Monday, March 23, 2015

A Little Monday Inspiration - Winter is Dead



Some beauty for your Monday morning - 


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Snippets 3.22.15





On Sundays I like to share snippets from our past week or weeks. If you don't already know, we live in a small town in Iowa and our kids are active in sports and music related activities. We have had a bit of a lull since basketball finished up last month and soccer games haven't started yet. Show choir competition season just ended and we have a few more concerts before the end of the year. I'm still subbing a lot as well as reading and reviewing. Pat is keeping busy meeting with his clients. So life is pretty mellow, or as mellow as it can get right now.

Here is what has been going on in our world the last two weeks:


Bennett had his middle school spring concert.



Patrick also had his spring concert.



Our final show choir competition was last weekend.
I'm going to miss watching our boys perform.
They are certainly talented.


Bennett had the solo during "Hip to Be Square".
All the boys looked so awesome in their "nerd glasses".
Their song choices dealt with an anti-bullying theme and it was so fun to watch their show.



Patrick took a risk and sang for the solo competition.
He brought me to tears and absolutely WOWED me!
He sang "Ten Minutes Ago" from Cinderella and scored a 88 out of 100.
For his first time and as a freshman, I was impressed.


The judge Lynne Rothrock worked with Patrick right in front of all of us.
She was amazing and gave Patrick some great tips for the future.


Bennett and a friend made this Crunch bar in art class. 
I thought it was pretty awesome.


The basketball banquet was held last Sunday 
and we were able to acknowledge 
all the accomplishments the freshman team had 
and thank our wonderful coach, Mr Conrad.


I was able to sit on our porch for a couple hours last week
which was pure joy.
Our cat Stormy has been begging to be out there non-stop all week.
She is going to have a rude awakening when we get some colder weather this week.


I have a new favorite drink. I found them at Target.
Even though they are bit pricey, they are a nice change from water once in a while.


It has been Spring Break for us, but due to 
Patrick's soccer schedule, we weren't able to go anywhere.
So, Reagan had a couple friends over during the week
 and then she went to my sister's for the weekend.
Reagan and her friend had fun making these cute cupcakes and we enjoyed eating them!

We will be hitting it hard this week with a busy schedule.
But it will be all be worth it 
as Pat and I are spending Friday together celebrating our 16th Anniversary.

Thanks for sharing some of the snippets from our last couple weeks.
I hope you have found ways to reminisce on the big and little joys in your life.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Children's Book Review and Giveaway: Fribbet the Frog and the Tadpoles By Carole P Roman

FRIBBET THE FROG AND THE TADPOLES
A Captain No Beard Story

By: Carole P. Roman

Published: January 7, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

The group of friends on board The Flying Dragon are back to help each other out again in the next Captain No Beard Story. Fribbet the Frog has gone off to be by himself because his is upset. After his friends finally find him and with some coaxing, Fribbet finally decides to share what is bothering him. He reveals that he is a bit frustrated having to share his toys and his parents with 21 new baby brothers and sisters.

Once his friends realize Fribbet's problem, they listen, reassure him, and offer suggestions. The crew members share the value of friendship and the reminder that friends are always there for each other.

This addition to the Captain No Beard series of books is a wonderful way to share a love of imagination, the joy of friendships, and the love between siblings. I recommend this book and the whole series for lower elementary readers. To see my other Captain No Beard book reviews, click HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Carole P. Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. For more on Carole, visit her website, http://caroleproman.com/.

Since I was sent two copies of this book for review, I am excited to share a copy with one of my readers. To enter to win a copy of FRIBBET THE FROG AND THE TADPOLES, fill out the form below by Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 11:59 PM:



To purchase a copy of FRIBBET THE FROG AND THE TADPOLES, click the photo below:






I'll be linking up this post with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection on Saturday. To see other great children's and YA book reviews, click HERE.


Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Book Review: Splinters of Light By Rachael Herron

SPLINTERS OF LIGHT

By: Rachael Herron

Published: March 3, 2015

Publisher: Penguin Random House NAL

Fiction/Women's Fiction



Imagine you are a successful 44-year-old woman. You have overcome raising your daughter alone after your husband left you for a younger woman and started a new family.  Your newspaper columns have become syndicated and you have authored best-selling books. Your twin sister is finally becoming successful in her own right and your next door neighbor is a "friend with benefits". Life is grand until you realize things have started becoming fuzzy. You often find yourself "getting stuck" and can't figure out why. After numerous tests, the doctor reveals your diagnosis, EOAD or Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.  This can't be happening to Nora. She is the Martha Stewart of organization. She is the one who handles everything. She has a 16-year-old daughter who needs her. Nora can't understand why this is happening to her. She can't trace it back to anyone in her family since she doesn't know her father and her mother died young. She can't imagine telling her twin sister, Mariana and her daughter, Ellie. What if they have it too? What will happen to her family, her career, and all of their futures?

EOAD is a horrible disease that wrecks the minds of people still in the prime of their life. As you follow Nora through her early stages of diagnosis, you realize this isn't going to be a happy story. We know there possibly can't be a happy ending. Even though there have been advances in medicine, there is not a cure for Alzheimer's.

I found myself moving slowly through the pages because I wasn't looking forward to the ending. I didn't want to read the debilitating changes in Nora's life; from yelling at her daughter, to getting lost downtown, to eventually losing her job. I didn't want to watch Nora lose control of her life.  So, I too became stuck, like Nora, in this book.  I didn't want to read further, but I didn't want to stop either.

Then, at some point in the story, I realized this story wasn't really just about the EOAD, but about the relationship between Nora and her twin sister, between Nora and her daughter, and the three of them as a family. I became overcome with emotion as I struggled with Mariana and Ellie accepting the loss of someone so dearly loved. As a mother, my heart broke for Ellie, who had to grow up much too fast.  As a professional, I suffered alongside Nora as she feared losing the ability to say or write the right words.   I loved the honest way Nora described the disease:

"I'm on a merry, go, round, and someone's pushing it and I can't jump off 
because I'll die if I do, but the problem is that it's speeding up, 
and in time it's going to throw me. 
I'm smart enough to know that, 
and not smart enough to figure out how to get off."  Page 205-206

"Nora was flaking apart, iron left to rust in acid rain."  Page 358

Even though this story is sad and difficult to read, Herron has found a way to leave "Splinters of Light" throughout the sadness and despair. She has found a way for happiness and joy to still be felt among the anger and illness. She has found a way to express the deep love between the three women in this story.  Ultimately, she has written this book so the reader can relate to the bond between the sisters, the devotion of a mother, and the horrible disease that has come between all of it. 

Rachael Herron - source
Rachael Herron is the internationally bestselling author of the novel PACK UP THE MOON, the five book Cypress Hollow romance series, and the memoir, A LIFE IN STITCHES. She received her MFA in writing from Mills College, and when she's not busy writing, she's a 911 fire/medical dispatcher for a Bay Area fire department.  She lives with her wife, Lala, in Oakland, California, where they have more animals and instruments than are probably advisable. Rachael is struggling to learn the accordion and can probably play along with you on the ukulele. She's a New Zealander as well as an American. She's been known to knit.  For more on Rachael Herron, check out her website, http://www.yarnagogo.com/. You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE

To purchase a copy of SPLINTERS OF LIGHT, click the photo below:




Thanks to Penguin Group for sending a copy of this novel for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: The Settling Earth By Rebecca Burns

THE SETTLING EARTH
A Collection of Short Stories

By: Rebecca Burns

Published: December 16, 2014

Publisher: Odyssey Books

Fiction/Historical Fiction/Short Stories



Ten short stories are woven together through settings and characters around life in New Zealand. Each story is very character driven as we are given a peek into their lives and what brought them to this place. Many of the stories share sacrifices and mistakes made. A few will fill you with sadness. One story even uses a mythical creature to carryout the character's final moments. The final story is written by a guest writer, Shelly Davies. She brings in the Native American piece and builds upon one of the previous stories, tying them together.

Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable read.  Since I read this on my kindle, it wasn't as easy to flip back and forth and remind myself of certain characters. You may want to keep a list of characters from each story as you read, since many appear again.  Women are the main focus in each story, but there are strong male characters as well, although they will likely make you angry.  Burns writes in a way that you can feel the anger, despair, and solitude of the women's lives.

"She would brush the memories of today into a pile, not to be disturbed..."  

"She wanted to tell him everything, to wipe away his questions with her spit."

I can't really say that I had a favorite of the stories, but I found "Dottie" to be one that I am still thinking about. In "Dottie" a lonely widow becomes a place for unwed mothers to leave their babies, hoping to return with they can get back on their feet. Unfortunately, there are no babies when they return. "Dottie" tells the story of a woman who tells herself she is doing a good thing, a baby fighting back against her destiny, and a community who can't believe the kind of woman she was.

If you like short stories or historical fiction then I would expect you to enjoy this collection. It is a quick read, but you could also read each story at your leisure, especially if you keep a list of characters.  The stories are a bit depressing, but you will be able to find a slivers of hope.

About the author:
Rebecca Burns is an award-winning writer of short stories, over thirty of which have been published online or in print. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011, winner of the Fowey Festival of Words and Music Short Story Competition in 2013 (and runner-up in 2014), and has been profiled as part of the University of Leicester’s “Grassroutes Project”—a project that showcases the 50 best transcultural writers in the county. In November 2014 she won the Black Pear Press short story competition with her story, "Seaglass".

Rebecca's debut collection of short stories, "Catching the Barramundi", was published by Odyssey Books in November 2012. In March 2013 it was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Award.
The Settling Earth is Rebecca's second collection of short stories. For more on Rebecca Burns, check out her website, 
http://www.rebecca-burns.co.uk/.

If you would like to purchase a copy of THE SETTLING EARTH, click the photo below:






Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having a pay a cent more for your purchase. Thank you for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Recipe: Overnight Coffee Cake - Perfect for Easter Morning


I was looking for a special breakfast to have after my daughter's sleepover birthday party. I wanted to do something different besides waffles, pancakes or cinnamon rolls. That week I spied a recipe for coffee cake. Our daughter loves coffee cake so I decided to give this a try.  Her brothers also had friends over that night and let me tell you, there wasn't a single piece left of this cake. My husband didn't even get a piece! Which reminds me, I need to make this again for him!

This definitely is not a quick morning breakfast, but would make for a great Easter morning treat alongside some eggs, bacon and fruit!

Be sure to plan ahead by making it the night before and then be sure you have at least an hour before eating it the next day.  But, trust me, this coffee cake is WORTH THE WAIT!

Be sure to let me know if you make this and how your family likes it!

For a Printable Link to the recipe, Click HERE

  
OVERNIGHT COFFEE CAKE

Cake:
3/4 Cup Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Crumble Topping:
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
6 Tbs Flour
3 Tbs Butter, melted
1 tsp Cinnamon

Glaze:
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1-2 Tbs Milk

Beat butter at medium speed with mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium blow. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into greased and floured 9x13 pan. Cover tightly and chill 8-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let cake stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Stir together all cinnamon crumble ingredients and sprinkle over top of cake. Bake 32-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Combine powdered sugar and milk until desired consistency and drizzle over warm cake. 

Notes:  You can add chopped pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds to the crumble topping if you like.
You can also add more glaze depending on your likes. I felt like 1 cup was enough, but you may like more glaze, so feel free to double it to 2 cups and 2-3 tablespoons of milk.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Review: Grace of Gratitude Journal By Deborah Purdue






 GRACE OF GRATITUDE JOURNAL

By: Deborah Purdue

Illustrated By: Tara Thelen

Published: October 1, 2012

Publisher: Applegate Valley Publishing




Several years ago I started keeping a Gratitude Journal, but like most new habits, it was easily pushed aside once life got busy.  I tried to write down 5-10 things I was grateful for every evening. The journal is still in my night stand drawer. But, late nights and early mornings have made it easy to put off writing down those blessings from the day.

Many people have reported that writing in a journal is healing and helps you recognize the blessings (big and small) in your life. Marking the simple gratitudes like a kind gesture from a stranger, a giggle from your child, a rainbow on your drive home, or a gorgeous sunset to end your day remind you to find the joy in life.  The big moments like your son's concert, getting an "A" on a test, good health, and a date night with your husband can help you see you are on the right track.  All those moments, big and small, can be forgotten in our busy lives. By writing them down you can focus and remember all those moments that make a life. Then when a bad day comes along, looking through your journal can help remind you that whatever it is that is going on really isn't so bad.

In Purdue's journal, she offers forty pages of space to write.  You can date it and as you can see below in the photo, there is plenty of space for writing.

Photo from the Grace of Gratitude Journal by Deborah Purdue

The opposite page either has a quote or a gorgeous water color painting.

Photo from the Grace of Gratitude Journal by Deborah Purdue

Photo from the Grace of Gratitude Journal by Deborah Purdue

Photo from the Grace of Gratitude Journal by Deborah Purdue

Depending on how many things you write, you could use a page for each day or even each week. I like that it is open ended. There aren't numbers that make you feel like you have to write a certain amount. I also like that it is spiral bound for opening and laying flat while writing or opening it completely to that specific page.

This journal is perfect for the beginner or someone who has been journaling for years. It is a beautiful addition to your journal library.

Deborah Purdue
Deborah Perdue has been a licensed practitioner for the Center for Spiritual Living in Medford, Oregon since 2006. She practices gratitude as an integral part of her spiritual path, and attributes it to being the primary key to transforming her own life. In 1994, she received two Bachelor Degrees (Cum Laude) from Sonora State University, in English (emphasis: creative writing) and Studio Art (emphasis: photography) Deborah Perdue is the owner of Illumination Graphics where she works full time as an accomplished graphic designer with over 20 years experience. Deborah specializes in designing spiritual book covers.

Tara Thelen is an American artist living near Amsterdam. The inspiration for her work is emotion in all its various forms. As an artist, Tara’s drive is to create art that elicits strong, positive emotions – art that leaves an impression and truly touches those who view it. She teaches art lessons to children and teens at Museum Kranenburgh in the beautiful village of Bergen, near the North Sea, where she lives with her husband Paul and their two teenage boys. Her artwork has been exhibited in galleries throughout the US, Europe, and the Pacific. For the past six years, Tara has been working closely with Deborah Perdue on various projects, mostly book covers, as well as CD cover designs, posters, and other promotional works. Her artwork in the Journal is integral to the beauty of it!

For more on the journal or on Deborah Purdue, check out the website, http://www.graceofgratitude.com/.

To purchase a copy of GRACE OF GRATITUDE JOURNAL, click the photo below:




Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for a copy of this journal for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this review through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com reviews.