Book Review: I Am Still Alive

Have you ever just scanned over a books summary and kind of infer what you think the book is about? I totally did that. I first saw this book on Penguin’s First to Read Program, but didn’t get it. From what I read it was a book about a girl surviving in the wilderness and getting revenge and for some reason, I thought it had to do with high schoolers. So I assumed it was like a book about like a mean prank or something and they leave the main character in the woods and she has to fight for survival and then gets revenge.  BUT that is not what this book is about… it is about survival and revenge.. I just for some reason  made up the last part when skimming over the summary. Although, as I type this up.. maybe, i should write that book.. or does it already exist? It probably already exists. Anyways, with that in mind… when I received an e-mail from Penguin/Viking to review I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall and participate in this blog tour (which upon editing have realized was suppose to go up YESTERDAY and not today.. OOPS!); I quickly said yes, thinking that was what the book was about.  Very quickly into the book however, I realized I was wrong and because it was so apparent in the beginning I wasn’t disappointed by it.

The book follows Jess Cooper who is reconnected with her estranged father after an accident kills her mom and leaves Jess disabled. Jess thinks he father lives in Alaska, but is in for shock when he lives off the grid, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. Jess isn’t a fan of her time there, but is quickly in for a rude awakening when her father is killed and the cabin they live in burned down. She now has to fend for herself and plot revenge against the people who killed her Dad.

The book is told through Jess’ journal and the first half is told in Before the incident and after it. Then also broken down into seasons.  The book is a very quick read, when formatted like this. However, I think you could have done without the concept of her writing in a journal, as that is really all it is a concept, one we only know about cause she mentions it in the beginning but isn’t really executed in the writing style or important to the story line. With how quick paced the book is it only really feels like she has been in the wild for a few weeks not several months and frankly, with all the mistakes she made that would normally prove fatal. Realistically… Jess would not have survived. As far as the revenge part of the book goes.. It isn’t your typical idea of revenge. I would think of it more as trying to survive and a little bit of payback, not a scheme of revenge.

With all that being said.. I DID enjoy the book. It was a quick read that gave me every 80’s and 90’s kids surviving in the wilderness movies nostalgia. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it went into greater depth. More back story of Jess’ life, more backstory of her Dad’s, more time of the two of them together and a few more actual challenges in the wilderness.  I’m Still Alive is a solid 3 star book. Not a bad book but not a book I loved, either.

 

 

 

**I was given this book in exchange for an honest review**

 

 

Gift Guide: For Your Newly Engaged Friend

Recently, one of my closest friends of over 20 years got engaged! She is engaged to the most wonderful man and I am just beyond happy for both of them. Obviously, buying gifts for someone who just got engaged is not mandatory, but every once in awhile its nice to support your friends milestones with a little something-something!

I’ll start of with what I got my friend to celebrate her engagement and then I’ll list other cute ideas too!

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  1. Mr. & Mrs Ring Tray – buy here
  2. The Wedding Planner Checklist – buy here
  3. A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene – buy here
  4. The Card – Target
  5. The Bag – buy here 

 

Ring Trays –

Are a nice small and simple gift to give some one who has just gotten engaged, because now they have an extra special ring that they definitely do not want to lose. They also are can be very affordable.

A Wedding Planner & Checklist-

This is one I would probably only buy if you know the couple pretty well, are in their “inner circle” as some might say. There are so many great options to choose from out their nowadays, but I chose this one cause it’s on the smaller side. Making it very handy and not take up too much space. Plus, I felt it fit my friends personality.

A Wedding Planning Book or Magazine –

The book I picked interested me, because I felt it fit for my friend who is quite practical. I will say it is more book like than I anticipated. I was expecting something to be more like a cute guide with lots of ideas and photos. It does have that just formatted differently. Also, magazines are a great idea too. I just didn’t do that since a lot of magazines are marketed towards the area you live in and we do not live in the same state.

Some Bubbly-

Unless your friends don’t drink, you can’t go wrong with some celebratory champagne. If you don’t know the kind they like.. I recommend Veuve Clicquot, La Marca Prosecco or not champagne but very much on trend at the moment Gerard Bertrandt Cote de Roses.

A Mug-

I’m sure you have seen the mugs all over Pinterest and for sale on Etsy usually pointing towards the handle where the new engagement ring will be. Super cute and if you are crafty, super simple to make as well.

A Graphic Tee-

I love a cheesy Graphic tee. I mean I did start a website for them (here) but all of the place you can find a t-shirt with “soon to be mrs.” “Wifey” etc. and really I guess I should get in on this market and make some tee’s for my website. lol

Send a Greetbl-

These have recently become a small obsession of mine. You get to pick a box design, some personal photos, a personalized message and then a little gift, and they send it out for you! They have small gifts that work for every occasion (& gender) … including ring trays lol but they are a perfect little pick me up to celebrate the occasion and let your friend know you are happy for them. Also.. you can click this link and get a 15% off code for your purchase.

Flowers-

You also, always go the old fashioned route and send some flowers. I am personally a fan of  Farm Girl Flowers. They do send nationwide, but obviously there are many ways to send flowers out.

Overall, there are many other options of gifts you could send, but I find a lot of other gifts are more suitable for a bridal shower or wedding present. A gift for getting engaged should just be small and simple. Something that says “YAY! I Am So Happy For You!”

 

 

 

**this post contains affiliate links, thank you**

Patriotic Cupcakes Recipe

As a Mom to a 2 year old & almost 4 month old baby. I am always looking for quick and easy recipes to make… but also, ways to elevate them and make them my own. I want to try and make this series, but not sure what to call it yet.  But for the purpose of making this quick and time efficient as possible for the parent that doesn’t have a lot of time to make everything from scratch this recipe is for you! Obviously, if you want to make the cake from scratch go right ahead.

Full Disclosure though, the frosting I chose for this cupcake is not the easiest.. but it definitely isn’t hard. So of course, if you want to make a buttercream or use the canned frosting.. go right ahead!

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What you will need..

  • White Boxed Cake
  • Red Pop Rocks – Cherry or Strawberry which ever flavor you prefer
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Blue Gel Food Dye
  • Purple Gel Food Dye
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Blue Sprinkles (Optional)
  • Electric Handheld Mixer (optional)
  • Double Broiler (optional, sort of)

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Now Let’s Begin!

I began with a white boxed cake mix. I chose white because that way it would be easiest to get a nice blue cupcake once baked.  Follow the instructions for the cake on the box and then add your food dye. Make sure to have a regular blue and purple GEL dye. Add a decent a mount of blue dye and then a drop or two of purple. Adding the purple ensures it will stay a darker blue. Once you have baked the cupcakes make sure to put them in the fridge to chill as you make the frosting.

The frosting I used is a Marshmallow frosting. What i like about this frosting is it is light and airy and not overly sweet.  If you have a double broiler than use it here, if not than use two pots on top of each other like a double broiler (be careful) or a heat tempered glass bowl like people use to melt chocolate.

The Recipe

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/3 Cup Cold Water
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
  1. Bring water to boil in pot make sure it’s less than half the pot you don’t want the water to touch the bottom of your double broiler/second pot/Glass bowl.
  2. Add Egg Whites, Sugar, Cold Water and Corn Syrup in the pot/bowl that will go on top and mix together. Than lower heat to Med-High and place pot/bowl on top. Using an Electric Mixer (you COULD do this by with a whisk but it will take a lot of arm power and A LOT more time) start mixing the ingredients together until it forms stiff peaks and appears meringue like.
  3. Take off heat and add Marshmallows and Vanilla and Mix together until Marshmallows have melted. Then let sit for a few minutes to cool down.

 

Once everything has cooled down you can follow this extra step. Cut small hole in middle of the cupcakes and add some pop rocks to the middle and then frost the top for a little extra surprise. Or you can just frost the top of the cupcakes and sprinkle the pop rocks on top, as well as the optional blue sprinkles.

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Our Summer Family Photos 2018

I AM BEYOND EXCITED ABOUT THESE PHOTOS!

I am someone who LOVES capturing moments and taking family photos during all stages of life as much as possible. In June, I was already planning on getting family photos done. Mainly, cause when Bennett was 3 months old we had photos taken by friend of mine which we absolutely loved and I wanted to take photos around the same age for Owen. Another thing is, we have been very fortunate to work with different photographers and I specifically love working with new photographers and help them build their portfolio.

I want to preface this with saying I love every photographer we have worked with before and I would totally work with them again. BUT The photos  I am about the show you are HANDS DOWN my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE Photos we have EVER taken as a family.

So, to back track… Earlier in the month I was getting ready to start looking for a photographer for Family photos when I received an E-mail from Julia asking if we would like family photos with her. I looked up her work and immediately responded YES! It was like serendipity. We picked a date, time and location and I eagerly waited for the day to arrive.

We selected Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto,CA and when we arrived, my jaw dropped. We had lived 15 min. away from this place and had never been. It was this perfect little garden with so many nooks  and crannies offering for a multitude of fantastics shots and a beautiful historical home nearby as well.. in our hour there we didn’t even cover most of the location. We could go back and have a whole different photo shoot experience.

Working with Julia was just amazing, she is a sweet quite women with young children herself and what I loved is that she is very flexible and she moves quickly. Bennett is a a kid on the go and he doesn’t really stop long enough to take a beautiful posed photo (it can drive me crazy) and if you want a wall worthy photo from him you need to be on your toes and Julia was just that!

I could gush about this experience forever but overall I am so grateful to have met and connected with Julia. She is sweet and professional, but also relaxed. I like that she was great with candids, but also giving directions too. If you are in the Bay Area. I HIGHLY Recommend you check her out, on top of that her sessions are VERY affordable and she has even been SO KIND as to offer my followers a discount code Kelsey20 at the booking and get 20% off your session (promo expires 09/01/18)  Seriously, this is an AMAZING deal with or without the code!!!  I am only showing you a small portion of the photos she took and Andrew and I have yet to decide which ones we will be printing to put on the walls cause there are just too many great ones to choose from.

20180619-DSC_996720180619-DSC_022520180619-DSC_0073Do not be surprised if our Christmas Photos this year are taken by her! Go over to her website Shelepova Photography and also, check out her blog post featuring us.. here. And do not forget to use the code Kelsey20 for 20% off your session when you book with her… cause you would be crazy not to!