What I Read Thursday Special – Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase

Mrs Sinclairs Suitcase

This edition of Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters will be released on August 4, 2015. I received a copy through NetGalley.

Roberta Pietrykowski works at the Old and New bookshop. One of her favorite pastimes is finding old cards, letters and pictures in copies of old books and imagining what their lives were like.

When her father drops off a bundle of old books and things from her grandmother in an old suitcase, it raises questions of just who her grandmother was. The label inside the suitcase reads Mrs. D. Sinclair, and a letter inside one of the books from her grandfather accuses her grandmother of doing something to a baby and its mother.

We then go back in time and meet Dorothy Sinclair. Her marriage is failing after the loss of their baby, and her husband has gone off to war. When a plane crashes in her backyard, it brings the pilot’s Polish squad leader, Jan Pietrykowski, to her door.

The book winds along, switching between Roberta and Dorothy’s stories. Roberta is dealing with problems at the bookstore and her father’s illness while trying to work up the courage to ask about the letter she found. Dorothy wants to pursue feelings she has for Jan but is bound by what people will think of her.

I really liked this book, it had compelling twists and turns that kept me interested to the last page. I love when books give you a piece of information in the beginning that you wait to find out more about. If you have nothing to look forward to, you’re less invested in the book.

I would give this a 4/5. It is definitely worth a read.

The Wedding!

Wow, it’s been quite a weekend! I don’t have the official pictures back, but I do have some that my uncle took.

Friday night was a bit stressful, we had some scheduling conflicts with my friend who was going to come help set up all the food and get ready in the morning, but we finally finished at 1 am. Of course, that means I got almost no sleep, especially since I was a bit stressed out and a tiny bit nervous. I got maybe three hours of sleep and had terrible bags under my eyes. Thank goodness for makeup.

Then in the morning, I got ready, went to get my hair done, and got the car all packed for us to go get the chapel set up. My fiance got there early to set up the tablecloths and decorations.

Everything went okay except for a minor freak out when we realized we didn’t pack anything to serve the salad with. But the ceremony went fine, so quickly it’s a bit of a blur now. But that’s good because I was most nervous about it.

Of course, something has to go wrong at every wedding, and at ours, I realized during the reception that one of my earrings fell out. I borrowed them from my mom and they were my grandmother’s, so of course it was a bit upsetting. Everyone went over every inch of the chapel but it was never found.

We had a lovely weekend honeymoon in a resort cabin and look forward to a nice relaxing week together.

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My centerpiece vase and candles. Some of the guests took them home for souvenirs.

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Sandwich buffet. We had ham, turkey and roast beef, American cheese, tomato and romaine to put on the sandwiches, and rolls, focaccia, and brioche bread. My best friend, my photographer, put together that lovely meat platter by hand.

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The cake. Pound cake, Italian buttercream frosting and fresh berries. And it was easily the most amazing cake I have ever tasted. My aunt made it.

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My bouquet. I bought 5 sunflowers for $4 and a bunch of white roses for around $6, both from Trader Joe’s. The daisy type flowers were from the grocery store for about $6 as well. I put it together myself.

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And, of course, the groom. He’s so adorable. I guess I didn’t look terrible either.

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A picture of us posing for a picture. I’ll post a few of the official pictures when I get them.

Thank You

Well, it’s Friday and the very last day I’m single!

The next time I post, I’ll be married! But I just wanted to thank all of my followers (all 100 of you!) for being so kind and thinking I have something to say worth following my blog for. Those of you that comment are so nice and helpful too. 100 followers since March is huge for me. I’ll do my best to keep the content coming, but for now, I’ll be taking a few days off for my honeymoon!

Experiments with Biotin

I’ve always had issues with my nails, mostly because it’s a genetic problem. Both of my parents have absolutely terrible finger- and toenails. Ingrown toenails that are shaped funny and uneven, unhealthy looking fingernails. After my doctor put me on vitamin D supplements, I asked her if there was a vitamin to fix my nails and she recommended biotin.

After doing some internet research, I started taking 5000 mcg of biotin daily on April 25. It’s been three months now. Here are some before and after shots.

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I wouldn’t say I’m especially hard on my hands unless you count constant typing. I do have bad habits of minor picking at my skin and ripping at my nails like if I have a small hangnail. As you can see in the before picture, my index fingers are the worst, with the strange white marks and uneven texture, which they all have to some degree.

I wear nail polish occasionally but it’s more trouble than it’s worth for me because it constantly chips right away and I end up peeling it off then.

Now it’s the day before my wedding and time to give myself a manicure so they look nicer for the pictures. Here are my nails after three months on biotin.

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Not a ton has changed, they still grow funny and uneven and curl inwards, especially on the long nail on the ring finger of my right hand. I still get the occasional hangnail that I have to pick at, which is the main reason some of them are shorter. But they’re way more smooth now, and more strong. I haven’t had long nails since 6th grade because as soon as they get so long, they’d split below the tip of my finger. I haven’t had that happen since I started taking the biotin.

Now it’s time to cut my lovely long nails so they’re all even for the ring pictures we’re inevitably going to take tomorrow.

I definitely see improvement though, which is good. Anyone have tips for healthy, pretty nails?

Thrifty Thursday – Bulk Buying

We were two months overdue in renewing our Costco membership but we finally renewed it over the weekend. I love Costco, I constantly see things that we can use, but can’t buy because our bill adds up quick or we don’t have room to store whatever it is.

This is what we saved money on this week:

  • Diced tomatoes – I use at least a can a week, always in my casserole/one pot dishes. This box of 8 will last a month or two at least. Sometimes I can get them on sale for $0.88 but this box was $5.99 or $0.75 each.
  • Mozzarella cheese – We make a lot of pizza and cheese adds up. Especially if it’s not on sale and we have to pay $3 or more for a couple of cups of cheese. Here’s 5 pounds for $11.59.
  • Ground turkey – This hasn’t been on sale lately, I found organic ground turkey for sale at our grocery store for $7.99 a pound, the normal stuff is around $5. This four pound pack of ground turkey was $17.43 or about $4 a pound.
  • Chicken thighs – I’m constantly using these. Occasionally they’re on sale for $0.88 or $0.99 a pound randomly, but we got a 10 pound pack for $0.99 a pound.
  • English muffins – My fiance takes two English muffins every morning to work with some jelly, so he goes through a lot. For the good ones, that’s $4+ for 6. We get lucky and buy them up when they’re B1G1 or even B1G2, but this pack of 18 was $5.49. That’s like $0.30 each!
  • Milk – A gallon of milk at the grocery store is often $2.79. It was $2.39 at Costco.
  • Pickles – I’ve said before that he eats pickles like they’re going out of style. We’re buying a jar every week pretty much. We bought a gallon of whole pickles for $3.99 and are going to slice them for his sandwiches with our fancy slicer thing.
  • Cashews – I’m not a nut person besides almonds, so these are just a snack for my fiance. We found 2.5 pounds for $15. Which isn’t bad when a few ounces at the store is like $6.

I love Costco, not only for the amazing deals but how well they treat their employees. When my fiance asked if we wanted to try Sam’s or BJ’s for bulk buying, I refused. I’m totally loyal. Do you shop at Costco or another warehouse store? What deals do you find?

What I Read Wednesday – The Touch of Betrayal by Taryn Scarlett

The Touch of Betrayal

This book will be released on July 28, 2015. I received a copy through NetGalley.

One of my favorite genres (or subgenres) is retellings or fractured fairy tales. I love when an author can take a story we already know and give it new life, more depth, give a background character a voice.

The Touch of Betrayal tells the story of Samson and Delilah, but specifically Delilah’s. Instead of getting a few lines in the Bible where she is seen as wicked, here she gets her own life and own desires.

Delilah saw her parents killed in front of her and was left an orphan, so she had to fend for herself. A kindly widow took her in and they got along well enough, but they constantly struggled to feed themselves. Delilah resorted to ‘turning tricks’ when she saw that she had what men wanted, and they had what she wanted, money.

She runs away from her town when her lifestyle is found out and people think she is a sorceress, bewitching men into her bed and into giving her things. Delilah is starting over when she is blackmailed by someone who knows her secrets. She is to seduce this warrior Samson, find out his secret, and no one will know hers.

She didn’t count on falling in love with him.

I liked that this book gave human characteristics to Samson and Delilah, not merely making them out to be good or evil. It also gives them hope for a happy ending. I’d give this book a 4.5/5, and I would definitely read it again, especially since it’s a novella and a very quick read.