Monday, April 29, 2013

Conscious Box Winner

The winner of the Three Month Subscription to Conscious Box was chosen using

The winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.

The winner is............................

 # 31 Teresa Gorsuch

Thanks to everyone for entering and remember you can still use the code to get your own Conscious Box at a discount.

A Little Monday Inspiration


Associate with people who are likely to improve you.
Seneca, a Roman Philosopher

Learning this has been such a "light bulb moment" for me.  I learned that when I hung around negative complainers, I became a negative complainer.  Then when I hung around with people who rather than focused on what was going wrong in their life and instead focused on the good, my attitude began to changed.  When I hang around people who eat right and are active, I tend to be more active and eat better foods.  When I hang around people who are HAPPY, I am happier too.

Take a look at the people who you spend the majority of your time with.  What are their attitudes? How do they feel about themselves and express themselves to others?

Maybe you can't cut those "Negative Nellies" out of your life, but you can change how you communicate with them.  Don't feed into their negativism.  When they are starting their negative speech, twist it into a positive.  When they are putting others down, find something good to say about that person.  Eventually, the "Negative Nelly" will learn you aren't going to play their game and will find that they can't have those kind of conversations with you.  I have done this with a few people in my life and even though they are still frequently negative, their negativeness doesn't spread into my attitude as well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Things I Love - Rachael Ray Skillet

Things I Love................

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love! 

Today's love is............................Rachael Ray Skillet
We have had our run of skillets.  They always look like they are going to hold up, but after a few uses, they start to show their flaws.  On a whim, my husband purchased this skillet right after Christmas on a sale.  I have always loved Rachael Ray's show, magazine, and recipes and was thrilled that he decided to purchase this.  

We haven't been a bit disappointed with this skillet and it is my go to skillet for anything.  It didn't come with a lid, but one we have from another skillet fits just fine.  It heats up quickly, cooks evenly, washes up easily and still looks brand new since Christmas.  For only $29.95 through Rachael Ray's site, HERE, this is a skillet well worth the money! I have also seen her products available at your local department stores, which is where we purchased ours.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: I'm Nobody By Alex Marestaing


By: Alex Marestaing

Published: February 1, 2013

Caleb Reed is losing his mind, at least that’s what his father thinks.

If it were only the show - America's Funniest Home Videos - the same taped episode he's watched every night for the last six years - then perhaps his parental unit wouldn’t worry so much. But there’s far more to the thirteen year-old’s manic daily regimen that makes even Caleb himself question his mental health. 

For starters, there's his obsessive worry about the abandoned mansion across the street, and then there's that curious note someone left on his doorstep. It's neatly folded, black ribbon wrapped, and signed by a stranger named Emily Dickinson.

"I'm nobody. Who are you?" it reads. "Are you nobody too?"

In time, more of these strange, poetic messages arrive, silently beckoning the agoraphobic seventh grader to venture further and further from the safety of his home in order to retrieve them. Are the notes from Iris, the YouTube obsessed eighth grader who has begun filming an indie film on his street? Has his deceased older sister returned from the grave to deliver some sort of message? Or are the pages actually from the pen of Emily Dickinson, the reclusive and long dead 19th century poet? 

With his sanity in question, Caleb Reed's entire existence depends on finding an answer.

I was contacted by the author to review this book and after reading the premise, I was interested to check it out.  As the mother of a 13 year old boy, I felt like this is a story that I could relate to even though this is  targeted at the young adult audience.  Grownups will appreciate the references to Emily Dickinson and the descriptive nature of the author's storytelling.

I was a little surprised that Caleb, a home-schooled, intelligent, and voracious reader was supposed to not know who Emily Dickinson was, but after asking both of our boys...they had no idea either.  I am guessing teaching the poetry of Emily Dickinson is not a pressing topic in elementary/middle schools at this time.  

I felt such conflicting feelings as I read this novel.  I was angry at the parents for ignoring the grief that Caleb was feeling towards the loss of his sister and their removal from Caleb's emotions.  But, then I would remember they were also still grieving and would then understand their detachment.  Time and time again, I find that children need the opportunity to grieve and talk about the loved one and this novel proved that as well.  A lot of Caleb's pain and confusion could have been avoided if only the proper grief process would have been allowed for him.

The author took great care in describing feelings, people, places and settings so well that they were explicitly imaginable.  For example, the cat was "kneading out a bed among the valleys of his comforter."  Or in his description of Caleb, who was "homeless at home".   Many times I would stop and envision the gardens the author was describing or the debilitated house across the street.  

Iris was such a delightful character in this story.  She always knew just what to say to Caleb to either convince him to step out of his box or to feel better.  Each of the characters had a necessary and purposeful role in the story.  

In reading this book, I had to step out of reality a bit since the premise deals with someone who is no longer living and is leaving notes for Caleb.  But the story is magical, heart warming, and still provides the reader with hope.   It will leave you with a warm-fuzzy feeling and reminds you that it is still ok to believe in magic.


Author Alex Marestaing has worked on creative projects for The Walt Disney Company, Lego, Thomas Nelson and The Los Angeles Times. In addition, he's written freelance for various faith-based publications and has covered soccer in Europe and the U.S. for Sports Spectrum Magazine and Yanks Abroad.  I'M NOBODY is Marestaing's third novel.  For more information, check out

I'M NOBODY is currently available as an e-book as is only $.99 for the Kindle.  This is one book that will leave you with a smile on your face and it costs less than your afternoon treat. 

I received this book for free from the author.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration

Success is not the key to happiness.  
Happiness is the key to success.
Herman Cain, newspaper columnist

What does success mean to you? Is it achieving in your career? Does it mean having lots of money? Does it mean that you went to college? Or does it just mean that you are happy? Are you truly happy with your life?  If so, then that to me is success.  If you wake up every day happy to be here to start another day... If your day is surrounded by the people you love the most... If you spend your time doing things you love balanced with the things you must do...then to me, you are successful.  

Take a moment today to relish in your success and just be happy.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Things I Love - Zulily

Things I Love...........................

It has been awhile since I have posted this feature on Fridays.  But, I've got some things I want to share with you in the coming weeks.  So, I'm bringing back THINGS I LOVE FRIDAY until I run out of things to tell you about.

This is my feature where I get to share something that I just love. Since you are my friends, I like sharing things I love with others. It could be anything from a new product, food, recipe, song, image, to a person and everything in between. This will be something I am completely doing on my own, without pressure or compensation from a company, author, PR/Marketing firm, friend, business owner, etc. This will just be something that makes me happy and I want to share it with you. Enjoy some love! 

Today's love is............................Zulily

Zulily is a website that offers high-quality products at a discount.  The majority of their products are for infants, toddlers, kids, and moms.  Each day new products are up for grabs in limited supply.   In my case, living in small town Iowa, a lot of the products are things I can't find around here.  I have gotten toys, swim suits, boots, jeans, shirts, and housewares for great prices.  The key is there is a limited amount.  I have placed an item in my cart in the morning only to find that it is gone by the afternoon.  So, if you really want something, you need to snag it right away.  

Some things to keep in mind....there is a shipping fee.  But, after you place an order, you can place a second order before midnight for free shipping.  Also, don't order items that you might need in the next week.  The items have taken up to 2 weeks or more to arrive.  Again, living in different areas of the country may affect this, but just to be safe, order at least 2 weeks before you need the item.  Also, there are no returns. If you purchase an item and it doesn't fit, too bad.  You have to resell it on your own or give it away.

Zulily has excellent customer service.  Awhile back I ordered a top for myself and I ordered a medium, the store tag said medium, but the tag on the inside of the shirt said small and the shirt was definitely a small.  Since it wasn't my mistake, I sent an email to customer service and within an hour I had a response telling me to donate or give away the top.  I was out the top because there weren't any more available and so for my trouble they credited my account $10 as well as crediting the price of the shirt.  How awesome is that?!

The other fun part of Zulily is that you can invite your friends to join in.  So, today, I am inviting you to join in through my LINK.  You can sign up and get daily emails as well as download the Zulily app on your phone.  Each day at 8:00 AM (Central time) you will get an alert that new items are available.  You can set up your account to alert you to certain brand names or products that you are interested in.  If you are a deal shopper, this just may be the site for you.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013


It is official. 
We have a teenager in the house.   

Thirteen years ago Pat and I became parents.  We had barely been married for a year. 
We were still learning about each other and now we were...parents.  

Thankfully Patrick was a delightful baby. He was always happy. He was content to snuggle and coo and be held.  We truly fell in love with him from the very moment he was born.  We chose not to find out what the gender of the baby would be so we had both a girl name chosen as well as knowing that if he was a boy, he would carry on Pat's name.  So, as soon as the doctor told us the baby was a boy, we knew his name was Patrick.

Patrick loved to be rocked, read to, and sung to.  That was our nightly ritual.  He loved to watch country music videos on TV while singing and dancing along. His love of music hasn't changed one bit.   

I just can't believe, as I look over the photos from the past 13 years, how quickly life has flown by.

It seems like just yesterday, we were helping him learn to ride his first bike.

And now I am looking him in the eye (he is as tall as me). He has become such a talented, bright young man. I know there is a great future ahead for him.  I am so excited to see what is yet to come.

Happy 13th Birthday, Patrick.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter By Melissa Francis


By: Melissa Francis

Published: November 6, 2012

A dazzling honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis -- both a startling personal story and a cautionary tale for both parents in competitive times.
When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world's most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother.
While Melissa thrived under pressure, her older sister -- who had tried her hand at acting and shrank from the limelight -- was often ignored by their mother in a shadow of neglect and disappointment. Tiffany could do nothing to please her mother, but it wasn't until after Melissa had graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics, found love, and married that Tiffany's personal problems culminated in a life-and-death crisis. When Melissa realized the role her mother continued to play in her sister's downward spiral, she resolved to end the manic, abusive cycle once and for all.
Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980's, and also a disquieting tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive "tiger mother." But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it's a meditation on motherhood. She asks the questions so many of us ask ourselves: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?

As a childhood fan of Melissa Francis and someone who we see regularly on Fox, I was eager to read the story of her life.  Her story grabs you in the first chapter and moves you quickly through the the next 20+ years of her life.  As a mother, I cringed again and again as she told of occasions of her mother's verbal, physical and emotional abuse. It was completely unimaginable to me to have a mother be so completely unreasonable and unstable.  Even her husband was afraid to confront or stand up to her.  What a sad situation for Melissa and her sister Tiffany growing up.  I am just grateful that they had each other.  

As I read the story, the mother's behavior reminded me of someone with bipolar disorder with her manic episodes and extreme highs and lows.  It didn't seem to matter what the girls did, the mom always found a reason to yell and be upset with them.  If it wasn't for Melissa's strong drive to succeed, I'm not sure she would have ever come out from under her mother's stranglehold.  I was impressed with Melissa's ingenuity in finding ways to avoid being home and for ways she found to get ahead. She truly saved herself from future disaster. I just wish her sister could have done the same. 

Just when you think the mom can't do much more harm to her family, she completely outdoes herself.  The ending left me crying, shocked, and angry.  I give Melissa credit for sticking to her guns, not repeating the cycle of abuse, and moving forward.  I'm sure writing this memoir was therapy in itself.  

Melissa Francisauthor of Diary of a Stage Mother's Daughter, grew up in southern California. As a broadcast journalist, she has anchored CNBC's Power Lunch, The Call, and On The Money, and served as a regular contributor to the Today show and Weekend Today. Currently she hosts two daily business shows on the Fox Business Network, including Money with Melissa Francis. Francis holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Harvard University. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.

Melissa Francis enjoys discussing her book with her readers and is available for book club meetings as her schedule permits. If your book club would like to schedule a phone or Skype interview with her, visit her website at  You can also find Melissa on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

I was given a copy of this book for review.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration

As mothers, we are the barometers for our homes. 
Let's do what we can to make each day
 a bright, sunny and peaceful day.

Kat - Blogger at Inspired to Action

What is the weather like in your home?  Is it Bright and Sunny like a Spring day? Is it Hot and Short-Tempered like a humid Summer day? Is it Cold and gloomy like the middle of Winter?  Your attitude sets the tone for everyone else in the house.  I know this because I see it happen every. single. day. If I wake up with a headache or on a short fuse, everyone else is crabby.  If I am yelling and short-tempered with everyone, I am starting everyone off on the wrong foot.  Thank goodness I have a husband who calls me on it.  I've been really trying to watch the "temperature" of our home and keep it bright and sunny!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Conscious Box Giveaway and Coupon Code

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who entered!

Have you heard about Subscription Boxes?  There are all kinds of boxes out there including: makeup boxes, food boxes, clothing boxes, craft boxes, etc.  It is a great way to try new things and if you are like me and LOVE surprises, it is like getting a surprise each month in the mail.

CONSCIOUS BOX allows you to discover the best products on the planet each month.  CONSCIOUS BOX helps you to discover products that are pure, healthy, and natural from the best companies that offer products in the categories of health food, natural beauty, and non-toxic home goods. Each month a box will come packed with a sampling of natural products to help you in your daily activities.  Vegan and Gluten-Free boxes are available as well.

Once you join CONSCIOUS BOX, you can then earn points for leaving feedback and reviews on the products that you try out.  The points you earn can go toward purchasing the products that you liked. 


I am giving away a 3 month subscription to CONSCIOUS BOX for one of my readers.  That is a $59 value.  If you can't wait, you can sign up now with a code for 50% off a subscription.  Just go to and at checkout use the code LOVELIFE.

To stay up-to-date on the latest from CONSCIOUS BOX, just "Like" their Facebook page and if you want, tell them Sincerely Stacie sent you! 

I'm looking forward to receiving my first CONSCIOUS BOX and telling you all about it!

I will receive a free box for offering this giveaway.  I was not compensated in any other way for this post.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The twenty minute walk you take is so much better for you than the three mile run you never do.

Gretchen Rubin, author of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT and HAPPIER AT HOME.

I get daily emails from Rubin and when I read this quote a week or two ago in her newsletter, a flashing, LED light bulb went off in my head!  DUH! I do this to myself ALL. THE. TIME.  I can't start this job because I won't get it finished today. I want to get on the treadmill, but don't because I don't want to run and get sweaty before I have to go somewhere.  We can always find excuses for anything, but if we take the perfect out of it, and just do as much as we can, it is better than not doing it at all.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Country Road ABC by Arthur Geisert

An Illustrated Journey Through America's Farmland

By: Arthur Geisert

Published: May 24, 2010

On today's farm, B is for barn cat...E is for erosion...G is for grinding feed, and I is for...inoculate?  In 26 beautifully detailed spreads, acclaimed illustrator Arthur Geisert takes readers on a literal journey following a real road in Iowa (County Road Y31) through the ins and outs of America's farmland.  This isn't your grandfather's farm book. It still features pigs, hay, and other familiar farm residents, but you'll see a very different kind of quicksand and traffic jam here...Along the bottom of each page is a continuous panorama that totals nearly forty feet of art. Country Road ABC is a unique and funny look at America's present-day farmland.

I found this book at our library and fell in love with it.  Growing up on a farm and around farmers all my life, I just found this book to be such a delight.  Starting off with A is for ammonia fertilizer and ending with Z is for z-brace, children will learn about the everyday life of a farmer.  The illustrations depict real-life farm operations and remind me of my childhood helping on my brother-in-laws hog farm as well as my parent's farm, driving the country roads around my home, and the "good-old days".

I is for inoculate - How cool is that?

D is for disking.

K is for kick - hilarious and wonderful illustrations.

So, if you are looking for a book to teach your kids about farming, to share the joy of country life, or to take a drive down a country road yourself, you should definitely pick up this book.  Our kids are way beyond the age of an ABC book, yet I couldn't resist this one! 

To purchase a copy of this book, click the photo below: 

Today I am linking up with BOOKING MAMA and other bloggers for her Kid Konnection featuring children's books. Be sure to check out other great children's books there!

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 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: My Planet By Mary Roach

Finding Humor in the Oddest Places

By: Mary Roach

Published: April 4, 2013

Follow New York Times bestselling author Mary Roach -- but be careful not to trip -- as she weaves through personal anecdotes and everyday musings riddled with her uncanny wit and amazingly analytical eye. These essays, which found a well-deserved home within the pages of Reader's Digest as the column "My Planet," detail the inner workings of hypochondriacs, hoarders, and compulsive cheapskates. (Did we mention neurotic interior designers and professional list-makers?) For Roach, humor is hidden in the most unlikely places, which means that nothing is off limits. Whether she is dwelling on her age or talking about the pros and cons of a bedroom night light -- "A married couple can best be defined as a unit of people whose sleep habits are carefully engineered to keep each other awake" -- Roach finds a lesson, a slice of sarcasm, or a dash of something special that makes each day comical and absolutely priceless.

In keeping with our mission -- curating the best reads in the land -- Reader's Digest editors neatly packaged these timeless (and hilarious) Roach essays together for the first time. Whether you read this cover-to-cover or during spare moments over morning coffee, flip to a page in this volume and try not to smile.

This book came to me for review and when I found it was full of short (3-4 pages) essays, I was eager to pick it up and start reading it.  I grew up reading Reader's Digest with my parents and have even subscribed a few times over the course of my adult life.  I have always loved the short stories and true-to-life wisdom that Reader's Digest shares with its readers.  So, when I saw these essays were from a column in Reader's Digest, I knew it had to be a hit. 

In "Meet the Parents" I found myself laughing along, thinking of past visits and sleepovers with family.  In "Soap Opera" she mentions a professor from Wartburg College, my niece's alma mater, and reminded me of those early stages of dating my husband.  In "Best Cheap Fun" Roach has given me a new list of items to do with our kids this summer...LOL.  After reading "RV There Yet?", I'm seriously reconsidering our plan to rent an RV and drive across the country with our children.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  These essays are a delight to read.

This book can be read all at once or you could read a few stories before you drift off to sleep.  Each one will leave you smiling and nodding your head in agreement to her descriptions of family life.  No matter what your age, you will be able to identify with something in the book and realize that your family life isn't so crazy after all.  This book features Roach's wit, humor, and honesty in a delightful package of essays. 

Mary Roach
Mary Roach is the author of STIFF: THE CURIOUS LIVES OF HUMAN CADAVERS and SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTERLIFE. Her writing has appeared in such publications as SalonGQVogue, and the New York Times Magazine. She lives in Oakland, California.  Roach has an additional book published this week, GULP: ADVENTURES ON THE ALIMENTARY CANAL.  For more on Mary Roach, visit her website,

I was provided a copy of this book from FSB Associates for the purpose of this review.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review.  This review is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Thanks Sincerely Jenni

Sincerely, Jenni

A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to win a prize from SINCERELY JENNI. She is a blogger I "met" that is also an Iowa gal.  She is super funny and keeps it real, so I love checking in on her posts to see what is going on in her life.  Maybe someday we can really meet up in Des Moines for coffee! Jenni is a mom and wife, a Hawk fan, and a reader.  She works full-time and battles the slower metabolism that seems to plague many of us.  She puts her thoughts out there and works hard to make the world a better place.  You really should check her blog out!

Anyway, Jenni recently joined the "40 Club" like I did and treated her readers to a giveaway of a $40 gift card.  I was the lucky winner and I just want to give Jenni a public thanks for being so generous! I chose an Amazon gift card and part of it has already been used to purchase a game that our family wanted...Michigan Rummy!

If you haven't checked Sincerely Jenni out, please do so at her blog site, HERE.
Like Sincerely Jenni on Facebook HERE.
Follow Sincerely Jenni on Twitter HERE.
Follow Sincerely Jenni on Pinterest HERE.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration

Jesus says no one can snatch you out of His hand.  The enemy may try to tell you that isn't true, but God never lies.  Once we give our hearts to Him, we are His forever.
Holley Gerth from God's Heart for You

Romans 8: 38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.