Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fool For Books Giveaway Hop (ends 4/2) (CLOSED)


I am so excited to be a part of this giveaway hop!  I have worked hard to find some tremendous things for this giveaway, and I hope that many of you will enter.  And visit everyone else too!

I am offering four packages for this giveaway.  I will tell you up front that all books are used, but mostly are gently used.  I am also willing to ship anywhere--this is open internationally.

Here are the four packages:

Package #1:   A Treasury Of Top Secret RecipesCelebrating Love: Share, Remember, Cherish  (this is new) and a little flower address book.

Package #2:  Scandal Becomes Her  Hot Wheels and High Heels

Package #3:  Tale Of Two Cities (Watermill Classics)  Sense and Sensibility (Signet Classic)  (these seem a little more worn on the covers)

Package #4:    This one contains four books my daughter no longer wants.  They include The Big Bug Book, Hollie Hobbie's Cookbook (I had this when I was growing up--it is my first cookbook), Daisy's Nature Hunt, Favorite Bible Stories and Verses.
(These are more worn, but I would love to see someone enjoy them.)

So here is how you enter.

1.  Follow me via google friend connect.
2.  Like my new facebook page.  Please leave your user name.
3.  Share giveaway any way you like and leave the link if applicable.
4.  Post my button on your blog.  Please leave the URL so I can verify it.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry.  Also make sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment or make it visible in your profile.  The giveaway ends promptly 9 P.M. Pacific Time on April 2.  

Don't forget to visit the other blogs involved in the giveaway hop!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--The Cat Who Robbed a Bank Review

Summary from goodreads:
In this new installment in the bestselling Cat Who... mystery series Qwilleran and his brilliant Siamese put their whisker-twitching crime solving talents to task to find a killer.

The residents of Pickax are delighted that the old bombed-out Pickax Hotel is reopening with a whole new look. With new furnishings, a new chef, and even a new name, what could be more thrilling? Everyone is thrown into a topspin when one of the hotel's first guests, a jeweler who has come to town to buy heirloom jewelry from some of Pickax's oldest families, winds up the victim of murder. Who could have committed such a horrible crime? Could it be the hotel clerk, a recent winner of a gold medal for the caber toss at Highland Games?

Qwilleran and his snooping Siamese are willing to go to any length to find the killer and set the town at ease. But first they'll have to contend with a highjacked bookmobile, an attempted bank robbery... and a few of the cat's preoccupations. Koko has a newfound fondness for pennies and Koko and Yum Yum both are obsessed with chewing on gum wrappers - but for entirely different reasons, of course.

Sit back, relax and unwind with another fabulous feline mystery by Lilian Jackson Braun!

The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (Cat Who..., #22)The Cat Who Robbed a Bank by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I cannot honestly say I remember how I found this book, but since it was a mystery, and it concerned cats, I thought it might be an interesting read.  I have to say I was somewhat disappointed.  I realize this is a series of books, and I came in now knowing any of the characters, but I nearly gave up reading it afer about 50 pages.  I think some time after that, I began to get somewhat interested.

I loved the two Siamese cats, and I loved thier owner.  They were well-portrayed, and they were what kept me reading.  I also liked the fact that it happened in a small town.  so often these kinds of stories take place in a big city.

What I did not like is that the mystery was not even a real mystery.  I would have preferred not knowing so many of the details of the mystery halfway into the book.  The reader was told too much about the case, and that ruined it for me.  I enjoyed how the cats always knew certain things, but it would have been nicer to just have those details and not the police facts.

I do not know what the relationship was between the main male and female character.  Of course, I have not read the other books, but why are they not dating or married?  I also do not like the fact that the main character is not willing to come to terms with his own past.  It bothers me that he refuses to accept that.  I enjoyed learning about his past, but he ruined it!

In short, it is your choice, but I would not readily recommend this book to anyone.  It is a fine writing style--certainly nothing against the author.  But I wish it had more depth in the actual mystery portion.  I would have loved to have seen more from the cats!!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Twinkle Tuesday--Azo Yeast and Yeastgard Review

I have spoken about my yeast infection issues before on here.  I had a chronic yeast infection years ago that lasted a good nine months.  It was horrid--it went into bacterial vaginosis, and it just seemed that nothing knocked it out.  The weird thing is that is was only as I began to lose weight and eat healthier that I got a yeast infection!

I had a product that I was using to keep it away, but the company discontinued making them.  I found a substitute product, and the company quit making those, too.  So towards the end of last year, I went off any products to help keep them away.  I got one minor infection, but it was easily cleared up.

Major family stress entered my life.  I was still eating fairly healthily and working out, but I now was suffering from another yeast infection that would not go away.  It was maddening!  I would just about get over it, and it would come back.  I didn't want to have to go to the doctor because I knew it would still takes months to get over it.

I began my own investigation.  I discovered that there were plenty of natural remedies out there.  I don't remember which I first tried, but I decided to try the following products:

Now to review the products.   The Azo Yeast tablets are taken once a day to prevent an infection and three per day to help treat an active infection.  The price is good, and these are readily available.  I will say that I have been taking three per day,  and I know it has been helping.  I don't  know if they would work by themselves--I have read some reviews where people have tried to use this by itself, but it usually does not work without something additional.

And the yeastgard suppositories were the very thing to use in addition to this.  I had used every kind of suppository over the counter, and they were very messy and strong.  These are nice and easy, and you feel good about them because they are all natural.  I don't know about you, but the antifungal creams are so messy and sometimes burn.  I found that these natural suppositories cleaned me out better.  And you can use them as often as you need to!

At this point, I am just about yeast infection free.  It has been a good month of using these, but it is actually working.  And I feel good realizing I can use these as much as necessary.

By the way, neither company knows I am reviewing these--it is my own opinion.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #13 (and a giveaway--ends 4/24) (closed)

Tonight's review is another CD from the library.  I have been a Sara Evans fan for a while (not sure about the current surrogate thing).  I only have two of her albums.  One was before she made it, and the other is her greatest hits album (which I somehow have misplaced).  I decided to try one of her well-known albums.  I was glad to realize that her first three songs  Of course, there is the title track followed by Saints and Angels (gorgeous!) and I Could Not Ask For More.  These songs are absolutely some of her best.  Beautiful melodies and lyrics.

She follows these with some pretty good songs I Keep Looking, I Learned That From You, and then Why Should I Care?  That song is a real gem, in my opinion.  The last four songs are fine, but probably only second  rate.  They are certainly fine, but just not her best offerings.

Enjoy this video from the album.  Think Wizard of Oz!

On to the giveaway.  I just thought I should do something special for my followers and readers.  So I am going to offer a very special giveaway of this album to one reader.  I will ship this anywhere in the world, so internationals are welcome!  Please make sure you add one comment for each entry and provide a way for me to contact you (e-mail address visible in your google account is fine).

So to the entry methods (1 entry/comment per method unless otherwise stated):

1.  Be/become a google friend connect follower.
2.  Subscribe via e-mail and/or RSS. (1 comment per method)
3.  Sincerely comment on the video posted.  What do you think of it, and why?
4.  Friend me on facebook.  Please leave your user name.
5.  Like my page on facebook.  Please leave your user name.  (2 entries, 2 comments)
6.  Post my button on your blog.  Please leave the link so I can verify it.  (3 entries, 3 comments)
7.  Share my giveaway any way you like.  You may share once a day per method.  Please leave any applicable links.  (1entry/comment per share)
8.  Enter my Cover Your Hair Giveaway.  (4 entries, 4 comments)
9.  Follow Sara Evans via facebook, twitter, you tube, my space, and/or mailing list..  1 comment/entry per method.  Please leave any user names so I can confirm as needed.

And the unlimited entry method!

Comment on your various likes in music.  It doesn't have to be about Sara Evans, but if it is, I will give you a bonus entry.  Only one bonus entry per entrant.  After your Sara Evans comment, just leave a comment saying you commented about Sara Evans.  You may comment about as many different musicians as you like, leave links, etc.  I am always willing to learn!

This giveaway will end April 24 at 9 P.M. Pacific Time.  Thanks for your loyalty!

Notice that you may enter the contest here and also on this post which will tell the exciting additions to the prize package.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Solution Sunday--I Am Dropping Two Challenges

Well, it pains me to do this, but I am crossing two challenges off my list.  Due to family issues and no longer having my weekends to get caught up have made it impossible to get these two challenges caught up.  I have missed too many times.  I have decided I will get to the organizing challenge as I am able to--spring break is coming up--and I am doing away with the read-along on Queen of the Castle.

I will keep the other challenges going, and I think I will post about them all right now--the book challenges that is.  That is all that is left.

I feel rather deflated.  My family life is so chaotic, and I am having to go outside and work every weekend.  The house is a mess.  And I cook almost all of the meals even though I am a substitute teacher in 10 school districts, and I am a single mother.  My mom is in debt due to all the work being done around here.  But I plan to get back to these challenges once next week comes.  So maybe it's not so horrible after all.

Well, enough of that.  I still have other challenges to update.  So here goes.I started this challenge last week, and I already got one book read.  Read the review here.


I did read another book for this challenge, and I reviewed it here.


 Finally a book in this challenge!  I did it.  I just didn't like it.  Read my review here.

That's it for tonight!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Satisfied Saturday--I Know I Really Am Losing It

I know I am under so much stress.  Between my dad, Martin, our animals--I am not doing well.  I just lost my voice after yelling at my daughter's cat.  Maybe he is stressed, too.  He has taken to coming into the house at bedtime and running around the house as I chase him.  I don't know what his problem is, but I yelled so loudly at him--that's really not like me.  But so much lately is not like me.  I am depressed, and I feel like crying so often.  I have had it with Martin--I won't go into details, but he is going through his normal  "I have to go back to England soon, and I am not happy, and my life is horrible, so I'll take it out on Ruth" mood.

Enough of all that.  I did manage to plan out meals.  Last week's meals turned out well.  This week, I used one cookbook and two magazines.  We'll see what happens.

Meals 1 and 2 are from this book.  They are:

Beef and Barley Soup p. 132 with some kind of bread

Pork Stew p. 188 with some kind of rolls or bred

Meal 3 comes from Rachael Ray's Everyday Magazine April 2011 issue:
Cluck a L'orange p. 89 with rice and veggies

Meal 4 comes from Family Circle April 17, 2011 issue:
Chicken Parmesan

I really have to figure out a better way of dealing with my issues.  I need to learn to let the cat calm himself down even if it means my daughter doesn't get to sleep with him.  And I have to learn to let things go and not let them build up.  I know all this, but why did I not follow what I needed to do?  Oh well, I guess bad days comes to everyone.  I can't even blame it on hormones or PMS!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--Amazon Android App Store

I don't know if you know, but Amazon just this week launched a fantastic app store for your Android device.

  I have a G! phone, and although it is not a new phone, it works well.  I have been increasingly disenchanted with the Android Market.  I had downloaded something else to help me find apps, but for the most part, that app has apps that are not compatible with my device.

I got an e-mail, and I downloaded their app store.  The best feature, I think, is that they are giving away a free app every day--at least for a while.  So far, I hadn't really seen anything I needed until today.  Today the featured app was Shazam Encore.    There is a free version, but I got to download the paid version for free.  I wasn't sure I would use it, but I am sold on it!  I am one of those people who is always listening to new music on the radio and forgetting to look it up later.  Imagine being able to hold up your phone to the radio and having your phone tell you the singer, the song, etc.  That is what I did today!  It was awesome!  The free version only lets you "tag" 5 songs per month, but I have the paid version (for free), and I have unlimited tags.  I am excited to start looking up some new music tonight!

Check it out, if you get a chance!            

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Slow:Life in a Tuscan Town Review

Summary from goodreads:

SLOW: Life in a Tuscan Town is an unprecedented photographic personal journey into the heart of hidden Tuscany that celebrates the principles that define the Slow Food movement and pays tribute to the region’s kaleidoscope of vibrant characters, whose shared culture revolves around the everyday pleasure of growing, preparing, and eating food.

With an anecdotal charm reminiscent of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, Douglas Gayeton’s interplay of pictures and words conveys a thrilling narrative that transports you halfway around the globe to the charming town of Pistoia, nestled in the outskirts of Florence. There we meet the mushroom hunters and sheep farmers, the winemakers and fishermen, the bakers, butchers and chocolate makers whose lives are profoundly bound to the rhythms of nature. It is a riveting story told in a riveting way: each image comprised of multiple photographs taken over a period of time that can range anywhere from ten minutes to several hours, and layered with Gayeton’s handwritten notes, recipes, facts, and sayings. With this process, Gayeton has managed to introduce the concept of story and time; both compressed and exploded, into his portraits. The result is a photographic approach critics have dubbed flat film; the effect is exhilarating. 

As Gayeton observes, “What my eyes saw was always grander than any lens could capture…How could I introduce the presence of time, of an emerging and evolving story comprised of not one, but many moments, into a single photograph?” In the accompanying text, Gayeton offers an absorbing first person account of his immersion into rural Italian culture, offering an intimacy that draws us deeper into this romantic and rustic world. A photographer, a pioneering new media creator, a wonderful writer and an award winning documentarian, Gayeton is passionately interested in food, culture, art, and people.

Slow: Life in a Tuscan TownSlow: Life in a Tuscan Town by Douglas Gayeton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I will be honest.  Before I began this book, I was pretty sure I would not like it. At some point, I had added it to my list, and I thought that maybe I would give it three stars if I even finished it.

I have to say that I was wrong!  Yes, the pictures were fantastic, but I was so engaged in the story that I hated to put it down.  It was a bulky book to carry with me, but I learned so much that it was worth it!

I was enthralled by the author's descriptions of a part of this world that I thought no longer existed.  I found myself talking about this book on countless occasions and having random thoughts and memories about it at various times.

This book is much more than pictures.  It is a portrait of life through multimedia that truly encapsulates a people and a life that should inspire us to consider our own rat race existence.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Twinning Murders by Shelly Frome Book Tour

 You can read my review of this book here.

This is the first time I ever read a full book in "ebook" form.  I have to admit that I prefer the printed books, but I can see the benefits of ebooks.  Perhaps if I had an e-reader I would enjoy them more.

You can learn more about this book tour over here.  And if you are interested in learning more about the author, check out more information about him here

The guest post that was scheduled for today did not work out at least for right now.  I do want to take a moment and say that even though my book review was somewhat on the negative side, it does not mean that I would not read another of Shelly Frome's books.  I would be most interested.  This book was not my taste, but it does not mean that others would not enjoy it.  I did like the setting and the descriptions in the book.

You can also check out Shelly Frome's page here.

I am glad I was able to be a part of this book tour.  I think I got things right this time except I realize I should have posted this earlier in the day.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Twinkle Tuesday--Cover Your Hair Review and Giveaway (ends 4/5) CLOSED

I have the great privilege and honor to review a wonderful company tonight.
Cover Your Hair is a company that I have known about for a while.  I have loved their wonderful selection of hair clips, bows, and everything imaginable for covering your hair!  I have also noticed their inexpensive prices.  I was so pleased when they contacted me to do a review.  I got to review the following item:

This is called an Israeli Tichel.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  When it arrived (and it arrived very quickly!), I was very pleased to see that is was rectangular piece of fabric like this:
I immediately knew how I would use this.  I don't have really long hair right now, but I have long sides that sometimes get in the way of cooking or working around the house.  And the summer is coming.  I have used a big spider clip or the like when I needed my hair out of my face.  But it usually falIls down or hurts my head.  I folded this material in half triangularly, and I tied it around my head.  I was amazed to see that this item stayed in place!  I never had to readjust it.  Martin, my best friend, thinks it looks silly, but I found it very comfortable.  It was so nice not to have my hair fall into my eyes while cutting up vegetables or meat.  I also love the fact that the item is well-made and will not fray easily.  

Just so you know, they do not just sell these kinds of hair coverings.  They sell all sorts of women's accessories.  Here is a sampling of the kinds of things you will find our their site.

And oh so much more on their fantastic site!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #12

I told you I would have a couple to review tonight, and I do!  Aren't you proud of me???

This is my first CD to review.  Yes, it's Brad Paisley again, and I have to admit I liked this CD from start to finish.  I still wish Brad would go back to what he used to do instead of being silly and writing dumb songs.

I can relate to Long Sermon.  Who has not been in church on a beautiful Sunday morning when it seems that the service will never end?  Me!!  Me Neither is a really cute song.  I love all the lines he uses in the song to pick the girl up, and he always plays it off like he was testing her or joking around.  These kinds of songs I do like.  Who Needs Pictures is a heart-breaking, sweet song, and Don't Breathe is also pretty sweet and tender.  He Didn't Have to Be always makes me cry.  It was a big hit for him, and it always makes me think of my daughter and how maybe someday she will be in that position.  It Never Woulda Worked Out Anyway is another funny song.  And another sad song is Holdin' Onto You.  Another sad song is I've Been Better.  His next song was another big hit--We Danced.  I have always loved this song.  Even before I knew who Brad Paisley was.  His songs are so sweet on this album--even the sad ones.  Another funny song is Sleepin' on the Foldout.  I think most married men can relate to this.  I think those of us who have lived in Texas can relate to Cloud of Dust.  Then he moves on to his instrumental song--I really enjoy these. It's called Nervous Breakdown.  And he ends with In the Garden.  Oh, he needs to release a gospel country album!  He is so good at those.  I wonder why he has changed so much.

I said I have another one to review.  I started listening to this a long time ago.  It is one of my favorite CD's from one of my favorite singers. I have loved Michael Crawford for so long, and I don't think there is a single song on this album that is not good.  It's nice to hear him sing an upbeat song like Any Dream Will Do.  He is wonderfully romantic in All I Ask of You.  I think he could have played Raoul in his younger days in Phantom.  Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again is one of my favorite songs, and he truly makes it his own even though is was originally a female song.  And the Money Kept Rolling In  is really nice to hear from him.  So often, he only sings those wonderful romantic ballads.  He used to sing fast songs--I always loved him in Barnum.  I was unfamiliar with Nothing Like You've Ever Known until he sang it--great rendition!  And the poignancy of Tell Me On a Sunday truly comes through.  Then we come to a very dramatic song  of his--he generally opens his concerts  with Gethsemane.  I realize that this song is not completely true to Jesus and the Garden, but I was challenged in Bible college to listen to the song and reflect on Jesus's humanity.  We as Christians often forget it.  I have to say, he does a phenomenal job--no one does it better that I have ever heard.  Phantom of the Opera is only ruined by the soprano who cannot hit the high notes.  And his version of Music of the Night is not his finest.  The finest I ever heard was when he sang it live (I saw him in concert in 1998).  I am not truly fond of Memory, however he sings it well.  I still prefer it in its original context with Elaine Paige singing it.  I like hearing him sing a song where he has to relax and go into his pop voice--Only You.  Then he sings a duet with his daughter--Other Pleasures/First Man You'll Remember.  You can tell he loves that.  And he ends with Love Changes Everything.  It just doesn't get much better than this!!

I am leaving a link to a video--I haven't heard this in a very long time!  It is not the exact version on the CD, but I enjoy it.

Announcing Winners!

As you may know, two of my giveaways ended last night.

As you might remember, my Purex giveaway was supposed to have 3 winners.  Well, after I posted the giveaway, I happened upon another coupon, so I decided to throw a surprise into the mix--there would be 4 coupons instead of 3.

When I had chose the winners, our first winner won twice.  I offered this winner two coupons, but due to this person's generosity they  chose just one so someone else could win, too.  So there were four winners--comments 33, 35, 52, and 4.  All winners have contacted me.  So I will be getting these out to you soon.

As for the Chobani giveaway, I am still awaiting one person's response.  The two winners were comments 103 and 22.  shala_darkstone, than you for contacting me.  I am still waiting for The Knapps!  Please contact me soon so I can get the info off to the sponsors.

Thanks for entering my giveaways.  I will get another one listed by tomorrow, and possibly even more to come.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Solution Sunday--A New Challenge Tonight

Okay, first of all, sorry for not posting my recipes this week--I did them,  but I just did not get around to posting.  If I have time tomorrow, I will get caught up on this.

Next, I did not get a lot done with my challenges this week, but I am giving myself this weekend off--we had company.  I will get caught up with posting about them this coming week.  Really, between company and things at home, I just cannot get to it all.

And last, you read this right.  I am joining in a new challenge--book challenge.  It is not something really different, but I am going to spend the time posting about it tonight and catching up with everything on my challenges next weekend.  I am sure you are tired of hearing about all my many woes, but family trouble does sometimes put a damper on things.

Over at Callapidder Days, I will be linking up for the following challenge:

Her rules are very simple (which is why I am adding this).  And you have until the 24th of this month to link up and join in (if you want to be eligible for the prizes).  It is truly the easiest you will ever find if you like to read.  What I love about this challenge (I did one of hers last fall) is that I am able to plan out the books I am reading and actually make a list.  So rather than wondering what I am reading next, it is all in front of me.  And there are no penalties if you cannot do all the reading you say you will do.

So here are the books I plan to read:
1.  Slow:  Life in a Tuscan Town (currently reading; want to read)
2.  The Cat Who Robbed a Bank (just started yesterday; for the Mystery Challenge)
3.  Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton (reading this for publisher review)
4.  The Daughter's Walk: A Novel (for published review)
5.  How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships ( for the What 's in  a Name? challenge)
6.  Tess of the D'Urbervilles (Penguin Classics) (for the Historical Fiction challenge--and I want to read it!)
7.  Mansfield Park (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (for the Jane Austen challenge)
8. Adam Bede (Oxford World's Classics) (for the historical fiction challenge?)
10.  If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (knocking out two birds with one stone--the operation read  the Bible challenge and the What's in a Name? challenge)
12. His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1) (historical fiction)

All these books are ones I either or own or are readily available at the library.  This list may change, but this looks good for now.  I look forward to finishing this challenge!

The Facility by Simon Lelic Virtual Book Tour

First of all, this was supposed to be written on March 18th--the author was scheduled to do a guest post--but that did not work out.  I got confused and did not post--I figured I was supposed to wait for the author's post.  I was wrong.  So I apologize.

Read my review of this book here.

Read more about Simon Lelic and The Facility here.

Read about his virtual book tour here.

About Simon Lelic

So the next time I am allowed to do a virtual book tour, I will know what to expect.  Even if things do not work out, post anyway!  Thanks to the powers that be for putting up with the new blogger on the block, and I promise to do better next time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--A Darcy Christmas Book Review

Summary from goodreads:

From Amanda Grange, the bestselling author of Mr. Darcy's Diary andMr. Darcy, Vampyre, Christmas finds the Darcy's celebrating the holiday with preparations for a ball, but the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of a very special gift... Ever sensual and romantic, Sharon Lathan highlights everything that's best and most precious in the celebrations of the holiday season. After a quarter of a century together, Darcy and Elizabeth reminisce... Jane Austen meets Charles Dickens! Carol Eberhart's Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol finds Darcy encountering ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who show him his life if pride keeps him from his one true love.

A Darcy ChristmasA Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have always loved Jane Austen, and this the first time I have ever read a book inspired by her classic novel.  I was looking forward to it, but I did find that it did not meet my expectations.

The first author did almost nothing but quote Charles Dickens.  I was surprised to find that Amanda Grange has the most experience of any of the writers.  I was bored to pieces, and I would have given this storu one and a half stars at best.

In the second story, I did find the Lizzie and Darcy I knew and loved.  Sharon Lathan probably did the best of the three in keeping with Austen's original ideas.  I still would not call it the best writing, but I basically enjoyed it.

The final offering by Carolyn Eberhart was the most intriguing of the three.  It was difficult for me to imagine Lizzie and Darcy enjoying married life intimacy so much.  I was not sure if I liked it.  But they were a romantic couple after all.  Why would they not?  I enjoyed the wit and exuberance with which the author wrote and characterized the characters.  I was surprised to find that she was a debut author.  I plan to look her up.  My only complaint was that I struggled to keep the characters straight.

If you are a Jane Auste fan who fancies a light read, you may enjoy this.  For me, this was a take it or leave it sort of book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--The Twinning Murders Book Review

Summary from goodreads:

The Twinning Murders is a modern day classic mystery centering on the ventures of Emily Ryder, a thirty-something rambler and tour guide. The story opens just before she embarks on this year's Twinning ritual exchange. It's between her historic New England home and its sister village deep in Dartmoor, a wild upland area in the west of the county of Devon, England. Emily becomes personally involved in a suspicious death.. A few days later, at the Twinning itself, her main client meets the same fate. As Emily's world continues to unravel, and though she has little help, she finds herself compelled to piece together the games being played on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Twinning MurdersThe Twinning Murders by Shelly Frome
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am one who has liked good mysteries since I was a young teenager.  I tend to prefer mysteries that happen I England, and so that made this book a promising book to read and review. I loved the protagonist's name and personality from the beginning.  These were honestly the positives in the book. I also appreciated that profanity was extremely mild, and there were no sex scenes.

I was asked to review this book, and I have to say I was somewhat unimpressed. The writing styke failed to grab my attention, and I began to find that I did not connect with most of the characters. But personally, I think that is just me. From what I can tell, many people find this a classic mystery read, and they enjoy it. So do not discount the book simply because I do not find it especially engaging.

I will say that the last few chapters of the book did grab my attention more. As I read about the author, I decided to make it a point to look for other books by this author. I enjoyed the ending of the book, and perhaps a non-mystery read by this author would engage me a lot more. I would certainly give this a two and a half star rating and invite you to make up your own mind about the book.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Satan is Hard At Work in Our Family

Really nice title, isn't it?  I wasn't sure if I would even post tonight, but I know that some of you out there are truly prayer warriors, and I need your prayers.

I know I have shared bits and pieces of family issues on here.  I'll try to keep this brief for the recap.  I am a divorced mother of a 7-year-old girl, Martha.  I live with my mom and dad.  For six months out of the year, my best friend, Martin, comes from England and stays with us.  He is not a Christian, but I believe he would be called a seeker.  My dad pretends to be a Christian but suffers from severe mental illness and ultimate laziness.  My mom and I are committed Christians.  My daughter is young but definitely following after the Lord.

Things have truly come to a head this time around.  My dad refuses to take care of himself, and he would rather curl up all day in front of the TV and eat, sleep, and be merry. There is a lot of work to do out here in the country, and all we ask is that he helps the best he can.  He refuses to do it.  He hates Martin.  He can't stand having Martha and me in the house.  And he has played the game of church so long that those on the outside think he's wonderful but we know the truth.

We have drawn some very hard lines with my dad in recent days because we are tired of his behavior.  It is very draining on us.  One of the problems is that my mom seems somewhat reluctant to enforce what she says.  I am willing to support her, but Martin has now directed some of his anger at my mom.  I am caught in the middle.  My mom yelled at me tonight when I tried to approach the topic.  And now Martin is saying he won't come back after the next six months.

Mom and I both had sensed that Satan is using my dad to keep Martin from being saved.  I know it is true.  I can't remember if I shared this, but a couple years ago, I had a horrendous nightmare concerning Martin.  I dreamed that Satan was sitting on his earthly "throne" (that's the only word I can use to describe it--remember he is the prince of the power of the air and the god of this world).  He snarled that he was not going to let Martin go.  I remember awaking from that dream truly terrified and horrified.  I was truly caught in  a terrifying spiritual warfare.  Though I may sound like I am out of mind, I know that demons are real.  I can remember an afternoon when I was so terrified, and I was physically thrown to the ground--I know that sounds crazy.  I had to drive, and I asked God to drive my car.  And He did.

Now, why do I share all this?  For those of you who are prayer warriors and even for those of you who are not, please say a prayer for my family.  Pray that God will keep us close to Him.  Pray that the chains that entangle Martin will be broken.  I don't know what the answer is, but God does.  It was only last night that I cried out to God and said that I was not going to give up.  And no, I am not praying for Martin's salvation so we can get married.  I am praying for his salvation because he needs the Lord.  The last thing Martin said to me before he went to bed was---"Same garbage (but he used a colorful word), different day."  He is fighting back tears--and he doesn't cry easily.  He does not feel wanted here even by my mom.

I will be posting a book review tomorrow night--I didn't quite finish it today.  Thanks for letting me post this personal stuff.  And really, I promise you I am not crazy.  You don't have to believe anything that I shared.  Disregard this post if you want.  I don't share like this very often.  But I knew I needed to.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Twinkle Tuesday--Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads Review

This is a product that has become a staple in my facial cleansing routine.  I cannot remember exactly when I discovered these tea tree oil facial cleansing pads from Desert Essence, but I know I first discovered them on  I had been generally using facial cleansing pads in the morning to clean my face.  I needed something like an astringent but in a cleansing pad form.  And I preferred them to be pre-moistened.  I do not have a huge acne problem, but I do have occasional breakouts.  

I took a chance on this product ( I think it was on sale), and ever since then, I refuse to be without them no matter the price--and I am serious.  I try to buy at least one ahead.  I have never used a facial cleansing pad that keeps my face so clear of acne, and you can feel it working!  And all you need to do is to look at the pad to see that it is working.  You would think that if you wash your face really well before bed, there would be no dirt on the pad--wrong!

It has only been in recent times that I realized the benefits of tea tree oil.  I am currently recovering from a yeast infections, and when I realized that tea tree oil was used in the products I was using, suddenly it all made sense.  Tea tree oil has a variety of uses, and it promotes healing.  What an awesome natural product.

As I looked around the desert essence website, I realized that the product I buy regularly was not their only product.  They have a whole line of products.  I had decided that I must check out more of their items and try them out.  I plan to look the next time I place an order.

Just so you will know, I have not been asked to review this product by the company, nor have the provided me any form of compensation.  I am reviewing this product because I believe in it so strongly, and I would like to introduce my readers to this wonderful product if they do not already know about it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music Monday--Challenge Week #11

I have to admit that I am still listening to CD's.  About 3 right now.  I know  it is taking longer, but I should be able to review a couple here next week.  I think I'm  still ahead of schedule.

So how about a little Billy Joel tonight?  There is a song that I love of his that is a great workout song.  I just don't get tired of it, and it is such a long song, too.  I actually taught it to my music kids one year.  Enjoy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Winner and clarification

I have just chosen the winner of my giveaway that ended tonight.  She has been contacted.

I wanted to clarify why comments did not close at 9 P.M. I said pacific standard time--daylight time began here today.  So I decided to keep the comments open  for that reason.  For the remainder of the giveaways open now, I will be going with Daylight time instead of Standard time.

Thank you to all!  Congratulations to Jen--comment #4.

Solution Sunday--Only One Challenge to Update

Well, it has been an uneventful week.  I have only one challenge to update.  Even the book I read this week had nothing to do with my challenges.  But I am proud to share my accomplishments.

Again, I have no pictures.  I am really bad about remembering to take pictures of everything, and then I am lazy about uploading them.  I am still getting through the magazines.  But I organized something unexpected.  My daughter and I planned to go to the used bookstore last week, but it was closed.  So we went this week--Friday afternoon.  The day before, we went through all her books, and we literally got rid of two large boxes full of them.  We took them on Friday afternoon, and we received 37 dollars worth of credit at the shop!  She was able to get some nice books in return.  And we still have credit left over.  My daughter has a somewhat organized bookshelf, and I think she will make this a regular occurrence--going through books and getting credit at the store.

It will probably take about 2 more weeks on the magazines.  I have two pictures I will post when the work it done.  I know it seems ridiculous that I am taking so long to organize, but since the dog bite last month, I have to admit that I have not been as good on this challenge.  But I refuse to give up.  Even if I don't get anything else organized this year, I do am doing much better than I was last year in this department!  And when summer comes, I think I can get caught up.

Crazy Dog T-shirts Giveaway (ends 3/27) (closed)

Well, I am finally getting around to a giveaway I have planned for quite a while.  I hope you are familiar with the website Crazy Dog T-shirts.  If you have blog-hopped at all around various giveaways, you probably know that they are one of the best t-shirt companies out there.  Their variety of t-shirts seems endless, and they are very reasonably priced.  

My daughter absolutely loves dinosaurs, and her t-shirt of choice is this Game Over Dinosaur t-shirt which you will find in the novelty t-shirt category. And my favorite is It's Dangerous to Go Alone Take This Cat t-shirt which you will find in the cool t-shirt category --I am a cat lover after all!  And that is what great about this site--I think they have something for everyone.  Maybe you love Christmas year-round?  Or maybe you have a special guy in your life that has a birthday coming up!  They even have sweatshirts and hoodies--seeing how we are still in the middle of winter.  I realy think they have something for everyone!

There are a couple rules that must be followed concerning this giveaway.  The company asks that you not enter if you have received a promotional item from them in the last 90 days.  And secondly, if you have your own giveaway/review blog where you have featured or will be featuring one of their products for review or giveaway, please do not enter.  Failure to follow these two rules will result in the forfeiture of your prize.

Now to the fun stuff.  Here is how you enter to win. (Leave one comment per entry and a way to contact you--unless your e-mail address is displayed in your profile.)

1.  Follow me via google friend connect.
2. Be/become my facebook friend.  Please leave your user name.
3.  Subscribe via e-mail and/or RSS.  (1 comment per method)
4.  Share this giveaway in any way you like.  (1 entry per method per day)  Please leave any applicable links.
5.  Like my page on facebook.  Leave your user name.  (2 entries, 2 comments)  For another 2 comments, please leave a meaningful comment on my wall.
6.  Like Crazy Dog T-shirts on facebook.  Please leave your user name.
7.  Post my blog button.  Leave me the link so I can verify it.  (5 entries, 5 comments)
8.  Comment meaningfully on any non-giveaway post on my blog.  Let me know where I can find it.  You may do this as often as you would like.

And the unlimited entry option:
Visit Crazy Dog T-shirts, and tell me what shirt you like and to whom you would give it.  You may do this as often as you would like to.  

This giveaway will end March 27 at 9 P.M. Pacific time. I will use to decide the winner.   Winner will be allowed to pick out one $16.99 t-shirt from the website.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Satisfied Saturday--Bringing Back an Old Favorite

This week I am using this book to plan out recipes except for one.  I'll tell you about that later on.  I really am excited about this week's cooking.  So here goes.

Meal 1:  Hidden Valley Ranch Cheeseburgers (p. 46) I have been wanting to try these because I keep seeing them on the ads.  They sound so good.
Coleslaw:  I created my own coleslaw recipe.  I took a bag of coleslaw mix, added Kraft Coleslaw dressing, craisins, and some toasted pecans.  (I am so proud of myself.  I took some olive oil, and I toasted some slivered pecans in the pan--I didn't burn them, and they were good!)

Meal 2:  Maple-Cranberry Pork Chops (p. 62)
Roasted Potato and Vegetable Salad (p. 208)

Meal 3:  Hawaiian Haystacks (I know this is not the exact recipe I used many years ago, but I have never forgotten these!  I finally decided it was time to make these again.  My mom and Martin have never tried them.  This is the one I am bringing back!  I will not make it exactly like the recipe, but I thought this had the best options for toppings.  I plan to add curry to it!)

Meal 4:  Fish with Carrots (p. 124)  I am using tilapia instead of flounder.
Apple-Rice Medley (p. 206)

As to last week,  I only have one more recipe--the BBQ chicken.  The coffee roast was good, but the coffee was a little strong.  I recommend using weak coffee, but the flavors are really unique.  The  Bratwursts were so tender!  I think that was the best thing about these.  The Beef Veggie Casserole should be served with rice.  It is a good way to use up cabbage.  I think the best part of last week was using the crockpot.  My only struggle was I had to prepare it the night before. This week will be a challenge because nothing is done ahead of time.  So here is hoping!  I can hardly wait to make the Hawaiian Haystack!  I plan to be very creative!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--Upcoming Giveaways and More

Watch out for two upcoming giveaways.  I am now a preferred blogger with CSN stores, and they want to do another giveaway on here.  I'll let you know when I hear more about it.  And I am being sent an item for review from Cover Your Hair.  I will be doing a giveaway with them as well.  Be sure to check out all my current giveaways.

I am also planning to do a better job of posting my recipes tomorrow night and hopefully even linking up with other food blogs. I really feel that I am not doing myself justice concerning my love of cooking.

My daughter and I went to the local used bookstore tonight, and it was really neat to see us turn in nearly two boxes of books for credit!  We bought several books, and it only cost us eight dollars instead of 25!

Well, that's it for tonight.  Much more tomorrow!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--I Just Want to Take a Moment

I am so grateful to God and to all my wonderful readers for this blog.  It has become what I could never have believed back this summer.  I had no idea what would happen when I followed His leading to go ahead with this blog.  I have 3 giveaways going on right now--I did not even have to pay for 2 of them!  And I have gotten paid 20 dollars for 2 sponsored posts.  And I have several leads as well as another 2 giveaways almost ready to go.

Another neat thing this week was what happened today.  I was finishing up a 3-day sub job in a rather difficult position, but the kids were pretty good   My last class was really trying my patience, and I began to pray that God would help them to be a good class and earn their reward.  I didn't even realize that my lips were moving until a student said that I was counting.  I told him that he was wrong--I was praying.  I remember almost not saying that, but I figured I had nothing to fear.  The boy asked me why, and I said that it helped me to calm down.  A girl asked me if I was a Christian.  I only slightly hesitated and told her that I was.  She was very happy.  It's always amazing when God gives me those opportunities.

I have learned how  to contact companies about giveaways. I have also learned how to publicize my blog. I have no idea how this will continue, but I plan to be much more proactive in promoting my blog.

I haven't shared a lot about my personal life as of late.  I am currently struggling with a chronic yeast infection--I think I have found a natural cure!  I am subbing all over the place.  I took the teacher's math and science test a couple weekends ago, and I was certainly wrong to try to do both on the same day.  I did not finish the science test, but I got 2/3 done.  I think  I passed the math test, but we'll see.  I did hear today that math and science are where the jobs currently are.  I plan to keep taking those tests until I pass them--no matter what I have to do!  I never would have dreamed that I would teach math, but I am certainly up for the challenge.  I discovered that they are laying off 100,000 teachers in the last state where I taught for so long--Texas.  And they are still laying off teachers at the end of this school year in Washington state.  I have maintained that I may be subbing for the rest of my life,  and I am fine with that.  Martin is possibly going to church on Sunday when he said he would never darken the door of a church again.  Martha and I are going to our town used bookstore tomorrow with 2 big boxes of books so she can get some credit there to buy more books.

So, I think  that catches you up on things.  Don't forget to enter my giveaways!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Well-Spoken Wednesday--The Facility Book Review

Summary from goodreads:

Henry Graves has dedicated his life to the prison service, but he is unprepared for the challenge his new and secret assignment brings. Tasked with managing a government facility hidden deep in the countryside, Henry finds himself tested as never before: by the confused and frightened prisoners, by the sinister Dr Silk and, above all, by his conscience. Tom Clarke, a precocious but naive journalist, has his own problems meanwhile. His career - and his life - is turned upside down by the arrival of Julia Priestley, who seeks his help in finding her estranged husband, Arthur, an innocent dentist who has been arrested under severe new anti-terrorism legislation. The authorities admit they have taken him but will not say where he is being held - or why. Discovering a trail that implicates those at the very top of government, Tom and Julia begin a quest to find Arthur, and the truth about his incarceration. But some people will stop at nothing to keep the facility's secret hidden, and soon the couple find themselves fighting for their lives...

The FacilityThe Facility by Simon Lelic
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit that this book is not my normal kind of book to read.  Probably if I had not already agreed to read and review it, I may not have finished it.  But in many ways, I am glad I persevered.  The story was very realistic, and perhaps the romantic in me did not like that.  But I did find that at the end, I actually cared about the people involved and even wished things might have been different for them.

I will warn you right off the bat.  The language of the book is realistic, and profanity is rampant.  I could have done without that, for it is what intially turned me off.  There are homosexual issues as well, and there is even a semi-homosexual scene within it but without too much detail.  Do not read this if either of these greatly offend you.

I think the most intriguing thing about this read was to realize that this could happen even in this day and age.  Imagine people being shut away in a prison because of their lifestyle and a disease they may or may not have.  And the government cover-up was also intriguing if not embarrassing.  It makes not difference that the setting was England.  This could happen anywhere--even in our precious U.S.A.

I cannot say I like the ending--I will not spoil it for anyone--but I know this is realistic fiction.  I also was not sure about the author's use of the present tense within the narrative, but after about page 100, I got over that.  I will say that author weaves a different kind of story than I have ever read before, and I am glad that I read it, if for no other reason, than it makes me think!

View all my reviews

Please come back to my blog on the 18th of this month for a virtual blog tour and special post by the author of this book, Simon Letic.  Thanks!

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