Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Project: Build a Bookshelf

This post is a bit over due, but better late than never! Over Memorial Day weekend we were in Lynchburg for our friends' wedding, and the next day Dad and Jonathan built me this bookshelf for my birthday present! I have been wanting a nice, solid wood bookshelf for awhile now. All we had was one of those cheap particle board ones with 3 shelves that we had gotten for free somewhere.  Our books were double stacked on the shelves, and we still had 3 boxes we had never even unpacked because we didn't have room for them!  So needless to say it was about time we got a more functional bookshelf :) We used these plans from Ana-White,  Dad tweaked the measurements and after an early morning run to Lowes they got started!
I am beyond thrilled with the finished product, and the fact that my two favorite men built it for me makes it even better :)

I started out by placing my more decorative items where I wanted them and then filled in the rest with books
  My collection of vintage Louisa May Alcott books, and a print I made that reads " A room without books is like a body without a soul."

The framed picture on the top shelf is a postcard my sister sent me from the Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland where J.K. Rowling wrote most of the first few Harry Potter books...#booknerd :)
We used one coat of Minwax Early American Stain for the finish.
Have you built anything this summer??

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn

To escape from her stepfather's controlling grasp, and an arranged marriage with the wealthy Ambrose Kincaid, Tamsen Littlejohn flees into the mountainous wilderness of Western North Carolina with the rugged frontiersman, Jesse Bird, as her guide.  Pursued by her stepfather and Kincaid, who believe her to have been kidnapped, Tamsen and Jesse wade deeper into the wilderness as well as into the conflict brewing between the Overmountain settlers.  The State of Franklin has declared their independence from North Carolina, and tempers are hot on both sides.  Tamsen's faith and endurance are tested, but perhaps the biggest risk she'll face is falling in love.

Benton does it again! Much like her first novel, Lori Benton weaves together a beautiful story far from the beaten path of today's christian novels.  Her writing flows smoothly, and is filled with such vivid detail it's almost as if you can see the scene unfolding before your very eyes.  It is evident much research goes into these novels and Benton has a way of making history come alive.  I truly appreciate how immersed her books are in the time period and culture in which she is writing.  Set between western North Carolina and what is now known as Tennessee, Benton depicts an often unheard of view of colonial life involving the Overmountain settlers and Indians of this time.  I love when I read and learn about a part of history unknown to me before, to me that shows the mark of a successful author.
While 'The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn' started out a little slower than Benton's first novel I was soon hooked after a few chapters.  The characters had depth, the plotline was fresh and original, and there were several twists along the way that  made for an unforseen ending. 
Overall another success, and one I'll definitely recommend to others!
Want to know more? You can read the first chapter here

*I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

N.C. Style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

It is no secret that I love NC style BBQ. Just reference this post and you'll understand why.  You just can't beat that sweet, vinegary taste of pork that's been slow roasted all night long, the crackled skin chopped up fine and mixed in with the lot of it....but I digress.
The only problem with loving N.C. style BBQ is that I live in Virginia. And unfortunately I don't have the means, nor my Uncle's signature sauce, to slow roast a whole pig whenever I get the hankerin' for some BBQ.
So this slow cooker pulled pork is as close as I can get!  Eat it plain or serve it up on a bun with a side of coleslaw.  However you like it just be sure to make a lot, it'll go fast!

N.C. Style Slow Cooker Pulled Pork:

5-6 lb pork roast
3C. apple cider vinegar
1C. BBQ sauce
approximately 3 tsp. red pepper flakes
2.5 Tbs brown sugar
pinch of salt

  • Place pork in crock pot. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over roast.
  • Cook on low 5-6 hours
  • remove pork from crock pot and shred
  • return to crock pot and cook 1 more hr
  • Drain liquid and set aside as extra sauce before serving.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happiness Is...

When I was younger my friends and I would play the "happiness game".  It wasn't really a game now that I think about it, but more-so our own way of counting gifts, before we even realized that these moments were gifts.  The rules were simple...start out by saying "happiness is..." then fill in the blank with whatever it was that made you happy at the moment.
Ever since Lent I have been taking things slow, letting go of my need to always be doing, accomplishing, and going.  Oh, I still struggle with it plenty but this summer has been so refreshing.  We've done a whole lot of nothing, and yet a little bit of everything that matters.  I've been disconnected with the blogging world and more connected with God and my man.  Sometimes I just need to stop and remind myself that happiness isn't what I've accomplished but that happiness is...
 ...yard-work with my Mama, feeling the dirt beneath my fingernails, sweat trickling down my back, and the joy that comes with creating beauty in our own front yard

 happiness is... the forgotten beauty found in the everyday of chippy old step-stools, birds nests and spring flowers

 happiness is....farmers market finds on a summer morning

 happiness is... the ripening of tomatoes on the vine

 happiness is...summer mornings on the deck, coffee and time with the Lord

happiness is...being a kid again and eating junk food while having a movie marathon with the love of your life

happiness is....yardsale treasures in the form of a $1 quilt that has been loved and worn to just the right amount of softness

happiness is...being married to this man for better for worse and as long as time endures

What is your happiness?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: A Broken Kind of Beautiful


In a world where beauty is everything, twenty-four-year-old model, Ivy Clark, is fighting to keep her place among younger, fresher models in the fashion industry.As a last ditch effort she agrees to model for her stepmother Marilyn's modern bridal wear line.
 Marilyn's nephew, Davis Knight, had the kind of fame any fashion photographer would dream of but something happened in New York that made him leave it all behind and vow to never pick up a camera again.  When he reluctantly agrees to do the photography for Marilyn's new line of wedding dresses he and Ivy are thrown together.  The woman holding tightly to fame and the fast-life, and the man trying to run as far from it as he can.  Will Davis be able to move on from the past? And can Ivy begin to see herself through God's eyes and move on to the future?   

This book initially piqued my interest with its setting in a small town in South Carolina, photography and wedding dresses.  In all honesty I was expecting your stereotypical "girl hardened by life, boy breaks down all her defenses and sweeps her away" Christian love story.  I was pleasantly surprised when Ganshert touched on topics such as forgiving yourself, inward beauty, body image, and the impact media has on young women.  Although to be honest, I felt like she just skimmed the surface and I would have loved to see her go much deeper with this!
While reading, Marilyn's character brought to mind this verse in Psalm 113 "He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children." I thought Marilyn was a great representation of this verse and how you don't have to be related by blood to be a mother.  The way she loved Ivy as her own daughter, and not as the result of her husband's affair, really portrayed what it means to love as Christ.  I also liked how 'A Broken Kind of Beautiful' wasn't your average love story, in that it also displayed the love between a brother/sister, mother/daughter, as well as that of a man/woman.  Although I did think it was a little weird that Ivy and Davis were cousins, even if only through marriage and not blood.  The author does a good job of bringing it up and joking about it, but it still seemed a little strange to me.
The story moved along well, with a couple of unforeseen twists near the end that I wasn't expecting.  Overall it was an entertaining read, a little bit deeper than your typical "beach read", but it didn't blow my mind.
For more information about the author, Katie Ganshert, and her other books click here.  For a sneak peak of chapter 1 click here!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. All opinions are my own.
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