Friday, November 29, 2013

Closet Words Book Blast - Win $25 Amazon Gift Card

From the Back Cover
"As the leopard moves quickly in the jungle awaiting its prey so the evil one is lurking around waiting for the moment to devour you. The spirit is deep within you. Do you have your shield to deceive the one who is looking for you? Is your armor in place? Have you prepared for the battle? The battle is not for the weak but for the strong. Only those who are prepared will survive. Do not approach the battlefield meekly. You must know your enemy and fight him or he will overtake you in the darkness before you are even aware he is there. Arise - awaken! - Hear My bugle! I am calling those who are prepared to battle. Your victory is near".

"The days of rain upon your soul arrive. My spirit is pouring upon you as the rain pours onto the earth. Lift your eyes. Lift up your heart and feel my rain upon you. Become drenched in my spirit. Allow your heart to be soaked..."

Purchasing information:


Barnes and Noble:

WestBow Press:

Kim Hilton, MCC, PCC, has a master's degree in Christian counseling. Founder of Closet Words Ministries Foundation, Kim is a teacher on prayer and listening to God. An avid writer of several books, Closet Words was chosen as the first book to be published with the proceeds going to Closet Words Ministries Foundation. A sought-after speaker and Bible Study leader, Kim has spoken at both national and local events. She resides with her husband on a farm and enjoys spending time with their six grown children and grandchildren. For more information on Kim Hilton or her work, please visit:

Pump Up Your Book and Kim Hilton are teaming up to give you a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and Conditions:

• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Certificate or Paypal Cash.
• This giveaway begins November 2 and ends November 29, 2013.
• Winners will be contacted via email on Monday, December 2, 2013.
• Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

If Rafflecopter form doesn’t load, please visit:

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - November 26

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if
they like your teasers!

"Well, this would be it," she declared, slapping the catalog to the table top. "Hands down!"

~ page 75 from Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker

Monday, November 25, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Lots of fun stuff around here. The Lil' Princess had a wonderful birthday party/sleepover this weekend. We survived, but it sure makes getting ready for Thanksgiving a challenge. I'm hoping to get most of the Christmas trees up this week, but I'm not stressing over it. I know the decorations will be up before it's time for Santa to slide down the chimney. I also need to focus on baking for the Christmas bazaar.

Last week was another fairly heavy mail week. Some Christmas presents for Dad and the girls arrived. I can't tell you what they are right now, but I will say that I'm loving Zulily and the pre-Black Friday deals from Walmart. I wasn't sure how much I would like Zulily when I first joined, but I'm using it more and more as time goes on. They have special sales events where you can get deals on brand name products for a limited time. Zulily places one bulk order with the merchant and it gets shipped to them and on to you. Now, there are times it takes awhile to get your merchandise, but I've been very happy lately with how quickly my purchases have arrived. My last order was placed on November 9th and it arrived today.

On Friday, my Hidden Valley® Ranch party pack I received through Crowdtap arrived. It included a Hidden Valley Team Ranch T-shirt, a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch Original Dressing, a packet of Hidden Valley Original Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, a packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix, and a party insert with activities, recipes, and a coupon. It also came with samples for my guests, inserts with coupons, and a surprise.

Prizes from the Penny's Tales Christmas in October Giveaway are still arriving. This week a copy of Due Date by Nancy Wood arrived, as did some swag from author Mary Waibel. I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but some lovely swag also arrived a week or so ago from Marsha R. West.

You wouldn't believe the sheer number of catalogs the mail carrier delivered last week. Some of the usuals showed up: FrontGate, L.L. Bean, Oriental Trading, and the Gardener's Supply Company (probably my favorite these days). Hammacher Schlemmer sent a catalog this month. I usually get one a few times a year. Bits and Pieces, which includes many clever gifts like unusual puzzles, has been coming the past few months. MindWare is an educational toy catalog. Already the Lil' Diva has circled potential gift ideas. Totally new and had never seen before catalogs came from Doctors Foster and Smith (pet care) and King Arthur® Flour (baking).

The Spring Classes catalog arrived from Springfield Technical Community College. I browse through it from time to time, but I haven't had the time--or money--to continue pursuing my degree. And with the girls getting closer and closer to starting college, I don't think it's in the cards for me right now, no matter how much I would love to complete my degree.

New issues of Health, Shape, and Traditional Home magazines showed up in my mailbox this week. For books, I received a Michael Neugebauer edition of Hansel and Gretel by The Brothers Grimm and illustrated by Sybille Schenker and two copies of Pursuing the Christ: Prayers for Christmastime. The author made mention of the limited time sale price from on Facebook, so I picked up a copy for me and one as a gift. Along with that, came a copy of the new VeggieTales® DVD, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas. I'll share the DVD with the Sunday school kids.

Wow! That was a mouthful. Hope you have a great week.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Over The River and Through the Woods: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

The train in the above picture only rides along a carnival's small railroad track, but I remember taking my girls on plenty of road trips when they were younger; especially around the holidays. It's not always easy. There were days that by the time we actually got in the car, I was exhausted. At least they got to nap while I drove.

The article, "Road Trippin': Tips for Traveling with Toddlers" shares several great tips and reminders for making road trips easier. You can view the full article at 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Guest Blogger: Paul Stutzman, Author of The Wanderers

Everything in God’s nature, Johnny observed, did what it was created to do. Everything, that is, except the human race. Johnny was born into an Amish family, into a long line of farmers and good businessmen. He is expected to follow the traditions of family and church as he grows to adulthood. But even as a boy, he questions whether he can be satisfied with this lifestyle. He wants “more” — more education, more travel, more opportunity.

His restlessness leads him down a dangerous road where too much partying and drinking result in heartbreaking consequences. He’s adrift, and no one seems to be able to help him find his direction.

Then he meets spunky Annie, who seems pure and lovely and devoted to her God. Her past, though, holds sin and heartbreak. She was a worm, she explains, but God has transformed her into a butterfly. Johnny falls hopelessly in love; and eventually he, too, finds the power of God to transform lives.

Settling down on the family farm, he forgets about the questions and the restlessness, thinking that he is happy and at home, at last.

But in a few short hours, tragedy changes his life forever, and he is again wondering… and wandering on a very long journey.

Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

I’ll Shut Up and Listen by Paul Stutzman

Amish novels have become quite popular with the reading public. Most writers of those novels are women. Why would a man even attempt to enter this crowded field? Either he doesn’t know his limits or he chooses to believe there are no limits. Perhaps in this instance ignorance really is bliss.

The impetus for my sticking a toe in the water....or, rather, my foot … okay, I actually jumped into the literary pool with fear and trembling because I believed I had something to offer from my male perspective.

My perspective has been shaped by being born into an Amish home and raised in a strict Conservative environment where the man is in charge. As an adult, I spent 25 years working in food service with a workforce that was 90% female. Throughout the years, I observed and interacted with these workers and reached my own conclusions on the feminine world. I now believe women really are in charge and are just letting us men think we are in charge to protect our fragile egos.

Early in my career I was a fixer—that’s what we men do. If something is broken, we fix it. Initially, that was my approach to any issue or problem an employee encountered. I still believe that’s a god approach (within reason), but it can quickly get one—a man—in trouble. Many women just want to be heard. Is that so hard? After many frustrating encounters I finally realized the magic of not only hearing but also listening. And the really good part was that I didn't have to fix anything. Just listen. I could hardly believe it was really that easy.

Over the years, I came to respect and admire the many talented ladies I hired, and I saw them as equals in the workforce. In the Amish community, women, although deeply respected by their counterparts, are relegated to the back seat during most decision-making. In my book The Wanderers, I chose to give the ladies equal or perhaps top billing. I took many life lessons learned during my restaurant career and incorporated them into my stories.

I also wanted to write a book that wove together enough adventure to entice male readers and enough emotion to keep ladies involved. The jury is still out on whether I succeeded. I promise to be quiet and listen while you give me the verdict.

Purchase at Amazon!

Paul Stutzman was born in Holmes County, Ohio in an Amish family. His family left the Amish lifestyle soon after Paul was born. They joined a strict Conservative Mennonite Church where Paul was raised to fear God and obey all the rules the church demanded. Paul continued to live among and mingle with his Amish friends and relatives his entire life. Paul married a Mennonite girl and remained in the Amish community working and raising a family. After Paul lost his wife to cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart- the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. With a mixture of dread and determination, Paul left his job, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the 2,176 mile Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life-and can change yours too. After completing his trek Stutzman wrote Hiking Through—a book about this life changing journey.

In the summer of 2010 Stutzman again heeded the call for adventure and pedaled his bicycle 5,000 miles across America. He began his ride at the Northwest corner of Washington State and pedaled to Key West, Florida. On his journey across America he encounters people in all circumstances, from homelessness to rich abundance. The people he meets touch his life profoundly. Stutzman writes about these encounters in his book Biking Across America.

Recently Stutzman released his first novel entitled The Wanderers. The Wanderers is a story about Johnny, a young Amish boy growing up in a culture he is not sure he wants to embrace. A young Amish girl named Annie wins his heart and life is great for a time. Entwined with Johnny and Annie’s story is the allegory of two Monarch butterflies, worms who have been transformed into amazing creatures specially chosen to carry out the miracle of the fourth generation. They, too, must undertake a long journey before they finally find home.

In addition to writing, he speaks to groups about his hiking and biking experiences and the lessons learned during these adventures. Stutzman resides in Berlin, Ohio and can be contacted through his website at or

Thursday, November 21, 2013

End of Summer Book Giveaway Winners!

Here are the winners in the End of Summer Book Giveaway!

Book Package #2: 6-pk of Middle Grade and Young Adult books - Priscilla

Book Package #3: 4-pk Poetry book collection - Sheila D.

Book Package #4: 2-pk Inspirational books for writers - Susanne

Book Package #5: 5-pk of Christian titles - Sheila

Book Package #6: 6-pk Romance/Women's fiction titles - Susanne

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Product Review: Christmas from Heaven as Read by Tom Brokaw & The Names of Christ Heirloom Ornaments

If you are looking for a special gift this holiday season, I hope you'll consider Christmas from Heaven, a book with DVD that brings to life the true story of "The Candy Bomber."

When twenty-seven year old Gail Halvorsen is assigned as a cargo pilot to the Berlin Airlift, he has no idea how the encounter will change his life. As Lt. Halvorsen performs his duties, he notices German children gathered behind fences at the end of the Tempelhof runway. He talks to the children, and knowing they have so little, offers them two sticks of gum. From this one act of kindness, his idea to "bomb" Berlin with candy is born. Soon he and his crew fashion tiny parachutes to float candy down to the awaiting children.

Word soon spreads, leading to donations of candy and supplies from American candy makers and private donors. On a snowy Christmas Eve in 1948, as Hal waits for clearance to land, Halvorsen feels the spirit of Christmas all around him thanks to the generosity and joy that became a symbol of hope to those yearning for freedom.

Even as I am typing this review, the tears well up in my eyes. What a wonderful story this is. The picture book includes historical photos along with stunning illustrations by Robert T. Barrett. Inside the front cover is a DVD in a plastic sleeve that includes a live performance featuring music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choice, a reading of the book by Tom Brokaw, and a moving reenactment of Halvorsen's encounter with the children. There's nothing quite like watching a symphony hall filled with music and singing and child actors on stage watching tiny white parachutes land. The audience was in total awe; as was I.

This book can be purchased at and is also available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at select retailers nationwide.

Product Details

•Size: 11" x 9"
•Pages: 32
•Year Published: 2013

Tom Brokaw is one of the giants of television journalism. Anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004, he also holds the honor of being the only person to host each of NBC News’s major news programs: The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, and Meet the Press. He has won several awards, including a Peabody Award and seven Emmys. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and The Greatest Generation Speaks, among other books. He and his wife, Meredith, have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Robert T. Barrett is a professor of illustration at Brigham Young University, received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in painting and completed postgraduate work in Germany. An accomplished painter, muralist, and illustrator, his work has been featured in many national magazines and in art exhibits across the country and in Germany. He and his wife, Vicki, have ten children and one grandchild and reside in Provo, Utah.

Along with this book, I received a box of The Names of Christ Heirloom Ornaments from the historic Zion Mercantile.

These antique pewter-finish ornaments are a beautiful reminder of the Biblical names given to Christ, like King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Shepherd, and Bread of Life. This set of twelve ornaments comes in a box that includes Scripture references to each name on the back and are nestled upon a bed of brown shredded paper to look like straw. It's disappointing that twine was not included with the ornaments to maintain a rustic look for your tree, but ornament hangers will do an okay job, too. These ornaments are lightweight, so they won't pull down on branches. I can't wait to add them to my tree this year.

This set can be purchased exclusively at

I'll treasure this book and DVD and the ornaments for years to come.

I received a copy of the book with DVD, along with the set of ornaments, from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Wordless Wednesday

Forgotten Children Infographic

Forgotten Children

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Go Fish Christmas Curriculum: The Gift of Advent

As a Sunday school teacher, I'm always on the lookout for classroom resources. "The Gift Of Advent is a four-lesson large group/small group curriculum designed to give children a biblical understanding of Christmas...from the garden - to the manger - to the cross. Each lesson focuses on a new gift that comes as a result of God's ultimate Gift - Jesus! Your church will love this fresh, gospel-centered approach to a timeless story!"

Here is a breakdown of each lesson from the company's website:

Lesson 1: The Gift of Hope

Our need for a Savior began all the way back in Genesis when sin entered the world. In this lesson children will read God's promises in Genesis 3:14-15 and Isaiah 9:6-7. They will learn how God had a rescue plan in place from the very beginning and why our hope should be in Christ alone!

Lesson 2: The Gift of Wisdom

Is just knowing about Jesus enough? The religious leaders knew the details of Jesus' birth, yet they did not go to worship Him. In this lesson children will read the story of the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12. They will learn the importance of putting their faith into action and what true wisdom requires.

Lesson 3: The Gift of Love

When God sent His Son to die on the cross, it was the ultimate example of love. Children will read from Ephesians 5 and discuss how we are to be imitators of God by walking in love as we follow His great example.

Lesson 4: The Gift of Joy

Like the angels proclaimed in Luke 2, Jesus' arrival is good news and should bring about great joy! Children will learn that the true meaning of Christmas is not something we should keep to ourselves. A Savior has been born! He is Christ the Lord!

Curriculum Includes:

•5 music videos from Go Fish with lyrics on screen (See video samples below)
•5 karaoke videos to use for your Christmas service
•4 teaching videos (1 for each lesson) designed to lead into the Small Group Bible Lesson (See sample video below)
•Large Group activity and opening time for each lesson
•Small Group Bible Lessons
•Worksheets with activities for each lesson
•Audio CD (Songs: Joy To The World, Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee, The Christmas Dance, Christmas With A Capital "C", It's About The Cross, We Three Kings, The Little Drummer Boy, and My Jesus I Love Thee)
•DVD-Rom with all video files in .mov (HD), Windows Media files (HD), and Mpeg-1 (SD)
•CD-Rom with all lessons, manuals, craft information, coloring sheets, and much more in printable and e-mailable formats
•Crafts and coloring sheets for each lesson

I've been on the Go Fish mailing list for a while, but have not purchased yet only because our church is so small. As we are adding new members--with children--this curriculum becomes more and more appealing. You can learn more at

Save Time with O’Charley’s Award-winning Pies This Holiday Season

I love baking, especially around the holidays; but sometimes I simply run out of time. I haven't made a pie--crust and all--since I was in high school, and I'm not the kind of person who feels comfortable letting my guests be guinea pigs when I try something new.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., O’Charley’s includes 213 restaurants in 17 states in the Southeast and Midwest. They have this great weekly promotion called Free Pie Wednesday, where guests can try a free slice of their pie with the purchase of any entrée. Now they are offering whole pies from O’Charley’s very own bakery for their patrons to take home and enjoy. While dining in at their local O’Charley’s, guests can order a whole pie to take home or schedule a future pickup. Guests can also call in advance to schedule a pie pickup at their convenience.

O’Charley’s Holiday Whole Pie Menu includes:

Perfect Pumpkin Pie – This seasonal favorite starts with a golden flaky crust that’s filled with a creamy blend of real pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices including cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Double-Crust Peach Pie – Tender, flaky double-crust fresh-baked pie filled with deliciously sweet sun-ripened Free Stone peaches. Awarded a 2013 blue ribbon by the American Pie Council.

Country Apple Pie – “Old fashioned” double-crust fresh-baked pie filled with sweet, crisp Michigan apples seasoned with delicate spices. Awarded a 2013 blue ribbon by the American Pie Council.

Southern Pecan Pie – This delicious Southern classic is made with butter and brown sugar then topped with plenty of pecans for a deep nutty flavor. Awarded a 2013 blue ribbon by the American Pie Council.

French Silk Pie – Semi-sweet chocolates blended into a velvety smooth filling in a flaky pastry crust. Topped with real whipped cream and milk chocolate shavings.

Ooey Gooey Caramel Pie – Creamy caramel in a graham cracker crust topped with real whipped cream, milk chocolate shavings and pecans.

Can you say, yum! I want to try all of these.

“Nothing goes hand-in-hand with the Holidays quite like pie,” said Mickey Mills, president of O’Charley’s. “Pies are more than a dessert; they are an important part of the holiday tradition. We take great pride and care in baking these pies which is why our guests are raving about their fresh-from-the-oven homemade taste. We are excited to offer quality, award-winning pies that are also conveniently ready and perfectly prepared to serve at holiday gatherings.”

For more details on O’Charley’s exclusive whole holiday pies, or to find an O’Charley’s location near you, visit

Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow On Sale and Giveaway

The story of "Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow" takes us on the journey she travels to figure out how to get the cows at a new farm to like and accept her.

While she hopes to find friendship at her new home, instead she learns what it means to be different from everyone else. (Spotless!) Mary Elizabeth uses clever ideas and a sense of humor to help her on her quest for friends at the new farm.

This inspiring tale shows how perseverance in spite of obstacles, using a sound thought process to arrive at solutions and the importance of having fun, using humor and enjoying playtime can build friendships.


Once upon a time........there was a farm in Ohio with lots of Cows. They all had many spots to be proud of. One day a truck pulled into the farm. The back door opened and out came a new Cow. The other Cows were so excited to have a new friend!

But as the new Cow came out of the truck the other Cows looked on in shock!!! "Oh My! What on Earth?!"

It seems the new Cow, whose name was Mary Elizabeth, had no spots!

’’Where are your spots??!!’’ Demanded the Cow called Anna Belle. ’’I don’t have any spots. I was born spotless, you see.’’

Well, Anna Belle and the other Cows were horrified.
(Not mad, you had to be very careful about mad)

Purchasing information: From now through December 31, 2013, you can purchase Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow from the Sweetles website for only $12.00 (List price: $17.99).

When you buy this book, 50% of net proceeds go to Phoenix Children’s Hospital Child Life Program. Visit for more information.

Enter for your chance to win a 25 Amazon gift card!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sal is the author and illustrator of “A Sweetles Dream”® book series. As the Creative Director for
Hartman-Barbera llc, a family media and entertainment company, he is also an animator, sculptor, painter and all around fun guy. Sal lives the phrase: “A day without laughter is a wasted day”. To that end, he uses his writing, illustrating and animation skills to create endearing characters and comedic stories.

Sal's sense of humor and empathy for his characters explore personal and social situations in ways that makes it enjoyable for both adults and children to experience together. Born in New York City, Sal moved to North Bergen, NJ where he grew up on a steep hillside neighborhood with his four older sisters. He currently lives in sunny Arizona with his wife and artistic partner, Sheri, who he defines as his inspiration. On any given day Sal might be painting, sculpting, drawing, animating, writing or enjoying one of his favorite pastimes: cooking, television, movies and golf.

Visit Sal Barbera’s website at

Monday, November 18, 2013

This Week's Countdown to Christmas Schedule on Hallmark Channel

Though my crazy schedule for November hasn't allowed me to watch any shows yet, I plan to make up for that soon.

Week Three: Monday, November 18 - Sunday, November 24

Monday, November 18

12a/11c: Karroll's Christmas
2a/1c: Matchmaker Santa
4a/3c: Christmas With Holly, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
6a/5c: The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
8a/7c: It's Christmas, Carol!
2/1c: A Boyfriend for Christmas
4/3c: Baby's First Christmas
6/5c: A Holiday Engagement
8/7c: A Princess for Christmas
10/9c: Matchmaker Santa

Tuesday, November 19

12a/11c: It's Christmas, Carol!
2a/1c: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
4a/3c: Christmas With Holly, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
6a/5c: Eve's Christmas

8a/7c: A Princess for Christmas
2/1c: Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle
4/3c: Debbie Macomber's Call Me Mrs. Miracle
6/5c: Christmas With Holly, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
8/7c: Pete's Christmas
10/9c: The Christmas Card

Wednesday, November 20
12a/11c: Eve's Christmas
2a/1c: Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle
4a/3c: Debbie Macomber's Call Me Mrs. Miracle
6a/5c: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
8a/7c: Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade
2/1c: The Wishing Tree
4/3c: The Christmas Card
6/5c: Jingle All the Way
6:30/5:30c: Jingle and Bell's Christmas Star
7/6c: Jingle All the Way
7:30/6:30c: Jingle and Bell's Christmas Star
8/7c: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
10/9c: A Very Merry Mix-Up

Thursday, November 21
12a/11c: Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade
2a/1c: Once Upon a Christmas
4a/3c: Fallen Angel, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
6a/5c: Karroll's Christmas
8a/7c: Twice Upon a Christmas
2/1c: A Season for Miracles, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
4/3c: Fallen Angel, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
6/5c: Once Upon a Christmas
8/7c: The Christmas Ornament
10/9c: Snow Bride

Friday, November 22

12a/11c: Twice Upon a Christmas
2a/1c: Karroll's Christmas
4a/3c: Battle of the Bulbs
6a/5c: A Season for Miracles, from the Hallmark Hall of Fame
8a/7c: Farewell Mr. Kringle
2/1c: Battle of the Bulbs
4/3c: The Santa Suit
6/5c: Catch a Christmas Star
8/7c: Eloise at Christmastime
10/9c: A Bride for Christmas

Saturday, November 23
12a/11c: Farewell Mr. Kringle
2a/1c: All I Want for Christmas
4a/3c: The Santa Suit
6a/5c: The Dog Who Saved Christmas
8a/7c: Eloise at Christmastime
10a/9c: A Bride for Christmas
12/11c: All I Want for Christmas
2/1c: Catch a Christmas Star
4/3c: The Christmas Ornament
6/5c: Help for the Holidays
8/7c: Window Wonderland, a Hallmark Channel Original Premiere!
10/9c: Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas

Sunday, November 24
12a/11c: Mistletoe Over Manhattan
2a/1c: The Dog Who Saved Christmas
4a/3c: Lucky Christmas
6a/5c: Debbie Macomber's Trading Christmas
8a/7c: Mistletoe Over Manhattan
10a/9c: Help for the Holidays
12/11c: Lucky Christmas
2/1c: Window Wonderland
4/3c: Snow Bride
6/5c: Naughty or Nice (2012)
8/7c: Fir Crazy, a Hallmark Channel Original Premiere!
10/9c: Moonlight & Mistletoe

You've Got Mail Monday

November is halfway over. Thank goodness. I'm just about done in, but if I can make it to November 30th, it will get easier from there. I attended the WriteAngles Conference this Saturday. John Katzenback, author of Hart's War and Just Cause sat on one of the panels I attended. Anthony Swofford, author of the memoir, Jarhead was on another panel. Keynote speakers were Pat Schneider and Suzy Becker. Great day and bought books I have no room for in my office--like always. I picked up Katzenbach's book, What Comes Next, Everything I Was by Corinne Demas (she sat on the same panel as Kaztzenbach and I loved her), Swofford's book, Jarhead, for my hubby, and The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin, who just so happens to be friends with one of my favorite historical fiction authors, C.W. Gortner. I also saw a local teacher and purchased her book directly from her: The Paladins DuBois by Patricia Donaruma Williford.

My office remains a mountain of books, which I have to clean because the Lil' Diva is having party here on Friday night and I sure don't want anyone to think I'm a total slob. I'm really not, I've just had a hectic year and haven't been able to stay on top of things the way I usually do.

Christmas presents have started to arrive from various retailers. One of the presents I was going to get the hubby ended up being an emergency purchase when his shaver died. Well, died isn't actually accurate; it broke and wouldn't shut off. The new Braun will arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, I managed to convince the old shaver to stop running constantly by knifing it almost to death. Some of its parts will never be the same. Dad used to have one of those self-cleaning shavers, but it took up a lot of counter space and required regular purchases of the cleaning cartridge, which weren't cheap even at Walmart. Here's the new purchase:

I wonder why he opted to go with a wet and dry shaver this time. He's never done that before.

The coming of Christmas means the mail carrier, the UPS driver and the FedEx driver are all visiting us often. I still have boxes in the playroom from this week's deliveries. I picked up a couple of cute seasonal bread pans so I can make something for the church bazaar. I'm not much of a crafter these days, so I'm focusing on filling up the bake sale table.

Thy Will Be Done by Ronald Kirk and Closet Words by Kim Hilton arrived this week. I'll be reviewing those books during their December virtual book tours. I received a small catalog from the National Home Gardening Club, which I am a member of, about the AeroGarden. These units allow you to garden all year long. Too bad my cats would eat anything I tried to grow in the house. My December issue of All You magazine arrived, as did the first issue of my new HGTV Magazine subscription. Actually, my office right now is also piles of unread magazines. I swear, I will get to them all. I don't subscribe to anything just for the heck of it.

I also received this new product to review. It's called Re-Grip®. You install it on tool handles and it redistributes the energy created by impact. I think I'll try to add it to my rubber mallet to see how it works.

That's it for this week's You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you enjoy your week.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Blogger: Sarah Renée, Author of the Saderia Series (Giveaway)

Ten years ago, a devastating fire took the lives of Queen Karenisha and King Makero, leaving a young Princess Saderia orphaned.

Nobody knows how the fire started, but it ignited quickly. Too quickly.

In ten years, the truth has never been discovered...

Saderia is a curious 10-year-old tiger Princess. Her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash have taken over the duties of Queen and King and have raised Saderia since her parents disappeared in a mysterious fire. Saderia’s aunt and uncle don’t understand the sassy, adventurous tiger, which she resents.

At night, though, Saderia is haunted by dark nightmares about the fire - eerie, cryptic dreams that push her to start investigating her parents’ disappearance. As she uncovers strange clues, she soon becomes desperate to know the truth. Could her parents have been murdered? On a quest to uncover the truth about her parents’ disappearance, she soon realizes her forest has many other mysteries when she discovers a dangerous, ancient royal secret regarding her oldest ancestors - a secret that will change not only her life, but the lives of everyone around her.

Saderia doesn’t know who or what to trust, but she is desperate to uncover the secrets of the past. She will do whatever it takes to find the truth.

The Main Character Gets All The Love! by Sarah Renée

I’m often asked which of my book characters is my favorite character. Picking favorites is never easy, but if I had to choose, I’d say my favorite character is my main character, Saderia. Saderia is a 10-year-old tiger Princess who is the protagonist of my middle grade fantasy Saderia Series.

In the first book of the series, The Tiger Princess, Saderia makes it her goal to search for clues about how her parents, the King and Queen, disappeared. Saderia is my favorite character for many reasons, but for this post, I’ll narrow it down to five.
1. She’s sassy!

Saderia is never afraid to speak her mind – and often times, that can get her into trouble! Sometimes, she may be bold, but she’s never afraid to give her opinion.

2. She’s brave.

Saderia is a Princess who has grown up living the pampered life of royalty, but don’t let that fool you. While her Aunt Cia and Uncle Jash, who raised her since her parents disappeared, tell her to act more like a prissy, typical Princess, on the inside, Saderia is a playful tomboy who’s not afraid to face danger. On her quest to find the truth about her parents’ disappearance, Saderia finds herself facing terrible danger, but her brave spirit never lets her
give in!

3. She’s curious.

Saderia is an extremely curious girl who wants to explore her whole world - something a lot of children can relate to. I know that when I wrote The Tiger Princess at the age of 12, I was curious about the world and loved to explore, and I know lots of kids feel the same – especially children in the 8-12 year old age range, which The Tiger Princess is geared toward. Saderia is no exception and loves to explore her world, which gives her an edge in solving the mystery of her parents’ disappearance.

4. She isn’t perfect.

Just like everyone else, Saderia isn’t perfect and she knows this. She has her own insecurities about herself and worries about fitting into the ideal of what her aunt and uncle want her to be. But despite her worries, she still tries to look forward and think positive!

5. She doesn’t know when to quit!

Throughout her adventures in The Tiger Princess, Saderia faces a lot of difficult trials and downright dangerous situations. In some of the dangerous tasks she faces, it is easy to back down and give up – in some cases, it might even be sensible to do so! – but Saderia refuses to give up and will keep her head up and keep going no matter what!

And that’s why I love Saderia! If you want to get to know Saderia even better, you can check out the first book, The Tiger Princess, for free on the Amazon Kindle or on the Barnes and Noble Nook. Thanks, Cheryl, for hosting me on your blog, and thanks to everyone for reading!

Enter to win a free PDF of The Tiger Princess and Dash, the first two books in the Saderia Series. Use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sarah Renée has loved writing from an early age. She has been writing short stories since the age of 4, and at the age of 10, she came up with the idea for The Tiger Princess. She wrote the novel when she was 12. She is fascinated with wild animals and the wild world outside her home, and has an obvious great love of tigers. She enjoys spending time with her cats, reading, drawing, and playing her violin when she is not writing. In her free time, she is constantly daydreaming about her many characters, creating new ones, and coming up with interesting adventure story ideas. She is now 17 years old.

Visit Sarah Renée’s website at www.thetigerprincess.comor her blog at learn more about Sarah Renée, her books, and more! You can also find her on Facebookand Twitter

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday

Why should Instagram users have all the fun? The Lil' Diva and I were talking about Throwback Thursday for Instagram. I love the idea of sharing images from the past. Since my kids are so much a part of my life, I reached back into the archives from our first digital camera to the night of John Boy's senior prom. Where does the time go?

Monday, November 11, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

Our postal carrier was working overtime last week. Our mailbox was so full, they must have thought all we do is order things.

Catalogs arrived from Land's End, FrontGate, Kiddly Winks, Oriental Trading, L.L. Bean, and Soft Surroundings (this is a new one). Our second issue of Antiques Roadshow Insider arrived, but I've decided to discontinue this subscription. It seems interesting, but it's only a 15-page booklet. It also irked me that they sent me two invoices for my trial issue before I even received a single copy. History Magazine arrived. I think this is one I ordered from the fundraiser at school. The November/December 2013 issue of Traditional Home also showed up last week. I certainly won't be bored.

Actually, there is no way I could be bored because I won the Christmas in October giveaway from the Penny's Tales blog. I walked away with more than 50 prizes, which included numerous books and swag. They began arriving last week, so I'll have plenty of reading material to keep me busy. I also received Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber which included a DVD with music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a reading of the book by Tom Brokaw. This book review also included a set of 12 Biblical NAMES OF CHRIST Heirloom Ornaments to adorn one of my numerous Christmas trees this year.

We had fun celebrating the Lil' Princess' birthday this past week. Her big--and I do mean big--present was this nearly five-foot tall Melissa and Doug Plush Giraffe. She quickly named it Spots and takes it with her all around the house. That was tough to hide once it was delivered.

We also picked up a copy of the new LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game for XBOX 360. The Lil' Diva loves it! I'm so thrilled. Though it does make me realize they have no real comic book super hero knowledge. I lived on comic books as a kid. When one of the girls thought Batman lived on Krypton, I knew I had some work to do.

That's it for this week of You've Got Mail. This might be a slow blogging week since I am preparing for a writers conference.

Happy Veterans Day

We wish to take a moment to honor all our military veterans today. For a history of Veterans Day, please visit

Saturday, November 9, 2013

PBS KIDS® Kicks off the Holiday Season with The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas

Christmas is coming sooner than you know it. One of my favorite things about this time of year is watching holiday programming. PBS KIDS® kicks off its holiday season on November 27th with The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas. Cat, Nick and Sally journey around the world to help a lost reindeer find his way home. See a preview below or on YouTube.

A week of special holiday programming comes your way from PBS KIDS on December 9 - 13. “Holiday Week” includes encore presentations of other holiday favorites, including Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas, Arthur's Perfect Christmas, and holiday-themed episodes from your favorite PBS KIDS series, such as Wild Kratts, Super WHY!, Thomas and Friends, and more.

Time Savers for Working Moms

Whether you work outside the house or from home, every mom can use time-saving tips. From meals to getting everyone out the house on time each morning to speeding up your beauty routine, having a plan and being organized helps lower stress levels and keeps everyone happy.

The article "70 Time Saving Secrets for Working Moms" has great ideas along with links to 70 blogs that share their time saving tips for busy moms.  You'll find the entire article at 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chronicle Books Offering 75% off 9 Digital Cookbooks

I received this notice in my Inbox from Chronicle Books. Right now they are offering 75% off 9 of their digital cookbooks. That's good news for those of us who will be cooking and baking this holiday season. The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan is just one of those great books you'll want to stock up on this season.

Visit  and check out this wonderful deal!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

DVD Review: PBS Kids® Super Why!®: Hansel & Gretel - A Healthy Adventure

PBS Kids® has new Super Why!® reading adventures for your family. Super Why!: Hansel and Gretel - A Healthy Adventure includes two engaging episodes that feature all the fun of problem solving, alphabet skills, comprehension, and vocabulary.

In the title episode, Red and her friends are playing in the park, but she doesn't have enough energy to participate. The Super Readers travel into a story where they meet Hansel and Gretel, along with a grumpy tired witch, who feasts on the sweet snacks Red also enjoys. As they help transform the witch's house into one made of healthy and delicious foods, Red discovers what foods will help give her the energy she needs to keep playing for a super long time.

The second episode opens with Whyatt sitting at the family dinner table, complaining all he wants to eat is brown rice. How can his parents insist that his selection isn't healthy? The Super Readers visit the story of "King Eddie Who Loved Spaghetti," a king who only wanted to eat spaghetti. They journey into his garden and discover how much healthier a variety of foods is for his body--and Whyatt's too.

As a children's author, I've been a huge fan of  Super Why! It's fun. It's interactive. It even shows the Super Readers using technology to help them change the stories and solve their problems.

Bonus features include music videos, interactive games, and coloring pages. There are also parent resources.

Super Why! is one of those shows where it's easy for kids to forget they are learning because it is so much fun. You can purchase this DVD from the ShopPBS website and other online retailers.

Highly recommended.

Format: Animated, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
DVD Release Date: July 16, 2013
Run Time: 50 minutes

I received a free copy of this DVD. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

DVD Review: PBS Kids®: Arthur Stands Up to Bullying

From PBS Kids® comes another series of great Arthur™ adventures. This DVD, which is available for purchase from the ShopPBS website and other online retailers, includes four episodes, plus a computer-based component where kids can find themed activities and coloring pages. Based upon the best-selling children's books by Marc Brown, this long-running television series was an important part of my son's and daughters' childhoods.

In "The Last Tough Customer," Binky decides it's time for the group to change their image because it's not good being a bully anymore. The other guys are in, but Molly is having nothing to do with it. When Molly sees some poor behavior from her little brother, James, she wonders if it's time to put the past behind her.

Hoping to improve his chances of beating his opponent, Los Dedos, Brain starts a chess club at school. In "Brain's Chess Mess," he soon discovers most of the kids aren't really interested in learning the ins and outs of playing, but he also finds Rattles to be a great mentor.

In "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh," Sue Ellen gets her feelings hurt when Arthur teases her about her new sweater. Though she asks him to stop, Arthur says she's just overreacting. When he's forced to to write a letter of apology to Sue Ellen, it ends up doing more harm than good. Arthur can't believe his friends think he's being a bully.

"The Best Day Ever" finds Arthur and his friends reminiscing about their "best days." Arthur doesn't seem to have one, but soon learns a lot about himself and his friends.

Arthur Stands Up to Bullying is a great way to teach your kids about friendship and standing up to bullies. This can lead parents into discussions with their children about how two people can see an event differently and how important it is to consider other people's feelings. After "The Last Tough Customer" and "So Funny I Forgot to Laugh," the show visits real classrooms where students talk about bullying and standing up for themselves.

Highly recommended.

Format: Animated, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
Language: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
DVD Release Date: July 16, 2013
Run Time: 60 minutes

I received a free copy of this DVD. This review contains my honest opinion, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guest Post: Talking To Your Children About Internet Safety

As children grow older they become curious about computers and the Internet, especially if Mum and Dad are using them on a daily basis. In fact, a lot of studies show that children who aren't introduced to technology at a younger age can sometimes lag behind at school when it comes to computer orientated classes. There's no getting around the fact that today, and even more so with every year that passes, technology is ubiquitous, important and necessary.

With this in mind, children who are introduced to the world of computers, at any point should be sat down to a conversation about safety, especially when using the Internet. The World Wide Web is a hive of information and multimedia so vast that there will always be certain parts of it that are a risk to a child's safety, innocence and curiosity. A simple talk with parents can help pave the way for a trouble free introduction to the Web.

The first thing to remind children of is that the Internet is not a gated community. Like the real world, you're free to roam pretty much where you like – the good and the bad. With the Internet it's your decision what you view, what you search for, and what you avoid. You must be ethical and honest; careful and cautious. Talking about links and ads is also important, and being able to differentiate between the two. Banner ads are usually boxed off and not related to the page at hand. This can lead to pages that are not relevant to what you are viewing and may be dangerous or inappropriate.

Passwords are another important topic to discuss. The importance of strong, varied passwords is paramount, along with not telling anyone what they are. Numbers and different case letters should be included, and dictionary words are easier to hack than an arbitrary array of characters. All of this is especially important when it comes to online banking and card transactions; although this doesn't apply to most children until they get to a certain age. That being said, it is sometimes worth mentioning.

Chat rooms, strangers, and emails are another thing to talk about. These three are mentioned together because they are the essence of unsolicited communication; a phenomenon that is rife on the Internet. Never reply, talk to, or discuss personal details with strangers or people proclaiming to be someone else. Always be wary of anyone asking for specific details about your life, especially when it comes from things like emails from banks, strangers from chat rooms, or Nigerian princes informing you that you've won the lottery. When it comes to the Internet, anything that smells the slightest bit contrived probably is.

There are a few things parents can do to keep the family computer safe. Search engines like Google have safe search settings to stop adult content from being shown in the search results. If you think it necessary, you can go one step further and install parental control software, which will stop adult content from being shown. This type of software will scan a website when it's requested, but before it's shown for any keywords related to certain adult subjects; if any are found, the page will be blocked.

All of these topics can help give your child a sense of responsibility when introducing them to the Internet, but most important of all is an open and honest discussion about ethics and technology as a whole. For more information, articles and software about internet safety, head over to the Gecko Parents website.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Is My Child Having Trouble Seeing?: What to Do If You Think Your Child Has Vision Problems

One of the frustrating things for me as a parent is trying to pick up on our daughters' symptoms when they aren't feeling well or when things don't seem quite right. Young ones are not always able to express what they are going through, and even older children might not want to share their problems.

"What Should You Do if You Think Your Child Has Vision Problems?" is an excellent article that talks about the symptoms you might suspect mean your child has a vision problem, but also some you might not know to look for. In addition, it shares tips on when to schedule that first visit to the eye doctor and how you can help your child adjust if she needs glasses.

You can find the entire article at

You've Got Mail Monday

And the craziness of life continues. There are only a few weeks left before our church's annual Christmas bazaar and tag sale. We're busy cleaning, crafting, and soon to be baking. I'm not as much of a crafter as I used to be, so I'm concentrated on filling up the baked goods table this year. Oh, that reminds me, I need to see if I can find some butter crocks to put honey butter in.

Other than a few gifts for the Lil' Princess' birthday--which I can't talk about yet in case she checks in here--the only thing the mailman brought this week was catalogs. You can always tell when November comes around because catalogs I haven't seen in forever arrive; like the Things Remembered gift catalog. Build-A-Bear sent along their Christmas catalog, as did Oriental Trading. I tossed the most recent Land's End one, because I'm not ready to buy from them right now. I usually buy clothes for the hubby from them, but first I need to see what the budget says I can spend.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Raging Water by Marilyn Meredith Winner

Congratulations to Patty W. for picking up a copy of Raging Water by Marilyn Meredith. The winner has been contacted by email. 

Thanks to everyone who participated. Look for more giveaways coming soon.