Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman & Giveaway

Fading Starlight
by Kathryn Cushman
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (May 3, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 0764212621

I'm pretty sure this is the first Kathryn Cushman novel I've read. I was drawn in by the synopsis as well as the cover. I hadn't read a contemporary novel, or really any novel, without a romance as the main part of the story. I have to tell you, not having a romance as a main element made this a very refreshing read!

Let me say, for the record, that I received this book from Bethany House for review. I'll be sharing my personal opinion of the book after sharing the plot synopsis. You can also read an excerpt!

Here's a bit about the book...

Plot Synopsis

When Her Big Shot Blows Up on Her, 
How Far Will One Woman Go to Regain Her Dream?

Lauren Summers is in hiding. Her fashion house internship was supposed to launch her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she can find comes with little pay, but at least it offers a free place to live--a rundown cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Planning to live on savings until she figures out what's next, she's unprepared to be contacted by a reporter.

Kendall Joiner is researching Charlotte Montgomery, a former Hollywood ingénue who lives a reclusive life in the cliff-side mansion. Rumors have swirled for decades about Charlotte, and now Kendall wants to find the real story. In return, she may just have the key to getting Lauren back into the fashion world. Desperate to get her life back on track, Lauren's not sure she can turn down the offer--but as she and Miss Montgomery get to know more about each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

My Opinion

Like I said above, this book was a refreshing detour from the books I read. Yes, there's a guy, but his part is so minute that it really didn't factor in for me. This book is really about Lauren Summers. I actually think the second paragraph above should've been more about Charlotte Montgomery than Kendall, but no one asked me. =)

I have to say, the thing I liked throughout this entire book is how relatable Lauren is. When her "big shot" isn't what she hopes, the reader cringes right along with her. Lauren's life becomes topsy turvy, and we go along with her ride. I found myself getting defensive for her, and down right angry at certain parts.

Throughout the story, I really love how Rhonda (you'll get to know her a bit) encourages Lauren's faith, and speaks wisdom into her life. It was wonderful to see the people come around her and show her kindness when it seemed like all the world had to offer her was  negativity.

As for Kendall, I wasn't ready to be a fan of hers at the start of the story, because I tend to give certain characters the stink eye until I get to know them better. She plays a big role in helping Lauren figure out who she is as a person, and helps her become a stronger person. When you read the story, you'll understand better.

I absolutely recommend this book! It was a super easy read, and I didn't want to put it down because it was just an enjoyable read!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Everyday Signs From JustJessi DeSignage

Last year we were introduced to a couple of new families that we've started a Bible study with. The first time we met Jessi and Chriss, they brought one of her vinyl signs with her as a house warming gift! I was so surprised because I didn't know she even made them, and when they came to our house the first time, it was my first time meeting her! What a sweet gift!

Then my aunt's birthday was in April, and when I saw her posting photos on Facebook in one of the local shops, I knew I had to get one for her birthday. I bought the cat sign for my aunt and asked Jessi to modify it with another one of her signs! Easy peasy.

Jessi also does classes. I'm hoping to find time in my schedule to get to one of them! Here are some ideas about how she does actual parties:

"Are you looking for a unique way to celebrate an upcoming special occasion in the Southern Maryland and surrounding areas? 
JustJessi DeSignage offers private A Sip and A Sign Parties that will have your guests raving!
Our private painting parties offer guests a fun and creative way to relax and enjoy time with friends.
How it works is you and a group of people have a get together! Your choice of place and I simply come along with all my sign making goodies! We all apron up and everyone makes their own sign under my guidance. Along the way, there is your choice of food and drink. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, but we do have some business partners that can provide a wine tasting. It could also be a potluck, an appetizer night, or if it is at a restaurant of some kind we can simply enjoy their menu!
We ask that there be a minimum of 6 and a max of 15 guests. The host can pick 4 designs for their guest to choose from. We will create e-vites for everyone to RSVP and pay. We provide all the materials for the sign making, and we can provide tables as well if necessary. We will need a small outdoor space from you to distress and sand signs, but the rest can be done indoors. You are free to do your own food and drink, but we have some business associates that can help with that if you’re interested in wine!"
Now, my party would consist of an unending flow of milk and cranberry juice, but that's ok. =) Not every party has to include wine.
Now, if you're here looking for a Father's Day gift idea, you're in the right place! She has got some great signs for the guy in your life! Check these out:

Those are just a few that she has available! She also more than just signs for dad! If you check out her Esty site, you'll see an entire line of great signs for purchase! She can even do a custom sign for you. 
I'm really excited that for Father's Day I'll be giving away one of her signs! Check this one out...
Be watching in the next couple of days because you'll have the chance to win it! In the meantime, be sure to follow Jessi on Facebook and check her out on Amazon as well!

What would you have a custom sign say?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lugz For The Guy In Your Life

You know, I live in a home of guys. It used to be there were more girls than guys. The tide has totally turned! My oldest son is finally caring about his clothes and how he looks. Reminds me of my girls once they got into high school.

Now, this post is about a pair of Lugz shoes he chose for a review that are perfect for Father's Day, but my son's wearing them because he was the next guy in the family that needed a new pair of shoes. If you'll remember, I did a review on the Zrocs, and have loved wearing them since I got them. Now my son has his first pair!

He chose the Fortitude sneaker. I was trying to get him out of his sneaker comfort zone and was like, well, what about the other options? C'mon kiddo, step out of what you know? Nope, he wasn't budging. lol

It was actually good timing because the shoes he's been wearing this school year were reaching their last leg, which we didn't know. Let's just say they've now become his "dirty work" shoes. His new Fortitudes are what he wears every single day.

Lugz has shoes for every guy in your life for every outfit or situation. I was looking through the men's shoes because he needs some sprucing up in the shoe department as well! I've got a lot of training to do in my house when it comes to guys in my house. We all have our burden to bear, but this one is one I'll gladly take on.

What about the guy in your life? Men these days have so many options of styles, and with Lugz those styles are covered. If you're looking for a signature style, these are the way to go. Whether they're looking for a pair of shoes to go out for the evening, wearing them to work, or out running around.

When I asked my son about his new shoes, he said they were really comfortable. Makes sense when you look at the details:

  • Leather & durabrush upper
  • Padded tongue & collar
  • Cushioned insole
  • Rubber outsole

I think he really likes the cushioned insole. He's on his feet all day, and he definitely likes his comfort. Not only that, but he really likes the design of it. Is it possible for a young man to have more confidence walking around because of his shoes? I think in this case, it's an easy "yes."

If the guy in your life is looking for style and comfort, these are the way to go! Be sure to follow them on their social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. For real, you'll be surprised at all of the people who are wearing this brand!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Get Out Your Sprinkler!

When we were building our house, I had a lot of specific things I wanted done to it. I actually have a vision of what my dream home would look like. Well, probably more than one dream home. Probably several. The house we moved into last October is designed very much by me (with the approval of my hubby of course). There were basics on the inside, but I tweaked it quite a bit. We also modified the outside just a tad.

One of the things I asked was for two spigots to be placed in very specific areas. The was a reason behind my request: how our house and property were designed. I wanted a spigot on the left side of the house and one to the far right side at the back of the house. The builder put one on the left...and the right, but not the back. Well, ok. Unfortunately, our backyard is larger than our front so taking care of the backyard could be a pain. Thank you for that builder.

I reached out to Melnor to do a review of one of their sprinklers because they're a local company, and I was tired of being jealous of our neighbor who has a telescoping sprinkler. I had a couple that stick in the ground. Let me just share that the ones you stick in the ground here don't actually go into rock hard clay very well.

So, they sent me their Metal Pulsating Sprinkler with Tripod to try out. And then...it rained, for almost an entire month. Since the end of April until this week I think we saw 2 1/2 days of sun. The opportunity to use the sprinkler was absolutely non existent. I'm not sure how frustrating that is when you have reviews to do for things like a sprinkler or bathing suit! Rain = not helpful.

One of the two and a half days that it didn't rain, I ran out to our backyard to take pictures of the Tripod. When I shared about it on Facebook, one of my friends laughed saying my neighbors must think I'm crazy putting a sprinkler on the ONE day it doesn't rain. hahahaha Well, you do whatcha gotta do when you're trying something new. =)

There's so much I love about this Tripod! There are two extensions that will take the sprinkler up to 48". It will also water up to a 85' diameter circle. With this backyard, it's exactly what we need. I've played around a lot with the sprinkler portion for the diameters I want sprayed and they type of mist I want. Around my garden I wanted more of a misting pattern. For the grass I wanted a straight stream to get to the farthest part of the yard.

Then there's the dog who's completely interested in the sprinkler! I had no idea she'd want to get up close because she's typically a fraidy cat of odd looking things. When she was out back with it one day, she would not stop trying to drink from it, all the while trying not to get wet. She cracks me up.

So if I hook the hose to the opposite side of the house, the sprays should meet somewhere in between so that all of the grass is covered! No more fighting the dumb clay ground for this gal! Now, we just have to work the ground to be able to plant grass seed to one day have a decent lawn!

Be sure to follow Melnor on Facebook!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baby and Beyond Giveaway Hop

If you are a company or brand who would like to take part in the event as a Grand Prize sponsor please email me at: klcmaher@moreismerrier.com
or Trista at:
or Mimi at:
Andersons AngelsWoven by Words, and The More The Merrier are hosting the “Baby and Beyond Giveaway Hop” from August 12th at 12:01 am EST thru August 26th at 11:59 pm EST! If you’re a blogger, be sure to add your BLOG NAME to the linky below and invite your blog friends to be sign-ups too! The Baby and Beyond Giveaway Hop is FREE, and there will be NO prize minimum.  If you don’t have a prize, you can self-sponsor with a gift card, because everyone loves to win giftcards!
Baby & Beyond –  What It Means
What says baby and beyond to you? You aren’t limited to infants! Reach out to companies who fit any baby age theme or have child type products, and get them to work with you! Some ideas could be: car seats, bedding, books, toys, health products, and more!
We Have Very Simple Guidelines:
  • Each blogger is responsible for securing their own prize and running a giveaway.
  • You can have more than 1 winner, but please make sure each prize group is a minimum of $15 worth of prizes.
  • You must add the linky for the hop to your giveaway. We will be hopping through everyone’s posts to make sure everything is done completely. We’ll contact you to make sure you remember to get your post up, or if something isn’t right. We want everyone to succeed! Not posting required information will result in you being removed from the event. (I personally will, at the very least, post a tweet from every giveaway!)
  • Once your giveaway is live, please email the direct link to your post so that it can be added to the linky. Remember, if your post isn’t up, on time and correctly, it’s affecting the next person in the hop.
  • We would love it if you would share the sign up post, as well as put the button on your sidebar! It will help everyone in the long run. The more we get to sign up, the more traffic, the more we can do in the future! More, more, more. And more is good, right?) Put social media to work for you (and everyone participating). It’s how I got so many followers, and how I add them constantly!
SignUps close on August 6, 2016. Details will be emailed by August 10th or you can grab it in our Facebook Group anytime! If you have any questions about the event, we’re available to help!
Hashtag: #babynbeyond
Have a question you don’t want to ask in the group? Email us at Mimi: wovenbywords@gmail.com, Trista: teanderson05@andersonsangels.com, or Kay: klcmaher@moreismerrier.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

For The Love Of Coffee

A coffee maker is a coffee maker is a coffee maker, right? No, not in the slightest, especially if you ask my husband who used to be a Regional Coordinator for coffee at Whole Foods. You have to have the right coffee, the right grind, and the right maker! I didn't realize this until I met Fred.

Then it turns out my dad has a thing about the latest and greatest in coffee makers! Not kidding. I mean, I knew the guy like his daily pot of coffee, and that if there was a new electronic gadget out he had to be one of the first users, but coffee makers? Who knew that would be a talking piece? I found out when we moved from MN. Go figure.

So, a couple weeks ago, they came to visit us at our new home. They hadn't been here yet, and I figured it was time to pull out the Ninja Coffee Bar I'd gotten for review. I knew he and Fred would both appreciate trying it out. My dad more so for the experimentation of a new shiny toy, and Fred for the technicalities of how coffee is brewed. I think we made 2 pots of coffee and 3 single cups in the span of a half an hour.

Once I had my Bar to myself, I tried a couple of specialty drinks. I'm so ready for the warm weather, I knew I wanted to make a couple cold beverages. The first one I made was the one I spied when I opened the recipe book the first time. It was the Sweet Sofiaccino...named after Sofia Vergara who is promoting the Ninja Coffee Bar.

I was thrilled with how easy the recipe was to follow, and the ingredients are ones you'd typically have on hand! I'm not sure about you, but I always feel a bit intimidated when it comes to making drink recipes. And let me just say about the recipes, as a side note, they have food recipes as well!

When you make one of the Ninja Coffee Bar recipes, it tells you which cup to use as well as which brew to choose. I felt like with the Sweet Sofiaccino, I could've sipped on it until the cows came home it was that delicious!

Now, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before or not, but before if I had wanted a specialty coffee I would've had to drive almost a half an hour into town to get one. Truly, that's just never an option for me. I work from home, and I'm not going to drive that far to get a specialty coffee. So, I've always just ended up having coffee with creamer at home. At least until now. Now I can make pretty much anything under the sun that's coffee related. I don't have to drive anywhere, and I save money. That last piece is what I love the most!

The second drink I made was the Coffee, Cookies, and Cream Frappe. My favorite warm weather drink is the frappe. Making them at home now for myself...glorious!!! I'm SO thankful one of our friends got us a blender for our wedding because it's totally coming in handy.

This treat I could've sucked down all at once and not come up for air if I could've. The cookies ground up, the ice cream...you really can't go wrong!

With the Ninja Coffee Bar, you get a  Hot & Cold Insulated Tumbler and....AND a frother! There must be angels singing somewhere! That's the tumbler above. I had too much whipped cream on top with cookies to add the lid. Not a bad problem to have if I do say so myself!

I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch drinking iced coffees through the summer, and enjoying my days. I definitely want to try some of the food recipes they have.

Be sure to follow Ninja Coffee Bar to see all of their delicious recipes: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Big shout out to NinjaKitchen for making my like much more delicious! Check out my most recently tried recipe, the Iced Caramel Macchiato!

What is your favorite specialty coffee?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Doing Groupon Coupons

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it, but June, and especially July, are months filled with either holidays or birthdays! My boys' birthdays are in June and there's Father's Day. Then July...whoa Nelly, July has 6 birthdays and one holiday! That's why Groupon Coupons will have to be my go-to for discounts! So, let me share with you this sponsored post! And let me just say, all the opinions are mine.

Have you ever used or even heard of Groupon Coupons? They have offers and coupons to almost 10,000 stores! Score, because for real, if you can't find something you want or need in that many stores...you may want to analyze what you're looking for. =)

My boys are pretty much taken care of for their birthdays, but one gift for my oldest son! He wants a Harry Potter quote on a Fathead! That's definitely something we'll be getting him. Then there's Father's Day. Got two men in my life who will be needing gifts. My dad and I can bond over tools by getting him something from Zoro Tools! He's the one who showed me a flier for a local hardware store that was going to be opening last fall. It was so cute.

Next comes birthday month. The one store I know I can always count on for anyone in my family for any holiday is Kohls. They've literally got something for everyone. Now I just have to work on all of them getting me lists of what they want. The sooner I can jump on their gifts, the better!

Thinking about all the people I need to get gifts for some of these companies are at the top of my list for shopping with Groupon Coupons:

World of Watches
Rue 21
Coldwater Creek

Do you have any birthdays coming up where you could use some of these deals?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

DIY Flower "Pot" Stand

I really like salads. A LOT! I don't typically make them at home because mine tend to be on the boring side. Chick-fil-A on the other hand makes salads that are to die for. After Mother's Day they offered a challenge to make something with the salad containers. I'm not known for any DIY projects on my site, but I figured I'd give it a go. See what happens.

The first thing that came to my mind was stacked flower pots. Now, since these salad trays are small and flat, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. Usually when you see them, they're nice and tall. This one would be short and a little wide.

Fred and I went shopping at the hardware store last weekend, and he was so funny. I had grabbed some muted spray paint colors, and he said I should get some bright ones. I may have groaned and made a face. With the cruddy weather we've had for three weeks, I needed some brightness, so I agreed to change my colors.

I started off in the backyard with my trays upside down and gave each bottom piece a coat of blue. I also got a bright green to paint the glass light cover which will be a bird feeder. While that was drying, I cut out the center piece of the lid with the logo on it. As soon as I finished that, I went back and gave the trays & light a second coat.

We found one of our old yard stakes, and I used that to make the stand the containers would sit on. Now, let me just say, this started off as a DIY fail at this point because I tried it initially with just a bamboo rod. First, there wasn't enough space between the containers. So I went and bought some spacers, painted them, and tried to use them to create height. Nope. The containers just fell over. Then I tried to rearrange the flowers so the containers could sit more on each other, and that was basically just like stacking plates. GAH! Dang DIY experience.

I had a lightbulb moment yesterday, and realized what I needed to do. Instead of them stacking, I made it so it was a stand instead. I ran BACK to the hardware store. Thank goodness it's like 45 seconds away from our house! I bought some 'L' brackets. I added some flat pieces of particle board that were leftover from a different project. Holy cow, thank goodness that worked or I might've been crying out in the rain!

From there, I added potted soil and two little Vincas, and put the container top on. I had to be careful because I added two flowers instead of the one I was initially going to add. Thankfully none of the flowers broke off.

Fred had gotten me a fender washer to glue to the bottom of my lamp shade. That way all I had to do was screw it onto the wooden stake. Because I didn't want the bird seed to be too deep in the glass, I ran once again BACK to the hardware store to find something that would sit at least halfway up it to stop the seed from falling too far down. My thought was to find a piece of flat steel, maybe something from the electrical dept. Didn't find anything to fit there, but it was a good start. Then as I strolled through the plumbing, I realized I'd need to get creative. I grabbed a sink stopper and turned it upside down! Totally worked. Score!

I went home, and dropped it into the lamp shade, and viola, I had a bird feeder. My project was finally done! I have a veeeery long way to go before I do any major projects, but this one was good experience. It certainly had me thinking. Now all I need is for some birds to come for a visit.

What is your favorite DIY project?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Enjoy The Outdoors With TIKI

One of my very favorite things to do on warm nights is sit outside and enjoy the peace and quiet. I like to be able to read, and enjoy the nature sounds that come out at night. I've been a porch sitter since my last home. I'd put the kids to bed, and then sit outside on the adirondack chairs. Just me and the big sky above me.

Flip to the other side of our home, and I have bigger, better ideas for that. We're hoping to have a deck out back by the end of summer. I'd love it before that so we could enjoy it, but when there's no money in the coffers for something like that, you plan until it can happen.

The backyard will need an ambiance that encourages fun and enjoyment, which is why I reached out to TIKI Brand to see if they'd work with me to help make our outdoor experience just right. Thankfully they agreed, and I decided the porch is the first place to start. Obvious choice since that's the only thing completed!

Nearly three weeks ago, it started raining. Monday was the FIRST time in those three weeks that it didn't rain. The last time I experienced that amount of rain was when I was living in Washington. I don't mind the rain, and actually enjoy it, but it has caused more frustration than anything. Trying to enjoy a porch when it's cold and miserable out just isn't possible. Even my garden couldn't go in!

Finally this weekend, there was a small break, and the hubster and I were able to sit outside in the evening enjoying our books. We just bought a little bistro set, and I've been excited to spend some time reading quietly together. We've also found a table & chair set for our "one day" deck! Hopefully we'll be getting that in the next couple of months. Piece by piece I'm telling ya!

When you think of TIKI, you're probably like me. You think of the bamboo kind that stakes into the ground. Makes sense. I actually bought a couple of them when I was at the store about a month ago! What you might not realize is they're so much more than that!

They have a fun variety of torches for the table, stakes, and ones to sit on the floor/ground! And no, they're not all bamboo.

I've already decided how I want to decorate my porch for Memorial Weekend and 4th of July! TIKI has the Americana Bamboo torch which will be awesome with a couple in my garden. Then they have a variety of options with their candles. One is the Americana 3 pk, next is the American Flag bucket, and last is the mini 3 pk and they're red, white, and blue!

For now, I've got the two basic bamboo torches in the garden, and my bistro table set up with the Clean Burn™Tabletop Firepiece. Now, if you're wondering what Clean Burn™ is, let me explain. This is a fuel that is 85% plant based so it burns cleaner. That means less smoke and soot. Let me tell you, being that we have a yellow house with white trim, the last thing I need is to have a smokey look to our porch.

Do you ever see a product, and wonder what it will be like when you're actually using it? Will you truly like it and what it does or looks like? What I really like about the TIKI website is they show you what each piece looks like in regular lighting as well as in the dark!

Even with the cruddy weather, I've spent the last couple of nights out on the porch. Last night I hung out with my hubby, and tonight I participated in a Twitter party. Froze my butt off, but it was so relaxing.

I know with the weather we won't be having any outdoor parties soon, but I'm thankful that I have a porch we can enjoy once the sun comes out and warms us up! Until then, I'm going to keep warm, and enjoy our new patio furniture and TIKI torches!

Be sure to follow TIKI on their social channels: Facebook & Pinterest!

Are you planning any outdoor events this spring or summer?

Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.