Feb 2015 Photo blogging challenge: Winter

The theme for February from http://hoohaablog.com/ was winter.

I thought our winter was mild so I did not expect to have pictures of ICE! The weather in February was as bi-polar as it could be. One day it was 10 degrees. Three days later it was 60 degrees. Talk about confusing.

Every February for the last few years, I have participated in a 5k race called Run Your Ice Off. After months of inactivity, I shook off the icicles and ran. This year, I finished just under 48 minutes. Considering I did not train, I think that is pretty good.

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RYIO

There was an ice storm the second week of February. Trees and power lines were covered in ice. Our power was out for about 36 hours. It was like camping. Haha. Hubby heated up water for our baths and used the gas grill to cook our dinner. He is so good. Thankfully, we did not have to endure too much time without power. Thanks Duke Energy!

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Ice storm

Hubby came out of photography retirement to take pictures at a wedding. Only a friend would be able to coax him into dusting off the lens. While he was working, I captured a few shots with my iphone. This is a shot of the bridal bouquet.

Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet

The day of the wedding, I had to show what the temperature was. Keep in mind earlier in the week it was 10 degrees!!!!

Snapchat selfie

Snapchat selfie

The last day of the month was the day of the midwinter ball. This is an elegant black tie affair and fundraiser for a local non-profit. The who’s-who of Greenwood attend in their glamorous attire. I was able to attend because my job had tickets. The hubby did not go because he does not like to dress up. So my plus one was my friend Dawn. In keeping with the theme, there was Indian cuisine and a special Bollywood style dance. It was a fun night with dancing into the wee hours.

Midwinter ball

Midwinter ball

 

What I learned about myself from dieting – Beauty of a Woman BlogFest IV #BOAW2015

Glad to be a part of the 2015 Beauty of a Woman Blogfest.

Most days I love my body and the curves that I have. However, there is a part of me that still wants 6-pack abs or at least a flat stomach. In the past, I lacked the self-discipline to be consistent about doing crunches and sit-ups every day. Plus, my diet is white potato, bread, and white rice heavy. Preferably fried. Did you just groan? I know I am not doing myself or my body any favors with less-than-healthy choices.

Last year, I began to follow GuruOfAbs on Instagram for tips to getting a flatter stomach. This February, I did his Stomach Sculpting No Bread 7-day challenge. Sign up was easy using www.trainersvault.com .

This was a strict regimen of daily exercises and diet. Each day, videos of the day’s exercises were available through the website. Certain exercises were to be done first thing in the morning. Another set of exercises were done at night. The diet consisted of the following: No bread. No pasta. No white sugar.

The Stomach Sculpting No Bread 7-day challenge was hard for me to attempt since

  1. I do not usually exercise in the morning
  2. I love all things bread
  3. I have never done a diet
  4. I do not like to deny my cravings

Nevertheless, I jumped in wholeheartedly and full of determination – 2015 is about challenging myself

Day 1 was easy because I was hyped up and optimistic about facing this challenge. I had steel-cut oatmeal with walnuts for breakfast, salad for lunch and salad for dinner.

Day 4 was a low point. I wanted bread, pasta, rice, cookies, and ice cream. All together. I did not want another salad. Oatmeal with no maple syrup sucks. Plain Greek yogurt sucks.

And then a wonderful thing happened.

A lady I know asked me if I was trying to lose weight because she could tell it in my face.

Yes, I am trying and thank you for noticing!

That was the boost I needed to keep me going. I ate grilled chicken with a side of broccoli for dinner.

By the end of the week, I lost a couple of pounds and I have some new ideas of ways to replace some of my comfort foods with healthier veggie options (e.g. Zucchini pasta AKA zoodles).

My stomach is not flat yet (it was only one week after all) but I think I have a better chance of working towards that with new routine of exercises and changes I have made to my diet. For example, I am doing crunches and other ab exercises learned from challenge daily.

This does not mean I will not indulge in the occasional milkshake or fried chicken.

While 7 days does not seem like a long time to some people, I feel it was a huge accomplishment for me to be able to stick to the diet for that length of time. The Stomach Sculpting No Bread 7-day challenge forced me to critically examine my current dietary choices. What I found, I did not like. Do not get me wrong, I still love all my curves. Nonetheless, it is better for me to make dietary adjustments myself before I am required to change because of adult diabetes or other illness.

Will I get my six-pack abs? I might. I might not. But at least I am striving to be healthy and happy. That is all that really matters <3

 

Click http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/boaw15/ to check out the other bloggers participating in this year’s blogfest. You might potentially win awesome prizes! There is a digital raffle on the fest page.

Hard to love a model #modelbehavior

Model Behavior ♥♥♥

Synopsis

Ben and Olivia (Livvie) have been friends for a long time. He is a wealthy businessman. She is a model. Ben decides to drop the gauntlet and start the 24 hours he has to complete 7 tasks in order to sleep with Olivia.

While Livvie is content to friendzone Ben, he is determined to do what it takes to prove that he is in for the long haul. He wants a long-term romantic relationship.

Opinion

The book…two words: EMOTIONALLY CHARGED

From the synopsis, I was expecting Livvie to be an ice queen. In the beginning, I thought that I did not like her. She makes out a crazy list of things that Ben has to do before she will sleep with him. Who does that? And when he is having success with the aforementioned list, she tries to sabotage him?

Why Livvie? Why?

Ben tries to make his case:

I’m reasonably attractive.
I like to think I can make you laugh even when you’d rather throw me out a window.
” – Ben

Throughout the book, I thought he explained everything adequately and was sincere. I could not understand why Livvie would continue to be a jerk. Here was a guy that was trying to show her how much he cared.

He’d spent the past five years of his life looking for ways into her life.”- Ben

I hate men like you.” – Livvie

Not the response I was hoping to hear from Livvie. I kept reading because I really hoped there would be a HEA ending. However, once Livvie elaborates, I felt sorry for her and wondered how this all would end. She protected herself emotionally the best she could. Her modeling career left her so jaded that she was blinded as to what could be happiness.

Livvie thought she knew him, but she had a lot to learn about his complexities instead of pigeonholing him in the simple “rich guy” category.

Ben struck me as a true romantic. While he does not know the full extent of Livvie’s emotional damage, he truly believes his love for her can overcome any barrier. As sincere as he was, to really love Livvie, he has to understand the reasons behind her reluctance. As he developed in that way, my heart fell for him a little bit more.

My only critical comment was that the ending seemed sudden. After all the buildup, I wish there had been an epilogue. I wanted needed more page time for the happy couple.

Should you buy? Yes. This not your standard fluff Harlequin romance. For me, I enjoyed the way that my initial view of Livvie changed throughout the book as I got a fuller picture of who he was. It has some steamy parts but not a lot. Ben is trying to bridge the gap from friendship to lovers while Livvie avoids him at every turn. The author does a fantastic job of giving the render insight into the characters. I think that there is enough depth of character development but not in a melodramatic way. I think you will be entertained.

As a side point, there is some crude language, not excessive, but it is there.

I received ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Red Hot and Blue series

Red Hot and Blue series ♥♥♥

Sometimes there is a series that is interesting enough that I read all the books.
Red Hot and Blue series by Cat Johnson is one of those.

Synopsis x 6

Book 1 Trey: Red, Hot & Blue (Red, Hot, & Blue) – Trey – Navy Seal – and Carly

Trey and Jack (Trey’s best friend) have a crush on local bar owner named Carly. Circumstances create a situation where Trey and Carly have to work undercover on an assignment and they end up falling for each other.

Book 2 Jack: Red, Hot, & Blue, Book 2 – Jack – Navy Seal on rebound since his crush fell for his best friend in book 1 – and Nicolina (aka Nicki)

Jack is back home in small town Pigeon Hollow nursing his emotional wounds and ends up falling for Nicki who is hiding from her mob ex-boyfriend.

Book 3 Jimmy: Red, Hot, & Blue- Jimmy – Jack’s brother and also Navy Seal – and Amelia (aka Lia)

While on an assignment, Jimmy ends up having a one night stand with Lia, the state governor’s daughter. Neither person knew who the other was. The night of passion was so memorable that when the met again, sparks were popping all over the place.

Book 3.5 BB Dalton: a Red Hot & Blue bonus read (Red, Hot, & Blue) – Billy Bob (BB) Dalton – Navy Seal – and Katherine (Katie) (novella that was for a time free on Amazon)

Chosen for a Special Ops recruiting poster, BB is reluctantly pulled into the marketing campaign. Katie was his handler. There is a lot of chemistry but Katie’s hang up is that BB is 10 plus years younger than her.

Book 4 Jared (Red, Hot, & Blue) – Jared – Jimmy and Jack’s brother – and Mandy

Since his two brothers are in the Special Forces, he is helping their mother hold down the ranch and maintain the family business. Mandy is a Reality TV producer who came to Pigeon Hollow to film life on Gordon Ranch. She did not expect to find love as well.

Book 5 Cole (Red, Hot, & Blue) – Cole – an ex-professional baseball player – and Lizzie

After an injury forces Cole into retirement from baseball, he returns home to Pigeon Hollow to find that he still loves his high school sweetheart. Lizzie loves him too but is sabotaging their relationship by keeping secrets.

Book 6 Bobby: Red, Hot & Blue (Red, Hot, & Blue) – Bobby – Lizzie’s brother, sheriff, and Jared’s friend – Christy – Mandy’s friend

Bobby falls for Christy who is the assistant producer of the reality show filming in Pigeon Hollow.

Whew! That’s a lot of synopsis going on there.

Opinion

Judging from the time it took me to read, each book (with the exception of the novella) is about 150 – 200 pages. Besides Cole & Lizzie’s story, all the others feature variations of the love-at-first-sight trope as the basis for romance.

 

I do not think that is realistic, but it can be entertaining. Other than what I said above in each synopsis, there is not a lot to say about these stories without giving away the whole books. Since the books are short novels, there is not a lot in the character development department.

I rated these books as a set because even though each story is full on its own, it helps to read in order. I actually read Cole & Lizzie’s story first. It was good but once I read the preceding books, it made some of the little details mean so much more. Knowing the secondary characters provided an extra dimension to whole story. Each story helps to create the bigger picture of the town Pigeon Hollow and the camaraderie of the special ops team members.

Most inventive storyline – Trey (it was so complex)

Favorite – Cole (he was a sweetheart)

Least favorite – Bobby (the story seemed rushed at the end)

Should you buy? Cat Johnson has proven to be a consistent author. Buy one or buy them all and you will not be disappointed if you are looking for an average, light romance. I would not say that the books in this series are on the level of Jane Eyre or The Notebook, but simply said, it is a group of individuals who are part of fun romance stories. Plus most are NAVY SEALS!

Caveat: Love scenes are all graphic

Blogging 201: Stat analysis- I want to give my readers what they want

Yesterday’s assignment was about analyzing my stats to make sure I am providing content that you as my reader want to see.

What I found was surprising to me.

Consistently, my post about Villa Alena D’Asti Moscato is the most popular month after month. I am not sure why it is so popular. I think everyone is looking for an inexpensive moscato and are curious to read what someone says about the one available at Trader Joe’s. Or maybe they saw it at Trader Joe’s and my review is the top of the search engine results. In any case, I gladly appreciate any traffic to my site.

 

I have a spike in traffic every time I make a post but I think it is mostly from my followers reading the newest post. Some users consistently like and comment on my posts. For that, I am also grateful. As I said before, my goal is to create content incites conversation.

Or at least, I hope it is a call to action to try something you never tried before.

Read a book that you previously did not know existed.

Try new restaurants, food, or wine.

And while you are doing that, I will be trying new moscato wines to review since it seems that is most important to people in the blogosphere :)

Any food or restaurant you would like for me to try and review? Suggested books for me to review?

I am open to your comments.