Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review: The Christmas Singing

I recently joined a website, Blogging for Books after another blogger I follow talked about it. (I don't remember who now! I was so excited to go join and I'm not sure I got back to her blog again!) The idea was great for me! It gives me a chance to read good, retail books for free! In exchange, I post a review in a couple of places. Since I enjoy reading but can't afford to buy all of the books I want to read this is a great way to do it! If you're like me, definitely check out the website!

The first book I read was The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall. Here's my review:

If you click on the picture, it will take you to the book on Amazon.

When I was looking for my first book to review, I knew I wanted a love story to help me escape from my reality as a full-time student and wife. The title intrigued me and the cover reminded me of a Nicholas Sparks book. Saying I am a big fan of Nicholas Sparks and use the title and book cover to determine what books I read, this was a good sign this was a book for me! I was so excited to download my book and get to reading!

When I started reading the book, I only planned to read for a few minutes and then go to sleep. This book had me so wrapped up in the story of Mattie and Gideon I couldn't put it down! The book was written in a very pleasant, easy reading manner, and the love story was a pleasant twist having the characters be Amish. My instincts paid off well, and I truly enjoyed this book!

My only critique of the book is this, the author writes this book assuming I have a larger knowledge of the Amish community than I have. She kept referring to the Old Order Amish and the Old Order Mennonites in a way that indicated I should know their differences. Unfortunately, I don't. And she never explained it to me. So, a couple of times I found myself distracted trying to figure out the differences between them. Eventually I just ignored assuming that because she didn't explain it, it wasn't important. But I wish she would have either explained it or left it out of the book. It was distracting and messed up the flow of a wonderful story!

Overall, I suggest you read the book. The writing was good and the story pleasant. It's a short read, but definitely worth it!

Feel free to check out both this book and Blogging for Books! And thanks for helping this blogger get to reading!

101 in 1001: Monthly Update

One of my goals in my 101 in 1001 list is to blog monthly for a check up of how my accomplishing the list is going! I'm off to a great start and have already started working on things for next month. Not everything will be able to be checked off each month as completed, but just knowing that I have things in order and are being worked on is awesome! I'm very happy with this list and love referring to it for ideas of things to do. It reminds me what is important in my life and encourages me to accomplish the things I care most about! Right now I have had a lot of focus on school and this is definitely helping to keep my priorities in order! And, oh how I love the accountability that the list wrong is it that I want to make a list happy?  Oh well, whatever gets the job done, right?
So, I put the things I've started and completed in bold and put them in maroon so that they're easy to see. Some of them have been linked to another blog post if I've gone into details on them. Otherwise, I think it's all pretty self explanatory!

Also, this month, I've decided to indicate a few things I could do next month to work on accomplishing my tasks! I'm looking forward to getting this list done!

{ Key: }
In Progress

Next Month's To Dos

{ Start Date }
January 1, 2012
{ End Date }
September 28, 2014

{ Physical Health }

1. Lose 10 Pounds
2. Lose 20 Pounds
3. Lose 30 Pounds
4. Lose 40 Pounds
5. Lose 50 Pounds
6. Lose 60 Pounds
7. Lose 70 Pounds
8. Lose 80 Pounds
9. Create a weight loss incentives list.
10. Run a mile.
11. Train for a 5k.
12. Complete a 5k.
13. Take boxing lessons.
14. Take dancing lessons.

{ Mental Health }

16. Do something to relax once a month. (0/28)
17. Write a letter to myself to open on September 28, 2014 by January 31, 2012.
(Completed January 31, 2012)
18. Get a massage.

{ Spiritual Health }

19. Read Made to Crave.
20. Read the entire New Testament.
21. Read entire Old Testament.
22. Complete my Beth Moore bible studies. (0/3)
23. Memorize a passage from the bible each month. (0/28)
24. Complete the Psalms bible study from Walking With Women Through the Word.

{ Living Life Fuller }

25. Send Anniversary and Birthday Cards to Family.
26. Clean out our storage unit of unneeded items.
27. Get a file cabinet.
28. Organize papers.
29. Get a fireproof safe. (Completed Jan. 14, 2012)
30. Finish organizing CDs.
31. Rip CDs to computer.
33. Paint the old table/desk.
34. Paint the bookshelf.
35. Make/Purchase a memory box and fill it.

{ Hubby Related }

36. Do one above and beyond thing a month for the hubs. (1/28)
37. Two date nights a month. (4/56)
38. Stay a night at a B&B.
39. Watch five movies he likes that I'm not interested in. (0/5)
40. Go to Morton's for our Anniversary each year. (0/2)
41. Complete the Love Dare devotion give to us at our wedding.
42. Video Mawmaw telling her stories for future generations.

{ School Goals }

43. Get enrolled in school for January. (Completed Jan. 10, 2012)
44. Finish getting enrolled in LSU.
46. Become a college graduate.

{ Photography/Photo Related }

47. Make a Shutterfly style book for our Honeymoon.
48. Edit wedding photos.
49. Create a wedding album.
50. Complete a Project 365. (0/365)
I'm starting this on my birthday, March 10th.
51. Learn five new things with Stella. (0/5)
52. Take a photography class.
53. Go to three photography meet ups. (0/3)
54. Put photos into frames.
55. Finish organizing photos on computers.
56. Back up photos.
57. Organize the hubby's photos.
58. Start our photo albums.
59. Take 101 photos of things that make me happy.* (0/101)
60. Take a self-portrait each month.* (0/28)

{ Travel Related }

61. See all of the Mississippi River bridges in Louisiana.** (3/7)
62. Ride the City of New Orleans.
63. Go to NYC.
64. Visit 25 states as a married couple.** (19/25)
65. Complete five interstates.** (1/5)
66. Drive as far as I can in a single day with no destination.

{ Food Related }

67. Make my personal recipe book.
68. Bake ten cakes from scratch. (0/10)
69. Make twelve recipes from the Encylopedia of Cajun and Creole Cooking. (0/12)
70. Bake cookies to give away. (0/5)
72. Make homemade pierogies.
73. Make white chocolate banana pudding a la Chef's.

{ Blog Related }

74. Follow up on 101 in 1001 each month on my blog. (1/28)
75. Blog a recipe I try at least once a month. (0/28)
77. Comment on 5 blogs a day (not weekends) for a month. (0/100)
78. Look cute for school every day for a month and blog OOTD posts. (0/30)
79. Keep my (blog) email empty for one month.
80. Prewrite my blog posts once a week for a month. (2/4)
81. Write a 101 in 1001 conclusion post September 28, 2014.
82. Write a new 101 in 1001 list.

{ Things for Others }

83. Leave an encouraging note on a post it in a bathroom.
84. Pay for someone else's order at a fast food restaurant.
85. Send my sister snail mail once a month for a year. (2/12)
86. Call my parents twice a month for a year. (4/24)
87. Call my grandparents twice a month for a year. (4/24)

{ Other }

88. Get a tattoo.
89. Start learning a foreign language.
90. Dye my hair a funky color.
91. Attend a Corks & Canvas event.
92. Read 25 new books. (2/25)
93. Find four mismatched dining room chairs and refurbish them.
94. Make five cute skirts. (0/5)
95. Make five cute dresses. (0/5)
96. Get the dresser and chest of drawers refurbished.
97. Make a headboard for our bed.
98. Participate in NaNoWriMo.
99. Make a wreath for each season. (0/4)
101. See a musical or play at the Saenger Theater when it reopens.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

101 in 1001: Things I'm Thankful For

When I made up this 101 in 1001, I saw several bloggers who had decided to make lists of things they are thankful for. I'm trying to make a list once a month of things I'm thankful for and this is this month's post!

My awesome camera! I had the amazing job of taking pictures of my niece's first birthday party and it just reminded me how much I LOVE my camera. Seriously, one of the best purchases of my life!

I'm thankful for the blogging community. I realized this week that I have gained something big from blogging. Both on this blog and in real life, I own my opinion. By that I mean that I don't feel the need to always qualify things with phrases that belittle my own opinion. Instead if you ask me what I think, I give you my opinion much more unapologetically. This is huge for someone who's always thought their opinion doesn't matter!

I'm thankful for the technology that allows me to keep in touch with family. I use facebook to keep in touch with a cousin who is getting married, aunts, uncles and other cousins. I use text messaging to keep up with my sister and my cousin. I  use the phone to talk to parents and grandparents. I love that I have the chance to keep up with so many people. Especially ones that I would otherwise never keep in touch with!

I'm thankful for my health. In general, I'm not a sickly person. I haven't had the flu in years (knock on wood!) and I just generally don't get sick. Recently I've had some lingering something or other. It just reminded me how much I appreciate my generally healthy self!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Parker's First Birthday Party

A couple of weekends ago we celebrated my niece's first birthday! I can't believe she's one...but that's a whole other story! On Friday, I watched Parker while Lindsay ran some final errands for the birthday party. Parker and I had fun playing and napping while Lindsay was out in the icky weather! Then Mr. B and I watched Parker while Lee and Lindsay did some other (non-birthday related) stuff that evening.

When Lee & Lindsay got back to the house, she got to decorating and stuff for the party while Lee & Mr. B pretty much just hung out. Yes, clothes did get folded...but with them together, was that really a chore? I of course, helped with the decorating of the party! It was so special for me to be able to help with this (thanks Lindsay!).

I enjoy spending time with and doing things for my adorable niece! Whenever I'm spending time with her, I'm always telling her the things I'm going to teach and show her. (Hello, shoes!) Sentences frequently start out "now, when you're a little bit older..." And, since I've spent so much time with her, she's pretty comfortable with me. I absolutely love when I'm holding her and she just rests on me...le sigh. Being an aunt may be the best job in the world!

So, back to the party...Lindsay asked me to take photos of Parker's party so that she could just enjoy it. And you can imagine, I said "of course!" I love taking photos, I love taking photos of Parker. It would only make sense I would enjoy taking photos of Parker's party. So, I made sure to get to Lee & Lindsay's early on Saturday so that I could take some pictures of the pretty decorations before people were there. And let me tell you, I'm SO happy with these photos! After nearly 400 photos, these are the ones I'm going to share with you! (Don't worry, there are a lot more. Lindsay posted a bunch of them here and here. These are just my favorites and the ones that are most special to me!)

The cupcakes and flowers.
One of my most favorite photos I've ever taken!

The cake table!

Lindsay and Parker.
Wasn't Parker's outfit ADORABLE?!

Lee, Lindsay & Parker.
One family photo before the craziness really started!

The sign on the door.

Mr. B & Parker.

Because she looks so disinterested in the other photo
here's a photo where she's looking at her Uncle John!

About to sing and eat cake!

She's a riot!

No real smashing occurred, but she did poke at it a lot!

The one photo I'm in!
I made Lindsay take a picture because I wanted to be able to prove to
Parker I was at her party when she grows up!

Also, funny story...Parker thinks it's funny when I fake cough at her or go bleck (It's this weird throaty sound I make...I dunno.) So, when taking pictures (especially of Lindsay was in the photo, I would sit there and cough and make the bleck sound, then she would smile and I would snap the picture. Let's just say, by the end of the party my throat was SO sore! But really, I would do it all again because I just love this sweet girl! And I'll always enjoy the photos!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Scentsy Giveaway WINNER

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway with Lindsay for the Scentsy shopping credit! I am happy to announce the winner is Katie!

Everyone else, remember that there is a 10% off sale going on at Scentsy and I KNOW Lindsay would LOVE to help you get set up with some Scentsy products for your home. Just stop by her Scentsy page to get started!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Fancies: Hollywood Glam

Today I'm linking up with {av} at Long Distance Loving for Friday's Fancies.

This weeks theme is "Hollywood Glam" and has probably been my most favorite theme to date! Let's face it, nothing is more fun than getting super dressed up! Today's outfit features what I would wear if I were strutting my stuff down the red carpet this weekend!

So without further ado, here's my outfit!

Friday's Fancies - Hollywood Glam

I've been seeing a lot of posts talking about blush being the newest wedding gown color trend and let me tell you, I wish this trend would have been around a couple of years ago. Anywho, when it came time to pick a dress for this, I KNEW it would have to be blush colored! I just love the color too much to use something else! This Monique Huillier dress does the job perfectly! When I found it while searching for a gown, I knew this was it the moment I saw it. It was just time to accessorizes.

Now, I love shoes. I love shoes more than I love clothes. And, my goal in life is to one day own a pair of Manolo Blahniks. (So much so, I named my iPod Manolo Blahnik...hehe.) I was originally going to look for gold shoes (because yellow gold would go PERFECTLY with this dress) but, when I saw these, I knew black was the way I was going. I don't know why, it just spoke to me! So, these Manolos became the official shoe for the outfit. So far, I'm in love!

Then, it was time to pick the rest of the accessories. When I saw these earrings, I knew I could just stop searching. They are perfect for this outfit. Heavy enough to make a statement but wouldn't overpower the outfit. Once I picked these earrings though, I knew a necklace would be too much.

All that was left was a simple clutch to complete the outfit. A girl needs somewhere to carry her lipstick! And this little bag does it perfectly!

Finally, nail polish was a must. I considered a nude color, a gold color, and red. But when I saw this beautiful Butter London color, I knew it was perfect. It will add just the right pop of color but will be perfect with the rest of the outfit!

Now, just to sit back, sigh and wish I was actually walking the red carpet this weekend!

Thanks {av} for hosting this link-up as always and I can't wait to put together next week's outfit. But, I have a feeling this one is going to remain a favorite of mine always!

And for anyone stopping by today for the first time, and anyone who's returning, today is the LAST DAY of my Scentsy Giveaway! Please come enter for your chance to win!

And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Wedding Cake

Today I'm linking up with The Magnolia Pair to talk all about our wedding cake!

Our cake was one of my most favorite parts of our wedding! I spent a long time looking at photos for wedding cakes that I loved and went to our favorite bakery for our cake. Haydel's did an AMAZING job!

This is the inspiration cake for our cake. I've loved cakes for years and have kept a file on my computer (now on Pinterest) of beautiful cakes. I had saved this cake to my computer on November 14, 2009. That is one year to the day before we got married. I forgot about that file, and amazingly enough, found this cake AGAIN and used it for the inspiration for our cake! When I learned this months later, I was amazed! I was also really happy that I had liked the same cake not once but cool!

My CAKE! I absolutely loved it! The inspiration cake, had dots on the side of the cake. Instead of dots, we used little fleur de lis to reflect a little bit of New Orleans in our wedding. And, since sugar flowers cost a fortune, we just had light colored buttercream roses on the top. We had 2 types of filling in ours, lemon on the top and bottom layer and pineapple on the middle layer. I enjoyed it so much!

And, since we didn't go on our honeymoon right away, we took the leftovers home and oh my, I think that's how I put on the first 5 pounds of our marriage!

My favorite picture of the cake!

So there's my cake! Thank you The Magnolia Pair for giving me a chance to go back and relive just a bit of our wedding!!

And don't forget, TOMORROW is the LAST day to enter my Scentsy GIVEAWAY!! Go enter now!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Oh How Pinteresting Wednesday! {vol 9}

Today I'm linking up with The Vintage Apple to spend a little time talking about the things I've pinned!

Source: via Betty on Pinterest

This outfit makes me want to go get one of the Jason Wu pieces from Target! It would pretty easy to recreate on a budget!!

This outfit totally encourages my current love of leopard print! I saw a leopard print pencil skirt on another blog and I NEED it...I think leopard print is my new obsession!

This smoothie makes me want to take smoothies in the mornings!

Bacon Guacamole Wontons. Don't these sound devine? I NEED to make these!

Source: via Betty on Pinterest

Um, yeah...doesn't this just make you giggle? I seriously am going to do this one day when I have kid!

Yes, I need to include nail polish and I have a love of sparkley gold nail polish! I think this is at my local target and may be the next added to my collection!

Kayleigh would have to come aways to help me move the body, but I know she'd be there!

Seriously, people need some grammer lessons these days! (How many people didn't get this?) My other grammer pet peeve: unnecessary quotation marks!

I hope y'all enjoyed this edition of Oh How Pinteresting Wednesday and remember:

Go enter my Scentsy giveaway!! You know you want to!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras!

Today is Mardi Gras. It's the last day before lent. Today, locals and visitors will all go out for one last day of partying for children and adults alike. The parades will be rolling in Metairie, New Orleans, the Westbank, Slidell, Houma and so many other places! Here's a few pictures to help you get into the Carnival Spirit!

Source: via Betty on Pinterest

King Cake! One of the most amazing parts of the whole Carnival Season! The tradition of king cake involves a baby placed in the cake. When it is cut, tradition calls for the person who finds the baby in their slice to bring the king cake to the next gathering.

Flambeau carriers. These men carry special torches to help light the parades. While the flambeau is no longer a necessity to the parade, they are still one of the best attractions! I enjoy watching them walk by! Not to mention, when it's cold they also provide a bit of warmth!

This is a Mardi Gras Indian. They are a fascinating tradition who appear in these amazing colorful costumes.

Source: via Betty on Pinterest

Of course, everyone knows what Mardi Gras beads are, but this was just such a pretty picture of them!!

Here's a few items of note for people not from the area!

For locals, Mardi Gras is a family time. You head out to the parade early, stake out your piece of ground, you have chairs, coolers, and pretty much anything you need for the day. The adults hang out talking, the kids run around. Parents even make special ladders with seats on them for kids to sit in. Up there they have the chance of catching throws and what not. Around here, for some people, a baby's first Mardi Gras is as big of a deal as baby's first Christmas!

Mardi Gras is family time. On Saint Charles, on Napoleon, on Canal Street past the French Quarter, you see families. The hype you see of woman flashing, and other lewd behavior is really concentrated to Bourbon Street where the tourist are. And locals don't like that the reputation Mardi Gras has is something that ends up on Girls Gone Wild. Mardi Gras the way locals experience it is family friendly. If you ever want to bring your family, come and spend some time on the neutral ground on Saint Charles Avenue. You'll have a great time and will have no concern of seeing a woman's bare breasts!

So, I hope you enjoyed this different look into Mardi Gras! I hope if you are somewhere else, for just a moment you are wishing you are here.

And remember, I have a Scentsy giveaway going on this week! You can enter until Friday!

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