Wednesday, March 11, 2015

No Zombies

I have learned something about myself this week. I am caught up on watching Downton Abbey and I don't have another show I'm currently watching, so I decided I needed to pick something new from Netflix. My options were Once Upon A Time or The Walking Dead. I actually watched a good portion of Once Upon A Time the first season, but because of my work schedule and not having DVR at the time, I got behind and finally gave it up. I liked it, but for some reason I thought I should try watching something really new - to me.

Sooo... during Zachary's nap the other afternoon I put on the first episode of The Walking Dead. Now... I read a lot of books... a lot of paranormal and fantasy books. I have watched and read about werewolves, vampires and witches, but apparently I am not cut out for zombies. I watched most of the first episode, but I was kinda grossed out by the time Zach woke up and finally I just turned it off. Something about that rotting flesh, I think. No zombies for me... back to messed up fairy tales I go. =)

Malachi has been home sick a lot the last few weeks. Kindergarten is kicking our butts lately. A couple Sunday's ago he threw up so hard that he broke all the blood vessels in his face! I had no idea that could even happen and kinda freaked out and took him to the doctor. He was totally fine the next day, but I kept him home until I could get a note from the doctor because his poor face looked so bad.

He's home again today with a bad cough.... I am so ready for all the sickness to be gone!

Other than that we're just laying low at the moment. Zach is turning into a little two-year-old dictator and driving us all crazy. I think I am about ready to dig out my Mommy School stuff I did with Malachi about this age. 

My husband and I are currently exploring options for Malachi's school next year. We are not too impressed with our neighborhood school and we're not too convinced a new teacher next year is going to help the situation. This month has going to a couple different informational meetings to see what else might be out there for us to consider, so that should be interesting if nothing else.



Book Review: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman


Book Details:
Title: Dauntless (Valiant Hearts Series)
Author: Dina L. Sleiman
2015, Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764213120
Genre: YA Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary:
Though once a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest," her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king. 

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?


My Review:
This book is set in the time period of King John - think Robin Hood. It is told from the POV of Lady Merry Ellison, Timothy Grey and Allen, one of Merry's "men". You also hear from the villain of the story, but you are unsure who he is until near the end of the book.

I liked this book. It didn't really grab me and keep me reading in rapt attention throughout the whole story, but it was good. Merry is an outlaw and is trying to keep a band of orphans safe from being killed by King John. They are a fun group and I felt like the author did a really good job with them. 

There is a love triangle that goes on between Merry, Timothy and Allen. Unfortunately it's pretty obvious what's going to happen from very early on in that situation. For the most part the story is fairly predictable except I wasn't able to guess who the bad guy was until he was revealed. 

It was a clean read, but I was a little surprised with the amount of kissing in it. It wasn't bad, but for a YA Christian book, I was a little surprised. I really appreciated all the historical references and the effort the author obviously made to make a fictional novel as historically accurate as she could.

Update: Want a little explanation on the kissing scenes from the author? Read her view here.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, Bethany House, for an honest review. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Lately....

So I've been a very bad blogger lately. I know it. I guess I don't have much interesting going on at the moment. =) Or the interesting things is the stuff I'd rather not post about. Although I don't like to be a fake "everything is awesome always!" person, I also don't like to post about sad things, so I think that's taken the wind out of my blogging sails the past couple weeks - that and laziness. =)

Things I have been doing:
  • I've somehow read over 25 books already this year. I've been doing a lot of reviews for authors that don't require posting to a blog, which is nice. I don't mind putting reviews here... but when I don't have a lot of other content it turns into a book-only blog. If you're interested in seeing some of my other reviews, you can follow me on Goodreads or the Little Sprout Facebook page to see those.
  • I've been collecting supplies to make these Survival Candles. I think they will be fun to make with Malachi. I had to get the supplies, PLUS I realized I don't have a metal bowl to use as a double boiler, so I found one for less than $2 at the Goodwill! Yay me!
  • I have also been researching supplies for homemade soap, which was one of my 2015 Goals this year. I've been searching for a cheap immersion blender at Goodwill also, but unfortunately, no luck so far. I could buy one from Walmart, but what if I only do it once?? Then it's ruined for using in real food and I'll have to throw it away.....
Earlier this month, I spent the day with Malachi at his school for his 100th day of school activities and parade. With all the disappointments of early in the school year it was kind of good to see we made it to a milestone!!


We've also had some crazy nice weather here in the PNW - earlier this week it was up in the lower-60s! We lucked out that Malachi's mid-winter break fell on a couple of those days. We set up a playdate with a friend one day and went to the park the next!


Okay, well that is all for now. Now I have to get the little one to nap before I head off to work this afternoon!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Back to Normal

This week marks the first week getting things back to normal. Malachi is back to school - although he's not too happy about it - and Zach and I are starting up all our regular activities this week also.

I was quite proud that I have a meal plan done for the month, shopped Monday morning for my meals for the week, my husband are doing this fun little eating challenge (100 Days of Mini-Pledges) and I started my 12 week fitness program Monday also. Hopefully I can get past the first 2-3 weeks without pooping out this time!!!

One thing I decided before Christmas is that Zach and I were just a little too busy. We had:
Book Club - one Monday a month
Bible Study - every Tuesday
I work a 10 hr shift - every other Wednesday and Friday
Zachary's toddler class - every Thursday
MOPS - two Friday's a month

This doesn't count the two nights a week I meet up with a friend to walk, bunco nights and game nights with two different groups of friends and any other extra appointments! Too busy!

So I decided something had to go. So I chose Tuesday morning Bible study. I feel a tiny bit guilty about it since it a good, worthwhile thing to do, but it was one of the only things we did EVERY week that I could cut. 

I've also been on a weird cleaning/organizing craze this week. I've been going through boxes that I'm not sure I've looked at since we moved here. Yesterday I discovered a box of crafting stuff and fabric. Some of it I didn't think I would ever use, the fabric I put with the rest of my stash and found new homes for the other few misc things. Hooray! A box to the Goodwill and an empty space for me to organize later.

Today I plan to go through a box that's been sitting on Malachi's floor (again... since we moved here 2  years ago!) that I'm pretty sure has none of HIS stuff in it. I am even feeling the bug to do some painting.... Malachi's room is the only room left that I wanted to repaint/redecorate when we first got here and I'm feeling like doing it. My husband says I'm tempting fate and will jinx us into having to move, but oh well. 

Back to getting a jump on Spring cleaning!


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen


Book Details
Title: The Secret of Pembrooke Park
Author: Julie Klassen
2014, Bethany House
ISBN: 9780764210716
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction

Book Summary
Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her--a longtime friend--has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. 

When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor's past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family's financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?
 


My Review
I have loved most of Julie Klassens books... except the last one I  got. I was cautiously hoping this one was going to be better and  I was not disappointed.  

This book is set at a beautiful manor in the English countryside and has lots of lovely descriptions. You get a good feel for where they are as well as the way the larger manors interact with their tenants, servants and how they all interconnect.

Julie Klassen does a great job building up the suspense with this novel. I wasn't sure what the secret that the manor was keeping was going to be or when it would be discovered. There were several twists and turns throughout the book that I didn't expect. Who was the man in the green cloak that kept being glimpsed? Where was the secret treasure room hidden? Why is Leah so scared all the time?

I really enjoyed the interaction between Abigail and William Chapman, the curate. Although there were a couple scenes I felt were kinda stupid, like when she decided to leave her room in the middle of the night, in her nightgown, to apologize to him. But I decided not to dwell on those and enjoy the rest of the story. 

There were a lot of secondary characters in this book - lots of people to keep track of their stories as well as the main ones. There is Abigail's family, Willliam's family, the neighboring manor, Gilbert, Abigail's childhood friend, the servants, etc. I felt that most of them really added to the story, but I did get a little confused at a couple points.

My only really complaint was that it felt very long. Things kept happening and I wasn't sure how long it was going to be drawn out. But it was good and I would still recommend it. I just think it could have been slightly shorter.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for my honest review from Bethany House Publishers. No other compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Goals 2015

I find that the older I get, the more specific and shorter my list gets. I think that in this busy season of life I’m in at the moment I’m lucky to accomplish a couple things, so I have to be more intentional about what I want to do. I do like to have a little list to look at from the year before though I've decided. I fell a little behind in my reading this year.... I'm still not sure how I made it to 108 books last year!!! I should have had more time with Malachi in school this year, but apparently I don't.


      2014 Reading Challenge        
2014 Reading Challenge
       
     Elsie has read 83 books toward her goal of 100 books.     
     
             83 of 100 (83%)  view books
       
 
Last year I made one goal - to feed my family less processed foods. I think I did that for the most part. I didn't always have a monthly meal plan in place, but I think I did a better job of not reaching for the chicken nuggets for dinner. And I was given a really yummy mac and cheese recipe from a friend, so we barely ever eat Kraft anymore!

Goals 2015
  1. Read one Jane Austen novel (eventually I'm going to read them all)
  2. Learn how to make cold-pressed soap
  3. Read 100 books
  4. Stick to my exercise routine for the whole 12 weeks
  5. Do a monthly meal plan (or at least attempt to do them more frequently) and eat more healthy
Good luck on any goals you have for this year and Happy 2015!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sanity-Savers for Busy Moms (or just anyone really!)

The holidays are over and we’re all sighing with relief… hmm… and maybe with a little bit of letdown. I always feel this way a tiny bit after the holidays are over. It seems like such a long, drawn out build up and then poof! it’s over in a few hours! My 5-year-old son said the day after Christmas this year, “Mom, I wish it could be Christmas every day!” Okay… I DO NOT wish it was Christmas everyday… that would be way too much… but you get the idea.

But the holidays are tiring and aren't we all looking for ways to make our lives a tiny bit easier – for things to run smoother about now? I know I am.

My husband came to me a bit ago with some ad that had come up on Facebook for The Dollar Shave Club. WHAT?! A service for razors? How awesome is that? And why not?! Don’t I subscribe to other make-my-life-easier services?

  • I love my Amazon Prime because it delivers me books and music right to my email. Not to mention the wonderfulness of never paying for shipping again….
  • Who hasn't tried StitchFix yet? I feel like everyone in the world has heard about this, but what a fun way to try out new clothes! I've had limited success with this and I wish I had a little more of a clothes budget for what they send me… but it’s fun nonetheless. =)
  • And my ultimate sanity-saver The Honest Company’s diaper bundles! There’s something wonderful about not having to run out to the store to buy diapers. They come delivered to my door every couple months – hooray!

Can I be honest? I thought the razor thing was a little crazy at first until my husband reminded me about our current razor situation. We both have multiple razors – bought depending on sales, coupons, etc. We can never remember which blades to buy when we’re at the store because there are so many and so expensive and we can’t remember which ones we have…. it’s a mess really. So what ends up happening? We just don’t buy new razors until they are scary….

So my new life-saver - $6 a month, 4 cartridge. My husband and I will use the same handle (different blades of course!) and they are delivered to our door! And only $6! They have plans as low as one dollar a month. I will never have to remember to buy razors again – or stand in the shaving aisle at the grocery store trying to rack my brain for which type to buy! Hooray!

What can I say? It’s the little things that make a huge difference. Want to try the Dollar Shave Club for yourself? Hop on over there and check it out!
Are there other sanity-saving services out there I haven't heard about? Tell me about them!



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but I received no compensation whatsoever for this post. I really do think all these things are great!