Book Club Friday #26

TGIF girlfriends!!!
Today, I'm linking up with Heather and Katie for Book Club Friday.
This week, I'm sharing The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
This book had been on my "to-read" list for the longest time, and when I saw it for $1 at HPB, I snagged it up immediately.

Book description from GoodReads:

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It's a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

My thoughts:

This book was fabulous! It really makes you think about your life and how it affects others. Very thought provoking, and at a mere 196 pages it is one that could easily be read over and over again.

I gave it 5 out of 5 stars!

Friend me on GoodReads!


It's OK Thursday #61

I don't know about y'all, but this week is draaaagging for me. I don't like it one bit!
It's time for another edition of It's OK Thursday with Neely and I. :)
OH! Some announcements first!
Go enter sweet Meg's Fall Frenzy Swap and giveaway. It's gonna be fun! Maybe we'll be partnered together? ;)
ALSO: Have you entered my Shabby Apple $50 gift card giveaway yet? What are you waiting for?!
One more thing: I'm currently offering 30% off ALL sponsor ads with promo code SECRET - let me help you gain more traffic!
Now.. onward with our regularly scheduled programming..
Its Ok Thursdays
It's OK..
..to DESPISE the new blogger interface, why fix something that wasn't broken?!
..to try and do homework without looking in the book, to see how much you actually know on your own
..to feel like I'll never finish school
..to be lucky to have a best friend who understands me, and doesn't get upset when I have a tantrum
..to not understand why some people just can't do their damn job!
..to want a new blog design, but still thinking up some ideas
..to hate medicine that makes you sleepy when you have to take it during the day
..to spend way too much money on eating out
..to have your coffee ready for you when you walk into Starbucks - kinda embarrassing, actually!
..to be crazy excited about being less than 100 followers to 1000 - blows my mind, y'all!
..to just eat snacks all day instead of actual meals sometimes
..to be ridiculously excited for the Grey's season premiere tonight!
..to feel super guilty about not reading blogs much lately
..to love finding new blogs!
..to need a new pair of tennis shoes bad
What's OK with you this week? Come link up and share with us!


I'm an artist!

For my mom's birthday a couple of weeks ago, I took her to Pinot's Palette for a painting class along with some wine sippin'.

It took me forever to decide which night we wanted to go, but I finally decided on a picture that I loved and I knew she'd like it too. Luckily it was the night before her actual birthday, so it worked out perfectly.

We walked in and it was a pretty big studio area, but it was a small class. There were only 7 of us. The instructor showed us where we could pour our wine and how to get set up.

While we waited on the others to show up (we were a bit early) we browsed around. The walls are filled with paintings, and I was blown away. I seriously want to start taking one of these classes once a month. How fun would it be to have your house covered in your OWN paintings?

After we each poured ourselves generous glasses of wine, we put on our smocks and sat down to our blank canvases to get started. 

The instructor was so sweet, and he made sure to explain everything to us along the way. I was very nervous (everyone else seemed to be as well) about how my painting would turn out, but he made us feel like we could do it!

After painting our base colors, we took a little break and chatted and drank some more.

We came back to add on the extras with another break thrown in there. 

Finally, we were finished with our paintings and were so proud of the finished product.

Here's a close-up of mine. :) I loved the way it turned out, but of course the whole way I critiqued myself. I should just be happy it looked like it should considering I've never really painted before in my life. 

Me and Mama with our masterpieces! It was so fun to see everyone's because although it was the same picture, they all looked different and had their own personal touches.

It definitely brought out a creative side that I wasn't sure that I had. I will be going back, for sure!


Shabby Apple Giveaway

Mondays are officially my favorite day to post giveaways! (see the bottom of the post for last week's giveaway winner!) It just makes coming back from the weekend that much easier, don't ya think?

Today I have a $50 Shabby Apple gift certificate for one lucky reader!

This is perfect because you could get just about anything you wanted. They have the prettiest dresses.

If you've never heard of them, they're a company that features unique, vintage-inspired clothing and accessories.

Some of my favorites are their maxi dresses, like this one:

How gorgeous is this? Definitely adding this to my wish list!

I love the casual look of the shirt dresses. Would be simple enough to dress down, and fun enough to dress up!

I know we'd all die to have these dresses hanging in our closets, and here's your chance!

Also, we didn't want to leave anyone out - so all readers get a 10% discount by using code: brunchwithamber10off


The giveaway will run for 1 week, and the winner will be notified via email.


The winner of the September Group Sponsor Giveaway is : Leeann! Congrats girl. I'll email you soon to get your prizes sent your way! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Club Friday #25

How is September almost close to being over? This year is FLYING by.
It's gonna be Christmas before we know it!
Linking up with Heather and Katie, as usual. :)
This week, I'm sharing Worth Lying For by Lisa Cheney.
This book was recommended to me by my sweet friend, Becca. It was a free kindle book when I got it, but I believe it is now $2.99.

Book description from GoodReads:

Mary Minke knows she should be grateful: a mostly happy marriage, mostly grown kids and a mostly steady paycheck. But at forty, she finds herself fantasizing about sprawling Tuscan villas and fitting into 'juniors department' fashions. Instead, another twenty years in a two-bedroom ranch, sale-rack slacks and a receptionist job at Idid-a-Rod Auto Garage seem to be her destiny. Until...

Mary stumbles on a bag of cash in the car of two-bit drug dealer Jimmy Adler... and steals it. Confiding in best friend, Caryn, she vows to make good by playing Robin Hood in the sleepy town of Stillwater Village. Only she must keep the plan under wraps from devoted husband, Nick, who just happens to be the local sheriff.

As one unexpected event after another turns Mary's once tapioca-bland life hotter than three-alarm chili, she is more than a little tempted to indulge in a few retail therapy sessions. Charity begins at home, after all, but where should it end? When the fate of her imperfect yet loving family is put on the line, Mary must decide what the good life really means, and if it is Worth Lying For.

My thoughts:

This book was such a fun read! The characters are hilarious, and very easy to relate to. I appreciate that in a book. Although I got the book for free, I would definitely recommend paying for it. It's well worth it, promise.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friend me on GoodReads!


It's OK Thursday #60

Hi friends! It's time for your weekly installment of It's OK Thursday.
You know the drill! Just type up a post similar to mine below saying what's OK with you this week, grab the button to add to your post and come back to link it up with Neely and I.
Its Ok Thursdays
It's OK..
..to wait until the last minute to do your homework - only sometimes!
..to not really know how much water to put in the coffee pot - thanks Mia and Jo ;)
..to seriously dread Mondays, my longest day of the week
..to have a fave pair of sweats that you wish you never had to get out of
..to be slacking on your reading goals, oops sorry Bec!
..to want to take a paint class every week
..to wish I were better at putting together outfits and accessorizing
..to hate wearing watches because they always slide down my whole arm
..to keep forgetting to buy my Blissdom ticket
..to have just found out that Klout has an app for iPhone - I kinda love it!
..to be SO over facebook
..to be crazy excited about getting a coffee cozy from Kelly at Cedar Street Creatives
..to hate when people repeat themselves over and over
..to be excited about seeing ALL of my BFFs in one place, eek!
..to watch Wheel of Fortune religiously, like a 70 year old woman
What's OK with you this week? Come link up and share!


You can call me four eyes!

Remember back when I let y'all know about the awesomeness that is GlassesUSA.com?

When I went to the eye doctor this past year, my prescription changed a bit. (I'm going blind, I swear!) So, I had to order new glasses to fit my current Rx.

I was more than happy when I had the opportunity to get fashionable and affordable eyeglasses from the people at Glasses USA.

If you're in the market to buy glasses, I definitely recommend them!

Oh hi, I'm a little dorky, but that's OK because my prescription eyeglasses look good on me! ;)

Not only do they have MANY options to choose from, but they also have a virtual mirror. It's so awesome because you can upload a picture of yourself and "try on" any pair you want! How fun is that?!

The people at Glasses USA are so wonderful, that they've offered a discount code for you guys!

Take 15% off your entire order amount + FREE shipping (orders over $50). Code: FS15
Take 10% off any order of prescription glasses. Code: Blog10



September Sponsor Group GIVEAWAY!

Good morning, and happy Monday sweet friends!
In honor of my super awesome sponsors, I'm letting them host a giveaway for YOU!
If it weren't for my readers and sponsors, Brunch with Amber wouldn't be what it is today, so I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart.
Please meet my sponsors and check out their blogs. I promise you won't be sorry. ;)
First up is Aimee, and she blogs over at Aimee's World.

She's giving away a 200x200 "The Norm" sponsor ad on her blog and a $10 Target gift card!

She blogs about anything from her blessings in life to working full time and going to college full time to her kitty, Idgit. She loves all things beauty related, reading blogs, reality T.V., and shopping. Meeting new bloggers and having relationships in the blogosphere is one of her favorite things! Come on by the little ol' blog and join the family!

Next up is Christine, who blogs over at A Day in the Life.

She's giving away an adorable stationery set, winner's choice of color!

Christine describes herself as a city girl in her twenties just starting to discover what the world has to offer. She is finishing up school and trying to make her big break in the world of event planning or as professionals call it, event coordination. She fell in love with planning events when she saw The Wedding Planner over ten years ago, and she's been at it ever since. Her blog is honestly a collection of everything. It's a place for her to dish about celebrities and everything in the entertainment industry as well as somewhere to share her life experiences and make fun of herself at the same time. It's a sanctuary for her writing where she can be herself and not have to worry about anyone judging her for it. It's the place that she likes to call home.

Life & Everything Else In Between

Now we have Nathan, who blogs at Life and Everything Else in Between.

He's giving away a 200x125 "Quarter Deck" sponsor ad on his blog!

Nathan is a mid-twenty year old male blogger. He's married to a beautiful wife named Erin and they have a gorgeous two 1/2 month old daughter, Lillian. He's a dog lover and his yellow lab, Chloe can usually always be seen at his side. He's been blogging for about two years now and he does it for him. It's a place to keep track of the everyday events of his life and everything else in between. He says he's met a lot of amazing people through blogging and he hopes to meet many more! He hosts a monthly link-up called the MNB Hop (Meet New Bloggers) on the first Monday of every month. He also hosts a yearly awards post called the LEEIB Bloggie Awards! His favorite saying is that life is good isn't just a trademark, it's a fact! Hope you'll stop in and say hello!

Just a Few of My Favorite Things
Now, we have Erin, who blogs at Just a Few of My Favorite Things.

She's giving away a $20 Target gift card!

Erin has lots of favorite things that she likes to write about: new hairstyles, makeup, nail polish, shopping, fashion, fun and crafty projects, fitness and lots of Pinterest-related ideas! She also likes to run, does yoga and loves to read. She is an elementary school teacher, living in a Washington D.C. suburb in Virginia and loves her job!

Here's Courtney, who blogs at What a Whimsical World.

She's giving away a $15 Starbucks gift card, a fall scented candle and a copy of one of her favorite books, which will be a surprise to the winner!

She's a 20-something Southern Belle (grew up in the Carolinas) who has been transported to Yankee-land for work. She works from home doing marketing and sales for BNSF Railway, and says she loves her job - she travels a lot, gets to meet lots of new people, and she gets to help people make smart business decisions - all things she loves! Courtney and her boyfriend live in Harrisburg, PA and have a 2 1/2 year old puppy named Lucy who is their child - silly and spoiled and just great. Courtney loves to read, cook, drink wine, travel, dance, plan parties and events (She may have missed her calling to be an event/wedding planner), and spend time with family and friends. Her blog is meant to be a documentation of what she considers a beautiful life - it is a little bit of everything, some nonsense, some serious, random musings, obsessions, and so on. She is just really getting started in this, but is so excited for where this blogging journey can take her. 

Now, those are some fabulous gifts if you ask me!

One will will take ALL! So please, use the rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Giveaway winner will be announced on the widget and will be notified via email.



Book Club Friday #24

It's the freakin' weekend baby, I'm about to have me some fun!
Seriously, it's going to be an amazing weekend. I'm taking my mom to do something special for her birthday, and Nate's mom is in town!
Linking up with Heather and Katie.
This week, I'm sharing If You Ask Me by Betty White.
I got this book for 75 cents on half.com! Seriously, 75 cents. If you haven't checked out this website yet, you're seriously missing out! 

Book description from GoodReads:

Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White's wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty's candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen ("I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out") to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already.

Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White.

My thoughts:

LOVED this book. I've always been a big Betty White fan, and this was a great way to get to know her a little better. She's so funny, and seems like such a kind-hearted person. This was a great story.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friend me on GoodReads!


It's OK Thursday #59

So, let's NOT talk about how I've been the worst blogger in all of the land this week.
I have hardly written anything, unless you count my guest post for Sar. Which is totally my new fave post I've written, I think. Go check it out! :)
Let's just get straight to It's OK Thursday, and someone hold me to being better next week, k?
Its Ok Thursdays
It's OK..
..to be SO grateful for a sister who will let me throw a tantrum while she just sits there, listens and nods
..to think some of my patients would probably make the coolest grandparents
..to think the tip calculator app on my phone is the greatest thing ever
..to have the hardest time trying to quit popping my knuckles
..to be overly excited to see Nate's mom tomorrow, yay!!! :)
..to think sometimes you just have to quit making excuses
..to always be tempted by Sephora's emails, but know that I have more makeup than I'll ever use
..to hate when I buy something and not realize it's "dry clean only" until I after I've already worn it
..to be having a serious debate on which planner to get for 2012 - Erin Condren or MayBooks?
..to always need assistance with even the most menial tasks ;)
..to give Nate serious brownie points for shopping with me this past weekend
..to be excited winter is coming so I won't have to shave my legs as often - just keepin' it real!
What's OK with you this week? Come link up and share!


Model Bink

I have a super sweet friend whose boyfriend is a photographer. His stuff is amazing. They have all these great pictures around their apartment that he shot himself. 

I wish I were as talented as he is.

One night, I had Binky over there with me, they have 2 other dogs too.

Adam was playing with his camera, and just shooting away. I got an email from Kelly this week with the pics. I love them so much that I just had to share with y'all!

Is he seriously not the cutest little thing? I love how photogenic he is! He always looks when you have the camera out, and doesn't act crazy. He actually stays still. I basically have the perfect dog. :)

I am having a hard time deciding which I like best to frame - so help me!

Which frame of Binky is your favorite?


Book Club Friday #23

TGIF, sweet readers!
Linking up for my fave with Heather and Katie!
This week, I'm sharing A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard.
My sister had bought this book back when it was first published, and I kept meaning to borrow it. I finally got it from her to read. 

Book description from GoodReads:

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

My thoughts:

This book was VERY intense. I knew it was written about her life while she was abducted, but I guess I didn't think it'd be as hard to read as it was. It was a great read, and I'm glad I picked it up. But just be prepared to be very disturbed by the things she went through. She's very detailed.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Friend me on GoodReads!


It's OK Thursday #58

Clearly this is the week of link-ups here on my blog. So, you should go ahead and link-up with Neely and I for It's OK Thursday!
Just type up a post similar to mine below stating what's OK with you this week, grab the button and come back to link up.
It's fun, I promise. :)
Its Ok Thursdays
It's OK..
..to stalk the Kate Spade website for a certain handbag
..to want to "treat" myself each payday but know I should resist
..to want to stay in bed and cuddle with Bink in the mornings
..to not understand why I couldn't buy more than 1 starbucks living social deal
..to think it's weird that it's so cold at work when it's 100 degrees outside
..to be so incredibly grateful for the relationship I have with Nate
..to be excited to take my mom on a surprise outing for her birthday next week!
..to not understand the hype of some things
..to wish I knew how to design my own blog and make it look pretty
..to think reading school textbooks is really putting a damper on my personal reading goals
..to hate getting the oil changed in my car, so I put it off as long as possible (I know, it's horrible!)
..to sometimes have no energy to comment on blogs, but I always read them
..to have lived off of Smart Ones frozen dinners for lunch for 2 weeks now
..to wish there were a magic food/pill that would allow me to drop weight instead of working out ;)
..to feel like a total lazy ass for the above comment
What's OK with you this week? Come link up and share!
Interested in sponsoring Brunch with Amber? Comment and let me know, or email me, and I'll give you a special promo code!
Become a sponsor by tomorrow evening, and be eligible to participate in the sponsor group giveaway for September.


Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last week was a co-worker's last day at my job. All of us got together to have a little spread for her last day. I signed up for dessert because I love to bake, and eat. Duh. 

I knew she loved strawberry cupcakes, but I didn't want to go the easy route and buy the boxed cake mix. I like to get my hands dirty and say I actually MADE what I baked. 

I went to my trusty Pinterest boards, and found the perfect pin with accompanying recipe.

So, I headed to the grocery store to stock on the goods and get started! 

Strawberry Cupcakes

1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix 
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin 
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed 
4 large eggs 
1/2 cup vegetable oil 
1/4 cup water 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your cupcake pans. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 - 8 oz. packages of Cream Cheese 
1/2 c. butter, softened 
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar 
pinch of salt 

Mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Blend on slow as you add vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Once blended, turn mixer on high and blend until nice and fluffily. Use immediately or refrigerate. 

Of course, I forgot to take a final picture. But, trust me when I say these were AMAZING! Sooo yummy, and they had the perfect strawberry flavor. 

They didn't last long at work either. All of my co-workers complimented me and even asked me to share the recipe! 

Since this was a pinterest inspired recipe, I'm linking up with sweet Michelle for Oh, How Pinteresting!

Happy hump day, friends!



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