Friday, January 31, 2014

New Country Music I Can't Get Enough Of

I am a girl that loves her country music, over and over and over again. I listen to other genres of music, but country has always been a part of my life.

Hometown by Eric Church

Hello memories. This is so reminiscent of my small hometown back in Kansas, that I just had to get out of but I love going back to visit. Also, Eric is smokin' in this video. It's rare to see him without his sunnies and baseball cap, but there are some yummy scruffy moments in this video. I can't wait to see him again in June! He's also releasing his next album in February, yay!

Famous by Kelleigh Bannen

I'm always a little skeptical of pretty new faces in country music because sometimes they just don't have the voice to make it without the face. Know what I'm sayin'? Anyway, after hearing the chorus of this song and realizing where the title comes from I was singing it on repeat!

19 You + Me by Dan + Shay

These guys have been played more than more newbies on the Bobby Bones Show, partly because they're friends with Nada, but MAN do they deserve it. I loved this song since the first time I heard it and can't wait to see what else they come out with! They've also been teased as the country version of Savage Garden...remember them? Truly, Madly, Deeply was my JAM and always takes me back to middle school when we took a family vaca to Galveston.

New music to me is something I only remember hearing within the last month. So, if it's been on an album and just released as a single but I love it like Jason's When She Says Baby, it's not really new to me.

Anything playing on your local country station that I should be looking up? It always amazes me how different things are played all over!

Speaking of that trip down memory lane, here's Savage Garden and the song that always takes me back. This whole album was awesome!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Weighing In 1-3

Good Morning!

I weighed in yesterday with a small loss. Victory! I really wanted to splurge yesterday too, and while I did have a cookie, I didn't eat out for any of my meals like I was planning or wanting to.

Not much else to say, I wrote this last night and my eyes were falling asleep. I'm thinking about doing Shakeology in February/March just as something to try. Anybody tried it? Heard positive or negative about it? I'm still in the researching stage.

I can't believe it's already the end of January, but I'm sooo ready for Friday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Recipe: Spicy Baked Beans

Happy Hump Day pretties!

We're coming off the high of a wonderful Pampered Chef party and gearing up for Super Bowl for our next big shindig. My parents have the whole church over...we go to a small church, so don't worry it's not like we live in a mansion but our house does get pretty full with all the people. We just really love having people over and sharing food with friends!

I thought I'd share one of my favorite party and cookout side dishes.

My Mom's Baked Beans with a Kick

Spicy Baked Beans Printable Recipe

15 oz Van Camps Pork and Beans
1/2 C. Brown Sugar Packed
1/4 C. Ketchup
1/4 C. BBQ Sauce (we always use hickory smoke flavored)
1/4 C. Diced Onions or 1 Tbsp. Minced Onions
1 Fresh JalapeƱo

Mix all ingredients in small baking dish. Bake in oven for 1 hour at 350 degrees or convection oven for 1 hour at 325 degrees.

These aren't super hot, so if you love the hotter side of the scale, add more Jalapenos.

A couple of things to note.
1. We almost always do a double batch or more because EVERYBODY loves these and they're awesome cold!
2. Often when I make them I'm usually trying to get ready too so it's okay to leave them in the oven. They get even better with a little more love in the oven, lol.

What are some of your favorite tailgate or cookout dishes?

Venus Trapped in Mars

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meh, 7 of the 16 Books to Read in 2014 Before They Hit Theaters

I'm sure you've seen this little list floating around the interwebs, and I'm going to be following this as part of a book club of sorts. I thought I'd share with you the books I'm looking forward to reading, the ones I don't know if I'll be able to get through and to get your input too!

These were labeled in order that they're coming to theater on the original list, but I'm putting them in order of reading preference. The list does get a little dicey after number seven because I wasn't sure which order I wanted most of them in if I get to reading them.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I've actually already read this one! I picked it as the first one since it - a. Sounded intriguing. b. The movie has Ben Affleck in it. c. I remember seeing it for sale at Target.

2. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

This one comes out January 31st, so if I want to read it and then see it in theaters I'll need to read it quick! The storyline and then seeing the promos on TV has really moved this one up the list.

3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Since I loved Twilight, I thought this would be a good read for me. However, it wasn't the vamps that I loved about Twilight, so we'll have to see.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I've heard from friends that they've read and LOVED this so I'm excited to read it!

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Ugh! This one wouldn't be so high up the list, but I know a lot of people that loved it! It really isn't my typical story, end of the world as we know it and blah, blah, blah. I also think my friend will want to read this because she read the Hunger Games books that helped stem this whole Dysotopian era in my opinion.

6. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

This is ANOTHER book by Gillian Flynn and I really enjoyed the crazy book, Gone Girl, so I would hope this would be just as well written. It's also built around a double murder in a fictional rural town in Kansas, much like I grew up in.

7. Serena by Ron Rash

It's a darker read and I seem to like those. Plus it has Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence!

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

This has Taylor Swift in it and you know I'm just dying to see how well she does with a more prominent movie role than when she was in Valentine's Day. This is yet another Dysotopian storyline. Oh joy.

9. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Comedy with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman...makes it higher in the list. Hopefully the book will be good.

10. The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter

Of all the books and moves on this list, this was probably the most dreaded for me. Sure, I like history and everything like some people but it wasn't until I watched the trailer and saw beyond the "WWII" topic that I got interested. Plus a little George Clooney and Matt Damon, yes please!

11. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Reese, I hope this book is as interesting as you make the movie seem. Honestly, this does look like something I would read if I wasn't so consumed with NA.

12. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

I've seen the previews for this movie and it took me a couple times watching before I got it. Yes, it's a love story which is probably where it gets the Valentines Day release date in theaters, but I'm still not entirely sold on it.

13. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Ummm, looks like a Science Fiction storyline and not my thing.

14. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Meh, other than having to do with food and an actress I recognize this doesn't appeal to me.

15. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

The title is in reference to the roof people go to end their lives. Looks like the only thing it has going for it is Pierce Brosnan.

16. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

This one doesn't sound good AND it's directed by *rolls eyes* Angelina Jolie the woman I have never seen in a movie and don't want to break my streak for this one. However, she's starring in a darker Disney film coming out this year and that's making me think about changing my vow.

Have you read any of the books on this list? We have decided to read Labor Day next, so hopefully I can find my library card and check it out today!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Freakin' Weekend

Hey Friends!

It's another dreary Monday, except I'm off so that perks me up just a tad!

Let's do a weekend recap, shall we?


I came home to a vegetable stew that my mom made since she's starting the WW Simple Start two week program. It was good and helped keep my calorie count down. Score!
I finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and while the book started slow, it really picked up and I just didn't want to put it down. The ending left me a little, meh so it was only a four star book for me. It was early to bed for this girl.


I did not sleep in since this cold makes it hard to sleep, but I was able to read some more before enjoying omelets, making my friend a birthday card and baking some beans! I'll be sharing this Spicy Baked Beans Recipe Wednesday. I headed to an adult birthday party in a local park, right on the water and it was a gorgeous day, albeit a little cold in the shade, lol. We also FINALLY got to try out the cornhole boards I made!


After church we made chicken fajitas in the magic pot, so yummy and very low calorie count! Then it was a movie from Hallmark, Seven Year Hitch, cute but one I won't watch again. Finally got a chance to finish Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins and I loved it! Definitely Five Stars! Finishing off the evening with some blogging and The Grammy Awards!

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weighing In 1-2

This is my second time weighing in during my weekly weigh in that started...December 3rd? FAIL.

Well, obviously that's not true since many weeks have passed since then. Not only that but I've joined up with a weight loss wiki that I'm really excited about!

I was a part of my first weight loss wiki back in 2008 and made a good friend because of it. Had to quit when I moved and life was too hard to keep up with the weekly weigh ins, food logging and blog interaction. Yep, this one isn' just about your personal journey but you get to see the struggles and triumphs of your teammates and probably one of the reasons it's something I felt like I really needed this time around. Sure, there's a possibility of prize money at the end and that would be totally AWESOME to splurge on a new swimsuit because mine won't fit anymore and I live where I need a swimsuit ALL THE TIME!

So, with this weight loss journey that won't end until June I've changed a few things since my last weekly weigh in post.

1. I'll post either Wednesday or Thursday since I have to check my weight on Wednesday morning for the wiki.
2. I've adjusted my goal weight to equal half the weight I'd like to lose this year since it ends half way through the yer, duh!
3. If you want to follow me on MyFitnessPal feel free because I have to log my food or I get kicked out *gasp* and I don't want THAT to happen!

I'm holding true to my "no working out at the gym until February" rule, but I have added in arm workouts three times a week on my break at work! I did this religiously 4-5 days a week several months ago and loved what it was doing for my arms. Then I got hurt and gave it up. Such is the story of most of my goals, right?

I took a personal day, my last day that carried over from last year and it was a good time to take it since I feel like crap. I've got drainage going on but I'm not stuffed up...bodies are weird. I'm resting, working on the blog and will hopefully get to watch the latest Chicago Fire episode with my mama!

What does your hump day look like? Have you been linking up with Liz over at Fitness Blondie for her Hump Day link up?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Freakin Weekend

Eeeep! It's Monday and what a Fabulous week I'm looking at.

But let's first talk about my weekend. You know when you have things in your head, all planned out and then someone or something comes along to thwart those well thought out plans?! That's kind of what happened to me this weekend.

I had every intention of doing some cleaning and running errands. Well, the errands got done, sorta...I still have something I need to pick up hopefully today but the cleaning got pushed to next weekend. Which, is probably okay since my mom is having her Pampered Chef party and I always help her clean for that.

1. We gave Boomer his last Christmas gift. He's definitely like a child in that he can't handle all good things all at once so this had just been sitting on the side table waiting to be opened! Isn't he cute?!
2. We went to Zim Zari's on Friday for thei late night appetizers and drink specials. It was sooo delicious and I love the atmosphere of this place.
3. I started reading both my library books this weekend. I also finished a cheap eBook Rock the Heart by Michelle A. Valentine and while the editing could have used some work, I loved the story!
4. We were strolling through K-Mart because it's right next to Lowes down here and I saw this poster stand. Doesn't it just give you a flashback of looking through all the posters for your teen heart throb!? They also had a FULL aisle of Christmas stuff STILL at 70% off so I may have spent a little bit of (unplanned) money to get something for an ugly sweater party next year! I did use a gift card I've been hanging on to for just that purpose and I put some things back I really didn't need.

Rock the Heart by Michelle A. Valentine

This book is STILL $0.99 for Kindle and definitely worth that $1!! Especially if you like a rekindled romance with a rock star!

Synopsis: For the last four years, good girl Lane has regretted breaking up with Noel Falcon. She thought she was sensible when she told him his dreams of being a rock star would get him nowhere, but now that he's a rock god and her career is stagnant, she realizes just how wrong she was. When Noel hires the marketing company where Lane is an intern, she's forced to see him again. If she wants to land her dream job as executive within the company, she has to win him over and secure his account. Too bad Noel is still pissed at her for breaking his heart.

When Lane's company flies her to a Black Falcon concert to gain Noel's attention, emotions run high the moment she sees him and realizes she's far from over him. But Noel's countless trysts with groupies and his cocky attitude make Lane believe he isn't the same guy she once loved--now he seems to only want her body. Then after Lane discloses she needs him to procure a job, Noel proves he's a changed man by forcing her to go on the road with him in order to get it.

After Lane reluctantly takes Noel up on his offer, she becomes willing to do whatever it takes to keep him satisfied, even if it means succumbing to his seductive ways. Lane soon finds deception is a dangerous game and she's not the only one playing.

What did you get up to this weekend? I'm off this Wednesday and I'm hoping to get some blog planning done as well as get the process started for my Passport and Conceal Carry!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spending Freeze: January 2014 Half Way Point

Happy Hump Day!

Since it's January 15th I thought I'd let you know (and keep myself accountable/up to speed) with how I'm doing with this challenge.

DIY Project Vanity - $75 ($20)
$55 spent so far but haven't finished so may need to spend more.

Dining with Friends - $30 ($10.75)
$2.14 - I bought two sodas for $2 at the gas station since I needed some caffeine. It was either this or a $4 drink at Starbucks. I think I chose well.
$2.09 - met a friend at Starbucks to work on design stuff and talk. This was half the price and so many less calories than my normal drink.
$11 - lunch with same friend since we hung out longer.
$4.02 - Starbucks drink with a different friend to hang out with our laptops.
- Apparently I have a thing for meeting with friends and spending little bits of money!

Line Dancing - $10 ($10)
Didn't go when planned, so this is staying put and I don't think we'll end up going.

Reading - $10 (-$2.45)
I've bought Qty:5 $0.99 cent books from Amazon and then I also bought a used book for $7.50. However, I've already learned my lesson. After I bought the used book for half the price of a new one, I found out the library had it for FREE. If I would have just waited TWO freaking days I could have saved that money!! In case you were wondering, I bought the used book because the digital was about $6 and you know how I feel about that!

Eating out once a week - $50 ($36.35)
$.60 - I needed some caffeine at work and didn't want the free coffee.
$4.02 - coffee for an early morning at work.
$9.03 - lunch out. I still stuck to my one per week!
This should also leave room for one coffee a week and the occasional oops I forgot my lunch in the fridge at home. That really does happen, and since I'll also be watching my waistline I don't need to be eating out.

Mani-Pedi - $60 ($15)
$45 - I went with a friend to a different place that I haven't gone before but OMG they gave the best leg massages so I think it was definitely worth it. I may have to do my own nails once this month to make up for it!

I've kind of figured if I can stay within the $235 for the whole month I'll call it a win. Some of you were helpful when I told Facebook I forgot to include my mother's Pampered Chef party where we committed to going halfsies to get my sister the Magic Pot for her birthday. So I'm hoping to have enough left at the end of the month to do that.

With that in mind. I have $92.10 left to spend for the month. Minus the $2.45 I went over for books, it's $89.65.

Are you participating in the challenge? How are you doing for the month?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Freakin' Weekend

Happy Monday!

I'm doing a little happy dance over here because I'm off today. Yay! I even feel like sticking my tongue out like an immature three year old because I'm uncool like that.

Now, let's talk about how my weekend went.

1. I broke my spending freeze to buy this Samantha Young book that had been rec'd to me by Jackie and finished it this weekend. Loved it.
2. Had a mani-pedi date with a friend! The leg massage was more than twice as long as the place I usually go...I may have to switch. Eeep!
3. I downloaded this awesome phone background from Lissette! I've never downloaded a BG from someone else...always using pics I shot but this one was ME!
4 & 6. I finally gave a my friend his Christmas present so I can share it with all of you! I made him some lighter weight, cornhole boards with his fav team!! Go Knights!
5. We had a game night since we're all trying to save our money. Star Trek Catan is a strategy game and fun!

I also made it to the library to get some Real Books!

Sunday was church, meeting where we talked about all the cool stuff we have coming up / planning for said cool stuff and then I relaxed on the couch doing coupons and meal planning while I watched Breaking Dawn Part II on TV! It was pure AWESOMENESS!!

How did your weekend treat you?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Credit Cards - Bennies and Headaches

I am a credit card an extent. I've abused and overused them in the past, getting into a deep hole but there are a few things I've learned to do right. These do right instances don't account for the learning years while I was in college.

1. Pay on time.
I can count the missed payments on one hand and they were due to an oversight on the date due, or I forgot I had even charged anything on the card.

2. Don't increase your limit. Now there's absolutely nothing I've ever done when they gave me a limit too high, but with one exception during college I have never used that sneaky "raise your limit" button I see when i Log into my account.

3. Only use it when needed. With the exception of my college years where I lived and learned, I have gotten to the point where I only use my cards when needed. During a triple point period, when I eat out and send my card away from the table (this has saved me from fraud!) and EMERGENCIES!

4. Pay off your cards every month. Now, it's taken me a LONG time to actually do this. I don't mind carrying a balance but the more I pay them off every month the more I realize I don't like carrying a balance if that makes sense.

My twenty year old brother has yet to get a credit card since he's seen the mistakes my sister and I have made with money. He was a big spender, just always with no money, lol. Now he's doing much better not blowing his money, and a lot happier about it he says.

As for me, I have three store cards and two regular credit cards I can use anywhere.

One of these is one I don't plan on closing since it's my oldest account with the highest limit and the other one has a very low interest rate. However, this great low interest rate has THE WORST point system. Sure, I earn a $1 for every point or whatever, but I can't use them for "free" items. Nope...I can take $5 points = $5 off a $50 random gift card. Well with a few thousand points that's not going to get me very far and I'm still shelling out $45 out of pocket!

The card I never carry a balance on had a great point system. Sure, they screwed me over with my interest rate (partially my fault = who actually reads the letters they send you about changes to your account?) but their point system rewarded me with several $$ gift cards that I didn't have to "pay" a penny for!

That's where you come in. Tell me your favorite Visa or Master Card with a decent interest rate, no yearly fee and I would like a good point system. Go!

Do you use credit cards? How old were you when you received your first credit card?

You know I can't post on Friday without getting my groove on and this oldie goes perfectly with this post. Plus it's pay day, so if I wasn't on a spending freeze I'd be throwing my money around like Channing Tatum was dancing around on my desk!

Money, Money, Money by ABBA on Grooveshark

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Real Book Challenge

Hey all my reading friends!

I'm sure you've seen my many Instagram posts of the Real Books I like to read. Unless you're not following me, yet!

I love holding something in my hand, turning the pages and popping in a bookmark to save my place. Up until recently I also liked being able to lend out my books and share the awesome stories I've read with my friends. However, I've gotten to the point where I think I'll just keep all my books to myself with a few exceptions for close friends that I know will take care of my books and return them promptly! Anybody else have this issue?

So I was on Bloglovin' looking at all the blogs I follow when a post stood out about the Real Books Challenge of 2014.

After reading through the specs, I knew I just HAD to do this challenge! This weekend, TWO of the four books I read were "real books." The book I'm reading now, Good In Bed was loaned to me from a friend and it's a real book. I have a whole stack of books that people have given me to read or I picked up at a book bargain sale to get me started.

I'm going to give myself a goal of 21-30 Real Books for 2014. This would make me a Real Book Snob and we'll just see how it goes.

I love the ease of my eReader, but there are just some books and sometimes when I want the real thing. I love going to the grocery store or Target and looking at their books on the shelves. You too?

I'll list my Real Books under each month and I've already put the books I've read in January under it. Then if you scroll all the way down, you'll see a list of the books I have to read and a list of books I'd like to read through again!

Contessa by Lori L. Otto (5 Stars)
The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury (Christian Romance)
Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner
On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (5 Stars)
Jenna's Cowboy by Sharon Gillenwater (5 Stars, Christian Romance)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Thriller)
Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins (5 Stars)

January Total: 7

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

February Total: 1

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Melissa Hartwig
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
Clipped Wings by Helena Hunting
Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater
Megan's Hero by Sharon Gillenwater
Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye
Damaged II by H. M. Ward

March Total: 7

Divergent by Veronica Roth
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

April Total - 4

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay *****
The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines (The Vincent Boys #1) ****
The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines (The Vincent Boys #2) *****
Rush Too Far by Abbi Glines *****
Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines (Perfection #1) *****
Collide by Gail McHugh ****
Inked Armor by Helena Hunting *****
Bared to You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire #1) ****
Reflected in You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire #2) Not Rated
Entwined with You by Sylvia Day (Crossfire #3) ****

May Total - 10

Breakable by Tammara Webber
Rule by Jay Crownover
Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

June Total - 3


Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire****
Mine by Katy Evans*****
Remy by Katy Evans****
Rogue by Katy Evans****
Landline by Rainbow Rowell****
Love Unrehearsed by Tina Reber*****
Down London Road by Samantha Young****

July Total - 7






List of 22 Real Books I have to read right now!
The Witness
Lie for Me
Love Finds You in Frost Minnesota
Heartland Weddings
Take a Chance On Me
I Know This Much is True
Dance Upon the Air
Full Disclosure
Vicious Cycle
Fade to Blue
Love Finds You in the City of Christmas
Patriots - started but hard to follow
When All My Dreams Come True
Bridge of Her Own
Bluegrass Bachelors
Never Say Never
Plantation Christmas Wedding
Cranberry Hearts

Fav Real Books I'd like to read again as part of this challenge
Twilight, Maybe the series?
Real (July 11, 2014)

Real Books I might buy this year
Collide by Gail McHugh (
Unidentified Red Head by Alice Clayton
Clipped Wings by Helena Hunting
Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines
Pulse by Gail McHugh

Don't worry I promise I'm not going to always talk about reading on here but that's just where my mind has been!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How I Get Free eBooks

I don't know about you but I love a freebie! Especially since I refuse to pay over $4 for a digital eBook, I love when a books goes on sale or is FREE for me to read, enjoy and share with others.

Somehow I stumbled across these fabulous website / Facebook pages that are constantly sharing all the free books I download. They also share the book deals when they're cheaper, when a new book comes out, reviews and other things but I really can't get enough of all the FREE reads they send my way!

Reality Bites Let's Get Lost

They share so many of the free eBooks they find on Facebook, that throughout the day that I'm constantly one-clicking!

Maryse's Book Blog

She's the blogger that put book bash together last year, at least I'm pretty sure she is so she's a saint in my eyes! When do we get to sign up for 2014?! I can't wait!!!

A Love Affair with Books

New one I just found, but they do a Thrifty Thursday I just downloaded a crap ton of FREE books from their latest list! Be careful to check as some prices have changed

HEA Book Shelf

Hello! HEA in their name?! You know I'm all about the Happily Ever Afters and this site is just right up my alley. I'm a newbie to them but I'm already hooked!

I also follow all the authors I love, to keep up with what they're doing. Facebook is really the place I get most of my information from them. A few of them I subscribe to their email blasts, but those Facebook links I just can't NOT click on!

Seriously, any time I visit one of these sites I'm adding something to my TBR list on Goodreads!

How do you get your free or discounted eBooks? Where do you find out about your next read?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Freakin' Weekend

It's the first Monday of the New Year!!!

I normally don't like Mondays when I have to go to work, boo. However, I had such a great weekend that I'm hoping *crosses fingers* it will carry me through this long week. Why is my week long? Ummm, because it's my first full week of work in about a month :/

1. Group shot. Two of these girls we only get to see once maybe twice a year!
2. I share a little with you about Contessa below but I love Lori L. Otto and think you should give her a try!
3. Board games are awesome! Especially if they're new and you are playing with fun people. I taught my parents how to play Star Trek Catan and after some struggling, my mom totally won!
4. Fire pit in 50-60 degree weather by the pool in Florida is awesome. *nods*

I started this weekend off by finishing Contessa by Lori L. Otto. It was fantastic and I shared my book hangover post on Friday about the lead into this series. They can be read separate, but my suggestion is to read the three Emi Lost and Found books before this one...I'm just sayin' that's what I would do.

Then, I might have read three more books. *gasp* I know...I was all hunkered down with a book this weekend, but I promise that wasn't all I did!

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury. Meh, it was great and really made me want to go visit local bookstores around town. I'm adding that to some to-do list I have around here. I didn't like that the last 1/8 of the book was all about the prequel story and then a sneak peak at her next book. I wanted just a little more of their story, not somebody else.

Contessa by Lori L. Otto. If you read my Emi Lost and Found Series post Friday you would know I bawled like a baby reading about half of the series. Well, this one didn't disappoint either. She's such a great writer that she just brings out the feels! I can't wait for the next book in the Choisie series to come out this year!

Forever My Girl by Heidi McLaughlin this had something I absolutely love and it's a bit of a spoiler so I won't share it here. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading this story and now I can't remember why I rated it four instead of five stars since I pretty much couldn't put it down.

Falling into Infinity
by Layne Harper - This author has a style of writing that kind of grated on my nerves a bit and I almost gave up because I couldn't get past the same repeated phrases or the style of writing. Luckily, her writing seemed to get better with time and I actually enjoyed the story and really want to read the next in the series. Unfortunately I don't want to use all of my allotted book money so soon into my spending freeze, so I'll be buying this book in February unless it goes on sale.

I'm pretty sure I'll surpass my 52 books this year since I had such a great start, lol.

I would like your input. I love sharing what I've read and some brief thoughts...not book reviews all the time though. However, I could include other things like synopses, links to Goodreads or Amazon, book covers, etc. What do you like seeing with a book rec?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Serious Book Hangover w/My Book Boyfriend: Emi Lost and Found by Lori Otto

So I mentioned before Thanksgiving that I was going to be reading Lori Otto's Emi Lost & Found Series. Well, it didn't happen until early December, but I've been on a high ever since.

To be honest, I didn't really get into it right away. So, if you're just starting give it time.

Moving on, once I got to the end of the first book and found out the cliffhanger in the beginning of the second I was sooo close to not finishing aka Nicholas Sparks syndrome. Anybody else never finish a book of his because it's just too hard to keep reading?

Well, I immediately texted Jess who had already read the books and she told me Keep Going!!!!! with a ton of little exclamation points. I still gave it some time but eventually continued with reading crying.

Yes, crying. And I'm not talking single tears rolling down my cheeks. I'm talking about full on, hard core bawling my eyes out to the point I ended up with a terrible headache Saturday night.

I finished the series by skipping church Sunday and not getting anything else done that weekend but OMG I want to read it again. It wasn't all that I wanted, you may know which part I'm talking about if you know me well but it was truly a great series that you should read.

I just got the first book in her companion series for young adults, Contessa!

A couple of notes, DO NOT read the premise of the second or third book if you haven't read the first one.

Just don't.

Also, Jess didn't cry like I did so I'm an emotional wreck sometimes and you probably aren't. I remember reading a Twilight Fanfiction that had me weeping like a baby but I can't remember the name of it because it was four years ago. It wasn't even the main character!

I definitely gave Emi Lost and Found as a series FIVE freaking fantastic stars and will mention it again in my next Five for Five post.

Have you read it yet? Are you following me on Goodreads? Let's be friends!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Spending Freeze: January 2014

It's that time again...after the over expanding budgets for the Holidays, I need to reign in my shopping addiction. To start off, how about another spending Freeze in January?!

You might remember, I did one of these in April 2013 and I couldn't find that I ever posted all of my violations. I started it here and then posted my half way through violations here.

I'm changing up my rules a little this time. I do have to finish my Cara Box package, but I've already bought several of the items. Below, you'll see the only things I've budgeted for the month of January.

DIY Project Vanity - $75

This is something I've been wanting to do and it's going to be my first DIY project of the new year.

Dining with Friends - $30
I don't have any definite plans to eat out with friends, but I think this will allow me to have a couple reasonable nights out if they come up.

Line Dancing - $10
We have at least one night of dancing planned for Thursday, so I know I'll need a cover.

Reading - $10
This will be one of my hardest things. I hate turning down a good deal but I think $10 is reasonable for the month when I'm trying to spend less. The only exception will be if a series becomes available that I've been waiting more of Abbi Glines books, lol and even then it might fall under my $10 limit!

Eating out once a week - $50

This should also leave room for one coffee a week and the occasional oops I forgot my lunch in the fridge at home. That really does happen, and since I'll also be watching my waistline I don't need to be eating out.

Mani-Pedi - $60
This is something I do EVERY MONTH. Since I've lived in Florida and even before when I was in Kansas. During the months I can wear flip flops someone else is making my toes look pretty! Nails too. I was doing gel nails, but I've found with the right top coat and brand of color polish they last 10 days to two weeks and I'm usually ready to get them done again. So this includes one Mani-Pedi, two manicures and the subsequent tips.

That's only $235 to spend during the month of January other than on bills and gas. Umm, crazy! I already went shopping on January first to get the vanity project supplies and while shopping at Staples for something with my parents I looked around all the cool things up front and was VERY tempted but not enough to break my freeze!

I'm going to be linking up with Steph and some other bloggers on February 4th to talk about how this spending freeze went so check back in about a month!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolutions for 2014

Since I didn't start this blog until March last year I didn't ever write out my New Year Resolutions. So I either accomplished everything or nothing, right?

Instead of just going with what I say this year I thought I'd actually make a list.

1. No spending money on others. I'm really bad about giving awesome gifts all year round and I'll randomly pick things up throughout the year, not even for special occassions. Sometimes with a person in mind but more often than not it's not for anybody and just ends up in my gift box. This gift box consists of things that could go to anybody whenever I need a quick gift. They're usually great deals, but I need to stop spending frivolously and think this is one of the ways I can do it.

So, instead of buying things I'll go through my assortment of pre-bought gifts and if I can't find anything perfect in there I'll just have to make them something. To tag onto this, I'll be doing another Spending Freeze that I'll tell you about in a different post. ***This doesn't include my participation in any gift exchange whether blogging, friends or work.

2. Lose 52 pounds. That's one pound a week. I've decided I'm going to work on my diet first since the gym will probably be overcrowded with several dozen with the same resolution. Then when it's hopefully died down I'll add that to my weight loss journey to kick it up a notch. That's not to say I won't go to the gym, or a walk. I just am not going to go full force right away with the gym. Also my diet is harder for me since I have little to no self control right now.

3. Say yes to fun. I've been really good about this resolution this year that I'd like to see it continue. Am I the only one that can get roped into a good book, TV show or movie and not want to leave the comfort of my couch and sweats? Luckily I have some friends that are really good about planning the extra curricular activities that get me out of the house.

4. Travel. I've already bought tickets to a super duper country concert in Jacksonville which is a part of Florida I've never been to. I have a trip in the works to Ireland and maybe England while we're over there. I get a three day weekend every other weekend and I really need to take advantage of that extra day with road trips. Since I don't have any weddings back home to plan for I will hopefully have more monies to travel fun places with.

5. Try 12 new places to eat around town.
I'm a creature of habit, in a bad way and you'll usually find me resorting to my old favs instead of stepping out of the box.
1. Mel's Hot Dogs
2. Byblos Pitas 2/4/14
3. LeeRoy Selmon's 2/1/14

6. Grow THIS blog. I'm not sure what that looks like since I don't want to make it about the number of followers or comments. I have so many ideas and things I want to do but I get lazy 78% of the time. I'd like to commit to 8-10 posts a month. That's only two posts a week and I usually get my weekend post up so it shouldn't be too hard a challenge for me.

7. Make six (6) DIY projects and share them on the blog this year. I've already budgeted for my first one and I've been wanting to do this for months so I'm VERY excited about it!!!

8. Read and Rate 52 books in 2014.
This past year I've read so many books but only about half of them "registered" on my 2013 list because I failed to do something and make sure the date showed up on Goodreads. So now that I've adjusted the dates instead of 40 it says 70 but I don't want to spend the next year with my nose buried in a book so I'm keeping it to one book a week which will fluctuate depending on the busy seasons obviously.

I had so much fun last night with a couple close friends and we made our own party hats! I hope you enjoyed your last night of 2013 and first part of 2014. I have absolutely no idea what 2014 has in store for me but I pray that God continues to bless me, my friends and my family.

We're headed to Home Depot to get some of the stuff for my first DIY project of 2014! Tonight, I'll be cheering on UCF Knights in the Fiesta Bowl tonight at 8:30 from the comfort of my home. Good luck guys!! How have you spent your first day of 2014?

Christmas Comes but Once a Year

My little sister left to go back home to Nebraska Friday. We were overjoyed to get to spend the week with her.

I don't know about you, but I absolutely love the Holidays and now starts the "new year, new _________ (fill in the blank)" for a lot of people. I'm right there with you. I'm joining an online Weight Loss Wiki that I've done in the past. It's not necessarily been the end all to being fat for me, obviously but it does show me what I'm eating and how it effects my body, makes me keep track of what I'm eating and I get to meet some cool women.

Before we go there, let's talk about Christmas. I was a huge slacker since last Monday when I told you all about my weekend. I never posted my weight loss thing, it was just so busy gearing up for the Holidays. We did an angel tree at the last minute so it was go-go-go trying to buy things for the family and finishing up my Christmas shopping as well.

I went on a date with a guy I met on POF and subsequently have ended that friendlationship. He didn't take it very well and I ended up being the guy in the relationship. That was weird.

I got so many of the things I wished for this Christmas. An awesome sweater from Kiki La Rue, Florida Georgia Line CD, the Juicy sunglasses I've been wanting since this Summer, dollars which were used to splurge at the outlet mall and the Young Adult continuation of Lori Otto's Emi Lost and Found Series that I loved. Sorry I've been fail at getting that post up, but it's coming. Major book hangover with that one.

I always take the day after Christmas off
so we can get after Christmas sales and spend some of the money I got for Christmas of course. This year I requested that we hit the outlet mall early because all the out of towners were going to be hauling their irritating suitcases around the mall and they just get in the way.

So we left our house at 5:30 the day after Christmas and arrived in Orlando at my favorite outlets, the Premium Outlets since they have Victoria's Secret Outlet at 7:30! It was awesome! Most people didn't get there until after 9:00 when they usually open so we had about two hours of little to no crowd shopping.

Friday we ate at the newest Frenchy's that's not even on Clearwater Beach before seeing my sister off.

I really enjoyed having the entire week off and it worked out great since my sister was only here Monday - Friday. I hope you had a wonderful Holiday Season with friends and family and are excited for this new year. I'm finishing up my Resolution post next!