Friday, July 10, 2015

Book Review: In Good Company

When I saw the cover for the new book In Good Company by Jen Turano, I knew it looked like something I wanted to read. I read and reviewed the first book in the series back in April. While this book is part of a series and does have some characters in common with the first title, it isn't necessary to read that book first; this title does a fine job as a stand alone book. In Good Company is the story of Millie Longfellow, an orphan turned misunderstood nanny, and Everett Mulberry, a respected and wealthy member of high society. When Everett is looking for a nanny for three children in his care, he discovers he needs Millie's help - despite her lack of good references. The unlikely pair find themselves embroiled in a variety of major and minor dramas, both serious and amusing - from peacocks to trying to get to the bottom of the children's parents' untimely deaths. Everett discovers that status isn't everything and learns that Millie, while unconventional, is actually a wonderful nanny.

This book is a historical romance published by Bethany House. It is funny and serious at times, but very enjoyable and unique. Millie is a quirky character that is full of personality. Everett's character goes through a number of changes during the book as well. This book is definitely in the Christian fiction genre, but the story line is not heavily religious. The plot contains a bit of mystery and suspense, plus some romance and comic relief. I would recommend this charming book to anyone that likes historical fiction. I liked it even more than the first in the series!

I received a copy of of this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund is book two in the Beacons of Hope series. The book is a historical fiction novel set in 1865 in Windmill Point, Michigan. Caroline Taylor has been running the Windmill Point Lighthouse on her own, while caring for her younger siblings, after the death of her father. The lighthouse inspector does not believe a woman can or should be running the lighthouse, a fact he makes perfectly clear. He tells Caroline he's assigned the lighthouse keeper job to someone new and she and her family must vacate the home adjacent to the lighthouse immediately. Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran who's been assigned the position of lighthouse keeper. He arrives at the lighthouse before Caroline has left, much to her surprise and chagrin. The reality is, Ryan needs Caroline's help to run the lighthouse, so she stays on to assist as he heals from the war and learns how to do the job - which they both desperately need and want.

This historical fiction novel is predictable in some ways, but there were also a number of plot twists as well. The romance aspect between the characters is somewhat what I expected, but the path it took was different than I anticipated. There were also villains in the novel and those individuals were unexpected as well. I did feel that there were more references to the physical aspect of the relationship, which might be more intense for a younger reader (maybe a teen). Overall, I thought this was a solid historical fiction title.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 2015 Clothing Budget + What I'm Into

Time for another end of the month clothing budget roundup! This time, I'm going to try adding a short summary of what I've been up to and enjoying this month, too. I'd love to keep this up every month!

First up is my clothing budget -
Overall, it was a much better month for me. I was more focused on my list and really got some good pieces that are helping my wardrobe to work better together.


May Clothing Budget

May Clothing Budget by gracenote30 featuring a chino trousers

Black Stylus cropped pants from JCPenney - $10.66 after coupon
Floral blouse from Target - $13.32
Pink print Merona shorts from Goodwill - $3.51
Cobalt Liz Claiborne chinos from Goodwill - $4.58
Black Mossimo tee - $5.50
Mustard Limited skinny jeans from a garage sale - $0.25
Red tassel Old Navy scarf from Schoola - $1.00
Floral scarf and print scarf from Goodwill - $2.97

Total spent: $41.79 

For next month, I'd like to focus on a few items: brown sandals, cognac flats, a colorful long necklace, a solid short sleeve dress, and a solid maxi skirt. I'm also continuing to buy and explore more ethical/sustainable brands and trying to factor that into my decision-making. (More on that below.) I still thrift whenever I can because that is the most cost effective way to do this, but sometimes that isn't possible, so I'm looking into new to me brands for different items like Sbicca, which is supposed to be made primarily in the USA. I'm also looking into a paper bead necklace like this one from Amazima for my colorful necklace.

The colored pants that I got from Goodwill and the garage sale were by far my best finds this month. I have been able to make so many more outfits just by having a couple pairs of colors pants!

What I'm Into/What's I've Been Up To:
Reading - 
Together With You by Victoria Bylin
Spy of Richmond by Jocelyn Green *
The Legacy by Dan Walsh
Chasing Sunsets by Karen Kingsbury
The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis

* My fave this month

Doing/Loving -
  • Another dance recital in the books! My girl really made progress this year especially in tumbling.
  • I created a 14 piece capsule wardrobe (including the pants and floral blouse above) and documented 14 unique outfits on Instagram.
  • I did a little sewing - 2 zip pouches and a key fob.
  • As a youth services librarian, this time of year is crunch time for summer reading prep. Sign up starts tomorrow!
  • I managed to run 8 times this month. I haven't done a race in a couple years, so I might sign up for a 5K.
  • We've been making lots of decisions for summer - our schedules, what activities to choose, etc.
  • We finished another choir season as director and accompanist.
  • I sell Avon and I have been collecting the Gel Finish polishes. Just finished putting a lavender shade on my toes.
  •  My husband has been so supportive in my endeavors to buy more ethically. He got me a pair of flats from The Root Collective for Mother's Day. He originally got the blue stripe, but they didn't fit, but the company has great customer service and exchanged them for the jade stripe in a size smaller. I love them and their mission and goals are amazing. (The link above is my affiliate. Get 10% off by following it.)
  

Book Review: Finding Me

I recently had the opportunity to read the book Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman. This contemporary Christian fiction novel tells the story of Kelli, a young adult who recently lost her father. Kelli has always been told that her mother and siblings died in a fire when she was a baby, but when she's going through her father's papers, she uncovers shocking news about her past. She takes this information and embarks on a journey to Tennessee to try and find out the truth. Kelli only intends to stay for awhile and not get involved in the lives of the people in this small town, but she quickly becomes a part of the lives of people she believes may be her family.

The characters and setting of this book are interesting and well-developed. The interactions among the characters are realistic and believable as well. The faith aspect of this book is light but still integral. There isn't a lot of overt "preaching", but church is a big part of the lives of the characters and part of Kelli's struggle as searches to find the truth. I would recommend this book to fans of realistic fiction books.

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for this review; all opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thrifting for Mother's Day

Hi all! Hope you are enjoying a lovely May. It's finally getting warm in our area. :) I wanted to share about how I thrifted my mom's Mother's Day gift this year. I really wanted to get her a Stitch Fix shipment. I love the idea of being surprised by a fun package of goodies specifically chosen for you by a stylist. My frugal nature started thinking and I decided to challenge myself and see if I could put together a "Thrift Fix" for my mom instead. So I took the $20 styling fee I would have paid to Stitch Fix and went to Goodwill instead. Here's what I got her for a grand total of $20.62.


Black and white Christopher and Banks tiered maxi skirt


Black, white, plum, and tan White House Black Market tunic


Pastel floral Croft and Barrow tee


Navy and gray hooded Sonoma open cardigan


Yellow, turquoise, black, and white floral East 5th tunic

Pros:
  • The price of course! I got her some great brands for not much money.
  • Lots of choices - I was able to get some specific pieces like tunics and a maxi skirt that I knew she would like.
  • Access to brands that we don't have in our area, such as White House Black Market
  • Ethically responsible in that it supports local individuals working at Goodwill as well as gives items a second life instead of buying new items.
Cons:
  • It took many more trips (and time) than I anticipated. Normally, I browse and if I find something, great, and if I don't, that's ok, too. This time there was a lot more pressure to find things in time for Mother's Day!
  • The tunics smelled very strongly of perfume, which due to asthma is something my mom can't deal with. My wonderful husband helped by washing them several times alternating baking soda and white vinegar in order to neutralize the scent. Eventually, the perfume smell was eliminated, but it took a number of washings!
Overall, this was a fun experience and I might try it again. I would definitely start earlier! I've been sharing some recent Goodwill and garage sale bargains over on Instagram. Have you been going to any garage sales or found any bargains?


 

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