Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Dragonflies

Fred takes the dog for a walk every day around our neighborhood. The loop goes by a retaining pond where we saw these dragonflies on the chain link fence. I was so surprised at how close they let us get to them. As I was watching them, I realized how different their wings were. The one I spent the most time with is the one that has pretty destroyed wings. I wonder how that happened!

The first two pictures are of the same dragonfly. Boy, he's been through a lot.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Getting Ready To Go To College With Groupon

This year I have two kids going to college. My second daughter is finishing her last semester of college, and my oldest son is is doing his senior year of high school and taking college classes for the first time! Life is just crazy for my kids.

Having three kids in school, kids who are older, means the "back to school" supplies are a LOT different than what kids in elementary school need. Everything just gets more expensive. My daughter has been messaging me that she needs a laptop. Trying to figure out how to fit that into my budget, I visited Groupon to see what goods they might have for back-to-school.

I was so surprised to see things that my older kids could definitely use, including a refurbished laptop! Can you believe the deal they have? I shared it with my daughter to see if she wanted us to get it for her. She starts her semester in a couple weeks.

We're not exactly sure what Buddy will need for his college courses he'll be taking. He goes to the community college open house tomorrow afternoon, and we'll go from there to get him what he needs before his classes start!

I have no doubt most of his needs will be tech based. I'm also looking ahead to what he'll need next year if he heads off to a four year college. Thankfully Groupon has such a long list of goods, we should be able to stock up and be ready for when the big day comes!

What's been your best find on Groupon?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Maxine: Be Patriotic Or Not She Won't Care Review & Giveaway

Do you remember the first time you saw Hallmark's Maxine line? She made me chuckle! Maxine always says what the rest of are thinking! I was so thrilled to work with Hallmark to share about their "freedom" line for Maxine. They sent me a fun patriotic package to review, which was perfect timing with the Olympics on tv!

Now, we all know things have gone waaaay crazy with the elections around the corner. My boys are on Facebook, and they're constantly showing me memes or telling me about the latest on they've seen. They're not biased towards either party. Both are up for grabs with them.  I think I'm more like Maxine, although not nearly as funny!

This has become the first election where I've heard family members say, "tonight at dinner, with the extended family, we're not talking politics." hahahaha Okie dokie Never heard that brought up before. Honestly, we've never been a family who talks much about it. At least on my side of the family. We pretty much know where we stand. =)

Maxine and I are more alike than not. I'm patriotic, and love our good ol' USofA. I tend to carry a bit of snark with me, so that's where she and I unite! I think she will add some levity to the upcoming elections, which I think our country needs right now.

I have found a few items that I'll have to get for my aunt. She's always sharing Maxine quotes on Facebook or memes that are of her. I'm always getting a chuckle because it seems that Maxine's snarkiness never gets old. I think I should have a list of her quotes for moments when I don't know exactly what to say.

Maybe the candidates should take a cue from her and lighten up a little bit. Well, they've followed in her "yelling" footsteps of "Yellin it like it is" which they have a sound button of,. I think we should all get one, and when a candidate says something we don't like, we just push the button. =)

After wearing my socks around the house, I've decided that when I feel like being a bit rebellious, I'm going to wear them when we're out and about! heh heh heh If anything, they'll be a conversation starter, right? Maybe I'll start by wearing them to church. At least there I might get a few chuckles instead of riling people up. heh heh heh

Take after Maxine and be crabby! Kidding...sort of!

So the items you see above, I'm giving them away in a set from Hallmark to one lucky winner! Be sure to enter my giveaway, and have a second chance by entering Kay's giveaway of the same package!
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Friday, August 19, 2016

A Beauty Refined By Tracie Peterson

A Beauty Refined
by Tracie Peterson
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764213250

The Sapphire Brides has been a lovely series so far from Tracie Peterson. I love that she takes the reader into the wilderness of Montana. She's always taking us into the rough countryside! This is the second book in the series I've been able to review thanks to Bethany House!

A beauty refined is very different from A Treasure Concealed (Book 1 in the series). This time the people who are looking for sapphires in Montana are from Germany. When I first started the book, I shared on Instagram that I was already antsy about the storyline by like page 12. Tracie had started off the story with me chewing my nails and immediately wanting to flip to the end of the book. Not kidding. THANKFULLY, Tracie addresses the initial situation almost immediately. Whew!

Book Summary:

Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father's intentions--both for her and the gemstones--are not what she thinks.

Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie--a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom. 

Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father's plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family's deception begins to unravel.

My Review:

This was an interesting read for me. Book 2 in the Sapphire Brides series isn't a continuation, and could easily be read on it's own. I'm guessing book 3 will follow the same path. Having ready quite a few of Tracie's novels over the years, this one seemed different. Like her writing style was different somehow. I couldn't quite put my finger one it.

I liked the storyline, and the characters. Well, I might not have liked Phoebe's dad very much. lol He's not supposed to be likable though. Ian I wasn't a fan of to begin with either, but I began to warm up to him as the story continued.

If you want a book that dives into unhealthy family dynamics and reconciliation as well as adventure, this book would be right up your alley. Tracie always brings history to into her stories in a way that makes you wish you were there living it with her characters!

I'm looking forward to book 3 coming out this fall!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

QUEEN OF KATWE: Images & YouTube Video

When we went to see Pete's Dragon I had the opportunity to see the Queen of Katwe trailer! I honestly hadn't seen anything but images before that trailer. I thought it looked like it was going to be a great movie! I'm looking forward to the release in September.

For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.

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QUEEN OF KATWE opens in theaters in limited release on September 23rd and everywhere on September 30th!

What fall movie are you looking forward to seeing?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

LuLaRoe More Than Leggings

A couple months ago I was introduced to LuLaRoe leggings. I had heard about them about a year ago, but gave them the side eye because I didn't know what that was about. Leggings...Then I had my first opportunity to feel them. hahahaha I know, you're thinking that makes no sense because...leggings. My associate pastor's wife had them on at church, and she told me to feel them. They felt like butter! I just wanted to keep petting her.

I was so disappointed I had missed all the hullabaloo the months prior that I'd been giving them the side eye. Then I got my first pair. Pretty much didn't want to take them off. They're incredibly comfortable, and so soft! Now, you might see some incredibly wild designs and patterns, but that's not all they have. hahahaha I've done subdued ones so far, but hey, that's from someone who has always avoided anything with patterns or designs! LuLaRoe just brings that out in you!

A couple weeks ago, before we headed out of town again, LuLaRoe Fashion Consultant, Jean Lowd contacted me to see if I'd be willing to do a review! hahaha THAT was a no brainer for me! What I had been learning about LuLaRoe is that they are now much more than just leggings! They've been building their line, and have introduced so many new styles. Styles I got to try on at Jean's house while my hubby played photographer!

Today I was going through all of my photos, and had to compare them to what was on the LuLaRoe site to make sure I was getting the names of the pieces right. I was shocked to see how many styles are on the site that Jean didn't have yet. If I actually start exercising, I'm definitely checking out the Jade and Jordan!

They've also got 3 styles for men in their shirts, and one shirt style for boys. Girls have a fun selection that are similar to the women's line! The cuteness is to die for! Another reason I'd love to have another little girl to dress up.

So let's check out the fun styles, shall we? This dress is the Nicole. It's got a fitted top and a full skirt! I liked the length of the sleeves, and how great it felt on me! It was super feminine.

I liked the Julia, but it was a little more fitted than I'm used to. It has the same sleeves as the Nicole above. It's a knit fabric that's one piece from top to bottom. The Nicole above has a seam around the waist.

Next we move to a couple of the skirts. There are a lot that LuLaRoe offers, and they all have a different style. If you look at the pictures I've taken, there's a skirt on the mannequin behind me that was absolutely to die for! It was so incredibly feminine. I should've just taken it home with me that night. lol

This is the Azure skirt. It's a knee length skirt with a wide waist that allows you fold it over like your favorite yoga pants. The Azure is a light, flowy skirt. You could have a lot of fun with mixing and matching these with different tops!

Then there's the Cassie. It's a pencil skirt that fits fabulously. I actually loved this skirt, but Fred wasn't a fan. Glad I wasn't asking his opinion! HA! This one had not only a design, but there was a texture that you can't see from the picture. I think if I had a plain, white long skirt, I'd wear this style a lot!

The next two skirts are the Lola. I actually loved this, and I think that's the style of the salmon colored skirt behind me in my photos. They're either lace or chiffon, and I'm pretty sure I'd like every lace pattern they come out with. The first Lola I'm showing is a design I'm totally digging! I think I need to get a salmon colored shirt to go with some of the skirts I hope to own soon! =)

Ok, so the next skirt is the Madison. This is the skirt that has pockets! Yes, ladies, it has pockets! This is one of those skirts you can just relax in or wear to work. It's super versatile! Put on a dressier shirt than what I had one, and it would definitely work for a professional, while remaining very comfortable!

Ok, can we talk about the shirt I've been waiting to get for a couple of months? It's called the Randy. I fell in love with the style when I saw it the first time. It's a unisex shirt that's like the old school baseball T. I was such a tomboy when I was younger (ok, still am) that I always wanted, but never had this style. Well, that is now over! I'm wearing one of the designs in the above photo, but this is the Randy I took home with me!

This one is really cute, too! Sometimes the body of the shirt has the design, other times it's the sleeves. The one below had no design, the sleeves and body are both solid colors. I like the different sizes, too! The Large is great to wear around like a pajama shirt, while the medium I'd wear with my shorts when I'm out and about. The leggings in the first picture below are the pair I took home with me! I'm kicking myself for not getting the pair in the next one.

This shirt is the Perfect shirt. It's "perfect" for any outfit, but specifically leggings because it covers your behind. I really loved it with my shorts! You can tell just by looking at it that it's super comfortable. The sleeves I love!

Now I didn't try on a lot of the layering pieces like this Lindsay. I think this piece would be great to relax in or just add as an extra piece to your favorite outfit. You just want to wrap yourself in this kimono.

Now, the designs you see above? If you blink you may miss it. That's one thing LuLaRoe is known for. If you want a design, you better buy when you see it or you may never see it again! lol That's their golden ticket! They only make a certain number of each design, and that makes them highly sought after.

I'm looking forward to the holidays because they will for sure have designs that everyone will clamor after! I missed the ones for 4th of July, and now I'm kicking myself! I'm not going to make the same mistake with the holidays coming up.

I want to thank Jean for the opportunity to try on so many fun pieces! When we were heading out, she gave me her business card, and this is the first time I've seen a consultant have one where if you buy 10 items, you get a free pair of leggings! Oh, boy, this could happen very easily! Be sure to join her LuLaRoe VIP Facebook group so you can stay on top of the newest designs and the styles she gets in! If you're in Maryland, you'll have to keep up with her pop-up boutiques. That way you can have as much fun as I did!

Have you ever tried on LuLaRoe leggings?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Disney's Pete's Dragon

Now, I know over the past couple months I've encouraged you guys to get out there and see Pete's Dragon when it came into theaters August 12th. I went to see it with my hubster & boys this weekend, and I'm pretty sure I won't be able to find the right words to explain how you need to go see this movie!

When I was a little girl and saw the original Pete's Dragon, I was 8 yrs old, and hoped that Elliot would come live with me next. I was going through a lot back then, and thought a dragon only visible to me would be an amazing comfort!

Can I be honest here, as soon as the movie started and the audience is introduced to Elliot, I started crying. hahaha Pitiful I know, but I think I could still use an Elliot sometimes.

From beginning to end, this movie was wonderful. There wasn't a lull in the storyline, and the acting was terrific! I absolutely loved Elliot in this movie. I was glad they decided to go with a fuzzy Elliot instead of one with scales. He was extremely lovable!

Pete's Dragon is a must see family movie! If you're prone to tears at sweet movies, bring a tissue or two. I cried at the end and so did my husband! Neither of my boys cried, but they don't really count. hahaha They're 17 and 13. Silly non-crying boys. What do they know anyhow? hahahaha

If you have really little ones, I'd say under 5, I'd see the movie first before taking them. I know some kids that young might get scared during movies, but every child is different. It's not a scary movie, it's just how kids understand things and process what they see in their minds.

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In theaters NOW!

In the meantime, watch these two funny videos starring Bryce Dallas Howard!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Curious Chef Fruit & Veggie Prep Kit Review & Giveaway

One thing I've missed about being a full time stay at home mom is spending time in the kitchen with my kids. I loved helping my girls bake pies or other goodies. Now when my boys get home from school, I'm still working, and then in the evenings I'm usually doing blogging work. I know, this past week doesn't show evidence of blogging, but we've been out of town so that's why it's been quiet around here.

Before we headed down to Williamsburg, my youngest made a fruit salad that turned out fantastic. We had partnered with Curious Chef to do a review & giveaway. He's the only one who hasn't spent much time in the kitchen. When he learned we'd be using these tools, he got a cooking bug, and started making omelets! I have no idea where he came up with that, but they've turned out fantastic!

We'd gone shopping for fruit, and I picked up some at our local farmers market. Shopping with him gave me the opportunity to help him learn how to choose ripe fruit. When the kids are with me, I always try to make it a learning experience in one way or another.

Now, my one mom "fail" was not catching him before he started cutting up the apple to make sure he washed off all the residue on the apple. He went to town peeling it because he was pretty gung-ho about the entire process. Needless to say, I didn't have a chance to instruct him on how to use it either. I guess it's a positive that he's not afraid to take charge and get the job done.

The Curious Chef came in a 6-piece set. I think he probably used the safety knife more than any of the other items. I washed them the night before so at least everything was clean before he dove in. The knife was able to do most of the work cutting through a cantaloupe, apple, and watermelon. The watermelon was more like splitting it apart more than actually cutting it. It also didn't get through the pineapple well, but that's not something it should be able to cut through. Being that it's a knife that children are meant to be safe with, it's meant to cut through something that doesn't have such a hard exterior as a pineapple.

He cut through the cantaloupe just fine. That's where the melon baller came in handy. It took him a handful of tries before he figure out how to make little balls, but he got it figured out. They turned out really good! The cantaloupe I got was super juicy, and he made quite the mess with his initial tries. What fun is it if you don't get a little messy in the kitchen? Right?

When we got to the apple slicer, he told me he didn't want me to video tape him cutting it because it uses full upper strength, and he wasn't sure if he'd get through it without embarrassing himself. I'm happy to report he got through the apple without any problems. I think because it's so wide, and so easy to hold it's better for kids to get through them.

The watermelon he balled about 4 balls, and then we realized that there were so many seeds, trying to do the entire thing while missing all of those seeds would be impossible. That thing was huge! I went to have him carve the watermelon like you see at parties where they're scalloped. Well, he tried a couple of slices, and handed me the knife. hahahaha So much for persevering. Let's just say, my carving skills leave a lot to be desire. HA!

This was a terrific set for my son to use. I would completely trust him to use the tools whenever he wants to make something in the kitchen. I have to admit, as I looked through their catalog I made quite the list of other kid friendly items I wanted for him to be able to use.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Staying At Holiday Inn Express

Over the last couple of months, I've done a lot of traveling, and I'm not even done with another week long trip starting Saturday. Specifically I've traveled to Minnesota twice. The first time I went was in June with Fred. My best friend's daughter got married. The first night we were back there, we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express by the airport. It was getting renovated. Trust me when I say it was in much need of it.

Then at the beginning of July, the boys and I drove back to Minnesota to spend the month there. We stopped in Indiana our first night. We drove almost half an hour off the freeway to get to the one Fred had booked for us. Fred used to rack up points because he traveled so much! We're still using those points to say the least, but we're nearly empty of them.

On our way home, we stayed at the Holiday City, OH Holiday Inn Express because that's where my niece works. She works their complementary breakfast bar. I was excited for a variety of reasons. It was one more reason we got to see my niece since it had been a few years since the boys and I had seen her last. Then it was right off the freeway, which made getting to it easy! Lastly, it was a perfect stopping place between Minnesota and Maryland.

Now, to be fair, I didn't have high hopes for this being something I'd be able to give a positive report to my niece about. I've been staying at Holiday Inn Express since I've known Fred, the last three years. Let's just say, none of them ever moved me enough to write about them on my blog.

Things definitely changed with this experience. Now, I'm biased because I love my niece, but I'm also extremely opinionated. I don't waste my time or my blog space on something that I don't see value in. My experience at Holiday Inn Express in Holiday City, OH is based on the experience aside from my niece.

The boys and I pulled in at 2am. We were so exhausted, all we walked in with was my purse. I told the boys we could just get our stuff from the car in the morning. I didn't expect there to be anything in the hotel room that would cause me to want to do anything but go to sleep. The two people who were at the welcome desk were super nice, and wide awake surprisingly. lol My attitude was basically, "here's my name, what's my room number, and where's my key?"

Lo' and behold, there was a mini fridge in the room! I realized I had somewhere to put our cooler items overnight and keep the ice cold! I headed back out to the car, and apologized for my lack of conversation when we were checking in. They were once again very understanding.

Ok, the ONE negative about our entire stay was that the room was FREEZING when we walked in! I think it was maybe 65 degrees in the room?! It was crazy. Of course, it had been insanely hot outside all day long. At 2am, it wasn't so delightful.

In the morning, we dragged our hind ends out of bed and down to the continental breakfast. Now, the boys and I have a standard which had as of yet to be reached when it came to them enjoying anything for breakfast. It's the cinnamon roll. They haven't been to an Express that has had one they finished...except this time! All of the food was fresh and good. We did have to ask to have the apple juice refilled because it came out looking like water. My niece takes pride in her work, and it shows in her food.

The room the breakfast was in was extremely nice and in wonderful condition. They have a seating area where you can sit and read or watch tv. Then there are high tables and low tables to eat at. Just very comfortable. We didn't get to visit the exercise room or pool because we were on such a tight schedule. What I did notice before we headed back up to the room was that there was a note saying they were getting new exercise machines.

Our room had two queen beds. And THIS is my favorite part of the hotel...any hotel I've ever stayed at. They had bendable reading lights! Oh my gosh, why doesn't EVERY hotel have these in every room?! I mean, it's a simple touch.

I also liked that the desk had a comfortable rolling chair and a mini desk that pulled out from underneath the larger desk. Very nice for someone who's working from their room.

Oh, and don't want to have to leave by 10am? No sweat! Their regular check out is noon! I mean, this is a hotel that understand it's clients. Business people might want to be out of their room by 8 or 9am, but honestly, families probably want to sleep in a bit or take some time to relax before they head off to their next destination. I was thankful I didn't have to ask for a late checkout. We actually stayed until noon because after breakfast, I was still exhausted and went back to the room to sleep for a couple hours so I'd be cognizant while driving.

I didn't get photos of the front of the hotel as we got there, but it was lit up with bluish/purplish lights giving it a sleepy look. I was going to take a picture of it as we were leaving, but it was absolutely pouring outside when we left. I also didn't get a photo of the room when we first got there because, well, 2am. Hello! I asked to take a photo in a different room, but the guy sent me to a handicapped room with a king size bed, which looked nothing like the room we stayed in. hahahaha

There's no doubt that I would absolutely encourage travelers to stop at this Holiday Inn Express if they're traveling across the top of the OH. It was fantastic to see our fabulous & beautiful niece, even if it was just for a few minutes because she was working. lol

What's your favorite hotel to stay at when you're road tripping?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer Sunsets In Minnesota

When we were back in Minnesota last month, I tried to get to Pleasant Lake a few times to take pictures of the sunsets. I wish I could've done one every night that we were there because...lake sunsets. Need I say more?

The first weekend we were back home, we were up in Aitkin. It's where the boys' dad side of the family goes every Fourth of July. The sunsets were just as beautiful there. Be jealous my friends, unless you get to see similar views.

And here are the couple from Pleasant

A photo posted by Mimi N (@mimibakermn) on

I don't know if you get sunsets like these, but I certainly hope you do!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Writing Prompts:

1. Write a blog post in exactly 8 lines.
2. Show us a summer sunset!
3. What five images paint a perfect picture of summer to you? Put those five images together in a piece of writing.
4. Write a blog post inspired by the word: sticky
5. What are you watching? Share your favorite summer programming so far.
6. Your favorite summer view so far.

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