Saturday, November 29, 2008

Book Review - Ready for Romance by Debbie Macomber

Ready for Romance is one of Macomber's earlier romances. I read it about a month ago and simply have not "reviewed" it yet. It's a cute and quick read. It's a decent read if you're out of everything else you really want to read. That's all I have to say!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Scrumptious Apple Pie - the verdict

It was delicious! I like it even better than apple pie with a pastry crust. My plain ol' hubby, however, still prefers a "normal" apple pie. That's okay - more leftovers for me!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pioneer Woman's Scrumptious Apple Pie

I'm not satisfied with this picture, but this is the best I got. This is Pioneer Woman's Scrumptious Apple Pie. It has a nummy crumble topping, also topped with caramel topping. I'm counting down the hours till I can eat it (I'm bringing it to the Thanksgiving gathering). My husband was actually quite dismayed to see that this was not a "normal" apple pie, but he promises to try a piece. I'll let you know the verdict. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Gratitude Project Concludes: Happy Thanksgiving!

I am most thankful for my God who forgives me over and over again. Without him I would be lost. I am thankful for my family and to be pregnant again. Pictured above is my husband and Little Guy's hands. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 26

I am grateful for the chance of a new friendship. I got to talk for 30 minutes while on the elliptical machine at the gym to a woman I've never talked to before. It was quite enjoyable and better than reading or listening to music.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 25

I am thankful for the beauty of God's creation. My mums finally bloomed a couple weeks ago. So here's some pictures of the yellow one. (These are mums right?)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Banana Bread

I made this banana bread for Bible Study treats. I always want whatever I bring for snacks to be delicious, and this banana bread did the trick. All of it was eaten, and I heard someone say, "darn - it's all gone!" That makes me so happy! I also brought a pumpkin pie from Costco, which was very good, and almost all of that was eaten. I brought a pitcher of orange juice, and I heard someone exclaim, "ooo, juice!" Again, this really fills a happy place inside me. Last, but certainly not least, I brought a little bowl of peppermint patties and Hershey's new truffle kisses. The peppermint patties were all eaten, and there's a lot of the truffles left. I'm so happy the ladies ate chocolate at 9:30 in the morning! (I'm not the only one!)
Here's the Banana Bread recipe:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda, dissolved in 3 Tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Makes 1 Loaf
In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and bananas. Beat in remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

*Recipe from Kitchen Keepsakes and More Kitchen Keepsakes
I also made a wheat-free version of the banana bread, which turned out great. Just use your favorite wheat-free flour and 2 tsp. of xanthum gum in place of the regular flour.

The Gratitude Project: Day 24

I am very thankful for a hot shower every day. Truly, this is something I think about at least every other day. I am genuinely grateful for hot running water.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 23

I am grateful for my little boy and the extra 40 minutes of sleep I got this morning due to the fact that he sleeps in a big boy bed now and let himself out of his room and played with toys for 40 minutes before needing my attention.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book Review - The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

Former Marine, Logan Thibault, walks across the country to meet the woman in a photo he carried with him through three tours in Iraq. Since finding the photo of this woman in the desert in Iraq, Logan has experienced good luck – having survived the most car bombings in the Marines, and then surviving a boating accident once stateside. He feels he must at least meet her.

Upon his arrival in Hampton, North Carolina, Elizabeth Green hires Logan to work in her and her grandmother’s dog kennel business. Logan finds that she has a son, is divorced, and that the photo belonged to her brother who was killed in combat. Logan and Elizabeth share a passion for each other, but once Elizabeth learns Logan has not been forthright about the picture, their relationship is at a crossroads.

I have been waiting a long time for a new Nicholas Sparks book, and The Lucky One wasn’t all I thought it would be. I am grateful that it is not a true Sparks’ love story (by his definition, a love story must have tragedy at the end), but I wouldn’t categorize it as a romance either. I feel like Sparks just farted out this book because he hadn’t written one in a while. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I expected more from Sparks. I thought he could have gone deeper with the development of Elizabeth and Logan or at least showed us more of their relationship. Everything seemed to happen so fast. If you’re a Sparks fan, you’ll have to read it just because.

Book Review - Whispering Rock by Robyn Carr

Whispering Rock is Carr’s third book in the Virgin River series. Mike Valenzuela, a wounded LA cop, moves to Virgin River to recuperate and find a new life. What he finds is Brie, Jack Sheridan’s youngest sister. She spends a few weeks with Jack and Mel as she recovers from a divorce and a violent rape. Mike, being a victim of a violent crime as well, is just the man to help Brie ease back into society.

My pitiful summary is not worthy of the greatness of this book. Throughout all the Virgin River books, Carr has strong and believable characters that go through real problems. Carr tackles difficult social circumstances, from divorce and infidelity, a young woman dying of breast cancer, home births, widowhood, to rape. Carr develops her characters very well as they live through these difficult life circumstances. Well worth the read!

The Gratitude Project: Day 22

I am grateful for my hubby. He is pretty handy around the house, plus he cooks better than I do! Right now he is putting together our Little Guy's new bed, and it didn't come with any directions, but I know he'll be able to make it work.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 21

I am grateful for my friend who came over to my house with her kid today, even when I told her my kid had an occasional cough. Thanks for not treating us like we had the cooties!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 20

I am thankful for the opportunity to stay home with my son. Today he had a cough, and although that's all he had and has been acting normal, I thought I probably shouldn't take him to the gym, so we just stayed home. It's nice to have a flexible schedule.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is That a Baby?

It's finally happened. Today at the gym, a complete stranger walked up to me and asked, "Is that a baby?" My Little Guy was already in the kids' room, so I knew she wasn't referring to him. Luckily for her (and me) "it" is. "It" being my round tummy. I don't mind that she asked, but don't people normally say, "are you pregnant?" or "when are you due?". At least I got a little chuckle out of the experience.

The Gratitude Project: Day 19

I am thankful for the childcare available at my gym. I paid for unlimited hours a year ago and it's been so worth it. My Little Guy loves to go play there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What to do?

I'm pregnant. So needless to say, I'm wearing maternity tops. Now, maternity tops come in two basic styles. You either have to buy a turtleneck or a scoop neck that goes down to your belly button and shows everything. Seeing as how it isn't quite turtleneck whether, and the place I was going yesterday (Bible Study) keeps the room really hot, I had to opt for one of the more revealing shirts. I've noticed a problem with these tops. When I'm eating, crumbs fall...into my cleavage. This happened at Bible Study yesterday. Now, what is the protocol for this? When this situation happened at the family reunion, I knew my cousin had seen it, so I just reached in and retrieved the crumb. I was among family. I was safe. Now at Bible Study, there were at least twenty women sitting so that they could have possibly seen the offending crumb fall. Do I pretend it didn't happen? What if someone did see? Is it worse to leave the crumb in my cleavage or to go digging for it? It's like those 'would you rather' games where you have to choose between two terrible fates. I hate those games. Does the size of the crumb matter? I think it should. Monday's crumb was very small. I left it there.

The Gratitude Project: Day 18

I am grateful for my mother. I was reminded of her while doing my Bible study. The study guide said patience is the delaying of judgment. I immediately thought of my mom. She doesn't judge people, and she doesn't hold grudges. You're my role model, Mommy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review – Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr

Shelter Mountain is the second in Carr’s Virgin River series. John Middleton is about to close down the bar one night when a battered and bruised woman, Paige, arrives carrying her three-year-old child. The small town of Virgin River has no motel and John can see that the woman is in pain. He offers her a place to stay above the bar in an extra room. He convinces her to stay until her injuries heal and a friendship blossoms. Paige’s abusive husband will not leave her alone and she needs the help of John and her Virgin River friends to stay safe.

Again, Carr’s characters are real and in-depth. I was glad to see a non-stereotypical male lead. John is huge and bald like Mr. Clean. He is extremely shy and has big, black bushy eyebrows and likes to scowl. He has not slept around a lot and is unsure of how to begin that part of his relationship with Paige. The secondary characters and side stories are just as interesting as John and Paige’s story and we get to see more of Jack and Mel from the first book.

Recommendation: Three out of three stars – go out and read it!

Book Review – Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Virgin River is the first in Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series. I’ve read the first three books and I LOVE them. Out of all the series I have read, this is my favorite!

Melinda Monroe, a midwife and RN, moves to Virgin River to recover from the tragic loss of her husband and to meet the town’s medical needs. When Mel sees that her accommodations in Virgin River are less than desirable, she gets ready to leave, but not before she meets Jack Sheridan, a retired Marine Corps hero. An abandoned baby compels Mel to stay and the town and Jack start to grow on her.

The characters of Mel and Jack are very real and likeable. Carr does a great job of weaving very interesting secondary characters into the story. She goes deep with the emotion and character arcs of Mel and Jack. This book was a pleasure to read. I’m hooked!

Three out of three stars – go out and read it!

The Gratitude Project: Day 17

I am thankful for my family - those that live here in my house and those that live far away. I'm thankful to be able to talk on the phone to my mom who lives so very far away.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 16

I am thankful for friends. I got to go out to a nice restaurant last night with the moms from our mommy group (without the kids!).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day15

I am grateful for the non-judging nature of children. I got to watch my Little Guy play with all sorts of kids at the mall play area yesterday, and he equally engaged all the children there no matter their size, color, or clothing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 14

I am grateful for my husband. He listens to me with a caring heart. Thanks honey!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Biggest Loser's Vicky - a loser in more ways than one

I was shocked, floored at Vicky's display of meanness on last night's episode of Biggest Loser. She's ruining the whole show. My jaw was literally on the ground the first five minutes of the show. I have never seen someone be that outright mean, and in front of other people. She's proud of how mean she is - you can tell because she gets that little "I'm pretty satisfied with myself" smile after she says something mean. I cannot believe she is a mother. I feel so sorry that Phil had to be the object of her meanness. He really is just trying to lose weight and live a happy life. Well, I won't go on and on about Vicky, but I had to say something.

The Gratitude Project: Day 12

I am thankful for finding a new author I really enjoy - Robyn Carr. I have read Virgin River, the first book of her Virgin River series (will post a summary soon) and have almost finished the second book in the series. Thanks to Susan Wiggs for recommending Carr.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 11

I am grateful for the men and women who have served in the military and who have given their lives for this country. Thank you. I am reminded of a quote from the movie Pearl Harbor where Doolittle says, "There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer." I know not all our wars/conflicts were fought with "volunteers," but I am in awe that we have fought this thing in Iraq and Afghanistan with volunteers. Thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 10

I am thankful for my friend Patty. Last Friday and then today at the gym we were both there at the same time and got to talk while we exercised. I just like that gal.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shaped Bokeh

I've read about bokeh on Pioneer Woman's Photography site. Then today, I read about shaped bokeh on Digital Photography School's Forum. Amy-Rose King, a photographer, gave a brief tutorial on how to do this shaped bokeh and made it sound so easy. So I thought, I can do that! Well, I should know by now that it's never that easy for me. After tons of photos and trying lots of different things, these are my two best photos. You should really check out Amy-Rose's picture leaf bokeh. It's an AMAZING photo.

The Gratitude Project: Day 9

I am thankful for the food we have to eat. At almost every meal we eat, we say a prayer of thanks for our food. Because we are trying to teach our Little Guy the prayer, we keep it simple, "Thank you, Jesus, for our food. Amen." Now he says it with us, and I realize, I truly am grateful we have food to eat. Okay, we have a lot of food to eat, but that's another post for another day, which I'll probably never write.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Book Review - A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie Macomber

A Cedar Cove Christmas is Debbie Macomber’s annual Christmas novel (albeit a short one) and continues on a the ninth book in her Cedar Cove series. The story of Mary Jo Wise, a pregnant woman in an unfamiliar town, mirrors the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his birth. Mary Jo travels to Cedar Cove to find the father of her child. He is nowhere to be found and Mary Jo finds herself needing to stay the night and the only place in town is the home of Grace Harding – in the apartment above the barn housing the animals for the live nativity scene. When Mary Jo’s baby decides to come on Christmas Eve, Grace sends for the ambulance, but there is no time to transfer to the hospital, and Mary Jo ends up giving birth with the help of firefighter Mack McAffee (read – future love interest of Mary Jo – but Macomber doesn’t delve into that in this short Christmas novel). (Sorry for the long run-on sentences there!)

I very much enjoy the Cedar Cove series, and some books are better than others, and this one is a real winner. I was sorry when I finished it because there is no more Cedar Cove to read until…well, Macomber’s website doesn’t say when we can expect the next Cedar Cove book to be out.

The Gratitude Project: Day 8

I am thankful for this easy and uncomplicated pregnancy. I didn't even have morning sickness, which I did experience with my first pregnancy, so I know what a blessing this is.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 7

I am thankful for my health insurance. Today I am going to get a one-hour pregnancy massage, and because of our health insurance, I only pay $8. Whoo Hoo!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 6

I am thankful for the library and all the free resources I can get. I get lots of books and my Little Guy gets his children's DVDs. He asks to go to the library every day, and I feel bad telling him, no we can't go today. We already go about twice a week.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Book Review - Janet Evanovich - multiple books

Oh my. I cannot believe I read all these pre-Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. The first book I read of hers was Thanksgiving, and it was simple but cute. Sometimes you need simple in your life. So, I ordered all the Evanovich books from the library that I could, and I’m sorely disappointed. They are all the same. I can’t even do a summary for each book because it would be unnecessary. Here’s the list of the books that I just read: Thanksgiving, Back to the Bedroom, Love Overboard, Manhunt, Naughty Neighbor, and Wife for Hire. Here’s the plot for each book: a strong-willed (and often red-headed) slender woman with large breasts meets the man of her dreams, but she doesn’t know it at first. Said man is over six feet tall with broad shoulders and slim hips. This man is very sexually experienced, but until meeting said woman, has never felt this way before, and he falls in love with the woman within hours of meeting her. They have sex early on in the plot, then the woman is not so sure of things, and emotionally and physically distances herself from the man. In the end she decides she can’t live without him and they get married. I’m embarrassed to say I finished 6 books with the same plot, but none of my other books were available from the library yet and I like to read something as I fall asleep. One positive thing I will say about these novels is that since the plot is so predictable, they are easy to put down, for example, when my son needs attention, etc. I can easily put the book down (which really isn’t a compliment).

I can’t wait to read an in-depth original novel. I can’t wait until my turn comes up at the library to read Nicholas Sparks’ latest novel, The Lucky One. Currently, I am number 32 out of 265, so it will be soon (I started out in the hundreds). I also just finished Debbie Macomber’s A Cedar Cove Christmas, which was SO delightful, especially after this Evanovich silliness. More to come on that. Also in my future, I heard of a good author, Robyn Carr, from Susan Wiggs’ blog. I’ve ordered Carr’s Virgin River series from the library and the books are already there for me to pick up tomorrow! I’m so excited!!

The Gratitute Project: Day 5

I am grateful for my son. He brings me such joy, and I am glad I get to spend my days with him.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 4

I suppose I should be patriotic and take the easy answer that I'm thankful to vote, and really I am - it's just that I mailed in my ballot last week, so the hype is over for me. Last year when I forgot to vote in the primary, my husband was really upset and reminded me that Americans are fighting and dying for our freedom, including our freedom to vote. That really got to me, so I take my voting more seriously now, even when there's not a presidential race.

On top of that, I am thankful for my house and for a roof. It has started raining and will not stop all week, or so we're told, and I am thankful to have a dry place to live.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 3

I am grateful for my Bible Study and for the people that provide the childcare. Both me and my Little Guy really like to go. This is the only regular time I have away from my Little Guy where I'm not sweating on the treadmill. It's nice to come home and already be dressed and showered for the day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 2

I am thankful for my husband and his job which allows me to stay home with my Little Guy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Gratitude Project: Day 1

One of my favorite authors, Susan Wiggs, is starting a Gratitude Project. Every day on her blog, she will post 3 things she's grateful for and she welcomes readers to put what they are thankful for in her comments section or on their own blogs. My goal is to post one thing a day until Thanksgiving that I am grateful for (and it can be silly or serious). Today I am grateful for having grandparents who live nearby who will watch my child while Hubby and I go shopping. Thanks Grandma!