Here's How to Spark the Romance on a Budget
When you're young, you picture married life or dating life as an adult to be this magical whirlwind of an experience. There will be nightly surprises, red roses, enough candles to start a forest fire if you're not careful, and frequent trips to private islands.
And then you grow up and realize: So much of that just doesn't happen.
Adult life is hard and exhausting. Love as an adult isn't the thing the movies make it out to be. It's a daily struggle to battle the drudgery of adult life, beat exhaustion, and find enough energy to spend time together. And those private islands? Well, for most of our budgets, those are few and far between.
So how do you keep the spark alive when you can barely keep yourself alive some days? How do you keep the romance, the unexpected in your relationship when you're living a paycheck to paycheck kind of existence?
After being with my husband for 18 years and being married for a total of 7 of those years, I've discovered that it can be done. It just takes some effort, some creativity, and some willpower. Here are our 4 tips for keeping the spark alive in a relationship, even if you're on a budget.
1. Groupon has affordable date options
Recently, I realized Chad and I hadn't done anything new or special in a long time. Still, we were trying to save money, so a random weekend getaway wasn't really in the cards.
Enter Groupon. Especially when they have a sale, they have such great deals on local or semi-local adventures. I was able to get us a brewery tour for $26 total for the two of us. The brewery was a 2-hour drive, so close enough to not be too expensive or taxing but far enough away to be something new. We spent the day wandering around the quaint and adorable vineyard, Chad drank a lot of beer, and we just had a good time focusing on each other.
Groupon is a great place to find brand-new adventures that you've never done. It isn't always about what you're doing, either--sometimes it's just the fact that it's a new experience that can bring back the spark and the memories.
2. Think Local For New Adventures
You don't have to venture far to find new things to try. Is there a new restaurant in town you've been wanting to try? Or are there menu items that usually scare your predictable tastes at your local haunts? How about a new ice cream stand or a park nearby you've never been to?
If you look, there are probably places you've overlooked in your own hometown. Scope out newspapers for upcoming events that you can explore together, or venture into a new business.
One of our favorite dates was on a winter day when the whole town was shut down. We walked up to our favorite Chinese restaurant and saw a consignment shop we'd never been in. We've walked past it hundreds of times, but never took the time to stop by. We spent an hour browsing relics from the past and laughing about what we could buy. That will always be one of my favorite days because it was simple, spontaneous, and just about us being together.
Don't be afraid to search your own hometown for new experiences.
3. Stay Home for True Date Savings
You don't even have to leave the house to reignite the spark...and no, I'm not saying you have to whip out the lingerie for this one. Sometimes it's just about breaking the routine. Try a new recipe together from a different country. Do the shopping for the ingredients together, the meal prep, and of course, the eating, together.
Stay up later than normal and go stargazing on your back porch. A cheap bottle of wine, some stars, and some good conversation might just be the reconnect you need.
Do a no-tech night where you put away all technology and spend time together. Pull out an old school board game and start your own competition.
4. Remember What It's Really About
I'm a firm believer that extravagance does not equal love. Sometimes the best kind of dates, the ones that can re-spark our connections, are the simplest. Sure, it would be nice to be surprised with a trip to a private island. But when that's not possible, know that you can find ways to reignite the spark without spending a ton of cash.
You just have to remember what romance is really about... it's about having someone beside you in this crazy thing called life who makes you smile, who makes everything a little bit more fun, and who grounds you in the beauty of your reality.
It doesn't take loads of cash, candles, or roses to remind you of that. It just takes some creativity, some dedication, and most of all, time.
Do you have any great date ideas on a budget? How do you keep the spark alive? Post in the comments below. I would love to hear your ideas!
Best Dark Romance of the Summer: Pepper Winters The Girl and Her Ren
The Girl and Her Ren by Pepper Winters
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm always hesitant about a sequel because I always worry it won't stand up to the first book. Pepper Winters' The Girl and Her Ren not only stood up to the first book but enhanced it. I loved book one even more thanks to this second book.
This book picks up where book one left off, and I was so happy to see the story continue because I was definitely left wanting more from book one. This series is so unique because it really does explore how love is multi-faceted and really doesn't care about rules. There is a constant back and forth to the plot and the emotions in book one; this continues in book two. I found myself weaving in and out of emotions, from anger to joy to sorrow and back again. Pepper Winters really makes you invest in the characters and their love story in a way few other authors can manage.
The formatting of the book is also unique in that it is told not only from the male and female perspective but also from the format of a manuscript. As a writer, I enjoyed that tie-in and loved how Pepper Winters tied up the series.
I really can't say anything negative about the series. I don't have any critiques. It wrapped up the series in a satisfying way, leaving an impression on me about Della and Ren like no other romance couple. I also love that in the book, Winters highlights that this was never intended to be a romance story, necessarily, but a life story. She accomplishes just that by showcasing how life is a winding, unpredictable journey of pain, sorrow, loss, regret, and guilt. However, through Ren and Della's story, she shows us that love always makes it worth it.
There is certainly a unique aspect to Ren and Della's love story. If you read book one, you understand that their history is very different. Some may even get a bit of a taboo vibe from their union. However, I thought Winters did a great job at acknowledging how their relationship is different but also at not backing down from the love story. Love doesn't follow the rules. It doesn't even follow our own rules. The heart wants what it wants, and it was satisfying to watch Ren and Della experience that very sentiment.
I applaud Pepper Winters for her candid writing, her unabashed look at some darker themes, and the ability to weave such a heartbreaking and beautiful tale about a couple I won't soon forget.
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Check out the links to the books below (I get a small fee from Amazon if you use my links). Also, my video review is posted below!
Are you a thriller reader? Come join me on my new venture!
Have you heard the news? I have a new writing venture, and I'm so excited to tell you about it. I'm going to be dropping some huge publishing news soon, but for now, I'm answering questions about my venture into darkness...and into the thriller genre.
Why the thriller genre, and why now?
For me, writing has always been about telling the story that haunts me, that plagues me until it is told. For my first book, that story was Emma and Corbin's in Voice of Innocence. From there, so many couples and stories came to me, and I felt the need to tell those stories.
My first work in this darker genre wasn't something I consciously set out to do. It was a story that spoke to me, that haunted me, and that wouldn't let me go. In the next couple of months, you're going to learn all about this story and why it had such a powerful hold on me. I'll share with you how it came to be (which, true to Detwiler fashion, is a story in itself). And I'll tell you why this one meant so much to me that I was willing to go out on a limb in a completely different genre.
Certainly, I had my fears writing in a new genre. However, I've always encouraged my writing students at the high school to take risks, to go out on a limb, and to not be afraid to write something completely new. I finally decided to take my own advice when this story begged to be told.
And you know what? I found that I loved writing thriller. I found that I loved writing darker pieces. Most of all, I found that my goal with my romance writing fit in the thriller genre, perhaps even better: To show the realism in humanity, even if that realism isn't always pleasant.
My thrillers are about showcasing the dark realities of humanity. I want to underscore realism and the darkness that resides within everyone. I want to paint characters, scenarios, and scenes that ooze with depth and truth. Those are my goals in my thriller and, in actuality, in all of my writing.
I cannot wait to announce the title of my debut thriller and the amazing publishing company who is publishing it. Most of all, I can't wait for you to read my novel later this year and let me know what you think.
Do you have any questions for me? Leave them in the comments below. I'll be answering questions over the next few months. Also, be sure to join me on my new Facebook page to learn more about my thriller writing.
Honest review of the must-read "Night Circus"
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"The circus arrives without warning."
To review and explain the magnificence of this book is a difficult task. Morgenstern weaves a dreamlike tale of a dreamlike circus in such a fantastical way that it is almost impossible to put into words what the book is about, and, more significantly, what it actually means.
Essentially, this book is a romance about two people, Marco and Celia, who are fated to compete against each other in a competition of magical possibilities. Both illusionists are pitted against each other in a competition with few explanations, obtuse roles, and abstract concepts. For this reason, it is somewhat jarring for the reader to partake in this journey. This is a book where you never 100% understand what is happening.
I enjoyed the layers to the book and the different perspectives. There are many characters in this book, but Morgenstern weaves them together in exciting ways. Part of the attraction to this book is the fact that you never quite know whose story you are really reading. Who is actually important? What is the main purpose? Who is really going to rise as the central figure? There are so many swirls and whirls in the narrative that it begins to feel like the dreamlike circus she writes about.
The circus itself essentially becomes a character in this book. This circus is very different than the one you are probably imagining, however. It is a place where magic is real and the impossible really is possible. The illusions aren't really illusions, although the cover of night makes patrons of the circus understand that reality is perhaps the biggest illusion.
The narrative voice in this book does give it a bit of a distant feel from the reader at times. I have read critiques of this book where readers are not a fan because they couldn't connect. I can understand where that comes from. There are certain points where the narrative voice is second-person narration and you feel utterly connected. Then, there are parts where it is difficult to even understand what's going on or who is who, so it can be difficult to hang onto the connection.
I think the brilliance of this tale, though, is the fact that Morgenstern was able to create the dreamlike feel in which the reader can question what reality really means. I also loved the layering of tales and story lines. I cannot begin to imagine the process of coming up with this story and writing it. I think it is a testament to the creativity of Morgenstern and her writing skill that she pulled off this book.
I do wish the romance element had been more thoroughly established. I felt there was a disconnect between Marco and Celia at times, which is understandable but also frustrating. The love story could have been more clearly developed to provide more satisfaction to the reader.
The ending was superb. It was perfect and everything a reader could hope for in a book like this.
Overall, this is a unique read that is like nothing you've ever read. It will stand out in your mind for a long time after you're done reading. Most of all, it will make you realize that you should never be constrained by expectations or realities in your own life.
View all my reviews
When An Introvert and an Extrovert Fall in Love
From the moment we met, it hasn't been a secret: You're the extrovert, and I'm the introvert.
You're the outgoing guy with the gift of gab who tells stories that are way too long.... but make everyone laugh.
I'm the girl who would rather just listen, observe, and take it all in.
You're not afraid of new social situations, new people, and new adventures.
I'm the one who holds back, who is afraid to go out on a limb, who likes her small, core group of people. I'm the one who frets about social situations while you just go with the flow.
You're the loud to my quiet, the fun-loving to my rational. You're the party to my nerd, the funny to my serious. We are opposites in so many ways.
Yet, I'm so thankful that the introverted, shy girl at the art table found the courage to talk to the rebellious, chatty blond boy across from her. I'm so glad that we didn't let our differences get in the way because looking back, you changed me. You helped me. You made me better.
I know that love is a two-way street. We've both helped each other overcome our shortcomings and grow. We've both contributed to this life we've built together. But today is about how you made me who I am, how you helped me chase my dreams, and how your extroverted nature brought out the best in my introverted self.
You challenge me every single day to laugh a little more and worry a little less. I'm always in my head about what others think or if I'm making a good impression, but you remind me of what matters most. You show me that it's good to be true to yourself and to not be afraid to own that truth. You show me that life is about connections and learning about others and that you don't have to be afraid to do that.
You've pushed me outside of my comfort zone. When I was once a super shy girl afraid of really any interaction with others, you taught me to be confident and to find my outgoing side. It is because of your encouragement that I found enough courage to chase my true dreams of teaching and of being an author. Thanks to you, I've been able to embrace my introverted strengths and share them with others. I've found enough of a voice to project my ideas, my values, and my passions for others to hear.
It is with you by my side that I'm able to talk about my books and to even do a weekly podcast about our lives together. Your gift of gab helps make up for my shortcomings. You bail me out in situations you know I'm not comfortable. You push me to be outgoing when I need to be and you don't let me shy away from situations just because they scare me. You teach me to be brave, to be adventurous, and most of all, to have fun on this crazy journey called life.
In the past few years, I've come out of my shell and found a power in connecting with others. I've realized that it's okay to be extroverted sometimes, even as an introvert. You've helped me find balance.
Above all, you've helped me embrace my quirks and my fears. Your love for me shows me that I am not damaged or broken or less. Even though we're opposites in so many ways, we're the same in the important ways--in our love for each other that has carried us through so much, in our admiration for each other, and in our sense of fun we find together.
So to my extroverted husband, thank you. Thank you for pushing me to be a better version of myself. Thank you for helping me embrace who I am while challenging myself to grow, to change, and to morph into the person I've become. Thank you for being my voice when I can't, and thank you for helping me be my own voice when I can.
Marriage is about sacrifice and it's about learning. I am so glad I get to walk this journey with you, my opposite in so many ways but my soulmate all the same.
I love you.
Stitch Fix Unboxing & Try-On July 2018
**Get $25 in credit for your own Stitch Fix by using this link now: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/18222507?sod=w&som=c&g=w***
Check out my July Stitch Fix unboxing and try on (This is my 2nd box...let's see if they adjusted it for my cheapness, lol).
Stitch Fix is a fashion subscription service. It's $20 to get a box shipped, but the $20 comes off of your total if you buy anything. I love that you can schedule your fixes...you don't have to get one every month!
This video shows you my July box and....an update on last month's jeans I bought...
Whips and chains. Thrusting bodies. Hot, spicy encounters.
Certainly, passion has a place in love and in romance novels. Most of us enjoy some escapism from time to time--and sexy abs aren't a bad thing, for sure.
However, some of the most common questions I get are: Why sweet romance? Where's the hot sex in your books?
In fact, some of the harshest criticism I've received has been about the lack of explicit sex in my books.
Let me say this: My characters do have hot sex. It's just that most of it happens off the page, behind the scenes. Some of my book characters share some spicy foreplay and some sexually tense moments. However, I leave "the act" up to the reader's interpretation. Why, you may ask? I think it boils down to three reasons.
1. I blame Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Sparks has always been my writing inspiration. I've been a fan since junior high. I think he proves that love stories don't have to have explicit sex to be memorable, emotional, and effective. I think that subconsciously, when I started writing, he impacted the style of my romance.
2. I'm a teacher
I think it's always been a consideration that whatever I write may end up in students' hands. I teach high school, so the maturity level is higher. However, I still don't know that I'd want to look out to a sea of my book knowing there are some racy, racy parts in them.
3. (The most important reason) Love isn't all about sex
Over 17 years of knowing my husband and 7 years of marriage, I've come to learn that love is definitely not all about sex. No way.
Love is soooo much more complicated than the carnal needs we have. Sure, sexual chemistry is a huge part of our search for a partner. However, love is about so much more. Love is this powerfully complex, emotional journey. It's about identity and sacrifice. It's about struggle and triumph. It's about finding someone who builds you up even at your worst. It's about finding someone who not only accepts your baggage but embraces it.
For me, that's where the story has always been. I want to chase the complexity. I want to reveal the harder side of love, the more trying side of the emotion. I want to embrace the deep, emotional side of my characters and who they are together.
Sex plays a role in that, but for me, the more difficult and, thus, more engaging part of the story doesn't usually happen in the bedroom. It happens in a truck in the middle of a blizzard when sex is so far from even being a possibility. It happens in an assisted living center where an 80-year-old woman has completely given up on connecting with anyone. It happens in a small town where a couple who is just too stubborn to admit they're perfect for each other flirts with the possibility of who they could've been.
So there are many reasons my romance falls on the sweeter side of the genre. I hope this helps you understand why I write what I write.
What do you think? Do you like your romance on the sweeter side, or do you like more physical connection in your stories? I'd love to chat with you, so hit reply and tell me what you think.
Author Lindsay Detwiler
An Honest Review of Book 2 in the Arc of a Scythe Series
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was nervous going into this one because I LOVED Scythe so much, and sequels usually fall short for me. This was the exception.
I really didn't know if Shusterman would be able to up the game in the second book in this awesome young adult series... but he did. Thunderhead follows our beloved characters from book one, Citra and Rowan. They have gone very different paths in this book; however, as the book progresses, you realize that there is still a deep connection between them in more ways than one. I loved watching both of their journeys to identity and finding their place in this odd world.
Shusterman further develops the world of scythes in this sequel, adding details and dimensions that weren't fully explored in part one. Mainly, this book (as the name suggests) delves much deeper into the concept of the Thunderhead. Diary entries from the Thunderhead give a unique glimpse into this futuristic technology and allows the reader to understand the purpose of it, the benefits, and of course, the downfalls.
This book ends with a huge cliffhanger that left me wanting more. I cannot wait until 2019 to read book 3 in this series. New heroes are named in this book, and I can't wait to explore their story. Also, major shifts have happened by the end of this book, and I know book 3 is going to be epic.
Kudos to Shusterman for again delivering an imaginative, fully-developed world that really makes readers think about technology, what it means to be alive, and what the purpose of this thing called life really is.
View all my reviews
If you are looking for a way to feel more connected and spend more time with your family, set aside some quality time everyday to enjoy a meal together. Studies show that it is extremely beneficial for children and parents to eat together, and increases mental and physical health, and is linked to positive behavior.
Why Is Eating Together Important?
Researchers have found that eating together inspires healthier emotions and habits. Connect with your kids around the table by asking about their day and starting a conversation about healthy eating habits. This encourages engagement and builds strong conversation skills through natural socialization practice, and has been shown to increase a child’s vocabulary. Coming together for meals is especially helpful to children with attention deficits and learning disabilities, giving them a safe and comfortable environment to practice their social skills. Family meal time can also be a moment away from school/work stress, social media, and other distractions, so power off electronic devices, and use the time to disconnect.
As we all know, adolescence can be a challenging season of life to navigate, and it’s easy for children and teens to hold onto their everyday stresses. Having a specific time devoted to talking over the day gives children and young adults a platform to express themselves. According to a survey, American teens said they were most likely to talk with their parents during dinnertime, as opposed to any other time during the day. Family meal time gives parents and children of all ages the opportunity to have a few moments in the day to converse and have an open dialogue with each other. This alone has been linked to lower rates of depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as putting young adults at a lower risk of abusing alcohol and other harmful substances.
Getting Your Family To the Table
Life moves at a million miles an hour, and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for everyone's responsibilities and commitments. However when you make eating dinner or breakfast as a family a routine, and the table a comfortable and welcoming place to gather, your entire family will make dining together a priority. An important aspect of family meal time is the atmosphere that you create within your dining space. When designing your dining area, you should have dining furniture that is warm and comfortable and bring in colors like browns and purples to invoke a calming, natural atmosphere. Fresh flowers and festive table mats are also great features to create a balanced space, perfect for energetic conversation. For more interior design inspiration, check out pinterest and instagram from companies like Arhaus who have detailed room designs on their pages. Family photos and decor pieces with affirmative mantras are also great to hang in your dining area help to set the intention for your family oriented and positive space.
Aside from creating a welcoming environment, as a parent, you’ll also want to be understanding and approachable when you engage in conversation with your children. If conversations continually become hostile or turn into lecture sessions, your children won’t feel comfortable to have an open dialogue. The conversation doesn’t have to be completely centered around the kids and their experiences. Use it as an opportunity to share the challenges that arose during your day as well. Being open, and sharing details and successes as they relate to adult life will enhance trust, and encourage children and young adults to share details of their own day. Dinner table conversation starters like these are also great talking points that can help you connect with your child and allow them to get to know their siblings and parents on a deeper level as well.
Guest article by Molly Kay
The Best Summer Makeup Products For Your 5-Minute Face
It's summer, and I couldn't be happier.
Days on the deck with lemonade, sunshine, and ponytails for days.
In all seriousness, summer is a time for me to step back from the makeup routine and keep it easy, breezy.
Below, check out a sneak peek inside my all-time favorite products for a 5-minute face. These are my tried and true products of all price points that you'll want to latch onto this summer.
Do you have any products that are must-try products? I'm a proponent of cruelty-free products, and I love a good bargain. Comment below with the must-haves for the season.
*As an Amazon Affiliate, I get a small fee for any books purchased through the links below.