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October 23, 2014

At A Glance Calendars

So our family gets very excited about deliveries, especially our black lab. She goes crazy when a man or woman in uniform drops off a package. Can the dog-owning readers relate? :). Now our 2 year old son joins in the excitement, shouting "truck truck truck" and "beep beep." It's quite an event in our house, and quite a treat.

We recently got a delivery of Office Supplies including a Monthly Planner & a Wall Calendar. I've always been the type to keep lists and a planner with me at all times. I get quite a sense of accomplishment from crossing things off my list or reviewing my schedule for the upcoming weeks/months. I feel more organized and calm. But don't get me wrong, this sense of organization does NOT translate into a love of house cleaning. I am lacking that gene :-P.

Before I join the world of smart phones I had a planner in my purse, but now I try to keep my schedule on my phone but I still miss writing down my events and being able to see the entire month at a a glance, which is why I like using physical calendars and planners. It's also hard for the entire family to know whats going on, so we typically update the family calendar on the fridge, but now we have a wall calendar we plan to post on the wall in the kitchen. You can see the photo of our previous calendar, so we're looking forward to using the wall calendar with larger boxes for each day, thus making it easier to read and update.

I just wish the calendar started sooner than January 2015. For now we'll continue with our fridge calendar, but looking forward to January!!!

Many thanks to Shoplet & At-A-Glance for this review opportunity. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

October 16, 2014

When Night Comes - A Book Review

Jack Turner comes back to Culpepper to give a series of lectures for his old history professor. Within days, he starts having bizarre experiences at night. Like he's traveling back in time, experiencing the epic events in his lectures firsthand. He has no control over these experiences and can't make them stop.

Joe Boyd thought he'd left big city crime back in Pittsburgh when he took a detective job in Culpepper, Georgia, a sleepy southern college town. His peaceful life ends when two students turn up dead in two weeks. The coroner is saying natural causes, but something doesn't add up.

Rachel Cook, a teaching assistant at Culpepper, can't believe Jack is back in her life again. She's had a crush on him since she was fourteen, but Jack never knew. He instantly seems attracted to her, but she can tell...something is deeply troubling him.

Watching all this from a distance is Nigel Avery. He's certain this experiment's about to unravel. It'll be his job to tie up all the loose ends when it does.

My Thoughts:
While this book does deviate from Dan Walsh's "typical" style, it's still an amazing read. When I first started reading the book and got to the first "flash back" I thought I was reading a time travel book and found myself thinking, I'm not sure I'm going to like this book, but I was quickly proven wrong. Without sharing any spoilers  I was very happy with the mystery novel this turned out to be. This novel reminded me of the medical mystery book series by Richard Mabry but without all the medical jargon. I also appreciated that this novel was without the mushy gushy predictable romance which I find way too often in "Christian fiction" novels. It had a little romance, but it never made me think, oh gag! It was a page turner and I could have easily finished it in a day if I didn't have other things to tend to like....kids :-P. I'm still a huge fan of Dan Walsh's novels.

Look for this book to come out November 1st 2014, or pre-order the Kindle version HERE!

Many thanks to Dan Walsh for an early copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed here are 100% my own!

October 13, 2014

Raging Heat by Richard Castle - A Book Review

In New York Times Bestselling author Richard Castle's newest novel, an illegal immigrant falls from the sky and NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat's investigation into his death quickly captures the imagination of her boyfriend, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jameson Rook. When he decides to work the case with Heat as his next big story, Nikki is at first happy to have him ride-along. Yes, she must endure Rook's usual wild conspiracy speculations and adolescent wisecracks, but after reuniting following his recent assignment abroad, she's glad for the entertainment, the chance to bounce ideas, and just to be close to him again and feel the old spark rekindle. But when Rook's inquiry concludes that Detective Heat has arrested the wrong man for the murder, everything changes.

Balancing her high stakes job with a complicated romance has been a challenge ever since Nikki fell for the famous reporter. Now, her relationship lurches from mere complexity into sharp conflict over the most high-risk case of her career. Set against the raging force of Hurricane Sandy as it pounds New York, Heat battles an ambitious power broker, fights a platoon of urban mercenaries, and clashes with the man she loves. Detective Heat knows her job is to solve murders. She just worrie sthat solving this one will be the death of her relationship.

My thoughts:
While I really enjoyed this novel, I found at least a few typos and errors which was frustrating to read, however it wasn't enough to keep me from staying up late several nights to see what happened next. I love Castle's fast pace, page turning writing style infused with humor and romance. It is very similar to the TV show in how the characters are portrayed. While the names aren't the same, you can still picture Rook and Heat as Castle and Beckett. Another enjoyable novel, and looking forward to the next!

Many thanks to Disney Publishing for the review copy, but all opinions expressed at 100% my own.

October 12, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin is back with the next book in The Restoration Chronicles series, Keepers of the Covenant. Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God's unwavering love for His people.

Lynn is celebrating with a Kindle HDX giveaway and a live author chat webcast on October 21st.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on October 21st. Winner will be announced at the Keepers of the Covenant LIVE webcast event on October 21st. Connect with Lynn for a fascinating evening centered around God's unwavering love for His people. She'll be hosting a Biblical fiction book club discussion, giving away prizes, answering your questions, offering an exclusive peek at the next book in The Restoration Chronicles, and much more!

So grab your copy of Keepers of the Covenant and join Lynn and friends on the evening of October 21st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)


Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!

My Thoughts: I have yet to read a Lynn Austin novel I haven't loved. When people ask me who my favorite authors are, she is on that list. A friend told me about her books over 10 years ago, and I'm still loving them! Lynn has a way of making Bible characters come to life, and that's amazing for someone like me who struggles with truely enjoying my time reading the Bible. If you are looking for a good series to dive into, try this one!

Many thanks for a chance to review this novel, but all opinions expressed here are 100% my own!

Amazon Prime Instant Video: Creative Galaxy

I was recently asked to try out a new series produced by Amazon Prime Instant video called Creative Galaxy. I currently nanny for a 4 yr old boy, 2 yr old boy, and at home we have an almost 2 year old and a 4 month old, so plenty of eyes to try this out on :)

I really like how their central theme is finding the fun and beauty in everything. In one episode Arty doesn't want to stop playing with his cars to eat, so they decide to make eating time fun. They turn the dinner table into a city with streats and stoplights, roads and rivers, using mostly recycled items. Milk cartons are skyscrapers, paper towel rolls become traffic lights etc. It gives the kids something fun to look at while they eat their meal. Another time Arty didn't want to take a bath, he wanted to color, so they made soap crayons so he could draw during bathtime. 

There are so many ways to make seemingly "boring" events fun for kids, and I've really enjoyed watching these shows with the kids.

Creative Galaxy, is now available for exclusive unlimited streaming on Prime Instant Video at no additional cost to Prime members. A make-along, create-along art adventure series for children ages three to five, Creative Galaxy comes from Angela Santomero (Super Why!,  Daniel Tigers Neighborhood),  the creator of the hit show Blue’s Clues. The series features “Arty,” an adorable alien artist, and “Epiphany,” his inspirational side-kick, on their adventures through the Creative Galaxy solving problems through art, music and dance. To give kids and parents the real-life tools they need to recreate Arty’s experience, a live-action piece at the end of each animated episode takes families through the craft project Arty showcased in the galaxy. This series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make and create. Art make life joyful. Everywhere one goes art is evident. 

And the skills utilized and learned through making art are vast and useful. In every episode, our characters will use "fix it with art" to model the pervasiveness and importance of art as a resource for life for our home viewers.The series helps kids at home feel as if they are making art along with Arty, through its interactive story format. As "helper artists", the kids at home will “create” alongside Arty, empowering them as “makers” in a media format. Parks use sculptures to add interest and to inform people; posters on walls give information and motivation; the clothes we wear are designed; music plays on the radio to keep your energy levels up; dance has meaning and tells stories. Whether we think of our world as art or not – it is!

To help reinforce what my son is learning from this show, seeing beauty everywhere and using art to make things fun, we decided to make artwork of our own using recycled products.

We decided to turn his high chair tray into a town. We used a plain sheet of printer paper for the bottom, toilet paper roll for the stop light, baby formula can lid for the lake, and old tea box flipped inside out for the house. My son had the truck already in his toybox. It was so much fun to make, and didn't cost us a penny! See what kinds of art and masterpieces you can come up with using what you already have lying around your house.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

October 08, 2014

Jan Karon's NEW Mitford Book Reviewed

After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors.

While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion.
His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business.

All this as Wanda’s Feel Good CafĂ© opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?

My Thoughts:
I have loved all of the Mitford books and this was no exception. Every character feels like family. I've been rooting for Dooley since the day he became part of this series, and I was so happy to read he's doing well and making plans for a future with Lace. And I felt for Sammy who felt like he didn't deserve love and had a hard time trusting people who were nice to him. Being a foster parent, I could relate somewhat. While we've been fortunate to have foster kids who want a family, I'm sure we'll run into our "sammy's" in time. This book also made me want to live in a small close knit town like Mitford. Maybe some day :)

This series would make a GREAT gift for any book lovers in your life who enjoy Christian fiction, that isn't preachy, or family fiction that just draws you in with its lovable characters!!!

Rodelle Baking Supplies

About Rodelle: Responsibly sourced from premier growing regions, Rodelle has been delivering the finest in baking essentials for 75 years. Its pure vanilla, superior extracts and remarkable spice blends have been unrivaled in flavor and quality since 1936. Rodelle’s exclusive collection takes culinary adventure from good to grand. The company believes that choosing premier ingredients is the way for avid chefs to make a difference in their recipes year round.

Rodelle is currently running a great contest, where you could win a year's supply of Rodelle products and/or a KitchenAid Mixer (which I deperately need considering how much baking I do!).

I LOVE to bake, so I was really excited to try some new extracts - vanilla and lemon. The rodelle extracts have a very strong flavor, which I like. I haven't tried the lemon yet, but I've used the vanilla beans, and the vanilla extract!

Here are some images of cakes I've made with the vanilla extract:

Strawberry shortcake

Birthday Cake

Scrabble Birthday Cake

For more information on Rodelle products visit http://www.rodellekitchen.com/

Disclaimer: this post is an entry into this contest!

October 06, 2014

Essie Fall Colors - LOVE!

Essie recently introduced their Fall 2014 colors: live dangerously. dress flawlessly. inspired by espionage and the thrill of the chase, the fall 2014 palette delivers shades so chic it’s almost criminal. If they were going with bold and almost criminal they hit the nail on the head with their red (dressed to kilt) and blue (style cartel). The blue is a bit bold for me, so I won't wear it often, but perfect for holidays like Fourth of July! The red is gorgeous if you want your nails to stand out. Perfect Winter color, but I especially adore the muted earth tones such as "take it outside," "the perfect cover up" & "fall in line." For days that I don't have my wardrobe planned out, these subtle colors are safe bets and will match almost anything.

I have tried MANY brands of nail polish over the years, and sadly, many don't hold up to the test of time. By day 2 or 3 my nails are chipping or peeling, but essie withstood the test of time. I applied 2 coats without any topcoat and the color looked perfect for 4-5 days and only started showing the smallest signs of wear and tear at day 6 or 7. That is impressive for polish without a top coat. I am very happy with this brand and its many products!

Question: With over 300 essie shades to pick from, how do you pick just one?

 Answer: You Don't!!!

If you are already starting your holiday shopping, why not pick up a few bottles of essie polish to give to some beauty minded women or girls in your life??? It makes a great gift or stocking stuffer ;-).

Apple Cider Cake/Cupcake recipe

Apple Cider Cake/Cupcakes

This is one of my favorite seasons to bake for. We have delicious crispy apples, caramel treats (like caramel corn, and caramel apples), apple cider, cinnamon and spice, pumpkin and so much more. To the left was a champagne cake I made a few years back, but I wanted to share a great Apple Cider Cupcake/Cake recipes with you, including cinnamon icing:


For the cake:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 packet of instant apple cider mix (or 2 for extra flavor)
For the Icing:
  • Vanilla icing with 1 T of cinnamon, and dash of nutmeg/cloves
In the bowl of an electric mixer (or mix well by hand), combine all the ingredients for the cake.  Blend until thoroughly mixed.  Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan, or cupcake pan with cupcake liners.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes (or 15-20 for cupcakes), or until a toothpick comes out clean.

October 04, 2014

CoverGirl New Products for Fall/Winter 2014

I recently had a chance to try some of the NEW CoverGirl products below, and I think I've found some new favorites for the upcoming Fall/Winter season!

Lipsticks Smoochies, text me 220: Glide on sheer color and keep lips moisturized with our fabulously flirty Smoochies Lip Balm. Collect all 12 shades — because one smooch is never enough! 

In the past I have not had a favorable review for CG lip products because they had a chemical type taste, but I am thrilled to report that is no longer the case. I am very particular when it comes to odors or tastes in my cosmetics.

I really enjoyed wearing this red tinted Lipsticks Smoochie product, in shade 220 (text me). It kept my lips feeling soft and slick while looking great.  It wasn't an overpowering red, it was just bright enough. I especially love the red color as we head into the Fall season. This is the time to break away from Summer pastels and pinks, and go toward purples, reds, oranges and browns.

Covergirl + Olay Facelift Effect, 310: Get luxurious, flawless coverage combined with the powerful hydrating effects of a night cream. The result? Firmer-looking skin for an instant facelift effect.

Our exclusive Olay FaceFirm technology, infused with a concentrated vitamin complex for all-day hydration and skin renewal, plumps and lifts. After just two weeks of continued use, skin’s natural firmness is improved.

While I tend to be very pale in the Winter, I still have my Summer tan, so this shade was a bit light, and made me look "ghostlike" <--- 2="" a="" added="" after="" as="" aside="" because="" bit="" br="" but="" curious="" description="" experience="" facelift="" felt="" for="" foundation="" from="" having="" husband="" i="" if="" is="" know="" let="" lift="" ll="" m="" me="" mine.="" my="" not="" of="" perhaps="" product="" products.="" s="" see="" shade="" states.="" that="" the="" thick="" this="" to="" weeks="" will="" words="" wrong="" you="">

Covergirl + Olay the Depuffer, 310: COVERGIRL color science and Olay skin science combine to create a beauty revolution aimed specifically at tackling puffiness and dark circles. Olay rejuvenating serum plus cucumber extract soothes puffiness under the eye, while a unique cooling metal-tip applicator massages on concealer as it glides over under eye area.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I struggle most with covering these dark blue bags under my eyes; I've always had them thanks to genetics. The skin under my eyes felt so refreshed after using this product. The cool metal tip applicator instantly relieved my skin, and while the concealer was a good shade, it was very runny. I had to pat it down with my finger after applying to achieve a smooth look.

Bombshell curvaceous by lashblast mascara: New Bombshell Curvaceous Mascara features the revolutionary two-sided Bombshell Boost System for volume, curl, and dramatic intensity.

Step 1: Extreme volume basecoat formula loads on the volume while the curved “push-up” brush creates eye-catching curves. The result? Curvy lashes with lifted volume.

Step 2: Dark, intensifying topcoat that seals the look with a dark, smooth finish; the proprietary micro-thin lacquer offers maximum impact and lasts all day and all night in just one coat.

I chose to only coat my top lashes to open up my eyes, but as you can see, it works! I have light color brows and lashes naturally, so they often get lost without some extra help, and this product did the trick!

So I found some great new products to add to my cosmetic bag for future looks. I expect to use my smoochies products often for day to day use, and may even buy a few for Christmas gifts for the ladies in my life. Who wouldn't like some bright new lip color for a gift? I know I would! I also plan to continue using the CG + Olay Facelift products to see if they work any magic around my eyes, as that's where I'm noticing the wrinkles most right now. To Be continued...

Gorgeous Flowers from the Bouqs

 About the Bouqs:
"Our flowers never sit in a corner store or a dingy warehouse (where they send you the oldest, most-dead flowers they have in the fridge), and they never show up in a van with a 1-800 number on the side. We ship straight from an active volcano where they are grown or from the sunny surf of California, seriously - we’re putting a little romance back in the Bouq. We also cut only what we sell. Other providers source from a supply chain that sees 1 in 3 stems wasted. Across hundreds of thousands of bouquets a year, that’s a lot of wasted land, resources, labor and fuel. We cut only when you order, so we avoid the waste. Finally, our farms provide living wages, childcare, healthcare and adult education. And our growing business supports farm communities, so you can feel good about shopping The Bouqs Company's flowers."

If you aren't already convinced that this is a great company how about I share my experience with you. I decided to order a bouq for my birthday. I realize this sounds a bit silly, but I love getting flowers, so why not, right? They arrived in the morning and were immediately cut and put into water. The rose buds were closed, but by the next day they were open and absolutely gorgeous. While I didn't intend for them to match my kitchen, they ended up doing so, being yellow with red tips. Lovely!

And to make the beauty of this bouquet last longer I decided to hang them to dry, so I can keep them as home decor for years to come.

Even the celebrities are raving about them!!!

To order a Bouq for someone today, visit THIS SITE Now!!! 

October 02, 2014

Deceived by Irene Hannon

For three years, Kate Marshall has been grieving the loss of her husband and their four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was dead. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious but agrees to investigate. Digging into the case he discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret. 

As Irene Hannon's many fans have come to expect, "Deceived "is filled with complex characters, unexpected twists, and a riveting plot line that accelerates to an explosive finish.

My Thoughts: Deceived is volume 3 in the Private Justice series that proves worthy of being a good mystery suspense novel for book lovers. The theme is plausible and entertaining however her books do tend to have the same flow. Man or Women seems they can do it all, only to be put in a dangerous situation where their counterpart comes to their rescue. They just happen to meet that "right person" while the suspense part of the book is taking place, which becomes very predictable after you read a few of her novels, but that's my only complaint.

I received this book free from Revell Publishing but this review is 100% my own.

Paperback Swap!!! (get rid of old books and get new ones)

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

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