Friday, November 29, 2013

Memory Verse for the Week

This weeks memory verse is actually from the last two weeks.  Since we are closing out the month of November and the week of Thanksgiving, it actually worked out to be the perfect verse.

Psalm 7:17 NIV
I will give thanks to The Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of The Lord Most High.


This print is available for sale HERE.
Photo by Donna Keevers Driver


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grateful Hearts

Photo courtesy of CountryLiving.com
Prayer from LIFE:Beautiful Magazine Summer 2013

Dear Lord,
Bless this food to our bodies
and our bodies to Your service.
Give us grateful hearts
and make us mindful
of the needs of others
as we share Your Word.
Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Review: Become A Frugalista By Susan Heid

BECOME A FRUGALISTA
Money-Saving Secrets for the Frugal Family Manager

By: Susan Heid

Published:  July 13, 2013

eBook - Nonfiction

You already know I am a HUGE fan of Susan Heid and her website THE CONFIDENT MOM as well as many of her products.  She has really been such an inspiration to me and I feel like if we met, we'd be great friends.

BECOME A FRUGALISTA is available as an eBook only and offers helpful solutions, ideas and tips to teach you how to always make sure to get the best deal whether you are getting groceries, shopping online, or going out to dinner.  The book will help you save money and cut expenses all without having to drastically change your lifestyle.

Heid offers thirty chapters of tips and advice of how to best go about cutting expenses and saving money. Not all of these tips will best fit everyone who reads this.  Those who don't use credit cards will want to skip the chapters on credit card rewards and savings. I also don't live in an area that offers double coupons so even though I would love to use this benefit, it just isn't available to me.  As you go through the book, you will easily find several ways that you can tweak your spending or change your buying habits to get the most money-saving benefit.

Probably the best tip I took from this book was the suggestion to join Amazon Prime.  As someone who orders a lot from Amazon, I decided to give it a try and it has certainly been worth every penny.  Free two-day shipping and no minimum purchase on Amazon Prime items allows me to order things when I need them and not having to wait for the minimum purchase to then get the free shipping which can still take another week to arrive on my doorstep.

Other tips I appreciated were from the chapters on double and triple dipping, saving on family vacations, and couponing. Groceries seem to be a huge part of most family's budgets.  Taking those few extra minutes to plan out your shopping trip as well as calculating your best cost per unit on products can go a long way towards helping reduce your food budget.

I think most everyone could find several money-saving tips to incorporate into their regular shopping whether it is online or in person.  You may just find yourself a shopping frugalista after reading and trying out Heid's ideas.

Susan Heid

Susan Heid is the creator of the website, THE CONFIDENT MOM and the author of several eBooks all written to help Christian moms make small intentional changes managing their home and family by giving them more time, less stress and stronger family relationships. Susan lives in Seattle with her "blended" family.  For more on Susan and the services both she and her website offers, check out http://www.theconfidentmom.com/.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Book Spotlight: Torn Blood By David J. Bain

TORN BLOOD

By: David J. Bain

Published: October 24, 2013

Fiction

I can't possibly read every single book that comes into my inbox.  But, some books are intriguing enough that I want to tell you about them, even if I don't read them.  Even though this isn't my usual type of book, I found the synopsis quite interesting.

From the publisher:
TORN BLOOD tells the adventure of the conflict over Israel.  David Bain brought together researchers from the US as well as Israel, spending seven years trying to understand the truth of Jewish rights to a homeland in Israel free from outside menace. 

His research led him to write Torn Blood, an adventure novel in which souls are locked in a mortal battle to rid Jerusalem of her Jewish residents as truth is revealed and lives are faced with an existential choice—safety from persecution in America or aliyah, return, to a land that calls them home but could demand their lives.

Three weeks before reporting for duty at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Addison Deverell arrives in Israel on a mission—to find the source of the conflict between Arabs and Jews. Bound to an escort by the embassy, he is unable to begin his search as time is running out. Mere days before he must report for duty, Addison is freed from his forced escort. As another escort takes his place, Addison issues an ultimatum that, with or without help, he is going into Palestinian territory for answers he can’t find in Israel. Addison races to uncover truth that promises to establish a career as he faces danger from those he seeks to understand and finds himself a pawn in an international plot to drive Israel’s Jews into the sea.

Nearly seven thousand miles away in Oregon, Dr. Janelle Henning confronts a secret that threatens to destroy the only family she’s ever known. A search for understanding thrusts her into a world long buried to confront a birthright hidden by the passage of time. Brought together by events, Janelle and Addison discover hidden identities in a relationship they have shared for a lifetime.


David Bain
David J. Bain is a novelist focused on writing stories about the Jewish experience and founder of Bo Iti Press. His debut book, Torn Blood, releases on October 24, 2013. Before launching his publishing company, he collaborated on two screenplays made into movies and has been involved in the business world for more than 30 years where his company publishes technical manuals and he wrote the company’s occasional newsletter. David, and his wife, Doris, reside in Oregon. For more information, check out www.TornBlood.com.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Review: Grammarly Website


Last month I had the opportunity to review the website, GRAMMARLY.  I had heard of it but never knew how it worked, so I was anxious to learn more about it and give it a try.

GRAMMARLY is a website that offers the service of an automated online proofreader.  It reads through your writing, looking for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes.  It is an additional set of eyes but not a replacement for a professional proofreader.

I used GRAMMARLY to proofread some of my recent blog posts/reviews.  It found things like words that were used too often, grammar and punctuation mistakes/suggestions.  I found though that since blog posts are sometimes written more like a conversation, the suggestions don't really benefit my writing and how I want to get the point across.  But, it did point out repeated words or better ways to phrase the sentence.  I think it offered me the most help when I was writing my book reviews.

I also used GRAMMARLY to check a paragraph our son wrote for school.  I wish I would have had GRAMMARLY when I was in high school and college to be that second set of eyes and offer suggestions.

Once you copy and paste your written material into the box, GRAMMARLY reads through it and identifies the number of issues and what they are.  It details the error, why it is wrong and offers possible corrections for each mistake.  It also allows you to check the text for plagiarism by cross-referencing your text with over 8 billion other web pages.


Once you log onto GRAMMARLY, you will see a box where you can submit your written text.  You will then be shown the details of your proofread.  To see the specifics you either need to try GRAMMARLY for a trial period or subscribe through the various price options.  There is a seven day free trial period that allows you to try it out and see if this proofread service would really benefit you.  If you decide to subscribe, you can pay anywhere from about $11.66/month to $29.95/month depending on your payment plan.  

I think if I was someone who wrote a large number of papers or if writing was part of my job, the fee would be worth it.  But, for my small little piece of the blogging world, I didn't really feel like it was an expense that I needed right now.  If I was a teacher, a college student, or wrote book reviews and got paid for them, then I would sign up right away.  It really is a neat website and offers a great service to those of us who sometimes have to think twice about our writing skills. 

To try out GRAMMARLY, check out www.grammarly.com.


I was provided a two-week free trial period to try GRAMMARLY.  I was not compensated in any other way for this review. This review is my honest opinion. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: Family Interrupted By Linda Barrett

FAMILY INTERRUPTED

By:  Linda Barrett

Published: April 4, 2013 

Contemporary Fiction




As part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK book tour, I had the privilege to read FAMILY INTERRUPTED by Linda Barrett.  For other insights on the book, you can click HERE and read reviews from other bloggers.


FAMILY INTERRUPTED is my first read by Linda Barrett, who is the best-selling author of 13 novels.  I was intrigued by the synopsis of the story and yet it was a topic I didn't really want to read about.  Claire and Jack and are the parents of Ian, a senior, and Kayla, age 12.  One fateful afternoon, Claire lingers after her art class talking to her handsome professor and accepting his many compliments on her artwork.  Claire ends up arriving home late, to police cars and an ambulance in front of their house.  Kayla ends up dying as the result of being hit by a car while trying to catch a football thrown by her brother.  Their family, their careers, their passions and their way of communicating are forever changed.  Each of them are struggling with their own grief and for Claire, it ends up consuming her.

I must admit, this was a tough one to get through.  It was depressing and as a mom, I felt the pain of grief as I read each page.  I can't imagine losing one of our children and how our family would be forever changed. There were many times when I had to put the book down and ignore it for awhile.  I also found some parts of the book to be a bit unbelievable.  After Ian graduated from high school, he moved out and for two years never looked back.  His parents never called him, never saw where he lived or worked, or knew anything about his life.  Even in grief, I can't imagine completely ignoring my other children and I found myself continually frustrated by Ian's and his parents behavior.  Other parts of their grief, I did find realistic, saying "I will not cry for at least an hour" made perfect sense to me.

The author did paint the picture of grief for this family.  Their pain was evident on the pages and the descriptions of Claire's artwork she created to remember Kayla were vivid and imaginative.  I also found the pain of Sarah, the driver that killed Kayla, to be very understandable.  The tragedy happened to her too and changed her direction, dreams, and hopes all in one second.

Eventually Claire has to decide if she is going to allow grief and blame to take hold of her life and her marriage, as well as Sarah's fragile hold on life.  Claire has become so focused on Kayla that she begins to ignore those in her life that are still living.  A surprise shows up at Claire's door and will help her change her outlook for the future.  But, will her husband, parents, sister and son still be there to welcome her back?  As Claire realizes the mistakes she has made, you can feel the weight lift off her shoulders and have hope that they can find happiness again.  As Claire makes peace with herself, she needs to make peace with her daughter as well.  Claire's conversation with her daughter's portrait was heartfelt, honest, and emotional.  It was a beautiful way for Claire to bring closure and move forward in the healing of her family.  It was a very well written passage.

Overall, it was a novel that I was glad I had read.  I think there would be a lot of a discussion around this book.  Grief, betrayal, parenting, family relationships, and hope are some possible topics and would keep a book club talking for a long time.  There are also discussion questions available at the end of the book, if needed.

Linda Barrett

Linda Barrett is the author of 13 novels of contemporary romance. She’s earned many industry awards through Romance Writers of America, including the Holt Medallion, The Award of Excellence and the Write Touch Reader’s award. Family Interrupted is her first women’s fiction story. A graduate of Hunter College, Linda now lives in the Tampa area with her husband. They have three grown sons and the most adorable, intelligent, super-duper grandchildren ever!  For more, check out www.linda-barrett.com.  You can also friend Linda on Facebook, HERE.



This review is my honest opinion.  I was provided an eBook copy for this review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Braces In Our House


We have started the braces journey in our family.  Our oldest, Patrick got his braces today.  So far he isn't in too much pain.  "It is just awkward and feels weird", he says. Both my husband and I still remember the day we got our braces.  I remember my dad taking me to my appointment.  It was odd for me to be alone with my dad.  He was usually working and mom usually took me to appointments and things like that.  But, that day, it was just Dad and I. I remember him taking me out to eat afterwards to a family restaurant.  ( I never got to go to "popular" or fast food type of places.)  I remember I had spaghetti and after talking to my dad, he remembered he had these BBQ Chicken Wings that he liked from this restaurant.

Today, after Patrick's appointment, I took him out to eat.  We chose Culver's Restaurant so he could get an ice cream shake and a grilled cheese with fries.  All things he thought he could eat without too much difficulty. But he wasn't prepared for how hard it would be to eat and our lunch took a little longer than normal, but I'm glad he was able to eat a little bit at least.  I know over the next couple days it will be more painful for him and he may not want to eat.

Looks like we are set for the next two years and soon Bennett will be getting braces too.  Love going through all these stages of growing up with the kids!

Book Spotlight: Becoming Alice By Alice Rene with Amazon Giveaway

BECOMING ALICE: A Memoir

By:  Alice Rene

Published: August 29, 2008

Non-Fiction

Every day I hear about a book that I want to read and this is one I wanted to tell you about, even though I haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I am always intrigued by memoirs and stories from the Holocaust.  They are always so gripping, heartbreaking, often hopeful.  I am sharing this book with you as part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK book tour.  I've added it to my list of books to read and I think you should too.


Six-year-old Ilse watches Nazi soldiers march down her street in Vienna, Austria. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will take her to Riga, Latvia, and finally to Portland, Oregon. Becoming Alice chronicles her Jewish family’s harrowing escape and struggle as immigrants to fit into the American landscape. The added problems of growing up within a troubled family cloud her childhood and adolescence.


Ilse changes her name to Alice. Not until she moves into a boarding house in Berkeley, surrounded by girls from a patchwork of cultures, does she make peace with her true identity. Becoming Alice brilliantly showcases Rene’s triumph over adversity, identity crisis, and the sometimes debilitating power of family ties.

Praise for BECOMING ALICE:

“Strongly recommended a deftly written memoir that will hold the reader’s rapt attention from beginning to end.”
-Midwest Book Review

“Her ability to authentically capture the bewilderment and pain of dislocation through a child’s eyes – including the disharmony in her immediate family – makes for engaging reading that will resonate with young adults everywhere.”
-Beth B. Cohen, Ph.D., author of Case Closed: Holocaust Survivors in America, 1946-1954

Alice Rene - photo source
Alice Rene holds a master’s degree in social welfare. She lives with her husband in Southern California. For more on Alice and her story, visit her website at http://www.alicerene.com/

You can purchase BECOMING ALICE through IUNIVERSE or through Amazon and the link below.

To be entered to win the $25 Amazon Gift Card, just log in to the Rafflecopter form.  You can choose to follow all or some of the other bloggers.  Of course I would love to have you "LIKE" my Facebook page, but it isn't necessary to win.  PUMP UP YOUR BOOK will choose and notify the winner on Monday, December 2, 2013.  For more on the Terms and Conditions, click HERE.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe: Christmas Crack

We have our first Christmas this weekend.  My mom and her four sisters still get together to celebrate with all their children and grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.  I am so lucky to have a large, loving family.  Even though not everyone can always make it (my husband and boys can't this year) those of us that are there look forward to all the food, laughter, and memories made!

One of the things I am taking this year is Christmas Crack.  I was first introduced to this delicious treat nearly 15 years ago by a co-worker.  It is so simple and so addictive.  I warned you!

Christmas Crack


Christmas Crack
1 Sleeve Saltine Crackers
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Sticks of Butter
1-11.5 oz bag of Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 an 8 oz bag of Heath English Toffee Bits

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and then spray with Pam. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay out saltine crackers in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  I fit 7 across and 5 down on my sheet. Have the crackers touching each other.  Place brown sugar and butter in a sauce pan and bring to a boil stirring.  Once boiling, boil for 3 minutes without stirring.  Then pour over the saltine crackers and spread evenly.  Place pan in oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven. Then sprinkle milk chocolate chips over the crackers.  Let them sit for a minute then spread as they begin to melt, covering all the crackers.  Then sprinkle half the bag of toffee bits over top of the melted chocolate.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer until ready to eat.  

You can either break it into pieces or cut into pieces.  If it is around long enough, keep in a tightly closed container.  Enjoy!







Thursday, November 14, 2013

Book Spotlight: The Search By Titia Ellis and Amazon Giveaway

THE SEARCH
A Memoir of an Adopted Woman

By: Titia Ellis

Published:  November 10, 2010

Non-Fiction

Every day I hear about a book that I want to read and this is one I wanted to tell you about, even though I haven't had a chance to read it yet.  I am sharing this book with you as part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK book tour.


“A compelling story of an adopted woman’s search for her truth and a mother lost, found, and lost again. The Search is a poignant memoir of the reality of an adoptee’s life. I couldn’t put it down.”
JOE SOLL, LCSW, PSYCHOTHERAPIST, AUTHOR OF ADOPTION HEALING…A PATH TO RECOVERY

Titia Ellis remembers the exact moment her life changed forever. Her mother, still in her dressing gown, sat in the chair opposite five-year-old Titia and her older sister, twisting a handkerchief between her hands, while her father paced the floor behind her. Titia’s stomach rolled over as her mother announced, “Daddy and I want to tell you something important about when you were born.”

As soon as she learns the story of her birth parents’ untimely deaths and her subsequent adoption, Titia realizes that her adoption is to be kept a secret—never to be discussed again out of fear of upsetting her mother. Wanting to be loved and to fit in, she obeys her parents’ wishes—until a mid-life crisis shatters her illusion of being the perfect daughter, wife, and mother. As Titia chronicles her poignant journey to find her birth mother, she details how she jeopardizes her relationship with her adoptive parents and threatens the privacy of unsuspecting strangers—all without any guarantee of a happy outcome.

When Titia embarks on her quest to find her birth family, she immerses herself deep into her past, not knowing that what she discovers in the end will transform her entire life.

To purchase a copy of THE SEARCH, click HERE or on the AMAZON link. 




 - 
Titia Ellis, PhD - Source
Born in New York City, Titia Ellis was adopted and then raised outside of Chicago. Trained as a psychologist, she maintained a family therapy practice for many years. Titia and her husband, Bill, founded the All One Family Fund in 2008 to help children at risk. They live in Vermont and delight in visits with their three children and nine grandchildren. For more on Titia Ellis, click HERE.

To be entered to win the $25 Amazon Gift Card, just log in to the Rafflecopter form.  You can choose to follow all or some of the other bloggers.  Of course I would love to have you "LIKE" my Facebook page, but it isn't necessary to win.  PUMP UP YOUR BOOK will choose and notify the winner on January 20, 2014.  For terms and conditions of the giveaway, click HERE.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: Orphan Train By Christina Baker Kline

ORPHAN TRAIN: A NOVEL

By: Christina Baker Kline

Published: April 2, 2013



I had been hearing how wonderful this book was, but I didn't realize how wonderful until I began reading it.  If I could have shut out the rest of the world and read it in one sitting, I would have.  ORPHAN TRAIN shifts from a story set in 1920-1930's to one set in 2011.  We are first introduced to Molly who is entrenched in the foster care system.  She has been shuffled from one place to another after her father was killed in a car accident and her mother prefers her drug life over being a mom. She is currently living with a couple who appear to only be in it for the monthly income of having a foster child.  When Molly decides to take a book from the local library that she is sure they won't miss and gets caught, she decides to serve her punishment via community service.  During her time, she will be helping a 90-year-old woman clean out her attic.

Vivian is the only surviving member of her family left.  Her attic is full of items and her housekeeper feels it is time she gets rid of some things...with the help of Molly.  What ends up happening is through the boxes and boxes of items, we learn Vivian's story of a child orphaned after her family immigrated to New York City from Ireland.  After a devastating fire, Vivian ends up on the orphan train, headed to the Midwest in hopes of finding a family.

I have read several books where the storyline travels back and forth from the present to the past and this book did it right.  The author gives you just enough information and weaves the current story into the story from the past, traveling through each story with ease and keeping the reader intrigued.  Each chapter is well-labeled with time and place so you can get your mind set before you start in on the chapter.

The horrors of the life of a orphan, both present and past, will give you great sympathy for those who have been in that situation.  In this story we also go through The Depression as well as WWII with the characters and can feel the agony of those times in the words of the novel.

I chose ORPHAN TRAIN for our book club this month.  All of us loved it and we had lots of rich discussion about the characters and their actions.  There were discussion questions included in the book as well as historical facts and photos about the real orphan trains that traveled to the Midwest.

The author has based this novel on facts.  She happened upon the history of the orphan train and found a way to tell their stories.  Thankfully there are still survivors left to interview and have their stories be told.  It is a part of our history that shouldn't be forgotten.  I highly recommend you place ORPHAN TRAIN at the top of your reading list.

Christina Baker Kline
Christina Baker Kline, the author of five novels, as well as an editor and non-fiction writer.  She grew up in Maine, England, and the American South. She is married to a Midwesterner whose family history inspired her new novel, ORPHAN TRAIN. She currently lives in New Jersey with her husband and three boys.  




Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Spotlight: Mommy Couldn't Find Her Eyelashes by Mary Jane Fizer Plus AMAZON Giveaway

MOMMY COULDN'T FIND HER EYELASHES
Fourty-Four Years in First Grade

By: Mary Jane Fizer

Published: March 15, 2013

Non-Fiction

I wish I had all the time in the world to read, but unfortunately, I have other things that must get done.  But, since I work in the school system and have numerous teacher friends, I couldn't resist telling you about this book even though I haven't read it.  I am promoting this book as part of the PUMP UP YOUR BOOK Blog Tour.


No one knows how unpredictable first graders can be better than a first-grade teacher. In MOMMY COULDN'T FIND HER EYELASHES, retired elementary educator Mary Jane Fizer shares excerpts from written papers and some of her favorite amusing and poignant conversations with her first-grade students, providing an unforgettable glimpse into the innocent, often uncensored minds and imaginations of children.

Fizer relies on more than forty years of experience in a classroom environment to offer a diverse compilation of funny sayings and heartfelt moments she experienced with her students. From the student who said he wanted to be both the President of the United States and a forklift operator to the boy who announced that he needed to see the nurse because he thought he had head lights, Fizer recalls the unpredictable moments of every day she spent in front of a classroom serving not only as a teacher, but also as a role model, stand-in mother, and a source of information who had to somehow find a creative answer to every creative question.


Mommy Couldn’t Find Her Eyelashes is a delightful collection of quotes from children that encourages all of us to find the pure happiness in every day—even when we are all grown up.

Mary Jane Fizer
Mary Jane Fizer earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Concord College in Athens, West Virginia, and a master’s degree in elementary education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She spent the last forty years of her teaching career in Prince William County Schools in Woodbridge, Virginia, where she still resides today.  For more, check out her website at www.MaryJaneFizer.com.



To be entered to win the $25 Amazon Gift Card, just log in to the Rafflecopter form.  You can choose to follow all or some of the other bloggers.  Of course I would love to have you "LIKE" my Facebook page, but it isn't necessary to win.  PUMP UP YOUR BOOK will choose and notify the winner on November 25, 2013.  For terms and conditions of the giveaway, click HERE

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration - Move-mber


The first person you have to inspire every day is yourself. Running will do that.
Marc Parent



As part my challenge to MOVE every day in November, I have named the month Move-mber.  I'm not part of a challenge with anyone else, this is just something to inspire me and challenge me to make changes and keep moving.  If you need a boost, join with me and take 20 minutes to move today!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Children's Book Review: An Ordinary Toad's Extraordinary Night By Joanne McGonagle

AN ORDINARY TOAD'S EXTRAORDINARY NIGHT

By: Joanne McGonagle

Illustrated by Rachael Mahaffey

Published: May 17, 2013

This is the story of a young toad named Andrew, pondering whether his life would be more interesting had he been hatched a frog. Andrew decides to take his first solo hop to ask his grandpa some questions about what it means to be an amphibian. Along the way he runs into other animals that make him realize a toad's life really is extraordinary.

I was sent this book by the author and right away the title of the book intrigued me. Every one of us, especially children, want to feel extraordinary.  But, really, for most of us, we lead ordinary lives, are a part of ordinary families, and live in ordinary communities.  But, much like Andrew the toad, we wonder what makes other people so special.  Why do they have such pretty hair or blue eyes? Andrew takes us through his feelings as he compares himself to the seemingly special frogs.  But, as he learns about his own special qualities, he realizes there are reasons why he is so different from frogs.

I liked how the facts were sprinkled into the story.  I certainly learned more about toads and what makes them unique to frogs.  I'm not sure I would have known the difference between them before reading this story.

Andrew the toad has a loving Mom and Grandpa who are willing to listen to his questions and concerns. For children who have fears or frustrations this is an opportunity to show them you are there to listen and help.
With "bullying" being at the forefront of news stories and with schools implementing programs to bring more attention to bullying, this story will also resonate with a child who feels "left out" or picked on.

The illustrations throughout each page are delightful.  The artist kept each page slightly dark due to the toad's being nocturnal but found ways to include bright spots of color as Andrew travels through the woods.  The details on the fox and the expressions she gives each animal jump off the pages.

Due to the length of the story and use of vocabulary, I feel this book is best for children in Kindergarten on up.   This would make a great addition to your home, school or community library.
source
Joanne McGonagle and her cat Gracey 

Joanne McGonagle is the award-winning author of the children's book, THE TINIEST TIGER and has since created the website conservationcubclub.com.  You can also find more information on Facebook, HERE or follow on Twitter, HERE. Joanne lives in Ohio with Paul and her cat, Gracey.

Rachael Mahaffey is an award-winning freelance artist and illustrator located in Charleston, South Carolina. She specializes in digital art media, but loves to experiment with new art techniques.  Her childhood hobby has turned into a career after graduating from the Art Institute in 2003.  She loves making author's imaginations come to life.  For more, visit HERE.



I will be linking up this review with other Children's Book Reviews on Booking Mama's Kid Konnection Linky.  To see other great Children's Books, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of AN ORDINARY TOAD'S EXTRAORDINARY NIGHT, click the photo below:



Thanks to the author for sending a copy of the book.  This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link, I may receive a small commsission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Memory Verse for the Week

This week I chose a verse that is one of my favorites and yet one I need to be reminded of on an hourly basis.  I rush through each task without really absorbing what I am doing, what I am reading, what I am saying or hearing and am always thinking about the next thing.

This verse has helped me S-L-O-W D-O-W-N.

Psalm 46:10 NIV
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Nothing and No One is bigger than God.  Nothing or No One should be praised more than Him.  Take a moment....or two....today and be still....knowing that God is THE ONE who is all powerful, almighty, and everlasting!

Motivated Moms Planner Winner

Using Random.org, I have chosen a winner from all the entries in my google form.  Thanks to all of you for entering and telling me how you found out about the giveaway.  I showed that all my forms of marketing are important.  Today's winner found me from a giveaway linky on another blog!  

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
19
Timestamp: 2013-11-08

#19 was MOLLY!  

Molly, I will email you shortly and get you in contact with Susan at Motivated Moms.  If for some reason, I don't hear from Molly, I will choose another winner on Sunday at 10AM. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Book Review: The Vintage Teacup Club By Vanessa Greene

THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB
A Novel

By: Vanessa Greene

Published: November 5, 2013

Fiction




In this debut novel by Vanessa Greene, we are swept away to England for a touching story of friendship and how a vintage teacup can bring three women together for a lifetime.  The story begins with Jenny, a bride-to-be in search of teacups for her wedding reception.  Upon finding the perfect set, she is surrounded by Alison and Maggie, who also have eyes on the exact same set.  An argument begins, but ends with all three women deciding to share it.  They agree to let Jenny use it first for her wedding reception, then Maggie will use if for her demanding bridal client's Alice in Wonderland wedding reception, and finally, Alison will use it to fill with her popular candle wax and sell like her other popular vintage tea set candles.

Jenny is about to be married and is having fun finding tea sets to complete her vision for a vintage tea party wedding reception.  Out of the blue, someone from Jenny's past appears and brings back lots of painful memories.  Jenny isn't sure she can move forward in her life and forgive all the damage that has been done.

Alison is married with two teenagers who are constantly challenging her parenting.  Her husband, Pete, has been laid off work and Alison realizes their bank account isn't a full as she thought.  The dream that she has been waiting for may not be able to happen and she wonders how her family will move forward.

Maggie has built up her flower business and this next wedding could be just the ticket she needs to make it "big time" and open her second shop in London.  Someone from Maggie's past also appears and makes her question her future and the Alice in Wonderland themed wedding she is planning with a rude landscaper may put her business dreams out of the picture.

Of course, these women are of different ages and backgrounds but have been joined together by this tea set. All three women find that they are dependent on each other and each one of them guides the others through a crisis in their life.  These women become a lifeline of support to each other through their ups and downs.

The book is set in a small village in England and the writing uses British words that those of us in America certainly are not used to using.  It really makes you feel like you are immersed in the English culture with words like "flat" in place of house and "Mum" in place of Mom. Everyone, no matter the age or gender, is ready to share a cup of tea with you at any time of day.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the women, with most of them from Jenny's perspective. This type of format always seems to make the story move along quickly and gives you the full picture of their thoughts and emotions.

I found THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB to be engaging, believable, and heartwarming.  Even though each of the women were at different stages in their life, they were all able to support, encourage and offer just the right amount of guidance to each other.  It reminds you of your own circle of friends and how you couldn't have gotten through life without them no matter what stage of life you met them in.  I am sure Maggie, Jenny, and Alison will be friends for a lifetime.  For all those teenage girls who read SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS by Ann Brashares in 2003, ten years later they can read a more grown-up version of unexpected friendships.

Vanessa Greene hosted her first tea party at age eight, to a select gathering of stuffed bears.  Since then she has searched antiques markets all over the world to build up her teacup collection.  Vanessa lives in London. THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB is her first novel.  For more on Vanessa Greene, "Like" her Facebook page, HERE. You can also follow her on Twitter, HERE.





Thanks to Penguin Group for providing 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, November 4, 2013

A Little Monday Inspiration - Move-mber


Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great. 
Kara Goucher, American Long-Distance Runner


I think this fits so well with my 3 words of inspiration - Patience, Perseverance, and Positivity.  Nothing happens all at once and nothing comes without hard work. Keep working at your goals, checking off the small steps as you work toward the big leaps and eventually you will get there!

I took off the last two weeks from really any exercise.  I know that isn't persevering or being positive, but I just didn't make it a priority and life was busy.

I thought it would be fun to make a challenge for myself for the month of November.  I thought it would call it.....


MOVE-EMBER



Each day in November, I will get some sort of "movement" into my day.  Sadly, I wasn't able to get any in the first 3 days because we were traveling and visiting family.  But, starting November 4th, my goal is to "MOVE" for at least 20 minutes each day.  Who can't do something for 20 minutes?  We all have 20 minutes that we waste doing something else every day.   Why not waste it moving????  

Anyone want to join me?  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Memory Verse of the Week

This week I chose an favorite and one I need to not only reflect on, but do.

Psalms 46:10 NIV
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. 

Life is busy and quiet time for yourself and with God seem to always take a backseat to everything else in life.  For a couple months, our schedule is a bit slower.  Not quite so many after school activities for the kids which makes our evenings more manageable. It has allowed me to have some much needed quiet time for prayer and reflection as well as memorizing these verses.  For my birthday this year I received two books that allow me to dig deeper in my time with God.  One of them I received from my secret sister at church,SEVEN PRAYERS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER by Stormie Omartian and the other from my sister-in-law, Julie, THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD: Inspiration from the Book of Psalms by Lance Wubbels.  I have skimmed through both of them and have already found some words that I needed to hear.

We all need to take time to Be Still, place our focus on Him and have a conversation with Him.  Allow yourself to be refreshed and remember that you are important to God.  Everything will get done and if it doesn't, it must not have been that important.  Be Still for yourself and for you family.  Take a few moments today.