Friday Favorites: September Book Review & Such

Friday, September 30, 2016

It's Fri-YAY!!!  

Seriously, the best day of the work week.  It's been an okay week but having fall temperatures in the latter part of the week was like a gift from the Lord :)

Today, I want to share about the books I read this month and they were ALL a favorite!  That's rare and so I'm really excited to share about these!  I hope you'll consider reading one..or all three. :)

As always, I will share the summary from Amazon and then my own thoughts below in italics!

Nantucket writer Madeline King couldn't have picked a worse time to have writer's block. Her deadline is looming, her bills are piling up, and inspiration is in short supply. Madeline's best friend, Grace, is hard at work transforming her garden into the envy of the island with the held of a ruggedly handsome landscape architect. Before she realizes it, Grace is on the verge of a decision that will irrevocably change her life. Could Grace's crisis be Madeline's salvation? As the gossip escalates, and the summer's explosive events come to a head, Grace and Madeline try desperately to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

This was the 3rd Hilderbrand book that I've read and I'm going to rank it #2!  The Island is still my favorite but this one was a close second!  It's an easy read and really shows how gossip can spread like wildfire.

Sophie Honeywell always wondered if Thomas Gordon was the one who got away. He was the perfect boyfriend, but on the day he was going to propose, she broke his heart. A year later he married his travel agent, while Sophie has been mortifyingly single ever since. Now Thomas is back in her life because Sophie has unexpectedly inherited his aunt Connie's house on Scribbly Gum Island—home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.
Sophie moves onto the island and begins a new life as part of an unconventional family, where it seems everyone has a secret. Grace, a beautiful young mother, is feverishly planning a shocking escape from her perfect life. Margie, a frumpy housewife, has made a pact with a stranger, while dreamy Aunt Rose wonders if maybe it's about time she started making her own decisions.
As Sophie's life becomes increasingly complicated, she discovers that sometimes you have to stop waiting around—and come up with your own fairy-tale ending.

This was my 2nd Liane Moriarty book and so far I have really enjoyed her writing.  Each book has never been what I expected--my first book of hers that I read was The Husband's Secret.  I really enjoyed reading this book and kept trying to guess the big secret on the island.  Of course, I was wrong, and I was pleasantly surprised by the revealing!  

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds.

This book was heavy--the subject matter was serious, and at times, disturbing.  But I also think it was a necessary read.  I think a lot of times living in the South and being around antebellum structures has given me an idyllic view of life in the South pre-Civil War.  I forget how disgusting the treatment of slaves was.  This book was so eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and needed.  It also opened my eyes to how white men disregarded their wives.  If you're ready to read something serious but worthy, I highly recommend this book!  (P.S. My book club read it so you know it's worthy of discussion!)

And since I'm talking about FAVORITES today, POPSUGAR sent me this Must Have Box to try and I was so excited to open it and check it out!
 The packaging is great and opening the box was like unwrapping a present!

This month's box had some really great items!  However, the nerd in me was most excited about the lint brush!  I threw that lint brush in my car and I know it's going to be a lifesaver come colder weather when I've wearing sweaters that shed all over my pants.  I'm also really excited to try the hair mask and the gluten-free snack!  Click here to read more about the monthly subscription box AND use the code SHOP5 to receive $5 off your first box!

Linking up with Erika, Heather, and Amanda

Fall Favorites 2016: Fall Bucket List

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Happy Thursday, y'all!  It's so crazy to think that tomorrow is the last day of September and that Emily and I are wrapping up our Fall Favorites series.  I feel like I just wrote the introduction post and now I'm at the end!

For those of you who are just stopping by for the first time today, Emily and I have been posting our Fall Favorites every Thursday this month.  You can read Emily's introduction here and you can see all of Fall Favorites here.

Today we're sharing our Fall Bucket List!

While most of my list is pretty basic, some of my list I've tailored to things I want to do this fall.

-Carve pumpkins with Dustin

-Burn fall-scented candles every day

-Finish decorating the front porch

-Eat the pumpkin pie popsicle from Steel City Pops

-Take pictures for our Christmas card

-Survive hunting season ha!

-Enjoy cooler evening walks

-Make homemade applesauce

-Buy a few new scarves

What do you want to do this fall?

Linking up with Annie

When You Finish a Good Book....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's Wednesday which means we've made it to the halfway mark in the week!  Anyone else need to pump themselves up like that about Wednesday?!

Fall weather has finally hit Alabama--as in, the temperature this morning as I go to school is supposed to be 50 degrees, but when I am at outside car duty it'll be up in the 80s??  Thankfully the highs the rest of the week are in the 70s.  Fall, where are you?

I finished reading a really good book last night and felt like...
And the worst part is that I don't have another book to pick up!!

Friday I'll be doing my September book review--I read 3 really good books so get ready--but I'm ready to start another book today.

Please leave any book suggestions you may have in the comments!

Linking up with Jenn!

Blogtember Challenge 2016: A Guest Post with Victoria Strader!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Monday, y'all!  Today, Victoria and I are both participating in the Blogtember Challenge and are posting on each other's blogs--check out my post on her blog!

Hi! For those of y'all who don't know me, I'm Victoria Strader and I am so blessed to call Sarah a close friend who's been made via blogging. :) I have been married to my husband Ben for almost four years and we have a precious four month old boy named Beau William. In our four years of marriage we've renovated a fixer upper, traveled the world (with Beau, too!) and learned a stinking ton from walking with the Lord each day. I'd love for you to stop by my blog! :)

Sarah asked me to share what I've learned from marriage, and I'm so glad! I often thinks lessons learned from your daily life can pass you by unless you intentionally sit down to allow room for you to process. So this is me, processing! :)

1. Communication makes all the difference
... and we are not good at it. I would say 99% of our conflicts come from a lack of clear communication. Consistently making an effort to communicate with each other well always sets us up for success when we take the time to be intentional with the way we ask things of each other, or share information.

2. Your spouse is your family
When we first got married, one of the coolest things to me was that Ben was now my family. Not my boyfriend.. but my never leaving family member. I don't even know if this is a "lesson" but it's a huge comfort. No matter if you're leaving an awesome family when you get married, or a broken one, there is a sweet solace in knowing that you can build a family with your spouse. I thank God every day for making my dreams come true and giving me Ben and Beau. That sounds so cheesy, but it's so true!

3. A loving and supportive environment will help you have confidence to reach goals and pursue dreams. 
Prior to marriage, I was really insecure about my body. I'm not naturally athletic and don't enjoy sports, so unless you take the time to learn things about how to live an active lifestyle, you're stuck. After I married an extremely active fella, over time I realized that I had to overcome the hurdle of thinking that fitness wasn't in the cards for me. I gathered courage to start working out, lost 25 pounds, and changed my life. I now LOVE working out and believe wholeheartedly that self discipline with your health gives you freedom to enjoy the life and body God has given you. I'm never going to be a size 0 but I'm at peace with myself for the first time ever, even postpartum. I could never have put myself out there if Ben hadn't cultivated an atmosphere within our marriage that made me feel like I could achieve my goals.

If you're still single, be encouraged that the joy of marriage is worth the wait! If you're married, what have you learned from your union?

Friday Favorites!!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Lots of favorites today, y'all!  

And as always, my number one favorite is the fact that today is Friday :)

This is a store I follow on IG, and I took this screenshot to show Dustin that I need that wooden tiered stand.....and then I forgot to show him.  So, hey D, I need that tiered now.  Love you :)

 It's really sad that one of the girls that works at BBW knows me by my purse.  And when I went in there 2 weekends ago, she recommended the Chestnut & Clove candle to me after I told her Leaves was a fall favorite of mine.  Y'all, this candle is great.  Go buy it now!

 Yesterday was camo day at school--don't I look so natural in camo haha!  I had one little girl ask me if I really hunted and another if that was my husband's shirt.  I must have looked unnatural in camo :)  (I also need a new iPhone cover...mine is summery, and Dustin needs to hang up his shirts that he laid on his chest.  Things I noticed ha!)

I painted the dining room with my mom Tuesday after school!  Goodbye Sea Salt 50% and hello to Crisp Linen!  I'll have to share after I finish this room--this is my next project!

Grey's Anatomy started back last night, and the season premiere was okay.  I'm to the point where I'm ready for this show to end, but I can't stop watching because I've been watching since it first aired.  Literally over 10 years ago.  Too long people, too long!  #ilikedtheearlyepisodesbest #bringbackgeorgeandizzy

My friend Kristi comes over tonight for a girls' night--I CAN'T WAIT!!!!  Long overdue!

Linking up with Erika, Heather, and Amanda

Fall Favorites 2016: Fall Decorations!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy First Day of Fall!!  

...Officially, right?!  

Because for me and probably for most of y'all, fall started on September 1st :)

Emily and I have been joining up this month to post our favorite things about fall, and today we're sharing our fall decorations!  Be sure to check out her blog to see how she decorated her apartment--it is so cute!

Fall isn't a season that I go above and beyond in the decorating (I save that for Christmas ha) and plus, I am still building up my fall decorations.  

Welcome to my minimal fall decor!
Right now the front porch has this door hanger and 2 ceramic jack-o-lanterns (not pictured). It's too hot to put out mums or anything else that's fall-like!  Hopefully it'll cool down into the 80s and I can add more to my front porch.  

I also need porch ideas!  If you have any, send them my way!

I added this cute fall sign from Hobby Lobby and filled the candy dish with candy corn.  If you can't already tell, it's pretty empty--I've needed a lot of candy corn these past few days :)

I took the green apples and replaced with mini pumpkins and gourds in the glass canister on the sofa table.

I took down the summery items from the mantle and replaced with two fall items--an orange mercury glass pumpkin from Home Goods (last year) and a fall sign from Hobby Lobby (this year).  And of course I added a leaf garland :)

I added a simple bowl filled with fall items (bought in a bag at HL) in between the two candle sticks on the breakfast table.  Last year, Dustin spilled white sauce all over my fall table runner and I never replaced it.  Guess I'll be buying one soon!

In the kitchen I've got my fall candle burning.  This exact one is Chestnut & Clove, and I have the Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin hand soap right next to it.  And then the gorgeous flowers on the bar are a sweet gift from Dustin!  He had those delivered to my work on Friday and now I stare at them all the time--good job, D!

If you happened to write a post about your fall decorations, share your link in the comments so Emily and I can get ideas from your decorating!

Linking up with Annie

Matilda Jane Clothing + a New Sweater!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

At the beginning of September, my mom and I hosted the new Matilda Jane collection release trunk show at my house.  I know you've probably heard of MJ, and if you have, you probably just think they only have little girl clothing. 

That's what we used to think, too! 

 It wasn't until my mom saw a lady wearing an outfit that consisted of all MJ pieces that gave her the idea to have the trunk show.  I gladly volunteered my house for the party since my dining room was completely empty at that time.  We had the best time trying on all of the clothes and debating which ones to buy because we wanted them all!!

 This was the set-up for the party.  The dress form had a dress on it, but someone was trying it on while I took the picture.  One thing I really love about MJ clothing for women is the materials they use to make their clothes.  You can tell these clothes are well-made and they use high-grade's all so soft!

 Love all of the prints!

I tried on the Cool Mist Tee dress from the last collection.  It was so soft, but I didn't think it looked great on me.

 I took this picture to send to my friend Hailey because the Splendid dress looks just like something she would wear!  I can see it being worn in the fall with boots and a jean jacket or sweater.

 The Dusk or Dawn tunic is one of the shirts that I ended up buying.  It's longer but not too long, and it hits me right below my hips.

I also bought the Mossy Vale ruffles.  THESE ARE MY FAVORITE!!  They are so comfortable, and the one day I wore them to school I literally felt like I was wearing pajama bottoms!  I wore them with my Dusk or Dawn tunic.

The Kettle Tee is definitely a great purchase if you aren't into lots of colorful, printed clothing.  It's really soft, and who doesn't love a good swing top?

And as an added bonus...

This isn't a MJ top, but I bought this cream sweater (similar) this past weekend.  It's the softest material and feels just like cashmere.  I'm a sucker for any cream colored top.  I bought this thinking, "I can wear this for our Christmas card pictures!!"  Crazy, I know haha!

Happy Wednesday!

Linking up with Jenn, The Pleated Poppy, and Tucker Up

Cheesy Ranch & Bacon Bread

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's been a while since I've shared a recipe with y'all, and since it's college football season, I'm going to share with you my Cheesy Ranch & Bacon Bread!

I found a version of this on Pinterest and knew I could change it up to suit my taste.  I served this for the Alabama and USC game, and Dustin loved it so much that he's asked me to make it again.  Plus, he had no idea that I subbed a few ingredients for healthier choices! That's a win-win in my book!

cheesy ranch & bacon bread

Cheesy Ranch & Bacon Bread

1 loaf of French or Italian Bread
3/4 cup mayo (I subbed in Light Miracle Whip)
1-2 TBS Ranch dry mix
2 cups shredded cheese
4 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled

1. Preheat the broiler in your oven and grease your cookie sheet.
2. Slice your bread in half lengthwise.
3. Combine the mayo, ranch dry mix, shredded cheese, and bacon.
4. Evenly spread your mixture on both slices of bread.
5. Broil until cheese is melted-about 5-7 minutes.  Make sure you keep an eye on it!

This recipe is so easy and you can make it even easier by substituting in 1/2 cup of real bacon bits instead of cooking your bacon and crumbling it yourself.  You can use any sort of cheese mixture you want--make it yours!  Your crowd will love this, and I bet it becomes a game day tradition!

Linking up with Mackensey and Whitney

Blogtember Challenge 2016: My Most Popular Blog Posts

Monday, September 19, 2016

Happy Monday!  The weekend went way too fast, and I'm already counting down until my next break from school....less than one month!  I can make it :)

Today I'm participating in the Blogtember Challenge to share a few of my most popular blog posts ever.  

I started blogging back in October 2014....just a few short months after Dustin and I married.  After checking the analytics of all of my posts, I realized that pretty much all of my popular posts have to do with living spaces  (and all need to be updated!  Happening soon!).  Because it's just Dustin and me right now, our time revolves around making our house a home and making memories in our home.  So if you're new around here, check out some of my most popular blog posts!

Friday Favorites!

Friday, September 16, 2016

I don't know about y'all, but this has seemed like the longest week ever!  I am so happy to see Friday today!  And since it's Friday, you know what that means--I'm linking up with a few people to share my Friday Favorites with you!

 I shared this picture earlier this week on Instagram (@saraheshaneyfelt) but my outfit of choice is a definite favorite, right?!  Dustin had left for work that morning and I was in charge of turning off both sprinklers and moving them out of the grass.  Well, there's no way I was going to do that after I showered and was ready for the day, so at about 5:50AM, I put on my husband's boots and trudged out in the wet grass moving sprinkler (that part isn't a favorite).  Oh, and I did that twice this week.  I may need an award for best wife ever ;)

 We are part of a Dinners 4 group at church where 4 couples are paired up and you eat dinner together once a month for 4 months.  Last night was our night to host, and I really enjoyed hosting!  It makes me even more excited to finish our dining room.  As you can see above, I'm in the midst of cooking 2 spaghetti bake casseroles....and we only ended up eating 1!  So the extra casserole is headed to school with me this morning!

Us after the clean up :)  
As soon as I took this photo, I went and got ready for bed.  No more hosting or entertaining on a school night!

Yesterday, Emily and I shared some of our favorite fall recipes, and lots of people commented about my Healthier Tater Tot Casserole!  It's definite comfort food and perfect for cooler weather.  Emily shared her Pumpkin Squares......oh my....mouthwatering!

And my last favorite is pretty long.  I recently read this article about a PTA mom in Irvine, CA, who was framed with drug charges because she made a set of parents mad--so they set out to get her fired.  It's bizarre and a really long article but so interesting!

What are some of YOUR Friday favorites?

Linking up with Erika, Heather, and Amanda

Fall Favorites 2016: Fall Recipes!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Thursday, y'all!  Just one more day closer to the weekend, right?!  Each Thursday this month, Emily and I have been sharing our favorites for fall.  Last week we shared about fall fashion, and today we're sharing some of our favorite fall recipes!  

Anyone who knows me that I love being in the name it!  Today I'm going to share with you some of my favorite things to make during the fall!

You have got to check out my Oven Baked Rotel and Chicken Tacos!  There's just something about eating warm food during cool weather, and these tacos are so good right out of the oven.  I love that you can add whatever you want into them too!

 My Sloppy Joe Casserole is a big favorite in my house!  Dustin loves it, and it really makes a difference adding in a little bit of Splenda brown sugar to sweeten it up a bit.  We love eating this with either baked sweet potato fries or sautéed green beans!

If you love eating comfort food like tater tot casserole but always end up feeling guilty because it's fattening, then try my Healthier Tater Tot Casserole!  I've subbed in healthier options like lean ground turkey and 98% fat free soup--trust me, you will want to eat it every week!

To see some of my fall-themed sweets, check out my Sweets board on Pinterest!

Blogtember 2016: Three Books!

Monday, September 12, 2016

I decided last minute (as in, early Monday morning) to participate in today's challenge.  I usually do a Weekend Recap, but since I did a Day in the Life post on Saturday or my Friday, I decided to skip it.

Today's prompt is all about three books--one you've read, one your'e currently reading, and one you want to read.  As an English teacher, y'all know this is right up my, I need a good book recommendation!

Recently Read:  I'm really embarrassed to say that the last book I read was in July (check out my recap here of those books).  And the last book I read at the end of July was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  It wasn't my favorite book but I read it for my book club; however, lots of ladies in my book club really enjoyed it.  I think one of the reasons why I didn't enjoy it was because I read 3 happy books in July and then this one and it was darker.  I also found it annoying that the point of view changed so many times because for me, it wasn't a fluid change.

Currently Reading:  I'm kind of reading Here's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand, but I've since put it down after chapter 2 and started watching Downton Abbey--which I do in any free time I have.  I read two Elin books in July, and I think I want to take a little break from her for a while.

Want to Read:  I need a good book recommendation!  If I'm going to take a bread from watching Downton Abbey, I need it to be guaranteed to be good!  I think I want to read a Kristin Hannah book, but I'm not sure.  I can't wait to read everyone's posts today and hopefully get a few ideas!

A Day in the Life (9.9.16)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I know I NEVER blog on Saturdays, but when it's the Blogtember Challenge, you blog on Saturdays!

Today's prompt was a Day in the Life.  I love these.  I love peeking into the daily lives of others.  I always seem to take away some sort of inspiration from someone else's routine, and as you read earlier this week, routines bring me joy!

Here's a peek into my day yesterday...

 Because I went to bed an hour earlier on Thursday night, I woke up on my own at 4:50 AM. I could not believe it.  And then 2 minutes later I remembered I was doing a Day in the Life and grabbed this screenshot off of my phone!  #lifeofablogger

 Then I headed to the kitchen to fill up my cup of Spark.  We splurged on the fridge because it had this feature and I knew I would use it--I can set a glass and have the fridge auto-fill it with water while I do something else.

 I started the routine of morning blog reading during grad school because my afternoons and nights were filled with schoolwork.  I enjoyed that routine so much that I've kept it up!

 This is real life, y'all.  Me at approximately 5:05 AM.  Bedhead and all.

 When Dustin works, he leaves before I get up.  I actually really enjoy my morning routine on those mornings because I tote this wireless bluetooth Bose my dad bought me into the bathroom and listen to music while I shower and get ready!  I have to be quiet when Dustin is at home :)

 Grammar workbooks and grading while at school today.

 After school I met up with my mom at our local coffee shop downtown to have a snack and drink a cup of coffee!

 I offered to share my chocolate chip cookie :)  I had the French vanilla latte and Mom had a mocha.  Both were incredibly good!

 After school and finally home and I am exhausted!  Teachers had to wear school t-shirts today but at least it was jean day!

 I lit my favorite candle from Anthropologie and turned on Friends.

...And then I decided to head to Academy and look for new running shorts.
 I found a great Under Armor pair that I think will work for me (I'm picky about my running shorts) and then I walked over to the tennis shoes to see if I could find a pair of tennies that would look cute with leggings and t-shirts.  The tennis shoes I wear now with leggings are old running shoes...and not cute.

 Then I ran into Old Navy and found this cute dress that ended up looking horrible on me!  The cut would be cute on a smaller chested girl, but it was so baggy on me and did absolutely nothing for me.  Is it only me that can never find anything from Old Navy that works for me? 

 I grabbed a burrito bowl to go from Moe's to eat at home before my friend Sarah came over to walk.  I'm going to give myself an A- for pictures yesterday because I forgot to take a picture of us!  We walked for an hour in the neighborhoods that surround mine.

I ended the night writing this post while watching The Wedding Planner--I love this movie!  I think this movie gave me my love of routines because I remember how much Jennifer Lopez's character was so into her nightly routines!
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