Keeping Up

Book Club

The Devil Crept In – Ania Ahlborn

“The Devil Crept In” by Ania Ahlborn was a little bit out of my wheelhouse. It was a creepy, gory, and thrilling horror story fit to be told around the campfire. Based in a sleepy town, focused around an intimate family with two young boy cousins who were nearly inseparable. A town where there are entirely too many strays and a lot of missing pets. A town where, once upon a time, even a sweet young boy went missing too.

Young Stevie and Jude are typical boys who play games, sometimes fight and trek through the forest behind their homes quite a bit for entertainment. The tree house they have spent much of their childhood building is their very own fortress of solitude. Stevie, having the abusive stepfather, and Jude’s father having passed away. Losing his father has hardened Jude in many ways, sometimes even towards his best friend and cousin Stevie. But Stevie has always looked up to Jude and finds Jude as the one person he can confide in regarding his home life.

Stevie has had some deeper issues in his past. Sometimes he sees things that aren’t there and he has a difficult time getting his words out due to a speech impediment. Because of this he is found to be insane, or at the very least incredible, by most. This comes to be troubling when Jude disappears one night. Stevie scours the woods and sees something at the old farmhouse they always found eerie and vacant during their forest treks. He tries to help the town find clues as to where Jude has gone. But because Jude has had anger issues and acts out, he is immediately written off as a runaway. Stevie knows that cannot possibly be the case. And then, just like that Jude shows back up. But he isn’t acting anything like himself. He is still angry and mean – but all the time now versus sometimes before. And his health and appearance seem to be continuously getting worse. Of course, Jude is also not speaking about what happened or where he has been.

With the help of Mr. Greenwood, the small-town General Store owner, Stevie digs up clues. But without the belief of his family and the town, he knows he has to do this all on his own to prove something is not right with Jude. Somehow the strays, the pets, and the quiet house in the woods owned by the late town doctor all have to do with what Jude has gone through.

Was Stevie just seeing things when he saw a monster on the porch of that quiet farmhouse in the woods? Will he ever be brave enough to face it? Can he even trust Jude anymore? Enjoy this chilling spine-tingling tale for yourself and let me know your thoughts on this read.

Book Club

Second Life – S. J. Watson

 

Second Life” by S.J. Watson was by far one of my favorite books to have read lately. This story has it all: lust, affairs, lies, blood money, murder, mystery, cybersex, family issues, addiction, and even stalking. The twists and turns in the book kept it very intense and made it extremely hard to put the book down. It is a lengthy novel but I read it within a couple of days! There were moments so suspenseful that when someone approached and spoke to me while I was reading I literally jumped out of my chair! Hate to say, but that happened on multiple occasions during this read!

Julia has it all: a family with a top surgeon as her husband, money is not an issue, she does what she loves for work, and she has close friends. But when her sister Kate suddenly is murdered, Julia seems to risk everything she has to try and figure out what happened – her sobriety and her life. She considers placing herself in her sisters shoes to make contact online with people from some of the multiple websites her sister visited, wondering if one of those virtual relationships had a real world connection.

The possibilities are endless. Kate could have met a violent stranger from her online contacts. She could have come across a bad situation at the wrong time. Someone from her past could be seeking revenge. She could have gotten mixed up in the wrong crowd of friends which, with her history, is likely. Julia just wants to figure out what happened to her baby sister. But will Julia go too far? Will she risk everything? And who all could be involved in this? Maybe someone even closer than she thinks. Which path will she choose? And will this second identity she creates to do her online “research” end up jeopardizing her real world?

Let me know if you enjoyed this read as much as I did! In the book club we have read some S.J. Watson books previously, but this has to be my favorite by far!

Book Club

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager

 

Have you ever played two truths and a lie? It’s one of those fun games where you tell three facts, two of them true and one a lie, and the others playing the game have to guess which one was the lie. Sometimes these lies can be dangerous or hurtful. And sometimes they can change someone’s life. But the truth of the matter is that while playing this game, you can generally learn a lot about someone. Deep dark secrets, fears or hopes they may have.

“The Last Time I Lied” by Riley Sager takes place on an expansive, yet secluded, campground for the prestigious young women, mostly of New York. There are many tales told around the campfire, some true and some made up. Some of these tales may even cause a few campers to disappear. And some of the lies may pave the road for revenge. Poor Emma Davis is in the center of a scandal when her world comes crashing down around her without any clues as to why. Her first year at this RB camp for the summer and she gets to tag along with one of the prettiest and most popular girls at camp, Vivian. Emma comes to find just how manipulative Vivian truly is, and then Vivian and the other girls from her cabin vanish in the night, never to be seen again.

When given the opportunity to return to Camp Nightingale, Emma at first refuses. But tempted with the possibility of figuring out what happened to her cabin mates so many years before, she accepts. A lot of the same players are back at the camp for the summer as well, causing suspicion at every corner. And the campers of now are not much different from the girls years ago. This book has some twists and turns in all the right places. Will Emma solve the mystery? Will she come out alive? Will you be able to tell the difference between the truths and the lies?

Book Club

I’ve Got My Eyes On You – Mary Higgins Clark

 

“I’ve Got My Eyes on You” by Mary Higgins Clark is a story of a young teenage girl, Kerry, found lifeless at the bottom of her pool after a party at her parents home while they were away. There was a witness to the murder, her next door neighbor and life long friend Jamie. The problem is, Jamie has a disability and is unable to tell the story in a way that won’t implicate him for the crime. And the other problem is that Jamie was in the pool as well. The question is – was Jamie a murderer?

As usual, the boyfriend in the situation is always the first to be questioned, and rightfully so as he (Alan) and Kerry had a very public fight at her party. Not to mention, a history of arguments and breakups. It was also found that his alibi was a lie and that he had asked his friends to cover for him. Suspect #2

For some reason neither of the potential suspects really fit the crime. The sweet neighbor next door and the passionate Princeton-bound boyfriend. Somewhere there are clues that will tell the true tale.

There are other connections Kerry had made along the way. Other people she had upset. And maybe even secrets she knew about, that could have cost her life. As the suspect list gets longer and the clues keep coming in, her sister Aline is back in town and now a guidance counselor at her and her sister’s old school. The perfect position to help dig around and try to solve her sister’s case.

Although this book seemed to be written a bit juvenile – with the thoughts very brief, leaving little to the imagination, and the chapters very thin – the plot was a good one and kept us questioning. I and my cohort at the book club, Anne, both agreed that we thought a certain character was the killer all along and we were correct. But there are several players that could have been. And all the while you wondered if an innocent person would go down for the crime. I wonder if you will figure it out early as well. Let me know!

Fun With The Fam

Easton Christmas Lighting Ceremony

My family and I have found the perfect Christmas season starter tradition and want to share it with you. Every year we attend the Easton Lighting Ceremony. It was by chance that I saw it on the schedule of events on their website one year, it sounded like fun so we went. It was such a magical evening that we decided this was definitely our go to event each year to start off the Christmas season! And it has always been a hit ever since. Tonight is the night and, although it is last minute, I hope I can catch a few parents out there looking for some Friday night fun just in time!

Easton is a small town center of shops, both of high end and lower value, as well as both upscale and reasonably priced restaurants. Easton has beautiful grounds with fountains which, in the summer, children can play in. During the warmer months they also have free live Jazz and move nights on the lawn. My husband and I also enjoy going to the Funny Bone and dinner at any of the many restaurants as our favorite date night choice. Easton is a must when in Columbus Ohio! The source of our yearly school clothes and Christmas shopping.

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The Lighting Ceremony starts, in the dark, at 6:30 PM with one of the most energetic and fun parades I have ever witnessed. With acrobatics, stilts, nutcrackers, dancing ballerinas tucked inside clear globes, elves, huge blow up characters like Rudolph and Frosty (that look like they came straight from the Macy’s Day Parade) and at the tail end, an old fashioned fire engine with Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves!

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The parade circles around the huge Easton Square, ending right in the center at the ginormous tree where Santa gets on stage, welcomes us all, and gives a small speech followed by a countdown to the lighting. At the end of the countdown, fireworks go off and the entire town center of Easton lights up with Christmas lights everywhere, all at once. It truly is a magical moment that you can’t just smile and laugh at, feeling like a child again yourself! The kids just love this moment!

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After this night, Santa and his elves are available throughout the rest of the season for photos and to share your Christmas wishes with. Stay after for carriage rides, continuing through the rest of Christmas season after tonight as well! The best part is that my children always write Santa a letter with their Christmas wish list at the bottom. Every year Easton Santa takes his time to not just snap a quick photo, but read their letters and talk to them. All the while you get to snap or video away and then you can go view the images their photographer took as well. The photos to purchase are a very reasonable (I think $5) cost for a 5 x 7, with other package options as well.

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The stores and restaurants even keep the party going after the Lighting Ceremony and if you text “easton” to 313131 you will be notified of specials and receive offers on your mobile device! Tonight is their 20th grand illumination or “Whobilation” as they call it – it is sure to be a great time this evening!

It is going to be a cold one tonight, but we really hope if you go that you will have as much fun as we always do! Bundle up warm and maybe we will see you there!

Another fun day that we always attend is Superhero Day. There is always something fun going on at Easton, check out their schedule of events here.

Book Club

The Broken Girls – Simone St. James

 

“Broken Girls” by Simone St. James was quite the terrifying read. Filled with murders, secrets and ghostly tales, this book is a mix of stories from the past to solve two completely separate crimes, but they all were committed on the same, spooky grounds of a private school for girls, Idlewild.
Each of four girls sharing a dorm at Idlewild have their own tragic story to tell as to why their path ended up there. They confided all of their secrets with one another and became inseparable, until one of them mysteriously goes missing. The girls left relentlessly search for their friend and roommate, to no end. It has consumed their lives.
Years after their friend went missing, another crime happens on the same school grounds. The sister of Fiona Sheridan, our main character, was brutally murdered and left on display. Fiona is a writer, as well as her father. So she has the ability to research and dig up dirt, which she devotes her life to, in order to prove that the person convicted of her sister’s crime was in fact the killer.
When the school is abruptly purchased and is being restored, Fiona takes it upon herself to dig into the backgrounds of the family taking over. As she researches and finds out about the missing schoolgirl, she digs into school files hoping to help solve that case along the way. In all of her research she comes across yet another crime that potentially ties to her sister’s. With the town hunky cop (Jamie) as her boyfriend, this dynamic duo attempt to solve all the crimes and give peace to so many that have been hurting and searching for answers for years, and even decades.
VIP

Understanding your VIP Flex Ship Order

 

Flexship is the most convenient way to receive our products, and each qualifying Flexship ships free!

Each qualifying Flexship also includes a FREE product . It’s called Only For You, and you can’t them get any other way.

As a VIP Customer, we ask that you have two qualifying Flexship orders of $84 or more after your enrollment order, and we do not set a deadline by which they must be completed.

Product usage and needs vary from person to person. Some will want to order every month, while others don’t need it as frequently, especially if you’re taking advantage of our flash sale offers.

When you enrolled as a VIP Customer, you set a date for your first Flexship order.

Before it ships, you’ll receive an email from us. This gives you time to adjust what is included in the order.

Or, you can also push out your Flexship, up to 60 days at a time; there is no requirement to receive an order before you push the order again.

These two videos show you how to adjust the timing of your Flexship and the contents.

Thank you again for becoming part of the MONAT Family!

 

Fun With The Fam

Pigeon Roost Farms

OPENING SOON for the season!

So, it is no secret that my favorite season of all times is Fall! I love the pumpkins, cool weather, leaves turning colors, jeans with sweaters, bonfires, football and chili contests amongst my friends and I. Nothing beats the fall season! To top it off I have found the best family friendly place EVER to play and enjoy all things Fall!

Pigeon Roost Farms is located in Hebron Ohio and has everything you could ever look for in a fun fall setting! Lots of great fun for the whole family, with giant slides, challenging mazes, a new fort, and some of the most fantastic displays of pumpkins you’ll ever see, this place has it all!

We always have so much fun that we probably go 4-5 times a season, easily.

PumpkinFest, as they like to call it, is open every day from Saturday September 14th to October 31st 10am to 7pm (last entry at 6 p.m., you’ll need at least one hour to enjoy all the fun they have in store for you!)

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The Great Pumpkin Fun Center (open daily) includes:

•Fort Pigeon Roost•2013 Corn Maze – “Aliens Among Us”
•Hop-a-Long Corral
•Pigeon Roost Football Throw
•Spinning Wheel of Fortune
•Giant Gerbil Wheels
•The Enchanted Forest with Obstacle Course
•Hillside Rooster Racers & Turkey Tube Slides
•Fall Frontier – Pumpkin Express Train, Creepy Teepee Tunnel & Conestoga Corn Box
PumpkinFest Weekends also include:
•Wagon Rides and Face Painting
•Crafters and Demonstrations
•Kettle Corn
•Lots of Delicious Food from The Grill Family of Restaurants

There are also farm animals and exotic guests to check out!

The pumpkin patch includes: pumpkins (mini, regular and giant!), Indian corn, corn stalks, straw bales, apple gourds,12 varieties of squash, hard-shell birdhouse gourds, and all the fall décor your house and yard could hold!

Also, don’t forget to stop and let your little one pick out their Halloween costume and get their face painted while you check out all of the crafts and small shops before picking up your bag of fresh popped kettle corn or freshly made cotton candy!

Pigeon Roost is a fun time for ALL! Don’t miss out! Hope to see you there 🙂

Check out their website or their facebook page for up-to-date info!

Fun With The Fam

Want to go Larping?

Don’t ask why, but I have always have a soft spot in my soul for a good old fashion renaissance faire. I know, I really don’t seem the type to go larping (life action role playing – for those of you that have never indulged) in some other realm from long ago, but alas….I love it. It probably has to do with the fact that I grew up (for 5 years or so) in a small little town outside Chicago called Oregon, IL. In this town, even though it only had about 3,000 residents, there were a lot of cool things to do and see.

One of those being Stronghold Castle of Oregon,IL. The castle would have an “Olde English Faire” every fall that my parents would always take me to. I loved it! The people all dressed up from a different era, some of it fictional, some not. Fairies and creatures along with princes and princesses all talking funny and eating huge meat-sticks…it was something to behold!

Fast forward about 25 years and now I have my own children. So a few years back when my first child was about 2, I began searching for something similar around Ohio. I found many different events to go to and went to the one that seemed to have the most entertainment and such.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival is such a treat! My husband had never been to anything quite like this. And was pretty humored (or maybe mortified) when I decided to dress up as Maid Marian to attend. But he was a good sport and didn’t make fun of me too much. Going here each fall has become a family tradition. Our son gets a new sword every year we go and our daughter got to take her first visit there a few years back, walking away with a hair garland. Wasn’t she adorable?

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We always have a blast, with plenty to do! There are several spots with many types of hearty food and drink, a huge artisan marketplace, craftsmen of great skill, amazing feats of skill, interactive comedy shows, skits and adventure, live jousting, merriment and romance, rides, games and more!

Kids will have a blast interacting with the people here and there are so many fun trinkets to bring home or make as souvenirs. From molding your hands in wax to making magic wands, the kids will find so much to entertain them!

Open from the last weekend in August for 8 weekends – Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day Monday from 10:30 am – 6 pm. Every weekend has a different theme (pirates, Irish, Romeo & Juliet, etc), so be sure to check here to see what you’ll be getting into! The last weekend of the season is the best because they have a ton of great trinkets and gifts on sale for those who are on your “nice list” this year.

Keep in touch for specials or deals on tickets or even giveaways ORF may be having by following them on Instagramtwitter or Facebook. Or, check out what you will be seeing at ORF by viewing their YouTube channel.

Hope you enjoy!! Don’t forget to dress the part, most do! It’s more fun that way!

DIY Crafts at Home

Kid Customized Kicks

Are your kids that perfect combination of creative and stylish? Need a new, cheap rainy day activity that will keep them entertained for at least an hour, maybe more? Better yet, it’s an activity that you could do again and again without boredom ever creeping in!

A few weeks ago we had a bout of 3 rainy afternoons in a row. The hubs was already at the store and the kids were over watching the movies I had rented the day prior. With the pool and trampoline out of the question, I decided I was time to bring out the big guns and come up with an entertaining craft for them to focus on.

I quickly called the husband, hoping he hadn’t already left the store, and asked him for 2 items – a pair of white sneakers for each child and a large pack of colored sharpie markers (as our daughter refuses to color with any other kind and has dried our current stash out). The sneakers were a mere $3.97 per pair (in kid sizes and $5.98 per adult) and the large pack of sharpie markers was around $18.00 (but well worth it!).

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The kids were so excited when Daddy got home and I sat them at the table letting them know they could create their very own pair of original shoes! Design away they did and we ended up with some really fun and funky sneakers! They made sure to wear them that very night and show them off at dinner with the grandparents!

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The one thing you will want to be sure to do is take out the laces. I decided to join in with the kids and chose to leave my laces white. But my older two decided to color their laces individually as well. You really can create whatever you want! Which is super fun for them, and you!

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Check out the finished looks below, didn’t they do a great job? They certainly had a blast creating their own unique, custom-made kicks.

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After seeing how much fun the kids had, I decided to create a pair of my own. Check them out below!

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Why not create a pair or two of your own inspired and custom shoes? Use quotes, favorite images or even something super memorable. Mine were inspired by my peacock-themed wedding, my beliefs and my daughter (who LOVES flowers, dandelions and making wishes!). If you create a pair as well, please share them with me so we can see your creativity. You can share on my facebook page, tag me on instagram or even on twitter!