!( - )

!( - )

August 30, 2014

Short & Sweet Katya Valera Sale!

Here we are! Last weekend of the month = time for another Short & Sweet two-day sale at Katya Valera!


Today and tomorrow only, until 11:59 PM EST Sunday night, use coupon code GoldenSummertime for 20% off all of my gold pieces! You can see them all right here.

{Please use the coupon code only for the pieces that apply; if you wish to buy a piece that does not apply also, just check out with them separately and I'll refund any shipping difference.}

Happy shopping!

Image Map

August 29, 2014

My Friday Five: Starbucks Is Wrong and Emily West Is Brilliant

Friday, Friday! Maybe Chickfilla date today? ;D For now...

1~ Man, August was so slow but so fast. Weird. Isn't it still just now spring though? What is this fall talk I hear? Anyway, I don't care what Starbucks or the calendar says, it's certainly not fall outside my window.

2~ So, this unpacking and settling in thing. Yeah, it takes a while. I really don't know when it'll ever be done, but it's not looking like anytime soon. Daniel tells me that it took us forever to unpack our last apartment too, but I seem to have removed that from my memory. Considering my activity level is pretty much at the mercy of my body's whims, its current favorite being migraines in addition to the ever-popular no energy, looks like we'll be lucky to have the place settled into by Christmas. If only my body could match my brain's activity.

3~ Did you see this recipe I shared on Wednesday? So easy and so, so good. I may live on it now. With the "french toast" either as sticks, used to make this McGriddle, or like you'd usually eat french toast, with lots of strawberries on top. As always with a new food, how exactly did I make it without this for so long?


4~ Did you guys see Emily West again on America's Got Talent this week? Insanely amazing as always. And she made it through! (Thank. freaking. goodness.) I want her to win so bad. I know winning doesn't guarantee she'll make it as huge as she deserves, but it's certainly a step in the right direction. She is seriously my favorite singer right now--I just cannot get over her voice.


5~ So, the announcement was finally made this week that Chris the Farmer is the next Bachelor. How do we feel about that? Any guesses as to what in the world took them so long? Let's just hope (and I'd say there's a mighty good chance) that Chris is everything Juan Pablo was not.

Oh, and tomorrow's the last Saturday of the month--and that means it's time for my Short & Sweet special! Keep an eye out here tomorrow for the two-day Katya Valera deal!

Image Map

August 28, 2014

Miracle in a Dry Season Review

While perusing my choices of books to review from Bethany House*, I knew that I just had to go with Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas when I saw that it was set in West Virginia. Pair its setting with the fact that it's a Christian historic novel, and I knew it would be right up my alley.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Needless to say, I really wanted to like this novel from the start. Unfortunately... I didn't. There were four main issues I found while reading this book. {I won't go into the whole storyline, but spoilers are ahead!}

1~ Predictability. The ending was predictable from the start. When a book begins with a single guy and a single girl as the main characters, we know how it's going to end, no matter how many obstacles there seem to be. I know they had to go through a lot before they got together, but I would rather it not be so obvious from page one that they will indeed. There was a bit of a twist with the preacher toward the end--making the preacher so evil was unique. (Though I didn't like that Casewell didn't get more upset when he found out what the preacher had done to Perla. Some righteous indignation would have been quite satisfying.) And I was a little surprised when Perla ran away for a bit at the end--that was a good turn of events. But the twists all came to the conclusion I was expecting.

2~ Wording. You may know that I spent four years of college as a proofreader and then a year after as an editor of all kinds of books, including novels. And in those years I discovered that I have very high expectations for a book's quality in every way possible, sometimes even higher standards than the publishing house I was working for. In short, I simply could not reign in the editor in me, and though I don't think I found a single mistake--a very rare occurrence--there were several sentences that I couldn't help feeling could have been worded clearer, or less clunky. Nothing horribly glaring, but I should be so pulled into the story that I don't notice sentence structure. But it didn't pull me in enough to help turn off that switch of mine.

3~ Confusion. This is a realistic, Christian novel. So when we're going through the normalcy of the story and then find out that the heroine, Perla, has an unexplainable gift for making small amounts of food go unnaturally far--yes, like feeding the 5,000--I couldn't help reel a bit mentally. Though her "gift" bothered many townspeople, it was pretty much settled that it was her gift from God. God does give people gifts, yes, but I found this a bit out there. It did work with the plot (they were in the middle of a drought, so such a "gift" was certainly handy) but was so unrealistic that it was jarring in the midst of the rest of the story and lowered the believability level of a story that should have been nothing but totally believable.

4~ Lack of capturing WV. I saw that the author lives in North Carolina (small world!) but while reading the portrayal of West Virginia wondered if she was familiar with it or had just chosen it as her setting. Come to find out she grew up there! (Further that small world...) Maybe it's just me, maybe it's just her writing style, but I would have thought a novel about West Virginia, by someone who knows and loves it, would here and there attempt to get across the beauty of the state, but I didn't see that. Some events that happened did rather have an authentic feel, like the dances and several playing instruments, but mostly I just saw characters who happened to be in a rural setting. And some of the characters seemed to be a bit too polished, verbally, for mid-century, average West Virginians.

Overall, the book was adequately entertaining for late nights while Daniel and I were in our three weeks of long distance. But I don't plan to read it again and would not necessarily recommend it to my friends to read.

In a nutshell, I have super high expectations for anything I read and a BA in Creative Writing, plus the editor's disease. Add in that the book is set in West Virginia, and my expectations multiply, along with the book's chances of falling short of my expectations. It had a whole lot to live up to. So while others very well could find this book clever and entertaining, I was pretty disappointed.

However, I was proud to find a West Virginian who moved to North Carolina basing a book in the land she loves most!

Image Map

August 27, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: Bacon & Egg McGriddle

Guys, I'm so excited about this recipe. If you can even call it that. I know I shared a Gluten-free Waffle McGriddle many moons ago, but that is now a thing of the past for me and this version is even better for you than that...

I realized that I've been terming all my recipes anymore gluten-free and dairy-free, but there's so much more they're free of. Think this covers it?

Close enough--I ran out of room.... ;)

This little treat uses my Breadless French Toast Sticks that I shared a while back. Every time I come up with a new recipe, I wonder how I didn't think of it sooner, and this is no exception. The french toast comes out flat and thick like bread, so why not use it like it?? So now I do. Alll the time.

You'll need:
For the "bread":
Two squares of "French Toast Bread"
Maple syrup

For the eggs:
2 eggs (or as many as you want)
salt (I use himalayan)
some chopped onion
olive oil

For the bacon:
3 or 4 slices of turkey lunchmeat (I use this)

1~ If you don't have the French Toast already made, do that first. It takes a bit. ;)

2~ You can make the eggs however your heart desires. But here's what I like to do: Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and whisk them with salt and pepper to taste, sautee the onions in a pan with olive oil, heat a drizzle of oil in a pan (used in place of butter), pour the eggs into the pan, sprinkle the onions on top, and then fry on either side. The onions are optional, as is sauteeing them first, but I've found that way is the best.

3~ While the eggs are frying, tear or cut the lunchmeat into strips, lay them out on a paper towel-covered plate, cover with a paper towel, and microwave for about 3 minutes. {Credit to Daniel for dreaming this up. Priceless.}

4~ Cut off two squares of the French Toast bread (microwave them if they're not fresh), and drizzle maple syrup on each slice. {Tip: drizzle the syrup on them sooner, before cooking the eggs and such, so the "bread" absorbs the syrup and becomes more McGriddl-y.} Stack the eggs (which you can see I fold over) and the bacon as you wish, and top with the second slice of "bread." Feel free to dip it in more syrup too. ;)

So simple! And so not bad for you like the "real thing" that I love, love, loved way back when, with a Dr. Pepper. I was so healthy. Why am I surprised my body is so sick?

This is great for a special meal! Or every freaking breakfast for a week. You won't see me judging...

Like this? You might like these allergen-free recipes too!

{linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday, Real Food Recipe Roundup here and here, Time to Sparkle, Share It Link Party, Do Tell Tuesday, Let Your Light Shine, Treat Yo' Self Thursday}

Image Map

August 25, 2014

All the Fun You've Missed...

Well, as predicted, Life, KV Style had to take a break while we waited to get internet in our apartment. But it's here and I'm back now!

It's kind of hard to believe we've already been here a whole week--3 weeks of long-distance are over, and we are finally together in our new apartment, which I hadn't seen until the official move a week ago. And it's also hard to believe that I didn't straight up collapse from all I did the past 2 1/2 weeks. My last 3 weeks at home in WV while Daniel was already in NC, I was sick like mad for a week, then recovered for a week, then spent the last week packing everything that didn't move, breathe, or salute. [Major points for anyone who can name where that phrase is from.] I still don't know how on earth I had 98% of everything packed up by the time Daniel arrived on Friday, the night before the move. One room at a time.

Our last few days in WV...

We drove down Saturday evening after a delightful, often hilarious, happy-sad evening with my parents and my sister and baby niece who were in visiting, and I drove the car behind Daniel in the Uhaul for the 4 hour trip. I hadn't driven that far in years, and by the time we got to our apartment, every single muscle felt shredded. Then I spent the next week, this last week, attempting to get this place halfway livable. Took me 4 days to do all the dishes and other such kitchen stuff (because it was all in storage for a year, so I had to clean all the things), and we found more I missed this weekend. Soo needless to say, we are by no means all done unpacking, but at least the kitchen and bathroom are pretty much all done, and we can get to the chairs in the family room, and the bed. And I found all my jewelry.Which is good since I of course sold a couple things in the midst of this tornado of an apartment. ;)

As if our first week here wasn't already exciting enough, I got to pay a visit to our town's version of MedExpress on Wednesday for what they decided to term "headache without known cause" or something comforting like that. Short story, I've started having what I can only call daily migraines for lack of knowing what else to call them, and then I had the weirdest eye pain hit me for three days that spread into the sinuses below that eye. I just knew I had a sinus infection but found out I don't. There's "nothing" wrong. The eye pain has since gone away, but the migraines continue. Which really is helping the whole unpacking and settling in thing. Hopefully the new doctor I'll be going to in this area, who my doctor of the past 9 months is handing me off to, will be able to figure something out. There is always something new going wrong with this body.

So, now that I've been here a week, I do have one conclusion of the area: this place feels like da beach! All that's missing is the ocean... Seriously, between the temperatures and humidity and the random scent of chlorine, particularly when running water of course, I kind of feel like we're just in a little vacation home for a bit! I'm wondering when it'll really hit me that's not the case.

Though as I mentioned before, our apartment is very small, we have a massive window (can you say jewelry pictures?) that I just can't get over.

And also a balcony whose size (that this picture captures in no way) kinda blows my mind.  And adds to the unignorable reminiscence of the beach. This was my view when I first peeked out at it our first morning here.

Happy little visitor.
And its quite pleasant view:

When we first drove by these apartments a few weeks ago, I right away noticed the tons of farm equipment and such right by it. Definitely made me want to live here, so I get to see several happy sights like this now:

I got to use our oven for the first time to make this! {Which is coming to the blog on Wednesday!} And of course I also made these. ;)

And the week ended with yet another trip to Chickfilla, which occasion this little 'do I'm rather proud of is from. ;) And that was of course followed by more attempts at unpacking and setting things up with Daniel.

Now that you're all caught up on the past week, there is much to be grateful for on Grateful Heart Monday:
~ The home and family I left back home. Always, always grateful for that. And a text away.
~ The long distance Daniel and I never thought we'd have again is over!
~ Our two-year-long wait to move has finally happened.
~ So far we love this area.
~ So far we don't have neighbors that fill our apartment with the lovely scent of smoke every waking hour.
~ So far we don't have a resident woodpecker attacking the life out of the wall behind my head while I sleep. Hopefully it doesn't realize we don't live in WV anymore and come find us.
~ The apartment is quite nice, despite its size and odd layout.
~ See window, balcony, and beach weather above.
~ Fall was on its way back in WV, but summer's still in full swing here, y'all. And I have the shorts and flipflops to prove it.
~ I didn't have to take medicine to get rid of a sinus infection I somehow don't have.
~ The girl who took my blood actually did a mighty fine job.
~ My eye got better "on its own."
~ We discovered that rabbit ears get all the channels we need but TLC. And you can't have it all. So I am happy.
~ Daniel found a place to get Chinese food last night, which though I can't eat it, my understanding of his love for it and of course my love for him made my heart almost as happy as it made his stomach. ;)
~ And Rising Star is over. (ha! sorry... anyone else follow that show? I did, though rather reluctantly, if that makes any sense. Maybe if they come back for another season, they'll improve it ... a lot.)

Grateful Heart Monday w/ Ember Grey

{Also linking up with Monday Morning Gossip and Find Beauty Friday}

Image Map

August 15, 2014

My Friday Five: Moving, Tiny Apartments, and Slowing Down

Guys, tomorrow's the big day! Daniel comes tonight, we load up today and tomorrow, head to our new home tomorrow, and unload Sunday. Let the long-awaited insanity begin ... or continue.

1~ I think I have 98% of everything packed up. It's really been just me packing up all of our stuff, thanks to the space of time between Daniel's job already starting a couple weeks ago and our apartment not being ready until this week. It's a crazy thing packing up two people's stuff by yourself! (But then I've always been the independent kind when it comes to multi-step tasks like this. I just have to do it all myself!)

2~ I have to say, our new apartment is pretty small. And it's not so much that it's literally small by square feet but that it is laid out so odd, in such a way that only makes it seem smaller. Our last apartment was quite small, but it was long, so it seemed bigger. This new one is basically just, walk in and here it all is!

Needless to say, it's going to take some creativity to find room for living space, storage space, and my jewelry office area. But it is soo close to Daniel's new job that that will pretty well outweigh the drawbacks. I'm ready to get down there and size it all up and see what we can figure out. Ideas like these will probably be giving me some inspiration:

Pin here

Pin here

Pin here

3~ Did you catch this post of mine on Wednesday? Some of my insight into vacationing while chronically ill.


4~ Speaking of insight, you just have to read this post from The Tiny Twig that I found through 34 Magnolia Street. If you've ever felt like life is so, so short and you have to hurry and do everything (yes, some of us feel that way and don't need the warnings about how short life is), read this. Life changing, not exaggerating.

5~ And did you see the new premade designs I've added to my shop recently that I shared yesterday? Like I said I would, I've now added a custom favicon listing to my shop, but a free custom favicon is still up for grabs!


Have a great weekend you guys!  Sadly we don't have Internet in 
the apartment yet, so my next time here may get delayed...
But next time you "see" me, I'll be in my new home in North Carolina--with Daniel! :D

Image Map

August 14, 2014

Free Favicon and New Designs!

Well guys, it's only been a week since I announced my new Etsy shop, and I have added so many more premade designs to it since then! Like I've said before, just like with my jewelry, every new piece becomes my favorite... So I have to share a few of the newest ones! Just click through to go to each one's listing--your favorite can be yours!




It's safe to say I am pretty well obsessed with blog design now. I had no idea there was some other creative endeavor out there for me besides writing and jewelry that I could not only love so much and find so exciting and relaxing, but that I could also make a business out of. (Okay, I can think of a couple more--it's like a disease with me!--but still, I didn't see this one coming. ;) 

Once I started my jewelry business a couple years ago, I started noticing everybody's jewelry and the details of how each piece was made--people I'd see out in public or on TV. So now? Every blog I visit I notice the details of their design, and then I have to scroll down to the bottom to see who their designer was if they clearly had one. And then there are always some that I think, Ah, you need me! ;) Are you one of those people? I'm at your service! :)

But one of the little things I keep noticing is such lovely blog designs that don't have a customized favicon. Don't know what that is? It's the tiny little square up next to your blog's name when it's being viewed:

I know it's such a little thing, but it makes me sad when a lovely blog has the automatic orange and white Blogger B as their favicon when it could be the perfect finishing touch! I'll be adding a custom favicon listing to my shop soon, but first, I wanted to offer a free one! Like I said, it's so small, but something I would love to help someone out with! So the first person to comment and claim it will get a custom favicon from me! I'll make it and then can install it for you or can talk you through it (it's very, very easy!).

So if you have your blog exactly how you want it but wish that little orange and white square could be something more personal, it's your lucky day! =)

{Linking up with Little Friday}

Image Map

August 13, 2014

Wellness Wednesday: The Chronically Ill Vacation

A while back I saw this article on Facebook about going on vacation while chronically ill. And I'd like to add my two cents to this topic.

All through my childhood, my family would go to the beach (Surfside Beach, SC, in case you're curious) every single summer. Yeah, I would say that going to the beach, my birthday, and Christmas were the highlights of each year. ;) My sister and I would always pack a couple weeks in advance for the trip--with our Barbies packed first well ahead of time. They were essential. And I would even make a little countdown chart anticipating the big day.

We'd get up at what feels like a terribly ungodly hour but what was probably just like 6 am and head off. It was a 7-hour car ride there, and we would stay for about a week. A typical day involved getting up by 9 at the latest, eating breakfast (always including Krispy Kreme doughnuts--our tradition whose memory I relish to this day), going to the ocean a few blocks' walk away, then walking back to the pool at the condo we were staying at. After we had lunch, we would go shopping pretty much all afternoon, then we'd come back for dinner or eat out, then either shop some more or walk on the beach, all ending with another swim in the pool that night (which I always extra loved because it meant no sunscreen, which I hate but clearly need). And then a chocolate Krispy Kreme doughnut before bed.... Ahhh. ;)

Anyway, all that to say, each day was pretty well packed full. We weren't running around like chickens with our heads cut off, but we were always doing something. Like I'd bet most people's vacations are. The yearly beach tradition ended when I was in my teens, and the last time we all went together was the summer right before I started college in 2006. 

When Daniel and I were about to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, we decided we would take a trip to the beach--my first time there with him, first time to the beach in 7 years, and also my first time staying at an ocean-front condo. We were pretty excited, needless to say. But of course, in those six years that had passed, my health had gone out the window, and at the time of this trip I was pretty much at my worst ever. Unfortunately, even if you go on vacation, your chronic illness never does. Every chronically ill person deals with differing symptoms of course, but there are a few generalities you can pretty much count on.

~ The travel is exhausting.

I know, you're probably thinking, Vacation is always tiring... No, by exhausting, I mean you are stuck in bed and cannot get up to do anything. Not a "Man, I wish I could take a nap" exhausted but a "Man, I wish I could get up and do something" exhausted. Your body in revolt against you. And more often than not, the recovery period from simply the travel itself lasts until it's time to go home. Like the author of the article I shared above, I knew the likely consequences of traveling, but went through with it anyway, hoping the good would outweigh the bad ... or the miserable.

~ Disappointment is inevitable.

In contrast to how a usual day went back when I was a kid, in the several days Daniel and I were at the beach, I'm gonna say I had one good day. The first day I was dead from traveling. Somehow there in the middle of the stay, there was one day we went to the ocean, got in the pool, and got all dressed up that evening and went out to eat. I think we went and got ice cream after too. The rest of the days there, my accomplishment for the day was taking a shower and maybe going out to eat.

With the memories of beach trips year after year and all that we always did, I couldn't help wanting to do just as much as we did back then. Even though I knew I couldn't. Disappointment was inevitable at some point. Even if I knew better.

Plus, the guilt that people with chronic illness already deal with on a regular basis just gets a little worse--you remember the way you used to be, how vacation used to be, and you really can't help but cry that something so simple as getting up and taking a walk on the beach has been taken away from you. Going on vacation is wont to remind you just how sick you are.

~ It's a "happy-sad" experience.

Vacation is supposed to be fun and happy, happy, happy. But when you're chronically ill, it's also honestly pretty sad. I wanted to go to Broadway at the Beach and walk around and go shopping everywhere and do all these things with Daniel like I had done when I was younger, but I simply couldn't. I agree with the article I shared: it was definitely a "happy-sad" experience. Yes, it's vacation, and you're supposed to relax--but would you want to go on vacation just to lay in bed when there's 6,000 other things you'd rather be out doing in the glorious summertime? I don't think so.

~ It makes you more thankful for the little things.

As I mentioned above, that day that we went to the ocean and the pool and went out to eat and got ice cream? No big deal and just another day at the beach to anyone else. But to me and my incredible husband who never got mad at me for all these problems I can't control? An absolutely priceless day. Yes, that was a great day, and we were both so thankful for it afterward, knowing how rare it was. And something like sitting out on the balcony eating Red Robin would be just a fleeting moment in a jam-packed vacation for some people but was the event of one day for us. What little I could do was that much more special to both of us.

~ It's worth it.

Probably. ;) Going on vacation while chronically ill inevitably brings disappointment and likely some tears, but it is a change of scenery and an adventure--something chronically ill people need just as much as healthy people. And any time spent with those you love most is worth it, even if it doesn't look the way you'd like it to.


Did you all see my guest post over at Elizabeth Loves yesterday?
I'd love for you to check it out! :)


{Linking up with Little Friday}

Image Map