blue styles are finally on sale! Use code INDIA25 for 25% off any Citizen Blue or India items and free shipping over $75.

What is Citizen Blue?
A semi-annual collection that celebrates the magical spots we stop along the way to somewhere else. Rooted in rich indigo hues, Citizen Blue revisits heritage Tea styles and favorite prints from places we’ve already been and offers new designs inspired by places we’ve seen only glimpses of. 

All of the India and Citizen Blue clothing is already on sale, now take an extra 25% off mark downs!

*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, July 24, 2015

Book: Goodbye, Magnolia

Wedding photography is Maggie’s passion. The art of capturing a moment forever in time is magical to her, and she’s worked hard to become the best of the best. Week after week, she works with couples as they plan their happily ever afters, but she hasn’t been so lucky in love.

Behind the camera, it’s easy to hide from the pain and rejection of her past. The life she has made for herself is safe and predictable, until the owner of a rival photography studio sets up shop in her small town and comes to her with an unexpected proposal. Suddenly, everything she has worked so hard to build is threatened and her simple, controlled life is thrown into chaos.

As she travels the state of Michigan photographing weddings, she struggles to keep her business afloat and the wall around her heart intact. But along the way, she learns more about loyalty and love than she ever imagined.


Funny thing, this book started out almost exactly the same as the one I read a couple weeks ago, which was a bit odd.  But given that it's a full length novel rather than a novella it really had time to develop the characters and for me at least, this one really felt much more true to life.  It was the perfect length.

Maggie has to deal with someone coming back into her life that she essentially despised since college.  The way she sees the things he does only reinforces the views she has of him.  But is it possible he's changed?

I really truly loved this book and the way it reminded me to not judge other people by only what I can see of their actions.

My only caveat is the ending was missing what I thought should have been there (can't give anything away!), but Krista is working on a sequel and she assures me that scene is in it!  Can't Wait!


Read more about Krista below and find your own copy of Goodbye, Magnolia at Amazon, for Nook or iTunes.

KRISTA NOORMAN is the author of the young adult novel, The Truth About Drew, and the contemporary romance, Goodbye, Magnolia. Most of her life has been spent scribbling away in journals, honing her writing skills, while documenting her every day life. But it wasn’t until she took part in National Novel Writing Month in 2008, that she found her true calling and turned her pen (or rather her computer keyboard) to fiction.

Krista studied music education at Cornerstone University. After college, she turned to her love of photography and spent nearly a decade running her own wedding photography business. She is constantly inspired by books and movies, enjoys beautiful instagram feeds, and loves a great cup of coffee. Krista makes her home in a small town in western Michigan with her husband, Jacob, and their two children.

She writes about life, family, faith and whatever else comes to mind at

Krista sent me a copy of her book to review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Water Babies!

These girls have gone from not wanting to put their faces underwater to this in 10 days!

My little swimmer babies! Their teacher has been teaching at this pool since my family moved here 23 years ago and my old neighbor, whose daughter was in Noah's class last week, said she was her teacher too, so that would be pushing 40 years! She's a pretty awesome teacher!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Book: Picture Perfect Love

When image becomes everything, it's up to love to refocus the heart.

Photographer Jenna Harrison wants every bride and groom to look picture perfect on their special day, putting her heart into every wedding to give the couple memorable images of their love. But her own heart is still broken, the unworn wedding dress hanging in her closet a reminder that relationships aren't always as perfect as they look through her camera lens. But Jenna has faith that she will find true love. Until then, she must be patient and trust in God's plan and His perfect timing.

Attorney Ashton Vance is the one that got away. When an embarrassing Photoshopped picture of put an end to his political aspirations, he blamed Jenna. So what if the photo led to his being offered a dream job and changing his life for the better? Jenna betrayed his trust, and two years later, Ashton's heart still hasn't recovered.

It was me. His younger sister's three words turn Ashton's world upside down. He must ask Jenna's forgiveness, but can he risk his heart a second time? Even if Jenna can forgive him, dare he hope for a second chance at her love?


This is a novella, part of a series called A Year of Weddings, each written by a different author.  This is the only one I've read, but I don't think they connect to each other.  This book is also only available as an e-book or audio book.

As a photographer, but never a wedding photographer, this book looked fun.  I'm not as familiar with the novella format so this one moved really fast for me.  I like a little more flesh and depth to my characters.

The writing was light and fun, perhaps a bit too light for the subject matter.  When you've been left at the alter of the rehearsal for your wedding I think it might take more than a few weeks of forced interaction for you to be cordial with the one who did the leaving, even after 2 years have passed.  The premise of the story is forgiveness and second chances, which I agree with, but that doesn't mean putting yourself in a place to be hurt again.

The other thing that bothered me about this story was that I'm from Washington, from the area it feels like the author was describing, but the setting of the book really felt like it should have been in the south from the style of the wedding as well as the interactions of the characters.  I had a hard time imagining it near me.

This one was a lighter-than-it-should-have-been summer read that just didn't feel real enough to me.

Read other reviews or purchase your own copy.

Melissa McClone has published more than thirty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group. She has also been nominated for Romance Writers of America's RITA® award. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three school-aged children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds and cats who think they rule the house.

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

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Over a year ago the word for 5 Minute Friday was Joy.  I kept waiting for Hope to come up and in the craziness that is my life right now I almost missed it.

No one could ever miss my Hope though!

Still more verbal than her sister, I think they take turns getting into mischief.  In some ways it's easy for me to see their separate personalities, yet when I think about trying to explain it to someone who doesn't know them it's not so easy.  They are twins, and yet unique individuals.  I hope they will always see me treating them that way.

At 3 1/4 these girls have ALL the personality and yet they are still my little snuggle bugs.  One thing about staying here with my parents is that whoever gets up first gets to come climb in bed with me on the pull-out couch.  Hope is much better at just laying still next to me for awhile and really snuggling.  I love it!

Hope... hope was my word for the year.  And it's been hard, maybe harder this year than some others.  I'm not in my twin-haze anymore and life is so much more complicated now.  I haven't even found a frame for that word yet, but it's been ever present in the back of my mind, I've needed to call on it so much more than any other word.  It's almost a reminder to not give up.

The phrase that comes to mind tonight; Hope is an anchor.  An anchor for my soul in all the crazy stuff that comes my way.  I just pray that it's lodged firmly in solid rock to hold me steady.

Five minute Friday is hosted over at Kate's place. As always please join in or leave a comment!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Kitchen Tear Down

We're living with my long suffering parents right now because it's kind of hard to have 4 kids in a house with no kitchen. Good thing I like my frozen veggies frozen because I couldn't warm them up if I wanted to!

This is what my messy kitchen used to look like, yes, complete with awesome yellow countertops.

Cabinets removed. You find some pretty gross stuff should down the side of the stove when you can't clean it...

The reason for the new kitchen... Major water damage and dry rot.

It was more extensive than we thought, going into the wall plate and out under the main part of the floor requiring that we rip up and replace the floor. That messed up the schedule.

Everything repaired, now begins the reinstallation.

Totally empty kitchen with new flooring base.

My living room is inaccessible. Another reason why the kids can't be here!

Yesterday my job was, new paint!  Random pattern and all.

Tomorrow, the cabinets start going in, next week new floor and when we set the old countertops back on temporarily we might get to come back... Although we still won't have a functioning sink. Next up, plumbing repair.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Book: Love Arrives in Pieces

For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn't trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn't get another job soon, she'll be stuck living with her parents.

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he'll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town's old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness---and their unresolved feelings for each other-until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice---to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.


This is the second book in a series and it sort of works as a stand alone.  I kept trying to remember what happened with Stella's sister from the previous book since it's been about a year since it came out, but I actually don't think Stella's story was discussed much in the previous book.  So you get the story in bits and pieces throughout this book and I think that's the way it's intended.  If you read them both close enough together it would probably be better, or just read this one alone and you will get the story by the end.

I like Betsy's books because they are fun, but not completely out of touch with reality.  They're funny because the premise of the story are ridiculous situations, like finding yourself working closely with a scorned girlfriend.

She does deal honestly with the situations though and how relationships are never easy, cut and dried, but messy.  Good relationships are worth working through!


Read other reviews or purchase your own copy!

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.

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

Blue Lizard Sunscreen = Awesome!

The color changing cap has major kid appeal
I received a sample of Blue Lizard sunscreen in a box from Influenster.  All opinions are my own.

For Father's Day weekend we went up to a fun cabin on a lake.  Which meant we spent the better part of the weekend on the lake and out in the sun.  It was the perfect opportunity to try out a couple of new sunscreens I had this summer.

The hands down winner was Blue Lizard Sensitive Sunscreen.  It's a barrier sunscreen with zinc and titanium dioxides, the kind I prefer to use on my kids because there are no toxic chemicals in it.

The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't nearly as greasy as some of the other barrier sunscreens and it spread easily without leaving my kids looking like ghosts.

Another cool feature is, depending on which size you get, either the cap or the whole bottle turns from white/clear to blue in the presence of UV rays.  Perfect for when you're wondering if you really need to put on sunscreen.  One of the days we were at the lake it was fairly cloudy so the cap changed slowly, but it did still change.  Less exposure to the UV rays, but they were still obviously there.  Layer up!

I typically don't use this kind of sunscreen on myself, we're still using up some of the more chemical laden stuff we had from a couple years ago, but this Blue Lizard one was so much less greasy that I did use it on myself and ended up feeling about the same as usual.  Now that impressed me!

Blue Lizard is an Australian company and as my husband says, the Aussies know what it's about when it comes to sun so they make products that work.  I'm happy to report, there were no sunburns that weekend!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Final India Sale at Tea Collection!

It's the sale we've all been waiting for, Tea Collection is clearing out their destination India children's clothes and you can take an additional 30% off already marked down items with code SUMMER30.

The sale runs for 5 days only (July 2nd to the 6th) so don't miss out!  Things will sell out fast!

*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, July 01, 2015

Kid quotes

Joy likes to go to the "I-berry" to get books
Hope calls lipstick "sticky lips"

Hope singing the Patty Cake song says "and throw it in the oven with baby and me". Oops!

Noah: I like one of the firstondary colors.
Me: Oh, you mean primary?
Noah: Yes, red.

We have a picture book of our cousins from South Africa and on the first page they say Sanibonani, which is Hello, I think in a Swazi dialect.  Hope likes to go around saying it.  It's a fun word!

Having steak for dinner.  You can tell this is not a common occurrence around here because Joy kept asking what we were having and calling it chicken.  When I finally convinced her it was beef she said, "I like this beaver, Mommy!" and could not be convinced to pronounce it "beef".

According to Joy when we go swimming we wear "lice jackets". *shudder*

Also while swimming Cory told me he'd learned how to do a "hamspring".