Book Review

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I love a good book, especially on days like today! Give me a warm drink, our favorite blanket, and a great novel. I have always loved to read. My husband had asked my brother, Tim,  what he remembers about growing up with me and Tim’s reply was, “she read a lot!” I absolutely love a good novel. I love getting lost in the story line and relating to the protagonists. Because Sam wakes in the middle of the night to feed, I sometimes can’t go back to sleep, so I end up reading and I usually fall back asleep unless the book takes a wild turn! Thankfully, a couple years ago my husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas so I could read at night without bothering him! The last books I read were:

The Kept Woman By Karin Slaughter

At the start of this book, I didn’t think I was going to like it. At. All. However, I persevered and it ended up being so good! There are so many twists and turns that it totally keeps you guessing! In this book there are a couple protagonists and you go back and forth between their perspectives. One protagonist is a detective, Will, with Georgia Bureau of Investigation who just lost a case trying to put away a wealthy, pro athlete for rape charges. This same athlete shows up again during a murder case he is trying to solve. The second perspective is Will’s girlfriend, Sara, who is also the GBI’s new medical examiner and the two have to work together to solve the murder. However, things from Will’s past creep up and it makes solving this murder difficult as well as haunts his relationship with Sara. The story line in this book is very broad which I really liked. It covers a whole lot but I liked it because it was different from most books with a very small story line. I love mystery and this book definitely comes through!

Behind Closed Doors By B. A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors sucks you in quick. It goes back and forth between past and present of the most perfect couple. How they met and how they came to be married. However, you quickly figure out something isn’t right. It gets very curious and you will want to know how it ends! It was a really suspenseful book to read because you couldn’t predict what was going to happen next. It leaves you guessing until the end. I really enjoyed it!

The Marriage Lie By Kimberly Belle

The Marriage Lie was one of my favorite books I have ever read. It takes you on a crazy adventure of a woman who thought her husband was going on a business trip to Florida but gets a call from the airlines that he was actually on a flight to Seattle that crashed! She is sure it is a mistake but starts digging and things just don’t make sense. This book literally kept me in suspense until the very last sentence. I highly recommend this book!

The French Girl By Lexie Elliott

I read this book because it sounded fascinating. The protagonist is one of six college students that (a decade ago) were vacationing in France when their neighbor next door was murdered. The mystery was never solved and the body was never found. Fast forward to current day and the French police recovered the body and have more questions for the six students. The protagonist finds herself in the middle of the investigation with her old college friends after all that time and knows somethings up with a couple of them, one actually being her ex. This isn’t my favorite book but I did end up wanting to see how it ended and it had some surprises.

The River At Night By Erica Ferencik

This is the last book that I read and I had been wanting to read it for awhile. It is about 4 middle age best friends, all very different, that need an adventure. The bold one of the group gets all of them to agree to go on a rafting trip in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in Maine. Well, as you can expect, things don’t really go as planned. That’s all I will say without giving anything away. This book is a little bit predictable, but there are some things that are a surprise. It is not my favorite book but I did enjoy reading it.

What are you currently reading? I need my next book!

Current Favorite Things

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When I find nontoxic and holistic products I love (after trying products over and over that don’t work) I want to share what I find! Here is what I have been using and loving lately.

Magnesium Lotion

Since I have a 6 month old (so crazy!), the sleep that I do get needs to be amazing. Therefore, I must do all means necessary to get that quality sleep! Enter, magnesium lotion! Magnesium is hard to get enough of, especially since our soil is so depleted. It is also best absorbed through your skin. This magnesium lotion is awesome. I used to try and take baths with Epsom salt or use magnesium oil to get my magnesium intake up. However, baths are hard to take when you are a mom and the oil spray can easily sting and it is really hard to wash off. This lotion however, is so easy. I put one pump on each foot before bed and rub in. Within minutes I feel more relaxed and I totally notice a difference when I forget to use it! For more on how important magnesium is read this article.

goop G.Tox Himalayan Salt Scalp Scrub Shampoo

Okay. This is THE BEST shampoo I have ever used. Nontoxic or not. When I hit 4 months postpartum, not only was I losing hair but my scalp was extremely dry! It is something I have struggled with before but never this bad. This shampoo however, not only deep cleans your hair but it leaves my scalp fresh and not flaky. It strips away oils, dirt and any product residue. This stuff is seriously a Godsend. I use this once a week and I usually only wash my hair twice a week.

Dry Brushing

Dry Skin Brushing has been kind of a fad the past couple of years but I haven’t really tried it until now. After having a baby, my hormones are all crazy and my skin has been taking the brute of it. I ended up getting keratosis pilaris (tiny bumps) on my arms and a little on my legs. I tried dry skin brushing twice a day, with this brush and within two days I saw relief! Dry Skin Brushing is also extremely good at detoxing your lymphatic system, helping it rid your body of toxins. Learn more about it here. I also use the face dry brush for my face twice a week to fluff off any dead or damaged skin. I use in a circular motion before I was my face and it does wonders! My face is always so soft after using it.

Acupuncture Mat

This is so random how I found this mat, but I am so glad I found it! My back was killing me and bored one day on Amazon, I searched “back pain” and this acupuncture mat popped up. This was at least a couple years ago when I did the search and the mat was only $15 back then. I thought, “it cant hurt to try for only $15.” Low and behold, both Cory and I use this thing daily. We now have three mats total in my house and I have bought it many for friends and family members. My husband and I use them EVERY night when we are ready to go to sleep. I have also brought them on road trips and it really helps your back when you are driving long distance (this was my husband’s saving grace when we drove to Montana a couple years ago).

If you are looking at this thing and thinking, “no way” I feel you. At first, it really hurt. I won’t lie. It is best to use on bare skin but it gets better, I promise! You just need to get yourself into a position you can handle, and commit to laying on it for 5 min. Then the next time 6 or 7 minutes and so on. Before you know it you will fall asleep on it you are so relaxed. This mat is so helpful since I store all my stress in my neck and shoulders, not to mention breastfeeding! I can position it to help all my problem spots and I love the pillow it comes with, since it fits right under my neck.

Follain.com

This website is what I have been looking for! They dubbed themselves the “Sephora of Clean Beauty.” They have so many products that I have never even heard of. I am so excited to explore all of them! For my first purchase I bought the Clean Essentials Kit which is a little sample kit of their best selling skincare products. I actually love everything that came in it and I want to get the toner in a regular size. Everything smells incredible too! I have heard great things about some of their shampoos and conditioners too. I will do another post reviewing some products I have been trying.

What are some of your favorite products you are using right now? Comment below!

All pictures by Jessica Walla.

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

4-5 large zucchinis

1 lbs of ground beef

1 jar of spaghetti sauce

15-16 oz of ricotta cheese

15-16 oz of mozzarella cheese

Ghee (can also use butter)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Prep:

Slice zucchini lengthwise, no more than a cm thick.

Put plenty of ghee in frying pan and turn to medium heat.

Cook slices of zucchini just enough so it browns a little. Turn over and cook the other side.

Cook ground beef thoroughly then add your spaghetti sauce and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Assemble:

In a 9 x 13 pan, cover bottom with half of the meat sauce

Then add one layover of cooked zucchini

(Optional) Mix ricotta cheese with Parmesan cheese

Spread all ricotta cheese mixture on top of zucchini layer

Add another layer of cooked zucchini

On top of zucchini add the rest of meat sauce

Top with mozzarella cheese

Bake:

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until cheese has browned and is hot in the middle

Enjoy!

Surprise!

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We are pregnant!!! And could not be more excited. We found out really soon thankfully because we weren’t exactly trying and I was sure we weren’t going to get pregnant. I ended up taking a test at the end of my fourth week and forgot I had even taken it. Ten minutes went by and I thought I better go check it and sure enough, there were two lines. I thought, “No way. I must have done the test wrong.” I went and told Cory and he knew we were going to have a baby. I still wasn’t convinced. I was sure that I had done something wrong. Anyways, I called my mom and told her the story and that I was pretty sure I messed up taking the test. She asked me why I thought it was wrong and I didn’t know what to say. I took another test and it was positive again. It had started to sink in now.

Even though I am nearing the end of my first trimester, it still hasn’t fully hit us. We are both still in shock. I have been pretty nauseous almost everyday and my body is definitely going through lots of changes. All I crave is bread and cheese (in almost any form) and potato chips or popcorn. #carboload Anyways, I am doing my best to eat healthy and get lots of nutritious fruit down and try and force some veggies down. I have been pretty tired and am looking forward to my second trimester and hoping for less nausea and more energy!

Special thanks to Joey and Jessica Walla for taking and editing our announcement pics!

Birthdays.

Last Friday I turned 31 on the 31st. My golden birthday. For my 30th birthday I had to work all day and I had the flu. I didn’t feel like having a party or doing anything really. Before I got sick, my mom did take me to lunch with one of my best friends and her mom. We made it into a day with shopping and custom facials. It was perfect and very relaxing with lots of laughter. However, I didn’t have a party and I thought to myself that next year, I would do something really special for myself on my golden birthday.

We planned right after Christmas to travel to Kona, HI over my birthday. I was so excited! Unfortunately, life happened and because of work issues, we had to cancel our week and a half trip. Even though we had to cancel, I was hoping that maybe my husband and I would still be able to sneak away for a couple days over my birthday weekend.

Let’s take it back to the beginning of my birthday week…

I walk into work Monday morning and the very first thing I see is my mother-in-law’s 12 year old dog having a terrible seizure! It was traumatizing! Thankfully she was alright and I was able to go home early. It was a beautiful day (finally no rain) and I was about to take my dog for a walk when I received a call from my dermatologist. I found out I had Melanoma.

What?

I went for a walk and while I was walking, I listed to a sermon. Cancer hadn’t yet really sunk in. I felt it wasn’t that big of a deal. Then, when I got home, it started to hit me. I noticed right away that I started feeling different stages of grief. I was angry that this was happening (especially right before my birthday). I was sad I let it happened. I felt depressed I was going to loose a chunk of meat off my leg. All these emotions started to overwhelm me, and I broke. The thought of having the flu on my 30th birthday, and now finding out I had skin cancer so close to my 31st birthday made me SO sad. I started bawling and couldn’t stop. Other things have been happening to test my self worth and some family issue arrised during this time, so to say the least, that Monday was a bit too much.

I finished the night, crying it all out, but I was determined that everything going on was not going to take away from my special day. I was reminded of Jeremiah 29:11-13, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart.'” God also showed me Psalms 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

I know God has a plan and it is not for me to sit and worry and get depressed. No matter what life goes on, and I must take the time to enjoy it and live it.

Last week had its ups and downs. It has hit me though, I have skin cancer. I am so blessed and thankful they caught it early. I know that without a doubt it was the Lord who ordained catching it before it was too late. I went to my regular doctor for a referral for massage and she had asked me if I ever went to the dermatologist she referred me to. I said, “I don’t remember you referring me?” I told her that I did need a check up so she referred me and I went in a couple weeks later. They found a mole and did a biopsy and low and behold it was cancer. If my doctor hadn’t of brought it up I probably would have never gone in or I would have gone to the dermatologist too late. Therefore, I know God was orchestrating catching it at the early stages.

Thinking about this is terrifying and it can easily overwhelm you. Your mind is a powerful thing and when you let your thoughts run, it can start to consume you. I can see how people can easily become depressed, loose hope and are filled with worry. “What if they don’t get it all?” “What if they are wrong?” It can go on and on and on! I am determined not to let my mind and heart be filled with fear. God has brought me this far and He will continue to be there to the end. I have so much to be thankful for and I will not let the enemy take over my life with fear.

Even though my 31st birthday is not how I had thought it would go, it was still special as it was filled with family and friends. Life doesn’t always go as you plan but God always has a better plan and with that I am holding true to His promise 😉

5 Things To Do In Key West, FL

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My best friend, Lindsay, moved to Key West, FL about 9 years ago for an internship program. Not long after she was there she met a man, fell in love and married him a few years later. She now calls Key West her home. Because she has lived there for so long she knows all the must see/to do things in Key West and is my tour guide every time I travel to see her! Even though Key West is a 2 by 4 mile island, there is definitely plenty to do and see. Here are my top 5 things to see and/or do while in Key West.

1.Duvall Street

Duvall street is a mile long strut full of bars, shops and of course restaurants. It isn’t just on Duvall Street where all the excitement is, but there are so many hole in the wall spots just off Duvall Street that are sometimes even more fun.

On my most recent trip a couple weeks ago, Lindsay took me to 2 Cents, a restaurant and bar right off of Duvall. During happy hour, when you order your drinks and/or food they give you a dice to roll. If you roll a 1, 2 or 3 then you pay the amount you rolled! If you roll a 4, 5 or 6 then you have to pay full price. I ordered a drink and rolled a 1! I was so excited! BTW they also have amazing Moscow Mules and keep bacon on your table!

 

2.Southernmost Point 

This is the buoy that signifies the southernmost point of the continental United States. It is cool to see and take your picture by! There is ALWAYS a line to get your picture taken and it gets so hot standing in the sun so that is why mine is at night. No one else was there!

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3.Better Than Sex

Ok, sorry for the PG-13 name but I had to put this on my list! Better Than Sex is a dessert only restaurant that is only open from 6pm to midnight and it is ab-so-lute-ly AMAZING!!! It has a very alluring atmosphere, where there is very, little lighting and the walls are painted red. It is a pretty small restaurant and always busy so make sure you make a reservation. I have only been here twice but when I go home, I crave this place. I love “The Fever” it is a hot, chocolate brownie with warm chocolate pudding and two scoops of vanilla ice cream on top. It literally melts in your mouth and it is to die for.

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4.Mallory Square

Every night, Mallory Square hosts the Sunset Celebration where there are food booths, street performers, exhibitors, etc. It is definitely something to experience. The sunsets are absolutely gorgeous and there is a different sunset every night! One of the street performers I watched had a cat show. Yes cats. It was eccentric, that is for sure! There is always something to see down there.

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5.Earnest Hemingway’s House

This was a tour I did when I was there in April of 2015 with my mom. They have guided tours that last about 30 minutes (my mom and I just kind of went through or own and it took us about 30 to 40 minutes). It was interesting to see his estate because there are some unique characteristics about it. For example, it is home to about 40-50 six toes cats, and it has pool that has a 80,784 gallon capacity. This is astonishing especially since Key West has en elevation of only 18 feet. It is definitively worth the tour as you can also see his writing area. You can learn more about him and this estate here.

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 Hope you enjoyed and can find this info useful!

-Ericha

Happy 2017!

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I started reading “31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer”this past year and it has been an amazing way to start my day and really get my dreams in line with God’s. The writers of this book also write a blog that I stumbled upon this week.

Instead of making goals for the year she created these “Reflection” and “Refocus” sheets to complete. I have been slowly working on them the past two days and I have to say, they are more helpful and insightful than I could have ever imagined.

The “Reflection” worksheet really mapped out my year in a way that I didn’t see before. While the “Refocus” worksheet gave me a place where I could write down what I truly want for the next year.

I encourage you to take the time to fill these out and really, well, reflect and refocus. You can find these worksheets here.

Happy 2017 to all of you!