Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't know much about history....

I like historical fiction. I like it because I can pretend it's educational! No, seriously, I like it because it personalizes history and opens my eyes to new perspectives on historical events. I also like it because it serves to introduce me to different events in history that I had never heard of or to which I had never assigned much significance before.

That is the case with The Veil, by Diane Noble that I completed recently. It is a fictionalized account of the events surrounding the Mountain Meadows massacre in Utah in the 1850s. Historical events are often tainted by subjective accounts and require scrutiny from multiple perspectives. This book did make me want to learn more about the events surrounding the massacre.

A shroud of secrecy cloaks a new nineteenth-century sect known simply as the Saints. But that veil is about to be drawn away. Amidst the majestic beauty of 1857 Utah, the members of one secluded religious group claim to want nothing more than to practice their beliefs without persecution. Yet among them are many who engage in secret vows and brutal acts of atonement…all in the name of God.

But one young woman, Hannah McClary, dares to question the truth behind the shroud. Soon Hannah and the young man she loves–Lucas Knight, who has been trained from childhood to kill on behalf of the Church–find themselves fighting for their very lives.

As a group of unwary pioneer families marches into Utah toward a tragic confrontation with the Saints at a place called Mountain Meadows, Hannah and Lucas are thrust into the most difficult conflict of all–a battle for truth and justice–even as they are learning for the first time about unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness.…

Diane Noble is the author of eighteen books, including Heart of Glass and Phoebe, along with several novellas, devotionals, and nonfiction books for women. Diane is a two-time recipient of the Silver Angel Award for Media Excellence and was a recent double finalist for the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award.

You can purchase it at Random House's website.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The time just flies by....

Just earlier this week I told you how my baby turned two. Today, another of my darlings, Nini, turned 9! Yes, I said nine!

Nini is sensitive, compassionate and empathetic to others. She always considers others feelings. She is fun-loving, and always the first of my children to offer hugs when I am upset. She knows how to make me laugh!

She tells me she wants to be a missionary teacher. Her kind heart would suit that occupation, but who knows where God will lead her.

She loves nature. Bugs, dirt, plants, outside....

She is resourceful. She finds new uses for everyday objects and finds work-arounds for other "problems". It may not be the most direct way, but it does always work!

She is so beautiful from the inside out!

We love you Nini and are very proud of you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul

I don't read fantasy, at least not since the fourth and fifth grade, when I read the "A Wrinkle in Time" and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" books. So, I wasn't sure what to expect when I was offered the opportunity to read The Vanishing Sculptor. I really enjoyed this book! For fantasy lovers, it has the magic, the dragons, and the mystery. What really made it stand out for me was the use of subtle metaphors to liken the elements of the story to our understanding of our Creator. It reminds me of C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" in that respect. A well constructed fantasy tale on it's own, but so much more too!

Readers will meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon–and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper’s breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.

Donita K. Paul is a retired teacher and author of numerous novellas, short stories, and eight novels, including the best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles, a series which has sold more than a quarter million books to date. The winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she spends time mentoring and encouraging young writers. Visit her online.

You can read more and purchase it at Random House's website.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My baby is 2!

I am a little late, but on Sunday my sweet Gigi turned 2! (and if you're lucky, she'll tell you!)

I am literally tongue-tied about what to say. She is our fourth baby. She came 9 years after the first child and 4 1/2 years after the third. I was done with diapers and potty training and almost had my third child in school. I was sleeping soundly through the night. I thought I was finished with all that goes along with babies!

Then, a little over two years ago, I found out Gigi was on the way! Hubby and I were happy and our kiddos were excited too! Our son even told us he had been praying for a baby sister, BEFORE we told him!

The last two years have held sleepless nights, diaper rashes, stomach viruses, ear infections, ear tubes and more. Potty training is on the horizon, too. Irregardless, the last two years have been AMAZING. The giggles, the laughter, the smiles, the hugs, the cuddles, the kisses, it is ALL worth it!

Gigi, we thank God for entrusting you to us! We can't wait to see what is in store for your life!

Happy birthday, sweetheart!

Sisterchick winner!

The Random number generator picked number 3, who was renee, who said -

"I'd like to read this and share it with my mom and sister afterwards.
Thanks for the giveaway."

Just a note to all those that have won in the last week or so, I will be mailing all the books later this week!

Thursday, June 18, 2009


We woke up Saturday and told the boy we were going to a family reunion for grandma's family. He bacame very concerned and serious and asked, "Who died?"

Took all my effort to not die laughing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I refuse to be stereotyped!

One of the tips people give on growing your blog and follower base is to specialize! Find a niche that you are good at and stick to it. But I guess I care more about blogging about what's going on, whether or not it fits into a specific niche or not. I suppose I could have 5 or six different blogs. A "mommy" blog to share news of the kiddos and to chronicle their growing up years. A craft blog to share my favorite projects. A blog to share favorite recipes. Another to vent! But, honestly I like having ONE place that shows all of it. It's kind of like showing you all the different things that make me who I am.....

We are all a sum of all our different parts, why shouldn't our blogs reflect that?

Monday, June 15, 2009


Random.org has selected some winners -

For Saints in Limbo - #3 - bridget3420 who said "Count me in."

For Stealing Home - #6 - laurel who said "this looks like fun!"

I'll contact each of you by email to get mailing addresses.

Don't forget to enter the Sisterchicks giveaway by this Friday!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Separation anxiety and afraid of the dark

For those of you thinking this is just another "mommy-blogger" post, just stick with it, it will be worth it in the end, I promise.

My toddler is almost two and has a little separation anxiety and fear of the dark. (I think a little of it is an act, but part of it is genuine). How do I know? Well, when we put her down for a nap or bed, she usually cries and calls out, "Where Mommy go?", "Where Daddy go?" and she'll go thru the whole family. We go back in and reassure her once that we are still here, but it's time to sleep. We do have a nightlight too.

While we were going through one of these episodes the other day, God gave me a revelation that I'd like to share. I saw myself as the toddler. When things in my life seem dark and I feel alone, I cry out, "Where did you go, God?" and He showed me He is still there on the "other side of the door". Just because I can't "feel" Him, doesn't mean He isn't there. He is. Watching over me. Always. I just have to trust Him, just like I am asking my toddler to trust me that I will not abandon her. That and look for his light in the darkness and be a part of making it brighter.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Puffy" boxes

I went to a card-making class last night and learned to make these puffy boxes. I couldn't resist sharing! They are super-simple, super-cute and can be made with stuff most of us have around our homes.


So here goes - my pics aren't great, but hopefully you get the idea -

First, take a CD and mark the middle on all four "sides" with a sharpie.


Next, take a piece of patterned paper and on the wrong side trace around the outside of the cd. Mark the four "center" marks too.


Then line up the cd between two adjacent marks and draw around the cd again.

Now, draw "ovals" inside each cirle from mark to mark.

Then cut around the outside.

Next, fold along oval marks. Be careful and take your time, folding only a little at a time, since it is on a curve. I found starting in the center was easier than saving the center for the end.

This is what it should look like when it is all pre-creased.
Then cut approx 27 inches of ribbon. Fold box together, Wrap ribbon around and tie.

Voila! These would be sooooo cute for gift-wrapping earrings, lip gloss, bath salts or fizzies, a handful of chocolates, tealight candles, etc. How about using them for a wedding or baby shower favor?


I might try some larger circles too, to make a little larger box...

My 10 year old had no problem making these. My 6 year old and 8 year old needed help holding the cd still while tracing and folding on the lines. But it provided a great motor skill activity (and boredom buster!) We made 7 between the four of us in around an hour (that included gathering the supplies and cleaning up)!

BTW - The giveaways for Saints in Limbo and Stealing Home end tomorrow. Check out the links in the right sidebar! (I'll probably post the winners on Monday.) The Sisterchicks giveaway lasts until next Friday!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What is a "Sisterchick"?

I have had several opportunities over the last couple of years to have conversations with different women that have included something like this -

"I just want to be REAL and feel like I am accepted for who I AM!"
"I'm tired of pretending to be someone I'm not so people will like me."
"I want to be KNOWN by someone."
"I wish people more more TRANSPARENT and that I could be too."

You probably get the idea....

I too struggle with this. I want to be known, be transparent, be liked and loved for who I am, not just by my husband, but by my peers. Why do I think it is such a common theme? Because we are women, hard-wired by our creator to be relational!

Robin Jones Gunn creates the camraderie between women that we can all hope to attain and calls them SisterChicks. Women that may not be alike in every way, but are REAL and TRANSPARENT with each other. If we all felt safe enough to bare our souls.....

In the newest Sisterchick book, Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes, when a mammogram result comes back abnormal, midlife mama Summer Finley makes a snap decision to relegate fear to the back burner and fulfill a lifelong dream. Summer heads for Holland where she meets up with tulips, wooden shoes, and her best friend, Noelle.

Pen pals since fourth grade, Summer and Noelle have never met face-to-face. Through decades of heart-level correspondence, they have sustained a deep friendship. A week of adventure helps both women trade anxiety for a renewed and deeper trust in God. When Summer confides in Noelle about the abnormal medical report, Noelle finds the freedom to share a long-held heartache, and both women discover they needed each other more than they realized.

Women ages 35 and up, readers of Christian Boomer Lit, and fans of books such as The Yada Yada Prayer Group will enjoy Robin Jones Gunn’s humorous and uplifting style. True-to-life characters and moments of poignancy bring a deeper understanding of the value of life and the gift of true friends. Readers guide and bonus material included.

Robin Jones Gunn is the best-selling and award-winning author of over seventy books, including the Glenbrooke, Christy Miller, Sierra Jensen, Katie Weldon, and Christy and Todd: The College Years teen series. The Sisterchicks® series has sold more than 300,000 units, bringing her total sales to more than 3.5 million books worldwide. A Christy Award winner, Robin is a popular speaker, both at home and abroad, and is frequently interviewed on radio and on television. Check out Robin's website and Sisterchick site.

You can read more and buy it at Random House's site.

I also have a copy to give away too. Leave a comment by Friday, June 19 for a chance to win!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Recipe for de-cluttering

I have several projects that I have neglected FAR. TOO. LONG. So I decided to tackle one this week. It has taken me several days but I think I finally did it.

Here is the before.

This is the out-of-control stack of magazines.

The cookbooks that had taken up residence on the counter.

The cabinet where the recipes need to fit. I forgot to take a photo before I pulled out the magazines.

You see, I love to cook and try new recipes. So I like cooking magazines, and recipe books. Is there an addiction to recipes? It's probably just hoarding... I hate to get rid of recipes, because who knows, I might one day try them. So I finally decided that after asking all the rest of my family to de-clutter and let stuff go, it was time to be a big girl and let some of these go. Sniff!

I started this collection 17 years ago, shortly before getting married. As I was weeding thru I found lots of recipes I remember trying, liking and losing in the abyss of the collection. So now I can welcome them home! I also found recipes that I know are older than my almost 11 year old daughter, that I have NEVER made!

I had an inordinately large amount of dessert recipes! Gotta love me some desserts, even though I can't really eat them right now with the weight loss goals and all....

Needless to say, I ditched quite a few recipes, and was only slightly scared that I might have tossed something that I shouldn't. I was only slightly sad, because you know that you can find almost anything on the internet now....

So here is the finished result.

My kiddos made the covers of my new binder. Don't you like the way they mis-spelled recipes?

I put the magazine pages that I kept in binder sleeves and organized them by category.

Someone at a Bible study I go to showed me this over a year ago. Purchase a photo book that has pockets and slip in the recipe cards you have. I got this one with room for 700 cards at Target for $4.99.

And look, now I have room for more recipes...

My girls are already discussing what recipes they want when I die. Hmmm, should I be worried?

Stealing Home

I am often disappointed when I read cliche novels. Where are the surprises that life hands out? Why are the characters lifepaths so easy to predict? So I was pleased to read Stealing Home by Allison Pittman. Why? Because it's characters are real! They have real struggles. They are human. And I won't ruin it for you, but I did not predict the final chapters of the book!

It’s 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald “Duke” Dennison’s golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.

That’s when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville, Missouri, so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts.

Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much–until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star’s charm.

Then there’s Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out.

Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home?

Allison Pittman spent seventeen years as a high school English teacher, and then shunned the advice of “experts,” quit her day job and set out to write novels that bring glory to God. She relishes inspiring other writers and leading the theater arts group at her church. She and her husband and three sons live in Universal City, Texas.

Buy it here.

I also have a copy to give away! Leave a comment by Friday, June 12 if you are interested.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saints in Limbo

I have to tell you that I sometimes read to escape reality. I know, BIG surprise! But I tend to gravitate toward books that are still steeped in the reality of others. That being said, Saints In Limbo was a refreshing break from my typical reading. It is a book that asks you to suspend what you know to ask some "what if" questions. I also felt impressed to enjoy the "everyday" moments of my life, since they are all too fleeting.

Ever since her husband Joe died, Velma True’s world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her home outside Echo, Florida.

When a mysterious stranger appears at her door on her birthday and presents Velma with a special gift, she is rattled by the object’s ability to take her into her memories–a place where Joe still lives, her son Rudy is still young, unaffected by the world’s hardness, and the beginning is closer than the end. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma wonders if it’s possible to be unmoored from the past’s deep roots and find a reason to hope again.

River Jordan is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright whose unique mixture of southern and mystic writing has drawn comparisons to Sarah Addison Allen, Leif Enger, and Flannery O’Connor. Her previous works include The Messenger of Magnolia Street, lauded by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully written, atmospheric tale.” She speaks around the country and makes her home in Nashville.

Buy it here.

If you'd like a copy, I do have an extra to give away. Just leave a comment by next Friday, June 12.