Saturday, April 28, 2012

12/40: Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Happy Ever AfterHappy Ever After by Nora Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: One by one, the women of Vows wedding planning company have found their own perfect matches, eventually leaving PR director Parker Brown as the only loner. When her encounters with mechanic Malcomb Kavanaugh take an unexpected direction, she begins to wonder if she too has found her perfect match. A perfectly tied bow to an enchanting romance series.

I love a good wedding! This was the perfect end to the series. These books are so full of happiness you can't help but take a big sigh and feel warm and fuzzy.

Parker is the detailed one in the quartet. She has her life planned down to the detail. Whatever isn't on the plan she doesn't have time for. When Mal throws her off and she doesn't know what to expect, it sparks something between them. She is equally fighting against her own feelings and intrigued with him. Her icy way of telling men to back off doesn't work on him.

Malcolm doesn't know what to think about Parker, but he knows it's something he wants to explore. I loved his character. He's the right mix of bad boy and sweetheart. He works hard, loves his mother and has a charm that is hard to resist.

I loved their story and how perfect they were for each other. Once you get to know them a little deeper they are very alike, and just the right amount of different to make it work well.

As always, Roberts knows how to weave a love story that you can't help but fall in love with. Reading about the weddings they plan through the story has a magical feel to it. After reading this series through planning my own wedding and finishing it afterwards, it makes me want to marry my husband all over again!

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Friday, April 27, 2012

11/40: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: Since the beginning of the school year, high school freshman Melinda has found that it's been getting harder and harder for her to speak out loud: "My throat is always sore, my lips raw.... Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze.... It's like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis." What could have caused Melinda to suddenly fall mute? Could it be due to the fact that no one at school is speaking to her because she called the cops and got everyone busted at the seniors' big end-of-summer party? Or maybe it's because her parents' only form of communication is Post-It notes written on their way out the door to their nine-to-whenever jobs. While Melinda is bothered by these things, deep down she knows the real reason why she's been struck mute: Andy Evans. He's a senior at Melinda's high school, and Melinda hasn't been able to speak clearly since the Incident with him at the senior party last August

This book had a lot of hype around it. I don't get it. I understand when it came out it was on a lot of banned book lists because of the touchy subject matter. There is something to be said for that and I give props to Anderson for writing a book on something a lot of people won't talk about.

The writing was irritating. I felt like there were incomplete thoughts and paragraphs that ended when there was more to it. I know that it's told from a ninth-grader point of view, but I couldn't get past that I felt the sentences were choppy and seemed fragmented. I was also annoyed with the incorrect spelling of a lot of words. I know it was on purpose it just really annoyed me. Atitood? Womynhood? Really? It did nothing to add to the storyline, I think it actually took away from it. The lack of description was also lacking. For a 198 page book it took me a long time to get through it.

The premise of the book was good. I just don't think it was as powerful as everyone says it is. I assume this was banned because of the subject matter and not for the amount of detail that went into the "scene".

For a book about this touchy subject, there are better books out there. I realize Speak was one of the first, but since I'm reading it long after there are others published, I would recommend different ones for the subject matter.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

10/40: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.
I liked this book, but not nearly as much as Delirium. Lauren Oliver is a fabulous writer. She has a way of pulling you in and keeping you there in suspense. How to book had each chapter as Then and Now.

Lena is still a great character. She's strong even though we meet her in this book broken and wounded. She fights and doesn't take any sort of crap. Definitely a strong female main character. I loved that Pandemonium introduced us to a whole different part of society and gave us new characters to fall in love with and others to hate.

I was holding my breath through the last third of the book until I got to the last few chapters. At that point, it lost any love I had. The ending of this one made me roll my eyes and not want to pick up the next one. That makes me sad because I LOVED Delirium. It's not the entire ending that had me feeling this way, just the love triangle portion. Why does it have to be that way in most YA books? Why can there not just be ONE guy/girl? The rest of the ending was great and definitely sets up the next book nicely to be very interesting, I'm just sad that the next one seems to be leaning towards having a big element of "which one will she choose?"
I will read the 3rd in the series no doubt about it, but I won't run for it.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bible Study: Week 9 and 10

Now that Julie and I are back on a regular meeting schedule I'll hopefully get my Bible Study blogs up a little sooner after we meet.

Week 9: His Purpose
This week was all about whether your husband is following God's purpose for him. Do we know what his purpose is supposed to be? How can we help.
For me this is a hard chapter to answer. I don't know what God has planned for Frenchie or what he is destined to do. From what I can see, Frenchie is right where he wants to be, or he's making changes to get there.

Week 10: His Choices
Frenchie makes good choices. I don't second guess him very often, and he always asks my advice if the choice will affect us both in a major way. I also wouldn't say that he looks to God to help make his decisions, but I'm a firm believer that God does speak to Frenchie in his thoughts. He takes the time to think decisions through and I believe in that time, God helps him make the right decision.

We're meeting again in a couple weeks to discuss Week 11 & 12. His Health and His Protection. It's nice that there are usually two chapters that go very well together.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Epicure Website!

Today is very exciting in the Epicure Selections world. As a consultant, I now have my own website!

Please follow the link to view my Epicure Website.
Be sure to bookmark this site so you'll always be at the right one.

The biggest reason this is such big news is that by visiting my website you can be sure you're always ordering from me. No more searching for a consultant after you've got your order ready to go.

All of the same features from the old website are available, only better! Everything is easier to find and has an updated layout.

Here are a few great things you will find:
  • Current Monthly Customer and Hostess specials
  • Epicure's Daily Recipe - find something new to make with our great products
  • Easily create an order to ship directly to you!
  • Contact me to Host a party!
  • Contact me about becoming an Epicure Consultant
  • Read My Story and why I joined Epicure Selections
There are some great changes happening at Epicure and I'm so happy to be able to share them with you

Ballet Recital!

I've been taking a ballet class since early January at Dance Through Life. The studio is for adults only and focuses on fun rather than competition. It's relaxed and all about having fun and keeping fit. Miss Karen is a fabulous instructor. I can't wait to take more classes from her.

12 weeks of something I didn't know I missed so much. The first class I came home and was thrilled! I felt like I had just had an hour conversation with a friend I haven't seen in 8 YEARS!  After 12 weeks we had a full routine to the Glee Cast version of Lady Antebellum - Need you Now.

Sunday we had our Spring Dance Recital. There was a packed house of family and friends to watch the outstanding numbers. There was two halves to the show with a 15 minute intermission.

I haven't been on stage is so long it felt great! The nerves and excitement were still there. We got to wear black body suits, pink ballet tights and black long tutus. Every girl should have a tutu!!!

Frenchie took a video of our routine from where he was sitting. It was with my cell phone so not the best quality, but you can see it!  I'm on the left in the front row.


Tap starts in 2 weeks! Can't wait!


Monday, April 16, 2012

9/40: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy, #1)The Next Always by Nora Roberts
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From Goodreads: The historic hotel in Boonsboro has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. Beckett is the architect of the family, and his social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen.

After losing her husband and returning to her hometown, Clare Brewster soon settles into her life as the mother of three young sons while running the town’s bookstore. Busy, with little time for romance, Clare is drawn across the street by Beckett’s transformation of the old inn, wanting to take a closer look . . . at the building and the man behind it.

With the grand opening inching closer, Beckett’s happy to give Clare a private tour - one room at a time. It’s no first date, but these stolen moments are the beginning of something new - and open the door to the extraordinary adventure of what comes next . .

This was just what I needed to kick off spring. Fun, romantic, easy read. Roberts knows how to write a first kiss scene. Swoon!
I liked Clare a lot. She was a strong independant woman. Married young and left with 3 boys to wrangle, she finds something special without even looking.

Beckett is a man with good values that works hard and is patient. The two of them together was so sweet. The way he loved her boys made me sigh every time. Without meaning to, he was a great father figure to them, and for a woman with 3 kids, he was perfect for Clare.

Sam's character really bothered me, however that means he was written well. The guy who gets anything he wants, and if it doesn't come willingly he just takes it. I hated Sam with fire and daggers.

I'm not sure how I feel about the ghost portion of the story. I think it the story was fine without it. This didn't seem like the sort of book that needed something suernatural to be on the sidelines. I imagine the next two books will dive deeper into this part. You can see already who is going to end up with who in the trilogy: 3 friends, 3 brothers.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bible Study: Week 5 - 8

I'm a little behind in my blogging on the Bible Study Julie and I have been doing. If you recall, we both picked up a copy of The Power of a Praying Wife and started working through it.
With life being what it is, we've had several weeks where our meetings get bumped due to vacation, illness or general "oops, I forgot" on both sides.

We seem to have found that meeting every two weeks is working well. We do two weeks at a time and find we have more to talk about this way.  We aren't sticky with completing this bible study in the 30 weeks that the book is timed for. Sometimes you just can't get it done.

I missed blogging about the weeks in more detail and I will try and do more in the future, but for now, here is a small recap of the past 4 weeks.

Week 5 - His Affection
I liked this chapter. Frenchie and I show affection in different ways, but we also have a good understanding of how to show it to each other in a way that is received well. It's also one of the first things that goes when our lives become distracted. It's also one thing that we work very hard to maintain in our relationship.

Week 6 - His Temptation
Julie and I both struggled with this chapter. We both have very strong relationships with our husbands and don't fear temptation in the same sense we felt the book was referring to. There are no addictions, no women we worry about or anything like that. We both pray something like this will never come into our lives.

Week 7 - His Mind
This chapter focused on how sound of mind our husbands are. Are there lies being whispered to them or do they have fear. Other than getting down on themselves, both Julie's husband and Frenchie have a sound mind. Those times when they are hard on themselves is the opportunity for us to pray and give encouragement through God's words.

Week 8 - His Fears
I liked this chapter a lot. It sparked some great conversation with Frenchie. I asked him what his fears were and he listed quite a few that I had thought of. I told him others I thought he had and he was surprised at the list. He did agree but said he tries not to think of those ones in particular. According to our readings,
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
love will take away fear. I mentioned to Julie that the fears Frenchie has are based out of love, yet love will take that fear away. She said the same for her husband and we both thought it was interesting.

I am really enjoying this study even though some chapters seem to be a little out of our realm of marriage at the moment (and in some cases, hopefully forever)


Monday, April 9, 2012

8/40: Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe

Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden StrengthIntrovert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was very validating for me. I learned a little about myself and a little about my husband. It was interesting to read and take something away from each chapter even if I am not as introverted in some aspects as the author describes. Knowing I don't have to apologize for my natural tendencies was very validating for me to realize. Just because I'm not doing something in the extrovert world doesn't mean I'm lonely, there is something wrong with me or I have no friends.

I bookmarked a lot of pages in this book to keep for future reference but thought I'd share a few points that spoke greatly to me.

"Introversion is an inward orientation to life,..."
An introvert will naturally want to focus on the self, the inner life. Not just of ourselves but of others. We don't care what so and so did, we want to know what YOU are feeling INSIDE. I'm big on feelings and now it makes a little more sense. I want the inner dialogue. I want the feelings you're hiding. That is real to me. Gossip is boring.

Introverts are not anti-social or asocial. From childhood to now there's always the worried looks when I say I don't like parties. I don't like to go out to the bar, etc. Remember that trip I went on with my two besties? We sat in a hotel room and read and didn't speak to each other? BLISS. Not anti-social at all. I can't tell you how many times someone has looked at me with worry when I say my plans for a Friday night are laundry and reading with a cup of tea. No TV, no party, no friends out and about. I'm late twenties so I guess there is something wrong with me going home and sitting on my couch reading. I used to feel that way sometimes. Why don't I want to go out? Everyone else seems to be. There's nothing wrong me with and I won't apologize for doing something that makes me happy.

Cyberspace is a haven for most introverts. We get the interaction we need when we choose. We can turn it off when we have had our fill. This picture may seem sad to a lot of people, but it's so true. I have more friends online than I do in real life. Sad? Maybe, but think of it this way. I have meaningful friendships with these people and care about them deeply. They don't mind if I disappear for a while. A tweet or facebook update and they know I'm still around. They don't get upset if I don't "talk" to them for a while. We have shared interests which brings us closer.

If you ask an introvert how many friends they have, they can probably count on one hand. Those are the people that they hold near and dear and will do almost anything for. (I've excluded my family here since that would fill up several hands)

There are so many more great lightbulb moments in this book. If you have an introvert spouse, or you are the introvert, pick this one up and read it. You'll learn a little and understand a little and hopefully find a way to mesh together. My husband and I are both introverts but both very different. He retreats to sports and community. I retreat to books and movies. Ask us to go out for a party and we'll both say no, and after reading this, there will be no excuses or "maybe next times".
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Sunday, April 1, 2012

March 2012 Book Recap

What I read and started in March 2012
Books read to date: 7/40
According to the GoodReads Challenge I'm 2 books behind to reach my yearly goal.

Monthly savings: $29.68
Year-to-date savings: $57.12


Goal check in: 1st Quarter

I can't believe it's been 3 months already! This year is flying.
I thought I would do a check in on my goals I set in January and see if anything has happened or changed.
  1. Complete Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 - She's so mean but definitely kicks your butt
    • Didn't do more than a couple nights. I planned to do the New Rules of Lifting for Women and that's fallen off the wagon as well. Why is fitness so hard for me right now?
  2. Start a dance class
    • Signed up for Ballet and have my recital April 15. I'm so excited! The class has been great to get me out of the house and back to dance.
    • I signed up for Tap class to begin at the end of April for 8 weeks.
  3. Save more money and tighten up on a budget - We have a lot of vacations in 2013 planned
    • We've consolidated a lot of our finances so we can use a few tools to track where our money is going. We've paid off our car we bought last year. We are also being more conscious of how much we're spending eating out for lunch.
    • Frenchie just got a raise so that will help significantly
  4. Possibly find a new job - I like mine, it's just not what I was hired for
    • Working on it.
  5. Renovate the kitchen cupboards - Change the color and add better organization
    • This will be a while. I have no idea if we'll even have the money or the time to do this right now.
  6. Read 50 books! I missed by goal by 6 in 2011 but read some amazing books
    • I've already opted out of this one by lowering my goal to 40. My commute has somehow destroyed my reading time. I'm not sure if it's just busier or there are more people. Being crushed between 6 people on the train isn't conducive to reading. I put OverDrive on my IPad which has allowed me to take library ebooks out and I think that will really help.
  7. Go to church more often - I'd like to go twice a month
    • Fail on this one. I haven't gone once this quarter
  8. Do a bible study - either with friends or by myself
    • My friend Julie and I have been doing a bible study of Power of the Praying Wife over Skype together. I love it. It really helps me focus on my husband and our life.
  9. Keep in better touch with friends and family - Call friends and see family more often
    • Terrible on the friend part. Family a little better. Sister2 is moving down to the same city as Sister1 and I so I've been chatting with her a lot. Hopefully they will be down here in the next couple months permanently and I'll be able to see her more often!
  10. Meal plan weekly
    • So far so good! There's been a few weeks we've missed and those are the weeks I feel disorganized. since selling Epicure I'm definitely trying new recipes and have a wealth of healthy eating ideas. Planning just got exciting!
  11. Start teaching piano in the fall
    • Nothing happening yet. It's still too early
  12. I would like to complete my Grade 7 and Grade 8 Royal Conservatory of Canada. I already completed the exams when I was in high school, so I'm basically just going through both grades myself and then move onto Grade 9. Working towards my ARCT in Pedagogy. There is SO much work to do it's going to take a few years to complete.
    • I've really fallen away from playing as often as I did in January and February. I need to kick my own butt and get back to it. I'll blame Sons of Anarchy on this. The show is just WAY to good to not watch 3 episodes a night... right?