Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm a Book Reviewer!

Last week I took the plunge and joined my friend Tiffani as a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson Publishers. It is a great opportunity for bloggers to get free books by writing short reviews on selected Thomas Nelson books. When you complete the review, you keep the book! Good deal, eh?

For my first book, I reviewed Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter.

Seaside Letters follows Sabrina Kincaid, a young, world-weary college graduate working as a waitress at a greasy spoon in Nantucket. Sabrina came to Nantucket after a nasty breakup wrapped up in a painful family betrayal.

Sabrina works as a research assistant for a local mystery writer in exchange for room and board, using her outstanding English skills and literature background to add drama and intrigue to her friends' rich stories.

Tucker is a local guy. A trained lawyer who chooses to spend his days working at his boating business rather than enter the 9 to 5 work world.

Tucker is a regular at Sabrina's cafe. The two soon strike up a amicable relationship as server and customer, but Tucker wants more.

The rest of the story follows their secret semi-anonymous online relationship and the complicated results of their secrecy and half-truths. At the risk of ruining the plot I will stop there. You'll just have to read it!

When I first read the cover of the book I thought that it honestly sounded lame and contrived. However, when you actually get into the "meat" of the book it really draws you in. There were definitely times during the novel when I wished the author would just end our misery and reveal all the secrets, but the conclusion was worth all the torturous moments.

If you are a fan of modern, Christian (or clean) romantic fiction, this is a great book. There is even a reading group guide in the back for all those book clubbers out there!

Up next:

Diaper Cake Tutorial

Want to make a diaper cake? Cool!

Here is how I did it.

Step 1:
Buy some diapers. You can buy fun looking diapers like I did, or the plain white kind.
Then lay them out like this.

Step 2:
Starting at 1 end of the stack, begin to curl it around on itself. This part is hard to explain. Here is what the bottom layer looks like (in case you are visual like me).

Step 3:
Place a rubber band around the entire outside of the swirl. After you get the rubber band on you can adjust the diapers to make them even and make the circle look a little better.

Step 4:
Make two more layers. This is probably obvious, but the less diapers, the smaller the layer.

Step 5:
Grab some ribbon that coordinates with your shower theme. I chose plain pink and then a polka dot pink for my top layer of ribbon.

Step 6:
Wrap the ribbon around the cake and glue it.

Step 7:
Make a great cake topper. I made some washcloth flowers and used some ribbon to finish it off.

Here is the finished product!

I just stacked the layers with nothing holding them together. It was easy to transport to the shower, and easy for the Mommy-to-be to take home!

Here are some pics from the shower. I used some of the baby clothes that she has already received as decorations. A little jute twine and some clothespins made for super easy (and FREE!) decor.

Here is little Lynne and her Mom!

The cake was a big hit!

This is Scary...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Puppies and Kitties (and other cliches)

Here are my little Scotty dogs. :) Aren't they cute?!

The other night on the way home from Dianna's house my headlights happened upon this cute little creature.

He was just sitting in the middle of the road all huddled up and pitiful looking. I couldn't resist. I got out of the car. I was certain that he would run. He didn't. I picked him up.

And then I fell in love with his cute little face. The poor guy had a nasty kitty cold so I didn't want him around Oscar, but I thought that Melanie (Dianna's roommate) might know what to do with him. Melanie is a kitten expert and often fosters kitties from the Humane Society until they are adoption-ready.

When I arrived at Dianna's, Melanie wasn't there. But Dianna and I weighed the little stinker and he was only 1 1/2 lbs! We knew he would get fostered if we brought him to the Humane Society drop off, so we did. We even left a little note with where we found him. I am certain he was a stray kitten. He was the stinkiest cat I have ever smelled. Seriously. The next day my car stunk. But he was very cute and had no mommy in sight. And I knew if I left him there he would get hit by a car that didn't see him.

Besides the kitty cold he was very alert and sweet. He will make somebody a great little companion once he gets a little bigger (and a little less sniffly). Thanks, Dianna!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


When I was a little kid I heard about a litter of puppies that was abandoned on the side of the road and left to die in a garbage bag.

Thankfully they were rescued.

But now, whenever I see garbage bags on the road or the side of the road I always watch for movement. I guess I'm just looking out for the unwanted puppies of the world.

Messed up, huh? :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Scotty Dog Softie

I'm really excited to do some projects this weekend. But I couldn't wait for the weekend! Here is one I am doing quickly tonight.

I'm not making it 3-D. I am only using the outer body pattern. It will be like a flat, but stuffed scotty. It is for my favorite little Beanster!

The pattern is from the allsorts website. Check it out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My lovely weekend

Hello dearest blog followers (and stalkers-yes, I love you too),

I am sad that another weekend is drawing to a close, but happy that it was a weekend spent with friends and our Waco family. Here are some photos and musings. I apologize for the length. Only the most committed readers need continue. :)

Friday: IKEA, traffic jams and my lovely husband

On Friday, I spent the day traveling to Austin, Texas to host an MCH table at a government fair. Employees are encouraged to give to local charities, so we were invited to have a presence at the fair and share our mission. I, of course, brought candy which was very well received. :) We were a popular booth and generated some interest. I can only hope that it will lead to some donations or perhaps even help a struggling family find the resources we offer.

It rained on Friday, so my travel was a little crazy. In fact, at one point, I was actually sitting in totally standstill traffic on I-35. So I started playing solitaire on my iPod until the traffic jam was fixed. No worries, I didn't play and drive. I was actually sitting on the interstate with the car in "park." Because of a brief-but-fun stop at IKEA, not to mention the traffic, I didn't get home until 7. However, my time at IKEA made the traffic jam worth it.

As many of you know, I have been on the prowl for a comforter/duvet that was a down alternative. Being the frugal seminary family we are, I knew it would also have to be cheap. I found a great bargain at IKEA! It is a light (very light- I love it!) comforter that only cost $19.99 for a King size. Yes, you read that correctly! It is, however made of that material that covers airline pillows and pillows at the doctor. But it is soft and comfy and goes inside a duvet cover anyway, so I don't care!

The duvet cover was $29.99. I went for a plain white. I thought this would make it easy to change our color scheme down the road. I also like the idea of a clean white comforter, so I went with it! I bought a blue pillow at IKEA for $9.99. It is my inspiration pillow for the colors of our room. I will be making other pillow covers to coordinate with this theme. I love that the blue pillow ties in the brown curtain too.

The "old door" headboard (that is in the making), will be painted a light white/blue/grey color. That way it will stand out a little from the wall, but will still be a light color. Someday, when we are no longer temporarily renting, I will have beautiful colored walls in our bedroom, so I wanted to choose a headboard color that would look good in both environments.

I also purchased a bath mat for only $9.99! It is light grey and looks very nice with our beautiful white shower curtain. Now to coordinate the rest of the bathroom! Does anyone know of a cheap place to buy under-bed containers? I would like to use these for our beach towels, etc. since we don't have a linen closet.

Have I mentioned that my husband is wonderful? :) Here is a photo of Marc putting the comforter inside the duvet cover. :)

We pinned the corners so it wouldn't float around inside the cover. It is wonderfully comfortable and makes every night feel like a beautiful bed and breakfast! Plus, the bed is easy to make in the morning!

Saturday: Sleep, showers, chocolate and friends

On Saturday, we slept in! I love sleeping in! More accurately, I slept in. Marc didn't really sleep in, he worked on cleaning the house. Have I mentioned what a lucky girl I am? :) I got up, cleaned up and frantically went to Target to purchase some onesies to make a gift for my friend Lynne's baby shower. Since her shower was at 2pm, I was a little stressed as I tried to make all the crafty-loveliness happen in a very short period of time. Never fear, my friends. I made it! Here is a photo of the finished product. :) It is a ruffle-butt onesie with a little matching button detail on the front.

Here is how I wrapped it. I love wrapping in scraps of fabric because it reuses something and is easily reuseable by the recipient. For this gift, I used a bit of the purple fabric instead of a ribbon.

After the shower, I went to JoAnn's fabric store and purchased some binding for the quilt I've been working on. It was an antique quilt top that I found for $4! I patched up the holes with a fun contrasting fabric and I plan to quilt it sometime soon. Maybe next weekend?

When I got home from JoAnn's, my hubby had made some wonderful and delicious Spanish rice, so we ate together and then both felt that it was time for some social interaction with the outside world. What better way than chocolate? :) We met up at Chili's for some yummy desert and conversation with our dear friend, Jalon.

After a fun conversation, we called Julie and RJ and met up at our apartment to watch Kung Fu Panda. It was an interesting movie. Not my favorite animated flick, but it had some great moments. I really just loved looking around the room and seeing friends. At moments like that I am so thankful for the friends God has provided over the last few months. It is so nice to have our wonderful Waco friends, but also to now have friends who know our "home" in Sioux Falls.

Marc and I spent the late-late evening watching Man vs. Wild. Bear Grylis is insane. I watched him bite off the head off a frog. He said he needed the nutrition, but then he got picked up by a helicopter twenty minutes later. For me, helicopter means "normal food nearby." So why the frog, Bear? Why?

Sunday: Preaching, eating, watching and fellowshipping

Sunday morning brought us to Ridgecrest Retirement Home in Waco where Marc preached at their chapel service. DaySpring leads the service every few weeks and Marc volunteered to preach. It was fun to interact with everyone.

After a marathon shopping trip at the local HEB, we went home and prepared food for our dear Midwestern friend-family group. We have been laughing lately at the motleyness of our Midwestern crew. We are a funny group, to be sure. A bunch of Midwestern transplants who happened to go to the same undergrad and are now living in the same town again. We have a shared experience of the Sioux Falls area, so that makes getting together fun, but on the other hand, we are an odd group of people who probably never would have ended up together otherwise. In that way we feel like family. No one can be voted out. We all love each other, but sometimes we also drive each other crazy. I love it. Thanks for being my family, you guys. :)

Here is a photo of part of the crew today.

After a wonderful afternoon nap (on my part), and some football watching (on Marc and RJ's part), we headed out to Common Grounds for some more Jalon time. This time we were studying. Well, they were studying, I was really just sitting here blogging and being creative.

I just love my Jalon. :) And that concludes the weekend, my friends. Now I shall go home and snuggle under my wonderful new bedding! It has been so nice having the rain this weekend. It is so nice to fall asleep to the rain and smell the ozone. God is good.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obligatory "The Cat Will Make You Smile" Video

This video made my morning. Seriously. :) Thank you cuteoverload. It is really very funny. If you don't have the patience to watch it for 2 1/2 minutes, I would encourage you to go straight to the 2 minute mark. It is too funny.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things I want to try...




Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Esme's Find

Being that it is the first weekend of the month, I had to spend time at Esme's. Esme's is a local junk shop that is closing down. They have been closing down since June by only opening one weekend a month until all the junk is gone. Thankfully, for me, there is a lot of junk to explore so I may eek out a few more months of fun! Normally I look for the small stuff. We don't need big stuff and we don't have the space for it. I have been trying to slowly de-collegify our space by replacing our college dorm decor with nicer more-permanent pieces. However, I am cheap. I look for ideas from places like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Ballard Designs and Anthropology, and remake them for our space on our budget.

Enough rambling, I'll get to the good stuff!

Today, I found the motherload. I spotted a neat mid-century glider rocker near the front door of Esme's. It has a nice dark walnut finish and burgandy worn-suede looking upholstry on the cushions. And it already has a little shabby touch of burlap ribbon on the back cushion. It was cute, but then I sat in it. I fell in love. Seriously.
This chair is amazingly comfortable. It almost made me wish I still had homework so I could curl up in the chair to work on it. Almost...

The chair was in amazing condition, it just needed a little TLC. So I asked the fatal question of all junkers... "How much for this, Esme?"

30 bucks.

30. Seriously!

So I thought, I wonder if there is a bunch of sawdust in this upholstery, after all, it is old. I asked her about it. She said she just had it recovered in the antique looking suede. It is new down in the back pillow and nice new foam in the seat cushion. Can't beat that!

So, I called Marc right away. I was at the store with my dear friend, Lacey and she sat in the chair and gave her definite and enthusiastic approval. Marc said that it sounded like a good deal. You see, our current "guest" chair in our living room is a big old black swivel glide rocker with a glide footstool. While the pleather chair is comfy, it was starting to look a little worse for the wear. I got it as a senior in high school, so we knew we would eventually need to find a replacement chair. In my opinion this was the perfect option. I mean, if someone wanted to buy us a brand new reclining chair for two I wouldn't object, but that probably won't be happening anytime soon. :)

Here are the pictures of the cleaning and refreshing.

Great construction on this chair, but it was a bit yucky. See the coil cover here? Yuck!

I simply had to clean the chair up. A little elbow grease, a vacuum and many dust rags later we had this.

I gave it a rub down with some Old English after this shot was taken.

Here is the replacement coil cover that I made with some burlap and fabric I had sitting around.

Here it is tacked in place with some furniture tacks.

The finished cleaned up project!

Here it is in our living room. I like the chair because it is big and comfy, low to the ground (nice for short people like me) and it just feels a little more adult than our old chair. A little less college and a little more thrifty shabby chic. The chair also gets Marc and Dave approval for comfort, so it must be good!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lord of the Rings: A Review

I finished the Lord of the Rings about a week ago. In honor of that momentous event, I will give a brief review. There may be some spoilers.

I enjoyed the books to some degree. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being "My Favorite Book EVER!" I would give the series a 5.

Things I liked:

1. Frodo and Sam and their tight-knit relationship.

2. The Frodo and Sam portion of their journey.

3. Oddly, I liked Smeagol. He made me laugh. He was creepy, but his dialect was hilarious.

4. The portion set in Lothlorien. That was a really good part.

5. I loved Gandolf's sarcastic dislike for Pippin. Hilarious.

6. I loved the Ents and Treebeard.

Things I disliked:

1. The length of the dark parts. Sometimes it just drug on and on.

2. There wasn't enough focus on Arwen for me to buy into her character as the true love interest of Aragorn. For me, it was more "likeable" for Aragorn to end up with Eowyn because she is pretty amazing. I just think that Tolkien didn't put enough emphasis on Arwen early on during the Rivendell part of the story.

3. What is up with the Ents not finding the Entwives?!?!?! You're killing me Tolkien! You wrap up something as minute and barely mentioned as Sam's love life, but you won't satisfy the centuries-long longings of Treebeard and the other Ents? Come on!

4. I got sick of all the poems. Seriously, Tolkien, you can just write a book of poetry, you don't need to throw it all in the Lord of the Rings series. They were random most of the time, and after reading all of them in the first book and having it add nothing to the story-line, I skipped them in subsequent books. Don't judge.

5. Orcs. I hate them. They are icky and gross. I know they were needed for the story, but I felt the need to state here that they were definitely NOT my favorite part of the story.

6. Violence, death, danger, etc. I knew what I was getting into when I read them, but I still thought that the best parts were the more "peaceful" parts. I know the violence was necessary, but I don't have to like it.

And that, my friends, is my review. Enjoy!
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