Feb 27, 2016

I wish that it were Summer blog hop


To enter the Swiss Chocolat giveaway, click here.
To check out the Art Jewelry Elements blog hop, click here.



Today I have a real treat for folks that enjoy some eye candy with your weekend.  I am participating in two jewelry blog hops today and you of course can still enter the giveaway for the chocolate.  



Don't we all dream of the warm weather and sun of the summer when all we are getting is the cold and grey of winter?  I know that I am guilty of it so when Lisa of Pine Ridge Treasures suggested a blog hop around this theme, I was all in.  Lisa sent us all a kit of supplies and she was so generous that I have a lot of them left but I did make a couple necklaces.



Today I am just going to let my pictures speak for themselves as I am struggling with a nasty headache and being on the computer is not helping.   




Now that you have seen my offerings to summer, be sure to check out what everyone else has come up with.

Your hostess:  Lisa Lodge, A Grateful Artist
Kari Asbury, Hippie Chick Design
Kim Dworak, Cianci Blue
Shaiha Williams, Shaiha’s Ramblings
Beti Horvath, Stringing Fool Jewelry
Jacqui Kipfer, Seven Oaks Jewellery
Rosee Hanemaayer, Silver Penny Artisans

Art Jewelry Elements Feburary Component Blog Hop



One of the things that I really love about blog hops sponsored by Art Jewelry Elements is how they push me to stretch my boundaries.  I have never done anything with chain maille besides wear it so when Diana Ptasznyski offered the readers the opportunity to work with one of her chain maille focals, I was super excited.



I mean just look at the color and flash on these babies.  I was lucky enough to be one of the guests chosen to join in and very soon I had one of these beauties sitting on my work table.

I wanted to hoard it and make myself a necklace but my taste really runs to simple and I felt that simple just wouldn't do this baby justice.



So instead I decided to play up on the flash and color of the crystal by adding more crystal in a supporting roll.  And some silver.



And all of this bling is definitely out of my wheelhouse.  It's a necklace that I could see someone wearing for a night out on the town.  But you know.  I think that I am going to be greedy and just string this focal on a simple silver chain to wear with jeans for myself.

I can't wait to see what everyone else has done with this bright and sparkly treasure.  Won't you grab a cup of tea and check out the eye candy with me?




AJE Team
 



Feb 25, 2016

Book Review: Driven By Fire


To enter delicious Chocolat Frey giveaway, click here.




Pro bono lawyer Jenny Parker is the only true innocent in her family. The daughter of a New Orleans crime lord, she’s tried for years to make her own way, but family ties always manage to pull her back in line. When her youngest brother gets involved in human trafficking, Jenny wants to believe him innocent and tries to protect him, even though it means covering for his crimes.

Matthew Ryder knows Jenny is hiding something, and he couldn’t care less about her motives. As a member of the Committee, a covert anticrime agency, he’s dealt with the worst the world has to offer. To him, Jenny is just another criminal. But when she asks for help, things turn dangerous quickly, and though he can’t trust her, he can’t turn her away.

Now, Jenny and Ryder must head to South America to stop the trafficking ring. To find the truth, they’ll have to survive untamed jungles, hostile rebels, crushing betrayals, and—perhaps most dangerous—the fire of their undeniable attraction.


* * * * *

I really enjoy books that touch upon gritty subjects such as human trafficking and the sex trade.  It's a good way to get people to think about these topics. Ms. Stuart does a great job of introducing her reader to this horrible business that exists because of dark shadows to hide in.  

I am still not quite sure how I feel about the characters in DRIVEN BY FIRE.  They were beautifully written and I was cheering Jenny along for her pluckiness and gumption but boy when she loses it, she really loses it and never seems to get it back.  It is realistic though as its hard to bounce right back onto our feet once we get a really bad shock and she had a few in a row.  

Ryder is just a nasty piece of business.  He is constantly picking on and belittling Jenny so I am still scratching my head on why she would fall in love with him.  Especially after he uses physical force to get his way.  He is the type of man that keeps therapists in business. 

Despite my feelings about the characters, I did find DRIVEN BY FIRE to be a page turner.  There was a lot of action, danger and mystery that kept me glued to the page.  I do recommend this book to my readers who enjoy romantic suspense.  Just remember that Ryder could trip some triggers.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Feb 24, 2016

Ramblings



  • Why is it that I will wake up a couple hours early and not be able to get back to sleep until 10 minutes before my alarm goes off?  That is just so wrong and it seems to happen every time I have to get up earlier then normal.
Feb 21, 2016

Review: The Gladiator's Temptation

To enter the Chocolate Frey giveaway, click here.




With her standing in Roman society already on shaky ground, Fortunada must be careful with her reputation. After her faithless husband cast her aside and married another, the devoted mother of two wasn’t eager to let another man fill her bed—until she met Baro, Rome’s reigning gladiatorial champion. It’s in his strong arms that she finds true pleasure and, to her delight, love.

When her champion proposes marriage, pledging to make her family his own, it seems fate has finally smiled on Fortunada. But her fortune takes a turn when her former husband resurfaces, demanding to take their children as is his right.

With Baro having already sacrificed his career for their love, throwing away his title in a bid to break free of his contract, how can she tell him that the price of her sacrifice—her children—is too high? Will love triumph, allowing Fortunada both her champion and her family, or must she walk away from the man who’s given up all for her?


* * * * *

THE GLADIATOR'S TEMPTATION is the second book of Ms. Bokal's Champions of Rome series that I have had the opportunity to read.  I have been very pleased with this series and especially this book.  We do meet the main characters, Fortunada and Baro in the first book but THE GLADIATOR'S TEMPTATION is written in such a way that it will stand on its own merits without following the series.

Readers are given the opportunity to see how people lived back in the heyday of Rome through the eyes of it's champions, the gladiators, and the women that they love.  Baro is rather unusual among gladiators in that he started out as one of the patrician classes and joined the gladiators by signing a contract with a ludus.  When he falls in love with Fortunado, he discovers that getting out of the contract isn't quite as easy as getting into one.

When Fortunado's husband divorced her, she wasn't planning on becoming seriously involved with anyone.  She didn't count on Baro.  But just as she discovers happiness, her ex-husband comes back to claim his property, his children, and her.  She won't give up her children to be with Baro so she agrees to remarry her ex-husband.

And then things become complicated.  I would recommend any of my readers who enjoy historical romances to check out Ms. Bokal's Champions of Rome series.  I am sure that you will fall in love with the characters and the setting as I did.

*** I received this book at no charge from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions expressed within are my own.
Feb 18, 2016

Chocolat Frey Review & Giveaway!




As I have been hinting to my readers and on Facebook, I was chosen for the opportunity to review some Swiss chocolate from Chocolat Frey.  I was very happy to be selected as some of my favorite memories of living in Germany was the easy access to rich Swiss chocolate.  Oh and exploring the castles.

Chocolat Frey was not a company that I was familiar with prior to this opportunity so I did some research. What really impressed me was that this is an well established company which was founded in 1837 by two brothers, Robert and Max Frey.  They are well known in Switzerland and in fact, are the most popular chocolate in that country.

All Chocolat Frey is manufactured in Switzerland which allows for very strict quality control.  It also allows for Chocolat Frey to be focused on sustainability.  They are UTZ certified which means all of the cocoa is farmed in sustainable manner. This is a huge win with me as I am very concerned with our footprint on this wonderful world that we live in.  To learn more about Chocolat Frey be sure to check out their Facebook page.  Be sure to like it so that you can keep up with all things Chocolat!

I am sure that you are curious about just what I thought about Chocolat Frey's products.  And I do want to get the disclaimer out of the way.  I did receive this product for free so that I would be able to give all my readers an informed opinion.  And receiving them for free in no way influences my opinion.




When the box first arrived, I knew that there was going to be NO way that I would be able to keep my husband out the chocolate so I opened up a bag of the minis for us to enjoy.  I have to admit that I wasn't really that impressed by them as they seem to be missing the richness that I equate with Swiss chocolate.



I did find out however after some experimentation that they are delicious in hot cocoa and what is better for this time of year?  Using the Swiss chocolate did add a touch of richness that was delightful.  I did cut the recipe in half because there are only two of us and it is rich.







Ultimate Hot Cocoa Recipe
Ingredients
  • 4 cups milk
  •   2 split vanilla bean (optional)
  • 10 ounces semisweet or milk chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
  • Chocolate shavings (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat milk to scalding in a medium saucepan. Add cinnamon, mint, or vanilla, if desired. Let steep 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat; strain, and return to saucepan. Reheat milk; using a whisk, stir in chocolate until melted and milk is frothy. Serve immediately with a dollop of whipped cream garnished with chocolate shavings, if desired. 





Next up were the pralines and I do have to say that these were heavenly!  Even if this was the only product that Chocolat Frey produced, they would have a customer for life.  They were rich and had that extra special creaminess that I expect for a top shelf Swiss chocolate.  They were also a thing of beauty that I would be proud to serve my friends with a glass of wine.  Don't tell anyone but I plan on picking up a couple more boxes for gifts.



I have been saving the best for last.  And yes, something does top those delicious pralines.  Chocolat Frey's chocolate bars were a true eye opener.  Every one of them has hazelnuts!  A love of hazelnuts in my chocolate is something else that I brought back from Europe and one that I had given up everr being able to enjoy again.  My first taste of the Chocbloc Milk was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

These bars have the same richness and creaminess that I found in the pralines and the nuts elevate these bars to the best chocolate I have had in twenty years.  And the fact that I can now run by a store to purchase a bar when I am in the mood is almost too good to be true.  They are the perfect size to drop into my purse but not so small that I would feel deprived by sharing some of this wonder. And I will be sharing because my friends always thought that I was a snob telling them how much better the chocolate was in Europe.  Now I can easily prove that it is fact.

Look for these great new products coming to a store near you!  I will be sharing the locations as soon as I find where you can find them.  This chocolate is just too good not to share.

Now Easter is coming upon us rather quicky and Frey Chocolate does have some sweet hollow bunnies for the holiday.  They come both large and small, and are perfect for that basket you are planning.  Now I don't have kids but I did make up a few baskets that I am planning on donating to a local women's shelter since I doubt that the kids there will be getting much chocolate for the holiday.



Now onto what everyone has been waiting for!  This is a wonderful giveaway and will be repeated on twenty-five different blogs.  That's right.  You will have twenty-five opportunities to win a selection of this heavenly chocolate.  Just be sure to head down to the links after the giveaway to check out everyone that is running a contest. This contest is limited to 18 and over US ONLY!

This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Sweetworks. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic

a Rafflecopter giveaway