Sunday, August 25, 2013

And the winner is!

The winner of the book giveaway is ...

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yay, Suzanne!! 

Email me your mailing address & I will get it to you right away! Congrats!

My email is melbelle27@gmail.com  

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaway!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

this week, in random order

This week has been ... strange. Not bad, per se, just difficult, work-wise. My coworker's granddaughter passed away last weekend. (She was almost 2... high fever put her in the hospital on Thursday, they found out it was meningitis on Friday, she died on Saturday. Why is life SO UNFAIR at times?!?!) Anyway, my coworker was out all week, and we usually share the workload. Doing it all myself was HARD, y'all! And not BAD. Everything went smoothly, for the most part. I was proud of myself for handling it all! All i can say is, i was unable to stifle the yawns in the afternoons, and i was going to bed pretty early most evenings... due to the inability to actually stay awake! I guess this week just wore me OUT! Ha!

At work we got a new printer/copier. Our other one was just not enough to handle the amount of paperwork we do each day. We were going through a toner a week! No joke!! So we got a new one that is GINORMOUS but also pretty sweet! :)

Monday night, we  were invited to dinner at the in-laws. HER COOKING IS AMAZING, WE DO NOT TURN DOWN DINNER INVITATIONS!!!! But i also had a little visit with their dog, Fani. She is a rhodesian ridgeback. I love her.

Funny story... last Sunday a friend of mine at church got baptized. I really wish i had known, i would have brought my canon! I took this with my phone. And i have ones not quite so blurry but i love this one! See our pastor laughing just as he is about to dunk Brett?! It's because he said: "Brett, upon your profession of faith, I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU..." do you see where this was going?! Instead of the usual, "i baptize you in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit", he said, "I now pronounce you...{pause}....Wait, I'm about to do a wedding!!" HAHA! (As in, I now pronounce you husband & wife.) WOOPS! It was HILARIOUS. And i love how real our pastor is... he didn't try to cover it up, he just DIED LAUGHING! LOL! Good times.

Also last week i got to meet my friend's new baby girl!!!! I love her. I want to go hold her and rock her to sleep again. This was a wonderful meet with a new baby because the mom went through infertility too & is now on the other side. So i can still talk to her about all of it & she 100% "gets it". I planned to stay for a half hour, but it was 2 hours. OOPS. (no pic, sorry!)

This week was my puppy's BIRTHDAY! Oh my goodness, i just realized I didn't do a full post on him like i have done for his past birthdays!!!! :( Fievel is NINE years old. :) I actually found when i scrapbooked when i first got him. Cannot believe that was so long ago!! Anyway, LOOK HOW CUTE HE WAS!!!!! :) (He still is though.) Happy birthday, Fievel!

 Fievel at 6 weeks. (2004)

Fievel now.

I have been reading this book. It is GOOD, y'all. More on it later.

Also... don't these clouds look weird? What do they mean?!! I'm not talking about at the top of the pic, look at what looks like a cloud of dust above the uglier trailer. Ha. It's not dust...it's a weird tornado-ish looking cloud! We were wondering if a tornado was about to come wipe out the trailer...although not actuallly worried, or we wouldn't have gone on inside!

 I am photographing my first WEDDING in September. I am EXCITED/SCARED! :) I have always thought i would probably not like doing weddings, and yet, i still want to give it a try! I might love it. Or i might not. But it's a good one to start with, because it's a SUPER easygoing couple, and it's a small wedding. I did get a new flash today!!! A speedlight. Now i just have to learn to use it! It will be daylight for most of her wedding but at the reception i am going to need some more light, and the built-in flash on my camera isn't going to cut it! I got my new flash today & i am SO EXCITED to try it out! (Batteries are currently charging!)

And i am doing my first engagement session this Sunday! Woohoo! 

Tomorrow i am going to an infertility workshop. Does that sound weird? This lady in town has a ministry for people dealing with infertility or miscarriages. She wrote the book Baby Hunger which really ministered to me (I read it twice.). Anyway, last year i wanted NO PART of this workshop. But this year i want to go. I feel like i NEED to go. My friend is going with me but she lives out of town & almost backed out on me tonight!!! I really almost cried. I convinced her to go. Pray she doesn't back out on me tomorrow! Haha! I mean, really. I don't think i can go by myself but i really feel like i should be there. :)

I guess that's it for now!! But hey - last chance to sign up for my giveaway!! I will announce a winner Sunday!! :) 

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Review for You {& giveaway, too!}

I am a member of Blogging for Books. Every so often, they send me an email of several book titles. If i am interested in reading one of them, i let them know, they send me a complimentary copy, and I do a review on my blog in exchange for the free book. Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers is a christian company, and they often have books i would want to read anyway.

I recently got an email from them, and I was thrilled to see THE BEST BOOK EVER as one of the books I could review!

Do you know what that book is? I am sure many of you are thinking, "Well, the best book ever is Redeeming Love." Because it is. Anytime, anywhere, you hear a conversation on favorite books, this book will be mentioned. Because it is THE BEST BOOK EVER.

I'm serious. 

Redeeming Love
"a story of love that won't let go - no matter what" 

Before Francine Rivers became a christian, she was an established romance novelist in the general market. When she became a christian, she was about to write another one, when she felt as though God was taking her writing in a different direction. And then she felt He was leading her to write a book on the book of Hosea, from the Bible. A fiction version, of course, but based on the story of Hosea. For those of you who don't know the story, in the Bible, there was a godly man named Hosea. God told him to marry a prostitute. And so he did, out of obedience to God. The story Redeeming Love is a fictional account based on that story. And it is beautifully told. Very well written. Just... I can't say it enough. It's a wonderful book.

I feel that, no matter what your religion is, you will love this book. Even if you don't believe in God, you will appreciate it as a beautiful piece of fiction. But to read it while keeping in mind that it is supposed to be a representation of how much Christ loves YOU... well, that makes it even more beautiful. Redeeming Love is fiction, yes, but it still ministered to me, and gave me a picture of the love Christ has for me.

I already own this book, which means... I am giving away my new copy! There are several ways to enter, as you can see below.

If you have already read this book and just want it on your shelf, enter this giveaway. If you have already read it, but have someone in mind that should read it, enter this giveaway. If you feel like passing on this giveaway because you don't really like to read, enter this giveaway anyway (you will like this one, I promise!). And if you love to read but have never read Redeeming Love, definitely enter this giveaway!

And look. I know sometimes we like to read the first paragraph or two of a book to see if it might be something we will like. Well, you can get a sneak peek here, okay? But be careful. It's a book you can't put down, and that's only the first chapter! :)

Even if you don't win this giveaway, please consider purchasing your own copy. It is fantastic, I promise!  I also have to tell you that I have read all of Francine Rivers' books, and they are ALL fantastic. Redeeming Love is my favorite. The Last Sin Eater is a close second. But they are all very very good.

The contest ends next Saturday, August 24th at midnight. I will announce the winner sometime Sunday. Good luck!

Monday, August 12, 2013

This Weekend, I...

...went to the beach!

Yes, my mom, sister & I went on a very short little mini-vaca to Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The point of the trip was actually not for the beach. The point of the trip was to go shopping at the outlet mall there. And I was sad about that, because i love the beach about one thousand times more than I love shopping. AT LEAST. However, my sister is the one who planned the trip, and that is what she planned it for: shopping. I agreed to go anyway, because it was a weekend with my mom & my sister. And that is something i really wanted!

We had a wonderful time!

I went to work at SEVEN A.M. Y'all. That is way too early for me to be somewhere dressed and thinking. But I took the early shift so I could get off early. :) I spent most of the day anxiously awaiting 3:30. I got so giddy and excited that I took this picture... in the bathroom... at work. So professional, I know.

3:00 finally arrived, my mom was there at 3:15, I clocked out & jumped in the car! Then, we headed to Mandeville to pick up my sister!

Around 5, we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrell. We finally made it to our hotel in Gulf Shores around 8pm. Took forever, I guess because we had to stop for dinner. But we had fun!

Saturday was an awesome day! Even with shopping instead of going to the beach. ;) We got up and spent a little time on the balcony, drinking coffee, listening to the waves & watching the beautiful ocean.


Then, we got dressed, and headed to the outlet mall in Foley. We stopped at Chic-fil-a for breakfast. YUM! We shopped from 9am until about noon. It started POURING raining while we were shopping...storming, really... so i didn't feel so bad about not being at the beach! :)

 me & my sis! 

 my mom & my sis!

We headed to Lambert's for lunch, but the wait was an hour. I know it's worth the wait, but we were HONGRY! We decided we would go back the next day, and we went to a little mexican restaurant instead. The food was DELICIOUS!


While eating we decided to finish our shopping on Sunday. I was SO GLAD about this. I was exhausted, and really didn't wanna do any more shopping. Haha.

We went back to the hotel and took naps. Haha! (This is what getting old does to you!) After we woke up, Michelle ran to get us dinner and dessert, and mom & I went SWIMMING!!! We did go to the pool and not the ocean, though. But i am okay with that. I really prefer the pool for swimming & the ocean for walking & laying out.


When Michelle got back, we ate our dinner (Subway) & then put in the movie Despicable Me. Ha! It was SO CUTE! I had never seen it, and neither had mom. We enjoyed it. I won't tell you what we had for dessert, but just know that it was EVIL! (Okay, it was Krispy Kreme donuts. And i forgot how amazing those things are!)

Sunday we got up, packed our stuff, and checked out of the hotel. Lambert's opened at 10:30, and we decided to go EARLY. We got there at 9:30, and there were only 2 other cars there (besides the staff, parked in the back).

By 10, there were probably over 100 people there. And people were all getting in line and being all CRAZY. This one woman got attitude with me because i scooted towards her on the bench we were sitting on... i still left room next to her for her friend... but was trying to give more room on the other side of us for people to sit down... and she got all rude with me! Whatever, lady! It is not that serious! Also, we were here before you, and don't even care that you are going in before us. So CHILL OUT! (Her friend never came and sat down either!) When the guy came and opened the doors and said, "Ya'll ready for some rolls?!" :) People barely would let him get the doors open! GEEZ! It was insane!!! After we were seated, i had to go to the bathroom and had to get through this insane crowd of people to do so. Coming back, people were all looking at me like i was skipping in line. I wanted to say, "I have already been seated, i got here at 9:30, i just had to PEE, alright?!?!" I mean... CALM DOWN! Haha.

 michelle & mom at lambert's

I have to tell you. The service there is outstanding. The food was AMAZING. And the rolls were no exception.

That would be a gigantic roll i am holding. Ha!

For those of you who have never been to Lambert's, they throw rolls at you. Well, TO you, they make sure you are ready for it. Haha. They also come around with big pots of veggies asking if you want some (not ones you ordered - just extra). It is so much food. I ate about 5 bites and was full. Ha! It's wonderful country cooking. SO GOOD!

They also play tricks on you. Like, the waitress came and said, "would you like some more tea, ma'am" & poured it in my lap! But it was a fake tea pitcher... i JUMPED & gasped! HAHAHA! It was HILARIOUS!

Afterwards, we went in the gift shop there. I bought a coffee mug (love coffee mugs!) & some  of their apple butter (it's so delicious!). 

And then we headed back to the outlet mall! On the trip, i bought baby gifts for 2 friends of mine, some makeup because i was completely out, a purse from Nine West, and that's it. But my mom bought us initial jewelry that we found at a store called "Paisley Jane". I got the gold "V" necklace & bracelet. LOVE IT! :)

See?! Haha!

We were done shopping & heading back to Baton Rouge by 1:30pm. It was a great weekend!

How about one more beach scene picture? This is the only one NOT taken with my iPhone, by the way. I just didn't get the Canon out very much. Oh-well.

And now i want to go back... only for the BEACH this time. That was a tease! :) We had a great time, though. Love my mom & sister!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Church Ladies Tea

I am behind on blogging. Oops.

So, backing up... a couple weekends ago, I went to the annual Ladies Tea at our church. Last year, it was my first event to go to as a church member. I was excited to go again this year. HUGE turnout this year. It was crazy. But a lot of fun!

For the tea, the hostesses each have a table that they decorate. It is pretty neat to see the different personalities and tastes reflected in each table. I wanted to sit at the table decorated by my bestie, Mandy, and it took me about 2 seconds flat to know which table that was.

Daisies and cute owls and turquoise?! That looks like a table Mandy would decorate! :) So cute! She did a great job! Actually, all of the hostesses did a wonderful job with their decor! 

Some ladies wore hats, others did not. I LOVE hats, but didn't have the right kind of hat to wear! There was a hat contest, and my mom won! She made her hat herself. :)
 my mom

Mrs. Sandra talked to us about how valuable we are to God. It was such a neat story, and I will have to share it with you soon. She did an awesome job! 

The hostesses did an awesome job with the food, service and decor. We had a wonderful time! Did I mention these cupcakes? My Mandy made them. DELICIOUS!!!

Just a few more pics from our tea! 

 Amanda, Ashley & Melody

 Ashley & her mom...beautiful ladies!

 Some of our sweet hostesses: MaryAnn, Teddie, & Mandy

 LOVE this pic of Mandy & Melanie 

 Victoria, Angela & Katy 

 Mother & daughter (Donna & Amanda)

Sandra, Jackie & Sandra! 

Andrea & Ashley

Me & Mandy!

Monday, August 5, 2013

This Weekend, I...

This weekend, I went on a little date with my love! To Barnes & Noble (where we didn't buy anything - a miracle!), to Five Guys for dinner (I know - for shame!), and to Whole Foods for a few things. Hubby picked me up some flowers while we were in Whole Foods. I love flowers. Yay!

This weekend, I went to a gym to workout with my friend, Gayle. Gayle goes to my church, and she is hilarious. She also has lost 61 pounds and is well on her way to reaching her next weightloss goal. She is doing awesome & is a huge inspiration to me!! We had a bootcamp style workout session & I AM SO SORE today!! Part of the workout included flipping tires. It was awesome. And fun! :)

Me & Gayle! I know we look just stunning! Ha! Head to my weightloss blog for the tire-flipping pics! 

This weekend, I headed with my husband to New Orleans, for my friend Susan's wedding! It was beautiful. And hot & humid. But mostly beautiful. And fun. :) 

Me & my good friend Danielle at the wedding. 

This weekend, I went to church, went grocery shopping and then spent the rest of our Sunday relaxing.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Family Reunion

One of my favorite things about Brad's family is that they have family reunions. Our family never really did that, and I so enjoy going to the ones with my in-laws. Of course, their people are hilarious and sweet, and they make anyone and everyone feel completely welcome. They're fun!

Every October, we have a reunion with Brad's mom's side of the family, right here where we live. There is a family of Brad's cousins (a mom, Eda, and her four daughters) that we just LOVE. We always talk about how we wish we saw them more often than just in October.

 Mrs. Eda (in red) & her mom

Well, Mrs. Eda's mom was going to be in town from way up north somewhere, and Mrs. Eda decided to invite all of the family to their family property in Colfax. It's an almost 3-hour drive to Colfax, and Brad and I made the trip in our new car! (Loved it!) Just about EVERYONE came. All of their cousins and their families. There were about 65 people there (although the property was big so it definitely didn't seem like so many people!).

 These are the first cousins. The "originals". They remembered playing at this property as kids!

I didn't know if i should bring my camera. Places where I won't know that many people - well, i may not end up taking any pictures! But i have learned that it's better to take it and not use it, than to not take it and wish I had!! So i brought it. And i did end up taking some pictures. Glad I did! :)

 My sis-in-law Jamie with her cousin Stacia.

 Jaimie with her cousins: Stacia, Shira & Trina. (Trina is having twin girls any day now!)

We were right in the sun apparently!! But here i am with my love and my sis-in-law! :)

We had a great time, and I can't wait to see some of these people again in October!