Thursday, December 31, 2015

Final 2015 Reflections

Image result for coffee and books
Pic from Joes Café
It's the last day of the year. I can't help but think about the past and the future as I sit here drinking a cup of coffee while my son sits beside me playing on his little tablet.

So much has changed in a year. Last year at this time I was still recovering from post-partum depression, my son was still crawling around on the floor, and I was still adjusting to it all. The whole becoming a mom thing is a huge adventure, and it has taken me quite some time to develop a new routine.

2015 was full of recovery, joy, and redeveloping purpose. I took a step forward and created this blog to assist me with reconnecting to my creative side. I had blogged before and enjoyed it immensely, but factors in life kinda stole that joy away. Depression is a terrible thing that just sucks the fun out of everything you love to do.

I had so much fun creating this new blog. I wanted to take things in a new direction. While I am not a 'professional blogger' and I really have no intention of becoming one, I am having so much fun writing again and trying to build a social following. It has truly become a fulfilling hobby.

I have also decided to start writing novels again. I don't care if I never finish one or if they all just sit unpublished on a flash drive. I just want to write.

Connecting with my family this past year has also been huge. My son is turning into a little boy with a sweet disposition and watching him grow enthralls me. My husband has also been very supportive of me and getting me back on track.

Needless to say, I am very satisfied with my progress during 2015. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have vey little doubt that 2016 will be just as thrilling. I cannot wait for the new year to begin!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Hello 2016!

It's that time of year. 2015 is ending and 2016 is right around the corner! Just like everyone else, I view the new year as a great opportunity to make resolutions, something that will make your life better. 

In years past I have always made the cliche resolution of either losing weight or eating better, and I always disappoint myself, because no matter how hard I try I never seem to lose weight. However, I have recently come to terms with my curvy body and have basically said 'screw it'. I want to continue to eat healthy, but losing weight is no longer a priority of mine. 

Now, I'll admit, I am notorious for setting goals and not keeping them. Remember my Advent goals? One of them was to make sure I go to confession. Yeah, totally didn't make it. I don't want to make excuses, but I can only go to confession on Saturday afternoon. I either had something going on during every Saturday during Advent, or I was sick. Ugh. Epic fail. 

So, what are my goals for 2016? Are they attainable? I certainly hope so. 

1) Reach 100 Facebook Likes! (I'm currently at 71, so I think I can reach 100 by the end of the year!)

2) Budget my money! (I took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class at my church and I want to apply the concepts more to my life. I got a cute Budget Planner from May Designs and I love it so far!)

3) Start a novel! (I plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this November. I have a story line developing in my mind as we speak and I want to put it to paper!)

4) Organize my room at a time! (This one is very important to me. However, I hate to clean and I have a hard time staying on track with things like this. Do you have suggestions on how I can stay on track?)

5) Pay more attention to my husband! (I love my husband very much! However, I work days and he works most evenings. We don't get to spend much time together and we have even less time on our hands now that we have a toddler on the loose!) 

6) Finally, I want to pray more! (Any of you following my blog know I have a problem remembering to pray and keep God at the center of my life. This is something I need to keep working on.)

Me trying to plan 2016!

I think having resolutions and goals in life are great. It gives us all something to strive for. What are you going to strive for in 2016?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas from the Garlands!

Christmas in the Garland household was certainly interesting.

We had planned to have a few friends and some family stop by to celebrate, but we all caught a cold/flu bug that we are still recovering from. So, with a rather heavy heart, we decided to tell everyone not to come by and we would celebrate the holiday alone as a family.

It was kind of a good thing that we decided to have a quiet day. This was Richard's second Christmas and it doesn't seem that he quite understands the concept of the holiday.

He is not yet two years old, and is a child of routine. If it steps out of his normal routine, he does tend to get a little cranky. 

Christmas is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Most Catholics go to Mass on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas day, and since many people only go to Mass on Christmas and Easter, needless to say the church was more crowded than normal...really, like a ton more people than usual. 

Richard was not used to having so many people in the church and he started to get a little cranky towards the end of Mass, so we had to 'Pull a Judas' as we say and leave after communion. 

He was a sweet little angel at dinner afterward, thankfully. I was a little worried he would act out because it was past his bedtime, but he was very well behaved at the restaurant we went to. 

Now, Christmas morning was very interesting. Richard and I woke up at our normal time, which is around 7, but we let daddy sleep in because daddy was in the Knight of Columbus color guard for Midnight Mass, so he didn't get home until about 2:30am. We didn't even begin to open presents until about 10am. 

When we tried to open gifts, Richard showed little interest in all the colorful boxes and paper. In fact, when we did get a few toys open, he started to fuss when they wouldn't do what he wanted him to do. So, we decided to take a break from opening gifts and take a little nap. 

The nap certainly helped and he woke up in a great mood. We were able to get a few more gifts open and he loved playing with the Micky Mouse figurines he received from his great-grandparents and god-parents. However, we didn't open all of his gifts because he was already getting overwhelmed with all of the stuff he was receiving.

When most people think of Christmas Day, they imaging kids rushing to the tree to rip open all of the gifts in an excited frenzy. Nope, not us. Richard, it seems, is not big on surprises. But, we have to remember that he is not even two years old yet,and probably doesn't understand everything quite yet. 

I am sure that next year he will show more of a Christmas Spirit. 

It was an awesome Christmas. Just a quiet day spending time with the family. No guests, but a nice dinner. It was wonderful not having to worry about impressing anyone this year. 

Has anyone else had a young child who didn't show interest in presents? Do you have any tips on instilling a Christmas Spirit, or do you think it is something children just grow into? I would love to hear your tips and suggestions!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

May Designs

"Because life it too short for ugly notebooks." I received this cute little quote in an e-mail from May Designs and it has stuck with me ever since. 

As a writer, I am a sucker for beautiful notebooks and journals. I probably have way too many too count. Some of them have been used and some of them have not been touched, they are simply there for decoration. 

I came across May Designs last year and was intrigued by the designs. I have since ordered about 10 note books that I use regularly. I love these little notebooks because they are small enough to stuff away in the Awesome Mom Bag and they are also eco-friendly! They're made out of canvas and have a sewn binding. 

The website is awesome because it allows you to see your full design before placing it in the cart, so you know what you're getting. Also, you have a number of different insides to chose from. You can get basic lines, blank pages or, you can make your design into a planner or a budgeting guide! 

The price for the notebooks are typically $20, and all depending on the insides you choose, it may tack on an additional $3 or $5. However, she has a lot of great sales, so I always stock up when I see she has a sale running! 

They are great as gifts for a friend or for yourself! There are also beautiful options of stationary, calendars, and photo books. They are certainly unique and will make the inner dork drool! I certainly do!  

Monday, December 14, 2015

My New Planner

I am trying to get myself into gear for the New Year. I have already set out a  number of New Years resolutions, which I will discuss later. One of my resolutions is to be more organized, especially now that I am maintaining an active blog. I want to make sure that I keep track of all of my goals and ideas as well as my family's schedule. 

I looked at a number of planners and I wanted to make sure that the planner not only allowed me to maintain a schedule, but also gave me room to keep notes and plan my blog posts accordingly. I was also hoping to combine the number of notebooks that I carried around with me into one. 

I came across this beauty online. It is called a Color Crush Planner by Webster Pages. The reason I like it is because it has a number of tabs that allow you to keep notes, lists, track goals, plan ahead, and get inspired. It is also very beautiful. I was super excited when I received it in the mail. I couldn't wait to get started!

There are people out there who get all kinds of crazy decorating their planner, it's almost like a sub-culture! 

There are also those who have the planner in every size and color! 

 A  Facebook group dedicated to those who love their Color Crush Planner, and I tell you, those ladies spend a lot of time decorating their planner. Hey, whatever keeps them inspired!

I have no intention of blinging out my planner. I just thought it was beautiful and practical. 

You can't purchase the planner directly from Webster Pages. You actually have to get it from a retailer. I got mine on Etsy from My Rubber Stamp.  The total was $42, and that included shipping. 

My husband once told me that planners are  very personal, and I totally agree. When looking for a planner you need to make sure you get one that fits your needs, whether it's a simple one or one that is a little more involved. Just make sure you weigh all of your options and figure out how much you may want to invest. 

As for me, I am very happy with my planner and 2016 is going to be a beautiful year! 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Damsel in Defense Pepper Spray

My gift to myself!

Are you looking for a way to prepare yourself in case of an attack, an attack or any kind? We all know that we are living in violent times and we all need to prepare ourselves in the off chance that something may happen to us or the people we love.

There are lots of ways to defend yourself. If you are uncomfortable with guns, you can always go with non-lethal methods like stun guns or pepper spray. 

I work at a college and it is a gun free zone, which is understandable. However, things like pepper spray, mace, stun guns, etc...are acceptable to have on campus.

I have a friend who sells products from a company known as Damsel in Defense. They sell things like pepper spray, stun guns, portable alarms, and a whole bunch of other products that you can use to defend yourself or assist you when you find yourself in a precarious situation.

My husband purchased a stun gun for me about two years ago. I go carry it around in my awesome mom bag, but that is made for really close encounters. I also wanted to have some pepper spray that I can carry around with me. I procrastinated getting some, but when I saw that my friend Colleen was having a Christmas sale, I dived right in and said, "I'm interested!"

The pepper spray shown above cost me a total of $8.25, and that included the cost of shipping. It hooks to my key chain so I always have it with me. It looks super cute too!

You can reach out to my friend, Colleen, if you want to learn more about the products that they offer. You can check out her Facebook page here!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Book Review: The Next Always by Nora Roberts

I did it! I achieved one of my December goals and finished reading a book! I am actually in the middle of a couple of books, but I am so proud of myself that I was able to read one from beginning to end in a reasonable amount of time. 

I was in Four Seasons Books last week during my lunch break looking for a work of fiction that I could read to unwind. I didn't want anything heavy, just something I could enjoy with a nice cup of hot chocolate in the evenings as I watched Mickey Mouse with my toddler. (Moms are known for multi-tasking.)

The Next Always by Nora Roberts caught my eye. The reason I was drawn to it is because it takes place in a town called Boonsboro, which is outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland. (In case you're not a history buff, Sharpsburg was where the Battle of Antietam took place.) Boonsboro is about 30 minutes from where I live and 10 minutes from where I work. I was intrigued by a novel that took place in a local town. 

I was not surprised that Nora Roberts wrote a series of three books that take place in Boonsboro, she owns like half of the town and is a very prominent local figure. All of the places she mentions in the book actually exist and most of them, if not all, are owned by her family. 

The book tells the story of a trio of brothers who are rebuilding a dilapidated inn. They want it to be the finest inn in the area and really make it luxurious. In the meantime, one of the brothers, Beckett (cool name!), falls in love with the local bookstore owner, Clare, who is also a widow and a mother of three boys. It describes the complexities of starting a new relationship while also running a business. 

It's not the greatest book that I have ever read. While the characters have some moments of great development, overall they were mostly one dimensional. HOWEVER, I still enjoyed reading this book because I did not want to be heavily invested in character development. I just wanted to read a story. Nora Robert's writing style is great and she keeps you wanting to know what is going to happen next! I also could totally identify with Clare as she wrangled three young boys while trying to run a small business. 

Nora Roberts ingeniously wove actual locations into a book! I used to work at a bookstore and I know that there are some die hard Nora Roberts fans who would love to go to a location that was featured in some of her books. It's a pretty savvy business idea too. The Inn BoonBoro is gorgeous and costs about $300 a night! (Too rich for my blood, but one can dream.) 

You can bunk there for a night and walk across the street to Turn the Page Bookstore, owned by Nora's husband, where she does a book signing once a month. Then walk down the block to Vesta Pizza, also owned by the Roberts family, for a bite to eat! (Her fans probably consider this to be some kind of pilgrimage.)  

This is the first Nora Roberts book that I have read. I enjoyed it enough to continue on with the next book in the trilogy. I'll let you know how that one dishes out. In the meantime, if you're looking for a mindless read, I would recommend The Next Always.

*Note: There are instances of pre-marital sex, but not extremely graphic.*

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Savannah Bee Beeswax Hand & Nail Salve- Review

I was in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, this past weekend celebrating the town’s annual celebration of Olde Tyme Christmas. My husband performs a Christmas concert at Saint Peter’s Church every year. This was the second year that Richard was able to attend. He loved holding my hand and walking into town and pointing to the luminaries that lined the street.

There were two places in particular that I wanted to visit; The Vintage Lady and Tenfold. These two businesses were victims in a fire that destroyed 30% of the businesses in town. Thanks be to God they had insurance and were able to open in new spaces in a relatively short amount of time.

We stopped into the Vintage Lady and took a look around the new store. As always she had a lot of cute stuff, but one thing in particular jumped out at me; Savannah Bee Beeswax Hand and Nail Salve. Richard actually drew my attention to it. He was playing with the little tester tin and as I pulled it away from him I got a whiff of it and fell in love with the comforting minty scent.

For some reason the light smell of spearmint warmed my heart, like a warm cup of tea. The scent was not overwhelming. I put some on my hands and walked out of the store with Richard in tow to check out the other stores. Needless to say, I kept smelling my hands as we walked through Tenfold. That was a sign to me that I needed to purchase the salve!

It is great stuff! It is not too heavy or sticky and really makes your hands feel soft, not to mention that comforting smell! It also works great as a lip balm. This would be a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone, man or woman, who suffers from dry skin or lips.

If you’re in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, and you stop to see Cindy in The Vintage Lady, make sure you get some Savannah Bee Beeswax Hand and Nail Salve!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Pursuing a Passion...Part Time

I love to write. I have always loved to write. Music and writing have been passions of mine since I was in elementary school. They served as emotional outlets to help me stay sane in a very emotional and dramatic world. 

When I was in high school, my best friend and I would spend long hours together creating stories and poems. I immersed myself in all different kinds of genre's, but I loved writing fan-fiction. I even had an account at and had a funny kind of adrenaline rush course through me as I uploaded a new story or received a review. 

I continued writing throughout college and when I was in graduate school I started my first blog which I titled Catholic Woman. Writing about topics on faith that I was very passionate about made me grow in faith and helped build confidence. I also wrote other stories on the side and no one has read them. Not even my husband. They are saved on a flash drive that I keep hidden away.

Naturally, when I got pregnant and had my little ginger blessing (My case you didn't figure that out), I had no inspiration to write. My muse had abandoned me. 

Now, since I have overcome my period of postpartum depression, my desire to write is back full force! I have so many story ideas running through my head and I desire to put them to paper...or computer so to speak. You know what I mean. 

My problem is the fact that I have very little time to write anything more than a blog post. Working full time and having a toddler messing up your house can be a little draining. However, I am determined to somehow get my stories written. 

Anyone who has a passion for creativity knows that it can drive you mad until your vision comes into existence. 

But now I am finally going to to do it. Some way, some how. It will probably take a long time, but working on the project itself is the funnest (is that even a word?) part of all!

I'll keep you all updated on my progress, no matter how slow it may be. 

I would love to hear any ideas that you may have to keep me on track! Writers unite!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

November and December Goals

Pic Credit: Jennifer Grace Creates

I have reached 3 out of 5 goals in November. Not too bad for my first month of actually sitting down and creating goals for the month. I was able to reach 30 'Likes' on my Facebook page (This was the goal that I was most excited about!). I also planned and executed our Thanksgiving menu with no mishaps and I have my Christmas gift list mapped out (That will come in handy this month!). I did not organize my kitchen and of course, prayer seemed to be placed on the back burner. 

Just like it is for most families, December is a very hectic month. However, I want to stay on track and keep setting goals each month. Since things will be busy for us, I want to keep things simple and not set myself up for failure. 

So, my December goals are:

1) 35 'Likes' on my Facebook page. (I'm currently at 33)

2) No last minute gifts. (Since I have my gifts planned out, I am hoping to get everything in time and wrapped all nice and pretty.)

3) Finish reading a book. (Any book!)

4) Organize something. (Anything! A drawer would be helpful!)

5) Pray more!!! (Gotta work on that!)

I have a feeling that this month is going to be very special! Holidays always bring special moments and memories. I can't wait to see what this Christmas brings!

Do you have any goals for this month? I would love to hear them!