What I'm Reading Wednesday {Mackenzie Family}

Hey y'all,

Summers are always a time when I read a ton of books. I think it comes from wanting to earn prizes at the library for the summer reading club as well as finally having the time to read all of the books I had to put off in college until I was home on break. I recently discovered Jennifer Ashley thanks to Kristen of See You in a Porridge who recommended the Madness of Lord Ian in her books lately post.Jennifer writes what is known as the Mackenzie/McBride series and I have read almost all of them at this point. The first four are listed below and follow the main Mackenize brothers before we start adding in books of other relations.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Mackenzies & McBrides, #1)

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

It was whispered all through London Society that Ian Mackenzie was mad, that he’d spent his youth in an asylum, and was not to be trusted-especially with a lady. Yet Beth found herself inexorably drawn to the Scottish lord. Despite his decadence and his intimidating intelligence, she could see that he needed help- her help.
Because suddenly the only thing that made sense to her was … the madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

I loved this book since it was so non-traditional for a romance novel. Ian has Asbergers Syndrome according to Jennifer Ashley's Goodreads response but of course there was not a term for that in the period of the novel. I loved the connection between Beth and Ian and learning all about the past for the Mackenzies made me want to read more.

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage (MacKenzies & McBrides, #2)

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage

Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again–this time by leaving him.
Now the reformed Mac has returned, and he wants one thing: Isabella back in his life, his house, his bed. He’ll do anything he has to, play any game, as long as he gets her back. Isabella resists, but when she agrees to pose for explicit paintings he’s been working on, she realizes her body has never stopped craving her husband’s very skilled touch. Mac is determined to show Isabella that he’s a changed man, but three years without her has only increased his hunger for her.
When an ingenious forger with designs on Mac’s paintings, and Isabella herself, comes dangerously near, Mac sets himself up as Isabella’s protector and vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not. 

After meeting Isabella and Mac in Ian/Beth's story I instantly wanted to know about their relationship. Married but never together? What caused the rift? Could it be repaired? I loved the art forgery story line within the novel as I love a good mystery element and I did not predict the forger which is always refreshing since I watch way to many crime dramas.

 The Many Sins of Lord Cameron (MacKenzies & McBrides, #3)

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron

Lord Cameron Mackenzie is intrigued when he finds the pretty widow, Ainsley Douglas, hiding in the window seat of his bedchamber. Cam remembers Ainsley Douglas all right—six years ago, he’d caught her in this very bedchamber, during a house party in the Mackenzies’ Scottish manor. Enchanted by her ingenuous excuses, he decided to seduce her, but stopped shy when she’d made a rather touching appeal about her “good husband who didn’t deserve to be heartbroken.”
Later, Cameron learned that her visit to his bedchamber was part of some female intrigue against him, the kind his late wife used to practice. Ainsley protested her innocence, but Cameron’s anger made him never want to see her again. Now she’s back, at another houseparty—and Cameron finds the gray-eyed minx in his bedchamber, again. Her excuses are just as ingenuous, but this time Cameron is determined to teach her a lesson.
They have unfinished business, Cameron tells her. He asks her how many of her many buttons she’ll let him unclasp, promising that before the houseparty is over, she’ll be asking him to undo them all.
Ainsley’s dismay is real. She’s on a mission to prevent embarrassment to Queen Victoria, and time is running out. Though the needs he’d stirred long ago during her unhappy marriage rise again, she knows it would be foolish to fall for love-them-and-leave-them Cameron Mackenzie.
But he asks her a question that challenges her beliefs about love and happiness, and she finds herself risking all to be with the black sheep of the Mackenzie family.

Yet again, scandal is always a part of the Mackenzie family and that is no exception in this book. Ainsley is connected with the Queen and is on a mission to protector her. Cameron has had a terrible time with women after his wife's death. Add in a son who causes lost of mischief and running a horse racing empire and you have one interesting story.

The Duke's Perfect Wife (MacKenzies & McBrides, #4)

The Duke's Perfect Wife

Lady Eleanor Ramsay is the only one who knows the truth about Hart Mackenzie. Once his fiancee, she is the sole woman to whom he could ever pour out his heart.
Hart has it all–a dukedom, wealth, power, influence, whatever he desires. Every woman wants him–his seductive skills are legendary. But Hart has sacrificed much to keep his brothers safe, first from their brutal father, and then from the world. He’s also suffered loss–his wife, his infant son, and the woman he loved with all his heart though he realized it too late.
Now, Eleanor has reappeared on Hart’s doorstep, with scandalous nude photographs of Hart taken long ago. Intrigued by the challenge in her blue eyes–and aroused by her charming, no-nonsense determination–Hart wonders if his young love has come to ruin him . . . or save him.

Hart Mackenzie is always the mystery in the series. I loved learning more about the boorish Duke and his history with Eleanor. Hart plays a large role in all of his brother's lives but to finally get a glimpse into his was a great way to wrap up the brothers. 

What have you been reading lately?

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One Room Challenge {Week 2}

Hey y'all,

I am back from my long weekend away and here to share a few changes I have made to my room. If you are not aware, I am joining up with over a hundred guest participants of the One Room Challenge hosted by Calling It Home. You can see all the room progress  of the guest designers here and the featured designers here.

Since last week, my new duvet arrived. I wanted to keep the navy and I love this simple duvet cover from PB Teen. It was on sale and the duvet and shams together were under $80.

It also appears that Max approves of the new bedding decision.

I went to Ikea while I was away this weekend and picked up frames for my gallery wall and a new nightstand. Yesterday I made the nightstand and changed it out. I still want to paint the nightstand white to match the rest of my furniture but that will occur on another weekend when I paint my desk as well.
This nightstand is a little larger in width allowing more for styling on the top of the nightstand. I also decided to shift my to-read list over to the nightstand to free up space on my desk.
 Max of course had to test if the nightstand would work in this space.
Next week, I hope to share the progress on my gallery wall as I am waiting on a few pieces and frames to arrive.

If you missed my room tour and plan, you can check that out here.


Saturday Story Time {Vol. 9}

Hey y'all,

It's finally the weekend! Each Saturday I pose a question and I would love for you to answer the same question in the comments. I have loved getting to know my readers through these posts and you can catch up with the previous questions here.

Today's question is a little random but I thought of it when I was indulging in fast food on Sunday.

What is your favorite fast food place?

I would have to say that I frequent Chick-fil-A the most and a lot of that has to do with my small group meeting up for dinner a lot before bible study on Wednesdays. I typically order the grilled chicken sandwhich or grilled nuggets.

My guilty pleasure fast food place is Taco Bell. I only go a few times a year but when I do it is so good. My go to order is the Nachos Bell Grande.

What is your go-to fast food restaurant?
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Five on Friday {October 7}

Hey y'all,

This week has been a long one and I swore on Wednesday that it should have already been Friday. My out of office message goes live at 5pm and I am out for a whole week! Now to just make it to 5pm. As usual, Fridays mean that I am sharing five things and linking up with some amazing bloggers. Also, this marks 200 blog posts published on this little space! Let's get started:


Scandal is Back. I finally caught up on season six of Scandal this week in prep for the premiere last night. Scandal's return means more than just the show is back, it also means that weekly wine+cookie+popcorn nights have resumed. Years ago, my friends and I started a tradition of scandal nights where we drink wine while watching Olivia Pope try to handle the world. It is a fun chance to get together, catch up, and see the show.
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Real Food Mini-Pledge Program. Today is the last day to register for the Real Food Mini-Pledge program. I am joining the challenge and hope that in the next six weeks (just before Thanksgiving) I will be feeling great by eating real foods. Each week you get a pledge to help you incorporate more real food into your diet. Weeks include: only whole grains, no fried foods, etc. I'm excited to start the challenge when I get back from vacation and be mindful of the first pledge during the weekend but really start week one on October 16th.


J.Crew Earrings. About two weeks ago I spotted these tortoise hoop earrings on J.Crew's website. Well, when they went on major sale the other day I snatched them up along with this pair and this pair. Together, all three pairs were around $30 since I had them shipped to my local store. I am currently debating snatching up this pair.
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Southern Sugar Bakery. This sweet bakery in Raleigh is owned my two Meredith college grads and Christian used to blog at Carolina City Girl. Well, since ending her blog, they have started a sweet bakery and make the most gorgeous custom cookies. I snagged a set of their Fall PSL cookies for my small group and they were a hit this week. You can see a handful of their custom cookies on their Instagram.
This poor PSL is only Pumpkin Spice.


Dance Stand Run. I have been apart of the launch team for Jess Connolly's newest book, Dance Stand Run this summer and I am so excited that the book officially launches this month! Being apart of the launch team has meant that I have had access to the chapters throughout the summer and y'all this book is challenging but necessary in the conversation of grace. You can even read the intro chapter here. A copy might even show up in a giveaway soon. :)
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From Chapter 8

Fun links.

 Thinking about making your costume, check out these fun DIY costumes

Are you visiting someone for Thanksgiving? How about giving them these adorable dish towels as a hostess gift?

I received my first holiday party invitation this week and it makes me excited for throwing my annual ornament exchange! Crate and Barrel already has their holiday items up online and I think this narwhal needs to be added to the tree.

Emily Ley's second book A Simplified Life is available for pre-order! I loved Grace Not Perfection and you can read more about meeting Emily and the book here.

Have you ever thought about making your own clothes? Allie's blog makes me want to break out the sewing machine and get going.

Did you miss out on National Taco Day, Wednesday?  Whip up tacos tonight with these recipes.

Did you know that the pets of the NC Governor have their own Facebook page? I love that the Cooper's show off all of their pets like the First Mantis, Daisy. Yes, as in an orchid mantis bug that was even at Bug Fest this year in Raleigh. They are even taking a vote on what to name the two new koi fish right now.

Link up with April, Christina, and Natasha.  
Also linking up with Tif, Becky, and Katie.
And Erika

What's one thing you are loving this Friday?

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One Room Challenge {Week One: Room Tour and Inspiration}

Hey y'all,

After reading about the One Room Challenge for years, I finally decided to hop in! If you are not familiar with the One Room Challenge, Calling it Home created this challenge/link-up where you work on transforming one room in your home over six weeks. The challenge occurs in April and October. I currently live in a two bedroom/two bath apartment with a roommate so the living spaces are a little more difficult to transform but after more than three years in this same space it is time for a little refresh.

If you want to look at the Spring challenge reveals check out this post. I loved Laura's transformation of her guest room this spring. She spent only $150!

Check out all the Fall guest participants here and the 20 featured designers here.

Today I thought I would share my space and give you an idea of what I am interested in changing. All input is welcome! Feel free check out my Pinterest home board to get a sense of my style.

This is the view of when you first walk into my space.

I love the jewelry organizers I have hanging over my dresser. It helps to remind me to actually wear my fun statement necklaces. I have the older version of this dresser and will probably upgrade it in a few years as one of the drawers is a bit off track.
Next to my dresser is my desk. I am thinking of painting my pinboard either white or a navy color and I am going to finally paint my desk white and update the hardware. My laundry basket often lives under my desk for my cat, Max to play in. 

I also need to find a better storage solution to all of those books. That is my current to-read pile, filled with library books, books from friends and family, and books I recently purchased.

I am also hoping to find a lamp for this space since I am getting rid of my college desk lamp.
This table is actually built by my dad. He found the old sewing table bases and built each kid a table with a new top. I use this space for my devotionals and I need to frame out my prints and hang a few items to make this a true gallery wall. 

Also, the chair at the window is my desk chair that needs to be painted and recovered. My cat loves to look out the window so when I am not at my desk, the chair is there for him to sit on.
This is the view from that desk chair into my closet space. I have an LL Bean Boat and Tote that is filled with workout equipment like my B3 ball, foam roller, and other odds and ends. I also love that my diploma is displayed in my space.
From my closet this is the view of my space. Sorry for the weird lighting, this was late afternoon on Sunday.
I framed six of the calendar prints from this Rifle Paper calendar(this year's version) and the 3M picture hanging strips are not cutting it. Two prints have fallen so changing up the hanging items is on the list.

Also, I have had this Kate Spade bedding for over four years (new grey and white version) and I love it but I am thinking of grabbing a new duvet cover to give me the option to change it up.I would like to keep in the navy theme since I love my curtains and my bathroom is navy as well.
To the left of my bed I have a small shelving unit where I keep a few kitchy items, my everyday jewlery, and the bins contain things like socks, nike shorts, and pjs. I am also hoping to move my La Croix collection to a space in the kitchen.

To the right of my bed is my nightstand. I am hoping to find a new nightstand for this space with a bit more room on the top to hold items.

Rifle Paper Prints (this year's version)

I also wouldn't mind mixing up my pillow situation for my bed. If you count that is eleven pillows on my bed. Two euro shams, four standard size pillows, one memory foam pillow, and four decorative throw pillows which three are tossed off the bed while I sleep.

Also, yes, Max is hanging out on a LOFT Bag that I was about to throw away but then he had to sit on it.
To the right of my main door is a little hallway before my bathroom. My hamper and Max's food hand out here.
The right side has a few ribbon boards I have had since my freshman year of college (one was actually given to me by my Big) which I made into fitness inspiration boards on year but I am thinking of replacing them with a full length mirror over here instead of my over the door situation.

My medal/bib holder is from Etsy.
The other side of the hall is filled with two Old Wells that I have painted at Wine and Design along with my graduation cap. I'm debating changing this up with some different art and moving my graduation cap to hang over my diploma.
So that is my room. I am hoping to make small changes like painting the desk, a new nightstand, new bedding, and art but keeping the budget at $300. 

I am headed to Ikea this weekend when I'm in Charlotte and would love to hear of any pieces that I have to change out.

Any design input would be appreciated! I'll see you next Thursday for the first few changes to the space.

What would you change?

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October Goals

Hey y'all,

I still cannot believe that we are in October already! It is crazy that there are only three months left of 2017. That means I really would like to focus on my goals this month and get prepared for the holiday season and the new year. Here are my ten goals for this month.


Daily Time in the Word. If I start the morning in the word I often have a better outlook on the day. This month I am working through Galatians with my church and writing out the word based on this guide.
Write the Word Galatians


Intentional gratitude. I have begun the practice of writing down three things I am grateful for each day before I go to bed and I want to keep that practice going.


See the fall foliage in the mountains. This weekend when I head to Charlotte I am also planning to hit the Blue Ridge Parkway one day to see the gorgeous fall foliage.


Attend the State Fair. Every year the NC State Fair heads to Raleigh in mid-October. It is always fun to go see all the exhibits like the giant pumpkins, the various cattle, and to eat all the fried foods. Fried Oreos are always my go-to.
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At the State Fair in 2010 with my college bestie, Jenn


Go to a corn maze/pumpkin patch. There are two big farms less than 10 minutes from my apartment that have corn mazes and pumpkin patches. I am working on getting a group together to go over and have a fun fall day.


Create a consistent workout plan. Now that Barre3 Chapel Hill is open, I hope to consistently take classes at least three if not four days a week. The rest of the week, I want to get back into walking at least 3 miles a day three days a week.


Neighbor Boo Bags. My family's neighborhood does Boo bags where you drop off a random selection of Fall/Halloween goodies to two neighbors and place a ghost on your door that says you have been Boo-ed. I would like to make goodie bags for my three neighbors on my floor of my apartment building to brighten their days.


Celebrate Pumpkin Baking Season. I am going to challenge myself to bring a different pumpkin themed treat to all of the small group meetings this month. I love to bake and share sweet treats. I would love any favorite pumpkin recipes!


Read five books. I have really gotten back to reading over the last month or so and with having a few days off this month I hope I can really make a dent on my to-read list.

  • In a Dark, Dark, Wood
  • A Murder in Time
  • Chasing Slow
  • Shadow and Bone
  • King's Cage


Bedroom Refresh. I have been living in the same apartment for more than 3 years and I am going to be participating in the One Room Challenge this month to work on a little refresh of my space. Check back tomorrow for the first post of the challenge.

What are your goals for this month?


All Things Fall with the Blended Blog

Before we get into the post, I woke up this morning to hear about the tragedy that happened last night in Las Vegas. It is such a senseless tragedy. Lots of thoughts and prayers are going out to the people involved especially the victims, families, first responders, hospital workers, and law enforcement.
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Hey y'all, 

I hope you had a great weekend. Mine was a bit busy with babysitting, church events, and preparing for vacation Friday. Since it finally started to feel like Fall I thought I would join in on the Blended Blog's link-up on all things Fall and tomorrow I am sharing my Fall bucket list.

Let's get started with the twenty questions:
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Favorite Fall Sweet Treat? 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. My favorite recipe is from Real Food Whole Life. Apple cider doughnuts are my second favorite.

Red, Yellow or Green Apples?

Fuji Apples are my favorite and they are a mix of green and red.

 Favorite Fall Sport to Play?

I never played fall sports. I danced until I was in 5th grade. I was on swim team through middle school. In high school I was on the Marching Band so I guess I would say that.

Best Drink for Fall?

Apple cider or Yogi's Caramel Apple Spice Tea.

Favorite Fall Activity?

I love going to football games in the fall. Also, hikes and walks in order to see the changing leaves.

Must have Fall purchase?

Riding Boots. I wear mine all the time. I have the older version of this pair

Pumpkins: Pick your own or store bought?

I have done both depending on the year and my schedule. I love going to the farm to pick out the pumpkin. There is a farm less than 10 minutes from me and I hope to go one day and pick out my pumpkin next week.

Real or Fake Pumpkins?

Decor, fake so you can keep them up longer but I have always loved carving real pumpkins.

Favorite Halloween Costume?

My most creative one was being a potato sack racer with my bestie, A, when we were in high school. Other than that I have been a clown, ballerinea, gypsy, hippy, Holly Golightly, Thing 2, and a cat.

College Football or NFL?

College Football. GO HEELS!

Fall or Halloween Decor?

Both. I grew up where Fall decor came out in September and lasts until after Thanksgiving but we also went all out for Halloween decor with fake ghosts hanging in the tree on the front year and a spiderweb on the porch.

Raking Leaves or no leaves to rake?

As a kid I loved jumping in the piles of leaves when we raked them up and even had the pumpkin leave collection bags like these. I currently live in an apartment though so no leaves to rake.

Favorite soup?

I am a big fan of the classic tomato soup with grilled cheese. I also love this taco soup from Skinnytase in the Fall.

Favorite Fall Candle scent?

Cranberry Woods from Bath &Body Works

Love or Hate Pumpkin Spice?

Hate. I don't drink coffee and would rather have apple flavored things than pumpkin.

Short Booties or Tall boots?

Tall boots. I live in my riding boots (similar) all of the Fall.

Favorite Halloween Candy?

Baby Ruth bars.


No. I do not drink coffee.

Hayride or Corn Maze?

Corn Maze. Especially Haunted Corn Mazes.

Favorite Fall TV Show? 

Currently I am excited Scandal, Blindspot, and Poldark are returning. I am excited to watch the Good Doctor and the new Law & Order: True Crime.

What's your favorite fall drink?