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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My Most Recent Reads

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Y'all-since we found out we're having a baby, I have not felt like all.
That is so unlike me!
I normally always have one book going and try to finish them in a reasonable time period.
Maybe it's just because I've been so sick and so tired lately, but I just haven't felt inspired to read.

I did wrap up four books at the end of 2017 that never made it to the blog because of my extended blogging break, but I really enjoyed these books and wanted to share my thoughts on them with y'all just in case you're looking for something new to add to your Amazon Wishlist or your bookshelf!

It's no secret around these parts that I love historical fiction; it's my all-time favorite genre and all four of the books in this post fall under that category.
I am particularly fascinated by the Tudor monarchy and all the drama that went along with it.
This story follows the life of Elizabeth "Bess" Brooke as she joins life at court and falls in love with a  fellow courtier that just so happens to be married.
This story follows the in's and out's of their life at court and their eventual relationship.
It is very suspenseful in the best way and I really enjoyed it!

Another historical fiction pick, this novel takes place in an entirely different world than the first one I mentioned-it's based in a Western frontier town where many of the residents are single men. The basis of the book is that the men of the town have written back East for mail-order brides and faced with sending such a large number of women, the woman in charge of sending the brides comes West herself (with her assistant) and sees to it that the men are educated in manners and more before their brides come. This is an easy read, but it does have almost everything you would want in a light read; romance, suspense, likable characters-all the things you need to keep you interested!

Another of my favorite historical fiction topics is that of the Civil War so this book was high up on my list of interesting ones to check out.
It follows four characters; two women and two men (former Confederate soldiers) as they navigate life post- Civil War.
They each are dealing with problems from the past, but the link between all of them is a third former Confederate soldier who caused harm to both of the women during the war and so there is a theme of avenging the women that leads to a very exciting and suspenseful ending.
It was a bit of a slow read at first and took me a while to get into, but I really enjoyed the wrap up.

There aren't many books I'm willing to pay for full-price (for example, at Target or Barnes and Noble, etc.). I usually prefer Amazon prices or used books. However, a few years ago I picked up the book One Thousand White Women, which is based on a fictional "Brides for Indians" program started by the U.S. Government as a last-ditch effort to "Americanize" Native Americans and to subdue and assimilate them into American culture.
It was a beautifully written book that made a huge impact on my thoughts about Indian Removal, etc. (as a history major, I was very impressed by this book although it is fiction).
So, fastforward to 2017 and I see a book with a similar cover photo at Target I pick it up and see that it's the second book in the series (there is supposedly a third and final book in the works).
You don't have to read One Thousand White Women first, but it would be helpful if you did before reading this one. 
This book is a beautifully written tale in the form of journals of the last installment of the "Brides for Indians" program just before it was ended. The brides were mostly the un-wanted American women (from prison, sex-workers, "crazy" women, etc.) so they carved the freedom of this program and in turn, some fell in love with the Cheyenne way of life.
When this lifestyle and culture are turned upside down by white soldiers, this book shows just how far these women would go to protect their new lives.
It's beautifully written and if you have any interest in Western/Native American history, I highly recommend.

Well, those were the last four books I managed to read before my dry spell-but y'all will be proud to know that I started a new book this past weekend and have been slowly getting into it & can't wait to share it with you!
Let me know below what books you've been reading (or listening to via audiobooks!) lately!

Until next time. . .

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Ten on Tuesday [No.41]

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Hey y'all!
Life has been crazy around these parts lately-I did post a short update sharing some exciting news a few days ago though.
So for today's Ten on Tuesday, I'm going to share a lot of the things that have been happening in the past few months/weeks along with a few other things I've been enjoying too!

At the end of January, my oldest sister, Trystan, and I went to see a live podcast of My Favorite Murder in Atlanta and y'all-it was so much fun!
If you've never listened to the podcast before, it's basically a true crime/comedy show done by two hilariously lovely ladies and it's really enjoyable.
 That night before the show, we had dinner at Minero in the Ponce City Market-it was really good, but the burrito we ended up getting was huge!
 Karen & Georgia are perfection-go download some episodes of My Favorite Murder, you won't be disappointed!
 For breakfast the following morning, we headed to the Atlanta Breakfast Club...let's just say, the food was phenomenal (everyone else must think so too, because people were willing to stand in line outside in the rain to wait for a table!)
Trystan had the chicken & waffles while I had the peach cobbler french toast-they were both winners!
 And of course, no trip to Atlanta would be complete without stepping into the new Draper James store!
Everything was immaculate from the artwork and wallpaper, to the cute sayings on all of the products.
 And of course, I couldn't not mention the beautiful watercolor hand lettering Trystan did for the weekend. . .
Stay out of the forest is an on-going joke/quote from the podcast & so it was so fitting.
She also shares her work on her instagram at @SouthernScrawledShop as well as an Etsy account where she sells her own work, but also will custom-create any work that you come up with (including calligraphy envelopes, house portraits, and more!)
Does anyone else have a ton of travel sized products in their cabinets?
From being a member of boxes like Ipsy in the past & now Sephora Play, plus point perks and gifts with travel product basket runneth over.
So I've been making a conscious effort to use up these smaller jars and bottles in my everyday life-one of my favorites has been the GinZing Energy-Boosting Gel Moisturizer by Origins.
I use this in the AM as my day-cream and I love how quickly it absorbs as well as the uplifting citrus scent, it's just really pleasing. A little bit goes a long way as well, so the $30 price tag on the full-size doesn't actually sound too bad.
The weather has turned off so pretty over the past few days here in Alabama; I'm talking 60-70 degree days and it has felt incredibly nice and given me serious Spring fever!
As a treat, I've been trying to take Forrest to my parent's pond so he can play fetch with his duck decoy & get some swimming in.
It also doesn't hurt that I get in some reading/relaxing time as well.
A big thing that has been on-going lately in our lives is the renovation of our basement in our home; when Christopher bought this house in 2011 as a foreclosure, it needed a ton of work.
He reno-ed the entire upper level & it looks beautiful, but the downstairs took a backseat because no one really used it up until now.
Thankfully, we have an amazing friend who has done a ton of work down there & it still working away (literally, he's working right now as I type).
Since the basement living area is home to a huge brick fireplace with a stunning mantel, I've been combing through this Southern Living piece for ideas on how to style it once the room is complete!
If you had read my recent update or been keeping up with me on any of my social media then you would know we announced some exciting news...we're going to have a baby in September!
We are really excited to take this next step in our lives and I can't wait to share this journey with y'all here on the blog.
Since we're *hopefully* finding out the gender of our little one at the end of this month, I've begun planning our gender reveal party for the last day of the month!
I'm taking inspiration from Victoria Strader's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" gender reveal and trying to put it all together, while still remaining pretty casual.
And while we're talking about little ones, how cute are all these double names...they're so Southern & I love it!
Was anyone else as obsessed with Twilight when it first came out as I was?!
This article shows a reunion between Kristen Stewart and the child actress who played Renessme in the final movie and she's all grown up and beautiful! Also, did you know only ten years separates the two actresses in real life?!
Since this past weekend, Christopher & I were immersed in some of the best agricultural ventures and some of the greatest young farmers that Alabama has to offer, why would I not include this video/article on Red Land Cotton, an Alabama father/daughter farming duo. They have a great story and an awesome product, definitely worth a watch.
 As I said before, this past weekend Christopher & I headed down to Montgomery for the Alabama Young Farmer's Conference and it was an awesome weekend getaway for us.
We met new friends, caught up with some old friends, toured some agricultural ventures, and had a lot of fun.
The farm tours on Saturday took us to Parkman Cattle Co., the Renfroe's Treasure Forrest (pictured above-beautiful!), and Steve Stroud's poultry/hay farming operation (pictured below).
While all of that was fun...the best part of the entire weekend was Saturday evening when it was announced that we were one of three finalists in the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition.
This has been something Chris and I have been working toward for a long, long time and a big dream of ours.
We are so grateful to represent our county and blessed to get to do what we love to do every single day.
The three finalists will get to have judges out for an on-farm interview later this summer & I can't wait to share all of that with y'all later on!
Well...I've caught y'all up with my life lately-it's been crazy, but big things are happening & I couldn't be more excited to be standing where I'm standing right now.
If you had asked me five years ago if I would be doing the things I'm doing now, I probably would've laughed at you-but things always fall into place, just how they're supposed to.

Until next time. . .
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