The Sound of Diamonds (a cover reveal!)

Every once in awhile something really fun takes place… like, seeing a Facebook post by a friend of mine that says, “I signed a book contract!”

Rachelle Rae and I have written for the same publication for some time, so when her news hit I scurried off (can you do that online?) to send her an email begging for information about this upcoming book. It turns out she signed a contract for a 3 book historical fiction series with WhiteFire press. Continue reading

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Embracing Beauty {an interview with Trina Holden}

Yesterday, I shared with you a bit about my struggles with body image and style as well as a glimpse into how Trina Holden’s new book Embracing Beauty has helped and become an excellent recourse. Today I bring Trina herself to you in the form of an interview. I think you’ll enjoy her candid spirit and informative answers. 

1. Can you tell us a little bit of your style journey, and what inspired this project?

I struggled with defining my style and feeling confident with what I wore though my entire teens and twenties. I thought that style was something you were born with–that in the area of fashion there were the ‘haves’ and the have-nots’–and I was in the latter category. It was only in the past several years, with the input and inspiration of several ‘normal’ woman (read: not fashionistas) who had found joy and victory in this area that I believed I could actually attain personal style. I started to study what I loved, take note of what worked for me, and eventually I began to find real satisfaction in the area of style. Then–amazingly!–people started coming to me for fashion advice! I realized I had a lot to share from my journey, so I wrote a book for other gals who may need a little help along the way.

2. While writing your book you did a word study on “beauty” and “adorn” in the Bible, can you tell us a little bit about what you found?

This was my favorite part of writing the book: that moment when I realized that the Bible had more to say about clothing than just a list of ‘thou shalt nots’. First, I saw that God seems to love pretty things even more than I do–in fact, my desire to find, create, and surround myself with beauty is part of His image He planted in me. This helped me move beyond ‘permission’ to dabble in pretty things, to a ‘commission’ to be an ambassador of beauty to those around me, giving the world a glimpse of this aspect of my Father’s character.

I also saw how many times God used clothing–often white robes–to show the world who He had redeemed. I’ve come to believe that our adornment can be yet another way to express the joy of salvation to those around us. I can do this by not listening to the world’s definition of beauty and instead confidently embracing my unique design with clothes that I love and that love my figure.

3. In your book you suggest a tunic style blouse to help with the fluctuating weight of pregnancy. Since the last thing someone with infertility wants to wear is anything that could possibly make them look pregnant (since they are probably dealing with bloating and weight gain centered on the waist), do you have any other suggestions for an easy go-to style?

I have several suggestions!

First, start with a good foundation {garment}. I’m serious! A bra that comfortably lifts and supports you can make a world of difference in your confidence and in the appearance of any outfit you put on. Make sure you’re wearing the right size! (There are lots of tips on the book for measuring yourself properly!)

The next step is to use those beauties to distract from whatever you’ve got going on in the middle. I believe there is a tunic style which can flatter you through the changes your figure may experience when undergoing fertility treatments–the key to the right tunic is the location of the gathers or fullness. Any gathers, details, or tailoring below the breasts (think baby-doll style tunics) will look suspicious. But fullness above the breast highlights the curves you love, while flowing straight down to cover the curves you don’t. Check out these tops that will love quite a few pounds of weight fluctuation without making an announcement…

Tunics for when you're not Expecting

I also recommend choosing dark shades over light, and embracing long lines wherever you can. See these two styles of cardigans? The ones with long lines will be more flattering than something that stops at or above your waist.

Layers that Flatter (or Not)

I love the lacy vests and light-weight sweaters with long, drippy front edges, as well as maxi skirts, long necklaces, and long scarves. All these long lines send the message to the brain ‘Long! Straight! Skinny!” and help you ignore extra curves. I use some long accessory or layer in almost every outfit I create.

4. You’ve done a lot of study in nutrition and health, do you have any tips for those of us who are struggling with the common fatigue that accompanies infertility struggles?

  • Please give yourself permission to rest as often as you need to! Cultivate a solid night’s sleep by taking cleansing baths before bed (Epsom salts and baking soda in nice, hot water), learn to let go of anxieties, and do whatever you have to do to make your bedroom dark and conducive to sleep. (I have towels hung in front of my bedroom windows while I wait for curtains to fit in the budget!)
  • Make sure you’re digesting and thus benefiting from the food you’re eating–take a good digestive enzyme right before each meal, and try adding some fermented foods and condiments to your menu.
  • Avoid things like caffeine and sugar which stimulate and drain your adrenal glands, adding to your fatigue.

— just a little note from me: Trina’s cookbook, Real {fast} Food, is an excellent source of healthy recipes and easy how-to’s in the kitchen. If you don’t have a copy, definitely check it out by clicking here!

5. Your book is full of practical (and frugal) tips from choosing a color scheme to conquering the thrift store. Care to leave us with a little taste of the information your book offers?

There are chapters  that discuss–

  • seeing our beauty from God’s perspective
  • keeping the pursuit of external beauty in balance
  • how to balance textures and contrast to bring pizazz to your outfits
  • personalizing your look with accessories
  • and make-up routines for busy days

Also, almost every chapter is linked to a Pinterest board to continue the inspiration, and I even made several videos to illustrate my favorite scarf ties and some quick hair styles. I include lots of quotes and stories from other women on the journey to embracing beauty, and? I’m told the book is quite hilarious in spots. 😉

Thanks, Trina!

Embracing Beauty is available in PDF version (readable on any computer), Kindle, Nook, and in Paperback.

 

p.s. I loved all the feedback on my “feminine farmer” outfit from yesterday’s post. 🙂 I thought I’d share another typical farming outfit. This is what I usually grab when my husband invites me on a spur-of-the-moment date. This is the perfect outfit because if we happen to stop to check the hay fields, my feet are covered, but the pretty skirt still makes me feel like I could dance.

Spur-of-the-Moment-Date Look for the farmer's wife

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learning to embrace beauty

This post contains affiliate links.

embracing beauty

Over the past 9 ½ years of dealing with the complications of infertility, my body-size has bounced up and down between a size 6 and a size 16. No joke.

It pretty much sucks.

And to be honest, I haven’t dealt well with it. My husband has literally gone so far as to take the scales away from me when I’m struggling. “Your body isn’t functioning properly,” he tells me, “so this isn’t an accurate picture of what you are.” (he’s a good man, eh?) 

At one point in this journey I was eating a diet of no fat, no flour, no sugar, no dairy and no meat. (you’re right, that’s just about everything that tastes even remotely yummy.) I was desperate to lose the weight, partially for the sake of my looks and partially for the distant hope that losing weight would stimulate my reproductive organs enough to allow me to get pregnant.

Amazingly, after being on that strict of a diet for 6 weeks I lost a grand total of one pound.

Dead serious.

(Now, with the knowledge of nutrition that I have gained, I know that I was putting my body in starvation mode and every bite of those vegetables and brown rice, without the proper fats and nutrients, were going directly into storage.)

When it comes to infertility, natural treatments are slow and time consuming. Going the medical route brings its own joys, like hormones being injected into your stomach (i.e. needles into your abdomen) that cause bloating. Or fertility pills that cause weight gain.

The moral of this story? Infertility wrecks havoc on a woman’s body.

When my friend Trina told me she thinking about writing a book on style, I almost rolled my eyes. My sense of style disappeared somewhere around the time that my waist disappeared.

But then God really started to get a hold of me. I wrote a post about my realization that my issues with my weight were directly linked to pride. And then Trina started sending me chapters of her book.

Now, this book was written by a Mom, to moms. She covers topics like dressing when you’re pregnant or when you’re nursing. She’s not infertile so it would seem that her book could hardly apply to someone like me…

Except it does.

Because the majority of the book is about learning to love the way that God made your body. It’s about choosing to embrace the beautiful every day. It’s about learning to dress for the size you are, right now, instead of always dreaming of someday being different than what you are.

And it gets even better than that because she also shares about what God thinks about beauty. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working my butt off (I hope!) to lose weight and keep myself healthy. This isn’t about ignoring the negative impacts that excess weight can have on you. This is about rejoicing in beauty.

And I’ve started to enjoy getting dressed again.

Tomorrow Trina will be joining me with an interview (woohoo!), but in the meantime, I encourage you (no matter where you are in life) to check out her book.  Embracing Beauty is available in PDF version (readable on any computer), Kindle, Nook, and in Paperback.

p.s. She totally quotes me in one of the chapters (isn’t that precious?!) where I describe how I use accessories to make myself feel feminine while still wearing work clothes on the farm. This is the outfit I was talking about (my go-to farming look) and I have to say, put together on here it actually does look stylish. 😉

everyday style for the farmer's wife

More Heat, More Butter, More Salt

bread & wine by shaune niequist

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I’ve always been slightly enthralled by authors who write about food.  I devour books like The Dirty Life or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Julie & Julia (although the movie is better than the book for the last one).

I don’t even understand half the French words they use to describe the types or flavors, but I love to watch the way words create lyrics on the page. Now, mind you, I still call white sauce, well, white sauce, but there is something stupendous about the word crème being in the title, complete with the accent mark and the feeling of soft warmth.

Shauna Niequist’s new book Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table is like a beautifully preformed musical. Food, thoughts and faith all swirl together and what is created in a type of community (complete with recipes that I am dying to try).

She entices the reader into the kitchen with recipes that involve creamy goat cheese, bacon, and splashes of wine but her heart goes much deeper than the stomach. She writes to remind us all what the table is for: a place of community, a place of connection.

Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist

Perhaps I felt her heart more clearly because of the chapter about sharing joys and heartache, where she writes through the sorrow of her years of being unable to bear another child. Perhaps it is simply the way her writing voice jumps from subject to subject and then back to food, with an extra dosage of butter and salt.

Perhaps.

Either way, I was only half way through before I was texting a friend and saying, “I have a book you need to read!” And at dinner that night, when I was frying up the onions, I turned up the heat, added a little extra salt, some butter and a splash of wine (just for good measure).

It was delightful.

To read more about Shauna, visit her website.
To read more about Bread & Wine: a love letter to life around the table with recipes visit here. 
To order a copy of the book, visit here. 
For the Kindle version, visit here. 

I received a copy of Bread & Wine from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review. 

when a book inspires action

books and caramels

I’ve always said that the best books inspire action of some kind.

Well, I just read a book and while I don’t think it is necessarily one of the “best books” it did in fact inspire action on my part.

Siri Mitchell writes historical fiction and her newest novel ( Unrivaled) happens to be about the candy business.

Lucy is the daughter of a candy maker who created a bestselling taffy but then lost the recipe and his company in a business deal gone bad.

Charlie is a rough ‘n tough survivor from the wrong side of town who ends up in trouble with the law for a crime he didn’t commit. In desperation his mother writes a letter, requesting that her long-gone (and ridiculously rich) husband do something to help the son he abandoned years before.

The two young people are quite enthralled with each other until they discover that the successful empire Charlie will someday inherit was built on a certain recipe for the best taffy ever made.

It is a typical historical romance but Mitchell has incredible talent when it comes to writing about sweet confections. It felt a bit like stepping into the set for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. (I almost burst into a verse of Truly Scrumptious with a rousing rendition of Toot Sweets….)

All the talk of whipping egg whites and boiling sugar and pulling taffy, of nougat and chocolate and crunch….

It was cute. Fun. And inspired me to stand up and make a batch of caramel taffy. Seriously.

caramel taffy

The boys followed me around the kitchen as I threw water and sugar and salt, vinegar and butter into a pan. It boiled and they sighed at the smell. Eyes widened as I pulled the long strips of shiny sweetness.

I let them taste a bite and they seemed a bit shocked. “You’re good!” the seven-year-old said in surprise.

I didn’t burst my his bubble by telling him that it is virtually impossible to mess up sugar and butter.

caramel taffy

The book was a decent read and the caramels it inspired? Delish.

The only thing that would have been better would be a few recipes in the book itself. Instead I had to make up my own (because after reading about Lucy tossing together ingredients in her 1910 kitchen, I just couldn’t bring myself to google it!) which was an adventure in itself!

If you want to make some, just mix together 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, a splash of vinegar, a dash of salt, a tablespoon of butter– then mix on high heat, boiling for 8-10 minutes (until hardball stage). Add another tablespoon of butter, mix it well, and then let cool until you can touch it without it burning you. Butter your hands well and pull, pull, pull. Keep pulling until it is completely cool.  Whalla! yumminess. 

You can find more about Siri Mitchell here (or follow her on twitter here).

Bethany House Publishers sent me this book in exchange for an honest review. They probably had no idea that it would cost me a few ingredients and some hyped-up-on-sugar kiddos. 

The Tutor’s Daughter {review}

 

When I’ve had a long day {week, month, or year…} nothing pleases me more than to curl up with an interesting historical novel. I have a few authors that I depend on to supply me with a steady stream of such books. 🙂  Julie Klassen has kept up her end of the bargain and has written books to capture your imagination. They are thoroughly researched  and set in the beloved Regency era. Her latest novel, The Tutor’s Daughter, is the same as all the ones before. Fascinating, a little bit predictable, and still full of page-turning enjoyment.

 

Emma Smallwood longs to help her widowed father who has run a boarding school for most of her life. When hard circumstances cause them to close the school, she helps secure a job for him as a tutor for the younger brothers of two former students.

But when they arrive, mysterious things begin to happen and the family doesn’t seem all that keen on their presence.

Strange noises, troubling notes, questionable comments… and the two older boys seem to both have a vested interest in the tutor’s daughter.

 

 

 

A fun read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. You can click here to watch the book trailer. 

I received a copy in exchange
for my honest review from 
Bethany House Publishers.