Book Reviews: Redeeming Love and Write it Down

Come summer, we switch from TV watching indoors to sunbathing outdoors, am I right? And besides some good sunscreen, the most important accessory this summer is a good book. (Ok, trashy magazines also work)

As “reading season” begins, I’d like to share some book reviews with you. Basically, I read them…so you don’t have to! See how well that works out? Here are the latest 2:

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

This book is certainly different from any I’ve ever read before in that there is a lot of God in this book. It’s not a religious book, per say, but instead a novel with an intriguing story while using God’s voice as a main character and one that plays a substantial role in the story.

The book is set in the Gold Rush era of the 1850’s when a lot of women made their living through prostitution. A beautiful girl named Angel has had a hard life and it doesn’t seem like it will ever get any better for her. One day she meets a man named Michael who seems different from the rest of the men she’s ever known. Michael feels God is pushing him towards Angel but to say she is reluctant towards Michael is an understatement. She doesn’t think she deserves a life better than the one she has and is skeptical at any goodwill a person shows her. She doesn’t believe she’s capable of love or being loved, especially when her past keeps coming back to haunt her.  Michael, along with other characters including the Big Man Upstairs, will try to show her that she is worthy of their love if only she will accept it.

The book is very nicely written and moves along great. Every time I put it down I was left wondering what would happen next with Angel and Michael and what their fate would ultimately be. I highly recommend this book whether you are religious and/or spiritual or not. The story is captivating enough that you can relish in or ignore all together the spiritual  tones and simply enjoy the story.

Write it Down, Make It Happen

I’m always looking for motivation wherever I can find it. Sometimes, even when I find it, I let it slip away after the moment has passed. I’m sure we’re all guilty of that. This book delves into the importance of writing things down. This is something I do all the time anyways (lists on top of lists on top of lists) but this is a more formulaic strategy to writing down your goals and ultimately reaching them. There is no shortage of stories and examples in the book of how people have done this and how it has worked for them.

This is what my book looked like after reading it. Tabs galore.

Write it down

The information was really helpful and insightful and also, if I may say, a little outdated. The book was written in 2001 when writing notes down on your iPhone wasn’t an option and so pen and paper was still key. That’s honestly besides the point though because I believe the theories will still work, regardless of where you write them down.

The book is a quick read and assuming you follow the advice, can be very motivational and goal orienting. I’ve written down a lot of my goals. Now I have to put the plans into action. That, of course, is the trickier part.

Coming up next:

I just ordered these two bad boys off Amazon. They were on my Pinterest Books board and looked like good, light reads.

From Notting Hill with Love…Actually

Couldn’t resist this Chick Lit book featuring a love for romantic comedies. Especially with one of my all-time faves, Love Actually, right there in the title.

Bread and Wine, A love letter to life around the table

Because really, who doesn’t love bread and wine?

Also, a friend is lending me this one:

And The Mountains Echoed

If you read (and loved) A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner then you can share in the excitement of this new book by Khaled Hosseini.

That’s all for now folks! Can’t wait to delve into all these books. You can check out past reviews here and here for more good options.

Have you read any of these or anything else good lately? Please do share!

Happy Reading and Happy Summer.

Cheers.

Welcome July

With the start of a new month, there are always new possibilities. It’s almost like a mini New Years Eve, every 30 days or so.

Going with that idea (as far fetched as it may sound), I’ve been making mini “Goals for the Month” lists every month, similar to a New Years resolution list.

A little motivation never hurt nobody.

Here is my list for this month.

What’s on yours?

JULY:

1- Get a tan. Real, fake or otherwise. You are Hispanic and you live in the Sunshine State. There is no excuse for your paleness.

2- Get bike fixed. It’s just way too hot for running.

3- Read at least 2 books. There’s literally nothing on TV. You have no excuse. Just started this one.

4- Blog more. Well, this post is a good start…

5- Ebay all the things you’ve been meaning to sell. It’s possible money just sitting there.

6- Pictures. Learn to take better ones thru online classes, You Tube videos and other tutorials. About.com always has good links.

7- Be healthier. Eat more fruits, less carbs. Wake up to workout at least3-4 times a week.

There you have. Short and sweet…and manageable.

Happy 4th of July week, friends!

Recipe Review: Cauliflower Soup

via Iowa Girl Eats

I’ve been really into soups lately. This hasn’t happened by accident, it’s actually due to a little gadget I got for Christmas. A lot of the soup recipes I was coming across would finish blending their soup with an Immersion Blender or Hand Blender. I knew I had to have one of these toys. I put one on my Christmas wish list and voila!, a soup maker was born. Because really, making soup and then transferring it in batches to a blender? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The Immersion Blender is a wonderful tool that lets you blend right in the very pot you made the soup. I will do another post in the future about the Immersion Blender and how wonderful it is. Ironically, this soup doesn’t require blending so not sure how we got into all that. This is a Cauliflower Chowder from the blog Iowa Girl Eats. It is supposed to be a healthy substitute for Baked Potato Soup.

Here’s my pin with the link to the recipe and here’s how it went for me.

IMG_1136Here are your main ingredients chopped up: Cauliflower (duh), Onion, Celery and Cheddar Cheese.

It also calls for chicken broth, milk, garlic, hot sauce and bacon. Hmmm, bacon.

IMG_1135Can’t you just hear that bacon sizzle?

IMG_1137In the same pan as the bacon, heat the onion and celery

IMG_1138Then add the cauliflower

IMG_1140Mix in the remaining ingredients and throw the bacon in there

IMG_1143Garnish with some cheddar cheese, more bacon and green onion.

And there, my friends, you have yourself a nice little cauliflower soup. Of course that’s my Cliff Notes version of the recipe. Check out Iowa Girl Eats for the full version.

My overall thoughts on this soup are that it was good but then again, what with bacon on it isn’t good? Maybe I give the bacon too much credit but I think it would have been a bit bland without it. But I guess that for a replacement soup that is much better for you than starchy potato soup, it’s a great tasting alternative and I would recommend it.

As I said, I’ve been making a lot of soups lately and while it wasn’t my favorite soup ever, it was definitely good and I would try again in the future. Besides my new soup gadget toy, which again wasn’t used here, I’ve been making a lot of soups for easy Meatless Monday meals.  (I know this one has bacon and so not completely meatless but just go with it).  I will definitely share more of those Meatless Monday meals as well.

Please let me know if YOU have any recipe suggestions!

And yes, I will work on taking better pictures.

Happy Monday.

Wordy Wednesday: The Struggle

The struggle is always part of the story and if you ask me, it makes the victory that much sweeter.

Happy Wednesday, Friends.

Book Review- Gone Girl & The American Heiress

Hi Friends,

So remember on my last Book Review post I said I had picked up Gone Girl and The American Heiress to read next? Well now I have! Here’s what I thought of the two:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

It’s weird the way I feel about this book. I couldn’t put it down, so that makes it good right? But the way it ends, pretty much the last few pages, angers me! So that makes it bad right? Well I guess that’s the black and white of it all but as for the gray area, it’s an interesting read full of twists and turns. It plays out like a good movie, which is probably why they are making it into one. The story follows married couple Amy and Nick Dunne, two very detailed and intricate characters. They both narrate their own story and their respective voices help paint a clear picture of the type of people they are and the way they feel in the marriage. When Amy suddenly goes missing (she’s the Gone Girl), the story jumps back and forth between the husband and wife. It’s a case of whodunit…except its SO much more than that.

I do recommend the book even though it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. But such is life right? I’ll definitely keep my eye out for the movie.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

I’m having trouble deciding whether this book was good, bad or just eh. I think we’ll go with just eh. After I had put it down for two months because I wasn’t into it, I picked it back up, started from the beginning again and, for whatever reason, it got more interesting after that.  The writing is wonderful in the sense that it gives you just enough details to allow you to visualize the scene without boring you. It follows the story of Cora Cash, a young girl from Newport, Rhode Island in the 1890’s the who has lots of, well, cash. Filthy rich Cora and her overbearing socialite mother travel to England in search of a husband for young Cora and wouldn’t you know it, she has a chance encounter with a man who turns out to be a duke. From here we begin to explore Cora’s relationship with the duke and the people constantly around them, of which there are plenty.  There is jealously, malice, intrigue, duty, love, affair and scandal all set in a castle in England. Sound familiar? It should if you watch Downton Abbey!  This could almost be the story of how Cora met Lord Grantham on DA. Even their names are the same.

As in Gone Girl, I wasn’t crazy about the ending. It was abrupt after a long build up. However, if you like stories of English royalty, dukes and duchesses and things, then this book is for you.

My next two books aren’t novels but instead self-help types books.

Write It Down: Make it Happen: Knowing What You Want and Getting It 


and

Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

Has anyone read any of these Self Help/Business books? I usually stick to novels for the escapism factor but these two were recommended so I thought I’d give them a try because, let’s face it, we could always use a little help expanding our minds.

Happy Reading Friends.

Colors of a Farmer’s Market


This past Sunday, I went to my local farmer’s market to stock up on fruits and veggies for the week. I started snapping pictures when I noticed what a beautiful array of colors there were everywhere. Don’t these pictures just make you crave fruits and veggies? Did you also think that cravings were reserved for the likes of Oreos and fried chicken? Yea, me too. But apparently, healthy is crave-able too! Who knew.

I only recently started going to Farmers’ Markets to stock up on my greens and I’m really glad I have. It feels good to know that your money is staying local and going straight to the framers and growers. Plus, the veggies have much fewer pesticides.

I also love that the vendors at the Farmers’s Market are always willing to help you, point out what’s fresh, give you ideas on a different way of using your veggies and let you try the product if you’re not familiar with it. If fruits and veggies aren’t really your thing, they also sell products like homemade guacamole (SO SO good), seafood, range free meat, orchids, plants, candles, olive oil, etc…!

Most of the veggies we buy is used for juicing. Yes, I juice! (As in I juice vegetables, not do steroids. Just in case.) Juicing was a little bit of a challenge at first, just figuring out what recipes to use. And while the internet helped a bit, in the end it was all about experimentation and trial and error.

I’d love to hear how you get your filling of fruits and vegetables? Maybe I’ll share some of my favorite recipes on another post. For those in the South Florida area who’d like to check it out, my pictures are from Pinecrest Gardens Market open on Sundays. It’s nicer to pursue an outdoor market now that it’s the fall season! (Oh who am I kidding, it’s still 90 degrees out.) Still worth it for the guacamole though!

Cheers!

Book Reviews: Unbroken & Where We Belong

Hi Friends,

Since summer is wrapping up, I thought I’d review some books for you that I read during this season of longer days and Tv show hiatus. I always love getting book recommendations and reviews from other people so I thought I’d return the favor. I keep it short and sweet so there are no spoilers.

Here we go…

 Unbroken

I can’t say enough about this book. It was beautifully written, heart wrenching to read at times and yet I couldn’t put it down. While calling it a story of resilience feels like an understatement, that’s exactly what it is. Resilience that comes from a level you didn’t think the human spirit could be tested.

For those that don’t know, this is the story of Louie Zamperini, the child of Italian immigrants, an adolescent troubler maker, an olympic athlete, and a World War 2 bombardier. His story is incredible at every turn and the title of the book is so fitting when you realize that after any tragedy there can be triumph. I highly recommend this book. It’s the type that stays with you, long after you’ve read the last page.

In a lighter,  more chick lit type category, we have Where We Belong.

You may be familiar with Emily Giffin’s work, especially Something Borrowed and Something Blue. I’ve read all her books but those two were my favorite and of course Something Borrowed was recently turned into a movie starring Kate Hudson.

This story follows Kirby, a high school senior from a modest, suburban family who feels different  from other kids and sometimes an outsider from her own family. While these are typical teenage feelings, Kirby is adopted, further convincing herself that her feelings of not belonging are valid. She sets out to find her birth parents believing that she will better understand herself if she knows where she came from.

The book was admittedly not my favorite and I thought it ended rather abruptly. While the story wasn’t boring and moved along rather quickly, it wasn’t necessarily a page turner. If you’re a fan of Giffins and looking for a quick, extension-of-summer-read, then it might be right for you.

I’m looking forward to my next two books that I just ordered off Amazon: Gone Girl and The American Heiress.

Anyone read any of these? Have any other recommendations for the next read? Please share!!

Wordy Wednesday: Serious Pleasure

 

 

We take things in life so seriously sometimes. Every little thing seems like its the end of the world. We might as well take our pleasure as seriously as we can take our pain.

Happy Wednesday.

Wax, Pluck or Thread? Pick your pain.

Hi Blog Friends. How are ya!?

Do I have any eyebrow pluckers/waxers/threaders out there?

Recently I got a recommendation from a friend who, instead of having her eyebrows waxed or plucked, threads them. It’s the same concept of cleaning up and shaping your brows, except its done carefully with a tiny piece of thread. Cool uh?

I thought I would give this a try.

My eyebrows and I do NOT have a good relationship. I think I once waxed or plucked them too much and the hair never grew back. My eyebrows are the ONLY place this occurs…go figure!! I try not to mess with them too much because they don’t seem to have much salvage unless I were to go really thin which I refuse to do. And so they are just there, semi-unshapen most times.  I just touch them up every few months or so. I let someone else shape them because well, I can’t be trusted with those types of tools.

After my first experience with threading…I was pleasantly surprised. They can sure do a lot with that little piece of string!

Here come my amazing photo skills…ready….

before:

Someone get her a mini comb…stat!

After:

The craziness calmed down…a bit

Here’s a before and after combo:

It may just look like I brushed them down but in reality, a tiny asian woman who didn’t seem to speak any English but who I nevertheless communicated with beautifully, used a small little thread to remove excess hair and shape my brows as best she could. Did it hurt? Sure. A little bit. But no more or less than plucking and waxing. And red blotches than waxing can leave behind.

And pain is beauty right? (I really hate whoever came up with that saying…especially since they are so right)

Have any of you tried threading? Do you like it better than the alternative? What torture pain method do you prefer? Any suggestions?

I just realized these pics were taken before Memorial Day and being that Labor Day has now come and gone, maybe its time for another clean up.

If you live in the MIA, let me know if you are interested in trying out threading and I’ll point you in the direction of my threader friend. (I use the term “friend” very loosely)

 

Wordy Wednesday: The Most Interesting Man in the World has Netflix, too!

Wordy Wednesday doesn’t always have to be deep…

This one was too good not to share.

 

 

Being that I just watched about 10 episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix this past weekend, I felt this was very appropriate.

Or how about the time I watched the entire Friday Night Lights series in like a few weeks.

Yea, I need a life. I know.

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

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