TVuUFXBTS6Y17ZBZqqmxz2zB_Ro

google analytics

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Day 5 of 12 Pearls of Christmas and giveaway!


12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***

My Gift to Him by: Cara Putman

As Christmas nears, I’m staggering under a year that’s been too full. A fall that’s been too busy. A season of good, but overwhelming days.

Does anyone else feel the same?

There’s nothing bad—life is just full. Too full.

And I feel emptied. So empty.

It would be easy to enter this season with a sense of exhaustion, feeling like I just want to get through and on to January.

Instead, I want to offer my life again. May my gift be my life. My dreams. My talents. My all. May I be available to Him to transform from the inside out. I want my life to be lived for His glory.

Yet I fail. And on the days that I am most tired and overwhelmed I seem to fail more. It is then that I take comfort in the reality that He is the King born in a manager. A King who gave up heaven in order to save me. You. All of us. He has good plans for my life. Plans that exceed my wildest dreams. Plans fit for the daughter of the Most High.

He has plans like that for you, too. Plans that may be different from your plans, but plans that are wonderful and good.

So in this season of busyness, a season when it is easy to focus on things, duties, parties, family and friends, will you join me? I’m offering myself as a gift to Him. Will you?

12pearls-putman
***

Cara Putman is the award-winning author of sixteen novels. You can learn more about her and her books at www.caraputman.com. You can read the first chapters of all her books there including her new novel, Shadowed by Grace, which releases on January 1st just in time for Christmas gift cards. You can connect with Cara on: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads

  a Rafflecopter giveaway







Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 4 of 12 Pearls of Christmas and giveaway!

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***

The Nativity by Lynn Austin

The first time I visited Bethlehem more than twenty-five years ago, I expected to feel a sense of the beauty and simplicity of the much-loved Christmas story: a crude stable, the holy family, shepherds, wise men, and the Son of God in the manger. I was sadly disappointed. The traditional site of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is inside the Church of the Nativity—a truly ancient church built in 565 AD. It has survived enemy invasions, the Crusaders, restorations, renovations, a fire, and an earthquake, but it looks like . . . well, a church. A beautifully decorated and ornamented church, with all the sacred clutter that has accumulated throughout the centuries, but it bore no resemblance to my image of what Jesus’ birthplace was like.

But wait—the real site was down a set of stairs and inside a natural cave that has been venerated as the place of His birth since 160 AD. But even this simple cave was so gilded and bedecked with artwork and tapestries and lamps and incense burners that I still couldn’t get a sense of what it might have looked like on that first holy night. In the center of the floor was a silver-encrusted star with a hole in the middle. By putting my hand inside, I could touch the place where Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago. I tried it, butI left Bethlehem feeling empty, unable to make the sacred connection I had so longed for.

And isn’t that how so many of our Christmases end up feeling? In spite of all the tinsel and glitter and sparkle, all the money we spend and the stress we endure as we try to create the perfect Hallmark Christmas, we’re often left with the same let-down feeling I had inside that church in Bethlehem. We’ve lost the simple beauty of the story, that precious connection with God that is the true miracle of Bethlehem.

The year after visiting Bethlehem, I began looking for ways to recapture the simplicity of Christ’s incarnation. Santa Claus has never been invited to our family Christmases, and we’ve always celebrated it as Jesus’ birthday, exchanging presents because God gave us the gift of His Son. But year after year, the clutter and glitz had draped themselves over our celebrations, just like the religious trappings that have collected inside the Church of the Nativity over the centuries. That year, I purchased a nice but inexpensive manger set. I wanted something that wasn’t a toy but that my children could handle and touch. We placed it at their level and at the center of our holiday and began the simple tradition of gathering together as a family to fill the empty stable while my husband read the story from the Bible. Our children divided all the people and sheep and camels among themselves, and when we got to their part in the Bible story, they added their figures to the stable.

This simple tradition has become so beloved by all of us that we still do it the same way every year, even though our children are now adults. Our two married children couldn’t wait to share the tradition with their spouses, generously dividing their sheep and wise men among the newest members of our family. One year, our daughter was living overseas and couldn’t make it home for the holiday, but we still held our family tradition while she participated via Skype and a web camera.

And it’s always in those moments, with the simple stable and inexpensive plaster figures and my precious loved ones gathered around me, that I feel the holy wonder of Christmas once again—Emmanuel, God with us!
12pearls-austin
***
Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. Her latest novel, Return To Me, is the first book in her new series.  She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago. Visit Lynn at her website.


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, December 15, 2013

12 Pearls of Christmas (Day 2) and giveaway!

12pearlsofxmas

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***

Christmas Musings by: Anita Higman

I feel great joy in preparing my home for the holiday season. I love to drape boughs of greenery along the staircase, swirl spices into a pot of apple cider that’s simmering on the stove, make crafty floral arrangements, and sing along with all my favorite carols. Then when friends and family come over for brunches and dinners, I put out my finest decoration, my best china, and my sincerest smile. I go all out. These are my guests, and I want the event to be welcoming, satisfying, and festive. I want them to feel like royalty.

When Christ arrived in Bethlehem, I wish He could have had a more splendid welcoming, a more regal place to sleep than a wooden trough where animals were fed. Even though His birth was without majestic lodgings or kingly adornments, I’m so glad He overlooked our foolish blunders, our lack of hospitality, and chose to live amongst us anyway. Jesus certainly could have chosen a different route and easier way to offer redemption.

But He didn’t.

Jesus came in one of the humblest possibly ways. He had a divine approach that left humans surprised and puzzled. And it turned into a road of pain beyond anything we can imagine. When it comes to God’s extravagant sacrifice and love that Christmas represents, He deserves a standing ovation. After all, Christmas holds the true secrets we’ve all been searching for: meaning to our lives on earth, victory over death, and life eternal.Christmas gives us a reason to work, to laugh, to dream, to love. Christmas is a holiday of the heart and earth’s finest celebration.

12pearls-higman
***

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. Her latest release, Marriage in Middlebury, is a tale of love, hope, and forgiveness. Anita's been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Visit Anita at her website.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Pearls of Christmas (Day 1) with Giveaway!

12pearlsofxmas



Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.
***

A Hibiscus "Hug from Heaven" by: Margaret McSweeney

photo-12The flurry of festivities during Thanksgiving weekend came to an abrupt halt as I began the first week of December 2013 with an empty nest. My husband was back at work. My daughters were back at college. And my brother, Claude, and niece, Mary, were back in Alabama and Tennessee. Bare branches accentuated the overcast gloom in the Chicago suburbs on what marked the third anniversary of my brother Randy’s passing. Randy had been feeding a stray cat on his deck when the fatal heart attack struck.

Walking downstairs, I whispered a prayer. “Lord, I am feeling really sad right now. Please help me experience your joy.” As I walked into the family room, my heart smiled. The pruned hibiscus plant balanced a solitary flower that had blossomed overnight! This was truly a hibiscus “hug from heaven.”

In her book <em>When Grief Is Your Constant Companion</em>, my late mother shared her poignant poem about a hibiscus plant. She wrote this following poem several years after losing my dad to a sudden heart attack while he was in Paris on a business trip.

TEARDROPS: EVERLASTING JOY
By Carolyn Rhea

My love, how can it be
That I no longer think of you
Almost every waking moment
And grieve for your loving presence?

There are small spaces of time
When my life is so absorbed in present living
That you are not in my thoughts at all.
How unthinkable!
How sad that I should forget you even for an hour!

But I have not forgotten you, my dear.
You are forever a part of me.
You helped God shape my life
Into my present self.
I carry your love in my heart.
I miss you so very much and always will.

But now I’m caught up in trying to reconstruct
With God’s guidance
A meaningful life for myself.
One in which I can help,
Serve, share, love, grow.

I remember the hibiscus plant
We bought at the annual show.
It was called Teardrops,
For several perfectly-shaped white teardrops
Spattered the broad expanse
Of its gorgeous pink blooms.
How we loved it!

Then later, after it had grown much taller,
We saw a different kind of bloom:
Multitudes of small, sturdy, happy pink blossoms
Swaying merrily in the Florida breeze!
Teardrops had been grafted onto a stronger plant!

We named it Everlasting Joy.

Teardrops still bloomed at the lower level,
But as the plant grew ever upward and outward,
Everlasting Joy bloomed in profusion!

Lord Jesus, when teardrops fall,
Help me remember that through faith
I have been grafted in You –
You, the vine;
I, a branch –
Eternally secure in God’s love through Thee!
Blessed with Thy fullness of joy on earth
And the promise of everlasting joy in heaven!

Thank you, dear Father for sharing your everlasting joy with me today in my solitude. We are not alone in our grief. You are with us. “Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20
12pearls-mcsweeney
***
Margaret McSweeney is well-published author (A Mother’s Heart Knows, Go Back and Be Happy, Pearl Girls, Mother of Pearl, Aftermath), host of Kitchen Chat, and the founder of Pearl Girls™. Through Pearl Girls™, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past twelve years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more at Margaret's website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ageless Derma's Eye Cream

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.



I was given the opportunity to review Ageless Darma's Vitamin K and Retinol Eye Cream. I have had puffiness under my eyes from stress and not enough sleep and I was interested in seeing if this would help. I love Ageless Darma's products in general and wanted to try this one.
The eye cream if full of great vitamins needed in the body.  The eye cream is easy to use, and feels smooth to the touch. I didn't feel any slimy feeling I have felt on other cream products.  I liked the way my skin felt after using it.
The only thing I found was it didn't seem to change the puffiness at a overly noticeable rate...yet. I have used the product for 3 weeks, and I am continuing to use it. I am confident I will see some improvement. I think everyones body reacts differently, and mine may take a couple extra weeks to really appear less puffy.




I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The God Puzzle by Valerie Ackermann


The God Puzzle is a wonderfully done resource book geared towards kids ages 7-12. This book is great for daily devotionals either for the child alone, or to be done as a family. The truths of the Bible are presented in a way that is fun for children and makes it easy to remember what they have learned.

Each chapter focuses on a topic from "Who is God?" to "What are we looking forward to?" The chapters are well designed, very colorful and engaging activities. There are specific Bible verses to work on and could be used for memorization.  For younger children, some adult help is needed, but easily adapted in a family group.

This is a devotional which definitely has the child in mind. I think every Christian family has the desire to see their children desire a relationship with Christ, and The God Puzzle is a great tool to get them there.

Here is a fun interview with Valerie Ackermann where you can see more of where her heart is in teaching children...Enjoy!

You can purchase the book HERE



Q: Whom was The God Puzzle created for?

The God Puzzle was designed to equip any parent, regardless of background, to teach their children about God and the Christian faith in a way that combines deeply Biblical and ordered lessons with complete ease of use on behalf of the parents. It is a resource to bring quality Bible learning into ANY parents’ hands, even if they know nothing about the Bible or Christianity. In fact, a parent who knows very little can learn right along with their child. It also makes sure the longtime Christian parents actually teach what their children need to know to understand their faith.

It is my heart is to reach the Christian parents who are not satisfied with what they are teaching their kids at home or who bounce around from one devotional to the next, struggling with knowing everything their kids are supposed to understand and/or how to teach it. I hope to connect with both the new believers and the ones who’ve grown up in the church their whole life who want their kids to know God through Jesus Christ and the important aspects of the Christian faith.

Q: Why do parents need a Bible study program they can use within the home?

As a full-time children’s ministry director, I feel the church has invested too much into programs within the church doors and not enough into resources parents can use at home where most faith learning and observation takes place. Somehow throughout the past 200 years, faith-learning has been taken over almost entirely by church programs, leaving most parents feeling inadequate or without resources to teach their children. Well-meaning parents think their children are getting all the Bible education they need at Sunday school, and the truth is only about 10 percent of faith-learning happens in church programs.

While equipping their own programs, the church has made mostly weak devotionals available for parents to use within the home where kids spend most of their time. On the other hand, few parents have the time, knowledge or resources to use some of the good-quality materials available out there that are mostly utilized by homeschooling families. I find parents are hungry for something they will actually use and is easy, yet affordable.

Kids from Christian homes are scoring badly on Bible-college entrance exams because what we have been doing isn’t working. Not only that, but too many kids are walking away from the faith when they reach young adulthood.

Q: What encouragement do you give parents who are intimidated about teaching their kids about faith?

I see too many parents in the church frustrated at their time with their kids teaching them about God. It shouldn’t be that way. Teaching about God is not only for parents who are gifted teachers, or homeschoolers, or pastors’ kids — it is for EVERY parent even if he or she is very new to the faith. It is our job as a church to equip these parents with a book that is deep, yet simple, affordable and engaging, and requires no prep or background in the faith to get through. That is what I set out to do with The God Puzzle.

Q: How is The God Puzzle structured to be used?

Parents can work through The God Puzzle with their kids at whatever pace works for them. It’s something easy enough for a child, yet deep and structured as a theology textbook is. Faith should be able to be explained in terms a child can understand, and that’s what I have set out to do with this book. The workbook is interactive, and each lesson requires a personal response to the truths presented. No preparation is required, and only a Bible and pencil are needed.


Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are always my own and may differ from others.

Related by Chance, Family by Choice by Deb DeArmond








Book Summary (from AMAZON)
The caricatures are everywhere, the jokes are inexhaustible, and the stereotypes fill the screens. From Marie Barone (Everyone Loves Raymond) to Viola Fields (Monster-in-Law) to Internet sites and social media pages like ihatemyinlaws.com and a Facebook page for ihatemymotherinlaw there is no shortage of examples of the caustic relationships that can develop between the two women in a man’s life.
Deb DeArmond and her three daughters-in-law have conducted their own exhaustive research into the status of the women-in-law relationship. Their research, which incorporated online surveys, interviews, and discussions, included asking about the faith factor in the relationships they studied. Of the respondents, nearly 90 percent claimed they were Christians, and 79 percent said their faith was foundational and guided their actions and decisions. As discouraging as it may be, the numbers of those they surveyed who reported that their women-in-law relationships were “bad” were nearly identical to those in a survey conducted by a popular secular website that recorded no statistics on faith.
Beyond the statistics and their analysis, Deb brings to this book more than thirty years working with adults to improve communications and deal constructively with conflict. Aside from her research and her professional expertise, perhaps the most important asset Deb brings to this work is her own relationship with her three daughters-in-law that is so obviously and unusually positive that she—and they—are often asked to explain the secret of the relationships they share.
This practical and unapologetically scriptural book covers issues of personal perceptions, strained communication, the roles of sons and fathers in the relationship’s success, how to begin these relationships on the right foot, and the necessity of trust and love. Deb’s one motivating objective is to help womenin- law move from women who are simply related to strong and confident members of a truly spiritual family.


My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. When I first saw I could review this, I was excited. I know from personal experience how miserable a bad Mother/Daugher in Law relationship can be. My MIL has always been difficult and has on many occasions tried to get in between me and my husband. 
I have a son, and I know that's not the type of relationship I want with my future daughter in law.
I think this is a book that needs to be read multiple times to catch everything it has to offer. I love the assessments at the end of chapters. You can't just read this book and forget it, you really have to dig deep and assess where you are and what you want out of it. 
There are action steps which allow discussion and thought provoking realizations. I think every mom should read this book, especially mom's of boys because there is something different about that when it comes to marriage and letting go. 
So much wisdom in learning how to change the stereotypes of this relationship and turn it into something amazing. 
I encourage you to check this book out and let others know about it also. You can find it HERE.

Disclosure: I received a print copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and may differ from others.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Organic Matcha-Green Tea Powder by Kiss Me Organics




These days everyone is looking to find healthy ways to live and eat. With Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, you can add some healthy additions to any dish from smoothies to lattes to baking.  When you add Matcha to a meal, you gain 4-6 hours of additional energy which both energizes and relaxes. You are able to focus better on getting done what needs to get done. Let's be real, this time of year, everyone gets so busy with holiday stuff, traveling, family along with work, that we sometimes are left feeling overwhelmed (and exhausted!).  Matcha gives a safe way to help stabilize your system and leave you feeling better overall. It's also a great natural way to burn calories. Our bodies normally  can burn 8-10% daily energy expenditure, but with Matcha that can increase to 35-43%! With all the health benefits of green tea, it's definitely worth checking out.

I tried adding Matcha to our stew the other night. I normally don't gravitate towards green tea. I tend to like the taste of black tea better, but knowing the health benefits loved the idea of a powder I could add into regular meals. I think it worked great. It blends wonderfully into the dish. I can't wait to try it in other meals also. Smoothies are something we drink year round, so we will be adding Matcha into them on a regular basis. My son is looking forward to trying it in icing.

You can find it at MATCHA . I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!


Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal giveaway!

  
What an exciting time this is! Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal is here! This will be a wonderful addition to your reading and learning time.




The Home School Adventure Co. Launch Team is excited to help celebrate the release of the Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal with a special giveaway filled with books that will compliment your classical studies, as well as a couple of special surprises.  


The best news is that there will be two winners, each receiving a very valuable prize package!  


We would like to thank the following friends for their generous sponsorship of this giveaway! Be sure to stop by their websites to say thank you!


Institute for Excellence in Writing
Nancy Pearcey
Trivium Pursuit
Bright Ideas Press
Raising Real Men

Here are the prize packages you could win! 


Prize Package #1

Our first prize package contains all of the print resources from Home School Adventure Co., as well as wonderful books, curriculum, and even a marriage retreat. This prize package, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Nancy Pearcey, and Trivium Pursuit, has a value of $500!

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal $28.95
Philosophy Adventure - Pre-Socratics Complete Set $89.95
Philippians in 28 Weeks ESV $28.95
The Wise Woman with Literaray Analysis Journal Questions $28.95

IEW Teaching Writing/Student Writing Value Pack (Winner's Choice of Levels A, B, or C) $249

The Soul of Science $11.99
Total Truth $25.00
Saving Leonardo $26.99

Teaching the Trivium Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style $20.40
The Fallacy Detective $22
The Thinking Toolbox $22


Prize Package #2

Our second prize package is filled with all of the resources offered at Home School Adventure Co. in their downloadable editions, as well as a set of all 3 volumes of The Mystery of History by Linda Hobar. This prize package, sponsored by Bright Ideas Press and Raising Real Men, has a value of $300! 

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal Download $18.95
Philosophy Adventure - Pre-Socratics Digital Download $39.95
Philippians in 28 Weeks ESV Download $14.95
The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions Download $14.95

The Mystery of History, Volume I $49.95
The Mystery of History Volume II $49.95
The Mystery of History Volume III $59.95

My Beloved and My Friend book and Marriage Retreat Online $45
Pollyanna Audio Book Download $18

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., age 18 and older please.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Marriage in Middlebury




Book Summary (from AMAZON)

Charlotte Rose Hill has been serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky but beloved customers for more than 10 years. But for her, marriage seems like an elusive butterfly, always out of reach. At 18, Charlotte fell in love with a young man, Sam Wilder, but his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. She did, and
then became engaged to another man, who later died before they were married. Now, more than a decade later, Charlotte finds that she still has feelings for her first love. Initially thrilled to learn that Sam has come home to Middlebury, Texas, Charlotte is devastated to learn that he’s brought someone with him: his fiancĂ©e. But all is not lost when the townsfolk decide to get
involved. Will Charlotte and Sam find their way back to each other?

My Thoughts:

What I enjoyed about this book were the characters and the way there was a history involved. It's like getting a second chance to make a different choice. I'm sure everyone has been in a situation they wish they could get a do-over for. I was excited to see where Charlotte and Sam's relationship would go. Nothing was easy and there were many obstacles to overcome, but the dynamics throughout the storyline were great and made me want to keep reading. I couldn't wait to find out if they would end up together or if life had just moved on too much to go back. 
the relationship between Sam and his Father is not a unique relationship, but had a fresh approach to it and drew me in. I recommend this book and look forward to many other of Anita Higman's books!


Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and may differ from others.

Christmas Time



So here in Florida, sometimes it's hard to get in the Christmas mood when the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s.  I do sometimes miss the snow, but definitely don't miss the cold! The fun thing is though, that it seems everyone goes all out in the decorating to give an extra boost of Christmas Spirit.
We decorate over Thanksgiving weekend. If we could get away with it, I think we'd be one of those people decorating in October..ha!
I love putting up the tree. When my son was little, we started the tradition of getting him a ornament every year depending on his interests for that year. He has things such as Poky Little Puppy, a Clue board game, cooking stuff, karate boy,and many others. Our thought is the same thing my parents did which is allowing him to have ornaments for his first tree with his future family.

Of course, our main priority at Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus. Remembering not only his being born, but the gift of coming for us.

Here is one of my favorite ornaments! Being close to Disney we have to represent it on our tree:)

I collect snowmen decorations which are all over so for me this was the perfect combination!

I'd love to hear what you love at Christmas and favorite things!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Andi Unexpected by Amanda Flower


Book Summary (from Amazon)

Twelve-year-old Andora 'Andi' Boggs and her fourteen-year-old sister Bethany move to rural Ohio to live with their eccentric twenty-something aunt after the sudden death of their parents. While dealing with her grief, Andi discovers proof of another Andora Boggs in the family tree whose existence was hidden in a Depression-era trunk in the attic. With help from her new friend and neighbor, Colin Carter, Andi is determined to find out who this first Andora was and what happened to her.

My Thoughts: 

This is a great teen mystery book! It's a quick and fun read with some great characters. It's interesting to watch the relationship of the sisters and how they are dealing with the lost of their parents. I love the different dynamics shown with all the characters. It's a touch of family relationships, with a mystery to solve mixed in. This book is part of a new series which I'm sure will become a hit among teens! You can find out more about this book, and others, on the authors website

This would make a great Christmas gift!


Disclosure: I received a print copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I received this book as a reviewer for www.booksneeze.com. My reviews are always honest and my own opinions.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Energems





I'm sure at one time or another, everyone has found themselves in need of quick energy. I know as a mom of a teenager, and babysitting a 1 yr old I sure do! I do drink coffee, but don't tend to make it much at home and it's expensive at specialty stores. Energems are great for on the go energy. They are low-calorie and great tasting. There are a variety of flavors mixed with chocolate. Who doesn't love chocolate?! I think the peanut butter flavor is the best. I also received regular chocolate and chocolate mint. They are all good, it just depends on your specific taste as to which one you would like best.

I noticed that when I take the Energems it's a pretty quick response on energy. It doesn't have a "hyper" energy reaction which is leaning towards what I expected, but more just  an ability to get done what needs to get done.  It's not recommended for under age 18, but I did let my 16 yr old take some on days when he was really having a hard time getting going. His thoughts were " They kind of have a strange after taste for a few minutes but the peanut butter ones are really good! I think they give good energy but sometimes I don't notice it until later when I realize I'm not tired anymore" Great thoughts and honest.

Especially now around the Holidays, we feel like we have to do it all…and then some. Energems are the perfect thing to keep with you for when you just need a quick energy boost. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Academic Planner


As a homeschool mom, I was thrilled to be offered the chance to review this academic planner!
If you saw my desk you would know how unorganized I can be! This was a huge blessing to me and an encouragement to start being more aware of controlling the chaos.

I love how the planner is set up. There is a place to write in your subjects for the semester and then each week  has a page to write in the work for the week. There is a section also at the bottom where you can write in after school activities, extra classes or whatever notes you need. Here is our planner. Obviously this week is empty due to Thanksgiving week. We plan to write in what actually gets accomplished…if anything.  Normally the page is full of instruction and activity.

What I especially enjoy is how easy it is for the student to follow and  use independently. For example, what I do at the beginning of the week is write in what needs to be done on each day. There is a small square in each of the larger squares where the student can check it off when it's done. This allows the student to work on their own, and allows mom not to have to keep asking if the work is getting done. It's working great for us!
You can learn more and find one for yourself at www.orderoochaos.com



I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Allied Shirts Review



I am thrilled to share with you about Allied Shirts. They provide you with a chance to use your creativity and design your own shirt or hoodie. There are different styles of shirts that are offered and they range in affordable prices.

Allied Shirts's website is very easy to navigate. You are taken through the process of designing your chosen shirt with clear directions and great pictures of how the final product will appear. You can try different options and then make your final choice.

For my shirt, I decided to surprise my son with a shirt for him to wear. I ordered the Budget Tee, in a military green color, which is of great quality and durability. I then added the wording I thought he would love. I loved the quick and easy process of ordering. I received the shirt in just a few days of ordering. I was really happy with how the shirt arrived.


So here's the final product pictured above. It's kind of hard to make out the wording in the picture, but it says "Called to Serve".  Simple but draws attention.  You can also add a name, numbers etc on the back of the shirt. Allied Shirts would be great for a team t-shirt jersey, or for field trips for schools. They could also make great gifts for Christmas with fun personalized wording for the recipient.

I am thrilled with how the shirt turned out. I will be recommending them to everyone I know who needs or wants this fun type of shirt or sweatshirt!


Find them on Facebook and Twitter

Disclosure: I received a free T-Shirt from Allied Shirts in exchange for an honest review. My reviews are always honest and my own opinion. My opinions may differ from others.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Minecraft with Homeschool


One of the nice things with homeschooling is the chance to be creative in how subjects get accomplished. This can also be the most stressful thing to a homeschool parent. Although homeschooling is very popular now, there are still many people who are either completely opposed to it   or just don't know a lot about it.

We have homeschooled our son from the beginning and is now in 11th grade. We have tried many different approaches to learning throughout the years. Most recently, was adding in Minecraft. I have to admit, I was one of those parents who thought minecraft was just another addicting video game and put limits on it. After hearing about so many people incorporating it into school, I decided to check it out in more detail.

What I found, is there are many ways you can use it to learn about a wide variety of subjects. It allows the child creativity in learning and a way to put a personal touch on thinking.  Right now he is trying it out for a couple subjects. He has been studying Business Math, so I am having him create a city with buildings, roads, all types of stores that would be in a typical city, and set up a money system and learn/show how that will work.  He is also using Minecraft as part of Language Arts. For a child who hates to write (like mine) this is great. We are just starting so it's not very informative yet, but I can see ahead to great things. I had him choose a favorite book and recreate it. He chose to recreate the land of Eragon. He's reading the book again to find details to make things as close to the book as possible. He decided to focus on the major areas first which are most needed in the story. After he designs an area, he is taking a picture and writing about it on a blog he created. I'm hoping he will be comfortable writing about something like this and become more confident in his writing. To me, that makes it worth doing whatever it takes.

If you want to check out what he's doing, you can find his blog at My Adventures in Minecraft. I'm sure he'd love to see what you think!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Every Hill and Mountain by Deborah Heal


Book Summary (from Amazon)


Those who have read Time
and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know
that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with
11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had
expected--but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John
Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program
called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life.
Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri's old house.
And the Old Dears' old house, and...well, any old house.


And since the program worked so well for the Old Dears' family
tree project, Abby's college roommate Kate hopes it will help her find out more
about her ancestor Ned Greenfield. And Kate's fiancé Ryan thinks the program
has lucrative commercial potential. 


Abby and John reluctantly agree to help Kate, but only on
the condition that she and Ryan promise to keep the program a secret, because
if it fell into the wrong hands...well, no one wants Big Brother invading their
privacy.


The two couples take a trip to the tiny town of Equality,
set in the hills of southern Illinois and the breath-taking Shawnee National
Forest. According to Kate's research, Ned Greenfield was born there at a place
called Hickory Hill.


The mayor, police chief, and townspeople are hospitable and
helpful--until the topic of Hickory Hill comes up. They seem determined to keep
them away, telling them, "There's nothing there for you to see." 

Eventually they find Hickory Hill on their own--both the
mansion and the lonely hill it sits upon. Built in 1834, Hickory Hill stands
sentinel over Half Moon Salt Mine where the original owner John Granger
accumulated his blood-tainted fortune. 


Abby and her friends meet Miss Granger, Hickory Hill's
current eccentric owner, and they eventually get the chance to time-surf there.
Their shocking discovery on the third floor concerning Kate's ancestor Ned
Greenfield is almost too much to bear. What they learn sends them racing to the
opposite end of the state to find the missing link in Kate's family tree. And
there they are reminded that God is in the business of redemption--that one day
he'll make all things new.


My Thoughts:

What can I say? Again, I was brought into a unique look at history from the perspective of Abby, John and Merri. I found myself intrigued again with how they find themselves involved with some type of "history mystery". There is so much great information wrapped up in this wonderful adventure. I loved how the relationships continue to grow and develop in this book. I really feel connected and involved in the story. The story focusing around the underground railroad leads itself in a direction for many stories to be told. 
I love the dynamics between the original time-surfers and the idea of bringing Kate into their secret.  Ryan was the perfect "bad guy" in the book. In a way you could imagine something would happen with him at the center of the trouble, but it was exciting learning to what degree he was willing to go to.
The people in Equality were great additions. The characters were well developed and they all had a very important part in the creation of the story.
I was sad to see the book end. I think this series was written in a way that could easily add more books to it and never run out of creative time-surfing ideas. I feel God is using Deborah Heal in a mighty way to show stories of God's love and redemption in new and unique ways to reach people all over. Good News is, as you can learn more about on her BLOG, Abby, John and Merri are back for more! I know I can't wait to read them!



Disclosure: I received a print copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are completely my own and may differ from others.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ageless Derma foundation review





I received the Iced Coffee color of the Loose Mineral Foundation from Ageless Derma. The packaging was nicely done. It arrived safe and in great condition.

I enjoyed being able to try out a new product. I've always used the same thing and was excited about a new brand. I was not disappointed. The color was a nice shade of tan which seemed to coordinate well with my skin tone.

What I enjoyed was the light feel to it. It felt like I didn't have any foundation on at all. ageless derma allows your skin the ability to breath while helping to make your face feel and look wonderful. The foundation appeared as a natural blend, which was something I felt had been missing in my previous foundations.

I think the only thing I wish was different is for the foundation to automatically come with a sponge for application. I had to use my own which already had been used prior to this color foundation. It will not keep me from using the product however. I am impressed with the brand and will continue to use the products in the future.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Maddie's Choice by Joyce Zeller Blog Tour and giveaway!





Romance writer Maddie Taylor is fed up with New York City. She is getting nowhere with her latest manuscript and does not believe true love exists outside of her imagination. When a friend, Jonah Spartman, dies and wills her half of his Arkansas cattle ranch, she sees the chance for a new beginning. Jonah has also left behind two orphaned great-grandsons desperate for affection and an accounting book in the red.

The other half of the failing ranch belongs to Gideon Spartman, Jonah’s grandson, who believes all capacity for love was torn from him during his tour of duty in Afghanistan. Rugged and sexy, Gideon is the enthralling physical manifestation of the hero in Maddie’s current manuscript. He is far from happy to be sharing an inheritance that is rightfully his. As she senses the need behind Gideon’s rough and unwelcoming exterior, Maddie acknowledges her own yearning for love and family.

Jonah’s will requires Maddie to stay on the ranch for three months. When that time is up, will she return to her comfortable but emotionally barren existence or embrace the challenges of her new life, which include cattle rustlers and drug dealers? Maddie’s choice proves to be far from simple.



This book is great! I enjoyed the idea of it being a writer who learns to deal with life and finds herself so fixed on her books, she forgets to have an outside life. It will get you hooked on the idea of the story, and the storyline keeps you interested.

The book was not exactly what I expected, but led me on a journey which was unexpected which is a nice thing! I enjoyed the ride the book took.

I encourage you to find this book and read it for yourself. You will find yourself connecting to the characters and rooting for them throughout the book.

Here is your chance to win a $25 gift card for amazon or pay pal. 
Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can find out more about the author and Maddie's Choice at these places:

oyce Zeller's Web Site:
http://joycezeller.com/
Joyce Zeller's Blog:
http://joycezeller.blogspot.com/
Joyce Zeller's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/joyce.zeller

Joyce Zeller's Twitter:
https://twitter.com/jzeller9847

Joyce Zeller's Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6060540.Joyce_Zeller

Maddie's Choice Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18369023-maddie-s-choice


Book Tour Site: http://maddieschoice.blogspot.com/


You can find a copy for yourself at any of these locations:





Disclosure: I received a print copy of the book in order to do my review. My reviews are always honest and my own opinions.

Monday, November 11, 2013

This Is Your Captain Speaking by Gavin MacLeod



Book Summary (from Amazon)


For 16 years, millions of Americans welcomed Gavin MacLeod into their living rooms every Saturday night. This veteran of stage and screen transformed himself from a seasoned character actor into the leading, lovable father-figure of The Love Boat at the height of TV’s boom years.

For more than 30 years, Gavin MacLeod has served as the global ambassador for Princess Cruises. Speaking to thousands of travelers each year, and signing hundreds of autographs at every port, he stands poised to celebrate his amazing journey with a look back at the golden era of American television.

The consummate storyteller, Gavin shares his fondest memories of meeting and working with countless stars, such as Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, Gregory Peck, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald, Ronald Reagan, Milton Berle, and Fred Astaire.

From his humble theatrical beginnings in upstate New York, to Radio City Music Hall and on to Hollywood, Gavin MacLeod was on the fast track to success. However, a few hard life lessons—like dealing with a divorce—taught Gavin that the key to happiness was only through a deep faith in God, and he feels his work for Christ is more important than any award. Three years later his remarriage proved that a great struggle can culminate in a happy ending.



My Thoughts:

I have to say, I was so excited when I saw this book. I grew up watching Mary Tyler Moore and  The Love Boat, and I was interested to see what the Captain's real life was like. It was interesting learning the background of Gavin MacLeod's life. In spite of some of the rough situations he was in, I was amazed at his strength in finding his way out of them. 

Gavin MacLeod is a well-known actor. I didn't realize he started out on stage. That was quite interesting to learn about.  He was blessed to meet some of the most famous actors and actresses along his journey. There are some great pictures in the book also.

What might be less known, is how he gave his heart to Jesus and moved on from regular television to a platform where he could share this with others. His life in acting has enabled him to use his ability and life to draw people closer to God. Even for those who's focus may be different, he has done a great job of including it in the book without being preachy. 
He seems to be a pretty down to earth person and it was interesting to see how the cast of his 2 most popular shows have stayed connected throughout the years. 

This book is a must read, especially for anyone who watched his shows. It is well written, full of great life stories, and an inside look into the world of acting. 

Disclosure: I received a print copy of the book from www.booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own and may differ from others.