Friday, January 30, 2015

The Friday 56 - Week 212

Welcome to Week 212!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

It finally arrived! The book that fans have been clamoring for over the last several decades: the release of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Pioneer Girl manuscript, the basis for her famous Little House books.

This annotated autobiography is edited by Pamela Smith Hill, author of Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life. Since page 56 was just a map, this excerpt is from page 156.

14. Ma was afraid. In By the Shores of Silver Lake, Wilder used Ma's fear to reinforce the unspoken conflict between her parents and their views of the American West: "[Ma] did not say anything because nothing she could say would make any difference. Bu Laura knew Ma had never wanted to leave Plum Creek and did not like to be here now" (p.66).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

PBS KIDS Announces Annual Writing Contest!


The PBS KIDS Writers Contest is designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The contest is open to children in grades K-3 and encourages creative thinking and storytelling, while building literacy skills through the creation and illustration of original stories.

To enter, kids can submit stories to their local stations, and local winners will then be entered into the national contest. National winners will be announced during the summer of 2015, and the winning stories will be featured on

This year, the judges include acclaimed writers, producers and children’s media creators, including Marc Brown, author and illustrator of the ARTHUR book series, and the Kratt Brothers, Martin and Chris, from the PBS KIDS show WILD KRATTS. The national winners will receive prize packages including ARTHUR books and a personal technology device courtesy of PBS.

To enter the contest and for more information on entry rules and contest resources, visit or your local PBS station website.

As a Busy Mom Thinks

Today is the release of a new regular column at The Busy Mom's Daily. This idea has been in the back of my mind for quite a while. When it began percolating, I envisioned it as a way to share opinions about a variety of things; a springboard for discussions with other busy moms. Let’s face it, not only do we busy moms work hard, we have opinions about a variety of topics. We should be able to share and discuss them whenever we want.

The title of this new column, “As a Busy Mom Thinks,” has its origins with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Before becoming a world famous children’s author, Wilder wrote a regular column for the Missouri Ruralist entitled, “As a Farm Woman Thinks.” She discussed home, family, and world events. I envision “As a Busy Mom Thinks” to be similar.

If you are interested in writing a guest post for “As a Busy Mom Thinks,” please email me at

I’m going to kick off this column with a bit of a rant. Why not start with a bang, right?

Why is it that working moms are expected to juggle family life and career, but working dads aren’t always expected to help out around the house?

When we first moved in here, both of us worked outside the home. Once I left the corporate world to become a stay-at-home mom, I felt part of my contribution was to take care of the house and run errands. For some reason, however, the expectation is that despite me working 40 hours a week now, I should still be the one to do all the laundry, cook, keep the house clean, and run errands. Do I look like Wonder Woman?

So, I must ask, is it the same way at your house or do I simply need to put my foot down?

Hope you enjoy this new column. I look forward to our discussions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Win a Copy of Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen at The Book Connection

Just when you think every book has been written that has a Laura Ingalls Wilder connection, you come across something so unique and fascinating that it begs your attention. Pioneer Girl tells the story of Lee Lein, who finds herself jobless after obtaining her PhD in American literature. She heads home to a Chicago suburb to work in her mother and grandfather's cafe. The tense relationship with her mother only worsens, and then her brother disappears without a trace, leaving behind a gold brooch from her mother's past in Vietnam that was left behind by an American reporter who visited her grandfather's original cafe in 1965. Based upon a passage from the Little House books, Lee is convinced the reporter was Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Does this pin connect her family to one of America's famous pioneering legacies? 

There is so much to this novel, I simply can't state it here and keep the post at a reasonable length. You can read my full review here.

Enter for your chance to win a FREE paperback copy of Pioneer Girl here!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kindle Freebie: Priceless Proverbs by Kristi Porter

Priceless Proverbs Book 2 continues where book one left off - with over one hundred additional kid quotes and illustrations. It is the result of hundreds of interviews with young children ages three to twelve, who were presented with the first half of a famous saying or proverb and then asked to finish it themselves.

It began as part of a larger class project by teacher Kristi Porter and the children of Happi Kamper Child Care, located in North Muskegon, Michigan. Each child was to create an individual gift book for his or her parents, and Priceless Proverbs was simply to be one chapter in each child’s book.

Now, the individual answers of the Happi Kamper Kids, as well as those of the children at Community United Methodist Preschool, and Power Play Childcare in N. Muskegon have been combined. Their diverse, candid, and uncensored answers may surprise you, or even make you laugh out loud, as you get a quick glimpse into the amazing and intricate minds of some of the most delightful and fascinating children around. Enjoy!

File Size: 3901 KB
Print Length: 109 pages
Publisher: Happi Kamper Press (November 1, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692304185
ISBN-13: 978-0692304181

Purchase here!

Mailbox Monday - January 26

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Well, we are hunkering down for the historic Nor'easter that is on its way tonight through early Wednesday morning. I have a feeling the girls will be home from school for the next two days. At least I have plenty of reading material.

This is a book that I requested for a March blog tour. I don't know why I keep adding more books to my already overloaded TBR pile, but what can I say, I am a book addict.

Jago Tanner is a loner. He works up a good hunger at his outdoors pursuits centre in Wales and looks upon each female conquest as just another meal. When he’s sated, he doesn’t go back for dessert. Until Riley shows up. A Londoner hired through an agency to assist him with activities, she isn’t at all what he asked for. For starters, with the name Riley, he expected a man. But Riley is all woman—the sexiest woman Jago has ever laid eyes on. Unfortunately she dresses like a trollop and curses like a sailor. Though ignorant about most outdoors pursuits, she’s a skilled horsewoman, able to calm even his nerviest stallion. And her lively and generous nature enchants his housekeeper Emily and his ancient friend, Tom. In short, Jago’s new employee is a bundle of contradictions. Which is why, when Jago falls for her, he doesn’t trust his feelings. Riley seems unusually accident prone, and when her brother’s shady friends menace her, she plays the innocent. But how can anyone so self-sufficient and mouthy also be so trusting and naïve? And can a man with Jago’s volatile nature endure the jealousy a woman like Riley provokes just by strolling down the street?

I'm also on a freebie purchasing binge lately. Here are some free Kindle downloads I discovered. The scary thing is that they are all mysteries of some kind. I promise, these are not research for some diabolical plan I am hatching.

There’s more than one secret in the old Blackmoore house. Some have been buried for a long time and some are sitting closer to the surface. Morgan and Fiona Blackmoore enjoy their simple life in the sleepy ocean-side town of Noquitt Maine where they offer herbal remedies and crystal healing for locals and tourists alike.... Until Morgan is accused of killing the town shrew, Prudence Littlefield.

It is 1929. Asharton Manor stands alone in the middle of a pine forest, once the place where ancient pagan ceremonies were undertaken in honour of the goddess Astarte. The Manor is one of the most beautiful stately homes in the West Country and seems like a palace to Joan Hart, newly arrived from London to take up a servant’s position as the head kitchen maid. Getting to grips with her new role and with her fellow workers, Joan is kept busy, but not too busy to notice that the glittering surface of life at the Manor might be hiding some dark secrets. The beautiful and wealthy mistress of the house, Delphine Denford, keeps falling ill but why? Confiding her thoughts to her friend and fellow housemaid, feisty Verity Hunter, Joan is unsure of what exactly is making her uneasy, but then Delphine Denford dies…

Armed only with their own good sense and quick thinking, Joan and Verity must pit their wits against a cunning murderer in order to bring them to justice.

Death at the Manor is the first in the Asharton Manor Mysteries series: a four part series of novellas spanning the twentieth century. Each standalone story uses Asharton Manor as the backdrop to a devious and twisting crime mystery, from bestselling crime writer Celina Grace, author of The Kate Redman Mysteries.

Includes Holiday Drink Recipes!

After breaking up with hunky movie star Nick Doyle, Grammy Award-winning singer Emma Wild returns to her hometown for Christmas to get away from it all. In Hartfield, a small town in Ontario, Canada, she gets caught up in a murder case after a fan's drink is poisoned at the Chocoholic Cafe, owned by Emma's sister Mirabelle.

Who is the killer and was the drink originally intended for Emma?

To add to the chaos, Sterling Matthews is the detective on the case. He'd shattered her heart nine years ago and inspired all her hit singles, but now they must work together to find the murderer before the murderer finds Emma.

Join Emma Wild on her first adventure in the first book of Harper Lin's 4-Book holiday mystery series.

It's the summer of 1879, and Annie Fuller, a young San Francisco widow, is in trouble. Annie's husband squandered her fortune before committing suicide five years earlier, and one of his creditors is now threatening to take the boardinghouse she owns to pay off a debt. Annie Fuller also has a secret. She supplements her income by giving domestic and business advice as Madam Sibyl, one of San Francisco's most exclusive clairvoyants, and one of Madam Sibyl's clients, Matthew Voss, has died. The police believe his death was suicide brought upon by bankruptcy, but Annie believes Voss has been murdered and that his assets have been stolen. Nate Dawson has a problem. As the Voss family lawyer, he would love to believe that Matthew Voss didn't leave his grieving family destitute. But that would mean working with Annie Fuller, a woman who alternatively attracts and infuriates him as she shatters every notion he ever had of proper ladylike behavior. Sparks fly as Anne and Nate pursue the truth about the murder of Matthew Voss in this light-hearted historical mystery set in the foggy gas-lit world of Victorian San Francisco.

My Favorite Corpse centers around Ashley Sands, the owner of a mystery-themed inn located on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. An amateur sleuth, Ashley finds a corpse washed to shore at her inn's private beach. She must learn what happened before her guests begin checking out. While Ashley’s mystery weekend guests usually enjoy the occasional dead body, they prefer the never-previously-animated kind.

Did you receive any neat books in your mailbox?

Back to Work - Part 3

As I mentioned in my last post, I received an email through LinkedIn that appeared promising. It was from the managing director of an insurance and financial services company who wished to bring me in for an interview. Not only was a thrilled that I had secured an interview, but it felt great to know they were seeking me out, not the other way around.

I’ve always felt that I am a horrible interviewee. I’m nervous and tend to ramble on. After that first interview, which was for a position as a sales person, I came away with some homework. Then I went back for a second interview, left with additional homework, and scheduled my third interview. Each time, I left wondering if I had said something that would mess things up. That wasn’t my largest issue, though.

The more I learned about this position, the more I had to convince myself it would be a good thing. Aren’t insurance salespeople considered one rung up from used car salespeople? And unlike cars, don’t you have to convince people that they need insurance? Each time my husband and I spoke about this opportunity, I have to admit we had more questions than answers. After about four interviews, I decided this just wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life.

Back to the drawing board. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Friday 56 - Week 210

Welcome to Week 210!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

I had to share this passage because I certainly wasn't expecting to find it.

As soon as someone entered the restroom, I rattled harder.

"Hey, are you okay in there?" the voice responded.

"Yeah, I'm fine. But my door's jammed."

"Oh, dear, I'll see if I can help." She sounded like an older woman, but I'd take help at any age. Together we pushed, pulled, rattled, and strained.

"Honey, this baby ins't going nowhere," she exclaimed.

I became indignant. "Well, if the door isn't going to budge, I'm coming under!" Without hesitating, I dropped to the floor and stuck my legs under the door.

She gasped. "Ma'am? You're in a cast."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Product Review: Arbonne® RE9 Advanced Extra Moisture Set

I recently had the chance to try the Arbonne® RE9 Advanced Extra Moisture Set provided by a local consultant. As you might recall, I started using Mary Kay® as a teenager. I simply don't purchase them all the time because they are what I call an "unnecessary expense." I'm finding, however, that as I age I need more than the standard store bought product to keep my skin looking healthy.

The RE9 Advanced Extra Moisture Set is an anti-aging product line for women (They also have a men's version). It consists of six products: Smoothing Facial Cleanser, Regenerating Toner, Restorative Day Créme Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen, Night Repair Créme, Corrective Eye Créme, and Intensive Renewal Serum.

I was provided with two days worth of product to try. The instructions are a simple 5-step process twice a day (night créme and day créme being used once each day). The cleanser and toner have a citrus fragrance that I didn't find appealing because I am so sensitive to scents. After using the toner twice, I felt my skin was too tight so I didn't use it the second day.

My skin felt better and looked nicer after the first day of use. I didn't notice any dry patches on my face, which I often get this time of year. By the second day, however, my eyes were swollen and my face felt itchy and hot. The consultant said this was caused by the new use of "active" products on my skin. That's definitely possible, but it could also indicate an allergy to an ingredient or combination of ingredients. I must say I never had that experience with any of my Mary Kay products. If I decided to purchase these products, I would only use them once a day and still hope to gain some benefit.

Having to go through a 5-step process twice a day when I'm already so busy is an issue. There are mornings I am racing out of here by 8:15 and barely have time to put on foundation, so adding this to my morning ritual made it tougher. The largest obstacle to me buying the RE9 Advanced Extra Moisture Set is definitely the cost: a whopping $323. I considered purchasing only the Intensive Renewal Serum, but even that is $58 for one fluid ounce of product.

The company states it formulates without: animal products or by-products, parabens, formaldehyde, phthalates, synthetic dyes, and artificial colors--just to name a few. There is a list of ingredients found in the back of the product catalog. While looking up information on Arbonne, I came across this 2013 article that disputes the purity of the company's products.

At the end of the day, while I enjoyed testing these products, my early negative reaction and the cost will keep me from becoming a regular customer.

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Mailbox Monday - Jan 12

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Well, I missed last week, but here I am again. Working is really cutting into my reading time. Bummer.

I didn't receive any new titles, but I did pick up a couple of Kindle freebies.

A Sweet and Clean Western Historical Romance about Mail-Order Brides set in Montana.

Emma Byrne grew up in a Catholic orphanage in Boston, and her prospects are limited. She and her group of girlfriends, who all met in the orphanage, are barely getting by, working as nannies, cooks, and live-in maids for rich families. When Emma's employer, Gerald, threatens her with losing her job if she doesn't submit to his very unwanted advances, she stumbles onto an opportunity to be a mail-order bride and decides that couldn't possibly be worse.

Except that the groom in question had no idea that his brother sent for a wife. When Emma shows up, at the train station in Bozeman, MT, it's her groom's brother, Joshua that is there to greet her. As it turns out, Ethan is furious that his brother went behind his back and sent for a wife. He's still grieving from the unexpected death of his wife Allison only a year earlier, and spends all his time when he's not working, being a good dad to his only child, Emily, who is three.

Montana is hugely different from Boston, and Emma is surprised that she immediately falls in love with the area. Though taken aback at first to discover that Ethan wasn't aware that she was coming, she's secretly relieved to have a little time to get to know him and her new home. She is also quite fascinated by his family. Ethan is the oldest of ten, and eight of them are brothers, and except for Joshua, all are single. Emma has an urge to play matchmaker, and in book two, her best friend, Julia comes West to meet the brothers.


A Cult. A Murder. A Curse.

At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.

Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him.

The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampires, ghosts, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.

That last one isn't my typical reading fare, but I like to try new things.

What did you find in your mailbox?

Friday, January 9, 2015


- Join Arthur and his friends for a drama-filled adventure airing January 26 on PBS KIDS and available on DVD January 27 -

Boston, MA and Arlington, VA, January 8, 2015 – Ever wonder what secrets and stories your family history holds?  This is the question posed to everyone’s favorite aardvark and his friends in “Fountain Abbey,” an all-new, Downton Abbey-inspired episode of ARTHUR, premiering January 26 on PBS KIDS (check local listings). “Fountain Abbey” will also be available on DVD January 27 through PBS Distribution.

In the drama-filled “Fountain Abbey,” Muffy finds herself absolutely devastated when she learns her great-great grandmother, Mary Alice, wasn’t royalty at all.  She was a common maid – oh, the indignity!  However, through reading Mary Alice's diary, Muffy is transported back in time to the famous English estate where her ancestor worked. There she discovers the surprising story behind her humble roots.

"An abbey in jeopardy, a lady's maid causing trouble, and the Dowager Countess unimpressed by all. Sound familiar? We hope ‘Fountain Abbey’ will be a show the whole family can enjoy together!" says Carol Greenwald, senior executive producer of ARTHUR.

“PBS is committed to engaging families with content that is educational and entertaining and this new episode of ARTHUR is no exception. ’Fountain Abbey’ promises to delight not only children, but an entire generation of ARTHUR fans that grew up with the series and can appreciate the humor and fun of the DOWNTON ABBEY-inspired references,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Media, PBS.

The “Fountain Abbey” story is paired with “Arthur Calls It,” a story in which Arthur must deal with peer pressure from his classmates, causing him to doubt his decision to call his best buddy Buster “out” during a baseball game. Is that a foul play, or should Arthur stick to what he believes is right?

The week of ARTHUR continues with funny storylines about everyday life and tongue-in-cheek homages to The Wizard of Oz and The Tell-Tale Heart. In each episode, the characters learn valuable lessons about honesty, empathy, and determination.

Produced by WGBH, the Emmy Award-winning PBS KIDS series ARTHUR explores childhood challenges with heart and humor, while teaching problem-solving and pro-social skills. On the ARTHUR website, kids, parents, caregivers, and teachers can access a variety of fun and educational games, lesson plans, and activities. Families can also keep up with Arthur and his friends on the new ARTHUR Family Health Website — a resource that helps caregivers and children build and maintain healthy living habits.

For images, episode descriptions, and more information on ARTHUR, visit PBS PressRoom.

DVD Information
Title: “Arthur: Fountain Abbey”
Run Time: Approx. 56 minutes
SRP: $6.99

“Arthur: Fountain Abbey” DVD, available January 27, includes the following four stories:
Fountain Abbey” – Muffy’s devastated when she learns her great, great grandmother Mary Alice wasn’t royalty, but a common maid. The indignity! However, Mary Alice’s old diary reveals a more interesting story.

Arthur Calls It” – Pressure from his classmates has Arthur doubting his decision to call Buster out during a baseball game. Will he succumb to peer pressure, or stick with what he believes is right?

Whip. Mix. Blend.” – When Rattles’s mom starts dating Archie Vanderloo, Rattles finds himself spending lots of time with Archie’s kids. The problem is, Rattles doesn’t have anything in common with these twins! Can this blended family learn to get along?

Staycation” – Arthur offers to babysit so that his parents can enjoy some peace and quiet in the backyard. What could go wrong? With D.W. on the loose…just about everything!

DVD Special Features: Printable coloring pages and activities.

ARTHUR, based on the best-selling books by Marc Brown, is television's longest-running children’s animated series. Over the past 18 seasons, ARTHUR has remained one of the highest-rated weekday children’s series on PBS among children 4-8. ARTHUR has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA, and seven Daytime Emmys®-four for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program. ARTHUR is produced by WGBH Boston and 9 Story Entertainment. Executive producers are Carol Greenwald (WGBH), Vince Commisso (9 Story), and Marc Brown (Marc Brown Studios). Directed by Greg Bailey. Funding for Arthur is provided by public television viewers. Corporate funding is provided by Chuck E. Cheese’s®. For more information, visit and follow ARTHUR on Facebook and Twitter.

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web. Television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston Public Radio; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. Find more information at

PBS KIDS, the number one educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online, mobile, and community-based programs. Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning provides engaging interactive content, including the PBS KIDS video player, now offering free streaming video accessible on computer- and mobile-device-based browsers. For more information on specific PBS KIDS content supporting literacy, science, math, and more, visit or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook.

PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally, extending the reach of these programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system and our production partners.

PBS Distribution offers a diverse range of programming to our customers, including Ken Burns’ films, documentaries from award-winning series such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN MASTERS, NATURE, and AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, dramas from MASTERPIECE, as well as films from independent producers and popular children’s programming. As a multi-channel distributor, PBS Distribution offers consumers high-quality content in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-ray, digital download, and digital streaming. PBS Distribution is also a leading source for factual content for international broadcast, cable and satellite services.


Mandy Miller, WGBH, 617-300-5334,
Maria Vera, PBS KIDS, 703-739-3225,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back to Work - Part 2

This continues the discussion of my return to work: the trials (a lot of these) and the triumphs (not so many of these). You can read Part 1 here.

Back to Work – Part 2

Once I finally made the decision that I had to return to work, I thought it would be easy. Um…no. Part of me forgot a few things:

·        I had been out of the workforce for 11 years.
·        The economy stunk.
·        Full-time jobs were not as plentiful as they once were.
·        Finding work is much more complicated than it used to be.

It also has to be mentioned that I hadn’t put together a solid resume in years. Yes, I kept mine up to date, and even had a few versions of it depending upon what type of position I was applying for, but things had changed in the years I was home.

There are now employment websites like and Most companies expect you to apply online and they are only looking for job history going back ten years or less (most of my retail and financial industry experience was older than that). And don’t even get me started on trying to use certain keywords that need to get picked up by computers if your resume is ever going to make it in front of hiring personnel.

So, what did I do? I read. Unbeatable Resumes by Tony Beshara and This Is How You Get Your Next Job by Andrea Kay, to name a couple. More importantly, I began praying in earnest for a solution. I knew I would never be comfortable trying to balance my family life and career working outside the home. It was why I pushed off my return to work for so long.

I ended up with a couple of interviews based upon my freshly polished resume, but nothing panned out. That’s when I got contacted by someone through LinkedIn.

To be continued….

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy 2015, everyone! We wish you the best life has to offer; especially our busy moms. 

MSN has a list of big anniversaries coming up in 2015, from the fun--35th anniversary of PacMan's release (May 21)--to the inspiring--60th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus (Dec 1). Check out these big anniversaries at