Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday

I am joining Sandra today over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for her Happy Homemaker Monday theme!

Life has been insane these last couple of weeks. With job searches going on, softball for Rebecca, soccer for Jacob, Easter, Benjamin's ear surgery and then on Saturday all 3 kids came down with symptoms of "Hand, foot, and Mouth disease." Bill took Rebecca to urgent care yesterday and had it confirmed. Seriously we just can't seem to catch a break. But that is why I do this type of post, to help me remember our lives at this moment....so without further ado here is what is going on in my side of the world....



As I look outside my window:::
It is rainy and grey outside. We are supposed to have showers and thunderstorms all day today; I am hoping that we don't have severe weather like they are getting out west of us.

Right now I am::: 
Typing out this post, thinking of the things I need to do this week. Trying not to be completely overwhelmed by life right now.

Thinking and pondering:::
On what we should eat this week. That we need to start eating better and using up what we have in the house. That I can't believe it is almost May. I am tired of people not showing up to buy what they wanted off a facebook selling wall page. Wondering when we are going to get a break. Wondering how much more I can take. Thankful that Benjamin's ear tube surgery went well. Wondering where my kids got "hand, foot, and mouth disease from. 

On my bedside table:::
Seasons of Tomorrow Book 4 by Cindy Woodsmall


On my TV tonight:::

Nothing really...I will watch "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "19 Kids and Counting" this week, not sure what else. 

Listening to:::
The cars going down the wet, rainy road. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is on for the boys.  


On the menu for this week:::

BREAKING NEWS::: I actually have a meal plan for this week! :)


Monday - Chili and grilled cheese
Tuesday - clam strips/fish sticks, peas, baked potatoes, fruit

Wednesday- bbq pork sandwiches, shells and cheese, green beans
Thursday- Spaghetti and garlic bread
Friday- Chicken patties, corn and fruit
Saturday- Eat out...daddy/daughter and sons/moms date night
Sunday- Ribs in the crockpot, julienne potatoes, broccoli

On my to do list:::
Laundry, laundry, and more laundry

Collect all recycling and trash and take it to the curb
Pay bills due including rent, college loan, discover, and get Bill's tags renewed for the van

Happening this week:::
Work, First grade Mass at my daughter's school, softball, soccer this weekend, hopefully getting everyone healthy
   
My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my husband and kids
 

Looking around the house:::
I have 2 loads of laundry on the kitchen table to fold, breakfast dishes need dealt with, shoes need to be put away.
  
From the camera:::




Benjamin is being extra silly these days. He likes to look at things upside down when he can! LOL


Prayer List:::
For Bill, as he job searches. For our family as we look to make changes for the better. For the kids as they are dealing with sickness. For those affected by the severe weather these last few days.

Bible verse, Devotional:::

"Come to me , all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a great Monday! 
What is going on in your area of the world? 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ear tubes


On Friday, I had to get Benjamin up bright and early so that we could be at our local hospital by 6:30am for an 8:00 surgery time. He had to get ear tubes put in his ears.

2 1/2 weeks ago, I took him in for a hearing evaluation as requested by his pediatrician. He is 2 and not talking yet, so his doctor wants him to have a hearing and speech evaluation to see if therapy is needed. So I took him in for his hearing evaluation and she couldn't do it as there was fluid in Ben's ears and given his history of ear infections, she referred us to an ENT. So a week later, we were at the ENT and yes there was a lot of fluid in his ears. Given his history of ear infections and the fluid, the ENT highly suggested we get ear tubes in Ben's ears sooner rather than later. They were able to do the hearing evaluation that day as well, and while Ben's hearing is coming in at the high end of normal, they all felt that the fluid was blocking how he was hearing.

This all led up to this past Friday, when Benjamin was scheduled for his ear tube surgery. Thankfully our hospital does youngest patients first, so Benjamin was up first thing. I had to have him at the hospital at 6:30 for registration and he was not allowed anything to eat or drink from midnight on. His surgery was scheduled for 8:00AM.

Benjamin was in a good mood when we got to the hospital and looked so adorable in his gown. After they got him registered, it was time for them to wheel us into the holding area. The hardest thing I had to do was put him in the bed and watch them wheel him away. He did have to be put under for the surgery and honestly that is what scared me the most. As they wheeled him away from me, Ben had this look on his face of terror and why aren't you coming with me Mommy? It broke my heart.

After they took him away, I was led to the waiting room where the volunteer told me that she would let me know when the doctor was ready to talk to me about how the surgery went and that if I wanted to get something to drink that now would probably be the time. So I headed off to get some caffeine as I had had NO sleep the night before and to call Bill to let him know how things were going. I had no sooner got back to the waiting area (not 10 minutes later) that the volunteer led me to a consultation room to talk to the doctor.

The surgery went well. He said Ben had a lot of milky white fluid in his right ear, and less in his left ear. He told me that it would probably be 20-30 minutes before they would take me back to Ben so he would have time to wake from the anesthesia. I called Bill to let him know, and went back to sit down. However, the volunteer told me that Ben was awake and I could go back to him.

When I went back, the nurse was holding Benjamin as she said he does not want to be put down. So I took him and I think he was scared of the hospital bed as when I went to sit down on it, he started crying. But he quickly calmed down and we got him some apple juice and the nurse gave him a popsicle, which he played with instead of eating. I was given ear drops for Benjamin and we were allowed to go home. We were home by 9:30am.

The rest of the day was spent with making sure Ben was getting back to normal. He was very dizzy and unstable on his feet when we got home, which I was told was normal from the anesthesia. He did take a long nap in the afternoon and seemed almost back to his normal self that evening. He did not like the ear drops at all.

It was hard to have to let him go through this, but if it will help him be healthier and hear better than it is worth it. We will follow up with the ENT in 2 weeks and then I have to take him in every 4 months until the tubes fall out.

Overall, it was a scary experience for me. It is so hard to be a mom in times like this, but I know it is for the better.

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller


Shining Light, A (Home to Amana)


FROM THE BACK COVER: 

The kind people of Amana have been her guiding light, but her greatest trial is yet to come...
West Amana, Iowa, 1890

After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.

Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans--especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas's future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?

MY THOUGHTS:

Can I be completely honest and say that I read this book in one day? I absolutely could not put it down. This is the second book I have read by Judith Miller, (the first being A Simple Change) and it will not be my last. 

A Shining Light begins with Andrea Wilson, a young mother, receiving the news that her abusive husband has drowned at sea. Having no money and no family nearby, Andrea decides to move her and her son to Iowa to rejoin her father at his farm. However, upon returning she learns that her father had sold his farm and had died in a fire to the family home. Having no resources, Andrea accepts the offer to move into the Amana colony located nearby. There she comes to find peace, love and grows closer to the Lord all the while protecting her son. But circumstances change, which causes Andrea and those she has drawn closest to, including the town's tinsmith Dirk (who has fallen in love with Andrea and has become a father figure to her son Lukas) to question whether this is really in God's plans and all the characters must learn to trust in God's plan. 

I love how Ms. Miller wrote this story in the voices of several different characters. I feel that this help to develop the story line and to keep it very interesting. I loved the suspense and the twists and turns that Ms. Miller included. Not to give anything away, I totally did not see the ending coming. 

I would highly recommend this book as a fun, suspenseful, great read. 

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages by Shaunti Feldhahn

The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things That Make a Big Difference

FROM THE BACK COVER:

Have you ever looked at a blissfully married couple and thought, I wish I could know their secret? Now you can. After years of investigative research, Shaunti reveals twelve powerful habits that the happiest marriages have in common. 

Best news of all? Anyone can learn the secrets of a highly happy marriage! 

In The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, Shaunti Feldhahn shares her findings about little, very unexpected, often overlooked actions that make a huge difference. You’re about to discover that highly happy couples:
• Go to bed mad
• Keep score (just not in the way you think)
• Boss their feelings around
• Have factual fantasies 
• Get in over their heads
• Don’t tell it like it is
• Don’t look to marriage to make them happy… 

Packed with eye-opening research and practical helps, this book delivers relationship insights that will take your marriage from “just fine” to “just the marriage we’ve always wanted.”

MY THOUGHTS: 

Shaunti Feldhahn knows what she is talking about. She is a well known researcher on the topic of relationships. In her latest book, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages: The Little Things that Make a Big Difference, Ms. Feldhahn offers tips of the trade to make your marriage a happy marriage. She has taken scientific research and interviews and translated them into the secrets of what "Highly Happy couples do in their marriage. 

The secrets Ms. Feldhahn reveals are that there are really no secrets. It is the little things that make a difference in marriages. She argues that "many secrets of highly happy marriages seem to cluster around choices- especially choices about what to think and feel toward your spouse." (p. 95). This is the basis of the book. She argues that the secrets of highly happy marriages include: knowing that little is big, believing in the best in your spouse, go to bed mad, keeping score, having actual fantasies, hanging out, looking higher, etc. 

I liked how Ms. Feldhahn used real life examples to illustrate her secrets and how she shows the results of the scientific research at the end of each chapter. However, I felt like I really did not learn anything new or surprising in this book. It was an okay read, but I didn't get that much out of it. It is not that I disagreed with her or her principles, but I have heard it all before. There was nothing new to me. I would recommend this for someone who was engaged, or beginning their marriage journey. However, I feel that I have heard everything she has argued in the last 9 years of my own marriage. 

DISCLAIMER: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Weekend Recap

I was off from work on Friday and Monday, so my Easter weekend was an extended 4 day weekend. 

Friday was spent running errands, coloring eggs and taking Rebecca to her softball scrimmage.

Saturday, Bill had to be at church at 10am for Easter vigil practice. After his practice, my dad bought everyone lunch and we spent a couple hours talking and laughing. Rebecca had softball practice in the afternoon. Then Saturday night, we all got dressed in our Easter finest and went to our church to watch Bill receive his Confirmation and First Communion and be welcomed in as a full-fledged member of the Catholic Church. 




The Easter Vigil mass was very special. Benjamin, who is usually very loud at church, fell asleep during the first reading and slept until seconds before Fr. Hammond confirmed Bill. He woke up with a start and looked toward the front just as Bill was getting anointed. He then remained quiet through out the rest of the mass--it was truly an Easter miracle. All 3 kids were very well behaved, considering mass was 2 hour long. After the Vigil Mass, we went over to the school cafeteria where they had a reception for all those who had entered the church. It was very nice with cookies, cupcakes and Benjamin had a blast moving around all the chocolate candies that they had scattered among the desserts. 




Easter morning, found eggs with messages in the kids' rooms to come into mine and Bill's room. The Easter bunny was leading the kids on a scavenger hunt to find their baskets, which were hidden in the downstairs shower. The kids thought it was hilarious. 



They loved everything they got in their baskets. Rebecca's favorite thing were her mini "Frozen" Elsa, Anna, and Olaf figurines. Jacob's favorite was his Spiderman yo-yo. Benjamin just loved everything in all the baskets. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we just enjoyed a lazy morning/early afternoon at 
home. 




In the afternoon, we went to my parents' house for dinner and an Easter egg hunt for the grandkids. My parents, younger sister, youngest brother, his girlfriend, younger brother and his wife and their 3 kids and Bill and I and our kids were there. Dinner was yummy, and the egg hunt was fun. We spent most of the evening outside at my parents' house throwing the football around and watching the kids blow bubbles and talking and laughing. When we got home last night, the kids were ready to go to bed and were sound asleep within minutes.

Yesterday morning I cleaned up some of the house, bagged some of the candy for the freezer and tried to organize some of the stuff that we had accumulated. For lunch, Bill and I decided to take the kids to get Wendy's and we ate lunch at the park. After lunch, the kids played on the playground, Rebecca practiced throwing her softball and the kids blew bubbles. 



Then it was off to Goodwill to look for shorts for Jacob and Bill and capris for me. We lucked out and I found 2 pairs of capris, 1 pair of shorts, a tank top, Bill got 2 pairs of shorts, and I found 2 pairs of shorts for Jacob. I also found a pair of sandals for Benjamin! 

Overall, it was a fun, busy, happy 4 day weekend. Now time to face the work week and the fun that that will bring. Hope everyone has a great week! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday

I am joining Sandra today over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for her Happy Homemaker Monday theme!



As I look outside my window:::
It has clouded up. Earlier it was bright and sunny. We were able to take the kids to the park for lunch and to play. But now it is cloudy, and it is supposed to rain tonight. 

Right now I am::: 
Typing out this post, thinking of the things I need to do this week.

Thinking and pondering:::
On I need to do this week. Hoping that Benjamin's surgery for ear tubes goes off without a problem on Friday. 

On my bedside table:::
Nothing right now....

On my tv tonight:::

I will be watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "19 Kids and Counting" and Indians baseball. 

Listening to:::
The cars going down the road. The sounds of outside as we have the windows open. Spongebob is on the TV for the kids. 


On the menu for this week:::

Monday - kids has corned dog, carrots, strawberries and pears.
Tuesday - Saturday: ??????

On my to do list:::
Laundry

Collect all recycling and trash and take it to the curb
Pay bills due 

Happening this week:::
work, softball, soccer, etc.
   
My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my husband and kids
 

Looking around the house:::
I need to clean up from Easter. Just stuff that needs to be put away.
  
From the camera:::



Hubby was confirmed and received his First Communion into the Catholic Church on Saturday night. Here he is with my dad, who sponsored him, and the deacon and priest of our church.

Prayer List:::
For Bill, as he job searches. For our family as we look to make changes for the better.

Bible verse, Devotional:::

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and a great Monday! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

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I hope everyone has a very Happy Easter today. I will be spending the day with Bill and the kids and my parents and siblings. I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy and Holy Easter filled with love and joy knowing that Jesus has risen from the dead to save us! May you all find the peace and love of Jesus on this Easter Sunday!

HAPPY EASTER FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOU AND YOURS! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coloring Easter Eggs

Yesterday, Rebecca and I had off from school for Good Friday, but the morning was busy with going to the store and the late afternoon was busy with Bill working, and Rebecca having a softball scrimmage from 4:15-6:30. So we decided to do a fun family activity in the afternoon....COLORING EASTER EGGS! 



Late Thursday night, I boiled 18 eggs for the kiddos to dye. I think they had fun. Rebecca loved coloring them, and Jacob was scared too especially after he plopped one in the pink dye and spilled the dye all over the newspaper, but after a bit he decided to have another go at it and he liked it. Benjamin was still to young to help, but he decided that he did not want to nap during the time and instead sat in his chair and ate graham crackers while we colored eggs. Overall it was a nice afternoon activity!

Do you color eggs for Easter? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Savory Custard and Shortbread Recipes from " A Beauty So Rare"

Today I have something special for you. Tamera Alexander, author of A Beauty So Rare, which I reviewed for you on Wednesday, has offered to share a few of Eleanor Braddock's recipes with us today! These would be perfect for your Easter Gathering. I hope you enjoy! 
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Most people think quiche originated in France. Not so. It’s originally a German dish and people referred to them as "savory custards" in the 19th century. Which is accurate since the egg-based mixture forms a luscious-like custard as it bakes.

In my novel, A Beauty So Rare, the second standalone novel in the Belmont Mansion series, the heroine, Eleanor Braddock, is "a cook with a dream." But her dreams don’t quite turn out like she thinks they will. However, her savories always do!


I hope you enjoy this recipe (or "receipt" as recipes were called in the 1800s) from A Beauty So Rare. For more about A Beauty So Rare and for recipes from all my novels, visit www.TameraAlexander.com.
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Eleanor Braddock’s Savory Custard
(or Ham and Cheddar Quiche)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
www.TameraAlexander.com




Ingredients:

1 old-fashioned unbaked pie crust (recipe below)
1 large onion, diced (or sliced if you like larger pieces of onion in your savory)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound cooked ham diced into cubes (if using bacon, use 8 slices, fried chewy, not too crisp)
8 large eggs
1-1/2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste (I always go heavier on the pepper, personal preference)
1 3/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated


Instructions:

Sauté onion in the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden brown. Set aside to cool.


Chop the ham into bite-sized pieces (or fry your bacon until chewy, then chop). Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out pie crust and press into a deep dish pie plate. A medium-sized iron skillet works wonderfully for making a savory custard (and is what Eleanor used). The crust comes out divine. I just happened to use a pie plate this time.

Whip the eggs, cream, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then mix in the onions, ham (or bacon), and cheese.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust.

Cover the pie plate (or skillet) lightly with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the quiche is set and the crust is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow the savory custard to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before diving in.

QUICK BAKING TIPS: The quiche may still seem a little loose when you first remove it from the oven, but it will firm up nicely once removed from the heat. Also, watch that lovely crust so the edges don’t get overly brown. I use a silicone pie crust shield if that starts to happen. Those are a fabulous invention (but foil crimped around the edges works just as well).


It’s so good, and just like Eleanor Braddock would make. It’s also delicious left over and warmed up the next day.
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Eleanor Braddock’s Old-Fashioned Pie Crust
(makes two large crusts)
From the novel A Beauty So Rare
by Tamera Alexander
www.TameraAlexander.com


This is a wonderful crust that I’ve been using for years. Eleanor would likely have used lard in place of Crisco (since lard was cheaper than butter in her day), and you may too, if you prefer. Yes, lard is still available on most grocery shelves, although I’m pretty sure I just felt you shudder!


This pie crust "freezes beautifully " as they say in Steel Magnolias (instructions on freezing below), so even though I may need only one pie crust at the moment, I always use this recipe and make a second, and freeze it for later. Makes that next pie (or savory custard) go twice as fast!

Ingredients:


1 ½ cups Crisco (or lard)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
5 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:


In a large bowl, using a pastry cutter (or two knives will do the job), gradually work the Crisco into the flour for 3 to 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal.

In a smaller bowl, whip the egg and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of ice-cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are blended well.


Halve the dough. Form the 2 evenly-sized balls of dough and place each into large sealable plastic bags.

Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each to about 1/2 inch thickness to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you’re using the crusts immediately, it’s still a good idea to let them chill in the freezer for about 15- 20 minutes. They’ll be much easier to work with.)


When you’re ready to roll the dough for your crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes (if it’s frozen). On a well-floured surface, roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. Sprinkle flour over the top of the dough if it’s too moist. If the dough starts to stick to the countertop, use a metal spatula and gently scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie plate (or iron skillet).


Using a spatula, carefully lift the dough from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. (I sometimes fold my well-floured dough in half and then "unfold" it onto iron skillet. Or you can lop it over your rolling pin. That works well, too.) Gently press the dough against the sides of the pan or skillet, getting it all tucked in. Then crimp the edges in whatever way you prefer. And now, you’re ready for that yummy savory custard filling above, or maybe for a fruit pie.


If you make this recipe (or if you’ve read A Beauty So Rare), I’d love to hear from you. You can write me through my website at http://www.tameraalexander.com/contact.html.
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Eleanor Braddock's Shortbread
(from A Beauty So Rare)


Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter at room temp (1 1/2 sticks)
1/2 cup powdered sugar*
1/3 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour (sifted)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, then spray a smaller (8-9 inch) cast-iron skillet very lightly with non-stick cooking spray. You don't need that much spray. Trust me, the butter in the recipe will take care of that.


Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, then the vanilla. Next, work in the flour. You can either mix the flour in with an electric mixer, or you can get into the 1860s way of doing things and knead the dough on a floured surface until it's nice and smooth.


Press the dough into the iron skillet (or you can use a pretty shortbread pan too).

Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes then flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board.
Cut the shortbread into pieces while still warm. It "sets up" as it cools. Or serve it warm. Serves 10-12. And it really does. This stuff is rich and delicious. Hope you enjoy.

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I just want to again say thank you to Ms. Alexander for sharing these yummy recipes from her book A Beauty So Rare!  Hope you all enjoy them! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Special Hairstyle for Rebecca

About a month ago, I saw a picture on my facebook wall that really intrigued me and I thought I could do that with Rebecca's hair. It was from a page called "Luv That Hair". It was a beautiful basket weave design for a girl's hair...

Source
I decided to give it a try on Rebecca's hair. First I showed it to her and she was excited for me to do it....

Here are our results: 


I think it turned out really cute. Rebecca LOVED it! She wore it like that for Benjamin's birthday party and again to school on Monday. She got so many compliments on it! 

I love finding inspiration to make my kids' days with something as simple as doing her hair in a special way! I will definitely be trying more hairstyle from "Luv That Hair" facebook page. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Beauty So Rare, A (A Belmont Mansion Novel)

FROM THE BACK COVER: 

Pink is not what Eleanor Braddock ordered, but maybe it would soften the tempered steel of a woman who came through a war--and still had one to fight.

Eleanor Braddock--plain, practical, no stunning Southern beauty--knows she will never marry. But with a dying soldier's last whisper, she believes her life can still have meaning and determines to find his widow. Impoverished and struggling to care for her ailing father, Eleanor arrives at Belmont Mansion, home of her aunt, Adelicia Acklen, the richest woman in America--and possibly the most demanding, as well. Adelicia insists on finding her niece a husband, but a simple act of kindness leads Eleanor down a far different path--building a home for destitute widows and fatherless children from the Civil War. While Eleanor knows her own heart, she also knows her aunt will never approve of this endeavor.

Archduke Marcus Gottfried has come to Nashville from Austria in search of a life he determines, instead of one determined for him. Hiding his royal heritage, Marcus longs to combine his passion for nature with his expertise in architecture, but his plans to incorporate natural beauty into the design of the widows' and children's home run contrary to Eleanor's wishes. As work on the home draws them closer together, Marcus and Eleanor find common ground--and a love neither of them expects. 
But Marcus is not the man Adelicia has chosen for Eleanor, and even if he were, someone who knows his secrets is about to reveal them all.

From the USA Today bestselling author Tamera Alexander comes a moving historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to a group of people forgotten by Nashville society--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.

MY THOUGHTS: 

What would you do if you were born in the upper class and/or royalty, but your heart is with those who are much less fortunate? Would you give up your posh lifestyle to help others or would you ignore your heart in order to do what society deems is the right thing? This is the reality for Eleanor Braddock and Archduke Marcus Gottfried in Tamera Alexander's "A Beauty So Rare."

Eleanor Braddock was born into the upper class. However, her life has not been completely easy. She has recently lost her only brother in the civil war and she has had to place her father into an asylum as he struggles with Alzheimer's. She has seen war and destruction as she has worked as a nurse on the civil war battlegrounds. Eleanor, due to lack of money, has had to move into her aunt's home. It is while living with her Aunt, that Eleanor begins to feel drawn to helping the less fortunate through cooking for widows and orphans. Cooking in her society is something left to those of much lower class status. Eleanor has her heart set on opening a cafe, however circumstances change and she is led on a different path to help those less fortunate with her cooking skills. 

Eleanor has such a kind, warm, compassionate heart and is a character that is completely relateable. She is proud of being able care for others, torn with loyalty to her family and their position and is caught in the line between doing things because they make the most sense and doing things because it is what is deemed proper in society. 

Archduke Marcus Gottfried, is on a year long sabbatical to the United States from his home in Austria. As the story unfolds, we learn about why he has come to the USA and his struggle with wanting to remain in the USA and having to return home because that is what society has deemed as proper. Marcus is a brilliant master gardener and architect who desires to leave his mark on the world in a worthwhile manner, rather than just being a rich name. Hilarity ensues as the "rich" of the society don't know the back story of Marcus and at times treats him as an undergardener or worker for hire. 

Marcus and Eleanor have similar goals and aspirations in that they both want to help those less fortunate, however they go about it in different paths that intertwine and weave and allow for life. 

I will have to admit that I could not put this book down. Ms. Alexander weaves such a beautiful story with many layers to keep everything intertwined between characters and to keep the reader involved. I loved reading about the conflict of interests between Eleanor's social standing and how she basically is able to put all the others who looked down on her in their place. I loved reading about Marcus' relationship with Caleb and how he took the boy under his wing. There was so much more that I enjoyed as well. The only thing that I did not enjoy was that that the story had to end because I so did not want it to. 

DISCLAIMERI received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Benjamin's 2nd Birthday Party


Sunday we were finally able to have Benjamin's 2nd birthday party! This was the one that we had to postpone from last weekend. Thankfully, everyone was still able to come except for my husband's sister, her husband and their daughter as they were out of town. Nothing like having 17 people in your house above the normal 5 that live here all the time. 

Thankfully the weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was near 80 degrees and sunny. Perfect for an afternoon birthday party. 

There were so many people here to celebrate Benjamin's birthday. My parents, Bill's parents, my brother and his girlfriend, my sister, my brother and his wife and their 3 kids, and Benjamin's Godparents and their four children. It was a full house but wonderful to have. 

We had a light dinner (sandwiches, pasta salad, strawberries, chips and veggies) and cake and ice cream. I had to make another cake as the one I made last weekend got eaten and was too big to freeze. I made a smaller cake this time, which was the perfect size. Everyone seemed impressed that I made a half chocolate/half white cake. It really was not hard to make. Benjamin loved his cake, although I think his favorite thing was taking the 3 cars off the cake to play with. 

Benjamin received some much needed summer clothes (play clothes and church clothes) and LOTS of cars and trucks (which are his favorite toys above all other things). This is the first time that no one asked me what to get him and everyone got him something that he could use and in the right size! 

It was so nice to get everyone together and we all had a lovely time. We are so blessed to have people in our lives who really do care for our family and for our children.

All in all, it was a great party with lots of happy memories! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Homemaker Monday!

I am joining Sandra today over at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for her Happy Homemaker Monday theme!



As I look outside my window:::
It is raining and cloudy. It is just dreary looking outside. Yesterday it was warm and sunny, today not so much. Still warm but not sunny at all. 

Right now I am::: 
Typing out this post, thinking of the things I need to get done.

Thinking and pondering:::
On what my husband and I's next move should be. He is going to be applying for jobs out of state and I will be too. It is a stressful time, but time for us to take control for the future of our family.  

On my bedside table:::
A Shining Light by Judith Miller

On my tv tonight:::

I will be watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" and "19 Kids and Counting" and Indians baseball. 

Listening to:::
The rain, the cars going down the road and the TV is on the "Sunny Side Up" Show on Sprout for the boys. 


On the menu for this week:::

Monday - Cheeseburgers and French fries
Tuesday - Smoked sausage and potato bake and macaroni and cheese
Wednesday - Chicken patties and veggies
Thursday - Hot dogs and Baked beans
Friday - Fish sticks and veggies
Saturday - Not sure
Sunday -  Easter...Not sure

On my to do list:::
Laundry

Collect all recycling and trash from Benjamin's bday party and take it to the curb

Happening this week:::
work, softball, soccer, etc.
   
My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my husband and kids
 

Looking around the house:::
Doesn't look too bad considering we had 17 people over yesterday for a birthday party! 
  
From the camera:::



Prayer List:::
For Bill, as he job searches and as he is joining the Catholic Church this weekend.

Bible verse, Devotional:::

John 3:16-17
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.
Hope everyone has a great Monday! 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

104.3 F

That was Rebecca's temperature last night when I took it at home. I had let Rebecca stay home from school as she woke up yesterday morning with a stomach ache and said she did not want to go to school. Now if you know my daughter you know that she cries hard if she has to miss school when she is sick. To say she didn't want to go, I knew she did not feel well. So she stayed home, and laid around and napped on an off all day, not really eating much of anything. When I came home from work around 430 she was asleep on the couch and I felt her forehead and she was cool.

Last night, she wanted to watch "Cars 2." Halfway through she fell asleep. When she woke up she said she wanted to go to bed and she didn't look good. I had just put Benjamin to bed, and Jacob was cleaning up. I took her temperature and it read 104.3F on one thermometer, and 104.4 on the other one that I have. And she said her stomach still ached. I called Bill to see if he could come home and take her to the ER. I gave her Motrin as well. Bill was able to come home and take her so that I could stay at home with the boys.

At the ER, her fever read 104.8F. After an hour on the Motrin it was only down to 103.5, so they gave her some Tylenol. They have ruled out a UTI, a lung infection (as her oxygen level was only at 95%) and they are now worried it is either a stomach infection or appendicitis. However, as her achiness was less than 24 hours old, they sent her home with instructions to give meds for the fever and if she still has the achiness tonight to bring her back in to the ER (the same doctor is in tonight) and they will do a cat scan to see if they can find anything.

This morning, Rebecca's fever was 102.3 when she woke up. She has slept most of the morning. She said her stomach still aches a little. I just got her up to take her temp again and it was down to 98.4.

To say that I am stressed out and worried is an understatement.