Suz's love for COWS + Allan's work with LASERS = one unique blog name! Welcome to our blog filled with race recaps, pictures of our labs, and everything else we share with blogland!

Friday, December 13, 2013

I'm Alive and Running a Marathon Tomorrow

Last Wednesday the plague struck our house and for the first time in the 11 years I've known Allan I was actually the sicker one of the two and he had to take care of me. Nursing doesn't come naturally to Allan so this was a learning process. On Monday I finally dragged myself to the doctor and 30 minutes later I was out the door with two shots and three prescriptions. I really love our family doctor!

Fast forward to today and I'm still a little congested and coughing but tomorrow is D-Day so I'm going to have to rally and be ready for the marathon. This year I feel so much more prepared physically than I did last year and my last few long runs were some of my best runs of the year. I can only hope that my body will have the strength to carry me 26.2 miles after being sick for 10 days.

Now before anyone fusses at me for running a marathon while I'm sick let me say that if I feel like it's too much and my body can't handle it I have no problem stopping the race right there. The forecast is not calling for rain anymore and the temperatures are highs in the 50's which will be a heat wave compared to the 20's and 30's we've been having. I feel like I've recovered enough to at least give it a try. I owe myself that much after all the hard work I've put in.

Before all this I had a few goals for myself but now they are pretty simple. Finish in one piece within the time limit (6:05) and if I'm feeling really good try to PR (anything under 5:46). I pray that I can accomplish both of these but if tomorrow isn't my day then at least I will have tried and given it all that I could.

UPDATE: Rain made its way back into the forecast and I just can't risk getting pneumonia so there's no marathon for me today. Normally I'd be disappointed and cry but I know I did the right thing considering the weather and being sick. No race is worth risking my health for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wounded Warrior Project Winners

Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word and a special thank you to all those who were able to donate to Wounded Warrior Project. With your help we raised a total of $555 which we know will be put to good use providing programs and services for our injured veterans.



Now for the winners!
The winner of the $10 Starbucks card for helping spread the word is Elle from Eat, Run, Sail!

For the three virtual races we held last year everyone who donated won a prize so if you donated and you don't see your name on the winner's list and you really want a prize please email  me and we will go out and buy something you'd like as our way of saying thank you. If all the winners will please email me with your mailing address I'd appreciate it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support of Wounded Warrior Project!

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher



Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher is the third in her "Where the Heart Lives" series and I hadn't read the first two so at first I was uncertain about reviewing it but I found that there was no need to have read the first ones in order to follow along with this one. I admit that the story was a bit predictable but that's the only negative thing I can say. While the outcome didn't surprise me everything else that happened leading up to that certainly was anything but ordinary and predictable. I admired Diana's willingness to take in a kitten, orphan boy, and then his dog during a time of uncertainty in her life. Her husband that had been feared dead for nearly a decade has returned and wants her by his side as he runs for senate. For six months she agrees to stand by him and after the election is over he promises her she will be free to leave if she wants and he will be sure that both she and her mother have a nice house and are well cared for. Tyson prays that will be enough time to win her back and seek her forgiveness for his past transgressions. During those six months both Diana and Tyson learn more about each other than they probably did while they were married. As they try to follow the guidance of the Lord they are surprised with what he leads each of them to do. Will Diana forgive Tyson and will he win back the love of his wife?

More information on the book:
"Best-selling author Robin Lee Hatcher returns to the adventurous American West in the final book of her Where the Heart Lives series. This story is filled with Robin’s trademark heartwarming and emotionally charged message of faith, courage, and love.

When Diana Brennan’s husband returns eight years after abandoning her, can she find it in her heart to forgive him?

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for eight years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition––she must give him a chance to change her mind about him."

I received this book free of charge from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nike & New Balance Shirts Giveaway

Short sleeve shirt weather is almost over here but if you wear a medium then hopefully you'll enjoy pulling these out next spring for a run or a workout at the gym. The New Balance shirt is a little more snug than the Nike shirt but if you wear a medium then both should be a comfortable fit. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!


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Prize #8 is a New Balance shirt and Nike shirt (both mediums)

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word! 

Starbucks Giveaway

Although I drink Starbucks year round there's something about the red holiday cups and sitting snuggled up in front of the fire with Allan that makes me feel like Thanksgiving and Christmas are almost here. For those coffee, latte, seasonal drink, or hot chocolate lovers this giveaway is for you. It's a $25 Starbucks gift card! If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!

Prize #7 is a $25 Starbucks gift card


Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Tea, Scarf, and Headband Giveaway

I realize that a lot of these prizes are geared toward runners and not all of you run so this is one that I think anyone could enjoy. In my opinion pink and purple are two colors that pair well with any hair color. I only took the headband and scarf out of their bags for pictures but the scarf is so soft. Hopefully whoever wins this giveaway item is also a tea lover. I love the Sleepytime Tea and I threw in the other two because I've heard they are good. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!


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Prize #6 includes 3 boxes of tea, a pink scarf, and a purple headband

 Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Big Train Fit Frappe Giveaway

Big Train is a company whose products I've been using for the past couple of years. I love their Fit Frappes which make for a great protein shake that doesn't leave a chalky taste in your mouth. They make several other kinds of beverage products if you aren't looking for something with the added protein. The shaker comes in quite handy if you need to throw it in your gym bag for an on-the-go protein shake. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!


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Prize #5 is a Big Train Fit Frappe mixing bottle and 3 Southern Velvet Blended Creme samples

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

RecoFit Arm Sleeves Giveaway

Thank you so much to Laura for allowing me to include these RecoFit arm sleeves as a giveaway item. I actually won them from her but I already own a pair so she's allowing me to offer them up to all of you in order to raise money for Wounded Warrior Project. Arm sleeves are great when it's cool at the start of the race but not cool enough to wear long sleeves throughout the race.


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Prize #4 is a pair of white RecoFit arm sleeves (size Medium)

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Pro Compression Giveaway

If you are like me then you probably have at least one pair of Pro Compression socks in your closet. While these are classic black they offer quite a variety of colors and patterns and each month have a sock of the month that is on sale. For those not familiar with compression socks they aid in recovery and many people wear them during the run itself. Allan prefers wearing his compression socks underneath his soccer socks for games. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!


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Prize #3 is a pair of black S/M Pro Compression Socks

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Nathan Quick Shot Plus and Hammer Gel Giveaway

Sometimes a larger handheld can be a little too bulky for a short run so I switch to the Nathan Quick Shot Plus and if I take my phone out of its case I can even put my phone in the side pocket. I'm throwing in 13 Hammer gels (10 vanilla and 3 chocolate) which are great but not my favorite flavors. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!


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Prize #2 includes a Nathan Quick Shot Plus, 10 vanilla Hammer gels, and 3 chocolate Hammer gels

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Nathan Handheld and GU giveaway

Being someone that always runs with their phone I need a handheld water bottle or a fuel belt that I can put my phone in. This year I found a Nathan handheld that I've been using for every race or long run that fits the bill and even has space for a GU gel. For this giveaway I'm including 6 GU gels and 6 GU brew tabs along with a pink Nathan handheld. If you'd like to win this, make a donation to our fundraising page for Wounded Warrior Project!

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Prize #1 up for grabs includes a Nathan handheld, 6 GU gels, and 6 GU brew tabs

Here's how the giveaway works: I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Read this post for details on how you can win a $10 Starbucks gift card just for spreading the word about the giveaways.

Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Honoring Veterans Through Wounded Warrior Project

This Veteran's Day takes on special meaning for my family. My sister and nephew will be saying farewell to her husband as he leaves on another deployment today. When we talked last night I told her that I couldn't imagine being a wife or mother back in the 1940's and sending my husband off to war knowing it might be years before I see him again. While much has changed since that era in our nation's history one thing has remained the same: there are brave men and women who leave behind family and friends to defend our country while sacrificing birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, home cooked meals, and comfortable beds to sleep in. Some of these men and women give the ultimate sacrifice of life for country and others sustain injuries leaving them unable to continue the fight.



Wounded Warrior Project steps in and helps those veterans with physical or mental difficulties through programs and services to designed to help wounded service men and women assist one another. This year WWP celebrates 10 years of service and I can't think of a better way to honor those who have served this country than by supporting WWP and the work they do for wounded service members. On Saturday Allan and I will be running in the WWP 8K for the second year in a row as we run for our family and friends who have served this country and we are asking for your support.



In order for us to raise the most money possible for WWP between now and Friday we need help spreading the word. Everyone who spreads the word on social media will be entered into a separate drawing for a $10 Starbucks gift card. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DONATE TO BE ENTERED INTO THIS DRAWING. Please comment on this post with the link to EACH place you've shared this post. Please tag me on twitter or instagram I'm @Suz4AU0608 and feel free to tag WWP as well by using @wwpinc. You will receive one entry for each share and you can share on each social media platform each day so get to sharing!

Who can say no to a Caramel Brulee Latte right now?!


We have several giveaway items and here's how the giveaways are going to work. I'm going to do a separate post for each giveaway item and ONCE YOU'VE DONATED please comment on the post for the item or items you are interested in winning. You only have to donate once to put your name in the hat for any or all of the giveaway items but if you don't comment on the post for that item I won't know that you want to win it. Every $5 you donate will earn you 1 entry and if you donate $20 or more your entries will be doubled. You can also earn an extra 2 entries by dedicating a run this week to a veteran in your life and blogging about it.

Examples:
  • Donate $25 and blog about your run and you'll earn 12 entries for EACH item you are interested in winning.
  • Donate $10 and you'll earn 2 entries for EACH item you are interested in winning.
  • Donate $15 and blog about your run and you'll earn 5 entries for EACH item you are interested in winning.

The prizes up for grabs include ProCompression socks, RecoFit arm sleeves, a $25 Starbucks giftcard, and much more! Good luck in all the giveaways and thank you in advance for supporting Wounded Warrior Project and for spreading the word!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cotton Row 5K

Every Memorial Day Allan and I run the Cotton Row 5K here in Huntsville. This is the fourth year we have run this race and there are always a few things you can count on: heat, patriotism, and crowd support at the finish. I have yet to make it to the start of a race without crying during the National Anthem or other pre-race traditions.


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Many thanks to Gregg at We Run Huntsville for this picture. We are so lucky to have him!
This year's race was painful. Back in May I was having hip pain which lingered for a couple of months and then disappeared in late June after I took some time off of running. Rewind to Cotton Row. Allan and I ran together but at the end we both did a sprint to the finish. Mine was more of a hobble so Allan edged me out with a time of 35:22 and my time was 35:27. Despite running slower times than we would have liked we had a great time and will be back next year!

Our favorite races are rarely about fast times. It's impossible to run this race without thinking about those who have given their life for our country and for us it's impossible to run without remembering Allan's cousin, David, a Marine who passed away much too soon. Personally, I like to think he's there running with us in spirit.


Do you get emotionally during the National Anthem or other pre-race traditions?

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser

There are several periods of our nation's history that fascinate me and the post-Civil War era is one of those. This novel puts us right in the middle of a tumultuous time with Abraham Lincoln's assassination and the country rebuilding itself. Josephine's father is hard at work in the West building the Transcontinental Railroad and she desperately misses him. After the death of her brother and cousin her aunt and mother have spent their days in mourning but Josephine is tired of donning black day in and day out. She's ready to go on living life. On a short visit home her father brings Lewis to dinner and he becomes the answer to her prayers by getting her out of the house and back into society. It's evident from the start that there's more going on with Lewis than trying to win Josephine's heart. Will he be able to make her his bride and follow through with whatever plan he intends to carry out? On a visit to the West Josephine meets Hudson, an Irish rail worker, and a shared view of the sunset alters her view of the West and Hudson. Perhaps there's more than meets the eye about both.


Book Info

About the book: When a socialite from the nation's capital embarks on a journey to the Wild West, her life is changed forever.

A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general's daughter. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/pq47s

Meet Nancy: Nancy Moser is the best-selling author of more than twenty novels. She is a winner and two-time nominee of the Christy Award, and her latest novel was named to Booklist's "Top 10 Romance Novels of 2011." Nancy and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren, and they live in the Midwest.

Learn more at Nancy at: http://nancymoser.com/.

 Blog Tour Schedule
The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser follows the adventures of a D.C. socialite as she gets involved with the building of the Transcontinental Railroad right after the Civil War. Be sure to check out Nancy's fun Pinterest board for the book!

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of the book!
journeyofcain-rafflecopter

  Five winners will receive:
  • The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 26th. All winners will be announced October 28th at the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 28th to see if you won one of the books!

 I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Gym Time

This Saturday will be two months since Allan and I started going to the gym and I can't believe that much time has already flown by. We've taken some time off here and there during those two months but we've stayed committed. I won't lie and say it's always easy to go but I have yet to leave the gym without feeling like going was the right thing to do.

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The bike and I are becoming better friends
It's been a long time since I've pushed myself and I can feel myself getting stronger. I've been diligent about keeping a workout log so I know what exercise I'm doing at what weight and how many reps and sets of each I do for each day. That helps me to know what weight to use for each set and also allows me the ability to look back and see the progress I've made.

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I'm sure Allan will love this picture of the back of his head. I was trying to get the Made Better sign on the wall in the picture.
Our gym offers free weights, weight machines, several classes, multiple cardio machines, and Crossfit. The Crossfit area is in the gym but completely separate so to do that we would have to pay a different fee. It is really motivating to be working out and watching people do Crossfit. I always feel like I can push myself just a little bit harder during a set.

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The area for free weights and weight machines
I have yet to try any of the classes but I plan to do that once Allan's 3-month pass runs out and it's just me at the gym. A friend from college is one of the instructors so I plan to start with one of her Body Combat or Body Attack classes. Allan and I do plan to take a spin class together sometime soon but so far that hasn't worked out with his work schedule and the gym class schedule. I'm also looking forward to trying out some new exercises. I finally took the time to make a binder with all the exercise pages I've torn from health magazines. Please tell me I'm not the only one who tears out pages of exercises you want to try!

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Cardio and Crossfit area on the other side of the weights area

What type of gym classes have you taken if any?
Do you work out alone or with a partner?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I Heart Yoga

Last Thursday I attended my second-ever yoga class. My first class was over two years ago and it was at the YMCA with a friend so it's been awhile. I've done yoga since then but only in my living room. In addition to last Thursday's class I also went to class yesterday and today. For my first two classes I went to a Restore class which is the easiest of the three types they teach. I found it to be very relaxing and not too difficult. I only had to modify one pose thankfully. Today I went to a Flow class which is a little more difficult and I had a different instructor than the first two classes. We did more core work and several poses that required balancing on one leg or one arm and a leg.


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Off I go to yoga class!

I'm planning to try the Ignite class either tomorrow or Friday. This is their hot yoga class and they refer to it as power yoga so we shall see how I fare. I only had to modify two poses today in the Flow class which I think surprised the instructor since she knew I had limited experience. The only down side is that I only have one month of classes at this studio and at $100 a month for classes I won't be sticking around once the month is up. I can only hope that after a month of taking classes at the studio it will be much easier for me to use the yoga DVD's that I have (and love) to practice at home.

Do you take yoga classes at a studio or do you practice yoga at home?
Is yoga not your thing?

Loyalty, Lies, and Love-The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson

The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson is absolutely riveting and I read it from cover to cover completely lost in the story of Lydia and Sarah and their families. The novel is set during the American Revolution and we are introduced to two lifelong friends, Lydia and Sarah.  These two women struggle to remain loyal to country, family, and friends with each one finding she must follow her own heart in making the decision about where her loyalties lie. Both Lydia and Sarah have a brother and both brothers are gone. Lydia's brother, Grayson, disappeared four years ago after their grandfather was tarred and feathered and passed away. Sarah's brother, Seth, joined forces with other Patriots fighting for freedom and has been away for two years.

As Lydia and Sarah find their place during this time Sarah must run her family's plantation with only the overseer, servants, and slaves to help her. Meanwhile Lydia's father only grows more fierce in his devotion to the king but Lydia finds she desires peace. On an evening like any other Lydia spots the British ships on the river and trudges through the snow for a closer look. Moments later she discovers a man who will surely perish in the cold if she doesn't save him. With the help of two servants the man is saved. In the following days Nathan recovers enough to leave when the situation warrants his escape but that will not be the last time Lydia sees Nathan...

Book Info

About the book: An unlikely spy discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

As the British and Continental armies wage war in 1781, the daughter of a wealthy Virginia plantation owner feels conflict raging in her own heart. Lydia Caswell comes from a family of staunch Loyalists, but she cares only about peace. Her friend Sarah Hammond, however, longs to join the fight. Both women's families have already been divided by a costly war that sets father against son and neighbor against neighbor; a war that makes it impossible to guess who can be trusted.

One snowy night Lydia discovers a wounded man on the riverbank near Caswell Hall, and her decision to save him will change her life. Nathan introduces her to a secret network of spies, couriers, disguises, and coded messages---a network that may be the Patriots' only hope for winning the war. When British officers take over Caswell Hall and wreak havoc on neighboring plantations, Lydia will have to choose between loyalty and freedom; between her family's protection and her own heart's desires.

As both armies gather near Williamsburg for a pivotal battle, both Lydia and Sarah must decide how high a price they are willing to pay to help the men they love.

Part of the American Tapestries™ series: Each standalone novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. This is the fifth book in the series.

Purchase a copy: http://amzn.to/1aLxC9s

About the author: Melanie Dobson is the author of twelve novels; her writing has received numerous accolades including two Carol Awards. Melanie worked in public relations for fifteen years before she began writing fiction full-time. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides with her husband and two daughters in Oregon.

Connect with Melanie at: http://melaniedobson.com

 Blog Tour Schedule


Melanie Dobson's latest release, The Courier of Caswell Hall, is a riveting story you won't want to miss. The newest offering in the American Tapestries™ series, it follows an unlikely spy who discovers freedom and love in the midst of the American Revolution.

Enter to win 1 of 5 copies of the book!

courier-of-caswell-rafflecopter

  Five winners will receive:
  • The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 5th. All winners will be announced October 7th at the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit the Litfuse blog on the 7th to see if you won one of the books!


I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What's Been Going On

A lot seems to have been happening around here and yet again blogging has fallen to the wayside to make room for everything else. I know people make a big deal about not apologizing for being behind on blog reading or posting but in real life I would apologize for not calling someone back or not returning a text or email as quickly as I should have. I feel the same about blogging. I genuinely feel bad for being behind because I really enjoy catching up with all of you. Anyway, enough about that.

I'll get into it more later but the gym is working out great. We've been really consistent and I already feel like I'm getting stronger. Each workout I try to challenge myself to lift more than I did last time and it's a wonderful feeling to look back through my workout notebook and see the progress I've made in just two short weeks.

I don't know about you guys but the weather here has been yukky. The heat and humidity finally decided to show up and I skipped a race this past weekend because of it. Anytime you can walk outside at 6 AM and the air is so thick you can hardly breathe it's time to scratch your run for the day if you're planning on being outside. It just hasn't been hot and humid this summer so I didn't feel prepared to run a 10K and 5K back to back in that weather. Call me a wuss but that's a recipe for me to get a migraine and feel like crap the rest of the weekend.

We are going down to Auburn this weekend!!!! I am so excited that I can barely contain it. We leave on Thursday to spend a long weekend with our closest friends from college. Football, a house at the lake, and great friends will make for a fun weekend.

Sorry for no pictures but I'm heading out the door in 5 minutes so this is as good as it gets today. Sending lots of virtual hugs and high fives to all of my blogger friends today. You guys really don't know how much you mean to me!

From Planes to Prescriptions (On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin)

Sarah Sundin has written another wonderful World War II novel with On Distant Shores. It is the second in the Wings of the Nightingale series. The story is centered around Georgie and Hutch and almost immediately you can tell that there is going to be tension between the two of them as they challenge each other. Georgie challenges Hutch to be more content and he challenges her to make her own decisions. While Georgie has Ward at home waiting for her and Hutch has Phyllis waiting for him you get the feeling that both Georgie and Hutch aren't meant to be with either Ward or Phyllis. Neither of their significant others seem to comprehend their dedication to the war and the jobs they have. Georgie serves as a flight nurse and Hutch serves as a pharmacist throughout the war. I hesitate to say more for fear that I'll give something away but I can assure you that if you enjoy historical fiction and especially novels set during World War II this is one you need to pick up immediately. I can't wait to see what Sarah has in store for us with the third novel in the series!

Book Info

About On Distant Shores: Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace---and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

Purchase a Copy: http://ow.ly/nIVWC

Meet Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of "With Every Letter" and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A "Memory Between Us" was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

 Blog Tour Schedule

Sarah Sundin is celebrating the release of her latest novel, On Distant Shores, with a Romantic Weekend Getaway giveaway!

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  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa Cash Card (good for a perfect couple's getaway)
  • With Every Letter and On Distant Shores by Sarah Sundin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on September 2nd. Winner will be announced September 3rd at the "On Distant Shores" Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Sarah will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Weekend Getaway, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at the next book in the Wings of the Nightingale series.

So grab your copy of On Distant Shores and join Sarah on the evening of September 3rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

DON’T MISS A MOMENT OF THE FUN; RSVP TODAY. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 3rd!

I received this book free of charge from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Project Embrace The Change

If you had told me in January that embracing change would be the theme of 2013 I probably wouldn't have believed you. Sure, I knew that my sister was going to have her first child in February and that Allan's younger brother's family would be welcoming their second child in April but what I didn't count on was everything else that has transpired.

My sister (Rachel) and her sweet husband

As I have already mentioned our family farm is up for sale so there's a good chance that by Christmas my parents will have a new home. This past week while Allan's younger brother's family was here they found out that they will be moving to New Mexico in late December or early January for Adam to begin his career as an occupational therapist. While we are very excited for them it makes the next few months of time precious as we try to see them as often as possible before they move.

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My iris will have to be moved here and be moved with my parents when the time comes
My best friend is in a similar situation. He's been selected as a Blackhawk pilot and once that training is complete he and his family will be moving. Chances are, they will be moving far away if they get any of their top three choices. I bet you can't guess when they are most likely leaving. That's right, late December or early January. Hopefully we will have several more opportunities to see them before they start this next chapter in a new place. I've been spoiled having him back in Alabama the past couple years.

My best friend before his last deployment

There are numerous other things that have gone on this year whether it be in our personal or professional lives and it feels like no area of our life is safe from change. We can't control much of what's happened or is happening in our lives right now but we can control ourselves and we plan to be leaner, stronger, and faster before this year is over! Tomorrow we are finally using our Groupons for the gym and I'll kick off marathon training this week while Allan gets ready for fall soccer season and a half marathon in November. I'm looking forward to putting in hard work in the gym, trying out new classes, strength training with Allan, cross training on my off days from running, and getting in 3 quality runs each week to prepare myself for a FULL fall race schedule.

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Ready to work hard to earn another one of these this year
Project Embrace the Change is officially underway! I'd say to wish us luck but when it comes to seeing results I believe it has very little to do with luck and a lot to do with putting in hard work, being consistent, and staying motivated.

Have you had a lot of changes occur this year?
How do you deal with change?

The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate

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The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate introduces us to a cast of extraordinary women but focuses on Tandi Jo Reese and Iola Anne Poole and how their stories seem to intertwine despite Tandi being two generations younger than Iola. Not long after Tandi and her two children arrive in town and begin renting Iola's bungalow Iola passes away. The music minister at church tasks Tandi with cleaning out the trash and perishable items from the house in exchange for her rent at the bungalow. What Tandi finds that first day in Iola's house will change her in ways she can't even imagine.

Iola's prayer box on her desk is but one of many prayer boxes that she started filling at the age of 10. The more Tandi reads the more she begins to see that no one in the Outer Banks really knew Iola Anne Poole at all. As Tandi uncovers Iola's past she is forced to deal with her own past, present, and future.

This is a beautifully written story and one that touched my heart. I have a prayer box bracelet that a friend gave me in college and after reading this story that bracelet has a whole new meaning. I hope that the tradition of a prayer box is one that will continue for years to come. I can't imagine a more heartfelt gift to give a son or daughter on their wedding day than a prayer box filled with prayers their parents have prayed for them over the years. I highly encourage you to read The Prayer Box. Please let me know if you enjoy it as much as I have!

I received this book free of charge from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, August 5, 2013

Franklin Half Marathon

On June 22 I ran the Franklin Half Marathon in Leiper's Fork, TN. It was my 8th half marathon of the year. This was the first year they hosted this race and as with any inaugural events there are some kinks to work out. Leiper's Fork is an extremely tiny community and most of the traffic on race day seemed to be coming from the same direction thus causing a traffic problem. Instead of starting at 7AM we started at almost 7:20AM to account for people being stuck in traffic. In late June in the south a 30 minute delay is a big deal.


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Barn across from the start area

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Start line, packet pickup area, and port-o-potty lines

There was one runner that proved to be particularly motivating and entertaining. Apparently this guy lost a bet and had to run a half in Wranglers, a long sleeve shirt, and a cowboy hat. I have a weakness for cowboys and military guys so I found myself trying to keep Mr. Cowboy and his friend in site. Honestly I was really worried he was going to get overheated. Can you imagine running in jeans?!


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Mr. Cowboy and his friend

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The start

After experiencing some hip pain over the last 6-8 weeks I decided to take it slow for this race, taking more walk breaks than usual, and focusing on running with good form. The course was beautiful so I stopped to take pictures often.


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One of the first pretty stretches of countryside


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Loved all the pasture land along the course

The race was anything but flat for the most part and the one stretch that was pretty flat was in full sun so I think I'd rather have shade and hills when it feels like it's 90+ degrees outside. Hopefully next year it will start at 6:30 AM to avoid some of the awful heat that creeps in by 9 AM.

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Just one of the many gorgeous houses we saw

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Hills, hills, hills

Things I loved about this race:
  • medal design
  • number of aid stations that were well-stocked
  • Biscoff spread at the finish

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Love the medal but not so crazy about the bright shirt

Things I could have done without:
  • all the hills-they seemed to never end
  • the highlighter orange color of the shirt-love the design but easy on the crazy colors!
  •  the delayed start

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Another hill with a beautiful view

Let's talk some more about the Biscoff spread shall we. I came home with four jars and as of right now there is one full jar and a partial left. I'd love to say I shared this and that's why almost 2.5 jars are gone but that's not the case. I've eaten most of it by myself and usually by the spoonful. If you like Biscoff cookies you'll love Biscoff spread!

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My favorite cow along the course

At the best aid station in the world they served warm Coke which on this day was the most delicious drink I've ever had. Just before this aid station I was running close to two ladies who continued weaving and cutting me off when I tried to go around. This was the only out and back section of the course and with runners on both sides I was doing my best not to get in the way of other runners. When I finally passed and said excuse me I overheard one of them say, "That's what she gets for drafting." Get real lady, no one who's going to be finishing a half in 3 hours is drafting and if you and your friend had any courtesy for runners other than yourselves we wouldn't have been in this situation to begin with. Needless to say my anger caused me to find speed I didn't know I had and I cruised up the next hill and put some distance between myself and the "nice" ladies and finished in 2:59:24.

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Gorgeous farm!

Overall this is a pretty great race and I'd run it again but I'd prefer if it started a little earlier. Some people may suggest to move it to May or to the fall but there aren't a lot of races close by in the summer and certainly not many half marathons so I hope they keep it in June.

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Little history about Leiper's Fork

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All done and pouring sweat

What's the hottest race you've run?
Have you gotten overheated in a race?