Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Memories Software Review and GIVEAWAY!

Have you ever wished you could get into digital scrapbooking, but aren't sure where to start? Or, you're just plain overwhelmed after hearing you'll need expensive programs or have to scour the internet for digital scrapbooking kits?

Well, I've got good news for you! I was recently introduced to My Memories, an affordable and powerful digital scrapbooking software.

In just minutes (yes!), I was able to utilize the pre-installed templates and quick pages and come up with these pages:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Counting Down the Days! Paper Chain Christmas Tree and Advent Calendar


I wanted to make a paper chain for my children this year. I saw this idea on Pinterest, and quickly put one together for each of the kids while they hung the ornaments on the tree. We've already torn off the first chain (which would be between the 2 bottom chains). You can see a full one here - I just looked at her picture while assembling.


Another very special, not-new tradition is our Advent Calendar.

Tea Holiday Collection


Ho! Ho! Ho! Time to start your Christmas shopping, if you haven't already!! Here's another GIFT ALERT for you!

We have a special Christmas Eve tradition in our house.

We shut off all of the lights, but the tree, pop in our $1 'yule log' with Christmas carols dvd, and get out a special snack (last year, it was a bucket of mini eclairs! Yum!).

Then, the kids are given one gift to open.

The gift is always a new pair of cozy jammies to wear all Christmas day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Valley of Dreams by Lauraine Snelling

I’m never sure whether I like Lauraine’s books or not…and I think I’ve read all of them but her Return to Red River series. Obviously, since I’ve read so many, there must be something that draws me to them (Blessing in Disguise was my favorite book, because it felt different than all of her other books).

The stories are fine, but that’s about it. I never find them overly exciting or something that I can hardly put down.

Cassie’s story in Valley of Dreams was much the same. The story just plods along, with no outstanding characters or situations to keep me riveted.

Cassie parents owned a Wild West show, into which she was born and raised. Cassie is the star sharpshooter in this traveling caravan, the only life she has ever known. After her parents die and her ‘Uncle’ disbands the show, Cassie feels her only choice is to try and find the ‘Valley of Dreams’ her father always talked of.

If you like to wait to read a series...

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander and TWO Giveaways!

Here's another chance for you to learn about Tamera Alexander's newest book, A Lasting Impression.

I'm also letting you in on Tamera's Kindle Fire Giveaway....and, my own giveaway for my extra copy of A Lasting Impression!

YAY for you!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

You can read even more about A Lasting Impression HERE.

MY THOUGHTS:
I truly empathized with Claire. She was put in a very difficult situation by her parents - forging paintings. I know we must take responsibility for

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

I can't believe it!

I couldn't understand why two copies of A Lasting Impression showed up in my mailbox, only days apart. I searched my emails and finally figured it out.

After (how many?!) years of reviewing books and keeping schedules for tours straight, I finally goofed...and signed up to review this book through two different groups!

So, I'm turning my unfortunate error into something good for you! You can read a little bit about the book in this post, and I will be posting my review in the next! I will also be GIVING AWAY my extra copy during the next tour!! So stay tuned... ;-)

And my sincere apologies to Bethany House for my mistake!! :-(

******************************
So, today, CFBA introduces A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander.

Friday, October 28, 2011

His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons

Our country is pretty divided nowadays, but I just can’t imagine living during the Civil War. What an awful time for our nation.

His Steadfast Love takes you to coastal Texas during the conflict between the North and the South. As the war dawns, Amanda Belle falls in love with a captain of the federal troops. When Texas secedes, Captain Kent Littlefield must return north to fight with the Union soldiers. Amanda’s own brother enlists with his fellow Johnny Rebs.

Amanda’s father forbids any contact with a northerner, so a courtship with her beloved Kent seems doomed. But when her father’s disapproval is no longer an issue, Amanda’s brother’s bitterness threatens to keep the hatred against the north (and Kent) alive.

I am always a bit

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No-Sugar Apple Pie

In our family's attempt to eat healthier, one of the things that has been the hardest to cut back on is SUGAR.

I rarely crave a bag of salty chips...but, whisper icy, cold Coke or Dove chocolate or OREOS in my ear and it's all downhill from there!

We're working on it, though!

I made some cookies for a church get-together a few weeks ago, and when I pulled down my white sugar tub from the pantry, I realized it's been several weeks since I've used it!!

Now, lest you think I haven't had sweets:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Today, CFBA introduces Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and myster--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

MY THOUGHTS:
I can hardly

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Song by Martha Rogers

Today's featured author from FIRST is Martha Rogers with her book, Autumn Song.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Why does everyone think a girl’s only lot in life is to find a husband and settle down?
Kathleen Muldoon is twenty-three and tired of ranch living. Fiercely independent and determined to become a nurse, she has left her family’s ranch to study medicine under Old Doc Jensen and live in town with her Aunt Mae, who runs a boardinghouse.

Daniel Monroe has just arrived in Porterfield to set up his law practice. Sparks fly when he is introduced to Kate at the boardinghouse, but the initial attraction quickly dissolves into an argument—the first of many. Daniel is enamored with Kate but uncomfortable with her independent spirit and dreams of becoming a nurse.

When trouble erupts between the ranchers and lumberjacks over timber rights, Kate is furious to learn that Daniel has worked out an agreement she believes will destroy her father’s land. Can they overcome their pride and help each other become everything God wants them to be?

Set in the late 1800s, the Seasons of the Heart series follows the lives of four women and their families, weaving together their stories of faith, life, and love as they bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616384573
ISBN-13: 978-1616384579

MY THOUGHTS:
I have been looking forward to reading Autumn Song, ever since finishing Summer Dream, the first book in Martha's

Friday, October 7, 2011

Maggie's Journey by Lena Nelson Dooley

Today's featured author from FIRST is Lena Nelson Dooley with her book Maggie’s Journey (published by Realms, October 4, 2011).

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

On her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.

Maggie longs for a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tips to keep your family Cold and Flu- Free!

Photo Credit: stock.xchng user evah
Unfortunately, cold and flu season is quickly approaching. I’ve already begun wiping little drippy noses in our house.

So, how can you prevent the sickness from invading your house? Well, it’s not easy, especially with little ones! We have a large church family, full of children, and it seems that as soon as ONE child has the sniffles or the much worse yucky-bucket-sickness (how was that for discreet?! Ha!), the entire population of kids in the church brings it home!

This can make for a long winter!

But, there are some important, common sense things

Friday, September 30, 2011

Heiress by Susan May Warren

ABOUT HEIRESS by SUSAN MAY WARREN:

They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

MY THOUGHTS:
I am not sure why Heiress is marketed as Christian fiction.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 24: Worldwide Day of Play!

I have two precious children. One of them is a boy.

A real boy.

If I let him, he would be outside…all day. Every day.

He loves playing outside. He loves shovels and dirt and water.

Yeah, you know where that’s going, eh?

A. very. dirty. boy.

A very HAPPY dirty boy!

I must admit that I prefer to curl up

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer

This week, CFBA is introducing Wings of a Dream by Anne Mateer.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family's farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he's the man she's meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother's sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur's training camp as God's approval of her plans.

But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt's death, Arthur's indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she's always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.

MY THOUGHTS:
Rebekah was so

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Doughnut (Hole) Muffins

My husband and I have made the decision to start eating a bit more healthy. Are you laughing that I'm writing this at the beginning of a post called 'Doughnut (Hole) Muffins?!'

Just wait!

We are trying to make healthier choices. We're trying to keep white flour (including white pasta and rice) and white sugar to a bare minimum and gradually replacing the processed foods in our pantry.

Using whole wheat flour has been

Attention Keurig fans! Introducing Ekobrew!

I purchased a Keurig for my husband several years ago. He has told me again and again that it's his favorite present that he didn't even know he wanted! ;-)

Even though he is the only coffee drinker in the house, those K-cups can become expensive.

You've noticed, eh?

Like probably every other Keurig owner, in an attempt to save money, we've tried all of the other make-your-own k-cup reusable filter devices.

We've always been a bit disappointed. Until now.

Introducing the newest reusable filter on the block:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Today, CFBA is introducing A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Ostracized by her tribe because of her white father, Lizzie Dawson lives alone in the mountains of Alaska, practicing the ways of her people even as she resides in the small cabin her father built for her mother. She dreams of reconciling with her grandparents to fulfill her mother's dying request, but she has not yet found a way to bridge the gap that separate her from her tribe.

Clay Selby has always wanted to be like his father, a missionary who holds a great love for the native people and has brought many to God. Clay and his stepsister, Vivian, arrive in Alaska to set up a church and school among the Athbascan people. Clay is totally focused on this goal...until he meets a young, independent Indian woman with the most striking blue eyes he's ever seen.

But Lizzie is clearly not part of the tribe, and befriending her might have dire consequences for his mission. Will Clay be forced to choose between his desire to minister to the natives and the quiet nudging of his heart?

MY THOUGHTS:
If you're a regular reader of my

Friday, September 2, 2011

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin and {GIVEAWAY}!


ABOUT THE BOOK:
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril.

After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

MY THOUGHTS:
Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory series, and I must say,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still More Stories and Treasures from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson

Today's featured author from FIRST is:


and the books:


David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The late Arleta Richardson grew up an only child in Chicago, living in a hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan. Under the care of her maternal grandmother, she listened for hours to stories from her grandmother’s childhood. With unusual recall, Arleta began to write these stories for an audience that now numbers over two million. “My grandmother would be amazed to know her stories

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson

Today, CFBA is introducing A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Grace Whitson.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...

She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. He is a preacher living under a sense of duty and obligation to love the unlovable people in the world. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to reach the rejects of society in the remote wilderness regions of Montana. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Reverend Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

MY THOUGHTS:
I have yet to read any of Stephanie Grace Whitson’s contemporary novels, but I have always been

The One Who Waits for Me by Lori Copeland

Today's featured author from FIRST is
Lori Copeland
and the book

ABOUT THE BOOK:

This new series from bestselling author Lori Copeland, set in North Carolina three months after the Civil War ends, illuminates the gift of hope even in chaos, as the lives of six engaging characters intersect and unfold with the possibility of faith, love, and God’s promise of a future.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930183
ISBN-13: 978-0736930185

MY THOUGHTS:
The One Who Waits for Me is the first book I’ve read

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tea Collection Review and Giveaway!

It's hard to believe, but summer is coming to a close and all of the back-to-school stuff is filling the store shelves! Although I loved my new notebooks and pencils each year (still do!!), the majority of our shopping when I was school-aged was for back-to-school outfits!

I was recently introduced to Tea. A company dedicated to unique, travel-inspired children's clothing.
"Everything [Tea]—our products, images, words and ideas—is inspired by going there and being here. And by our passion for exploring different cultures. We are awed by the unique beauty and diversity of people around the world."
Each season, you will find a new Tea collection based on the designers' travels. This fall's collection was inspired by which global destination? Mexico!

Michelle from Tea graciously allowed me to choose some of their beautiful girl's clothes for my daughter. I went straight to the new Fall 2011 collection and immediately, the

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Dream by Martha Rogers

Today's featured FIRST author is:


and the book:

Realms (June 7, 2011)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Top Ten Reasons I Want to Visit Virginia Beach!

I don’t know about you, but with the economy the way it is, a family vacation has been put on the back burner this year.

But, I can dream, can’t I??

Photo Credit: herrberg
Today, I’m working with Social Moms to give you my top ten reasons I’d want to visit Virginia Beach!

I adore my children, but every mom needs a little break sometimes. I want to visit one of the many spas that Virginia Beach offers! A relaxing massage or soothing pedicure would certainly start my vacation out on the right foot (pun intended)! ;-)

My husband and I love our American history. Virginia Beach offers several museums worth visiting, from lighthouses to military monuments! And, Colonial Williamsburg is also right ‘next door!’ This would make a great ‘summer fieldtrip’ learning experience for the kids, too!

One of the most important things on any vacation for our family is

Thursday, June 30, 2011

My New Picnic Essential: S'MOREOs!

This weekend, we honor the beginning of our United States of America. Many of us will celebrate this important day with parades and picnics. It's also a great time to start our summer activities and spend some time with family and friends!

S'mores are a staple at picnics and bonfires all year round. I can take 'em or leave 'em.

I usually leave 'em.

Not the hugest fan of the graham cracker element. (I think they invoke memories of learning-to-eat-solid-food toddlers -- you know. Gooey, soggy...eww).

Anyway, hope I didn't ruin your summertime treat for you! ;-) Do not fear, I've discovered another option for which I am giddy over!

a S'MOREO!!






Ohhhhh.... thank you, random facebook photo, that introduced me to this double chocolatey, sweet oreo cream version!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Iced Coffee

My husband is the coffee drinker in our house. I've tried the dark brew many different ways, but just don't like it. I figure if I didn't develop the coffee habit in college, while pulling cramming-for-exam-all-nighters, I never will.

An icy cold Coca-Cola on the other hand...

Anyway... ;-)

Hubby also likes iced coffee, but has never tried making it at home. He says chilled down coffee with ice cubes just isn't the same.

So, when I saw Ree Drummond's (aka Pioneer Woman) recipe for iced coffee, I thought I'd attempt the cold concoction as a surprise for the man I love.

First of all, PW's recipe and instructions were great. However, the proportions (even halved) were just too much for this 1-coffee-drinker household.

It really made a bit of a mess.

The biggest containers I had were

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

I had the opportunity, through Bethany House Book Reviewers, to read and review The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites. But time has changed them both. As they face a painful reckoning, can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts--and lives--hang in the balance?

MY THOUGHTS:
I’m going through a string of books right now that just aren’t holding my interest. The back cover teaser sound so good…the covers look so pretty, but I’m coming away disappointed in the stories.

The Lady of Bolton Hill was just…

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond

*Don't forget to scroll down to see how you can enter Catherine's Kindle GIVEAWAY!*

About Spring for Susannah:
Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

When her parents die suddenly, and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota Territory.

Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her-and his faith in God's perfect plan-slowly begin to chip away at the wall she hides behind.

When she miscarries in the brutal Dakota winter, Susannah's fledgling faith in herself and in God begins to crumble. Still, Jesse's love is unwavering. Just when it seems like winter will never end, Susannah finally sees the first tentative evidence of spring. And with it, the realization that more than the landscape has changed.

She looks to the future with a renewed heart. Yet in her wildest dreams, she couldn't predict all that awaits her.

Catherine Richmond
Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist till a special song planted a story idea in her mind. That idea would ultimately become Spring for Susannah, her first novel. She is also a founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelist critique group and lives in Nebraska with her husband.

MY THOUGHTS:
I thought Catherine's debut novel, Spring for Susannah, was an enjoyable read. Sticking Susannah's shy personality and Jesse's exuberance in a cramped soddy gives the traditional mail-order bride storyline a fresh perspective.  

Susannah slowly begins to trust Jesse and realizes he loves her. Truly loves her. But when Jesse feels he must leave in order to provide for Susannah, he learns the hard way that Susannah is stronger than he thought and they can work together to build their homestead. 

My only real problem with the book is the physical detail of Jesse and Susannah's relationship. I don't quite know how to share this without sounding negative. I truly enjoyed the story! Jesse and Susannah are married, so the written romance is not really wrong, but I still felt uncomfortable. I guess I feel that what my husband and I share is a special gift from God - something that we are careful not to share publicly with others. I think that writing too much detail cheapens that gift, making it feel less special.

I just think our Christian authors need to be careful. I'm afraid I wouldn't want my daughter - or any unmarried woman - to read it. If I feel uncomfortable sharing a book with my mom or mother-in-law, I think too much detail was given.

Otherwise, Catherine's debut read more like an author who has been published many times. Spring for Susannah was well-written and romantic, combining stories in my imagination like Love Comes Softly, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and Little House.

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Thank you to Catherine, through Amy and the Litfuse Hens, for sending me a copy to read and review!

GIVEAWAY ALERT!!
To celebrate her debut novel, Catherine and her publisher, Thomas Nelson, have teamed up to give away a Spring For Susannah Prize Package worth over $150! One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen

* Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond (for KINDLE)

Click below to ENTER for your chance to WIN!

Spring For Susannah Giveaway

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook. Click HERE to see what other bloggers are saying about Spring for Susannah!

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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