Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I hope the year is off to a smooth start for all of you.'s been a whirlwind around here.  While I've been having lots of fun traveling to New Mexico and celebrating Dillon's 15th birthday in Dallas, the home front is a bit of a zoo.  Looking forward to a weekend at home working on some organizing, meal planning and prepping and probably some list making.  Exciting stuff right?  

Do all of you already have your blog calendars primed and ready to rock 2017?  Well if you are like me it does help to map things out and I love having some ideas to write about, recipes to share and of course who doesn't love a fashion update.  I thought this Friday I'd share a few of my favorite linkups I'm planning to make a point to join.  

First off, if you have not been following along with The Blended Blog then you are missing some great posts.  These women are sharing it all from books, to recipes, to fashion to so many inspirational posts plus they are HUGE supporters of other women!  Here's a look at what they have going on.
The Blended Blog reads is a virtual bookclub and you can sign up here to join the fun.  I shared my 2016 book review yesterday and already have so many books on my list for 2017!  I have not signed up yet but it's on my list. 
Each Wednesday you can find the New Year Styled linkup where these beautiful ladies invite you to share your style and they will inspire you with outfits along the way.  A special shout out to the ladies for featuring this layered look of mine from our New Mexico vacation!  
Looking for some new recipes to try?  Tasty Tuesday on The Blended Blog is all about linking up your favorite recipe like this easy pesto shrimp and pasta!  
They also have Nuggets for the New Year prompts each Monday in January and February. This week was all about sharing budget tips such as my Tips to Budget Like a Queen.  Coming up this Monday the prompt is all about sharing little nuggets on how you declutter your home.

Show and Tell Tuesday hosted by Andrea is always one of my favorites for sharing but also has been a place I've found so many new blogger friends.  You can find her 2017 prompts here.

These are just a few of my favorite prompted linkups and you can find my full list of weekly linkups here.  Hopefully my layout will get a little more organized with the new blog layout soon!
And, I know all of you know my bestie Holly and I'm sure have been missing her posts.  She's had a busy fall but she's back so you need to head over to While I'm Waiting and see what she's been up to! We are going to be partnering with our friend Katy of The Queen of the Kings to bring you a new weekly linkup (hopefully beginning in February) so be on the lookout!

A huge shoutout to all the bloggers out there who host linkups!  Blogging in general is a ton of work, but hosting a linkup takes so much dedication.

Wishing you all the best weekend!

Linking today with  ErikaAndrea & Narci for Friday Favorites, Karli for Oh Hey Friday and Katie, Tif and Della for High Five for Friday

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Book Review 2016

For all you ladies out there knocking out 20+ books a year, I am so envious!  I read 12 books in 2016 and that was a BIG year for me. I have found it is much easier to knock out a great fiction book compared to these deeper self help books I feel I need to absorb.  I'm a little late to the game reviewing my tops for 2016 but since I've had the graphic sitting in my drafts since late December it seemed too sad to wasted it!  


Because I'm all about saving the best for last, let's start with my least favorite read.  Nantucket Nightsdid not wow me like other Elin books have.  Maybe it's the fact that being the mom of sons I was a little creeped out by the story line but this one was just meh.  


The Choice was just a typical love story.  It was an easy read and I liked the characters but there was no urgency to finish this book.  I really felt like the ending was some what predictable.  Not my favorite from Sparks but The Notebook is hard to beat! 


This book, Chasing Sunsets, was a freebie I downloaded from Amazon and I was pleasantly surprised.  It was an easy read, somewhat predictable but I definitely was able to relate a little.  


I loved reading Bare Bones!  If you do not listen to the Bobby Bones show you will not have any interest at all in this book but if you do it was a great read.  I love to read stories of someone making something of themselves even when they were not provided the best start in life.  Plus I love the Pimpin Joy series they do on the radio and the book gives some insight on how that came about.


So I was really excited about reading The Royal We because "everyone" I knew was reading it and not being able to put it down.  Well, I was sucked in but at some point the book just started feeling really, really long and I kind of got bored.  It took me forever to finally finish and I was glad I did because I was happy with the ending but it was not the easiest to read for me.  

After You, well, let's just say it was a book that sucked me in and I did love reading it but found myself a little mad about how things ended in Me Before You more than I was when I read that book.  I did love this book but definitely not as much as number 1.  


Can not even tell you why I would have downloaded this book other than it was on special for $2.99 one day and was a top seller but I am glad (I think) that I did.  Pretty Girls is a one time read but I could not put it down.  It is demented and twisted but it sucked me in; like reading at stop lights sucked in.  I could not put it down until I was done and I think it only took me 24 hours tops.   


If you want an inspiring read that will really make you want to go out and change the world, Daring Greatly is it.  There is so much inspiration and goodness in this book but, y'all, it took me probably six months or so to finally finish it.  I loved it but I had to highlight and take notes and really soak it up.  


Keep It Shut, oh how I needed this book! One of my favorite pieces of advice was Karen sharing "don't say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off".  Whew, so many of her words had me nodding my head in shame for sure. I shared a few more of the quotes from the book in a Thirsty Thursday review.   


Lysa never, ever disappoints and I found so much goodness in this book, Uninvited.  For me, there have been so many instances in life when I have projected past hurt and rejection on a current circumstance and this book helped me see some things more clearly.  Lysa just has a way of making me feel less ashamed of my brokenness. 

I wasn't sure how I would feel about the book, Still Alice, because Alzheimers is definitely a disease that seems to strip all dignity.  This book is so beautifully written and really gives some insight into what a person might be going through as well as what her family may endure.  Yes, lots and lots of tears but I think this was one of my to reads of all time.  


Tears obviously get the highest marks from me in 2016!  Grab the tissues and set aside enough time to read this one all the way through! Me Before You was one of the most emotional books I've read in a long time.  I have not even been able to bring myself to watch the movie because I feel I need to be completely alone to ugly cry that much.  Definitely my number one for 2016!  

Now, it's 2017 and I feel like I'm already off to a great start!  It always helps to begin the first week on vacation right?  I've read three books and it's only January 19th!  Hoping to make book reviews more of a monthly occurrence around here.  

Would love to hear what you are reading!  

The links in this post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click on the link(s) and purchase an item (at no additional cost to you), I may earn a small commission.  Thank you for helping to support me and The Queen in Between blog

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Your Best Smile + Giveaway

Your smile is something that is hard to hide away but if you are a coffee and wine drinker like me there may be times you really would like to just keep your mouth shut.  Today I'm sharing Smile Brilliant, a teeth whitening system that has worked to transform my smile and make me a little less self conscious and I'm offering YOU a chance to improve your smile too! 
Smile Brilliant Whitening Review
Smile Brilliant provided  the complete teeth whitening kit but all opinions and results are my own.  
Smile Brilliant Whitening Review
If you are a heavy coffee drinker like me, the one thing an over the counter white strip doesn't resolve are the back teeth. While I have gone through the process once before with a local dentist to create trays to fit my teeth, it took scheduling an appointment and two visits.  The benefit of the Smile Brilliant kit is it arrives on your doorstep with easy to follow instructions to create your own molds. A postage paid envelope is also included to mail the molds back and I received my teeth whitening trays in a very short time.  The process was so convenient!  
Smile Brilliant Whitening Review
The whitening system consists of both the whitening gel as well as a desensitizing gel.  I personally did not have any issues with sensitivity when using the trays up to 45 minutes but one night I did get distracted wrapping Christmas gifts and that was the only time I used the desensitizing gel.  
Smile Brilliant Whitening Review
Smile Brilliant provided lots of tips such as using a Q-tip to remove any excess gel after inserting the trays.  The gel can create a strong tingling sensation if oozing out onto the gums.
Finding the time to wear the trays was always my biggest challenge as once again I'm a coffee drinker in the mornings.  I found wearing the trays as I went about normal household chores; making the bed, doing laundry, or even just watching tv or reading a book was the best for passing the time.  I do recommend setting a timer as the trays can be worn from 20 minutes up to several hours.  You really want to have an idea of what time is the best for you.  
Smile Brilliant Whitening Review
Smile Brilliant recommends 5 to 7 consecutive treatments for the optimum results.  This before and after is really only after two consecutive treatments for me.  I'm hoping to finish my kit and be ready to maintain every 3 to 4 months.  

Be sure to check out 7 Things to Know Before Buying Teeth Whitening if you are a newbie.  

Are you a coffee and wine drinker like me? Well, if you are interested in a brighter smile, here is your chance to win a kit from Smile Brilliant!  Register for the Giveaway by clicking here

Please feel free to ask me questions about my experience!  

You can see a more detailed demonstration by watching this video.

Teeth Whitening

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pesto Shrimp & Pasta

I'm always looking for an easy recipe that will please the family so when I saw Kristy at Seven Graces Blog posted her easy Chicken Pesto Pasta I knew I had to try it out.  I almost always have Buitoni pesto on hand and while I didn't have chicken I did have some shrimp!  
I also happened to have linguine for another recipe I had never gotten around to preparing. I'm sure any noodles and pesto would work but I love the Buitoni brand.
This really could not be easier!  Use half the pesto to cover the bottom of the pan before layering the peeled, deveined shrimp on top.  Then top the shrimp with the other half of the pesto.
Pop it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes while you boil the linguini.
Top with some grated parmesan cheese and tada, you have dinner!  I promise there will be no shrimp left behind.  Even if you are skipping noodles, these shrimp are great over a bed of spinach.  

For another great shrimp dish check the Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli which is another family favorite.  

Linking up with The Blended Blog for Tasty Tuesday and all my favorite gals at Tuesday Talk! Find all my other favorites by clicking the Links to Love button below.  

Click the image for all my faves!  
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