The Midnight Groom by Taylor Hart

The Midnight Groom by Taylor Hart

How much would you bet on true love this Christmas season?

After the worst year of his life, Cameron Cruz, owner of the Denver Storm, agrees to a family Christmas cruise with his twin sister and her family. Sure, maybe part of the reason he agreed to go was because it got him out of court-mandated therapy for a week. Still, he was trying to focus on relaxing. He was trying to focus on having fun. He was trying not to look at the reports that came every day from the private investigator’s he’d been hiring and firing for the past year to bring justice to the man who killed his wife.
Isabel Kind was only on this Christmas cruise for one reason–to heal. After tragically losing her husband and son five years ago, she’d been stuck. And she and her therapist thought doing the list of excursions they’d planned to do as a family–might help her move on. When she sprains her ankle and Cameron Cruz offers to help her, she finds herself accepting.
After reluctantly getting piggybacked around by the amazingly strong and handsome man, swimming with the stingrays, and zip lining through the Honduran jungles, she is more and more mystified by this troubled man. Even more mystified that he’s not only helping her physically but he’s also trying to help her emotionally–even if, as he says, he can’t heal himself.
When bad news comes to light and Cameron has to face the past, they are left with a choice–walk away or let the power of grace make them whole.

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Praise for The Midnight Groom

Grief is real and hard. Taylor Heart does a beautiful job of honoring that pain while showing us Cameron’s way through it. Their story is beautiful with just the right amount of laughter and hope and, as always, grace. A perfect read when you want to cuddle up with a story that will fill you with peace.

The Midnight Groom is a wonderfully entertaining love story that will inspire you to be a better person!

I thought the struggle and the healing felt real. This book was a roller coaster ride for my emotions.

Our Thanks and Giving Tree

Our Thanks and Giving Tree…
So Many Reasons to be Thankful!


This year, for the month of November and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to make a Thanks and Giving Tree.  I wanted to show the children just a few of the things out of the many that we had in our lives to be so very thankful for.  I started with a simple five dollar kit from Target.  I glued it together and painted it all matte black to make it a little fancier than the pressed cardboard it started out to be.  Also, the kit came with only twenty leaves, and I wanted more than that, so I took one of the leaves and some matching scrapbook paper and traced the leaf and made more leaves to use on my Thanks and Giving Tree.

Our Thanks and Giving Tree 

Some of my favorites from the Thanks and Giving Tree…

  • Being married to my best friend and soulmate
  • Having friends, real, and imaginary
  • Mommy and Daddy
  • Grandma’s and Grandpa’s
  • Hugs and Kisses
  • Sunshine ae Beach Days
  • Quality time with my loves

Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie!

Jenny’s
Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie!

…that Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie that Jennifer made was quite good, so I thought I would share the recipe….

Ingredients

  • pie crust (I used a graham crust)
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup butterscotch chips

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks together until smooth.  Then whisk in milk and stir until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat, then add the dark brown sugar.  Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Add cream to the saucepan mixture, whisking thoroughly. 
  4. Slowly whisk in egg mixture.
  5. Add cinnamon and bring to boil, whisking constantly.
  6. Once thickened, remove from heat and add butterscotch chips.
  7. Pour the filling into the shell and smooth the top.
  8. Place the pie on a cooling rack for an hour and then put into the refrigerator to cool completely.
  9. Serve in slices and garnish with whipped cream.

Wishing you a Very Blessed Thanksgiving!

From our table to yours, I’d like to wish you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving, surrounded by those you love most.  This Thanksgiving, we kept things more simple than we usually do, as the kids have been sick, and I spent the majority of the day yesterday in the Emergency Room yesterday with flank pain from a passing kidney stone a kidney infection.  Nonetheless, I still wanted to put forth the effort and try to make Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

For our Thanksgiving Dinner this year, I made a spiral baked honey ham, creamy mashed potatoes, honey butter glazed carrots, brown sugar basted brussel sprouts, and homemade rolls.  For dessert, Jennifer made for the most part on her own a butterscotch cinnamon pie and vanilla frosted cupcakes.  Everything came out very yummy!  I was impressed, but my body was quite sore afterward.

That’s our table, all set, with our Thanks and Giving Tree in the middle.  I’ll be writing about this tree at the end of November when all the leaves are filled in!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Today Is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

Today November 17, 2018, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, a day where we remember our lost loved ones and how they lived, remembering the moments of joy that existed along side the pain.  We remember that their death deos not define them; it does not define us.

We remember that here is hope.  Hope for healing. Hope for recovery. Hope for others. Hope for ourselves. Hope for a better tomorrow.



Little Man Has Ear Infections, Again

Fall is in season and do you know what means for little kids?  School is in session and there is super germ sharing going on.  You know how it is, the kids go back to school, and its all hunky-dory for a month or two, and then BAM! one kid gets sick.  And then another. And another.  And so on.

This cycle started over a month ago in our house.  It started with Emma and a cough and a slight cold, which transferred to Vivian, and finally to Baby Shawn.  But was once a slight cold to Emma, was a fever and severe cough for Shawn.  Turns out he didn’t just have a nasty cold, he had RSV and an ear infection as well. 

Fast forward a few weeks and we were back at the pediatrician yesterday because my little guy was still hacking, but now his once dry cough turned into a wetter more productive cough and his nose had become much more runny.  Turns out, poor guy has two middle ear infections and is becoming a chronic condition.  And if this second round of antibiotics does not work, we will have to discuss tubes, because he has had multiple ear infections this year — this isn’t just the first and second ear infections of the year. 

Bubby at the Pediatrician’s Office Yesterday,Looking Less than Enthused.

Fingers crossed that this second round of a bit stronger antibiotic will do the trick.  I don’t want him to have tubes nor do I want him to have any more ear infections! I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about both.



Why Self-Care Is so Essential For Mommas (and everyone, really)…

Self-Care is defined as the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health; or the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. 

Self-Care for Mommas isn’t just about a girls night and a mani-pedi here and there.  Sure, those things are great, but self-care is really taking preventative measures to keep yourself at your best (which is how, as Mommas, we need to be, 24/7, right?).  It’s taking a little bit(or a lot if you can!) of time, each and every day, for yourself, to rejuvenate the emotional, physical, spiritual you – and here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • First off, if you need to, hire a babysitter.  No questions asked.
  • Take a hot bath or shower.
  • Pick out a book from the store you want to read and actually read a chapter two in it, the day you buy it. And every day thereafter until you finish the book.
  • Cuddle with a fuzzy blanket.  Maybe even take nap.
  • Start a daily gratitude journal.  Keep writing in it every. single. day.
  • Take a walk.  Exercise.

With this in mind, personally, I’ve decided that I need to take better care of myself.  As the leader of my tribe, I’m responsible for making sure my family is loved, fed, cared for, and has everything they need to be successful in the world. From waking my kids up in the morning and helping them pick out clothes to wear that is weather appropriate (and looks decent together), to kissing my hubby goodnight at the end of the day, every minute of every day is under my purvue. And I’m perfectly okay with that!

In the past few months, I devoted more time to writing.  That was the first step.  It’s like a decompression for me, a way to let off some of the steam of the day, to write about it.  I’ve journaled, handwritten letters to friends, and of course, blogged.  Now I’m stepping it up and committing to exercising more on a regular schedule and joined a group that will keep me to my word!  In this group, we are also reading Girl, Wash Your Face, which is a quick easy read, so we are going at a chapter a day. 

I hope to keep you guys updated as to my progress in my self-care and all the fun things I plan on doing to keep myself as well as I can be for my family!

 

No One Else Does, But I Still Decorate for Fall!

Now that we’ve entered November, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner, walk into any store and it’ll likely be dripping in holiday stuff, everywhere.  But, wait, not a drop of Fall, Autumn or Thanksgiving…unless of course, you’re in the clearance aisle.  But I’m a little confused…we’ve haven’t even made it to Thanksgiving yet!

That, and I see all these posts on Facebook about how we’re not actually skipping Thanksgiving and fall, but instead it’s all Christmas and holidays now until Turkey Day, then you get one day to celebrate autumn and Thanksgiving, and then phew… back to celebrating the  good ole holidays!

But wait! Autumn is such a beautiful time! And that’s just one of reasons I chose to decorate for fall…

And to me, autumn stands for:

Change!

The leaves on the trees are veritgradeof colors, changing from green to yellow to a luscious red and then falling to the ground into beautiful mounds beckoning children to jump and play in them.  The weather is changing, from the heat of the summer, cooling into more comfortable, crisp air, the smells cleaner, in preparation for winter.  Fall is a time of change.  As Heraclitus wrote “The constant is change,” and that is certain during fall.  It’s a time to remind us that everything is always changing, nothing is constant, and how essential it is to embrace the present and savor its goodness before it changes.

Comfort!

One of the best parts of fall – the crisp (but not cold) air and being able to wrap up in a blanket with a warm cup of tea.  It’s so comforting!  Maybe its part of our nature, in preparation for winter, to want to pull out the blankets and create a serene space in the home, but its one of my favorite things!

Balance!

Both day and night are the same period of time during the autumnal equinox, which ancient cultures associated with balance.  The sun also enters Libra, which is represented by a set of scales.  This is a great time to get in touch with mother Earth.

 

 

Poppy Children’s Craft for Veteran’s Day

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For the upcoming Veteran’s Day, I came up with this simple, easy and fun craft you can do with your kids, and give to local veterans as a token of your appreciation!

These red poppies akin those found in the official poster for Veterans Day and the infamous poem Flanders Field by John McRae, written during World War I.

Red Poppy Craft Supplies:

  • Red Cupcake Liners
  • Black Craft Paper (or construction paper) circles
  • Green Pipestems
  • Green or Yellow Brads, alternatively, Green Buttons
  • Red Markers
  • Scissors
  • Nail to make hole through paper for brad

Step 1:  Take two Red Cupcake Liners (the ones shown here are mini cupcake liners).  First liner, outline the edge of the liner with red marker (I used a Sharpie).  Second liner, cut about half an inch off the edge, and then outline the edge with red marker, the same way as the first.

Step 2:  Cut a piece of the black craft paper in a circular shape (not perfect) so that it is just a bit smaller than the inside edge of the bottom part of the liner.

Step 3: Stack your pieces – Whole liner, trimmed liner, black circle.

Step 4: Pierce with nail. Then add decorative brad and/or green button.

Step 6:  Fold a Pipe Stem in half and twist around back of brad.

And your finished red field poppy! Very pretty!

Here are a few of our poppies. We plan on passing them out at a local nursing home to the resident veterans tomorrow afternoon!

i hope you enjoy this fun and patriot craft.

A Little Veteran’s Day History

“During National Veterans and Military Families, we salute the brave and dedicated patriots who have worn the uniform of the United States, and celebrate the extraordinary military families who selfless service and sacrifice make our military the finest in the world.”  President Donald J. Trump

As we kick off the second annual Veterans and Military Families month,  and Veteran’s Day approaches, I think it would be appropriate to look at the history behind Veteran’s Day.

What is Veteran’s Day?

18poster_lowresVeteran’s Day, which is a Federal Holiday always held on November November 11th, is a day set to honor the all the men and women who are serving or have served honorably in the military, during war or peacetime..   This year, it will be observed on Monday, November 12th since the 11th falls on a Sunday.  2018 commemorates the centenntial of Armistice Day (originating from the word armistice, or when warring parties agree to stop fighting), recognizing the end of World War I when the hostilities ceased at 11am on November 11th, 1918 (better known as  the 11th hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month).

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson prolaimed November 11th to be called “Armistice Day” and Armistice Day Day was declared national holiday in 1938 and it was a dedicated only to honor World War I veterans. vetday

In 1947, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran organized a National Veterans Day parade in Birmingham, Alabama to honor and recognize all veterans of all wars.  This is the celebration that led Congress to change Armistice Day to Veterans Days in 1954 and to recogize all U.S. veterans.

However, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill in 1968, moving the holiday to the fourth Monday in October, and the law went into effect in 1971.  President Gerald Ford later returned Veterans Day to November 11th due to the important historical significance of the date in 1975.

Our Veterans Today

Here are some facts about the Veteran population of the U.S:

  • 16.1M living veterans served during at least one war.
  • 5.2M Veterans served during peacetime.
  • 2M Veterans are women.
  • 5.5M Veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • Of the 16M Americans who served during World War II, about 558,00 are still alive.
  • 2M Veterans served during the Korean War.
  • 6M Veterans served during peacetime.
  • In 2014, three states have more than 1M veterans among their population: California (1.8M), Florida (1.6M) and Texas (1.7M)
  • In 1930, the VA health care sytem included 54 hospitals.  Today it has 171 medical centers; over 350 outpatient, community and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home units; and 35 live-in care facilities.

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