Monday, September 30, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

How does Monday keep creeping up on us? Last week was a busy week. Two soccer games (tied one and won one), two cheering events, violin, soccer, and cheerleading practice in there somewhere, and we canned our concord grape jelly. It came out great, but I would use a little less pectin if I did it again.

As for the mail, it wasn't a crazy week like the one before it, but some good stuff still came in. My tulip bulbs, cauliflower plants, and strawberry plant arrived from Burpee. I'm running out of good weather to plant them, so I better get a move on.

The new Gardner's Supply Company was dedicated to "Bring home the HARVEST." Potato and Onion baskets, herb drying racks, orchard racks, stacking crates and more filled its pages. I saw these neat five-blade scissors for cutting herbs that looks like they're worth trying out.

What I was most excited about, however, was this new cookbook I received through the Amazon VINE program. The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen is more than just a cookbook; it's a story of cooking and food. I've just begun going through it. The book designer did a fabulous job with it. The Steakhouse Deviled Eggs sound delicious. I found the author's recipe for French-Canadian Meat Pie rather interesting and a bit different from what I am used to. Being born to a family of French Canadians on both sides, meat pie was a staple around the holidays. I don't remember my mémé using only pork, though. The recipe my sister has calls for a blend of ground beef and pork. This cookbook covers a lot of ground and includes "200 Heartland Recipes."

I think that's it for this week. Hope you're having a good one.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Giveaway Winners

Congratulations goes out to Susanne D. She won a copy of Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop. She is also the winner of our first book pack during the End of Summer Giveaway.

Thanks to all who entered. Look for more chances to win soon!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guest Blogger: Quick and Healthy Snacks for Busy Families by Allison F.

When you are always on the go you may think you don’t have time to give your kids healthy snacks. However, that is not true. There are many healthy quick snacks that are easy to make and eat, even on the go. Here are some fun snack ideas for your children:

  1. Ants on a Log – This classic kid’s snack is one we all love. Parents love it because the peanut butter is a good source of protein and keeps toddlers full longer. Kids love the whimsical look and the great flavor combination. First wash and cut celery into finger sized pieces. Fill the hollow with peanut butter to make the log. Top with a few raisins for the ‘ants’. Pair with fun fruit shapes like a banana and kiwi palm tree or a toast and jelly ‘picnic blanket’. This is also great when made with almond or cashew butter.
  2. Apple Sandwiches – Why stick with boring old bread when you can make fruit sandwiches instead? This easy and fun sandwich idea gets your kids the fruit they need in a way they will love. Start out by coring an apple. Cut the apple into slices with the hollow core in the center. This will be your ‘bread’. Spread a thick layer of peanut butter on one slice of apple. Sprinkle with raisins or dried cranberries. Top with a second apple slice to finish up your sandwich.
  3. Goldfish® Crackers – These cheesy fish are a big hit with every toddler I know, but they can get a bit pricy. I have made my own before, and though it takes a bit of patience to cut all those tiny shapes, the crackers do taste tons better. All it takes is a cup of cheddar cheese, half a stick of butter, a cup of flour, two tablespoons of water, and three quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Stick everything in the food processor and pulse until combined. Then form into a ball, let it chill for half an hour, and roll out thin before cutting into shapes. Bake at 350 for fifteen minutes or until the crackers are crispy. Yum!
  4. Graham Crackers – Another kind of cracker that kids love is Graham crackers. Did you know they were originally created as a diet food? Of course the modern crackers have far more flavor and sugar than the original version, but many varieties are still high in fiber. My kids love these crackers plain with a glass of milk to dip them in. You can also get creative and make a sandwich out of them. Just spread a layer of peanut butter and add some banana slices to half a cracker. Top with the other half for a fun, sweet sandwich treat. Apple slices instead of banana work great too.
  5. Animal Crackers – These bland crackers are not my favorite. Personally, I can’t stand them. My kids, however, love them. I think it is more the fact that they can play with the fun shapes rather than the flavor. Regardless, the crackers are low in fat and make for a fun snack time. Pair with homemade banana pudding for a tasty dessert.
  6. Cracker SandwichesLunchables are something that my kids beg for. However I don’t like the price or the quality of the food they get. That is why we make our own Lunchables! Cracker sandwiches are very versatile and can be made to fit any kid’s tastes. When I was a kid I added spicy mustard to my sandwiches, but that is just me. My kids love to layer on slices of low fat cheddar cheese and turkey breast to their whole wheat crackers. The idea is to cut the cheese and meat into cracker sized shapes so that the kids can have fun making their own simple sandwich stacks. You can control how much they eat and the quality of the ingredients with no problem.
  7. Tiny Pizza – Taking another hint from the Lunchables my kids crave, I came up with a way to make tiny pizzas for snacks. I whip up a batch of pizza dough and separate it into smaller pizzas. After baking, I store the mini-pizza crusts in a gallon bag in the freezer. I make up little bags of pizza sauce and mixed low fat shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Then when my tots want a Lunchables pizza snack, I pull out one or two crusts and let them make up their own. They love the fact they can make their own pizza and I love it that I know what they are eating. My older kids beg for these in their lunch too!
  8. Baby Veggies – Getting kids to eat fresh vegetables is often a struggle, but I found that one way to encourage them to eat more is to buy the baby varieties. The tiny carrots and tomatoes and so on capture little kid’s imaginations and their taste buds. Often sweeter than their full grown counterparts, baby veggies are still packed full of nutrients. I like to serve only a small bit of low fat ranch dip alongside so the kids can enjoy the flavor of the veggies themselves. Another way to get kids to eat their veggies is to help them grow their own. When kids invest time in a garden or even in just a couple of plants in a pot they will be much more likely to eat whatever is produced. Tomatoes are a big hit for my kids, especially cherry tomatoes, as they can get a lot of produce from a small plant. Beans and peas work great, too, as do green peppers. See what you can grow in your area or start an indoor garden with your kids.
  9. Cheese and Fruit – The classic combination of cheese and fruit is classic for a reason. They taste great together! Get your child to eat more fresh fruit and healthy, low fat cheese by creating kabobs. Cut the cheese into fun shapes with a small cookie cutter and add on colorful fruit to entice your toddler into eating this healthy snack. Another way to get more calcium in their diet is cottage cheese. This milky cheese comes in great tasting low fat varieties. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper and pair with fresh or canned fruit for a tasty treat. My kids love it with mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail.
  10. Oatmeal Cookies – Last but not least is the cream of the crop. Oatmeal cookies look like dessert, but are actually a tasty and nutritious snack anytime. Make them even better for your kids by substituting apple sauce for some of the oil and use egg whites instead of whole eggs. You can also add in dried fruit, like raisins and cranberries, and even some finely chopped nuts for protein. Full of fiber and tasty too, these cookies will be a hit with your kids.
As you can see most of these snacks can be made in a few minutes or prepared ahead of time and eaten on the go. From creative sandwiches to fun and flavorful natural foods, your kids will love these quick healthy snacks.

Author Byline:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with You can reach her through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail.

Monday, September 23, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

I'm thinking the mail carrier must have felt guilty about ignoring me the previous week, because he sure made up for it last week. Between the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, I can't seem to find the floor of my office.

Catalogs and magazines arrived galore last week. Most of the catalogs made their way to the recycle bin. I try not to save them if I don't think I'll be ordering from them. It's not Christmas yet, so Land's End isn't on the agenda--even if they do send me multiple catalogs each month. Oriental Trading sent a catalog with Halloween costumes and other funny dress up accessories. I actually bought an angel costume from them one year for the Lil' Princess. I remember it because it was the year of the three horrible storms that left us without power for multiple days. Halloween 2011 was canceled by our town because we were still without power and many downed trees littered the sidewalks and roads. We ended up staying at my in-laws' house for a week, so we Trick-or-Treated there. Eventually, once everyone in town was back up and running again, we had our own Trick-or-Treat night.

Grandin Road® has some great Halloween and fall decorations. Too bad I'm broke right now.

In addition to those catalogs, my October 18, 2013 issue of All You magazine arrived. Love the cover on this one. I haven't had time to go through it yet, but hopefully I will by the end of the week. Traditional Home also arrived. I've been so busy I haven't even unwrapped it yet. That's definitely on my to-do list. I find so many great decorating ideas to show my future interior designer.

I have to admit to a bit of confusion about magazines lately. It seems I'm getting some I never signed up for. ESPN magazine started coming a few months ago. There is no way I would want that one. Then Shape magazine began arriving. I thought maybe my Heath magazine had simply changed its name, but I received a copy of each this month, so not sure what's going on.

As for books, I was pleasantly surprised to find a box of children's picture books from Clavis Publishing on my doorstep one day. I'll review those at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. I had ordered a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand, which also arrived. I've followed this series since the beginning and I can't wait to read this one. Finally, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg showed up at the end of the week. I'll be reviewing that one at The Book Connection in October.

Planning for my upcoming virtual book tour for Little Shepherd, I ordered a few of my books so I can mail them to reviewers. Our UPS driver dropped those off. My new business cards also arrived from VistaPrint.

I think that's it. Like I said, it was a busy mail week. Hope you had a nice day today. Many blessings for the rest of the week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cedar Cove on Hallmark Channel

Here's my latest television show obsession: Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove. Based upon New York Times bestselling author Macomber's novels, this show stars Andie MacDowell as Olivia Lockheart, a judge in the small town of Cedar Cove, Washington.

In the pilot movie, viewers find Judge Lockheart denying the divorce petition of Cecilia and Ian Randall because she believes they still truly love each other and have not tried hard enough to make the relationship work. Her decision catches the attention of Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal), a newcomer to Cedar Cove and editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle. A recovering alcoholic, Jack is immediately drawn to Olivia, and soon they begin navigating the dating waters carrying all kinds of baggage along--her divorce and the death of her son many years earlier and his divorce and estrangement for his grown son, Eric.

Like many shows featuring small towns, stories of other characters are woven into the weekly plots. Justine (Sarah Smyth), Olivia's daughter, is estranged from her father, who she feels abandoned her and her mother after the death of Justine's twin brother, Jordan. Currently in a relationship with Warren Saget (Brennan Elliot), when her good friend and former boyfriend, Seth Gunderson (Corey Sevier) returns to Cedar Cove, Justine isn't sure if she still cares for him; and her growing doubts about Warren feed the fire.

Peggy and Bob Beldon (Barbara Niven and Bruce Boxleitner) own the local bed and breakfast. A mysterious stranger arrives and causes some concerns for the Beldons. Moon (Timothy Webber) owns the local coffee shop, where Justine works. A '60s civil rights activist, Moon adds some comic relief, in addition to being a town icon.

Teryl Rothery, plays Olivia's best friend, Grace Sherman. Recently divorced, Grace feels like her life is falling apart, but soon finds herself being pursued by two men. Meanwhile, Olivia's mother, Charlotte Jeffers (Paula Shaw) cares for a John Doe at the hospital who has personal ties to Cedar Cove.

A press release from Hallmark defined Cedar Cove this way, "Romance, mystery, and lessons of the heart are the threads that weave this tight-knit community together." This definitely captures all that this show is about. It's the one show I've been willing to pay to watch on Amazon Instant Video. Our DVR has been on the fritz and either hasn't recorded the episodes or records about 45 minutes of them, leaving me with 15 minutes of unanswered questions. I also love this series so much that I've added all the books to my Wish List and plan to buy the first six for myself as a Christmas present.

Have you seen Cedar Cove? What do you think of it?

Guest Blogger and Giveaway: Tim & Debbie Bishop, Authors of Two Are Better

From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

Shared Passions Enhance Marriage

By Debbie Bishop

Passion, the very word involves sharing. We don’t want to be passionate about cooking, and eat alone. We don’t want to be passionate about having a beautifully decorated house and garden if no one comes to visit. We don’t want to be passionate about a sport and go it alone all the time. The very nature of passion calls for it to be a shared and enjoyable endeavor.

Passion in marriage takes many forms. We are passionate about raising our children to be responsible and kind (along with well behaved). We are passionate about having a great marriage. We are passionate about our goals and dreams. And, of course, a husband and a wife share a passion for each other that includes intimacy and friendship. We get in trouble when our more intimate passions overflow the banks of our marriage and spill out beyond matrimonial boundaries. But when shared passion is planted in marriage, marital bliss blossoms.

Tim and I initially met because we shared a passion for bicycling. When we met for our first bike ride, neither of us thought that a passion for bicycling would lead to marriage…and it didn’t! God led us to marriage, and we get to enjoy bicycling together as a pleasurable perk along with some other shared passions.

So, how does bicycling enhance our marriage? Let me count the ways.

1. Bicycling has given us a road to travel on together. So many memories and pictures run through our mind from our bike trips. So many lessons learned on the road apply to our marriage on a daily basis. Those lessons help us navigate the rocky road when conflicts arise. When I look back to my past mistakes before marriage, I think of one lesson in particular that I learned on the road: I can’t ride my bike in reverse. I must always move forward. That lesson helps me keep the past in the past! On my bike helmet, I have a very small mirror that helps me see what is behind me, a mini-rearview mirror. This is for safety purposes only. I spend most of my bike riding time looking forward, seeing the beauty ahead and to the sides. That seems like a good way to live– looking onward, not backward.

2. Bicycling together keeps us connected. People think we are crazy when they learn we took off for a long-distance bike tour only two weeks after we were married for the first time at age 52. Recently, a radio interviewer could not believe that we spent so much time together with no other distractions or people in our immediate circle of influence. It was just the two of us, 24/7, for 63 straight days. That is a lot of together time even though we were newlyweds. We were introduced to “for better or worse” early in our marriage while on the road! But the lessons we learned are ones we ponder daily: simplify, live by faith, God gives good gifts, and two are better than one. Keeping those lessons in mind every day makes for a good and godly marriage.

3. Bicycling has worked us into great shape. I remember coming back from our first bike tour tanned and strong at 52 years old. My legs and the rest of me felt firm and sexy. Carrying a heavy load on the bicycle resulted in a lighter load on my frame upon returning home. It feels scrumptious when Tim wraps his arms around me. Feeling better about my body and the shape I am in enhances the passion I want to express with my husband. Physical strength helps women feel more confident about their bodies.

4. Bicycling teaches us the importance of balance in our lives. If we keep on pedaling, we are not going to fall off our bikes. That is an important lesson in marriage too. Two wheels and proper balance are necessary to ride a bike. Sometimes we need training wheels before we find our own balance. Asking for advice from friends, mentors, or counselors can help, but eventually it is up to the two of us to find the balance in our marriage—the balance between work and play, spending and saving, solitude and togetherness, harmony and conflict.

5. Bicycling allows us to express our uniqueness, yet do it together. Our riding styles are quite different. They reflect our personalities. I like to go fast and speed down hills at breakneck speed (I hardly ever replace my brake pads); Tim likes the slow and steady ride through wide open spaces and sparse traffic. I like to just go out and ride, and figure out my route as I go. Tim likes keeping track of routes, mileage, average speed, and heart rate. On our bike trip, thankfully, he was the navigator. And once in a while he agrees to take unexplored routes around our area (and he’s still there to help get us back home!). We both prefer riding together—in part because of what we each bring to the endeavor. We both add strength to our marriage by embracing and appreciating our different personalities. Two complementary halves come together to make a better whole.

Passion for bicycling has enhanced our marriage. Accepting how each of us expresses our passion is something we have learned in our short married life. We’ve learned to reel in unrealistic expectations because they can wreck havoc on our relationship, just as going for a bike ride with overinflated tires can lead to an untimely blowout! You’d rather have checked the gauge before you started.

Marriage is a journey. It’s been the best ride ever because I am riding with my passionate partner for a lifetime of love. If you’re married, I encourage you to identify the passions that you share with your spouse and ride them for all you can. If you can’t identify a common passion, find one. If you’re not yet married, but want to be, realize that finding a spouse with a strong common interest can springboard you into your ultimate bonding experience. It’s a facet of your relationship that will become a joint treasure and lead you to deeper destinations as you journey through life together.

Purchase from Amazon:

Purchase from Open Road Press:

About the authors:

Tim Bishop
Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie Bishop
Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

Visit the authors online at

Enter for your chance to win a copy of Two Are Better. Good luck!

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30 Blogs with Ideas for a Candy Land Theme Birthday Party

Remember the board game, Candy Land? I do. We have at least two versions of it here in the bonus room. It is a great way to teach kids about colors and counting. What I didn't know is that some people use Candy Land as inspiration for their child's birthday party theme. I can't believe I never thought of that.

"30 Blogs with Creative Ideas for Throwing a Candy Land Themed Party" will bring you to an article with links to numerous blogs featuring invitation, decoration, menu, games, and party favor ideas to throw your own Candy Land themed birthday party. Some of these ideas are unbelievably creative. They make me wish the girls were little again, so I could try them out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

End of Summer Book Giveaway

The end of summer can be a sad time, but it doesn't have to be. Fall awaits us with harvest time and Thanksgiving. Around here it's apple picking time and I look forward to homemade applesauce and maybe some apple butter. The other day a friend discovered wild concord grapes growing on our property. I'm so excited. Now I just have to figure out how to harvest them, as the vines are wound around some of the taller trees.

Another reason to look forward to the end of summer is that I have a bunch of books to give away. I think it will be easier for me to give them away in groups. I have Christian fiction and nonfiction, children's books, mysteries, middle grade and young adult fiction, poetry, and other nonfiction. Some of these are ARCs; some I got through the Amazon VINE program; and others were duplicates of books we already had. Most of them have been read only once and a couple of them not at all.

Here's the first group:

  • Autographed copy of Gary's Gray World by Ryan J. Cunningham
  • The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster by David Conway
  • The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger
  • ARC of Princess Morning Glory by Letitia Fairbanks
  • Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park (never read)
  • Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park (never read)
  • Fancy Nancy: The Dazzling Book Report and Pajama Day by Jane O'Connor w/stickers (never read)
Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downton Abbey Series 4 Premiers in the UK This Sunday!

I haven't spoke much lately about my deep love of Downton Abbey. This year's trailer is out, which indicates an amazing season of new faces, new trials, and changes for many characters. The series premiers in the UK this coming Sunday, but fans in the States must wait until January 5, 2014 before the series runs on PBS.

With the death of her beloved Matthew six months before, Lady Mary is in a time of transition; trying to find her way as a single mother and to keep Downton thriving for her son and heir, George. As you can tell from this trailer, the detached Mary we met in Season 1 has returned. At least we can blame a bit of that on the pain of her loss.

Lady Edith, however, is poised to take this ever-changing world by storm as she embraces her independence. What will happen between her and her very married editor, Gregson?

Lord Grantham, who right before Matthew's untimely death, embraced his and Tom's plans for the future of Downton may need to switch gears. And what role will Lady Mary play in the estate's management now that Matthew is gone? Is love in Tom's future?

Downstairs looks like it will be just as exciting if you can judge by the clips in that video trailer. Daisy's future was up in the air last season as Mr. Mason asked her to consider moving to the farm with the plan she will eventually inherit it. Will the softer side of Thomas be a permanent fixture around the house or is that a thing of the past? How about Jimmy, Alfred, and Ivy--the young servants at Downton--will they remain satisfied in service? What do Anna, Bates, Mrs.Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, and Mr. Carson have to look forward to or dread?

Downton Abbey Addicts shared this synopsis from the first episode:

Following Matthew’s untimely death, new mother Mary is struggling to come to terms with her loss. Robert and Violet disagree on how to bring her through it. Downstairs, hearts are set to be broken as Jimmy finally takes an interest in Ivy. Carson has an unwelcome reminder of his past while Mrs Hughes sees an opportunity to help grief stricken Isobel. Thomas is up to his old tricks and has the children’s Nanny in his sights.

Are you eagerly awaiting the start of Downton Abbey? I'm going to find it hard not to look for spoilers after it airs in the UK.

Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Nap

Far behind me are the days of struggling to get my toddlers down for their naps. I still remember, however, how aggravating it could be when they wouldn't go down when I wanted or needed them to. "7 Tips for Getting Your Toddler to Take a Nap" offers several great ideas to help out. From crafting a nap time schedule to creating the right napping environment and more, these tips will make getting your toddler down at nap time a lot easier.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Planning for Busy Moms

I love cooking, but with the girls' schedules, it can be hard to fit in time to prepare a healthy meal. That's why menu planning has been something I've done since my girls first came on the scene. Menu planning isn't a new idea, but many busy moms have advice on how to go about it. In "25 Blogs with Menu Planning Tips for Busy Moms" you'll find tips for beginners, how to put your menus together, weekly menus, grocery shopping tips, and even online meal planning services.

Coming downstairs from my office and asking "What do you want for dinner?" is never appealing to me, especially because the answer is usually, "I don't know." By having a plan for each day of the week, I'm able to get in and out of the kitchen faster.

I hope you'll enjoy exploring these other blogs for tips.

You've Got Mail Monday

Though it wasn't a calm week around here, at least the mailbox wasn't overflowing. What did arrive, much to the Lil' Diva's delight, are the gifts she ordered from Claire's with a gift card from her birthday.

She ordered a Round Makeup Kit, a cosmetic bag, glittery eye liner, and an eyelash curler. She's been playing around trying to find a look she likes. She's not allowed to wear makeup to school, but if she's going to be home I let her experiment.

Our newest Tassimo shipment of coffee arrived this weekend. Dad isn't an adventurous coffee drinker--regular coffee and decaf are all that are usually here.

Now, I'm waiting for my shipment of fall bulbs and garlic to arrive. Hopefully that doesn't happen before I get the garden ready.

That's it for this week. Hope you have a great one.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cover Reveal: Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost by Heide AW Kaminski, Pam Ryan, and Dorothy Thompson

Eccentric tobacco tycoon Rodger Hawthorne III can have anything his heart desires except his dead wife, Sarah. Feeling responsible for the car crash that killed her twenty years earlier, he offers one million dollars to anyone who can find her spirit and bring it to him within one week or the money is forfeited. Six spiritually-challenged—but highly intuitive—women find his ad over the Internet and accept his challenge only to embark on a journey they didn’t quite expect that covers astral traveling, past life regressions and spiritual encounters of the unworldly kind. While this book is lightly based on a true story of a real man who is offering one million dollars to anyone who can prove that spirits exist, this story is purely fictional. Or is it?

Coming October 2013!


HEIDE AW KAMINSKI is the mom of three very successful children and lives in southeast Michigan with her partner, her son and stepson. She teaches English in a high school for juvenile delinquent boys, as well as co-directs the Sunday school program for an Interfaith Center. She is also the editor-in-chief for the Interfaith Center’s monthly 16-page newsletter. She is currently the author of five books, ADHD and ME , Get Smart Through Art, The Ability Gang (a novel for upper elementary readers), Von Riesiggross bis Klitzeklein (a German children's book), and South of Eden (a not so serious novel about life in Heaven). She has also published stories in 15 anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul.

Kaminski was born and raised in Germany, and after spending a year as an exchange student in the USA, she ended up marrying an American and has been a permanent resident in the U.S. since 1984, as well as a citizen of the U.S. since 2007. After dedicating many years to being there for her children first, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in English communications at the ripe age of 50 and her English teaching certificate two years later.


Pam Ryan is a writer and professional psychic from Northwestern Ohio. She is the mother of two and has been a widow for the last five years. Her writing career began back in high school where she wrote a column for the Sylvania Sentinel Newspaper in Sylvania, Ohio. Pam was also the first page editor of the high school newspaper as well as doing the public relations for the high school musicals. At the University of Toledo she helped to create the Public Relations Department for the Department of Theatre and Speech, worked as a reporter for the college paper, The Collegian, and was assistant to the Public Relation Director of a local Toledo, Ohio, theatre group, Lynro Productions. After college Pam went to work for the United States Government and part of her duties were to write and publish a newspaper for the Migrant Opportunity Program in Phoenix, Arizona. Back in Ohio she lent her talents to the local Muscular Dystrophy Association, Make A Wish of Northwestern Ohio, worked on newsletters for Grace Lutheran Church and Christ the King Church, both in Toledo, and did public relations for the Parent Organization of Lake Elementary School. Pamela Ryan, as she is known professionally, began her professional psychic career in 1990. She presently does private readings and parties, and is also available at Lite the Way, Lambertville, Michigan, and The Healing Oasis in Clay Center, Ohio. Pam has recently completed classes and become a Certified Hypnotherapist and has completed the Master’s level for hypnotherapists. Publication is tentatively set for 2013, for her book, “My Dearest Children,” channeled by Mary Magdalene, and is presently working on a biography of world renowned journalist, Ruth Montgomery and a series of books about a fictional psychic medium. The first one is called, "The Macrame Cross."


Dorothy Thompson is the owner/founder of Pump Up Your Book, an innovative public relations firm specializing in online book promotion and social media marketing for authors. Pump Up Your Book was voted #1 in the Preditor's and Editor's Readers Poll in 2012. She is also the co-author/compiler of Romancing the Soul, an anthology which proves soul mates exist and has appeared in USA Today, Chicago Times and other publications. Dorothy loves the paranormal and is spatial clairsentient. She lives on the beautiful island of Chincoteague, Virginia.

Together, they make the writing team for Romancing the Million $$$ Ghost. Visit the official book blog at or like them on Facebook at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Avoiding Bathtime Battles

Thankfully, for the most part, these days are behind me, but every once in a while the Lil'Princess and the Lil' Diva decide to try to whine out of taking a bath or shower. And I remember in the early days where fear reigned and they got tired much easier, getting the girls into the tub at night was no easy task.

"Ways to Avoid Bathtime Battles" provides tips on how you can make bathtime easier on everyone. I'm a big proponent of getting the temperature right and making bathtime more fun. One of the reasons we stopped putting both girls in the tub together was because the Lil' Princess likes her water much cooler than the Lil' Diva. Having colored roll-on bath soaps, bathtub paints, cups and toys around helped encourage the girls to jump on in.

Hope you find these tips helpful.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Easy Ways Busy Moms Like You Can Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes the hardest thing for busy moms like me to remember is that in order to take care of our families, we need to take care of ourselves, too. Proper diet, exercise, and stress management are keys to staying healthy.

"Easy Ways for Busy Moms to Take Care of Themselves" discusses ways you can help your child recognize Mom has needs too, offers stress management tips, and encourages moms to involve their children in activities they enjoy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Hard to believe another week has passed. It was a busy one. The girls had homework, cheer practice, soccer practice, soccer games, cheering at football games, and this season's first dance lesson. Not sure how much more we can pack in, but I know the Lil 'Princess is scheduled to start second year violin next Monday. The Lil' Diva seems to be taking it easy this fall, deciding to dedicate herself to getting good grades and hopefully making the honor roll.

The mail wasn't too bad this week. My latest issue of Shape magazine arrived. I'm guessing that this is the new name for Health magazine. I still haven't found time to read an issue, so I'm not sure. I only know I haven't subscribed for anything else.

The Lil' Diva made some online purchases with gift cards she received for her birthday. Some of them, like her Battleship DVD and her metal safe bank, have already arrived. She's waiting on a new phone and a new iPod case.

That's it for this week's edition of You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a great week.

Inspiring Parenting Stories

One of the reasons I feel blogs have become so popular is because of our need to share a little bit of ourselves with the world; seeking understanding for our joys and sorrows from others. When I first began blogging in 2006, I wanted to share my journey as an aspiring author. I soon discovered, however, that I wanted to share more about me and my family. I am more than just a writer. I am a wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, and aunt. I am an avid reader, a gardener, a sporadic crafter. I'm a Christmas and Halloween freak. I'm a Christian. I love history. I enjoy volunteering and life-long learning.

That my roles as wife and mother are my main focus probably isn't a surprise. I have to squeeze in everything else. Perhaps that's why I relate to parenting stories more than anything else I can find on the Internet. In the article, "25 Blogs Featuring the Most Inspiring Parenting Stories," you'll find a wide range of topics from the loss of a spouse to single parent stories, from moving stories about adoption to parenting special needs children, and more. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Product Review: Scott Naturals® Paper Towels

I received a free roll (unsolicited) of Scott Naturals® paper towels. According to the company's website, this hybrid towel contains a blend of 60% recycled fibers that keeps them absorbent. The instructions that came with the package asked me to secretly swap out our regular brand of paper towel and replace it with Scott Naturals.

That was easy enough to do because I'm fairly certain no one else pays attention to what I put on there in the first place. Our family used the roll until it ran out and then I put back the regular brand. As I feared, no one else knew but me.

The claim for this brand is that they "help you take a green step without sacrificing quality." For the most part, I agree, but there was one issue with this product that ensures it won't be my preferred brand. The towel is a slightly smaller size than my usual brand, but that isn't a big deal. I use washable towels for large messes anyway. The problem for me was that I couldn't get the paper towels to tear using only one hand. As a busy mom, I'm constantly juggling a million different things at once. It's not unusual for my left hand to be busy while my right hand is reaching for a paper towel. No matter how many times I tried, it required both my hands to rip off the Scott Naturals paper towel from the roll or me leaning on arm on the roll and pulling with the other hand to get a towel free. I found it frustrating. Maybe it's silly, but I don't want to grab for one paper towel or half a paper towel (they come in Choose Your Size) and end up unraveling half the roll simply because I only have one hand free.

Other than that, I can say they worked just as well as my regular brand. If these were on sale at the grocery store in the future I might try them again, but I'm not looking to switch right now.

I received a single roll of Scott Naturals paper towels from the manufacturer. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simple Ways College Students Can Maintain their Health and Lifestyle by Diet sent along this graphic that I found very interesting. As you know, we're trying to eat better and live a healthier overall lifestyle. Dad is doing great. He exercises five times a week and immediately cuts out anything his doctors suggests is a no-no. If only all of us had such willpower.

Though my son lived at home when he attended college, I still worried about what he ate when he wasn't here. In this colorful graphic, college students--and their parents--can quickly see what types of food are helpful for each area of student life. I like that it starts off with a short explanation of how often average college students eat fast food and indicates its negative impact on daily activities. The graphic quickly moves into what foods students should be eating for each task they need to accomplish.

I love this simple visual aid. Printing it off and hanging it above a desk in a dorm or apartment would be a great way to keep it handy. With a regular reminder of what foods help with their daily activities, the chances of your college student eating better while away at school is more likely. I'm even considering keeping this graphic by my desk to keep me focused on my healthy living goals.

The Best Foods for Body and Brain

I received a link to this graphic from the designer. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Yes, it's Tuesday, but I needed a day of rest yesterday. This weekend we had the sleepover for the Lil' Diva's birthday party. Check out the cake she designed herself. She printed the two photos and then drew a picture of the design she wanted so the bakery would get it right.

After eating out, cake, and presents, the girls decided to perform blind makeovers--the Lil' Diva's idea. One girl was blindfolded and had to make up her partner. Then they switched. In a rare moment of silliness, I allowed each girl to take a turn making me up. Here is the result.

After the guests left on Saturday, Dad took the family into Boston. We wandered around the Boston Public Library, and then watched the Red Sox beat the White Sox.

Fenway replica

On Sunday, we joined the in-laws and drove to Marlborough to meet my brother-in-law, his wife, and their son for a trip to the local Greek festival. 

I ate way too much. I really want to try my hand at making loukoumades.

So now you know why I had to take it easy on Monday. The girls are back to school today, so it's quiet. Here's what the mail carrier brought last week.

Cabela’s® sent not only their Garden Harvest catalog for me, but Dad received the hunting one. Not that he hunts, but they probably have our name from somewhere. I'm very interested in their vacuum sealers. Too much food can go to waste if it isn't sealed probably. I've tried the Ziploc® Vacuum Freezer System, but it's not that easy to use and I've had some things I thought were airtight that ended up not being so.

The only other two things worth mentioning are the books I received. I'm reviewing Winter Wishes by Charlotte Hubbard in November at The Book Connection. Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly also arrived. That is a prize I won from Broken Teepee.

Right now, I'm waiting for the fall garlic and bulbs to arrive from Burpee so I can plant them. I also have plans to move my fruit plants before the first frost. Hopefully I'll be able to manage it. It seems time goes quickly right now.

That's it for this edition of You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a great week.