Sunday, September 30, 2012

Blog Tour - Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Mother of Pearl is the debut novel by author Kellie Coates Gilbert. To see what the story's about, check out the following video...

I started reading this book and was completely drawn to the characters right away. It was a highly emotional and often difficult story to read, but I just could not put the book down. As a mom of a teenage daughter myself, I wondered what I would do in Barrie's situation. Could I be as strong as Barrie? I like to think so. I love that this mom fought so hard for her daughter even while some others were not willing to do so. At the expense of possibly losing everything, Barrie was fierce in her determination to stand up for her daughter, Pearl. I don't know when a book has touched me so much or made me cry so hard. A beautifully written, powerful story, for sure!

For more information, visit the Kellie Coates Gilbert website. You can also connect with the author on Twitter or Goodreads.  Mother of Pearl is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and

I received a free copy of this book from Glass Road MM. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own and may differ from others. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beautiful Fabric Flowers by Banana Sue Boutique (Review and Giveaway)

You know how much I love shopping on Etsy. I was recently browsing around there looking for a fabric flower brooch to accessorize my fall wardrobe. I found this lovely item pictured below at the Etsy shop, Banana Sue Boutique.
The colors are beautiful and just scream autumn! It's very versatile and just what I was looking for. The brooch is well-made and arrived very quickly. I love it and can't wait to show it off! Look at some of the ways I'll be incorporating it into my wardrobe...

pinned on a jacket

pinned onto a hat

pinned onto a tote or purse

Amanda, the owner of Banana Sue Boutique, creates gorgeous, handmade, fabric flowers in a variety of colors and patterns. They are available as brooches, clips, bobby pins, or simply left plain so that you can use them as you choose. Do you have a cherished piece of clothing or other item from a loved one or yourself? She can turn that special heirloom item into a custom fabric flower just for you. Her shop also offers headbands and jewelry, as well.

I'm excited to announce that Amanda has generously offered to give away one of her Autumn Flower Sets (pictured below) to an Alas 3 Lads reader. It's a collection of three fabric flowers - in Black, Orange, and Taupe. The winner will be able to choose whether they want the flowers made into brooches, clips, or bobby pins. The colors are perfect for all the upcoming fall holidays. Aren't they so pretty!

To enter the giveaway, please visit Banana Sue Boutique and tell me another of her items that you like. 

For optional entries, you may do any or all of the following (leave a separate comment for each that you do):

*) Subscribe to Alas 3 Lads via Email (see sidebar)
*) Follow @alas3lads on twitter (leave twitter ID)
*) Tweet about this giveaway 1x daily (leave link to tweet)

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends 10-7-12 at 10:00 pm EST. At that time, one random winner will be chosen from all eligible entries. Please make sure I have a valid way to contact you. If winner does not respond to my email within 48 hours, another will be chosen. 

I purchased a Banana Sue Boutique fabric flower brooch on my own and was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and may differ from others. Banana Sue Boutique is providing the giveaway item as well as fulfilling the shipment of the prize. 

Weekly Links I Liked 9-29-12

Here's a few great links that I came across this week and wanted to share with you...

As a mom to a teenage girl as well as boys, I love this list of 11 Things Girls Should Know Before Their First Date. The entire website is really great for anyone interested in teen/tween topics and issues.

This is so moving and inspiring! Check out the beautiful couple in A Love Story In 22 Pictures.

You might not know this about me, but there's a little part of me that sometimes stresses over doomsday paranoia. Not that I ever really do anything to prepare for it, but in the back of my mind I'm often thinking that I should be stockpiling toilet paper and beef jerky or making bug-out kits for my family or building a bunker in my basement or some such craziness. But, seriously, this article about emergency water supplies is very informative.

My favorite fashion pin of the week - How hot is the combo of shades of brown and black? And, I'm totally loving the tall boots.

Blogger Wendi Aarons with another hilarious post, this one with some political humor.

Barbie and Ken get married - check out their wedding photos. (Someone has waayy too much time on their hands to have put all this together but it's so stinkin' cute, you gotta see it)

What about you? Did you come across a really good link this week or have one of your own to share? Feel free to list it in the comments below.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Aloha Friday - Early Bird Shopping

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

I officially started my Christmas shopping this week, buying a few things for my 16 year old daughter. Having four kids, it's much easier if I spread out the shopping so I don't have to spend so much money at once. My question for you...

Do you start your holiday shopping early or do most of it at the last minute?


Monday, September 24, 2012

Music Mondays - Ho Hey

Here's another round of Music Mondays where I'm linking up with Stressed Rach to share some favorite music. Feel free to visit Rach and join in...

 Here's a song I'm really loving right now. It's Ho Hey by The Lumineers. This is a fun and easy one to sing along with.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

What's In A Name?

I have been contemplating making some changes on my blog. Mainly, I've been thinking about making the switch over to Wordpress and redesigning my site (and when I say "I've" been thinking, that means I've been thinking of hiring someone else to take care of it all for me. I wouldn't have a clue how to even begin). Anyway, it's such an expensive undertaking and it makes me think, is it really worth it? It seems a little scary.
Having a nice, shiny new design on a sleek, new-to-me site would be cool for sure. But, if I'm going to take the plunge and switch, I better do it right and make everything just the way I want it. This brings me to my next conundrum...I kinda, sorta, maybe would like to change the name of my blog. That seems really scary!

My current blog name means something to me, personally. But, I find that when I say it to another person, it feels clumsy and difficult to explain. Will changing my blog name really be a big deal? I've had my Blogger blog for several years. If I change the name, will it feel like I'm starting at ground zero all over again? What exactly will I lose in the process?

So, dear bloggy friends, if you have any experience or thoughts on this issue, please share them in the comments below. I would love to hear what you think...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Movie Trailer Tuesday - What To Expect When You're Expecting

Follow the ups and downs of several couples as they journey toward parenthood. I cannot even tell you how much this movie made me laugh out loud! It was so much fun to watch and includes a stellar all-star cast. This is one of those films that I will watch over and over. Very heartwarming!

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic elements and language.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly Links I Liked 9-15-12

Here's my weekly roundup of good stuff I found around the web this week...

This Dear Sweet Mom post is heartfelt and beautifully written. These words really spoke to me, and if you're a mom, I bet they will touch you as well.

She simply could not endure "normal" people - this Etsy shop has the funniest little art items (magnets, cards, prints).

My favorite fashion pin of the week - love the red skinny jeans in this easy fall outfit.

Why don't I use my crockpot more often? I made this Zesty Slow Cooker Chicken Barbecue for dinner on Thursday. Very tasty and super-duper easy.

This article of a married couple doing some rekindling is very sweet...when you've been doing the marriage & parenthood thing for so long, it's easy to get stuck in ruts and forget how things were way back when - I really like this story!

I am in love with this bag. Gray is my color.

Hope you have a great weekend!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Aloha Friday - Dessert, Anyone?

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

What's the last dessert or sweet treat that you made?

Last weekend was our youngest son's 12th birthday. I baked a (box) cake for him - white cake, chocolate frosting, and sprinkles.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Favorite Bath & Beauty Products On Etsy (with Giveaway)

Etsy is one of my very favorite online shopping resources. Whether I'm looking for a specific item, or just enjoying some "window shopping", there are always great things to find. Besides the huge selection and variety, what I really like about shopping on Etsy is that it allows me to support hand-crafting artisans - talented artisans who have turned their passion and/or hobbies into a business.

Handmade bath and beauty products are something that I like to use. It may sound silly, but, I appreciate that someone took the time to lovingly create that product by hand. Many also contain natural, good-for-you ingredients that make me feel good about using them for myself and my family. Using these type of products feels like a special, indulgent little treat!

You can find tons of handmade bath and beauty products on Etsy. It's one of the categories I find myself browsing all the time. I thought I would share with you a few of my favorites that I have tried and enjoyed...(make sure you read all the way through - there's a giveaway at the end)

Natural Garden Soaps Lavender Shea Butter Body Lotion ($10.50) - This stuff smells truly amazing! It's probably one of my favorite scents on earth. I love that it contains no artificial colors, parabens, synthetic fragrances, or petroleum by-products. It leaves my skin feeling so soft and the scent is very calming. Lavender is said to help ease tension and stress, help you sleep, help ease pain, and enhance blood circulation. I keep this lotion on my bedside table and put some on just about every time I walk by. I also love using it at bedtime. It's definitely a product that I always try to have on hand. The owner/creator of Natural Garden Soaps is Paula Parrish. She is so nice and helpful and always has a kind word. Check out her shop for this and other wonderful handmade items such as soaps, balms, scrubs, and more.

naiad Soap Arts Lavender Lime Fennel Liquid Soap ($9.50) -  I recently reviewed some bar soap from this Etsy seller and after browsing her shop, decided to try this liquid soap. I guess you can tell that I'm a big fan of lavender, but, this is another wonderful-smelling product. It's very crisp and refreshing. It contains organic oils and organic aloe vera so it's very soft and soothing to my skin. It's also nice to display at my bathroom sink - the bottle has a little silver band by the pump and a pretty purple floral label.

Artisan Perfume Oils by The Dirty Housewife ($9.50) - Let me start by saying that I am in love with this Etsy Shop. I have used several of her products and I can honestly say everything I've tried has been wonderful. Not only does she offer some amazing items, but her shop photos are stunning, the product names are fun and clever, and her product descriptions are beautiful. I would like to try just about every single item that's for sale in her shop. That being said, let me tell you about her artisan perfume oils - they come in cute little tubes with a roll-on applicator (making it so handy to carry them in your purse or makeup bag). They are made with essential and fragrance oils blended into a coconut oil. You can even purchase a sample pack of 3 fragrances of your choice - that way you can see which scents are your favorite before buying the full size tube. I've tried several fragrances (the photo below shows a few that are currently sitting on my bathroom vanity). My current favorite is Soul Mates. It's a unique blend which includes pumpkin and lavender. I don't even know how to describe it except to say it is sweet, spicy, rich, and sexy all at the same time. You really gotta try these artisan perfume oils!

Handmade, organic Polite Pitts Deodorant ($4.95) - I've only recently started using this but have quickly become a fan. Concerned about store-bought deodorants and their possible carcinogenic effects, I was looking for a natural, chemical-free product. This one from Butter Me Up Organics is aluminum free, talc free, paraben free, triclosan free, and propylene glycol free. She combines baking soda, coconut oil, and antibacterial essential oils and I'm telling you, it really keeps the stink away! It's a different consistency than normal deodorant - something like a barely wet sand. Just rub some on your pitts after showering and you're ready to go. It's very long-lasting...I'm impressed!

Sea Buckthorn Facial Soap with Organic Raspberry Extract from Rainwater Botanicals ($5.50) - I was looking for a good facial bar and bought this one around the first of August. I have faithfully used it every single day (sometimes morning and night) and I love it! It leaves my face feeling super fresh and clean and never dry. And, it has a really great scent. Sea Buckthorn oil is full of good stuff like Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, and antioxidants. It is said to be especially nourishing, regenerative, and restorative. Raspberries have antioxidant and antibacterial properties and a high Vitamin C content. Another great thing about this bar is that it is long-lasting. As I mentioned, I have used it daily and it's still got a lot of life left in the bar. I'm blessed to have fairly clear skin, but I can honestly say that my complexion has only improved since using this soap. **Giveaway** The very kind folks at Rainwater Botanicals have offered to give away a free bar of this soap to one of my readers. If you would like a chance to try it out, be sure and leave a comment letting me know below. I'll pick a random commenter next week to receive the free bar. U.S. only please for giveaway

Are you a fan of handmade bath and beauty products? Do you have any favorites?

This is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing a few favorite products that I've bought for myself on Etsy. Rainwater Botanicals generously offered to share a free bar of soap with one of my readers.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Friends With Kids

Jason and Julie have been best friends forever. They each want to have a child someday, but just haven't been able to find their perfect partner yet. When they see the stress and strain that marriage and parenthood puts on their friends, they decide to take a different approach. They make the decision to have a child together, as friends only, who will share custody and split child-rearing responsibilities right down the middle. Then, they can get down to the business of finding their mates. It's the perfect plan...or so they think.

I loved this movie! Love, love, loved it! It has everything I love in a good romantic comedy - it's funny, sweet, sexy, smart, touching, romantic...I could go on and on. Some may say it's a predictable chick flick but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Rated R for sexual content and language


Monday, September 3, 2012

Confession Time

I have a small confession to get off my chest...

You may remember that we recently adopted a new puppy that we named Piper.

We've had her for just over a month now.

I do not like her! I do not like her at all.

I feel bad saying that because I'm a huge dog lover and was so ready to get another pet after losing our beloved Emma earlier this year.

But, Piper is just so bad. She bites all the time - you can hardly hold or pet her that she is not biting you everywhere. She chews on everything. She is not doing well with the house training thing at all. She is not affectionate. I keep thinking maybe it's just a puppy phase and she will get better but every day she is the same or worse and it wears me out.

I really don't know what to do. My kids are not even all that attached to her. This was my big fear about getting another pet. Our previous dog was so good and sweet and loving - I worried that if we got another we wouldn't get so lucky. And, we didn't.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Weekly Links I Liked 9-1-12

Here's my round-up of some good stuff I came across on the web this past week...

Good Food on a Tight Budget - A Shopping Guide brought to you by Environmental Working Group

This story is absolutely heartbreaking and reminds us to all be thankful for the loved ones in our life.

Pinterest can lead you to so many cool things. An outfit that was pinned led me to Evoking You and the fashion section of this site literally makes me weak in the knees. *Sigh* The outfits on display are all totally amazing!

My favorite fashion pin of the week...not sure I would've ever considered wearing a polka-dot sweater but this look is great and I love the color combo.

Did you come across anything really good this week? Feel free to share in comments below.