Monday, October 7, 2013

Something Fun: 5 Favorite Things Swap

Recently, I have found different swaps among bloggers and Instagramers. You know, when different people mail each other little trinkets and gifts. Well each swap I had seen was over by the time I wanted to join. Bummer! Then Liza, Elina, Deanna and I decided to host a swap of our own! After discussing the details, we came up with the swap theme: 5 Favorite Things! For this swap, participants will mail their partner 5 of their favorite things. Sounds fun!?!
Well, we've decided to invite all of you to participate in this swap. Just email us here and you'll get paired up with someone. 

Here are just a few rules and extra information to get you started in this swap:
  • The swap sign up starts October 7 and the sign up closes on October 21!
  • When you receive your package, don't forget to share what you received in a blog post or on social media sites using #5favthingsswap
  • When you send your partner their package, don't forget to include a little note with your social media links like Instagram so that you can connect after the swap too!
  • This giveaway is for U.S. residents only. Sorry :(
  • When sending your gifts, you will have to pay for the shipping fee, and stamps. (Just in case you were wondering:)
  • And last but definitely not least, don't forget to ship out your partner's package by October 31! Their counting on you!

    Have fun with this swap and think outside of the box when you're filling up your partner's box with 5 of your favorite things. Girls of all ages are going to be a part of this swap so gifts must be appropriate. 

    If you would like to be a part of the swap, just tell us a little about yourself (like if you have any allergies!) and send your full mailing address (don't worry, your address will be kept private)

    Do you think your friends might be interested in joining us in this swap? Feel free to share with them the details! The more the merrier!

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Book Review: The Lost Medallion

    About the Book:
    The legend of the Lost Medallion has haunted Billy Stone’s family for two hundred years. His father’s search for the treasure ruined his career and his relationship with Billy. But when Billy find the medallion himself, it isn’t the end of his troubles- it’s just the beginning. 

    Hurtled back through time, Billy and his best friend Allie must confront and evil that threatens both the past and their future. To defeat this dark force, they must search deep within themselves for the True source of power and strength- or they’ll never see home again. 

    More than just a story, The Lost Medallion is a tale of sacrifice, of good versus evil, and of learning that each on of us is a treasure to God.

    My Review:
    The Lost Medallion by Bill Muir and Alex Kendrick was a book that I was ecstatic about reading and reviewing. Knowing the type of creative and entertaining faith-filled works Alex Kendrick is capable of, especially in the films Fireproof and Courageous, I knew that this book was going to be a great read. 

    When I signed up for this tour, I had a vague idea of what the book was about. I understood that there was some sort of lost medallion and a kid was destined to find it and then hold great power. What I didn't know was that the authors were going to go deeper than just the average superficial adventure novel and touch base on some pretty tough topics like self worth, the importance of being a responsible leader and the need to look to God for help in every situation. I found their way of explaining these topics kid-friendly and easy to understand while being entertaining the whole way through. 

    I'll be honest: I'm not really into reading about evil kings who kill their subjects with a nail dipped in poison nor am I into the sci-fi genre, but this book was different. As I read, I was truly intrigued by the mystery and danger wrapped up in finding the legendary medallion. I was also surprised by the many twists and turns of this book. For several nights in a row I'd find myself up (at ghastly hours) hurrying to finish one "good" part after the other. 

    I thought that I should mention that though there were several mentions to fights it wasn't graphic, gross or gut-spilling.

    One of my favorite external parts of this books was the QR codes and pictures scattered throughout. This made the adventure all the more real because I no longer had to imagine what was happening at different intervals of the story, but I could actually catch glimpses into the movie while reading.

    I was pleasantly surprised how interested I became in reading and finishing this book. The messages of selflessness, self worth, trust in God and integrity were all clear and weaved right into the story, in a way that kids could easily understand. I love to find a book, that though targeted to another audience, in this case to young tweens and teens, can still be appealing to another audience, in my case a romance-historical-Amishetc. fiction reader :) If you're looking for a book that's a bit outside of your comfort zone, I encourage you to read The Lost Medallion. It was definitely a worth while read filled to the brim with suspense, action, adventure and faith! It wasn't a stagnant read, actually, it was pretty easy to get through because it was so interesting! I'd happily rate it 5 out of 5 stars!

    Thursday, September 12, 2013

    Baking With Little Sister: PB Cookie In A Cup

    My sister Genesis loves to bake cookies with me. Almost every night before she goes to sleep she asks me, "Kianna, can we bake cookies tomorrow?" Months before, we used up all of our chocolate chips while making this recipe, so I was stuck. I was on a mission to find a new recipe that we could make to hold us off until we got a chance to get some more chocolate chips. I found this great recipe for Peanut Butter Cookie In A Cup and since we had all of the ingredients  on hand, it was perfect.

    Here's the recipe and a Instagram video of my sister and I baking it while jammin' to KLOVE.

    Peanut Butter Cookie In A Cup

    1 Tablespoon of Butter

    1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter

    1 Tablespoon of firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar

    1 Tablespoon of Granulated White Sugar

    2-3 drops of Pure Vanilla Extract {a splash}

    Small pinch of Kosher Salt

    1 egg yolk

    3 level Tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour

    Crushed Peanuts for topping (optional)

    In a bowl, melt peanut butter and butter together in microwave for about 30 seconds. 
    Add sugars, salt and vanilla and stir to combine. 
    Add egg yolk and stir again. Add flour and give a final stir. Scoop mixture into a mug.
    Sprinkle peanuts on top (if you're using peanuts) heat in microwave for around 45 seconds. Microwaves vary, so start checking for doneness at 35 seconds. Serve warm!

    Saturday, August 3, 2013

    Portraits // Alicia

    On July 27th, Alicia and I decided to have a little photo shoot. We had done one about six months back and at the time we realized how hard it is to pose and shoot in manual all while getting some decent photos of each other. We faced several setbacks, like uncharged cameras but we got through it laughing. We vowed that the next time we had a photo shoot, we'd be more prepared and we were. We busted out "the BIG cameras" and scouted the location we planned to shoot in. We got a sense of light and where we wanted each other to pose. We had so much fun! 

    Ali (as I call her) is my now 16 year old cousin. We've been besties forever and have these funny inside jokes that with just the slightest look at the each other, we can burst out laughing. She is super talented at drawing (even though she won't admit it) and her laugh makes me laugh. Without further ado here are just a few of my favorites of her. She's gorgeous!

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Score Thrifty: With Just Twenty Dollars In My Pocket

    Today I went thrifting with one goal in mind: get as many things as possible, all with out going over my $20 budget. I had seen the idea on Pinterest and knew that it'd be a great challenge for me. I think that if I have this goal every time I go thrifting, I'd be more selective and choosy about what I get and how much I spend. Believe me, my wallet will thank me later! Doing this challenge also made thrifting extra fun; almost like a treasure hunt….

    My first stop was to a thrift store in Mt. Vernon; a cutesy little neighborhood with pretty shops and what not. I like going to this thrift store for their great shoe selection and pretty baskets and skirts and you get the idea. I once found a pair of TOMS there! Today I found these super cute biker-esqe, vintage boots. They were regularly $7.99 but since this thrift store has the shoes at 50% off, these boots only cost me $4! They were the single most expensive thing I purchased!
     The detailing in these boots is just gorg. The snaps there allow you to fold the high-top part down.
    I also scored this beautiful Gap jacket (I should have steamed it first) I plan on wearing this when the weather gets a bit colder with one of my new scarves. It was regularly $6.99 but with an additional 50% off, I scored it for just $3.49
    I love the detailing in the sleeves and neckline.
    My second and final stop was to my neighborhood thrift store. This store is "THE" place to get great books! They sell them for 90% off the original retail price!
    I got this vintage Snoopy 5 piece book set for about $0.30! When I saw it on the shelf, I didn't even thumb through it! I just saw that awesome graphic cover and was like "I'm getting it!" Then, in the car, I looked at them and guess what? These 5 books are…. comic books! Sweet!

    I also scored these American Girl books for my little sister at about $0.19 apiece! When she learns how to read, she'll really enjoy these :|
    I like helping Genesis grow her library so these classics are her's as well. I remember reading and loving these books as a kid! Now, wasn't that Amelia Bedelia something? I also bought some other books for Genesis and even an English & Grammar book for me… I guess that in the spur of my happiness to start 11th grade I bought that English book.
    I borrowed Joshua Harris's book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" from the library about two years ago and didn't get to finish it then… We went on a trip during the time I had borrowed it and it just didn't get done. I loved it SO much that I bought a copy of my very own! The best part? It only cost me $0.20!

    So, at the end of the day, I only spent 13.47!!! I was under budget!

    I think that today's "haul" went well. I purchased a great crop of books all 90% off the original retail price and even scored some pretty awesome boots for the fall! 

    So, I dare you to try this challenge! The next time you go thrifting, set a budget and try to find as many things you can while staying at or below budget!

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    When The Skies Are Blue

    When the skies are blue and the weather is pretty, there's nothing more perfect than taking photos of it all. All around us there are signs of God's detailed hand, His eye for beauty, and His creative touch. I love looking, almost as if I were hunting, for the perfect shot to clearly display the majesty of creation. I also like capturing something a little different, like my little sister standing in front of a graphic wall or an old horse stable around our way. I've scouted this location for a future shoot… any volunteer models?

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    DIY Recycling Cereal Boxes Two Ways

    We rarely buy sugary cereals; just recently, my mom has been getting all the good ones like Reese's Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch :) When we finished the cereals, my mom asked me to throw away the boxes, but I had another idea; I planned to recycle them into two things: a postcard and a journal.

    To make your own cereal box postcard or journal just follow the steps below:

    {Step 1:} Start with cereal boxes. (Simple right?)

    {Step 2} Open up the cereal box so that it lies completely flat. Then, cut a rectangle out of the "prettiest part" like the name of the cereal or any cool graphics on the box. You might not want the nutrition facts as a part of your finished project :)
    I cut my cereal boxes about 4x6" but you can cut them to whatever measures you prefer. Depending on whether you are doing a postcard, I recommend you use these measurements.

    {Step 3} Create lines on the back side of your postcard for the address and if you want lines on the left side to write your message.

    If you want to take this project to the next level and make a journal,

    {Step 4} Cut inner pages (out of regular computer paper) and back cover  (out of card stock) the same size as your cover. In this case, my cover, inner pages and back cover all measure 4x6")

    {Step 5} Optional: If you have a corner rounding punch, use it to round the corners of your cover, inner pages and back cover.

    {Step 6} With a Bind-it-All machine, make holes in the left side or top of you journal pages and bind it closed. And you're done! Simple and super cute !

    If you don't have a Bind-it-All, simply use a regular hole punch and make several punches along the side or top and bind with ribbons.

    What DIY projects have you been up to lately?

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Book Review: Daughter of Jerusalem + 2 Giveaway Copies

    About the Book:
    She was a widow, a businesswoman, an adulteress. In her lifetime, she knew murder, prejudice, and faith. She transformed from a Jewish girl longing for family to one of the closest friends of Jesus of Nazareth -- the Son of God.


    My Review:
    This is the second biblical fiction book I have reviewed here and the third that I own. After getting a feel for what biblical fiction has to offer and enjoying it immensely, I was overjoyed when Worthy Publishing contacted me about reviewing Daughter of Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene is a character mentioned throughout the Gospel so reading her story, though it be fictitious, piqued my interest.

    When I read the Bible, I often contemplate the backstories of the characters; I wonder who they were, what they're lives were like and what lead to their becoming followers of Jesus. Daughter of Jerusalem follows the early life of Mary as she leaves her father's home due to a disagreeable step-mother and moves in with her dead mother's sister, Aunt Leah (and a whole broad of other distant relatives.) From the first pages, I sympathized with Mary. I felt her pain as she was forced to leave the only home she'd ever known and move in with others whom disliked her. I thought that Joan developed the characters well. I think she wanted us to love Mary and Daniel and very much dislike the villains, Lord Benjamin and even Marcus Novias Claudius who caused Mary pain. She achieved that! 

    The historical elements were so seamlessly weaved together with the fictitious, that the story was believable. Though the Bible does not say why and how Mary came to  lead an adulterous life, I felt that Joan's rendition was appropriate and fit the time and circumstances of the story. The words, characters and locations seemed to come to life before my eyes. I could easily imagine the rich fabrics and luscious gardens just to name a few. The mentions to familiar characters like Peter, and events life the death of Lazarus also made the story more believable and historically intact.

    The best part of the story may just have to be the redemptive part where Mary believes that Jesus is who He says He is: The Son of God and begins living a consecrated life. She repents and goes back to her Jewish roots, getting to love the God whom she always knew existed and is now convinced that He loves her too. I can now say that I look at Mary as a heroine; she overcame countless obstacles and misery all to become a student of Jesus, the Messiah she had been waiting for.

    Another plus to this book is that fact that it's different! I can truthfully say that nearly every fiction romance novel I have read has had a predictable ending. You know the type: the ones where the guy always gets the girl and they live happily ever after. Mary didn't get her first love, or even her second love, and was thrust into uncomfortable situations and until meeting Jesus, she led an unhappy, sinful life. I thought that this aspect alone could set Daughter of Jerusalem apart from other novels!

    I can only fault this book in two areas, one of which is kind of pathetic. I felt that the frequent mention of new names, followed by insufficient descriptions, left me wondering who each new, secondary character was. As I didn't find too much in the book right away, I immediately pinned the new names as either children or servants. The second fault I felt I should mention was the romance between Mary and Daniel. I know that the book is placed in ancient times, where marriages between 14 year old girls and 16 year old boys were permissible but, even though I loved that pair, I felt that the romance was too intense. I nearly forgot that I was reading of children! 

    I truly, absolutely enjoyed Daughter of Jerusalem and know that you will too! It's a different kind of novel; one that will be a joy to read, one that will touch your heart and at times leave you at the edge of your seat! I rate Daughter of Jerusalem 4.5-5 stars! It was truly a phenomenal read.

    Now, onto what I know you've all been waiting for: the giveaway. Worthy Publishing had provided me with review copies for my readers. If you enjoyed my review and want a shot at winning you own copy of Daughter of Jerusalem, enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    Something Fun: Instagram Videos

    A few months back, my mom and I were talking about the fact that at any moment, Instagram was going to come out with a video feature. I thought that it was a great idea and it would be SO much fun to see what my Insta-friends where up to in live time. Then, when I updated my app a few weeks ago, I saw an exciting, but not shocking, new feature: they finally added video sharing!!!

    I've played around with the new video feature and I'm really digging it, especially the new filters. Below are my four instavideos from most recent to the oldest one. Enjoy :)

    the beach. it's a beautiful day!

    we're going to see fireworks! happy (now late) fourth of july. #proudtobeanamerican.

    so, we're pretty stoked to be at the @verabradley outlet!

    summer daze. p.s. please excuse that honk in the background :| #city living

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    And The Winner of Seed Bead Bracelet + Five Dollar Gift Code Is...

    Before I announce the winner of the Seed Bead Bracelet + Five Dollar Gift Code from my giveaway, I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my blog, follow along for the journey and leave encouraging comments. You have all made blogging more fun! 

    Are you enjoying the new posts so far? Well, I've got many more post ideas up my sleeve that will soon make their debut on the blog. 

    Thank you Deanna for all of you encouraging comments and input regarding my shop and blog :) You are the winner! Please contact me to claim your prize here

    Zoo Days

    The Bronx Zoo is one of New York City's landmarks. Many people from all over the world travel across land and sea to visit this zoo. (It's really neat to hear foreigners speak in Portuguese or some Asian dialect!) I'm so blessed to have this zoo just a few blocks from my house. 

    Every summer, several times each summer, we go the the zoo. Each time I go, it never ceases to amaze me. Yes, it is a LOT of walking but just getting to look at the animals and plants and watching the sea lions show makes the walk bearable. 

    And what zoo allows the peacocks to roam about freely?

    I just love the whole feel of the zoo, you know. It's usually buzzing with people but I look forward to the trip every year :)
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