Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wounded Warrior Project Fundraising for Tough Mudder 2015

My husband started participating in the Tough Mudder in 2012.  It became a huge accomplishment and something that he really enjoyed.  Since then, he has been participating in it each year when it comes to Arizona.  The most important part of the Tough Mudder is the fact that they encourage you to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  It is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides services and programs to wounded soldiers to help them rebuild their lives.

In 2012, we raised $160. Last year, we raised over $550 and Brandon’s team as a whole raised over $700.  We were in awe of the generosity of our friends and family to support this important organization.

He didn’t know how to top that.

Since friends and family raised the stakes with their generosity last year, Brandon will attempt to match those efforts in Tough Mudder 2015.  Brandon, with the help of his team, will carry a cinder block the length of the course on Saturday, March 14, 2015. He will carry his cinder block from home to work and (nearly) everywhere he goes. Last year, Tough Mudder HQ donated an extra $100 for each Mudder who carried a brick through the course.  After carrying this block the length of the 10+ miles and grueling obstacles, he will drop the block in the pile to have additional money donated.


We ask again for you to show your generosity and honor those who have given so much.

Please follow the link below to make a tax deductible donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.
https://www.eventbrite.com/donate/wolfpack-20-brandon-ray/1179195

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas with Children

This year brings a whole new aspect to Christmas.  We have a child!  Children bring something so special to Christmas, but it also make the Christmas season more stressful!


We have several traditions every year that we couldn't break now that we have a daughter.  We made a strong promise to ourselves that our lives wouldn't change once we had Brooklyn. So far we've stuck to that – except that we're late more often than not nowadays (which is a big pet peeve of mine!).   Here are a list of all our traditions throughout the Christmas season (Dec 1 – 25).
  • ·         Christmas Tree (dinner and picking out/buying/decorating tree)
  • ·         Host a Christmas Party
  • ·         Boat Show Christmas Light display (dinner, boat show display, movie)
  • ·         Glendale Glitters (dinner downtown in the city of Glendale, AZ - they decorate the park with hundreds of thousands of lights)
  • ·         Drive around looking at light displays

Then this year, throw in seeing Santa, wrapping extra gifts, and Brooklyn’s baptism, and there seemed to be no time!  In another year or two we'll start riding the Polar Express annually on the Grand Canyon Railroad as well.

Having Santa is a lot of fun – but also a lot of work. We're having to figure out what type of traditions we want regarding Santa and Christmas Eve/Day.  But at the same time, it's special to see the innocence.  Even though Brooklyn doesn't understand what’s going on yet, preparing for years ahead when she does start understanding is so much fun.

We found ourselves wrapping presents until 11:00 pm last night. I was still creating handmade gifts Monday night. Somehow the season flew by…oh wait, I know how. I have a baby to take care of in the evenings now. Instead of working/buying presents and wrapping them, I was feeding and changing a baby. You lose so much time, and I hadn't planned on that.  So I was rushing to finish gifts and wrap all the presents – otherwise we would have had none under the tree!

We have only watched about 3 of the 10 movies we usually watch at Christmas time. Part of that is because we can’t sit at watch a movie when we get home because we have to make dinner and put Brooklyn to bed a 2 hours later.  So Christmas Eve (tonight) will be chalk full of movies!

Brooklyn was in awe of Santa. The first one we took her to see wasn't that great. But he was free and we didn't even stand in line!  But at our annual boat show event, there was a Santa who looked pretty good. They even had Mrs. Clause! While Mrs. Clause was holding her, she grabbed Santa’s finger and just stared at him (see the picture above). It was so cute. We have a couple pictures to always remember it by – I love it. Mrs. Clause told us that so many parents want them looking at the camera, but once they see these types of pictures, they love them. We will cherish this picture forever.


With it being Christmas Eve today, Santa comes tonight! I can’t wait. And that means we get to help her open her presents tomorrow morning.  Kids bring such a new meaning to Christmas. It was already my favorite holiday, but even more so now.  And that just means I need to plan my Christmas season a little more next year and years to come so it’s not as stressful as this year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

1 Year Anniversary of Miscarriage AND Due Date this week

The biggest and hardest life event that has ever hit us has the first anniversary this week.  As it approaches, I find myself not only reflecting on how I felt 1 year ago, but also what the future has in store for us moving forward and everything that has happened in between.  I’m of course talking about the anniversary of losing our baby boy. 


On September 18, 2013, we were given the terrible news that our baby’s heart stopped beating at 13.5 weeks gestation.  I had a really hard time with the news, and had to have a D&C which also contributed to my downward spiral.  Thank goodness I had a great support group – not only was my husband absolutely amazing, but parents, friends, and family were all there for me.  I recently saw a post on how people were shocked that the Duggar girl that is pregnant announced her pregnancy so early.  After my experience, I recommend that everyone announce their pregnancies as early as possible.  Was it hard to talk about?  Absolutely.  Did it get frustrating having people ask how I was doing for two weeks straight?  Sure – but they’re just well meaning.  But the most important part of having shared this experience with the world is how much love, prayers and support we received.  Some people forgot within days.  Some within weeks.  A few checked in a month or two later.  After that most people stopped asking.  But by that point, I was fairly healed – as healed as you can be after that.  It definitely leaves a scar.  But that’s what it should do.  The support we had was amazing, and it is much better than suffering in silence I think.  When I had my breakdown at Thanksgiving last year, everyone knew why. I didn't come back to a bunch of questions of where we went and what was wrong.  Everyone knew and they knew I just needed a few minutes to regroup.  I was told stories about miscarriages from people I had no idea that they went through the same thing.  You get stories of hope.  You get shoulders to lean and cry on.  And most importantly, you get people praying for strength and healing for you.

There have been two important things I've learned through going through this awful event.  1) Tomorrow is never promised.  You can’t live life like there will be tomorrow.  You never know when the end is coming.  So you need to love with your whole heart every day. Strive to be the best you can be every day.  2) Family is there to support you through good times and bad.  They don’t run away when things get tough – they are there to give you strength and help pull you through.  It doesn't do anything but hurt when you try to keep things to yourself because you’re embarrassed or think people will think differently about you.  Don’t feel bad about leaning on your support team when you need them.  And make sure you are there for them when they need it too.

Over the past year, my husband and I have become even closer.  Losing a child can have a prolonged effect on a marriage – but luckily it just brought us closer.  We leaned on each other when we needed it (and we both needed it at different times).  We both dealt with our pain differently, but we were there for each other and it only made us stronger.  We got pregnant again a few months later once we were both ready to try again.  This pregnancy has been just fine.

When it clicked that our due date was a day after the anniversary of losing our baby boy, I lost it.  What are the odds that that would happen?  God would take away a life one year, and bring us a different life almost exactly 1 year later.  He obviously had a plan – I just don’t understand it.  Apparently, it happens often that couples who miscarry end up with due dates around their miscarriage. When you think about it, it makes sense. You have to wait anywhere from 2-3 months to try again, and honestly, it takes about 3 months to emotionally be ready to try again. 

After I had this realization, I had told myself that I hope our baby girl isn't born on the anniversary of losing our baby boy.  Others suggest that it would help lessen the pain – but all I see is that with that balance of sadness, also comes a decrease in happiness for our daughter’s birth day.  I don’t want to take anything away from either one of them.  But, if God’s plan is for it to be the same day, I know I will get through it.  My husband says that he knows we will be able to handle it if that’s the plan we’re handed.  We had always planned to explain to our daughter why we light a candle on Sept 18, we’ll just have to carefully explain why it is on her birth day.  My biggest fear though is that we’ll be in the hospital on that day and completely forget that it’s the 18th (if I’m in labor and delivering), or that we can’t light a candle in the room (if I’m in recovery) to remember our son.

As excited as I am to meet our little girl, as the 18th approaches, I can’t help but find myself sad and teary-eyed when I think about it.  I know our baby boy would be happy to have a sibling, and I know he’s just as excited for us to meet her as we are.  But it’s still hard thinking that we missed out on getting to know our little boy.  And even when they’re still inside me, they have little personalities, and I missed out on that too because we lost him so early.  I wish I had gotten to hold my baby boy once, seen his face, felt his movement.  I miss him.  He’s still part of our family.  But now we are about to welcome our baby girl, and we cannot take away from her.  We are excited for our Rainbow Baby, but still miss our first baby very much.


I needed to write this post to not only reflect on the year and the day coming up, but also to acknowledge that I have not forgotten my baby boy.  Even though when people ask if this is my first baby, and I have to say yes, in my heart, Brooklyn is not my first baby.  My first baby is the baby boy we lost.  Brooklyn will be the first baby I get to hold in my hands though – which will be special as well.  Both of our babies have special meaning to us.  I will update everyone once Brooklyn arrives --- and if you’re family, please light a candle the evening of Sept 18th (Thursday) for our baby boy.  Let’s remind him that he’s not forgotten – that he’s still in our hearts and we love him just as much as we love Brooklyn.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby Shower Hostess Gifts

Knowing that my baby shower was coming up, I wanted to do something special for the ladies hosting it.  Between my mom, mother in law and sister in law, I had heard that a lot of work and planning was going in to it.  Though they wouldn't let me in on any of the details, I was still able to figure out just how much they were doing.  So I didn't want that to go un-noticed or just send a regular thank you.

After some long pinteresting hours, I found some cute things.  For my sister in law, who was running the show and delegating tasks to the moms, we put a basket it together.  I wish I had taken some pictures before they all went together, but I can show you some pictures of some of the individual items.  First, I found a super cute wine glass that you can personalize on Etsy.  I chose colors that matched our nursery theme (pink, white and black), and it said “Aunt Emily’s Sippy Cup” (she loves her wine, as do I).  This seller on Etsy was really nice, responsive, and the product came fast and in great condition. I was very happy with it, and actually want to order one for myself!  This is an example of what it looks like - I didn't take a picture of my actual glass unfortunately.


In addition to this, our mother in law also gave us Pandora bracelets a few years ago for Christmas, so since this is going to be Emily’s first niece or nephew, I found a really cute charm on Amazon for the bracelet that says “Aunt”.


Then we went to World Market and got some help putting a few more things in the basket – a bottle of wine, crackers, cheese, and meat.  Then they put it all together for us in a cute white basket with cellophane.  It looked great – wish I had gotten a picture!

For the future grandmothers, I found a cute idea on pinterest for a Survival Kit for Grandmothers.  It wasn't anything big, but it was kind of a cute novelty.  I've included instructions for how I did it below. In addition to this, I found a cute “Grandma’s Brag Book” at Babies R Us. I knew I wanted it to specifically say Grandma on it, and this one was perfect.  On the front page, I wrote in Brooklyn’s name, and then I put their first picture in, which was an ultrasound picture of her waving.  Here is a picture of the two finished projects for grandmas.


Instructions for Grandma Survival Kit

Total Cost:
Approximately $15

Supplies:
2 white paper lunch bags
Printer
White Card stock
Marbles
Sweet Tarts
Rubber Band
Mounds Bar
Life Savers
Cotton Balls
Travel Tissue
Paper Clip
Starburst
Hold Punch
Ribbon

Instructions:
1)      First I went to the store to buy anything I didn't already have on hand.  I found the lunch bags at Wal-Mart for about $1.50 for about 20 bags.  We already had some marbles, rubber bands, paper clips, card stock, and ribbon for my other projects. I bought a 6 pack of Mounds Bars (so both ended up getting 3), and I found some of the rolls of Life Savers and Sweet Tarts at the gas station (mind you I probably got ripped off there, but I couldn't find the rolls anywhere else).  We pack a 3 pack of travel Kleenex from Wal-Mart and put one in each bag (with one left over for me!) – I figured at least that way they could use it rather than just putting one tissue in the bag.  And I bought a box of Starburst for both.  Here is a picture of all the supplies before they were placed in the bag.


2)      After getting everything ready, I used Word on my computer to type everything up.  I liked having each item in a different color and then the description of why it was included below in black.  I used two different fonts also.  Feel free to pick whatever font or colors you prefer.  I printed them each on half of the paper, so the final size was about 8 x 5.5”.  I needed to trim it down just a bit so it fit nicer on the bag – you can do this with a paper cutter or scissors.
3)      I glued (actually I mod-podged because I didn't have any glue sticks) the description on to the bag.
4)      After the glue was dry, I placed all the items in the bag and folded the top over. I used my hole punch to punch two holes, roughly an inch to an inch and a half apart from each other.



5)      I cut a piece of ribbon that would be long enough to tie a bow with.  I fed one end through each side and tied a ribbon to finish it off.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pediatrician Interview Checklist

As we get closer to our due date, we've started the process of interviewing in hopes of selecting a pediatrician.  We are delivering at a hospital that is over 30 minutes away, but I had a friend who used the hospital pediatrician (although at a different hospital) and absolutely regretted it.  She said that he had no bedside manner and was always just in and out.  So we decided that we have friends who live on that side of town and we wanted to make sure we had a good pediatrician who would take good care of our baby girl while we're in the hospital for a few days.  So we decided to take the time to interview and select a pediatrician on that side of town, and will stay with them for the first few months since my husband works on that side of town.  Then he can still come to the doctor appts with us even though he has already gone back to work.

So in doing so, I compiled a good list of questions that I felt were important to ask each pediatrician and I tried to break it up by type of question: whether it was related to the practice, the doctor, or general.  There is also a specific question related to my experience about a reaction to a vaccine I had when I was little and I wanted opinions from each pediatrician about how they would handle that situation with our daughter.

I've uploaded the PDF version of my questionnaire.  Feel free to use it exactly as is, or pull info from this checklist to create your own.  Picking a pediatrician is a very important task, so I wanted to share!

PS: I know this is not the prettiest way to share it. I'm trying to figure out how to upload a PDF to my blog! For the meantime, this works...but if I find a better way, I'll fix it! If you have any suggestions, let me know! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Review: The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events #4)

The Miserable Mill (#4)
by Lemony Snicket
Date Read:  7/22/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★


Ok, I’m first going to rant about the quality of this audio book.  The author narrates in a very soft voice, but when the adult characters start talking, he almost shouts them.  We listen to these in the car on the way to work, so the narrating part is a bit hard to hear over the road noise….but we had to try to find a happy medium so that our ear drums didn’t burst when it went to dialogue.  Also, I didn’t feel that he pulled off the humor in the book very well. I actually expected these to be more humorous in audio book form than when I just read them...but they were not.

Ok, on to the review of the actual story: It was decent; along par with the rest of the books in the series.  I’m not really sure why these have such high ratings.  Sure they’re kind of fun, but they are also very repetitive and dark for children’s stories.  One thing that I actually liked in this book was that Count Olaf was NOT the main bad guy in this book.  He actually didn’t make many appearances in this book which was a relief.  While he was still the mastermind, the author found a different way to create miserable situations for the children.

Another thing that I liked in this book as opposed to the previous books was that the roles were mixed up.  Violet ended up having to do research and Klaus had to create an invention.  I thought that was a nice change.  They still used their own wits to get themselves out of trouble, but it wasn’t the same monotonous way.

I like that each book always has at least one character who is friendly to the children…but it’s so frustrating that they can’t ever just end up staying with one of them.  But I guess the series would be much shorter otherwise. 

The setting of this book was a bit strange – a lumber mill.  But I suppose when you go to write a 13 book series, you have to make up some strange places for the children to go live – there are only so many times you can put them in a house with a strange guardian.

These books are a good way to pass the time on the drive to work.  I can’t stand listening to the radio anymore because they are either playing commercials or the same songs over and over again.  So this is a good way to pass the time.  I think I’ll continue listening to them (I’m borrowing them from the library), even though they’re not my favorite stories.  I have a secret wish to see a somewhat happy ending for the children at the end of the series.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Brooklyn's Nursery Project #2: Decorative Letter B in Frame

The second project I tackled for Brooklyn's nursery is a decorative letter. I saw a really cute idea on Pinterest where someone put a letter inside a frame.  I loved it, so I decided to make my own version. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, though this project was more work than the first.

Here's a sneak peak at how it turned out...follow the instructions below to see how I put it all together!

I went shopping at Michaels and Hobby Lobby.  I knew sort of what I was going for, but I wasn't sure exactly how I wanted it to look. So I bought a bunch of scrapbook paper and wrapping paper that I thought fit with the theme and colors I wanted (black and white for the B and then some pink accents - again, this will be hung on the pink part of the wall).  Then in the dollar bins I found some pink ribbon that I thought might work, and some 3D flowers that had sticky pads on the back to attach.  I also bought some pearl looking things that are sticky.  I bought it all and figured I will return everything I don't use. Now that I have the shopping out of the way, I'll show you how I ended up creating it and what I ended up using.

Total Cost:
Approximately $30 using coupons for Michaels and Hobby Lobby

Supplies:
1 decorative letter (8 inch size)
1 Decorate frame without glass or a back
Scrapbook paper
Black paint
Sponge paint brush
Small paper cutter or scissors
Exacto knife
Mod Podge
Ribbon
Floral accents
Hot glue
Picture hanger
Hammer
Small level

Instructions:
1) First I found the cardboard letter B at Hobby Lobby for $1.99.  It was the best price and I needed the 8 inch size to fit inside the frame that I bought.  (I'll show you what it looks like in the frame at the very end).


2) Next, I painted all the edges with black paint. I knew I was going to use a black and white patterned paper, so I wanted to make sure all the edges that weren't going to be covered with paper were covered with paint - and it would have been a waste of paint to paint the entire letter black knowing I was putting paper on it.  I just used acrylic paint black paint that I had on hand. It didn't take much to cover all the edges - don't forget the edges inside the cut outs either!


3) Once the paint was dry, I selected which paper I wanted to use as the main background for the letter. Since we are trying to stick with the fairytale type theme, we like use the fleur-de-lis type patterns. I found one inside the pad of scrapbook paper I bought. I used my mod podge ($3.99 at JoAnn) as glue.  Using a sponge brush, I sponged on Mod Podge across the whole letter.  Then I carefully placed the paper on the letter, ensuring that it covered the whole thing.  NOTE: You need to do this quickly but carefully. The Mod Podge will dry relatively quickly and then you will not be able to adjust the paper location after that. I just barely missed the very bottom of the B (you can't tell since I painted the edges black - thank goodness!).


4) I let the Mod Podge dry over night and the next day I used an Exacto knife to cut off the excess paper. I place the B upside down on a cutting board (be careful not to use one that has a lot of knife cuts in it already because it will mess up your knife and you'll end up not cutting straight). I cut along the outside edge and then the inside cut outs of the B.



5) I then decided that I wanted another style of paper to give it some interest. In the same pad of scrapbook paper, there was a black piece with some different accents on it that gave some texture. I measured out how much I wanted it to cover and then using my paper cutter, I cut the paper in a straight line.


6) Once cut, I also used Mod Podge to glue this piece along the left side of the B, ensuring it lined up on the edge.  Once it was dry, I used the Exacto knife again to clean up the top and bottom edge.


7) Next, I wanted to add some pink to it.  The ribbon I bought ended up being perfect (and it was in the $1 bin at Michaels!). It was solid down the middle, but sheer on each side. I liked that you can see through to the paper on the edges, but the solid middle actually covers up the seam between the two types of paper. I used scissors to cut the correct size ribbon. Using Mod Podge, I glued it on.  The ribbon did end up bubbling a little, but over all, it just gives it more texture rather than looking bad. I used scissors to clean up the edge to get the ribbon as close to the end as possible.


8) Once all those pieces were dry, I decided the only thing left that I wanted to use were the flowers. So it was time to seal the paper. Using my foam paintbrush again, I put on a thin coat of Mod Podge across the entire project (I admit I was a little scared because I've never done this before! But I promise it does dry clear!!).  I let each coat sit over night, and I ended up doing about 3 coats. I also made sure to seal the edges of the letter also - this helps keep any pieces of the paper that were 100% glued down the first time from peeling up later.


9) Next, I used a level and hammer to attach a picture hanger ($1.99 at Hobby Lobby for a 5 pack) to the back of the letter. I wanted to do this while it was still flat so I didn't smash the flowers once they were attached. I used a level to ensure the hanger was put on level so it doesn't hang at an angle on the wall.  NOTE: Make sure your nails for the hanger are not thicker than your letter. My nails were a little bit too long and started poking through the front side! We were able to bang it back in, and I used a sharpie to cover the part of the paper that was affected - now you can't tell unless you know where it was.


10) The final step was to hot glue the flowers (I used a pink and a white pack that I found for $1.50 each in the dollar bins at Michaels) on to the corner of the letter. Even though the flowers had sticky pads on the back, I didn't trust that they would stay on. So I used a hot glue gun to glue them on.  Once the flowers were on, it was a finished project!


And here is a picture of it in the frame (I used a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby so the frame only cost me $17.99!), so you have an idea of what it will look like on the wall!  I can't wait to hang it up!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Review: Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye, Vol 1: My Life as a Weapon
by  Matt Fraction, David Aja (Illustrations), Javier Pulido (Illustrations), Alan Davis (Illustrator)
Date Read:  7/13/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★


I admittedly only read the first 3 comics in this book, as they were recommended by my husband. He read the whole book and said that these 3 were the best and the other ones were mediocre at best.

I did really enjoy those first 3. The whole flashback thing was a little confusing at first - I wasn't sure what was current and what was flashback, but I finally got used to it. My favorite story was the one about the dog. And I loved that the dog came back in future comics as a side character.

I liked the art in those comics. The story was interesting - and written in an interesting way. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed them.

The art did look very different with the remaining comics, and I didn't think it looked as interesting as the previous ones. My husband confirmed it was a different artist.

I can't give a review on the rest of the book, but if you pick it up, I think those first 3 are well worth a read.


Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2


I absolutely adored the first How to Train Your Dragon movie.  What a fun concept and it was executed so well.  I was so excited when I was sitting in a theater watching another movie and a preview came on with Toothless flying through the air and a boy riding his back. When he took off his mask and a grown up Hiccup was there, I almost jumped for joy!  I went in to How to Train Your Dragon 2 with pretty high expectations – but also not knowing much about what the plot was other than that his mom showed up.

Well, I can honestly say that I loved the second movie also.  It’s roughly 5 years later – so Hiccup is now a 20 year old man.  Life has changed in Birk; Dragons are accepted and weapons places have changed to making saddles for the dragons, etc.  It was fun to see the change that Hiccup was able to bring about, and also see the relationship between Hiccup and his father.  Also, Hiccup and Astrid are absolutely adorable. The movie doesn’t focus on the romance at all; it’s just there in the background which I really liked.

This movie focuses on whether Hiccup is ready to take over in his father’s place as chief. Does he even want it? Is he ready? All sorts of shenanigans happen while he tries to prove that he can bring peace by talking.  In the midst of it, everyone ends up captured at some point and Hiccup ends up running in to his mother – the mother that everyone thought was dead (I’m not spoiling anything because it was in the preview!!!).  I really loved learning her story and what happened to her.  And watching a relationship with Hiccup form was really special. 

There was a heart wrenching moment in the movie that I was not expecting. Am I mad? No, I don’t think so – I think it almost needed to happen. Does that mean I’m happy about it? No!  But it added a lot of depth and emotion to the movie.

This movie also introduced us to a new character that was fairly interesting. It was fun to watch him transform.  And the light hearted crushes that everyone has are hilarious.

The movie ends really well. For the most part it’s a happy ending.  I thought they did a great job on it. I still absolutely love Toothless and Hiccup.  And adding Astrid in there is a bonus. I didn’t watch the TV show before seeing this movie, and I don’t feel like I missed out on anything. The only thing is that when he whipped out his map of the world, it was the first time I’d seen it – but I understand that the TV show focuses on him traveling the world with Toothless and finding new lands.  So I think that part would have just been homage to the TV show – but you don’t have to have seen it to know what’s going on.

If you enjoyed the first one, I know you’ll enjoy the second movie.  If you haven’t watched either yet, I highly recommend you do.  My next step? To find the books that the movies are based on!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brooklyn's Nursery Project #1: Princess Silhouettes

The first project I tackled for Brooklyn's room was the easiest.  While it did take some time, it wasn't very intensive and was pretty easy to put together.  Since we are doing a fairytale princess themed nursery, we wanted to put up some silhouettes.  Our color scheme is pink, black and white.  The walls will be pink with some white bead board on the bottom half and our bedding will be mostly pink with black and white accents. Therefore, we wanted to bring in more of the black and white and thought silhouettes would be perfect.  I'll take you step by step how I put these together.

Total Cost:
Approximately $25 + ink and card stock already on hand

Supplies:
6 - 5x7 frames
White card stock
Small paper cutter or scissors
Laser printer
Computer with Paint (program)

Instructions:
1) I first had to find images of the silhouettes that I wanted. After a quick google search, I was able to find all that I wanted and saved them to my computer.

2) Some of the images were in really rough shape, so I used the program called Paint on my computer to edit the images to make the lines sharper and get rid of some of the blurred gray that appeared.  Here is a before and after of my Paint images.





Before










After





3) I saved my edited images and then just opened them with the default Microsoft Office Picture Manager to print the images.  Since we decided to do 6 of them, we choose to do them in 5x7 format (8x10 would have been too large).  So when I clicked to print, I chose to print them in 5x7 so they only took up about half the page.  I printed one, and then would flip the pages over and print on the other side, so I ended up with two silhouettes on one piece of card stock.


4) Using a small paper cutter (this is recommended over scissors because you can get a straight cut), to cut it in to 5x7 size so it would fit in my frame.  NOTE: Most of my images worked perfectly, but I did have to resize two of them because once I got them in the frame, their heads were cut off.  Once I resized them, I reprinted them and they fit perfectly.


5) Once cut, I placed each one in a frame to finish it off.  We bought these 5x7 frames at Walmart for $4 each!  Here is the final product. I think they turned out great!




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Home and project list

Hooray!  Today we got word that the appraisal on the new house came in $2,000 above the contract price!  Exciting news for two reasons: 1) We already have equity in our house, and 2) now all the hurdles in the home buying process have been avoided and we are just waiting for the closing date!  Our official close of escrow date is August 8 – which means we have about 6 weeks until closing – and 6 weeks until Brooklyn’s due date after closing.  What an agonizing wait!!  But at least I can start planning things out so we can get as much done in those 6 weeks before Brooklyn comes as possible (unless she makes an early debut).

There are plenty of projects that need to be done, see the list below.  As we tackle the projects, I’ll write specific posts about them and link them here. And I also need to start planning Brooklyn’s nursery!  Finally!

Projects to be tackled:
·         Brooklyn’s Nursery

·         Backyard update

·         New carpet throughout

·         Paint house

·         New backyard door to house

·         Inspection repairs

Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events #3)

The Wide Window (#3)
by Lemony Snicket
Date Read: 6/23/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★


The books keep getting longer, but at least they are getting funnier also.  I actually found myself chuckle a few times at this book.

I still like the literary and expression lessons we get out of these books.  And this one even focused on grammar!  (if you know me at all, you’ll know grammar is a pet peeve of mine!)  While I found the corrections of grammar in this book to be obnoxious in how they were done, I really liked Klaus explaining the errors in the letter.

The main plot outline of these stories all seem to be the same though: kids get a new guardian, Count Olaf disguises himself to get in with them, no one believes the children that he’s Count Olaf, and then they have to take Count Olaf down.  It’s a little repetitive, and I’m not sure I could handle that over 13 books.  But I do like that they have to figure out how to take him down differently in each book, and that each child is helpful in doing so. 

While I’m starting to get sick of seeing Olaf disguise himself and no one believes Violet, Klaus and Sunny, what I did like about this book was their adventure on the boat.  It was just them and no one butting in or getting in the way.  The only hurdle they had was the hurricane itself.  It was really nice.  The action also made the book fly by – so even though it was longer than the previous two books, it actually flew by. 

The leeches were totally creepy though – and that whole scene is pretty graphic.  As I continue reading these stories, I feel like the age at which I’ll feel comfortable having my own kids read them keeps getting older.

Now I want to watch the movie though – because I was told that it covered the first 3 books.  After watching that, I’ll have to decide whether I want to continue this series or not.  I might continue it as filler books since they’re easy reads.  But I won’t push through the series fast.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: The One

The One
by  Kiera Cass
Date Read: 6/19/14
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
That was surprisingly good.  Looking back on my reviews of the first two books, I gave The Selection 3 stars, and The Elite 3 stars (on the verge of 2.5 stars).  The first book started off slow – not much happened, dialogue wasn’t very good, her “I’m not pretty” attitude annoyed me. But once she got to the palace things picked up.  But I was very confused at the end when the rebel attack was thrown in there. It seemed so out of place.  But I enjoyed it enough (I liked Maxon a lot), that I decided to read the second one.  But that was almost worse.  I think it suffered from middle-book syndrome.  America was very indecisive in that book and it bugged the crap out of me!  But I think Maxon was written really well.  The ending was really abrupt and not a lot of questions about the rebels were answered in that book.

So let's first start with talking about that beautiful cover. I've liked all The Selection novel covers, but this is my favorite. I love the white dress - I love the roses on the bottom half. I love the reflection in the glass. I even love her hair and pose. It's just a beautiful cover. I wish I could wear that dress!

On the review of the book: Cass did a great job closing out the series.  I fell like this book really redeemed the series. I still probably would have enjoyed it just because Maxon was written so well.  But this book actually answered a lot of open questions and had a pretty good ending.

So this book actually starts off right where the other book left off – and that first scene of her trying to seduce Maxon was hilarious. I loved Maxon’s reaction. It was a great start to the book. I absolutely loved that there was no love triangle in this!  She had made up her mind in the last book who she wanted to be with.  Now, that doesn’t mean there was drama because Maxon did not know that Aspen is the guy she had been in love with before…so obviously you knew that was going to blow up at some point. But we weren’t constantly questioning who she was in love with. That was refreshing.

The questions regarding the rebels were answered. Though I feel like she could have dug deeper in to this and explained more, I still had enough of my surface questions answered and that was fine with me.

I liked the new characters that were added in this book, and there was more action in this book!  Or at least America was involved in more of the action, so we saw what was going on – she wasn’t locked in a safe room the entire time.

The one thing that makes me drop a star off this book is the fact that neither Maxon or America wanted to tell each other they loved them first. It was always “I don’t want to say it first”, “No he needs to say it first”, “Nope, I’m not saying it first”!  Good grief! Just say it already!  You’re both feeling it, you both are pretty sure about how the other feels, JUST SAY IT.  It was fine about the first two or three times, but towards the end of the book it really just started irritating me because then it would spur fights. Ugh. If she had just taken this out of the book, I probably would have given it 4.5 stars.

Maxon and America’s relationship is what I absolutely loved about this book though. Well, mostly I love Maxon. But their relationship actually seemed real to me.  They both had tempers though, so they fought a lot, but I loved how they would learn from each other and always work past it.  Maxon was so romantic in this book, I just swooned!  I know. A lot of it was pretty cheesy, but I don’t care. I’m pregnant and the cheese is welcomed! Every girl wants a guy to gush over her like that. Fight for her like that. Protect her like that. [swoon]

The ending actually caught me off guard!  I had seen someone post some quotes from the  book and I totally thought something different was going to happen than did! [SPOILER: I thought that Aspen was going to be the one who was shot and I expected he would die.  But when it was Maxon who jumped in front of America to take the bullet, and he laid there dying saying those things to her, I started crying! That was not how it was supposed to end! I had hope he wouldn’t actually die though since she was so convinced that he WAS dead.  But Aspen made it through too – which surprised me. I was happy with the ending for Aspen and Lucy.  I was shocked when Celeste was shot in the head (I just started to like her!). I was expecting the King to be killed but not the queen. I was surprised how late the fight about Aspen happened – but in honesty, it was actually the perfect place to happen. He almost made the wrong decision because of that fight but having him almost lose her and she him in the attack was the perfect way for it to end. END SPOILER]

A lot of people actually ended up dying in this book. While you don’t see much of it happen, it’s all told to you at the end or in the epilogue. The epilogue was even done well. I liked that it switched to present tense.

I wish we had gotten more.  I was thoroughly sucked in to this book and I still want more. I mostly want more of Maxon, and Maxon and America together. Cass did a great job ending her series, and I think she really saved it with this one. If you’ve enjoyed The Selection enough, I recommend that you finish the series. Once you get through it, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I know I didn’t.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2 Year Blogoversary!

Well, I just missed my blogoversary!  Life has been so crazy lately, that I completely missed it.  I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I started my blog!

It’s fun to look back and see how far my blog has come.  What started as just a hobby blogging about my husband writing his book, has manifested in to a full blog about my life.  From projects, to restaurants, to book reviews, and life in general (living through and moving on from a miscarriage), this blog has become pretty important to me.

While I know not that many people actually read my blog, when I receive comments about how one blog post was able to help one person, then I know I’ve done my job.  Our miscarriage is really what got me back in to my blogging last year - or at least taking it more seriously.  I needed a way to get my feelings out, and writing has always been that for me (it’s hard for me to actually sit and talk to someone about my feelings…but it’s easy for me to write them down somewhere). And I realized that talking with a friend who’d been through the same thing really helped me. So I melded the two and decided to post blogs about how I was feeling, and if I could help one person, then it was all worth it.  I’ve had a few comments from people, and it makes me feel good that in that moment, I was able to help someone else work through their pain too.

Of course, it’s just fun to keep friends and family in the loop of things too – from blogging about the little girl we are expecting to home projects we’re working on, I wanted to share the news.  I’ll have plenty of new projects to add to my blog once we get in this new house (assuming the appraisal goes well – please send prayers and good vibes our way for that!).

With our travels, we’ve tried so many new places.  When I find a gem, I post it on my Recommended Restaurants page.  So if you’re planning on traveling somewhere, check it out and see if there’s anywhere I’ve been that you should try!  If you have any suggestions as well, I’d love to see them in the comments section so that I can go there if I ever travel to that place.

My book and movie reviews are probably my favorite thing. I love reading and going to movies – and then sharing my thoughts.  I think I’m almost to the point where I need to start alphabetizing my reviews instead of just adding it to the list.  =)  I’m hoping once Brooklyn arrives, that I’ll still have enough time to keep up on my reading. I’m sure I won’t be able to read 50 books in one year (unless they’re all graphic novels or something), but I would like to still get through a decent amount of them – if not just to keep my sanity.  =)

Anyways – I just wanted to acknowledge my blogoversary and thank everyone for supporting me.  Hopefully my blog continues to entertain people and will keep growing over the years.  Thank you for all your support - and hopefully soon I'll have some more posts about Brandon's novel! The goal is to get it sent to publishers by the end of the year!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

The wonderful Inge at Bookshelf Reflections nominated me for a Liebster Blog Award. At first, I have to admit that I had no idea what that meant. But I’ve learned from reading her blog that it is basically a way for we bloggers who do not have as many followers to talk about ourselves and network ourselves, and then pass it along to others. While it’s a lot of work, it was a lot of fun as well. So here it goes:

RULES
  1. List 11 facts about yourself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions asked by whoever nominated you.
  3. Nominate 9 bloggers with less than 300 followers and leave them a comment saying they’ve been nominated.
  4. Ask 11 new questions for your chosen nominees.
  5. You cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.

11 FACTS ABOUT ME
  1. When I was little, I first wanted to be a Veterinarian. I loved dogs so much, that I thought it would be awesome to work with dogs all day! To this day, when I walk in to a pet store, I want to adopt them all. Then in 5th grade I had to do a research project on it and realized I’d have to go to school in Colorado (there are no Vet schools in AZ!), and that I’d have to work with cats… thus my dream vanished.
  2. I love to travel. Until I got married, the only place I had been outside of the United States was to Rocky Point, Mexico. And that was when I was in college, and I don’t think you can really call Rocky Point an international destination. I had also never been off the contiguous United States (that is the mainland – so I hadn’t been to Alaska or Hawaii either). When we got married, we took our honeymoon to Cancun, Mexico, and I loved it. Cancun is very different from Rocky Point, and my husband and I decided we definitely wanted to travel around the world. We want our kids to experience different cultures also. Since then, we’ve taken week long trips to New York City (yes it’s still in the US, but it’s a very different culture from Phoenix), Greece (I had some culture shock when we first arrived – so this is definitely a place I want our kids to experience so they can appreciate where they live), Italy (Venice and Rome – I can’t wait to go back to Rome), Orlando (a long trip filled with theme parks), and Williamsburg (also in the US, but filled with US history). We plan to go to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Spain, Argentina, France, Australia, England, the Mediterranean, etc., in our coming years also – perhaps with some cruises to check out certain spots before we plan a full vacation there.
  3. I have lived in Phoenix, Arizona my entire life. I’m one of the rare natives here now. Why, you ask? Several things: 1) My immediate family lives here, as well as my husband’s immediate family. We think family is very important and definitely want our kids to be around family. 2) There are no natural disasters in Arizona – I think it’s the only place in the US – no tornadoes, hurricanes, or even earthquakes! 3) The cost of living is much more affordable than other locations such as California. If I were to spend the same amount of money for a house in CA or NY, I would only get a few hundred square feet…where I’m getting a huge lot and 2,500 sqft in Phoenix. 4) Sure it’s hot 6 months of the year, but I treat it as those who live in snow. What do you do when it’s snowing somewhere? You stay inside and find things to do. Well, that’s what we do in AZ in the summer. And at least I can go from my air conditioned house, to an air conditioned car, to another air conditioned location. When it’s snowing, you’re stuck in your house. And we’re also just a short 6 hour drive from San Diego where it is much cooler and we can enjoy the beach.
  4. I have difficulty with change. This is a sub-conscious thing. I don’t sit here and worry day and night about something changing in my life, but it was pointed out to me when I was in college by a lady I worked with, and I’ve really paid attention to it since then – and she was totally right! For instance, when my husband and I were buying our first house, I consciously was very excited to have our own place. And consciously the money didn’t worry me. But the night and morning of signing all our papers, I felt sick to my stomach. I honestly didn’t think I would make it through signing all the papers. But once we were on our way to pack up our houses, waiting for our keys, I was magically okay. Sub-consciously, holding myself responsible for that much money apparently freaked me out! And I’ve noticed it in other circumstances as well. I usually make it through, but the stress of the actual transition is usually pretty rough on me.
  5. In 5th grade, I was playing on the jungle gym at lunch time with my friends. We were playing and I was standing on the top of the gym (there was a ladder with two rungs to climb up to where I was was). I decided I didn’t want to go down the slide and I would climb down the ladder to go to the monkey bars instead. Well, whether intentional or not, my friend’s foot was in the way, just at the end of the drop. I tripped over it, and fell the 4 feet down…but I didn’t go straight down, I went horizontal toward one of the really thick blue poles supporting the jungle gym, head first. My mouth took the brunt of the impact (don’t ask how), so at least I didn’t get a concussion. But I felt that I was missing a tooth. I was rushed to the nurse, and she called my mom. My mom had to rush me to the orthodontist first to get my braces taken off, and then to the dentist to get my broken tooth taken care of. Turns out, I didn’t smash the entire tooth – I just basically cracked off half of it in a diagonal manner. The dentist thought he was able to save the root of the tooth since he got to it so quickly. He was able to put some bonding on the tooth so it looks normal. They figured 10 years later when I was 18 and going to prom, I would need a root canal and a cap. REPORT: I’m now 28 years old (20 years since the incident), and the root is still alive and well and I haven’t had to have that root canal yet. Can you say miracle dentist??
  6. I acquired lactose intolerance when I was a teenager. You might ask, how does one “acquire” this? Well, I ate some raw chicken (it was a leg and I bit in to it before seeing how red it was inside!) at Busch Gardens while on vacation in FL one year. I came down with a severe case of food poisoning from it. A few weeks later, my stomach was hurting really bad randomly through the days. I finally went the hospital, and they couldn’t tell me what was wrong – I had a CAT scan and spinal tap done, and only found out that I was super healthy. I wasn’t able to trace it back to anything I ate because it never seemed to coincide with anything that would cause problems. My doctor recommended a lactose intolerance test. This test is comprised of drinking something with lactose at the office and then blowing in to a reader that tells whether you’re processing lactose or not. Well, I sat there for 3 full hours – all the other kids had already left because they were positive on the test much earlier. I however, didn’t pop positive until the very last test. They called me a late bloomer, which is why I wasn’t able to narrow it down to dairy – my problems wouldn’t start until 2 meals later. I cut out the dairy (very sad because I love milk and ice cream!), and I was fine. When I at cheese, I had to have a lactaid pill with me. But after 2 years it went away. We did some research and found out that severe food poisoning will attack the lining of your stomach and cause the villi to die. The villi in the small intestine are responsible for producing the lactase enzyme which breaks down lactose. When lactose isn’t broken down, it ferments in the large intestine and causes problems seen with lactose intolerance (gas, bloating, and diarrhea). But overtime, your stomach lining can heal. Which I assume is what happened for me. But now that I’m pregnant, I believe it’s come back. Sigh.
  7. When I was in fourth grade, I played softball and was on a really good team. We made it to the final tournament and going in to the weekend, my coach told us all to not do anything stupid and injure ourselves. So what did I do? I did something stupid. I was bored and decided to do a cartwheel inside my house – I’ve done them thousands of times, so I shouldn’t have had any trouble. But somehow, I didn’t get my hand down in the correct position and all my weight landed on my thumb. It swelled up like a balloon. I was rushed to the doctor and they did x-rays. They found that I fractured the bone. They had to put it in a splint. It was my glove hand. So I wasn’t able to use my glove for a few weeks. My coach was furious! BUT, good news is that the doctors didn’t think I’d get full motion back in that thumb, but I’m happy to report it bends just as far as my other thumb!
  8. I love all things Disney. From Disney movies, to Disneyland, to Disney channel, I love it all. Some of my favorite movies are Disney movies (think Beauty and the Beast and Tangled – but I don’t get all the hype about Frozen…). I went to either Disneyland or Disney world every 2 years when I was younger, and I hope I am able to give my children many Disney memories as well. For our honeymoon, my husband and I actually went to Disneyland first, because it’s been a dream of mine to buy those mickey ears with a veil!
  9. My favorite band growing up was ‘N SYNC. Feel free to laugh. I’m not ashamed. They were easily the best band at the time. I first saw them on (gasp) Disney channel, in- concert (they don’t seem to do this anymore). I fell in love. Naturally, Justin Timberlake was my favorite. I guess I have good taste because he’s gone on to have quite a successful solo career also. My cousin and I actually went to all 3 concerts that they had here in Phoenix also…and I may still have the tickets saved in my hope chest…
  10. I have loved to read all my life. The first book I ever read from front to back by myself was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss, when I was 4 or 5. Since then, I’ve always been a book worm. I always was reading above my grade level and would exceed standards on the reading portions of standardized exams in school. Once I hit high school and I had to read books for that, I lost my interest in reading for a while. I didn’t read much for fun throughout high school and college. But I did read the first 4 books of Harry Potter during my one week Spring Break my sophomore year of college! I’ve found my love of reading again, and I’m hoping to pass it on to our little girl. Actually, for my baby shower, I’ve requested guests to bring a book instead of a card in order to start her library. I’m so excited!!
  11. After quite a horrible year of loss last year, we finally have something to be hopeful about. Last year, I experienced 3 deaths, all within about 2 months of each other: a co-worker died in a motorcycle accident, we lost our baby boy in a late miscarriage at 13.5 weeks, and my husband’s aunt passed away in another motorcycle accident. It was a really hard end of the year for us. But in January, we found out we were pregnant again. We took things really easy this time around and called the doc all the time. But we’re now 26.5 weeks along with our little girl, and couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to the world! Just about 13 more weeks until we get to meet her!

QUESTIONS ASKED BY INGE at BOOKSHELF REFLECTIONS
1. If you had all the money in the world, where would you go?
I would travel to all the places there is a major tennis tournament. It’s a bucket list item anyway, but if I had all the money in the world, I could visit them all the same year and spend a lot more time in each place. So this would consist of New York (which I’ve actually already crossed off), Paris (would like to see the Eiffel tower and then perhaps other places in France, rather than staying in Paris), London (definitely on my list to see – I’ll have to go see Platform 9 ¾!), and Melbourne (though it is a horribly long flight, I’ve always wanted to see Australia. I would take a week in Melbourne and a week in Sydney – is anyone else excited to see a kangaroo??)
2. If you could read only one book for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
Wow, Inge, what a question! One book or can it be the entire series? If I get the whole series it would definitely be Harry Potter. But one book? Boy that’s hard. I guess I’d say The Hunger Games. It was so original, and I liked watching her survival.
3. We all suffer from the-book-is-better-than-the-movie syndrome, but are there any film adaptations that were better than the book? If so, which?
Some people might think I’m crazy, but I liked the Disney movie adaptation of Alice in Wonderlandmuch better than the book. The book was so much non-sense it was actually hard for me to read and follow. I think the only reason I was able to picture certain things was because of the Disney movie. I felt like the movie had more flow and they were able to show me certain scenes better than me picturing them in my head…it made a tad bit more sense to me – though the story itself is all non-sense.
4. Name five characters of any book, dead or alive, with whom you’d like to hang out with for a day.
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices (see next question…), Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series, Percy Jackson from thePercy Jackson series, and Jean Val Jean from Les Miserables.
5. Who is our ultimate literary crush?
I absolutely adore Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices series. He had this cocky, smart-alecky personality, but he was incredibly loyal and trustworthy. Once you got through his walls, he always protected you. And he had just enough nerd in him for me (remember the ducks?!).
6. Do you prefer hardcovers or paperbacks, and why?
Definitely hardcovers. They are much more durable and I don’t have to hold them open the entire time to read – makes reading while eating much easier! While they are heavier to carry around, they are more durable for portability. I bring books everywhere, and they need to stand up to being thrown in a bag somewhere. However, I’ve started buying paperbacks just because they are so much cheaper. Especially if I haven’t read the book before, I will only buy the paperback – and I’m usually going to the library for those instead– unless I’m at one of the huge book sales where I get books super cheap. But for the books I love and want in my collection, I almost always buy it in hardback.
7. Do you let yourself be influenced by the cover of a book when you decide to read something? In other words, do you judge a book by its cover?
I’m sorry to say it, but yes I do. There are SO many books in the world, that if I’m scanning around trying to determine what I should read next, I have to let the cover grab me first, otherwise I would spend HOURS upon HOURS reading blurbs on books and deciding what to read. So once a cover catches me, I’ll read the blurb and see if it’s something I’d like to read. Unless I see raving reviews from friends about a book with an ugly cover, I won’t usually pick it up. Now that my husband is working on his first novel, we’ve decided that a decent cover will be worth its weight in gold – you need a good mix of enticing cover, intriguing blurb, and a good novel to, in turn, get good reviews for more readers.
8. When and where do you prefer to read?
The perfect place to read is on the patio while it’s raining and my dogs are running around the yard. I don’t know what it is, but I love reading while it’s raining – I guess it’s two of my loves in the world combined– books and rain (we don’t get much rain in AZ). But when I can’t have that, I like to curl up on the couch next to my hubby and read our books – maybe with a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.
9. What are your favourite themes when reading fiction? What about non-fiction?
I don’t read much non-fiction, I’m sorry to say. I had to read enough of it in school, that it really burned me out. The reason I read is to get away to another world – so that is why I enjoy fiction so much more. Non-fiction just takes me to the world we’re in or the past we’ve lived in. Not much escape there. As for fiction, I enjoy paranormal stuff mostly – again for the escape – it’s so different from reality that it’s fun to go to those worlds with vampires, werewolves, witches, angels, etc. I’ve also found I like novels that take place in historical eras – this way I can pretend I lived in the 1800s, but there is enough difference and plot that you wouldn’t find in a non-fiction book about the 1800s. I like books that focus on friendship, or navigating relationships in general. I also like watching characters come of age and really learn who they are and become all that they are supposed to be. And of course the typical good vs. evil (and good must always win!)
10. Have you learned any valuable lessons when reading certain books? If so, tell me one.
I’m sure there are some – especially from when I was younger. But I can’t think of any right now that I’ve specifically learned from. I’ve recently started reading the Lemony Snicket books, and I will eventually want my children to read them (though they’ll have to be older than I originally thought – these books are pretty dark and violent!). I’ve liked the lessons in these books. Not only are there literary lessons (dramatic irony, etc.), but these poor kids have been thrown in to a terrible situation but they never give up and always work to find a solution to their problem. I really like that.
11. How do you decide which book to read next?
It depends on my mood. If there is another book available in the series I just finished, I usually go with that. If I just ended a series, I’ll usually have to take a break to pull myself from that world. Then it depends. If I got a book from the library I’ve desperately been wanting to read, I’ll read that next (stupid time limit on library books!). If I don’t have that, I’ll check reviews from friends or find something in the same realm as the book I just finished. That’s how I stumbled upon the Mortal Instrument series – I wanted something along the lines of Twilight (which I just finished), and Harry Potter. The Mortal Instruments series was recommended, and I fell in love!

 QUESTIONS FOR MY NOMINEES
  1. What is your favorite hobby and why?
  2. What is the book that spurred your love of reading? What was it about that book that drew you in?
  3. Why did you decide to start blogging? How do you network your blog?
  4. What is your favorite childhood memory?
  5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
  6. Do you prefer to buy books or movies or check them out from the library/rental store?
  7. What is the most important piece of advice you’ve learned or received that you would pass on to someone else?
  8. What is one event in your life that you believe has changed you (for better or worse)?
  9. Do you collect anything? If so, what?
  10. What is your favorite holiday and why?
  11. Who in your life has influenced who you’ve become the most and why?

 MY NOMINEES
Ok, I have to confess that I don't know that many other bloggers out there (especially ones with less than 300 followers), so I will slowly add to my 9 nominee list. But for starters, here they are:
  1. Brandon @ Muertos Coffee
  2. Susan @ Go Betti Go
  3. Maura @ More O' Maura
If you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading this entire blog post! You're awesome! I hope you follow me and we can network our blogs!
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