Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lady Of A Thousand Treasures by Sandra Byrd

Lady of a Thousand Treasures
by Sandra Byrd
Publisher: Tyndale
ISBN: 978-1496426833

I feel like life has been so busy lately that I've had very little time to do one of my favorite hobbies...read! I think we can all agree that's a travesty. Thankfully, I was chosen to be part of Sandra Byrd's Influencer Team to help kick off the release of her newest book, "Lady of a Thousand Treasures." I was bummed that I was out of the country when her book officially released! On the other hand it was fantastic to see all of the great reviews she's been receiving. I was finally able to finish Lady of a Thousand Treasures after stealing bits of free time here and there!

Summary:

Miss Eleanor Sheffield is a talented evaluator of antiquities, trained to know the difference between a genuine artifact and a fraud. But with her father’s passing and her uncle’s decline into dementia, the family business is at risk. In the Victorian era, unmarried Eleanor cannot run Sheffield Brothers alone.

The death of a longtime client, Baron Lydney, offers an unexpected complication when Eleanor is appointed the temporary trustee of the baron’s legendary collection. She must choose whether to donate the priceless treasures to a museum or allow them to pass to the baron’s only living son, Harry—the man who broke Eleanor’s heart.

Eleanor distrusts the baron’s motives and her own ability to be unbiased regarding Harry’s future. Harry claims to still love her and Eleanor yearns to believe him, but his mysterious comments and actions fuel her doubts. When she learns an Italian beauty accompanied him on his return to England, her lingering hope for a future with Harry dims.

With the threat of debtor’s prison closing in, Eleanor knows that donating the baron’s collection would win her favor among potential clients, saving Sheffield Brothers. But the more time she spends with Harry, the more her faith in him grows. Might Harry be worthy of his inheritance, and her heart, after all? As pressures mount and time runs out, Eleanor must decide whom she can trust—who in her life is false or true, brass or gold—and what is meant to be treasured.


My Review:

I love a good historical novel. When I read one with as much detail as Lady of a Thousand Treasures, I fall in love and get lost in the story! Not sure about you, but I adore antiques. They're such a tangible connection to the past. Author, Sandra Byrd, paid so much attention to the details, I figured she must've earned a degree in antiques! Is there such a thing? lol

The story starts off with Eleanor Sheffield learning that she has a huge decision to make. One that will make a difference in the life of the man she once hoped to be betrothed to. Have you ever thought you knew what was right and true, but then everything around you was pointing you in a different direction? That's what Ellie had to deal with throughout her decision making! That's a lot of pressure for a woman who's trying to keep her family's antique business running!

Unfortunately for Ellie, making the decision about the collection isn't the only pressure she has. A man who was brought in to help with the business seems to have an interest in Eleanor and seems to want to help keep the company afloat. Poor Eleanor has so much going on, how she's able to keep on top of everything seems impossible.

Sadly things start to come apart as we dive deeper into the story. No one seems to be who they claim to be. Thankfully Ellie has a couple of people in her life who are on her side who, without question, are for her! That doesn't help her world from crashing down around her as she tries her best to keep it all together!

Lady of a Thousand Treasures will have you hoping for the best in people, but finding out they're not always who they claim to be. God is always who He claims to be and unlike the people in the story, we see how faithful he is to Eleanor. Why does life have to be so difficult? Eleanor seems to wonder the same thing. For all of her trying and doing things on her own, nothing appears to go right. When God isn't in control and we're not letting others into our lives to help, things tend to take a turn for the worse. Seeking God and sharing burdens with others typically gives a better outcome. Read this book and see for yourself!

About the Author:

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd has now published fifty books. 

Sandra's delighted to kick off her new historical romance series with Tyndale House Publishers, Victorian Ladies, with Lady of a Thousand Treasures. The three-book Victorian Ladies series follows her historically sound Gothic romances, Daughters of Hampshire, launched with the bestselling Mist of Midnight, which earned a coveted Editor's Choice award from the Historical Novel Society. The second book, Bride of a Distant Isle, has been selected by Romantic Times as a Top Pick. The third in the series, A Lady in Disguise, was published in 2017. Check out her contemporary adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake, which was a Christy Award finalist, as was her first historical novel, To Die For: A Novel of Anne BoleynTo Die For was also named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2011, and The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr was named a Library Journal Best Books Pick for 2012. 

Sandra has published dozens of books for kids, tweens, and teens, including the bestselling The One Year Be-Tween You and God Devotions for Girls. She continued her work as a devotionalist, with The One Year Home and Garden Devotions, and The One Year Experiencing God's Love Devotional

Please visit www.sandrabyrd.com to learn more or to invite Sandra to your book club via Skype.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Mermaid Pillow Co. Giveaway

My blogging buddy, Trista over at Andersons Angels is hosting an awesome Mermaid Pillow Co. Giveaway. I've seen these pillows advertised before and thing they're so fantastic! Be sure to check out her review.


What I love is that they're not just for kids. Sure they have them for boys and girls, but they have a nice one for a couple who just got married, people like me who love llamas, birthdays, or you could even create your own!


Yes, it's early, but these would make a great gift for the holidays! Be sure to keep them on your idea list.



Here are a few details about these fun pillows:




  • Front: Soft, huggable Dinosaur illustrated print on smooth velvet (Inspirational Wording: “Dinosaurs Discover”)
  • Back: High-quality, reversible Green & Silver Sequins, smooth to slide
  • Size: 12" x 20" 
  • Bonus: Colorful sequins can be moved to produce endless designs (this pillow is a beautiful canvas for creativity!)
  • Includes: Cover + Removable QualityPillow Insert + Hidden high-quality zipper
  • SAME DAY Shipping: All orders (including international) 
  • FREE Shipping: All USA orders
  • Monday, August 27, 2018

    Jimmy's Famous Seafood

    This past weekend Fred and I headed up to Baltimore to dine at Jimmy's Famous Seafood restaurant. Recently PETA started advertising against the crab industry here in Maryland. If you don't know, crabbing is a HUGE industry here. I realize they're just beginning the conversation, but they've got a long road ahead of them. People in Maryland LOVE their crabs! If my husband had to choose between an unlimited lifetime supply of blue crabs or me, he'd choose the crabs.


    So, after seeing a discussion on Twitter, I figured I needed to take my hubby up to get some crab into his belly and to support the crabbing industry. While I'm more of a turf gal, he's expanded my horizons on what I'll eat and what I've tried in regards to seafood. Kudos to him!

    We actually went up to Jimmy's when they were having a feast that I wish Fred could've partook in. This was our first visit to this restaurant and he's wanted to try it for quite some time. They have 3 different sections to their restaurant. There's a bar area, a restaurant, and a banquet room where the feast was held to support ALS!


    Fred decided on the crab cakes ($41) and I went with their special ($45). The special gave you 3 sections to choose from: Soup, Entree, and Dessert. I had the French onion soup, steak & scallops, and creme brûlée. I thought for sure he was going to have the crabs, but he loves crab cakes.

    The French onion soup came with what looked like a homemade cracker. The waiter had actually come back to upsell Fred on a soup to which he gave in and had a Maryland crab soup. I'm pretty particular on my French onion soup and thought this was tasty overall.


    Our entrees showed up and Fred was really impressed with the size of his crab cakes. He said they were at least a 1/2 pound each. As he was eating them, he said they were probably the best ones he's ever eaten. I was surprised, but I think he liked the size, the flavor, and the fact that they weren't mostly filler. My steak medallions and scallops came with a mash and Brussels sprouts. Unfortunately you can't do any substitutes otherwise I would've gotten a different veggie. THAT being said, I actually enjoyed the sprouts for the first time in my life!



    There was no way I could finish my food. I had a pop to start off our dining, and that always fills me up. My meal wasn't big, it was a lunch size, but I took at least half home. I got my creme brûlée to go, which was a mistake. It became a soup by the time we got home which was really disappointing. It wasn't salvageable so I didn't get a chance to try it. Creme brûlée is one of my favorite desserts so I wish I could've given it a try. I guess we'll just have to go back again!

    Tuesday, August 21, 2018

    More Than Meets The Eye By Karen Witemeyer

    More Than Meets The Eye
    by Karen Witemeyer
    Publisher: Bethany House
    ISBN:

    I was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to read & review More Than Meets The Eye! I've loved the other books I've read by Karen Witemeyer and I sure wasn't going to pass this one up. Not only that, I've already planned for this book to be our second book for my online book club!

    Summary:

    When Her Family Is Threatened, She Doesn't Expect Falling in Love to Be Their Best Defense
    Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes--one bright blue, the other dark brown--Evangeline has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world's judgments, and Evangeline has two--Seth and Zach, fellow orphans she now counts as brothers. 

    Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father's death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. And when Hamilton's unique sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time they cross paths, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

    My Review:

    When we first meet Evangeline, my heart went out to her. This poor little girl on an orphan train with eyes that don't match and causes others to turn her away. Seth and Zach are intent on keeping her (and themselves) safe. Seth is sickly, but determined. Zach is angry, but protective. They make quite the trio.

    As they've grown up, it's clear that people still harbor concerns about Evangeline's mismatched eyes. Even the town they've lived in for years still treat her like she's cursed. Her brothers try to keep her safe and protected from the world around them, but can only hold her curious nature back so much.

    Along comes vengeful Logan Fowler and he tosses everyone's world upside down. Curious Evangeline has to find out who's trespassing on their land, and boy does that turn out hysterical! The fun parts of the story help balance out the more intense moments. It doesn't take long for Logan to realize what a treasure Evangeline is, but his quest to make amends for his family doesn't line up with what he starts to feel for her.

    I was pulled into this story from the start. I immediately wanted to protect Evangeline just like her "brothers" did. I was pulling for each of the orphans, and for them to become a family of their own made sense! Of course, young kids have to do what they can to make things work. As we meet them as adults, it seems like everything has worked in their favor, aside from poor Evangeline's eyes.

    I wasn't sure how Logan's desire to get back what was his would clash with Evangeline and her brothers, but it really hit the mark. There's a good balance of give and take with her family and Logan. I enjoyed the book so much we'll be using it as our book club book for September! I also hope there's more to Zach's story and we'll get to know him more in the future!

    About the Author:

    Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyerwrites historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2018

    Seriously Good Freezer Meals + Blueberry Orange Smoothie Kits Recipe

    Seriously Good Freezer Meals
    by Karrie Truman
    Publisher: Robert Rose
    ISBN: 978-0-7788-0591-5

    The last couple weeks since getting home from Minnesota have been interesting! I've had a lot of time to be Suzy Homemaker. I haven't fully embraced it, but I have been working on preparing meals thanks for the Seriously Good Freezer Meals book I'm reviewing! It's been quite the interesting process getting started. So I'll tell you what I think of the book, and what it's been like starting down this road to freezer meals.

    I definitely liked the first chapter of Seriously Good Freezer Meals of Getting Started chapter. I think some of it was basic information, but definitely necessary. Nothing like getting a refresher course! Some of the things I learned are that avocados (without skins) and garlic cloves are able to go in the freezer!! There's also a great breakdown of freezing dairy products, blanching times for veggies, and how long your meals will last. Each recipe offers a "Bulk Batch Guide". I think 5 batches would be great for a freezer meal exchange!

    Now, it takes some time to build up meals so it'll take me a few more times to have enough meals that I will feel good about having last minute food to feed the family. The only thing I have to remember IS...take the food out to thaw the night before! The days we have sports at night are probably the ones  where we'll use these the most this fall!

    Since I've never made freezer meals, I have a learning curve on prep and shopping! My goal with some of these meals is to do several batches, but a few of the recipes have expensive ingredients. Not only that, I have to get the family to remember we have these meals as well!

    The first thing I made was Perfect Freezer Pancakes. We love eating them, but I never remember to make them unless we're having breakfast for dinner. I have yet to master the art of fluffy pancakes. My friends think I'm stirring too much. Darn it! For breakfast, I also made the Buttery Cinnamon French Toast Bake. I'm holding onto that one for the weekend after school starts.



    One of the things I have a hard time coming up with is side dishes. I can never think of different ones to make, and this way, I don't have to! I'm looking forward to heating up the Cheesy Potatoes because a friend of mine makes a dish similar to this, and it's to DIE for! Fingers crossed this is on par with hers. The next two side dishes I'll be making several batches of are the Mashed Potatoes and Brown 'n' Serve Rolls!


    I made 3 main dishes: Amazing Macaroni and Cheese, Mongolian Beef and Green Beans, and Broccoli Chicken Alfredo Bake. One thing I haven't quite gotten the hang of yet when making these kinds of meals is sealing them at the end of the process. I bought a bunch of aluminum foil pans, but when I put the plastic on top I'm not sure I'm even doing it right to get rid of the air or is it tight enough. Of course the second part of that is putting tin foil on top. Thankfully that should keep the meals good for the short term. The great piece of making these dishes is making meals I've never attempted before. Fingers crossed the Mongolian Beef turns out well!


    The last meal I made was the Creamy, Cheesy Broccoli Soup. Now, this is a dish where I'll be the only one eating it. It calls to put it into a gallon freezer bag, but I used 4 quart sized bags for single-ish servings. Depending on my appetite on of the quart bags could be a couple of meals for me. And I did sample it as I was pouring them into the bags. Oh my, my, my it was good! This I'll be making a TON of batches for.


    Up next I'll be trying desserts. They look pretty scrumptious, and they'd be awesome to have on hand when company comes over or just having a better choice on hand for the family! All in all, I'm really loving Seriously Good Freezer Meals and can't wait to try out more of the recipes!

    Blueberry Orange Smoothie Kits (2 servings)

    1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
    1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, partially thawed
    1/2 banana
    1 cup frozen blueberries
    1/2 cup water

    1. In a small bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, vanilla, and orange juice. Pour 1 tbsp each into 8 cups of an ice cube tray. Freeze for about 2 hours, until solid.

    2. Meanwhile, slice banana into 1/4" slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for about 2 hours, until solid.

    MAKE IT NOW Place the 8 orange juice cubes, frozen blueberries, and frozen banana pieces into a blender. Add water. Blend on High until smooth. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Pour into 2 classes and serve cold.

    MAKE IT A FREEZER MEAL Place the 8 orange juice cubes, frozen blueberries, and frozen banana pieces in a labeled quart-size freezer bag. Seal, removing as much air as possible.

    MAKE THE SMOOTHIES Add contents of freezer bag and water to blender. Blend on High until smooth. Add more water if necessary to get desired consistency. Pour into 2 glasses and serve cold.

    Thursday, August 9, 2018

    Marvel's AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR On Blu-Ray


    Ok, let's be serious for a minute. Your favorite movie of the spring...? Mine was hands down AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! It was an adventure from the moment the first scene came onto the screen! As soon as I found out we were going to get to review the Blu-ray, I knew my family was going to be all over family movie night. We also got the added bonus of having some fun items to help make Infinity Stone sugar cookies! My hubby decided to make an ice cream sandwich out of his cookies! With the extra dough leftovers I made some rainbow cookies, too.


    Avengers: Infinity War, debuting digitally on July 31, 2018 and Blu-ray™ on August 14, 2018. Experience over two hours of exclusive bonus content featuring never-before-seen details behind the scenes, a ten-year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a filmmaker roundtable, deleted scenes and so much more!


    Additionally, Marvel Studios will also release The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron on 4K UHD digitally on July 31, 2018 and physically on August 14, 2018 on the heels of  the Avengers: Infinity War in-home release. PLEASE NOTE PRODUCT IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR THESE SPECIFIC 4K UHD RELEASES.



    I baked up a batch of sugar cookies the colors of the Infinity Stones. Do you know about the Infinity Stones? I'm still trying to get them all straight. Let me help you in case you're unsure:



    The Space Stone / The Tesseract
    Color - Blue
    Power - Generates wormholes for travel to distant places

    The Mind Stone / Vision
    Color - Yellow
    Power - Able to manipulate the minds of others

    The Reality Stone / The Aether
    Color - Red
    Power - Transforms matter

    The Power Stone / The Orb
    Color - Purple
    Power - Able to destroy whole civilizations

    The Time Stone / The Eye of Agamotto
    Color - Green
    Power - Able to alter and manipulate time

    The Soul Stone / Unknown
    Color - Orange
    Power - unknown



    Here's a snippet from the press release:

    “Marvels’ Avengers: Infinity War” is a must-own addition to every in-home film collection and is packaged several ways so that fans get the most out of their viewing experience. Consumers who experience the ultimate showdown Digitally will join a 30-minute roundtable with Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Jon Favreau, Joss Whedon, James Gunn, Ryan Coogler, Peyton Reed and Taika Waititi who reflect on how their movies contribute to the MCU’s larger storytelling adventure.
     
    The 4K Cinematic Universe Edition’s never-before-seen bonus material grants behind-the-scenes access to MCU members and features the memorable moments when characters first meet, the rationale behind some unexpected on-screen pair-ups, and a funny Super Hero gag reel. Featurettes explore the frighteningly powerful Thanos and two action-packed attempts to prevent his collection of all six Infinity Stones: the struggle on Titan and the massive battle in Wakanda. Deleted scenes and filmmaker commentary reveal even more on-set secrets from Marvel Studios’ monumental undertaking.
     
    The Multi-Screen Edition includes a Blu-ray and a Digital Copy of the film, giving viewers the flexibility to watch the film on different devices. Those with 4K Ultra HD capability may opt for a 4K Cinematic Universe Edition, which includes a 4K Ultra HD disc, a Blu-ray, and a Digital Copy.
     
    And for those who wish to catch up on their MCU history, select retailers are also offering bundled packaging as well as individual Digital and Physical releases of “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”



    BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):

    Blu-ray & Digital: 

  • Strange Alchemy (5:08)– Share the thrill of characters from across the MCU meeting for the first time—and discover why some were teamed up together.
  • The Mad Titan (6:34) – Explore the MCU’s biggest, baddest villain, his trail of influence through the stories, and the existential threat he represents.
  • Beyond the Battle: Titan (9:36) – Dive into the climactic struggle on Thanos’ ruined world, including the epic stunts and VFX, to uncover the source of its power.
  • Beyond the Battle: Wakanda (10:58) – Go behind the scenes to find out how the filmmakers pulled off the most massive and challenging battle Marvel had ever attempted.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (10:07)
    • Happy Knows Best (1:23) – Tony and Pepper spar over the details of their upcoming wedding—until a hassled Happy Hogan pulls up with an urgent request.
    • Hunt for the Mind Stone (1:24) – On a darkened street, Wanda Maximoff and the wounded Vision attempt to hide from Thanos’ brutal allies.
    • The Guardians Get Their Groove Back (3:20) – As Peter Quill and Drax quarrel over their failed mission to Knowhere, Mantis interrupts with news.
    • A Father’s Choice (4:00) – Thanos confronts Gamora with a vision from her past—and with lying to him about the Soul Stone.
    • Gag Reel (2:05)– Watch your favorite Super Heroes make super gaffes in this lighthearted collection of on-set antics.
    • Audio Commentary (approx. 149 min.) by Anthony and Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. 
  • Digital Exclusive:
    • A Directors’ Roundtable (approx. 32 min.) – Eight amazing directors reflect on how their movies contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s larger storytelling adventure.

    Be sure to get your hands on this movie either digitally (it was already available July 31st) when it comes out August 14th. Don't forget to follow Avengers on social media to keep up on all of the excitement!

    Facebook: Facebook.com/Avengers
    Twitter: Twitter.com/Avengers
    Instagram: Instagram.com/Avengers

    Friday, July 20, 2018

    Birthday Freebies

    Have you ever wondered what you could get for free on your birthday? Here are ones I checked in July 2018:


    Perkins: Slice of pie, muffin, or cookie


    Denny's: Grand Slam


    Dunkin' Donuts: Beverage


    Nothin' Bundt Cakes: Bundtlet


    Caribou Coffee: Beverage any size (14 days to redeem)


    Portillo's: Piece of cake

    Red Robin:

    Claim Jumper:

    Rainforest Cafe:

    Starbucks: Drink ON your birthday


    Jersey Mikes:

    Vera Bradley:

    Krispy Kreme:

    Famous Daves: Dessert with a paid meal

    Steak 'n Shake:

    Buffalo Wild Wings:

    DQ:

    Ihop:

    Baskin Robbins:

    Panera: Pastry within 10 days


    Do you have suggestions as to where else you can get a freebie?

    Tuesday, July 17, 2018

    The Masterpiece By Francine Rivers

    The Masterpiece
    by Francine Rivers
    Publisher: Tyndale
    ISBN: 978-1-4964-0790-0

    Every year when I come back to Minnesota I join my old book club for their book of the month! It's one of my favorite things to do when I come home. Spending an evening with friends like we always did once a month, what could be better? I found out they were doing Francine Rivers' book The Masterpiece and was SO excited. If you've ever read a book by Francine Rivers, you know why I was so excited. If you haven't, then you're missing out. I reached out to Tyndale House hoping I could do a review of the book, and they agreed!

    Summary:

    New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to her romance roots with this unexpected and redemptive love story, a probing tale that reminds us that mercy can shape even the most broken among us into an imperfect yet stunning masterpiece.

    A successful LA artist, Roman Velasco appears to have everything he could possibly want—money, women, fame. Only Grace Moore, his reluctant, newly hired personal assistant, knows how little he truly has. The demons of Roman’s past seem to echo through the halls of his empty mansion and out across his breathtaking Topanga Canyon view. But Grace doesn’t know how her boss secretly wrestles with those demons: by tagging buildings as the Bird, a notorious but unidentified graffiti artist—an alter ego that could destroy his career and land him in prison.

    Like Roman, Grace is wrestling with ghosts and secrets of her own. After a disastrous marriage threw her life completely off course, she vowed never to let love steal her dreams again. But as she gets to know the enigmatic man behind the reputation, it’s as if the jagged pieces of both of their pasts slowly begin to fit together . . . until something so unexpected happens that it changes the course of their relationship—and both their lives—forever.


    My Review:

    When my friend told me once I started reading The Masterpiece I wouldn't want to put it down, I thought she might be exaggerating slightly. I couldn't have been more wrong, and she couldn't have been more right! From page one, I was hooked!

    Francine Rivers' writing draws the reader in and holds on to them until the very end. Actually this book in many respects reminded me of Bridge to Haven, which I read not too long ago. The characters have so much depth and realness. 

    Roman was easy to dislike at the start of the story. He was living a very worldly life and only concerned for himself. Then there was Grace, a broken woman trying to find a way to make ends meet and figure out if she was keeping her son or giving him up for adoption. Two people who have been hurt tend to have walls built. Grace and Roman are no exception.

    Book club was fun discussing the book. One gal thought Roman was a jerk. We all got a chuckle out of her response. Our hearts all went out to Grace. Our discussion was wonderful and insightful. The questions at the end of the book helped with our chat. Be sure to give them some thought after you read the book!

    We agreed that we like how Francine wrote chapters specific to flashbacks of Grace & Roman's individual pasts. It gave us insights to how they became the people we meet in the story. Those chapters made them relatable, and I think helps us as readers to remember that the people we meet have a story.

    Be prepared when you start this book to stay up late and to tell yourself, "Just one more chapter!"

    About the Author:
    New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers had a successful writing career in the general market for several years before becoming a born-again Christian. As her statement of faith, she wrote Redeeming Love, a retelling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set during the time of the California Gold Rush. Redeeming Love is now considered by many to be a classic work of Christian fiction and it continues to be one of the industry's top-selling titles year after year.

    Since Redeeming Love, Francine has published numerous novels with Christian themes—all bestsellers—and she has continued to win both industry acclaim and reader loyalty around the world. Her Christian novels have been awarded or nominated for many honors, and in 1997, after winning her third RITA Award for Inspirational Fiction, Francine was inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. In 2015, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Francine's novels have been translated into over thirty different languages, and she enjoys bestseller status in many foreign countries.
    Francine and her husband live in northern California and enjoy time spent with their grown children and grandchildren. She uses her writing to draw closer to the Lord, and she desires that through her work she might worship and praise Jesus for all He has done and is doing in her life.
    Visit her website at www.francinerivers.com and connect with her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FrancineRivers) and Twitter (@FrancineRivers).

    Tuesday, July 3, 2018

    Precious Moments 40th Anniversary & Review

    What do you think of when you hear the company, Precious Moments? I think of how beloved their figurines are and how meaningful they are to the people who have them. The little faces of the sweet characters, whether they're from the birthday train, celebrating a wedding, or just because, they just warm the heart. I was so delighted to be able to share my memories of having them and collecting them since the early 1990s for this review.



    The year I was married to my first husband, we found a wonderful tree topper that was a Precious Moments angel. We used her for years until I passed her on to my daughter. My mom got in on the action and started doing a collection of yearly mini plates, bells, and figurines for each of my daughters. Let me just say, they have quite the collection. Then my former mother-in-law started collecting them for me and giving me a new figurine every Christmas!

    This is the Precious Moments BIG 40th Anniversary! I feel like they've been around for a lot longer. They're such collectors items that you'd think they were celebrating 100 yrs. It's wonderful being able to celebrate such a wonderful anniversary with them!


    See what I mean? Everyone knows how sweet these figurines are and they make the sweetest gift! When I had the opportunity to do a review, I wasn't sure what I wanted to review, that would be meaningful to me. At first I was going to do this adorable wedding figurine for my daughter's upcoming wedding, but since I already had a gift for her, I decided to get something for myself.


    I love my garden. It's my place of peacefulness and relaxation. I spend most of my time in the garden reflecting and talking to the Lord. Sometimes I try to solve all of the problems in my life as I pull the weeds in my garden.


    One thing lacking in my garden is anything decorative. Up until now I didn't have any statues or garden decor. If I was going to add something, I wanted it to "add" to it, not distract from it. Yea I'm a bit picky about my flower garden. HA! After searching for the perfect way to start, I found the "Faithful and Feathered Feeder", Bird Feeder.


    The bird feeder has just the right spot at the corner of the garden. Earlier this spring I had to pull out a plant that didn't make it this year. That left the corner of my garden open with just dirt. There wasn't a good transition and this filled that spot wonderfully!


    Watching birds come to a feeder is incredibly relaxing so having this sweet feeder included in my garden brings a smile to my face every time I see it. Now, the only thing I have to do is add sand so that it'll be sturdy in case some rogue squirrels try to get to the bird seed.


    We'll have to figure out a way to drain any water that might collect from rain. I was talking to the hubby about it and he has some ideas on how to do that. All I need is seed all over the ground. lol I'm looking forward to enjoying this bird feeder in the years to come!

    Saturday, June 16, 2018

    Hersheypark Birthday Fun

    My baby, my youngest child turned 15 on June 2nd. I don't even know how that's possible. To say time flies is putting it mildly. I mean, we're almost halfway through 2018!!! I've been so busy lately with work, having my daughter's wedding on my mind, and life in general, planning something for his birthday kept getting pushed off. I finally reached out to Hersheypark to see if we could work together and thankfully (and graciously) agreed! That means this post is sponsored by them.



    Speaking of last minute, I also told my hubby it would be awesome if his dad could come with us. He made a phone call to see if Pap could come, and with a few arrangements he agreed! I went online and got him a ticket. Let's talk tickets really quick. Through June 30 if you purchase your tickets you get the kids price. What I like about buying tickets online is that the ticket is valid all summer!


    We grabbed Pap since he's not too far from Hershey, PA, and got up to the park around noon. Next time we're staying up there because we always get a late start thanks to me. I'm the person who wants to be at the amusement park when the gates open until they close! I think they're meant to be enjoyed and soaked in as much as possible.


    Since we were heading up to Hersheypark for my son's birthday, I wanted the kids to be able to take in as many of the rides and enjoy the waterpark as much as possible. Instead of doing my usual planning of our rides, I let it all play out and the boys chose where to go. Pap and I did a lot of people watching and I took lots of pictures of the rides. I love that this park has something for everyone. He and I went on the Tea Cups and Carrousel. The guys started their rides in The Hallow with the Comet and Skyrush rollercoasters. Fred didn't go to the Super Dooper Looper with the boys, but came to find Pap and I who had been getting drinks, an ice cream cone, and a King Size Shake!


    From there we headed to the Boardwalk & Water Rides. We ran across the Hersheypark Band as we walked to the rides. Wow were they fun to watch! They have two new rides this year: Breakers EdgeSM Water Coaster and WhitecapSM Racer. There's so much to do there, and thankfully it's included in your park admission! Pap & I grabbed a couple of low chairs to do some people watching. You can't really watch the Coaster ride, but the Racer is great to wait at the bottom to see who comes out first. Before getting on the Racer, be sure to grab your wrist bracelets. That's how they can keep track of your speed down the ride. Jacob's friend, Aaron, ended up in 2nd place for the day! While the boys and Pap relaxed for a bit, Fred and I went around the Intercoastal Waterway. It was so relaxing.



    In case you have little kids, there are a TON of rides for the wee ones. To start you can go to the Bayside Pier with water no deeper than 18". The East Coast Waterworks is a super fun place for the kids to find adventure. Sandcastle Cove is a wonderful place to explore and play in water. Lastly the Shoreline Sprayground is a great place to get wet with sprays, fountains, and jets.



    The boys had changed while Fred & I were going around the Waterway so while I changed, the two older boys did the Sidewinder and then the Storm Runner. Those are two rides that would have me losing my cookies. hahahaha



    After those two rides, we were all hungry for dinner so we headed to Hersheypark Place. We chose that location because they will celebrate birthdays if you let them know about it, which Pap did! Man am I good at training the men in my life! So, at the end of the meal, they brought my youngest a sundae and sang to him. What a fantastic way to spend your 15th birthday!



    With dinner over, the boys headed to a few more rides and Pap insisted Fred & I get our portraits done by an artist. Fred went first and I went shopping! Listen, I needed to find a way to spend my time. Besides, it started raining, and I wanted to be dry for my portrait. I got my Doodle a t-shirt for him to remember his day and then went to the S. Claus & Co. Gift Shop. Every year when we go to an amusement park I purchase an ornament for Christmas. This year's won't include Fred or me because the most "characters" I could find on an ornament was 8 and we'd 9 since we have the privilege of adding my future son-in-law this year. I went with a 7 character one and just put all of the kids' names on them.



    I went back to get my portrait done, and the boys were heading back from their rides. The gal who did it was incredible and really captured both of us. The boys never had the chance to get on the Great Bear roller coaster. Even though the rain had stopped they didn't start the ride again. The boys were bummed, but they had such an incredible day, they didn't complain.


    I'm already dreaming of when we can go back. I can't wait and we have a lot of summer birthdays! I think any excuse would work: birthday, anniversary, it's summer, it's a warm day, it's Tues (or whatever day you want to insert), etc. I hope you have the chance to get up there this summer and have as much fun as we did.

     
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    Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.