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!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Firecracker Chase

Back to my catch up of race recaps from last year. I ran the Firecracker Chase 10.2 Miler on June 29, 2013, in Fayetteville, TN. If you don't want to read the recap and want to cut to the chase then here is the short version: I finished in 2:06:34 and took 3rd in my age group. Granted, there were only four people in my age group but seeing as how I've ever placed in my age group before this race I was pretty excited about it!

This was so beautiful that I had to pull over and take a picture on my drive to the race

I didn't hear my name when they announced awards so imagine my surprise when I checked the unofficial results

As you can imagine it was HOT and I mean really HOT for a race in the southern Tennessee in late June. A big part of the race was on a loooong stretch of road with no shade. Before getting to this long stretch of open road we ran through some rural areas and neighborhoods. This is a small race (which we all know are my favorites) so I spent most of the race running alone which was fine with me. At the time my hip had been recently bothering me but it didn't give me any trouble at all for this race.

Part of the loooong stretch of running in the sun along the highway
Never in my life have I been so excited to see a sign for Mile 10!
Despite the fact that I knew it would be a hot race and I would probably be slow since I was taking it easy to see how my hip would do I would still run this race again and I will be this June. This is a race that they are trying to revive and I hope it continues to grow and more people will run it. For the price ($35) you get a good selection of food post-race, a gender specific tech shirt, and a finisher's medal.

Welcome to the big city of Fayetteville!
A long hill that I probably could have lived without but at least there was a little shade!

Ahhh shade trees
My favorite part of the race had to be running through Fayetteville itself. Even though I've driven through the town before it was always on the highway and I missed out on many beautiful houses and neighborhoods. These were a nice distraction from the heat and their big, old trees provided some much needed shade.

One of the many gorgeous homes
I just love this one because of the huge yard
Blue is my favorite color though!

I love the shirt perhaps more than any other tech shirt I have and I am even wearing it in the picture we used for our Christmas card this year! For 2014 they have changed the course and added some swag. Finishers of the 10.2 mile race (there's also a 5K option) will receive a pint glass and hat. The registration fee is a little higher (I paid $40) but I think it's worth it for all that you get.

Love the cut of the shirt!
The medal is pretty simple but I like it a lot
Our Christmas card picture

 Needless to say this was my first 10.2 mile race so it was an automatic PR and placing in my age group made running in the heat completely worth it! Hopefully this will be an annual race for me every summer.
I spotted this on the side of a building downtown and had to take a picture

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher


Every so often a book comes along that seems to have the power to connect to several generations from many walks of life and this book does exactly that. While the story centered around Allison, a woman in her 40's trying to start over after a recent divorce, we catch glimpses into the life of her Aunt Emma. Emma was her great aunt who left Allison her cabin in the mountains close to Kings Meadow. It was this home that Allison made her own when she decided to start fresh in the aftermath of her divorce. Throughout the story we witness both Allison and Emma's desire to trust God and cling to him no matter the situation. Both women grow stronger in their faith despite the hardships both endure. I hate to say more for fear of giving away the story but I will say this: even if you can't personally relate to the particular challenges faced by Emma and Allison I believe we can all relate to the affect that our family has on us even a couple of generations later. I really enjoyed this book and I can't recommend it enough.


Book Description

God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.
What had become of His promise?
Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.
The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.
Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.
As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?
Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Where Has This Month Gone?!

No, seriously. How is it already January 14? As usual I am even further behind with both writing blog posts and catching up on everyone's blogs. Thank goodness for Instagram or I'd be completely out of the loop. For the sake of time and because all the big events of the past month deserve their own blog posts, here are the high points:
  • Went to NY December 17-22 to spend time at Jenny's, celebrate my 30th birthday, and be in Michelle and Megan's wedding
  • Had family/friends at our house from December 16-January 9
  • Celebrated Christmas and New Year's with family/friends
  • Said goodbye to Adam, Jodi, Ali, and Jake (Allan's brother and his family) as they moved to NM after New Year's
  • Quality time with my best friend and his family the first Saturday in January (they are moving to South Korea in March)
  • Spent last weekend in Charleston for my best girl friend's baby shower
  • Began a third jobi as a notary contracting with different signing agencies
Whew, I think that covers the highlights but I'm sure I forgot something. Needless to say I'm really looking forward to this weekend so we will have a chance to slow down, spend some time together, and get some things down around here.

How is 2014 treating you so far?

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

How fitting that I'm reviewing this book right after a week in the Charleston area! It's always nice to be able to envision exactly where the book is taking place. Since I've been to a plantation on a river outside of Charleston I could practically feel the humidity of the summer, see the gardens in their full glory, and envision the gorgeous plantation homes along the river. The title of this book, Carolina Gold, is referring to the name of the rice Charlotte's father had always grown on their plantation before the Civil War. After he passes away Charlotte returns to Fairhaven to repair the house and plant rice again. Things are difficult for Charlotte and as she finds herself needing more money she takes a position tutoring Nicholas Betancourt's two daughters. He is the apparent heir of Willowood, a neighboring plantation. Charlotte finds herself using unconventional methods to teach his girls. Allowing the girls to learn more about subjects that interests them while maintaining a flexible schedule in the classroom appears to work wonders.

When Nicholas's search for documents proving he is the rightful heir takes him to New Orleans everything changes. His housekeeper becomes unable to watch over the girls and drops them off with Charlotte. After being unable to reach him and with the weather getting warmer Charlotte has to leave for Pawley's Island with the girls where they will remain for the summer. In July when there is still no word from Nicholas Charlotte sets off for New Orleans to find him. I feel like I can't say anymore or I'll give the story away.  Trust me if you love the post-Civil War era and the Charleston area you are going to enjoy this book!


{More about Carolina Gold}

The war is over, but her struggle is just beginning.
Charlotte Fraser returns to her late father’s once-flourishing rice plantation on the Waccamaw River, determined to continue growing the special kind of rice known as Carolina Gold. But Fairhaven Plantation is in ruins, the bondsmen are free, and money is scarce.
To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly accepts a position as tutor to the young daughters of Nicholas Betancourt, heir to the neighboring Willowood Plantation. Then Nick’s quest to prove his ownership of Willowood sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that reveals an old family mystery—and threatens all that she holds dear.
Inspired by the life of a 19th century woman rice planter, Carolina Gold continues Dorothy Love’s winning tradition of weaving together mystery, romance, and rich historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.

Purchase a copy here.

Learn more at Dorothy’s website.

 Dorothy Love

{More About Dorothy Love}

A former journalist, free-lance writer and college professor, Dorothy Love explores the intersection of history and human relationships to create novels that speak to the hearts of women everywhere. She is the author of the acclaimed Hickory Ridge novels set in her native state of Tennessee. After earning a masters degree and Ph.D, she authored dozens of magazine articles before breaking into book publishing with a number of award-winning novels for preteens and young adults. The Hickory Ridge series marked her adult fiction debut. Currently she is working on several stand-alone historical novels set in the South.
When she isn’t busy writing or researching her next book, Love enjoys hiking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband Ron and their rambunctious golden retriever. The Loves make their home in the Texas hill country.
Find out more about Dorothy at

 Blog Tour Schedule

Don't miss Dorothy Love's latest historical novel, Carolina Gold. Fun news: The release of Carolina Gold coincides with Dorothy's birthday. Celebrate with her by entering the Southern Essentials Giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on January 14th!

Between January 3–14, visit Dorothy Love's Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day and be entered to win the $100 Visa Cash Card grand prize. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on January 14th! (Don't have a Facebook account? Enter here.) RSVP today for Dorothy's Carolina Gold Author Chat Party on Facebook.

During the party Dorothy will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Southern Essentials Giveaway, and giving away books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving partygoers an exclusive look at her next book!

So grab your copy of Carolina Gold and help Dorothy celebrate her birthday on the evening of January 14th! (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)


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

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

Writing letters or sending postcards is an art that my generation has slowly begun to neglect. By the time our children are falling in love will they even exchange any type of communication that isn't electronic? This book, Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis (you can read more about him here), takes a step back in time when postcards sent from Gabe to Pearl every Friday are discovered by Adam. He finds himself wanting to learn more about these two so he can discover what made their love last for over sixty years. If you want to read a summary of the book you can go here and to watch a trailer for it you can go here.

Alright, now for my thoughts on the book. I enjoyed it but the end left me wanting more. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was that the love portrayed between Gabe and Pearl was authentic and imperfect. They didn't always make the best decisions and they had their struggles but through it all they had each other. Gabe's tradition of sending Pearl a postcard every Friday made me think of my grandparents. My grandmother didn't let my grandfather in the kitchen for lunch or dinner but when it came to breakfast he was in his element. I can still remember the two of them sharing a moment in the kitchen in the mornings as my sister and I raced down the hall and through the kitchen to the den. When it comes to love it's the little things like cooking breakfast or sending a postcard that make for the sweetest memories.

If you think this sounds like a book you'd enjoy you can get a head start and read the first chapter here!

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my review.