Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are you the Walmart gift card WINNER?!

Christmas shopping has already begun in my house. Truthfully, it began this summer when I found a train table for my son at a garage sale for only $10! He's all into Thomas, so Christmas morning is going to be pretty exciting around here!

I'm sure many of you have begun your shopping, too! Someone is going to be happy to have a little extra moola to spend on someone on their list!

Commenter #16, MARCI, has won the $15 Walmart gift card from Febreze and MyBlogSpark.

CONGRATULATIONS! And Happy Shopping!

Marci, I've emailed you with instructions to claim your prize! Check your inbox!

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family. Post *may* contain affiliate links.**
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Friday, November 5, 2010

Still House Pond by Jan Watson

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lilly Gray Corbett loves living on Troublesome Creek, but she would much rather play with her best friend than watch her little brother and the twins. Her mama, Copper, is often gone helping to birth babies, and Lilly has to stay home. When Aunt Alice sends a note inviting her to visit in the city, Lilly is excited to go, and Copper reluctantly agrees to let her. Later, when they hear the news that the train crashed, Copper and her husband, John, rush to find out if their daughter is injured . . . or even alive. (Tyndale)

MY THOUGHTS:

I really wanted to like Still House Pond by Jan Watson, but I just couldn't get into it.

Although Still House Pond is supposed to be a standalone novel, I felt like I'd tuned into a Walton's episode a half hour too late.

Since I haven't read Jan's Troublesome Creek series and that's where many of the characters were first established, I felt a little lost.

I did enjoy Jan's style and the 'Walton's' feel to the book, so I think if I was properly introduced (by reading mama Copper's stories), I may be able give Lilly and Still House Pond a fresh start.

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy from Tyndale for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family. Post *may* contain affiliate links.**
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It's that time again!!

Just take a walk through your local grocery store, and you'll see that all of the holiday baking supplies are prominently displayed.

Well, time to make some hot cocoa, pull up your stools, and start jotting down some gotta-make-this-year recipes!

Start with this one! It REALLY is the yummiest, creamiest hot chocolate! The mix fills a large gallon sized bag (approximately 50 servings) and, although we seemed to drink it all the time, it lasted my husband and me months!

GOURMET HOT COCOA MIX
Tammy Maltby from The Christmas Kitchen


4 cups instant nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 cups French vanilla powdered nondairy coffee creamer
2 cups powdered chocolate milk mix (store brand works just fine)
1 5-oz (6 serving) package cook-and-serve (not instant) chocolate pudding mix
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I ended up using 1/2 cup. Gave it just the right chocolate level I was looking for)
2 cups miniature marshmallows and/or miniature chocolate chips (optional, but yummy)

Boiling water or milk, for serving

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. For a better blend, mix the dry ingredients in a blender or food processor before adding the marshmallows. Store the mix in an air-tight container. Makes about 12 1/2 cups mix, for 50 servings.

To serve, place 1/4 cup mix (or more) in mug or cup. Add 3/4 cup boiling water or hot milk and stir well.

Once you've done that, check out my other holiday recipes!

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: Post *may* contain affiliate links.**
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Let's Shutterfly!

I can't believe it's that time already, but I’ve already begun planning for our family’s Christmas card.

Along with a short note of our yearly happenings, I love to include a recent photo of my kids. I mean, aren't Christmas cards the perfect time to show off your adorable munchkins?

Shutterfly has a beautiful assortment of photo Christmas cards to choose from! You’ll have a hard time deciding!

I already found a favorite, though! Lovely Leaves:
Not only do I love the simplicity of Fresh Lemonade's design, but my favorite part? The inside of this card has space to include extra photos and a short note about each member of the family! Just what I love to include in my cards!
Perfect!

Not only does Shutterfly have beautiful, high-quality Christmas cards, but you can also mark a few people off of your shopping list with personalized wall calendars or photo books! Grandmas especially love them! ;-)

I really can't say enough about Shutterfly. I love the pictures and photo books I've ordered from them in the past! I know you would be pleased with your Christmas cards, too! Be sure to check them out...!

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: I was given 50 free photo cards for writing this post. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family. Post *may* contain affiliate links.**
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

CFBA introduces another title this week: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.

When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.

When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line? (CFBA)

MY THOUGHTS:

Like Karen's debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, I really enjoyed the cover of Head in the Clouds. Or, should I say the BACK of the cover. ;-) You can see Adelaide's foot and book in the air and she trips off the porch. Certainly portraying a girl with her head in the clouds!

Although that's the cover and title, I didn't think Adelaide was really that oblivious! She seemed quite smart and composed, with a cheerful disposition and active imagination  - she just had a fairytale vision of Prince Charming - and who doesn't after reading Jane Austen?

I would have enjoyed Head in the Clouds better without Jose's part, as Uncle Petchey is enough nasty scoundrel in the story for everybody.

Although Gideon and Adelaide play out a fairly obvious prairie-western love story, Head in the Clouds was an enjoyable kids' naptime read.

AND FOR YOU, a peek into the book:
Head in the Clouds

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

Thank you to Karen and Bethany House, through CFBA, for sending me a review copy!

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family. Post *may* contain affiliate links.**
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The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

This week, CFBA is introducing The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher--whether her assistance is wanted or not. Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John's protests of her aid. She's even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family. Yet Elizabeth's new role as nanny takes a dangerous turn when John's boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher's enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she's more determined than ever to save the child--and man--she's come to love.

MY THOUGHTS:

I didn't quite know what to think when I first started reading Elizabeth's story. Most parts I liked, some parts I particularly didn't - like too much mentioning of eyes-raking-over-bodices. I read so many books, that a story really has to have something unique to hold my attention.

The time period was also a bit difficult for me to get into. It wasn't quite like this (although close!), but I just kept imagining a medieval town with dirty, raggedy villagers and evil villains terrorizing woman and shooting flaming arrows into thatched roofs. Not generally something I enjoy reading.

However, when I finished The Preacher's Bride and read the Author's Note, my mind started leaning more towards liking the book. Jody was inspired by the true story of John Bunyan and his wife, Elizabeth. While I can't vouch for the historical accuracy, it did change my feelings toward the story.

I would have actually preferred a little more clarification on John and WHY he and his family were persecuted. All I really got was that he was an unlearned man, preaching the gospel - seen as illegal in that day and age.

Regardless, I know many men and women have taken a strong stand on what God's Word says and died for their faith (for more or less reasons than being an uneducated preacher). I don't believe there are many today who are truly willing to die for the Lord. Most are much more willing to compromise.

Overall, The Preacher's Bride was an interesting look into what 17th century Christians may have suffered to hold true to their beliefs.

AND FOR YOU, a peek into the book:
The Preacher's Bride

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

Thank you to Jody and Bethany House, through CFBA, for sending me a copy to read and review!

Recommend: YES

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**Disclaimer: I was given a free product for review purposes only. My reviews are not monetarily compensated and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way, unless otherwise disclosed. Each review is based on the reactions and opinions of myself and/or family. Post *may* contain affiliate links..**
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