Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 Real Book Challenge: March

This month I did a lot better with reading in general and I managed to blog every day during the week!

That's not something I ever thought I would be able to manage. Plus, I still did stuff to talk about on the weekends, lol. Now...onto all of the Real Books I managed to devour this past month! Psssst! Did you know March was National Reading Month? Not I. Keeping up with the times I tell you!

Real Book Challenge on Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

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

It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Melissa Hartwig So this was definitely something I had heard about from Nichole when she did the Whole 30 challenge in January and she said I needed to read it before I attempted the challenge aka plan. I agree, reading the why and not just the how to really helped me see the entire picture. Not a five star book though because come on...there's no love story, bwahaha!

Synopses: It Starts With Food outlines a clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever—and transform your life in unexpected ways. Your success story begins with "The Whole30," Dallas and Melissa Hartwig's powerful 30-day nutritional reset.

Over the last three years, their underground Whole30 program has quietly led tens of thousands of people to weight loss, improved quality of life and a healthier relationship with food—accompanied by stunning improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood and self-esteem. More significantly, devotees of their program have reported the "magical" elimination of hundreds of lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

Now, Dallas and Melissa detail the theories behind the Whole30, summarizing the science in a simple, accessible manner. It Starts With Food will show you how certain foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live—in ways that you'd never associate with your diet. More importantly, they outline their life-long strategy for Eating Good Food in one clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.

Infused with their signature wit, tough love and common sense approach, It Starts With Food is based on the latest scientific research and real-life experience, and includes success stories, a shopping guide, a meal planning template, a 30-day meal plan with creative, delicious recipes, and much more.
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover This was a book I couldn't stop talking about and now, two weeks out can finally say I'm not thinking about it all the time. Since you know that space in my brain is now thinking about Four. To read the full review of this book without spoilers, so it's not really a full review, go here. FIVE Stars!!

Synopses: At twenty-two years old, Sydney is enjoying a great life: She's in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her best friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers that Hunter is cheating on her;and she's forced to decide what her next move should be.

Soon, Sydney finds herself captivated by her mysterious and attractive neighbor, Ridge. She can't take her eyes off him or stop listening to the passionate way he plays his guitar every evening out on his balcony. And there's something about Sydney that Ridge can't ignore, either. They soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one.

A passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance, Maybe Someday will immerse readers in Sydney's tumultuous world from the very first page.
Clipped Wings by Helena Hunting is another book I first read as a Fanfiction and absolutely loved. This author is very talented at getting you hooked on a story and the changes that were made to bring it to publishing have been great! I loved this book (5 Stars) and can't wait to read the sequel in May!

Synopses: Their body art is hot. Their chemistry is even hotter.

From her dark hair sweeping below her waist to her soft, sexy curves, Tenley Page intrigues tattoo artist Hayden Stryker in a way no one else ever has…especially when she asks him to ink a gorgeous, intricate design on her back. Yet for all her beauty, there is something darkly tragic and damaged about Tenley that Hayden is everything.

Covered in ink and steel, Hayden is everything Tenley has never dared to want, awakening a desire to explore more than the art adorning his stunning body. Trapped by a past that leaves her screaming from nightmares, Tenley sees Hayden as the perfect escape. Although he has secrets too, if they both keep themselves guarded perhaps their intense physical connection will remain only that.

But nothing, not even passion, can keep them safe from their pasts…
Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater This was the second book in the series I deem the Texas Cowboy series, and while I loved it there wasn't anything special enough to give it five stars. I do remember thinking Emily put up too much of a wall and fight throughout the whole book and had she really thought for herself I might have given it five stars!

Synopses: Emily Rose may be in the tiny West Texas town of Callahan Crossing for the moment, but it's just a rung on her ladder to success. Her work at the Callahan Crossing historical society will look good on her ever-growing resume as she attempts to break into the prestigious world of a big city museum curator. Little does she know cowboy and contractor Chance Callahan has decided that he can convince her to stay--both with the town and with him. As he helps Emily restore the town's history after a devastating fire, he also helps her uncover her own hidden worth and the value of love.

The second book in THE CALLAHANS OF TEXAS series, Emily's Chance is a heartwarming story of letting love take the lead. Readers will come away wishing they lived in Callahan Crossing.
Megan's Hero by Sharon Gillenwater On the other hand, the third and final book in the Texas Cowboy series made me feel all warm and gooey in places I often forget about. I love Chance's heart and the way he swept in and wouldn't take no for an answer when Megan didn't think she needed help.

Synopses: Six months pregnant, unmarried, broke, and alone, Megan Smith doesn't think things can get much worse--and then they do. Stuck on the road without shelter when a tornado appears, Megan barely escapes with her life. And when Will Callahan comes upon her in the road, her life will never be the same. While staying at the Callahan family ranch, she finds herself daring to love again, even while she suspects that Will's affection for her can't be anything but pity. But when she realizes that the townspeople think she's just a gold digger, she can't bear to stay. Can Will convince her that her past doesn't mean a thing when it comes to love?
Filled with the easy charm and warmth of Texas, "Megan's Hero" will have readers believing in the power of love and forgiveness.
Damaged II by H. M. Ward I put this book on hold immediately after I finished the 1st book on my iPad so I never really talked about it. I actually had to go back and reread several parts since I'd read a lot of other things since then and couldn't remember what the first book was about. #readerfail I ended up giving it four stars because I got into it and couldn't put it down, but how good could a series be if I couldn't even remember what it was supposed to be about?! I know I'm not selling you on this, but if read together I'm sure they would have been fantastic!

Synopses: Home isn't supposed to be dangerous, but for Sidney it is. Returning home means that she has to face her past. It's not just the man who hurt Sidney that makes it horrible, but the family that didn't believe her. They were dead to her, but now that her mom is really dying things seem different. It's a chance to set things right.

What Sidney doesn't realize is that she's dragging Peter into a collision course with his past. Peter must deal with the demons haunting him if he wants to move forward with Sidney. He's willing to give up everything for her, even wade deeper into his past life to help her move forward. But, Peter isn't sure if he can get over what happened to him in New York.
Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye I knew from the lead in at the end of the last book that I was really going to enjoy this one. It's got mystery and investigation with the romance and you know, I'm a sucker for a man in uniform or former man in uniform! I hate that there's such a big gap between publication dates this time, and I have a hard time remembering what's happened between each book. Not because it wasn't good or fascinating there's just a lot I read between! The damsel in distress in this one even though she's hella smart really won me over! FIVE Stars!!

Synopses: Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he’s shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister’s sake, Crystal can’t get too close. Until her job and Shane’s mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.

Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.

I'm not sure how much Real Book reading I'll get done in April with all of my challenges, but the one book or two books I'm looking forward to reading are: Divergent by Veronica Roth since I saw the movie and LOVED it (and Four) and Labor Day by Joyce Maynard that I'm borrowing from the Library.

Freakin' Weekend + Scotty + OMG I Love FOUR!!!

So if I had sat down to write this Sunday before watching Divergent, nothing would be the same I don't think. Sure, my Friday and Saturday went the same but my Sunday night was EPIC! Then I woke up to a weird vivid dream, nausea and a migraine so I missed out on a few hours of sleep. Called in late for work and then had to get my day started!

Friday I came home from work and after a quick dinner, mom and I got to see Scotty!

He was so fantastic. A fabulous entertainer and not just with his music. His personality is just so adorable. The crowd was very diverse...the young girl swooning and the older people that just love a good ol' boy!

I mean how can you not love him?!

He even had a pen/marker that he "wrote his number on their hands" and I can't imagine being on the first row, lol. I would feel so silly!

I also got to indulge in the awesomeness of Trader Joe's Sublime Bars after the concert. They're only about 450 calories each! So I had one Friday and one Saturday, bwahaha!

Saturday was blogging prep for A-Z and then I read like a crazy person. Since you know I'm trying to finish It Starts With Food before I start Whole 30 plan on Tuesday. I was supposed to go see Divergent Saturday but then we had torrential down pours for hours so that got pushed back to Sunday night which leads us right back to where I started.

Before we talk about Four, because I have a feeling that could be an entire post, I thought I should mention that parents with Easter bunny children make for great people watching times. When I snapped this pic, the little girl was never going to smile. It was hilarious and I would have a. known my kid wouldn't smile and b. been disappointed that I had a kid that wouldn't smile, lol!

If you haven't seen Divergent, make a point to go see it RTFN! Also, I'll be starting that as another Real Book for the month of April and I can't wait!!

I also had my last dinner outing, complete with two margaritas and chips + salsa before I do the Whole 30 plan!

How was your weekend?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Five Favs + Favs Party Idea

I loved sharing about my Birthday Brunch yesterday and it seemed like everybody loved it just as much as I did which makes my heart butterflying happy!

Today I wanted to share with you my Five Fav things - like I almost can't live without them and how you can throw a Favs party of your own!

What's a favs party?
It's where you get together with your friends and everybody brings THREE of the exact same item to give away. You can always bring three different colors of said item or three different flavors but the idea is that three people will get your favorite thing.

Our guidelines were:

1. Can't spend more than $15 on each item or $45 total
2. Must be three of the same item
3. Be prepared to tell us about your favorite item!

The best part is EVERYBODY gets to go away with three new things to enjoy!!

Easy as pie, right?

I shopped discount places for my favorite things because I knew I could spend $15 on one of my items or I could get a few of my fav things for $15 if I shopped around and wasn't all picky about brands for every item.

Pick out your fav thing(s) to give away at the party!

1. Straw Cup
This is my new favorite cup, but not within the budget $15 for my budget so I found cups at Bealls Outlet for $4.99, score!

2. Pink Color Club Polish
You can spend upwards of $8 if you order this online...or if you live close enough to a place like Bealls outlet, you can get SEVEN bottles for less $8.99, double score!

3. Seche Vite Top Coat
If you are only buying one of these, Target, Ulta or Sally's is a great place to buy it for $9...or you can get it from Amazon for under $5. It's on sale right now for $6 at Ulta!

4. Book
I have so many favorite books, that I couldn't possible choose so I would have probably given out $1-$3 gift cards for people to buy their own and maybe a list of my favorites! Like Twilight or the Real Series...two series I've read multiple times!

5. YesTo Face Wipes!
I have several packets of these I like to giveaway already that I bought on clearance, but didn't think about putting them in my cup gift.

Those last two weren't included in my fav party gift, but I probably could have worked them in if I really wanted to. As you;ll see in the pictures below, some of the girls brought only one item and that's totally okay too. I just have SEVERAL favorite things!

Talk about why THIS is your favorite item

After you talk about your item, you draw three names and each of the names drawn will get your item. We put all names into one bucket, but you could have three for each of the three giveaways if you want.

I also made goodie bags for the girls to carry their gifts home in.

The girls had such a great time and we're looking at doing a Mother's Day event with more women. I can't wait!

Some ideas of what the girls brought:
Coconut Oil
Nail Polish
Lip Stuff
Gift Cards

What's the one item you would have brought?

Linking up for Five on Friday!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time to Party - Birthday Brunch

Now that I'm getting older, I try to actually act like an adult on occasion. You know, paying my bills and showing up to work without too many sick days. So for my 29th Birthday party, I wanted to have a more adult party and what better way to celebrate my last year in my twenties than with a Ladies Birthday Brunch.

Since I'm old enough to drink, I had to have a Mimosa bar. I had orange juice and raspberry lemonade for the mimosas and milk in case anybody wanted some for the donuts. The milk didn't get touched, so when I do this again I'll have another juice like cranberry of grapefruit!

Get the Mimosa Sign print out here.

I found the champagne flutes for $1 on sale at Old Time Pottery here in Florida, and they also had the mason jars for water or coffee for $1.29 maybe? My favorite thing about getting them at that store was they were already stored in a box of 12 for storage, score!

The tassel garland I grabbed from this Pinterest DIY!

After the mimosas, we had to make sure everyone was well fed at this brunch! I wanted to keep the menu simple, but fun and that's where I thought a yogurt bar and omelettes would be fun + healthy! My original thought was to have my dad standing at a grill with all the omelette fixin's outside, but the menu idea was a little easier and cheaper to do. I had the girls fill out the menu when they arrived and as soon as were ready dad got started on the omelettes!

Get the Omelette menu print out here.

For the yogurt bar, a friend made some homemade granola and I bought a couple different kinds of yogurt. Paired with fresh fruit, dark chocolate chips and mini plastic cups as bowls; it was a hit! Even for this girl that doesn't eat yogurt I just had more granola and fruit. So yummy!

I chose to do a donut tower cake just like this one I found on Pinterest. I used washi tape to do the banner and letter stickers. Did it the morning of the brunch, so you know it didn't take very long!

It was definitely one of my favorite birthday parties, or even just party I've planned! In lieu of gifts, I had the girls bring 3 of their favorite item for a fav things party! I'll share more about that tomorrow!

What's your favorite brunch food or drink?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Confessions of the Week

So whenever I think about confessing for Kathy's Wednesday linkup, I am also thrown back to this scene in One Tree Hill when they did the scavenger hunt night.

- It takes me so much longer to read a non fiction book. Almost to the point I just never read them unless I have to.

- I'm doing the Wallet Watch in April with Life According to Steph so that means I have to go buy the things I've been wanting before the end of March, right? That's totally logical and why I had to buy my new Springy Toms! I'll Instagram them later today!

- If When I read a fiction book, the focus has to be a love story. It doesn't have to be the plot but my brain has to be able to focus on the love story.

- I think that sometimes I try to save money and buy a cheaper, yet similar product but it never really works out for me. I've really just wasted whatever money I saved because I probably won't use the item as much as I would have if I'd just bought the more expensive one I wanted in the first place.

- Weekends always throw off my sleep schedule. Staying up 2+ hours past my bed time and getting up early for road trips makes this girl crash early during the week!

- I haven't written my posts for the rest of this week yet and I know they'll take me a while since they're very picture oriented!

- I really want to buy books on Amazon, but I have so many I need to read. I've been able to hold myself back recently, go me!

- I can't wait to go to a local fresh market Saturday morning with S!

- Thor the second movie was very good. I just love Chris Hemsworth.

- Also, Chris and I are almost wearing the same shirt today, lol. Except mine has lace on the sleeves. Same shades though.

- I'm so over winter. Even though I know we didn't get anything near as bad as the North, 50 degrees at the end of March is a little much!

- I can't wait to see the movie Noah!

- I've finally streamlined all of my Social Media names to be @MyLittleHEA Yay!!

So, I think that's all for now. Go ahead and head on over to link up with these ladies too!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thankful for Friends That Just Get Me

So I had my Birthday party a couple weekends ago and it had to be perfect. I'm a perfectionist at heart, so when I'm doing something for myself there usually isn't room for error because I'm controlling almost everything.

Since I had a brunch, I really needed a donut cake. Not cupcakes like I would usually have or a Coldstone Ice Cream cake with real cake inside because that's a go to for me as well, but a Krispy Kreme donut cake tower. Well, the Krispy Kreme close to me closed down months ago, I know...sad times. Better for my waistline though. Anyway, so my friend S lives closest to another one in our area and I asked her if she would mind picking up some donuts for me. Now, we have a Dunkin less than three minutes away but Krispy Kreme tastes so much better to me and it was my birthday, right?

I give her the cash and on Saturday morning she calls me.

"So, is it going to be a problem if the sprinkles on the chocolate iced donut are green?"
She asks.
"Oh yeah, you should just get the chocolate iced and the plain glazed then." Is my response.

So when she shows up a little later and we start building the cake she starts telling me that she had already bought the chocolate with sprinkles, got in the car, opened them up and realized I would probably either a. have a minor freak out or b. say it's fine and be really broken up about it. I also remember telling her on the phone I don't understand why they don't have both the regular multicolored sprinkles and green options. I understand the Holiday, believe me but not for my Birthday, lol.

She's such a good friend and she knows me very well. I mean can you imagine green sprinkles at my pink and gold party?

So, enter A. He wasn't invited to the all girls brunch, but he got me a gift anyway because that's how we roll he's just that awesome. When he gives it to me last weekend, he tells me it's not the right color and he's already ordered another one. Say what?!

He had ordered me a pink leather passport wallet since we're traveling together this year and when he got it realized not only was it the wrong shade of pink. I'm pretty picky with my pinks and apparently I've made too many comments about how picky I am, but he's pretty picky too. Anyway, the passport also had purple on the back. So then inside the gift he had also printed out the color of the other one he ordered for me since it wasn't pink either but a Tiffany blue. It also had a cute saying on it "READY FOR DEPARTURE" and then I saw it was Kate Spade and was speechless!

I also love it when companies include little extras like the packing I ordered something separate that came with the same packing list so it's not exclusive to "travel items" like I was thinking it might be, lol!

Another funny thing was when he was describing finding the right pink he said Kate had another one that was pink that had Happily Ever After on it. S and I both looked at each other and said that would have been fine since that's my blog name.

However again, it's not the right pink. I don't know why I'm so picky about my pinks but I just am! I've been waiting to buy a pink Coach purse for the last 4-5 years! I finally thought they had one I could live with but when it arrived it still wasn't the right pink! #crazypinkgirliscrazy

Here's the thing - even though my friends know me so well I'm afraid I'm developing a Princess Complex. I mean, yes I'm picky but so are a lot of other people. I didn't even realize it was a thing until I saw it on a guys' profile on POF where he said he didn't want girls like that and I'm pretty sure that's me.

Are you picky? Do your friends get you?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Freakin' Weekend with Fun + Planning

So this weekend, I did a lot of planning for my A-Z Blog Challenge that's coming up in April. When I thought I had all of my days laid out, not really with a "theme" then I got to thinking about switching up the days so I have a few I'm still working with.

One of them is going to be a Q + A session wonder what day that's for, haha! kick that off, in your comment go ahead and ask me a question. I'd like to say I'll answer anything but ummm, I may have to use my veto! I'm also working on a collaborative thing with some of my favorite know the ones that make this whole blog thing a little more fun!

The rest of the weekend went a little something like this.

Friday night I had some things to do when I got home, like watch Wichita State play their first match up game of the season. They won, cinching their 35-0 (first to do this in college basketball in 25 years) so I got to live without nerves until Sunday. Then I went to bed because I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. Also known as zero dark thirty.

This Starbucks and the fact that I was going to pick up a good friend was one of the only things keeping me awake. Plus don't want A to fall asleep at the wheel. Our drive to Orlando was uneventful, but the drive back took us 3-3.5 hours. Normally it's about a 2 hour drive. WTF Florida Spring Break Traffic?!

We took this little cutie to the UCF campus so he can see where he'll be a future knight. I just love the reflection pond. It's where we always tailgate, away from the crazies and it's right next to my other fav place called the Library!

Then we went for some pizza at Grimaldi's and I remembered that I usually get a birthday coupon around this time for a FREE Large! Score! Except someone's not eating meat for Lent and I couldn't eat the whole thing by myself. Leftovers for the parents, lol!

Sunday after watching my Alma Mater lose valiantly mom and I broke out the bikes and went for a ride. I'm not sore yet, but I could feel it in my legs so I'm wondering what my muscles will feel like throughout Monday!

The sun was shining, it was really a great time even though the Shockers lost :(

I'm linking up with Leann for Join the Gossip! Don't forget to leave me a comment with a Question I can share an answer with!

Plus, how did your weekend treat you?!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Fav Spring Things

Happy Spring friends!

The weather here is almost always gorgeous, but I really look forward to Spring. When the time changes, pastels and brights come out to play in our clothes and we start having beach days again!

I thought I'd share five of my absolute favorite things that have to do with Spring!

1) White - I know you can wear white pretty much whenever you want these days, but I love buying a new pair of white shoes in the Spring!

2) Spring Flowers - I'm a flower girl, and this year I definitely want to have more fresh flowers in the house!

3) Fresh Fruit - It's Strawberry season around here and I love all the fruits that make an appearance around this time and when you get them for such a steal it's so much more frugal to eat healthy!

4) Dresses - They've been put away all winter and I can't wait to start wearing them again! I'm also glad the hi-lo dresses seem to have carried over to this season and I'll get another season out of my purchases last year!

5) Spring cleaning - Not that I'm a fan of cleaning, but I love being able to purge and start fresh!

What are your favorite things about Spring?