Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton: A Review

About a month ago, I finished reading The Chocolate Money by Ashley Prentice Norton. I was a bit disturbed at some parts of this book because the graphic nature it could have but I was also completely consumed by the characters. I needed to understand them and that's what kept me reading. I have it a rating of three out of five stars on Goodreads. Find out why below.

What Goodreads Says
Source: Flickr Creative Commons, User - Yavuz
Set in 1980s Chicago and on the East Coast, this electric debut chronicles the relationship between an impossibly rich chocolate heiress, Babs Ballentyne, and her sensitive and bookish young daughter, Bettina. Babs plays by no one’s rules: naked Christmas cards, lavish theme parties with lewd installations at her Lake Shore Drive penthouse, nocturnal visits from her married lover, who “admires her centerfold” while his wife sleeps at their nearby home.

Bettina wants nothing more than to win her mother’s affection and approval, both of which prove elusive. When she escapes to an elite New Hampshire prep school, Bettina finds that her unorthodox upbringing makes it difficult to fit in with her peers, one of whom happens to be the son of Babs’s lover. As she struggles to forge an identity apart from her mother, Bettina walks a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction.

As funny as it is scandalous, The Chocolate Money is Mommie Dearest,Prep, and 50 Shades of Gray all rolled into one compulsively readable book.

What I Say
This was a really intriguing novel. Half the time I wanted to throw it across the room out of pure disgust but I just couln't tear myself away. It's a book about a woman named Bettina remembering her childhood and the relationship she had with her mother. You think that it's about her life growing up but it's really about how her mother influenced her life. Everything up to her mother's death, potentially even afterwards, was affected by what she thought her mother would think or what her mother would do. Bettina needed so badly to be accepted by her mother that she became almost obsessed with her own behavior.

I think all of us can relate to Bettina's need of acceptance to a certain point. Everyone wants to be loved by their parents. Some people just need it a little more. The Chocolate Money explored the life of the rich and what it was really like to be a part of that lifestyle. It started early with Bettina's memories of her mother's lavish parties and ended with her inheriting millions of dollars but lonely at the same time.

I thought this was a very dramatic depiction of youth and adolescence. The wants, needs and desires of a child from the age of five to twenty-five. It's about finding yourself while trying to identify with someone else. I wasn't completely thrilled with this book but I couldn't put it down either. I was so immersed in Bettina's character and how obsessed she was with her mother. I needed to understand not only her behavior, but her mother's as well. I wish I knew what Bettina was like now, twenty-something years later. I want to know what Bettina is at forty because she still had a lot of growing up to do by the time we finished what was so far written of her story. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love With Food August Box Review: Fun at the County Fair

Beauty boxes are fun but food boxes are downright tasty. I love getting my Love With Food box in the mail every month. I'm excited to try new treats and see if there's anything I can add to my food addiction list. I love how they give a meal to a kid with every box as well. It's just an added perk. Get a box of snacks, feed a child. 

Montral Steak Spice Seasoning Potato Chips by Covered Bridge
What LWF Says: These old-fashioned kettle-cooked gluten-free chips are seasoned with your favorite steak seasoning for a spicy crunch. @CBchips

What I Say: These were delicious. They were full of flavor and very satisfying if you crave salt like me. They were super salty though. I highly recommend eating these with a very full glass of water within reaching distance.

Pineapple + Coconut Fruit Ice by Smooze!
What LWF Says: Beat the summer heat with this delicious vegan, dairy-free pop (remember to freeze before you eat) @SmoozeFruitIce

What I Say: To be honest, I haven't tried this yet. I put it in the freezer after it got cooler outside so I haven't exactly been craving a cold treat. Once I do manage to get around to it, I'll post my thoughts on Instagram.

Cinnamon Grahams by Skeeter Nut Free
What LWF Says: These little squirrel-shaped nut-free snacks will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you going ride after ride. @SkeeterNutFree

What I Say: This was the first snack I went for
when I got the box. I love graham snacks and these were delicious. I would also get these for my little cousin who has a nut allergy. They're perfect for him.

Salty Caramel Apple Salt Water Taffy by Salty Road
What LWF Says: Inspired by salted caramel apple pie, this taffy wins our prize for "Best in Show." @saltyroad

What I Say: I'm not a fan or taffy or caramel. This honestly just went in the trash. I wasn't going to put myself through it. I'm sure there are people who loved this treat but caramel just ignites my gag reflex to be honest.

Lollipops by Yumearth
What LWF Says: Let out your inner child and indulge guilt-free in these organic suckers in flavors like Googly Grape and Strawberry Smash. @YumEarth

What I Say: I'm not a candy person but the grape lollipop really curbed a sweet craving I was having the other day. I loved it. It brought back some childhood memories too which was surprisingly welcoming.

Crispy Cheddar Crackers by Back to Nature
What LWF Says: Presto! Just like crackers you loved as  kid, but without all the junk - savor the taste of cheddar cheese in a deliciously light crunch. 

What I Say: I love these crackers. We get these at
the office and I'm constantly trying to avoid them. They're such a great much food and these make it slightly less guilt-ridden.

Nutt Rice Bits with Blueberries by 180 Snacks
What LWF Says: Crunch your way through these bite-size crispy clusters, all dressed up for summer with sweet blueberries. @180snacks

What I Say: Oh. My. God. I was expecting to hate these...don't ask why. They were so delicious. I wanted more! I still want more. It was such an unexpected treat for me. I would definitely buy these on my own.

Kettle Sweet Peanuts by Love With Food
What LWF Says: Its okay to get carried away with this sweet, salty and nutty combo...just do it and #GoNuts @lovewithfood

What I Say: These were so delicious! I downed this bag real quick. They had a sweet and salty element to them which curbed every craving and made them addicting as well.

Love With Food helps you discover new organic or all-natural snacks delivered to your door every month. Our subscription membership starts as low as $10/month. Every month, Love With Food members will receive a curated box of unique, hard-to-find tasty snacks which varies based on seasonal themes.

For every box sold, they donate a meal to several food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength - No Kid Hungry. Join them to help end child hunger one meal at a time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Literary Junkies Tuesday Link Up

Pink Heels Pink Truck 

Happy Tuesday!! It's time for our monthly Literary Junkies link up. Let's see what you've been reading lately...

And now for this week's questions!

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.
Right now I'm focusing on magazines. I just finished reading The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon which was amazing. I can't wait to get that review up. 

2. There are a ton of movies coming out soon that were based off of books. Are there any you're particularly excited to see?
I'm incredibly excited for Gone Girl. I love Ben Affleck and can't wait to see him in it. I'm also excited for Serena. They just came out with the trailer this week and it gave me goosebumps.

3. With fall finally here for some of us, are there any books that you're particularly looking forward to reading in the season of big sweaters, blankets and hot chocolate? 
I want to tackle some more of the Temperance Brennan series. I want to read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and I want to read A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. If I can make that happen, I'll be happy.

4. We only have 3.5 months left of 2014. Did you participate in any reading challenges? How are you doing?
I have all my reading challenges documented on My Bookshelf. As you can see I haven't done particularly well. I set a goal of 25 books for this year on Goodreads and I've made it to 14 so far. If I can make it to at least 20, I call that a success. It's more books than I've read for leisure since I started college.

5. What has been the best book you've read so far this year?
I think it's a tie between What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. They were both really great books but completely different. I absolutely loved both of them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beauty Box 5 August Review: Radiant and Remarkable

I'm really late with my beauty box reviews this month. I've had so much going on though that they just kept getting pushed back! We've officially been in fall for almost a week here in Chi-town. I've been loving this weather and I can't wait to really get cranking on fall posts I have in store. There's fashion, recipes, decor and more to come! Today I've got a shoutout for summer though. It's the start of my last summer beauty boxes starting with Beauty Box 5 and there were some great products this month. Check out what I had to say!
Purlisse Pur protect SPF 30 $55
What BB5 Says: Shield your skin and soak up some rays without guilt or greatness! This lightweight moisturizer has the perfect amount of SPF to protect your pretty face and won't upset sensitive complexions - bring on the sunshine! #purlisse

What I Say: This might be a bigger deal to people in Chicago if it wasn't below 60 degrees lately. As I'm writing this post, it's only 55 degrees and I'm loving it! You guys know me, I don't particularly care about SPF but as a moisturizer, this stuff is pretty great. It gets the job done, doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy and is really convenient for sleeping over which I've been doing a lot since I moved back to the suburbs.

La Fresh Travel Light Makeup Remover Wipes $19.99
What BB5 Says: We love to pile on the products, but when it's got to go, there's no need for a delay! These wipes take away all of our favorite makeup fast-even waterproof formulas! - without irritating our faces or leaving any residue behind. Ahh-quick, easy, and refreshed. #lafreshgroup

What I Say: These are great for overnight visits. They take off makeup easily and fit into your bag without taking up much space. I've been keeping these with me for overnight visits when I don't come home or I use them on late nights when I just can't get myself to do it. 

Nanacoco Lip Gloss $3.99
What BB5 Says: Your lips deserve a rush of color and shine with no stickiness attached! We adore Nanacoco's gloss because it's packed full of pigments and vitamin E to keep your sassy pout poppin' and nourished at the same time. #nanacoco

What I Say: I received this in Secret Crush. I loved the color. I'm all about nude or slightly pink lips. I didn't really like the formula though. It felt too thick to me. It didn't spread on easy and it didn't have a smooth look to it. I would use this since I really love the color but in combination with a clear gloss on top to smooth it out. 

Novex Brazilian Keratin $19.50
What BB5 Says: Is your mane hungry for nourishment? This intensive treatment works on all hair types, so you can renew and reinforce your strands right away. BB5 tip: massage this into your tresses post-shampoo, leave in for 25 minutes, then rinse for smoothness and shine. #novex

What I Say: In full disclosure, I don't think I left this in for the full 25 minutes but I wasn't disappointed by any means. My hair was super soft when I used this and felt very clean and healthy. There's even enough in the packet to use two or three other times. I encourage it because this product worked really well.

Style Essentials Nail Polish $7.00
What BB5 Says: Bored with plain polish? Wave hello to shiny, exciting nails! This lavish lacquer adds a pretty dash of color and fun finish to your digits, and the easy-to-apply brush makes switching to a new hue simple!

What I Say: I received this in a metallic silver color. This nail polish was so fun. It's super shiny and lasted for a week. It was easy to apply and didn't take a long time to dry which is always nice. This will be a great color for the holidays and new years. I can't wait to break it out again but right now, I'm looking for a little bit of color.

And now I'd like you to meet Brittany from Everyday Thoughts. She's pretty awesome so make sure to check out her blog and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin and Google+

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Variety of Snacks Thanks to Graze

There are so many subscription boxes out there. Some are monthly, others weekly, some every few weeks. Some are even customizable. If you get all of them though, you can spend a lot of money. If you're like me and love getting these in the mail, it's tough to say no when you find a new one you really like. So instead of saying no to one and yes to another, I switch it up every so often. I've been getting Ipsy, Beauty Box 5 and Petit Vour for a while, Love With Food for just a few months and Graze is my most recent addition to the pile. The Graze box is a little different than the others because it's meant for weekly or every other week delivery. I get mine every other week right now and it's great to bring to work. A new snack every day! Here's a glimpse at the two boxes I've received so far. 

For my first box, they sent me some really great snacks. I was pleased will all of these options. Starting at the top left and moving clockwise, this box included an Herby Bread Basket, Summer Berry Flapjack, Punchy Protein Nuts, and a Jalapeno Fiesta nut mix. I love all of these but my favorite savory snack was the Herby Bread Basket. My favorite sweet snack was the Summer Berry Flapjack. That was really, really tasty. I hope they send me more flapjacks. 

Sorry for the lighting in this picture. I took it at the office and we have terrible flourescent lights. This box included Sour Cream & Onion Cashews, Mississippi BBQ Pistachios, Smokey Chipotle Dip with Rosemary Breadsticks and Raspberry Coconut Muffin Mix. These were all pretty strong flavors. I loved the dip and the sour cream and onion cashews best. I wasn't really sure how to manage the muffin thing. I only liked the amaretto cookies. I don't like dried fruits and raw coconut. The BBQ Pistachios were delicious but not productive. I had to concentrate on opening them rather than just mindless snacking while I worked.

When you sign up for your first Graze Box, you can go through their snacks and note ones you want to try and or trash snacks you want nothing to do with. I did that for all the snacks with mainly dried fruit. Gross. Once you get your box in the mail, you can try your snack and click Like or Love if you want to see it again. I don't Love anything because I want to try as many snacks as possible. I'd rather be surprised than get the same thing over and over again. 

Get Fit Giveaway

Congratulations to Christine on her one year anniversary of a fitness goal she made for herself!nThe goal was to work out five days a week, every week, no excuses. She's very proud to say that she has now worked out five days a week for the past YEAR! Obviously, this is huge for, so she got some other lovely ladies decided to celebrate by giving away an awesome fitness prize pack! You could win a FitBix Flex, a PiYo base kit, and an ab roller! These are all some really great fitness essentials that will help you slim down and get fit!  
 You can click on any blogger's picture above and it will take you straight to their blog! Neat, huh? Now for the giveaway details: Open to US participants only! Sorry international readers, but we still love you! Entries will be verified before winner is notified, so don't cheat! Winner will be notified by email after the giveaway closes, and will have 48 hours to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen, and so on and so forth. With that said, start entering! Good luck to all of you!
Little Momma Love Love the Here and Now Meg in Training Ruffled Paper Sarah Christine Style Sew My Soul To Travel and Beyond The So-Called Homemaker Life With a Side of Coffee How to Make a Life The Happy Type Everyday Thoughts Butcher's Niche Becoming Adorrable The Ashley Maria Blog Image Map a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cooking Adventures with Hello Fresh

Love With Food, a subscription box I receive in the mail, often comes with coupons and discounts for food-related things. Last month, there was a great deal to try Hello Fresh for the first time and I couldn't resist. I've tried Home Chef before which was a pretty great experience so I was excited to try another box that was similar. So, I chose three meals and let the ingredients come to me. Here's how it went...

MEAL 1: Turkey and Spinach Burgers with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
This was our favorite. My aunt and I split one burger for dinner and then we shared the second the next day with my two cousins. They patties were huge. You can easily turn this into a four person meal instead of just two. In all fairness, I did not get to cook this recipe according to the directions. Our power went out while I was cooking so I had to improvise by cooking the potatoes on the stove with the one burner that I had lit before the power went out and I cooked the burgers on the grill. It was still great though.

MEAL 2: Lomo Saltado over Roasted Potatoes
This meal was delicious and had a really nice kick of spice to it. It was a little too spicy for the boys but my aunt and I really loved it. It's not the most visually appealing meal but it makes up for looks in taste. It was also pretty easy to make without a ton of clean up. I always appreciate that.

MEAL 3: Honey Glazed Pork Chops with Quinoa Salad
This was my least favorite out of the three. The honey ginger glaze was delicious but the quinoa salad wasn't so great. I also had to cook the pork chops far longer than it stated in the directions. Rather than just 5 or 6 minutes of oven time, it took about 15-20 for them to be cooked. That wasn't something I was thrilled about since I made this on a work night. This was another one that had a ton of food for 2 people. It could have easily fed three, maybe four depending on how hungry everyone is.
Are you subscribed to any food delivery boxes? What's your favorite?

Chaotic Goddess Swapoween Sign-Ups

If you love the season and want to celebrate by swapping themed packages, this is the thing for you. 

Here are the dates to keep in mind for the post. Make sure you can commit!
Sign-Ups Close on September 15th, 2014
Partners Assigned on September 17th, 2014
Packages Ship by October 10th and October 11th, 2014
Swap Show-Off Post/Linky goes live on October 15th!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bigs & Littles Blogging Network Sign-Up

It is now time to sign up for this round of the
 Bigs & Littles Blogging Network! 

What is Bigs & Littles?
This is a partnering of bloggers to teach, to learn and to grow that lasts two months. In the Bigs & Littles Blogging Network big & little bloggers are matched together. Each of us regardless of size or experience has something we can give back to others. Throughout this program you will have the ability to build a new friendship, share experiences, teach, and learn.  We know that sometimes in the beginning days of our blogs we were frustrated, even sometimes now we just need a little blogging advice. We just felt that sometimes we were at a lost, with no one to help us understand  how blogging worked. This is something that we feel never changes, yes our blogs have grown tremendously, but with that comes a whole new set of issues that arise.

Have you ever felt the same? Well we can tell you that sometimes asking another blogger questions and advice can be quite frustrating and intimidating. Well if you are looking for a way to meet someone to share advice and just someone to lean on through your blogging experience, then this may be the perfect program for you. 

Want help designing our blog, learning how to grow your blog, or just some general advice then we suggest that you take a moment to contemplate this program!

How it works:
The sign up will run from September 12th- September 19th! Once the deadline has passed, the process of finding your partner will begin! This process will take about a week, but depending on the number that sign up it could take a bit longer or it could take less time. The partner list should be out by September 23rd.  Your Partnership will run for 2 months, at the end of this time you will need to sign up again to receive a new partner.

**New** When will sign ups occur?

Signups will occur 3 times a year in: January, May, and September

Why you should sign up?
The idea behind the Bigs & Littles Blogging Network is for bloggers to teach, learn, and grow from each other. Furthermore, the goal is to become close with one another and support each other, and at the end of it all make new friends. Our vision is not only for the Littles to grow their blogs and learn from their big, but that this process will propel them into becoming a big themselves. Regardless if you are a big or little, there is something that we can all bring to the table to help each other.

We also want to note that we suggest that you not focus on being defined as a big or a little. You fall into one of these categories based on a variety of things. The idea that everyone could be matched with someone as large of a blogger as The Small Things Blog, while it would be amazing it unfortunately is simply impossible at this time. Our point is take this experience and run with it. Remember that what you put into this experience will be what you get out of it. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us here. 

Before you sign up please read this recap of the rules:

The Rules: 

1. Please follow the hosts: ChelseeDeb, Kristyn, TiffanyChristine!
2. If you are unable to continue with your relationship with your partner, please send an email here and I will make make arrangements to reassign you another partner. 
3. If for any reason you feel that your partner is not participating, please email us here. Note if you do not email us to let us know then there is nothing we can do to help.
4. Please note that if you are not participating, then you will be unable to participate in the future(This is only fair to your partner, and not malicious). 
5. Write a post and link it up with us on November 7th detailing your Bigs & Littles experience and about your Big or Little(s).

Have Fun & Make Friends!

*Feel free to Grab our button and use it on your blog! 

Grab button for B&L

<div class="Grab button for B&L" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="SBG" width="200" height="200" /> </a></div>

Once the partners are revealed I will be emailing out ideas for what to do with your partner during the program period. If you have any ideas about how to get to know your partner better and/or helping each other then feel free to email them! Additionally if you have any questions about this program just leave them in the comments or email us. 

Click here to Sign Up!
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