Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Book Review: Black Widow Forever Red

So, with keeping up with getting my book reviews in from the books I’ve finished the last couple of weeks. I’m writing this review on this book that I read very slowly over this last six months. I read it slowly because with finishing up my degree, I grabbed reading time as I was able.

I had to go to urgent care one Sunday last fall. Upon arriving at urgent care, my wait was estimated to be 2 hours and I was allowed to leave and return closer to the 2 hour mark. So, I left ran to Target, grabbed a Starbucks coffee and browsed through the book section. I stumbled upon this little gem.

I’m a huge Marvel fan. Especially Black Widow. I’ve wanted to see more of her and things dedicated to her. Black Widow focused items seem few and far between. So I’m excited to have read and to have the opportunity to review this book.

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Black Widow Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

 

This book has three main characters. Ava Orlova is a teenage girl who escaped years before from S.H.E.I.L.D after being rescued by Black Widow from Ivan. Alex is a teenager who has a bit of a temper problem. He is also the boy from Ava’s visions. The two stumble into each other and they get into a an action-filled discovery of who they truly are. And then there is Natasha Romanoff (AKA Black Widow).

Most chapters begin with a DOD report. As I read these and Black Widow’s response, I believe they are spot on in regards to her language and how she responds. I like how it ties things together, foreshadows, and seems very Marvel’sh. I think it helps ground the story. I enjoyed the action-filled parts of the story. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse at Black Widow’s back story and her previous life. The psychic connection between Black Widow and Ava was an interesting concept. The story moved along nicely and I didn’t find any slow parts where I wanted to give up reading the book.

The Con’s of the story is its not a focused Black Widow story. The majority of it is following the two teenagers and then Black Widow is weaved in throughout the story. That was a bit disappointing as I really wanted a focused Black Widow story. The second con I felt was the love interest of the two teenagers. It was a bit crazy to think the two only knew each other several days and then were “in love”. I get the whole, this is exciting and dangerous and affection can develop. But I think it was a bit of a stretch, maybe a bit forced.

I believe this was a good story, it just wasn’t the Black Widow story I wanted.  I think the title made it seem that she would be the main character instead of a supporting character.

Black Widow still needs her own story. Her own move (please!) or at least something where she’s the leading lady and not a supporting role.

I give the back a 3.5 out 5 based on its a good story but not a Black Widow story.

I recommend this book to any Marvel fan or Black Widow fan (just don’t expect her to be the star) or anyone who enjoys an action book with nodding toward supernatural themes. There is no sexual context and the language is fine. The book does have written violence and child abuse (testing discussion by Ivan). This book would be approve for a mature teenager and young adult.

Book Review: Chapel Car Bride

I’m taking a break from certification studying to review a couple of books. I graduated from Nurse Practitioner school two weeks ago. Since graduating, I’ve traveled every week and was able to get some reading done. Yaay! I also took some time off studying since one of the trips was to attend an intensive review for certification. I figured no reason focusing all my time studying until after that class. So, now, here I am studying since about 9 am this morning (its now almost 3PM) and I’m going get started on this review before leaving in to pick the kids up from school.

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The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller

Miller tells the story of Hope and her father as they live out of a train car and ministering to a mining town. He is a preacher and she assists with the music and children’s ministries. Miller also tells the story of a coal miner, Luke, and the mine owner’s son, Kirby. Hope and her father settle into life in Finch, West Virginia. Hope uses many opportunities to spread God’s word throughout the West Virginia countryside. Her trusting disposition has her trusting Kirby despite Luke’s cautions.

This story is a great Christian read. It was an easy and quick read. I think it took me only a little over a day to read. I felt several of the characters were fleshed out well. The character Kirby was nicely done. I felt I had him pegged pretty quickly and my opinion didn’t change much. Hope was the typical preacher’s daughter in the sense she was kind, naive and loved children. Luke seemed to have swaying emotions and also seemed pretty realistic. I’ll address him below.  I enjoyed reading about life on a rail car and life during prohibition. I also quite enjoyed reading about the inner conflict Luke had regarding his thoughts and anger toward the mining company and Kirby. These feelings are ones many Christians deal with daily and I like when authors address them in their writing. Finally, I really love the history the author adds into her books. In this case the chapel car, mining history, and prohibition.

Downfalls to the book, the first is a bit into the characters. I feel like it would’ve been nice to learn more about the preacher. He played a pivotal role in the story, yet there was little fleshing out of his character. Luke’s sister plays a relatively large role in the frustrating ending, but very little fleshing out occurred with her as well. I think adding just a bit to those characters could’ve really added to the story. This, however, didn’t ruin the story for me. Its just worth noting there more depth could’ve been added to the story.

A second down fall is the ending. I was a bit frustrated with the ending. The conflict was picking-up nicely and I was envisioning a BIG ending. And then, it was wrapped up nicely with a little bow and then the ending romance drug out for another couple of chapters. It wasn’t bad, but such a big change in where the story was going and how the characters were acting. It was a bit of a distraction and I would’ve appreciated a more direct route to happily ever after.

Over all, this was a good read! It was quick and enjoyable. It had Christian components in the story with the Christian premise. Very little scripture was quoted through out the story, but it had very obvious Christian themes.

I would recommend this story to any adult or young adult who enjoys historical novels, Christian reading, or just looking for a quick and light read.

I would give this book a 4 out of 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: Trim Health Mama Cookbook

Good evening! I’m very excited to have finished my NP degree and that I can begin focusing on other things beyond medical knowledge! It feels great and I’ll post a blog entry after awhile regarding this journey. Right now, though, I’m focusing on studying for boards and getting back into some of my hobbies.

One of those hobbies of course is reading! I love a good book and I love cookbooks. As I was reviewing my book reviews, I realized I had this cook book sitting here waiting on a review. So I figured I’d better start with that.

Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook by Pearl Barrett & Serene Allison

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This cookbook is written by two sisters who enjoys healthy eating. The book has over 400 pages of recipes and tips. The book has options for one-pot meals to deserts. It has great color pictures of the completed food and easy to follow instructions. The recipes I tried turned out good. I also love that this cookbook provides ways to make things dairy free.

The downfalls to the cookbook. There are several ingredients I don’t typically keep in my kitchen. As long as you meal plan and know what you’re making ahead of time, that’s not a huge deal. Some of the ingredients, quite honestly, I didn’t want to take the time to find as I’ve not seen them in my local grocery store. Some examples of this is Brigg liquid aminos, nutritional yeast, and mineral salt. I’m sure one could find them but I’ve just not put in the effort. A second downfall is there are no approximate total preperation/cooking times. Now this isn’t a huge deal, but as a busy mom, its nice to quickly look at recipe and know how long it will take. This is especially helpful when I menu plan so I don’t try to make a complicated dinner on a week night.

Overall, this is a solid cookbook. Especially if you plan to jump in and purchase all the specialized ingredients. Unfortunately for me, a busy mom, I need something with approximate times and ingredients already in my kitchen for a cookbook to be my go-to book.

I give this cookbook a 3 out 5 bookends.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publishers for an honest review

Stitch Fix- Fix 4

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve had a fix. I was pretty excited to find it sitting on my doorstep yesterday. I always rush in and open it. Its like Christmas anytime during the year.

We are travelling next month for a combined my graduation and mini family vacation. This time I specifically asked for a dress for graduation and something to wear for possible meet-ups with other students. My personal shopper’s name is Jin and she’s amazing. She reads my comments and looks through my Pinterest page. I love that what i pin and comment on is actually used for what she sends me.

I didn’t keep everything this time. Honestly, it wasn’t because I didn’t care for the items. It was rather more because of the fit. Dresses are difficult for me to find that fit me well. I’m a pear. And so finding dresses that fit my top and then doesn’t always fit the bottom. And I hate when the dress isn’t long enough that when I sit it slips up so I’m not sitting on the dress.

With out further delay, here is what i received:

20170317_164317This is the 41 Hawthorne Carla Crochet Detail Blouse. I love this blouse. I feel like I can pair it with either dress pants and go to work or slip on some jeans and head out for dinner The downfall to this top was it was a little lower cut for me. I may need to put a tank on underneath. The price for this piece is $58.

20170317_164403This second piece is the RD Style Union Open Drape Cardigan. Its a nice basic black cardigan. I know I’ll be able to use it with several of my current clothes. I love that. The prices for this one was $58. So, a little pricey for what it is.

20170317_164515I could hardly hold my excitement when I saw these jeans. I don’t have anything in this style and I love the holes. It is the Mavi Ruxin Distressed Boyfriend Jeans and was priced at $98. Sadly these jeans were entirely too small. But, I now Know that I need a pair this style.

20170317_164543Oh my! Beautiful dress! I loved the print and rich colors of this dress. I was excited to maybe wear this to graduation. This dress is the Maggy Landon Henrietta Dress and is priced at $118. Boy did I want that dress. Unfortunately it was too tight when I tried it on. it also inched up when I sat. As I mentioned above, that is not something I like.

20170317_164712The last item was a Navy dress with a white rope design. It is a wrap dress and was very pretty. It is very pretty and so comfortable to wear. This would be great for casual evening out. I felt it was maybe a little big maybe especially in the chest. I was also a bit concerned, with the material, it may stretch out. This dress is by Sade New  York and called Martey Knit wrap Dress. It was priced at $78.

The total was $410, minus $102.50 if I bought all the pieces. That minus the pre-paid styling fee, my total for all 5 pieces would be 287.50.

As you can see, I got some really great pieces. unfortunately, a couple didn’t fit well. Knowing I wasn’t buying all 5 pieces, I opted to only get two that I knew I would love and use a lot. I ended up keeping the 41 Hawthorne shirt and the black cardigan. I’m looking forward to adding this into my wardrobe.

If you want to try out Stitch Fix, follow my LINK. When you get your firs box, i will get a discount on my next order.

Here are my previous fixes if you’re curious what they included:  Fix 1  Fix 2  Fix 3

Little Impressions

You ever have one of those moments when your kid says something that just hits home with you? I had that moment this weekend. We were in the car going from one activity to the next when the conversation started. I love talking with my kids in the car. None of us are going anywhere. We’re all stuck in a small space which encourages all sorts of conversations. I’ve seriously had some of the BEST conversations with my kids in the car.

But back to the specific conversation this weekend.

Darling Daughter: I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Me: Of we course we’re friends!

Darling Daughter: Yeah. I’m also glad you’re friends with Little Ducky’s mommie and daddy. (Little duckie is a baby who goes to our church. She was dressed as a duck last Halloween and hence forth is called Little Duckie by my kids).

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Wow. That hit home. My little 8 year-old notices a lot. I’ve always known without a doubt she and her brother know they are loved by their parents and each other. I’d always said kids pick-up on things even when parents are trying to hide it. I’d say that, because I’d learned that in school. I’d say that because I knew kids often, without thinking, share how their parents fight or when money is tight. But for some reason when it came out of her mouth, it really hit home.

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Such simple words made a huge impact on me. Yes, my husband and I love each other. Our marriage isn’t perfect. He annoys me sometimes, I annoy him sometimes. I can HONESTLY say we don’t really fight. We bicker every once in a while. But that’s not common at all. We have this MUTUAL respect for each other. We try very hard to talk things out before they become a BIG issue. I pray everyday that we can continue to do this. That we can WORK together to continue to build a wonderful marriage.

We’re not PERFECT. At all. But we sure do work hard at this thing called marriage. We don’t put on a face for the kids. We are real. We work hard to do family things together. My husband and I laugh together, tease each other, and work through things. All in front of our kids. They see us having a good time and problem solving together.

I never realized those little things, impressed on her. But she noticed.

Mommie and Daddy are friends. They like each other. 

What are your kids noticing from you? What do they think of your relationship with your spouse?

LipSense: Is it for REAL?

First, I want to say I’m not a big make-up person. I typically wear it for special events only. However, recently, I’ve been exploring make-up more. Part of this is the realization, I will start interviewing for a nurse practitioner positions and should look put together for those interviews. I also thought it would be nice to be able to wear a little make up daily.

So with that said, when I received a Facebook invite for a LipSense party, I decided to check it out. For those who have not heard of LipSense. It is sold by SeneGence and is a long lasting and non-smudging lipstick. It is a lipstick system, meaning you need to purchase 3 items initially. The first item being the color/lipstick. The second, gloss and third, oops remover.

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The above picture is me wearing a neural color.

How it works

You put on the color, one thin layer at a time. Its important to start in the corner of your mouth, always go one direction, and let it dry in between the 3 layers. You need to not rub or lips together or let them touch while doing this. Once the layers have dried, you can apply the gloss. The gloss is not nearly as particular, you can apply it as regular lip gloss. The Oops remover is for any little errors that you may make during the application.

Pros

Once its dried and the gloss is put on, the lipstick becomes smudge proof, nontransferable, and smear proof. It really is pretty amazing. It’s also water proof. Twice now I’ve take a quick shower and my lipstick is still on and looks amazing. I’ve also fallen asleep with it on and woke-up with amazing looking lips. It also comes in a lot of colors so everyone can find one that suits them. Since it’s a layering system, you can go further and create other colors by layer different colors. That’s pretty fun. I only own one color right now but I plan to try it out as I add more colors.

Cons

The first con is a slight burning sensation the first time you use it as it goes on due to the alcohol content. I only noticed the first time I applied it. It seems to have gone away with subsequent applications. The second drawback is the perfume smell and resulting taste. Ultimately, it didn’t bother THAT much and really wore off pretty quickly. However, if you’re someone that perfumes bother you, it may be a bit more annoying. The second is the initial exfoliation that occurs. For me, I don’t wear a lot of chapstick or lipstick so it wasn’t horrible. However, I’ve heard some have had it more if they wore it more often. Again, not necessarily a deal breaker, but a drawback for sure. The final drawback is you can not buy it at a store but need to know someone who sells it. I’m not a fan of MLMs. However, there are some products I frequently purchase from MLMs because their products are that good. This is will be one of them.

The Cost

Initially the cost is a bit pricey. You need to buy a starter kit which includes lip color, gloss, and Oops Remover. That total cost is $55. After you purchase the starter kit, you can purchase additional colors for $25 , gloss for $20, and the Oops Remover for $10.

I would like to say this is 100% worth the try. However, knowing its a bit pricey, I would say if you typically wear lipstick or enjoy make-up, it is 100% worth it! However, if you’re someone who doesn’t wear a lot make-up or the smudging doesn’t bother or you’re sensitive to smells; you may want to be cautious. I still do believe its worth a try, because I strongly believe if you can make it through the exfoliation period, you will love this. My color is a more neutral color since I wasn’t certain I would like it and I tend toward browner toned colors. I have worn it with no other make-up and it looks fine. You don’t have to do all your face to wear it.

I would love to hear from you. Have you tried LipSense? If so did you love it? Do you have another long-lasting, smudge proof lipstick you love?

My Stitch Fix- Fix 3

This is my third fix. I’ve really enjoyed getting these boxes and finding things I may not always choose for myself. Each month my stylist has picked out really great options for me. The first month I kept all 5 items, the second I kept 3 out of 5. This month I kept all 5 items. I’ll attach some pictures and my thoughts on all the items.

If you would like read about my previous fixes, you can check Box 1 HERE and Box 2 HERE. This box was the holiday box and it featured a golden ticket. I was pretty excited to scratch mine off. I didn’t win instantly but am in the drawing for the big gift certificate.

This time I didn’t provide any feedback as to what I wanted. I let her style me however she wanted. I have to say, I was pretty excited with what I received. There were two items I was a bit unsure of when pulling them out but once I tried them on, I really liked them.

My disclaimer is I’m a horrible “Selfie” taker. So There are a couple of selfies. And I am sorry.

First is the black beaded sweater. This was one I wasn’t certain on when I first looked at it. It seemed a bit flashy. However, once I tried it on, I really liked it. Its a fun sweater that would look great for a party. As I examined it closer, I noticed a missing  bead and a second one was pretty loose. Stitch fix was able to replace and is currently mailing one.

 

The next item, is a fantastic scarf. I’ve not received one before and was very excited to have it. Its beautiful burgandy and navy and I feel that I will be able to use it with several items in my wardrobe. Its also a larger scarf then I currently own. It will take me some time to learn to style it appropriately.

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Next is this beautiful gray 3/4 length sleeve. It is similar to a yoga top. I knew I was going to love it as soon as I saw it. It’s perfect for hanging out at home or out for lunch. I absolutely loved this tie on the back.

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This puffer vest was the most expensive item in my box. Its very good quality and so comfy! At first I was a bit nervous about this color. But I now love it! I wore it out shopping tonight tonight. It really is a perfect addition to my closet.

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So this isn’t a great picture of me. Hence I did say I’m horrible at selfies. However, when I tried this on I paired it with the grey top and the white ribbon tie.

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This it the last piece in my box this time. I was bit hesitant with it. In fact I pulled it out and thought it was pretty but wasn’t sure I’d keep it. I tried it on and it was very comfortable. Being a mom, student and full-time employee, comfort is number 1 on my list. I also really liked how it looked on. I love the cut out in the back.

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So that was my fix! I kept all my items. This month with my buy 5 discount and the $20 styling fee taken out, before taxes it was under $200. So that made this fix the most reasonable. It was nice be a bit lower since it was the holiday month.

I put fixes out for a couple of months. My next fix will be in March. I requested for that fix to have some dresses. I have graduation from NP school and I wish to have something nice to wear to the ceremony and while celebrating.

What do you think of the fix? Would you have kept everything? I would love to have your feedback. Do you get Stitch Fix? I would love to hear what you think of it.

If you’d like to try it out, follow THIS LINK. If you follow that link and decide to sign-up, I will receive a credit once you order your first box.  I think its worth trying a couple of months to quickly and easily update your clothing.