Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cakeway to the West!!!

...So St. Louis turns 250 years old this year! To celebrate, they're doing an art exhibit called Cakeway to the West throughout St. Louis and surrounding areas. There's some all the way in Illinois and out where I live, too. There are 250 cakes that will be displayed until November. Each cake is decorated to represent the location/building it is displayed. My friend Angie has found over 125 cakes! She'll for sure get them all found by November. I, on the other hand, have found three. She'd better watch out, I'm hot on her tail!

This is the first one I found. It's in downtown St. Louis outside of the Drury Plaza. I was walking to a meeting when I passed it and snapped a pic. You can see my reflection in the window.

Angie told me that there was one right in my "backyard" practically! Okay, well the town I work in, so we stopped by on Saturday morning to see it. This one is at Fort Zumwalt Park and I had a pretty model with me that day.

Then today, I went to the Transportation Museum with Angie and her family. Ta-da my third cake!

I definitely won't be on a mission to find all of them but I do intend to find all of them on my side of the river! If you're from STL, what cakes have you found? If you're not, has your town done something like this? Have a great week!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Garda: Welcome to the Realm Book Review...

…Back in January, I won a copy of the Garda Series by Stacy Eaton. With my busy season at work along with starting to teach, not to mention chasing around a crazy two-year-old, I’ve just now got to sit down and read it the first book, Garda: Welcome to the Realm! The second I started it though, I couldn’t put it down because I had to know what was going to happen with the different relationships. I’m excited to start the next book in the series and I’ll be sure to post a review of it, too.

“He is my destiny."
There is a place that lies between heaven and Earth, it is called The Realm. Within this place, the Guards of Peace, known as Garda Síochána, learn to guide and protect the ones that live below until they are called home.
Officer Corey Hamilton is dedicated to being the best that she can be, in uniform and out. Her loving nature, compassionate thoughts, and warrior strength make her the perfect candidate to join the Garda Síochána and spend her eternity protecting and guiding others.
Just before Corey dies in a line-of-duty accident, she meets Officer Mitchell O’Reilly. Her feelings for him may change her destiny, but not for the better, as she falls in love with this married man. Brock, Corey’s personal Garda, will bring her home to The Realm and attempt to train her for her future, even while she still fights for her past.
Will Brock be able to direct Corey down the right path, or will she cross the line and fall from grace? Join Corey, Mitchell, and Brock for an emotional and heart-pounding adventure that is sure to make you wonder if angels are really guiding us in our everyday lives.
This book definitely kept me on my toes because secrets were being revealed all over the place! And when the secrets were revealed, it totally changed your opinion on the characters. For instance, when Mitch started to fall in love with Corey, I was almost mad at him because he was married. But then a huge secret was revealed that immediately made me feel sorry for him and begin rooting for him. While I’m not normally into “other worlds,” I found myself interested and wanting to know more about The Realm. While the book ended “happily ever after,” I’m not sure that I’m satisfied with the ending. I found myself still feeling sorry for Mitch that he was having to “settle” with what he had because I just wasn’t convinced that he was okay with the decision. Also, Corey completely reminded me of a police officer that I work with…looks, actions, everything. It was crazy!
Side note: I did NOT like the first name for the baby girl. Isn’t it awkward who she was named after? Now you’ll have to read to see what I mean. J Still, it was a good, easy, fun read that I would recommend.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Think Again! Game Review...

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

...I was giving the opportunity to try out the game Think Again! My sis, H, and I played it and we had a blast. Here's a little bit about the game.


THINK AGAIN!, a party game by veteran designers Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc (well know for Cyclades and Dice Town successes), for 3 to 10 players, ages 10 and up.

THINK AGAIN! is simple, but tricky. Each turn, a reader asks a very easy questions to the other players. At the same time, the reader reveals the back of the next card that tells the players to give the right or wrong answer. For example, if the reader asks, “What  color is milk?” and shows you a  “Wrong” sign, answer fast with “Blue!” or “Green!” But whatever you do, don't  say “White!” The first player to give the correct wrong answer scores 1 point. But you lose a point for the right answer!
THINK AGAIN!  contains 50 question cards (for a total of 300 questions!) and six rule cards for hours of laughs, wrong or right.
A party game for 3-10 players.
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 15 minutes
MSRP: $14.99
On sale February 2014 in game stores everywhere!

We were seriously ROLLING on the floor laughing at some of the answers we came up with. Of course, it took a few rounds to get the hang of it but once we did, we had a great time coming up with all the wrong answers! It's a lot harder than you think, too.
You can check out THINK AGAIN! on their website, Facebook, or Twitter!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fogless Shower Mirror Review...

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

...Okay ladies, how many of you hate the little whiskers that your hubbies leave behind on the sink after they shave? It drives me insane and no matter how much we both clean the sink, I'm constantly finding them. My hubby insists that he has to have a mirror to shave and when I suggested he get one for the shower to avoid hair in the sink where I brush my teeth (GROSS!), he informed me there's no way it would work because it would fog up. Well, the problem solver that I am found this Fogless Shower Mirror.

It was super easy to install. It came with two hooks, one to hang the mirror (which isn't breakable) and one to hang your razor. They thought of it all!

At first, my hubs was skeptical but after about a week of use and his wife much happier due to no more whisker on the sink, we were both fans!

You can find and purchase one of your own on Amazon. Safe yourself the mess and go get one!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Limited Edition Purex Crystals Giveaway!!!

...I know you all saw my post about the new Purex Crystals back in January, right? We flew through that bottle and I was really missing the long lasting fresh scent of our laundry. So I decided to check out the Fabulously Fresh Limited Edition Purex Crystals. The bottle definitely caught my attention right away...I'm a sucker for purple!

Purex Crystals are a great way to freshen laundry and maybe even help spring come a little early? Simply pour the crystals in with your laundry and then wait for the natural softener to work it's magic.

Easy peasy, just wait for it to eliminate odor and inhale that fresh scent! To celebrate the release of the Limited Edition Fabulously Fresh Purex Crystals, the Purex brand is hosting a Sweepstakes. Click here to enter for the grand prize of $1,000 and year's supply of Purex Crystals Limited Edition Fablously Fresh! There will also be 100 second place winners who will receive a coupon to try your own.

But don't worry, you can enter on my blog too for a chance to win a coupon and try it out yourself! See below for details.

Here's my laundry helper. She wasn't pleased that I pulled off her shirt to throw it in the wash but she still loves her mama anyways.

I will giveaway three coupons to try out Purex Crystals Limited Edition Fabously Fresh. Giveaway starts now. All winners will be notified via e-mail and have 24 hours to respond with a mailing address. Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 21, 2014

Perfect Sunburn Relief!!!

...Here's a sales pitch for the Mary Kay Extra Emollient Cream. I was not paid or asked to review this product. I simply love the emollient cream, or pink cream or night cream as we call it in our family. Over the years, Mary Kay has changed it's use and I think it's really supposed to be used in a hand treatment. My family has NEVER used it for that though.

Saturday, I had a major parenting fail when I forgot to put sunscreen on AR while we were in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. When she woke up from her nap, her cheeks were bright red and rosy. I immediately put on Mary Kay Extra Emollient Cream. Our family has used it for years from anything for sunburns to chapped lips. The "after" picture was taken less than 24 hours after her cheeks got burnt. As always, the "pink cream" as we call it worked wonders!

Any time I go to a Mary Kay party, I stock up on it so that we always have it on hand. My mom actually carries it in her purse and my stepdad leaves it sitting by his chair and uses it every night. Night cream rocks!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Amber and Mike's Wedding!!!

...After the St. Patty's Parade, AR and I went to our good friends', Amber and Mike's, wedding reception that night. When she woke up from the parade, I realized I'd made a major mom fail when I saw how sun burnt her cheeks were. I didn't even put any sunscreen on since it was such a nice day out and we really hadn't been outside much this year. Oh well, it made her glow at the reception.

We sat with my old boss and her family. She'd better watch out, AR was flirting with her husband!

This was her first reception and she had a ball. The flower girl was only a month younger than here and they tore it up on the dance floor.

They had glow sticks for everyone to wear. Here's AR deep in concentration to hook them together.

A quick break to say....CHEESE!!! Then she quickly went back to work. Oh and did I mention that I ordered a mocktail, orange and cranberry juice, for me and my child drank it all up! I guess that's what I get for denying her juice all the time.

Every song, my child was out there. A slow song came on and she grabbed the hands of the first man that walked by. Luckily, he was a dad himself so he didn't mind and danced a bit with her. She was a fan of the Cha Cha Slide because she could "clap her hands!" The same man helped her dance on this song, too.

Cooper was really getting into the dancing while AR was going for the hippie look with her glow necklace. Oh and notice her shoes? Yeah, they're her cowboy boots...that she picked out to wear.

We caught up with the bride and got this pic. Her groom is in the background. I absolutely loved her dress and her hair. It was such a classic look!

Then Mommy and AR snapped this pic right before we 9:30pm! Watch out, we were par-tay girls!!!

Best of luck to Amber and Mike! Thank you for inviting us to be a part of your special day.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Parade 2014...

...Every year, Matt's nursery has a float in the local St. Patrick's Day parade. Every year, I'm not able to be in it due to work or some other reason. This year, it finally worked out that AR and I could ride on it and we ended up with gorgeous weather!

We arrived early to finish setting up. Here's AR helping Ms. Ruthanne hang beads.

Ta-da! The float. The stone looking thing is actually hiding a port-a-potty which was an excellent thing to have because the lines for the public port-a-potties were all the way down the street!

Daddy and AR! He sprayed painted his hair green. We attempted to do AR's but the color didn't stay in hers. Oh, I also searched through all her clothes 12-24 months and this was the only green she has. It was a 2T dress and a little big but I threw a pair of jeggings underneath and we were good to go.

Dancing with Daddy! That's his natural beard color.

Of course, I have like five pictures of them dancing and I happened to use the same two for this blog posts. Oops!

Daddy and AR checking out a race car that was in the parade.

Mommy and AR

She was in an off and on good mood, but I'd say it was a successful event...especially since it was during naptime.

My work also had a float in the parade. We went to visit. Here's AR yelling at the leprechauns.

When she found the balloons, she went crazy!

We headed back to the nursery's float where she was ready to get going!

It took about two hours for us to get into the parade and through the route. There were almost no barricades the entire route and so dangerous for spectators and drivers...definitely not worth getting ran over for beads! I thought this sign/float was funny.

My attempt at an artistic shot

And proof that I still need lots of work with my camera but still a sweet picture anyways. Here is AR watching Norm refill the bubbles which was a big hit!

We came home and took nice long naps! times wear us out!

Friday, March 14, 2014

March Day at the Playground...

...The weather has been great here this week and I've been itching to use my camera since class last weekend. I figured today was the perfect day so AR and I walked over to the park. Of course, we can see our backyard from there so she had to stand in the parking lot yelling at her doggies for a few minutes before we could actually go to the playground.

Once we were in, I got out my camera and started adjusting the shutter speed trying to get some good shots. All of these pictures were shot in manual.

I have a whole action sequence of her running back and forth on this spot. These were just my two fave shots.

Some girl kept asking if she could play with AR. AR would stop and say hi, give a hug then off she'd go!

She loves this mirror thing and giving the "baby" a high five.

I glance down at my camera for two seconds and look up to see my monkey doing this.

She was so proud of herself!

Seriously, she's a little monkey! Got up and down all by herself.

More hanging!

Failed attempt by Mommy but still got some cute expressions .

The lighting is off here but this is a sweet picture. There was a mom with a little baby on the other side of the fence. The baby was crying so Mother Hen AR had to go check it out.

Then we headed home for a dinner which consisted of a banana, some Goldfish, a fruit pouch, and a few bites of Mommy's sandwich. Hey, it's Friday, okay? I snapped a couple really great shots but I have to be honest and say these next two were pure accidents.

Silly AR saying "Gimme that camera, Mommy!"

Maybe not the world's best photos but at least I know how to change a few things on my camera now! Now let's just hope the weather stays this nice!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium!!!

...In June, AR and I are headed to KC for Hospital Hill Run. Since she's older this year, I figure we'll do some fun kiddo stuff with my friend Candace and her family. I'm super pumped to check out the Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium. She loves looking at the fishies in my sister's aquarium so I know she'll LOVE all the sea life here! Now, let's hurry up and be June so we can enjoy our weekend getaway!

Here's some more info on this:

Sea Life Kansas City Aquarium will transport you into the amazing underwater world. Come nose to nose with sharks and prepare for astonishingly close views of everything from humble starfish and seahorses to graceful rays. To get any closer you'd have to get wet! Are you a Shark lover or Seahorse fanatic? Perhaps it's the graceful rays or the clever Octopus that you love the most. Maybe you simply can't decide! Here at SEA LIFE Kansas City you can make up your mind and see them all - from the curious and the rescued to the rare and the enigmatic. And you'll be able to get closer to them than ever before.

I can so see AR having this same expression! I can't wait to take pictures here too.

Seriously, does this not look amazing???

Here's a deal for you too! $3 Off Sea Life Admission - Receive $3 off full price admission ticket. Click here to buy your tickets!

If anyone's ever been, let me know what you think and what we need to check out while we're there.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Photo Class with Katie Beach!!!

...This afternoon, we had a beautiful day for a photo class at Forest Park! Jenni and I met the extremely talented Katie Beach of Katie Beach Photography. It was a great class because it was a small "class" and hands on. I've taken another class at a local photo place and the room was packed full and you were lucky if you could ask a question, much less have the instructor look at your camera and show you have to adjust your settings. So a big thank you to Katie for your time and expertise! We focused on aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and sunlight.

Jenni and I picked her brain about what settings to use when photographing wiggly toddlers. We really wanted to know how to get the person in focus with the blurry back ground like this:

A big thank you to Katie's daughter, Emma, who was our model for the day. Katie taught us that we we needed to adjust our aperture. The lower the number, the blurry it is in the background. Check out the spine of the book in the next two pictures. The settings on this photo were f/5.6 and 1/1000.

The settings on this one are f/32 and 1/40.

Now on to shooting in the sun. We learned to always have the sun behind your subject and adjust the shutter speed. The shutter speed on this one was  1/1000.

Shutter speed on this was 1/2000.

Shutter speed here 1/2500. Amazing what a small difference in shutter speed will do.

Settings on this one are f/5.6 and 1/2500. I really like the blurred background and the lighting on her hair.

Of course, we worked on action shots too!

More action! I learned how to take action shots without getting blurry hands and legs. Now I'm anxious to try some of this out on AR.

We made Katie get in the pic with her daughter so we could practice and she could get some pictures of the two of them.

I was thrilled with everything I learned. I walked away knowing, and most importantly, understanding much more than I did before I got there.

I told my SIL that I want to re-do their Save the Date cards since now I know what to do. I also understand what shooting in manual means and it's not nearly as intimidating as I imagined. Thanks again, Katie, you rock!!! Oh, and Emma, you earned your McDonald's!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Dial Cleaning Hand Soap and Giveaway!!!

...Is it just me or every mom out there? I feel like ever since I had AR, we're constantly washing our hands. First when she was a wee teeny tiny baby because she was still building her immune system and now because we always have food, mud, boogers, etc...on her hands. Whew! Being a mom, and toddler, is messy!

Never fear though, Dial has a new hand soap out! The new Deep Cleansing Hand Soap is awesome because it's like a micro-scrubber washing the germs away. It's the perfect family soap because it not only kills the germs but is a refreshing moisture which we all need is this dry winter weather.

What's even better is that it comes in three amazing scents: Yellow Raspberry & Black Sugar, Water Blossoms, and Coconut Lime Verbena. Oh and it looks fab in my bathroom!

This is premium soap that I feel comfortable with my family using. It smells great, too!

Want to try it out yourself? Well, then enter this giveaway! The more you share, the more chances you have to win! Raffle is open now and will close at midnight on Friday, March 15. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Deep Cleansing Hand Soap in exchange for a product review. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Yummy Deliciousness Oatmeal!!!

...I was pretty stoked when I found out that I was selected by My Oatmeal and Fit Approach to create my very own brand of oatmeal! You can try out one of their oatmeal recipes or you can try your own. Of course, I created my own titled Yummy Deliciousness which apparently whoever made my bag agreed!

The My Oatmeal concept is easy and fun! You check out their website and if you're like me then you spend hours imagining and salivating over all the combinations and options. They have everything from grahams crackers, vanilla frosting, and cake batter to blueberries, peaches, and tons of other fruits. Of course, I picked s'mores-mmm! It arrived on my doorstep faster than I could imagine.
Sunday morning when we awoke to sleet and snow, I decided that our s'mores oatmeal would be the perfect way for AR and I to warm up. We checked out the oatmeal recipe page but we ended up trying something of our own. A few chocolate chips and blueberries and these two girls had two very full and happy bellies.
I also have to note how easy it was to cook! I usually hate having oatmeal because of all the mess it makes to cook it. At work, I have instant where I use hot water from the coffee machine. I followed the directions though and made way too much but it was quick and easy.

Another shoutout and thanks to My Oatmeal and Fit Approach for allowing me to try out my own #healthyoatmeal #oatmeal #myoatmeal #oatmealrecipe #customoats

I received the product via Fit Approach for my original thoughts and opinions on My Oatmeal.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Writing Journey...So Far!!!

...The very talented Melissa Keir asked me to participate in a blog hop to explain my writing process. I mentioned I'd decided to take up writing in this post but then I left you all hanging and never said anything else. This post will tell you all about my writing far!

1) What am I working on? I'm currently working on my first novella Love is a Fire. It's the first story in a series so it's short and moves quickly. Summary: Dr. Katy Malone has sworn off love but when firefighter Nick Garrity comes into her ER, she may have to give love another chance. Their hearts are quickly set a fire by each other's love for one another. Has Katy overcome her fear of love or will she be burned again?

If you've been following my blog for awhile then you shouldn't be shocked that one of the main characters is a firefighter. As I began writing, I fell in love with Katy and Nick which is why I decided to do a whole series because I couldn't leave them after just one book. I've had some readers say that Nick is too perfect and I'd probably agree. I mean, if I'm creating a dream guy, why would I give him any flaws???

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? Since I've "joined" the world of writing, I have learned so much...and I still have SO MUCH to learn. Did you know that romance novels are required to have a happily ever after or happy for now ending? Apparently, if you don't, then readers revolt and leave not nice comments for you. Yikes-that's scary even as I type it!

I have spoke with other authors who have suggested my work is women's fiction, which to me, makes me think of a women's movement which it TOTALLY is not. I guess my story is a mix of romance, women's fiction, and chick-lit. I have also had comments that some parts are not believable to which my response is: it's fiction! It doesn't have to be believable. I mean how many people would want to read the story of how Matt and I met in line for a Port-a-Potty? Yeah, not many.

3) Why do I write what I do? Honestly, I've watched one too many episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Rescue Me. When I was reading Divas Never Flinch, one of the characters decided to write a screenplay. This was the second or third indie author I'd read and when that was mentioned, I decided I'd try my hand at it.

As I write, I try to remember what I like/dislike as a reader. I wasn't a fan of reading three pages to describe how the yard in front of the mansion looked nor did I like when a relationship was dragged out the entire book only for the main characters to inevitably get together in the last chapter and then "the end". I want to know what life was like when they finally hooked up! Was it really happily ever after? And if that was the whole point of the book then who cared what the yard looked like.

4) How does my writing process work? When I started Love is a Fire, I had no writing process. I just wrote until I was finished. I've already started on another story, but this time, I created an outline, month by month listing the major events I wanted to happen in each chapter. It was much easier this way.

After I finished the story, I place it chapter by chapter on Critique Circle. The first time I did this, it was very intimidating. I mean, you're putting yourself out there and ASKING for people to critique you...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Most of the authors on this site have way more experience than me and some ask questions/mention things that I have no idea what they're talking about. However, most of the critiques are very useful and they all call me out on my head hopping which I'm notorious for. Some weeks, I get lots of critiques and other weeks I'll be lucky to get two or three. I keep with it though because even one good critique is better than none at all.

I've also had a few friends read it (thank you Cece and Jo!) and I've swapped with a couple authors as well. One totally burned me, I read and critiqued her story only for her to tell me, sorry, I don't have time to do yours. Punk! The other author is working out very well though. I'm slowly making connections and getting more help/feedback which will only improve me as a writer. Some days, I'll read my story and think this is awesome and other days, I'll look at it and think it's only mediocre. But like anything else, the more I work at it, the better I'll become.

Now for what I'll do with my writing...well, I want to publish it. Not that I plan on quitting my job or think that I'll become rich from book sales, but I figure, I've worked hard on my story, I love my characters so why not share them with others. While I would love to work with a literary agent or publishing house, the few I've contacted haven't been interested and as busy and impatient as I am, I will probably end up going the self-publishing route which means money out of my pocket for formatting, book cover, etc...and that doesn't even cover any promotions or marketing if I really want to sell the book. The way I look at it though is that Matt spends money on hunting, I spend money on running so this is another hobby but hopefully, I'll earn a little return on it.

If you're an author who would like to swamp critiques, please leave me your contact info. If you're interested in helping me out by being a beta reader or participating in a virtual book tour once it's I've published, or know someone who is, please also contact me.

My readers have always been supportive throughout all of the journeys in my life so I'd really appreciate it again during this new, exciting time.

A shout out to Denny for the awesome book cover he created for me. Be sure to check out the new "page" on the top of my blog.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Disney on Ice...

...Yesterday, Megan, Stacey, and I loaded up all three of our little girls and we headed to downtown St. Louis for Disney on Ice. I had to crawl in through the back to sit in the third row of her Tahoe. Funny how we used to do that to go out somewhere and here we are doing the same thing to get to Disney on Ice. The girls thought it was hilarious when I climbed in.

We splurged and got the $23 tickets since the girls were free. We missed about the first 20 minutes of the show because of the crazy traffic with this going on AND Mardi Gras. The girls sat mesmerized by Ariel and Lilo. AR was just amazed. I can't say how happy I am we did this because she really loved it. I'm going to be totally sappy here and admit, I got tears in my eyes when I saw her smile when she saw Mickey and Minnie.

Then they took an intermission. The girls, and moms, all had a few snacks but when the show came back on, their attention span was gone. Plus it was a little bit slower pace afterwards. We snuck out right before the last song and beat the traffic out. Thank goodness, none of us wanted to be stuck in a car with three crying babies if we weren't moving. Look at the smile on her face...totally worth sitting through all the cheesy singing, but who am I kidding, I loved it too!

I'll definitely be taking advantage of 2 and under free for the next year. I think our next big thing may be a Princess tea at the local community college. What can I say? I #lovemyAR!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

February Photo Challenge Week 4...

...Week 4!!! I totally cheated this week and pulled some photos out of the archives rather than take new ones.

February 22
What you're reading
Not super creative, but this is my library in my Nook

February 23
Anything sweet
Preview of AR's birthday party

February 24
Holding hands

February 25
Your geeky side
I have too much geek to get in one photo.
February 26
Something you made

February 27
Picture in your room
Did that last week so pass.
February 28

Rabbit, rabbit!

PrivateIslandParty.Com Accesory Review...

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

...Ever have the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other trying to tell you what to do? The G-Girls have the headbands to prove that we do. I recently received a LED Angel Wing Headband and Light Up Devil Horns from AR wanted no part with the devil horns which is definitely a good thing.

We also got Funny Nose and Glasses which AR thought was hilarious! She kept trying to pull them off my face to put them on herself. We even got a whoopee cushion which scared her at first but after she got used to it, I couldn't stop her from hiding it in Daddy's chair!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.