Thursday, June 30, 2011

Freedom Book Hop (Ends 7/7) (closed)

Yes, I am participating in another book hop!  What a great way to celebrate the birth of our country--a fantastic book hop!  Thanks to our wonderful host Kathy over at I Am a Reader,  Not a Writer and our wonderful co-host Simply Stacie!

I have 2 giveaways going on, and both are open to international entrants.  So here goes.

Giveaway #1:  One winner will choose a book up to $10 from the book depository.  This is open to any country where the book depository ships for free!

Giveaway #2:  This giveaway is a little different.  I sell books on amazon and  I have a bunch of stuff on both sites, and what I am willing to offer is $5 worth of merchandise from any of my inventory.  I am willing to ship this worldwide as long as the items are not too heavy or too big.  Here are the links to my "shops."  

So now onto the giveaway.  The giveaway runs from July 1st 9 P.M. Pacific time through July 7th 9 P.M. Pacific Time.  If you are unable to work the rafflecopter form for some reason, please leave me one comment saying you were unable to enter, and please post all your entries in that one single comment.  There should not be a problem, but I know that sometimes the software fails or something else happens.  Oh, and don't forget to hop along to the next blog!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New Chapter Zyflamend Giveaway (ends 7/24) and an Amazon gift card! (closed)


Did you read my review the other night about New Chapter supplements?  Best Price Nutrition has agreed to send out a sample of my favorite of the supplements--Zyflamend--to one of my wonderful readers. In addition to this, I will send the winner a $5 gift card to Amazon to put towards purchasing some of your own New Chapter supplements!

Best Price Nutrition

I Have My Own Domain!

Well, I did it.  I now have my own domain.  I was finally convinced to do it  now.

Within a few days, my site will be:

You don't need to change anything as far as I know.  So here's to the future!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CankerMelts Free Sample

Remember my review from the other night?  I contacted the company, and they have agreed to give free samples to my readers.  So here's the scoop.

Send an e-mail to:

In this e-mail, include your mailing address and tell them that Ruth Hill 
@My Devotional Thoughts sent you.  

Also, go to their  Facebook page (under XyliMelts).  You can note on their page that Ruth Hill 
@My Devotional Thoughts sent you, if that is easier for you.
However, I would recommend sending your address to them in an e-mail rather than 
over facebook due to privacy issues.

Twinkle Tuesday--New Chapter Supplements Review

Earlier this month, I was asked to do a review of several New Chapter supplements.  Before I review each supplement individually, I would like to say that none of the supplements ever made me nauseous nor caused me any ill effects.  That is always important when it comes to supplements because some brands tend to cause me stomach issues.  For the purposes of the review, I was given about a week's worth of all the supplements I am reviewing.

Turmeric Force is considered to be the foundation for good health.  Since I only took it for a week, I cannot say that I noticed any positive changes.  I am sure I would have to take it for a much longer time.

Zyflamend was my favorite of these supplements.  I just turned 37, and while I am not a senior citizen yet, my bones and muscles are not what they once were.  I tend to get back pain when standing for a long time.  I was so excited to see that these help reduce inflammation.  And I am pleased to admit that these pills did exactly what they said they would do.  I had no pain in my back when I took these.  I was pretty happy, to say the least.  These are ones I would definitely be interested in taking long term.

Holy Basil is used to help manage stress.  I will admit that I  had not stress in my life when I started taking these.  I am just beginning my summer break, and so I cannot tell you if these reduced my stress, but I will say they were the smallest and the easiest of the pills to take (not that any of the pills were hard to swallow!). 

New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care was also a fantastic supplement!  I take calcium every day, but it is clear that this supplement has better quality calcium and Vitamin D than I normally take.  I would definitely replace my current Calcium supplement with this product.

New Chapter has a fantastic line of products, and if you get a chance, be sure to check them out!  Their supplements are certainly better than what you find at most drugstores.  It is definitely worth it to pay for quality where your health is concerned.

I was given free products for review in exchange for this review.  The company did not influence my review in any way.  All opinions are 100 percent mine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Music Monday--Journey Greatest Hits Review

I got this CD from the library a couple weeks ago.  I will admit that it would not seem like  the kind of music I might enjoy, but I first heard them sing on the light rock station.  That was where I first was made aware of them, but I realize that a couple of these songs I have heard on the radio as I was growing up.

Most of this CD I would describe as mediocre.  But there were some definite stand-outs.  Of course, Don't Stop Believin' is one of those  nice-sounding song  that just makes you feel good.  And Open Arms has to be one of my favorites by them.  Another great one is Any Way You Want It.The song that  surprised me was When You Love a Woman.  I had not heard this song, and I think this was one of their better songs for surer.

ABOUT THE GROUP: (from their site)

Neal Schon - all guitars, backing vocals
Jonathan Cain - keyboards, backing vocals
Ross Valory - bass, backing vocals
Deen Castronovo - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Arnel Pineda - lead vocals

JOURNEY is one of the most popular American rock bands of all time, creating some of the best-known songs in modern music. They have continued to tour and record into the 21st century, and have never stopped creating vital music. Since the group's formation in 1973, the band has earned 19 Top 40 singles and 25 Gold and Platinum albums. The band's Greatest Hits album is certified 15 times Platinum, bringing Journey into the elite club of Diamond-certified album holders. Journey is re-energized for 2011 as they prepare to unleash their latest album of brand new material, Eclipse, featuring the line-up of Neal Schon (guitars, backing vocals), Jonathan Cain (keyboards, backing vocals), Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals), Deen Castronovo (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Arnel Pineda (lead vocals).
The release of Eclipse marks the latest chapter in a rock 'n' roll saga that started more than 35 years ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. Guitarist Neal Schon left home at 15 years old to join Santana. In early 1973, Walter "Herbie" Herbert-a guitar tech and later manager for Santana and Journey-floated the idea about forming a new band around Schon, whom he called "the quintessential guitar expressionist of the time." Joining with two members of the popular local act Frumious Bandersnatch-former Steve Miller Band bassist Ross Valory and guitarist George Tickner-as well as drummer Prairie Prince, the all-instrumental act began performing as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section.
The quartet earned a local following, one that was strong enough for San Francisco FM station KSAN to hold a contest to see if a better name could be given to the GGRS. The contest yielded the moniker Journey. Santana keyboardist Gregg Rolie joined the band in the summer of 1973, and this first edition of Journey developed a largely instrumental progressive rock sound. When Prince left to pursue a career with The Tubes in early 1974, Journey recruited British drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who had performed with Jeff Beck, Frank Zappa and John Mayall. Later that year, Tickner left the band to attend medical school, leaving all guitar duties in the hands of Schon.
Columbia Records signed the group in November 1974, and each of the band's first three albums-Journey (1975), Look Into the Future (1976) and Next (1977)-charted higher than the previous release. The band embarked on a grueling touring schedule, staying on the road nine months per year performing music that Schon has referred to as "a rock 'n' roll version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra." But sales were not as strong as the label had hoped, and the band was asked to hire a full-time lead singer.
The first vocalist brought in was Robert Fleischman, who joined the band for a summer tour in 1977 and contributed songs including "Wheel In the Sky" and "Winds of March." But Fleischman left the band and was soon replaced by a young Steve Perry, who was brought into the band on the recommendation of Herbert. After hearing Perry's demo with his previous band, Alien Project, Journey made Perry their new lead singer.
Journey's fourth album Infinity was their first with Perry, and was produced by Roy Thomas Baker (Rolling Stones, Queen, The Cars). It immediately went Platinum after its April 1978 release, remaining on the charts for more than two years, and has sold more than 3 million copies to date.
After Dunbar joined Jefferson Starship in 1978, Journey brought their former drum roadie Steve Smith into the fold, adding his expert jazz-fusion chops to their signature sound for 1979's Evolution, which would become their second million-selling album. In October of that year, Journey scored their first Top 30 single with "Lovin, Touchin', Squeezin'." Keeping up a prolific output in the studio and on the road, the band waited less than a year to release Departure, which became their first Top 10 album and boasted the lead single "Any Way You Want It," which reached # 8 on the Billboard album chart. A subsequent live double album, Captured, became their fourth consecutive Platinum disc.
During this time, Rolie departed and was replaced by Jonathan Cain of The Babys. His songwriting talents joined those of Schon and Perry resulting in Journey scoring the biggest hits of their career. 1981's Escape was the band's first #1 album and spent more than a year in the Top 40, eventually becoming certified eight times Platinum. That album produced three Top 10 hits that have become the best-known songs in Journey's repertoire: "Don't Stop Believin'," "Who's Crying Now" and "Open Arms." The latter track, which marked the first songwriting collaboration between Cain and Perry, quickly became the band's signature song and would years later be covered by many artists.
By the early 1980s, Journey had become bonafide superstars, known as much for their music and MTV videos as their visually spectacular concerts that revolutionized the use of big screens and computerized lighting systems. In 1983, Frontiers reached #2 on the Billboard album chart, held back from the top spot only by Michael Jackson'sThriller. Between 1983 and 1986 the band landed seven Top 20 hits, including "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," "Girl Can't Help It" and "Only the Young," their song for the film Vision Quest.
Journey disbanded in 1989, as certain members pursued other projects, though the group reunited briefly in 1993 (minus Perry) for a Bay Area concert honoring former manager Herbert, which raised funds for the Oakland-based Thunder Road teenage drug and alcohol treatment facility. Three years later, Journey reunited again for 1996's Trial By Fire, which found Perry, Schon, and Cain, collaborating on a dozen songs written in just two weeks. Debuting at #3, the album boasted the hit single "When You Love a Woman," which garnered the band their first Grammy nomination. Perry developed health problems that led to the cancellation of the group's scheduled tour, and he eventually left Journey permanently.
Schon, Valory and Cain decided the band would forge ahead, recruiting new members Steve Augeri on vocals and former Bad English member Deen Castronovo on drums. Their first recording together was "Remember Me" for the Armageddon movie soundtrack, followed by 2001's full-length Arrival-Journey's 11th studio album. A 30th Anniversary tour followed the release of Generations in 2005, featuring three-hour-plus shows that included material from throughout the band's career. Later the same year, the group also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 2006, Augeri's eight years with the band came to an end. Journey was still looking for their signature sound when, late one night, Schon came across a YouTube clip featuring then-unknown Arnel Pineda performing with a cover band called the Zoo at the Hard Rock Cafe in the Philippines. Pineda's tone, power and ability to sing a wide variety of material, including a couple of Journey classics, impressed Schon. After watching all the available videos he could find with Pineda, Neal made an excited midnight phone call to share the news with his bandmate Cain. Soon thereafter, Schon personally contacted Pineda, who initially thought it was a prank and didn't believe that he was talking to a founding member of one of the biggest bands in rock history. But six weeks later, after spontaneously singing a Journey song for Philippines immigrations officers to prove the reason for his trip, Pineda arrived in San Francisco to meet with Journey. Within a few songs, he had secured the job.
Journey introduced Pineda to the world as their official new singer with the release of their 14th studio album, Revelation, which marked the band's biggest first-week sales in more than a decade, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200 in June 2008 and taking the top spot on the Independent Albums chart. Revelation earned the band their 11th Platinum album certification to date, leading The New York Times to declare that "the band...feels alive." Journey toured the world for two years in support of Revelation, with more than a million fans attending the shows.
One of the most emotional highlights of that tour took place on March 14, 2009, when Journey performed in front of nearly 30,000 people in Pineda's hometown of Manila, Philippines. While the singer was welcomed as a hero by the Filipino people, the rest of the band members were equally affected as they connected with the roots of their new lead singer. Pineda took the guys to his old neighborhood and school, and even the park where he slept as a 13-year-old homeless child, after his mother passed away. His incredible story of loss, survival and eventual success helped forge a bond with his bandmates that remains as strong as ever.
The group's success with Pineda has led to another album of brand new material, withEclipse set for release on May 24 in the U.S. and Canada (exclusively at Walmart); May 27 in Europe on Frontiers Records; and May 27 in the Philippines on Universal Records. Produced by Kevin Shirley and Co-produced by Schon and Cain, the new album features Pineda's songwriting contributions for the first time, solidifying the strong chemistry that the singer was just beginning to formulate on Revelation. Working as a team, Schon created many of the chords and rhythms for the songs, while Cain contributed some melodies titles and lyrics for most of the album-except for "She's a Mystery," which was finished by Pineda, Schon and Cain together. Arnel wrote most of "To Whom It May Concern" and it was finished by Schon and Cain In another departure from the band's usual working process, the recording of Eclipse was quite spontaneous. "We didn't rehearse the material before we recorded, as we had done in past album projects," said Cain. "We were going for impromptu, live performances. Sometimes, first impressions are the best. Producer Kevin Shirley was instrumental in getting our new ideas quickly into form."
Cain has described Eclipse as "a concept record with some spiritual themes to it...pretty tough, hard-hitting stuff. The concept of Eclipse is the tantric way of looking at life-man, God and the universe are one-a woven, endless circle of connected energy. Since the concept of the album was about belief and enlightenment, Arnel's background as a Buddhist and a survivor of the street life made it a believable subject matter for him to sing about, and for the band to perform."
The album begins with "City of Hope" which was written in Manila, Philippines and inspired by what the band saw while visiting Pineda's homeland. "His story inspired much of the lyrical content and his soaring tenor was always in our minds as Neal and I went forward," said Cain. Tunes such as "Anything is Possible" and "Resonate" are positive, raw and powerful musical statements that take Journey's sound into a new rock arena. While much tougher and hard hitting than past Journey albums, fans will be familiar with classic elements such as a silky and inspired tenor vocal, Schon's powerful guitar hooks and raging solos, and signature soaring background vocals. It is a culmination of American music-rock, blues, pop and soul.
After noticing that no recent bands had created a notable "concept album" in many years, Schon approached the writing and recording of Eclipse with a singular vision in mind. "I wanted to think out of the box and write new grooves that I felt the band hadn't done before," said the guitarist. "The new record is comparable to Escape andFrontiers in that the music is progressive and experimental, but more up to date and centered on a hard rock direction. As a band, we decided to write for people that want to sit down and listen to a whole quality album, not just to download a hit single. It's one of our strongest statements ever, from beginning to end, and I love every song. It's one of my favorite albums I've ever done."
In an early review, Andrew McNeice of praised the album, stating:"Eclipse is dark and heavy, yet melodic. Adventurous, yet familiar. Moody, yet uplifting. Simply bloody amazing....Watch for the hardest rocking 'Chain Of Love,' the heavy, dark mood of 'Edge Of A Moment,' the uplifting feel good anthem 'Anything Is Possible,' the beyond-description 'She's A Mystery,' and one of the most powerful ballads I have heard in years, with vocal power beyond description - 'Tantra.' And of course the classic Journey style anthem 'City Of Hope.' Eclipse has to be considered a masterpiece."
Following the release of Eclipse, Journey will launch the "Eclipse Tour," an extensive two-year trek. The tour will first take the band to South America, including Journey's first-time performances in Argentina, Peru and Brazil, where fans have waited over thirty years to see them. Continuing to Europe in June, the band will make their Wembley Arena debut in London, followed by arena dates across the UK, including Birmingham's LG Arena, Manchester Evening News Arena, Dublin's The O2 and Belfast's Odyssey Arena, among other highlights. Returning to the U.S. with special guests Foreigner and Night Ranger, Journey will kick off their American leg beginning July 21 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT. Continuing across North America, the band will hit St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, New Orleans Arena, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, IL, the world-famous Hollywood Bowl, and other top venues before wrapping up at Seattle's Key Arena on October 21st. Fans can expect to hear new songs from Eclipse as well as classics such as "Don't Stop Believin'," "Any Way You Want It," "Faithfully," "Lights," "Separate Ways," "Wheel In The Sky" and many more.
2011 also marks the 30th anniversary of Journey's classic anthem "Don't Stop Believin'." The song is the top-selling digital catalog song in history, with sales of more than 4.4 million in the U.S., and was memorably used in the electrifying series finale of HBO's The Sopranos in 2007. But the song reached another level of stratospheric success in 2009, when it was covered by the cast of FOX's wildly successful seriesGlee and became the best-selling song from the show. Three decades after its original release, "Don't Stop Believin'"has reached a new class of young fans to become a huge anthem for a whole new generation.
Multiple generations are welcoming this legendary band in 2011, as Journey continues to bring their signature sound of classic hits and new favorites across the country and around the world. The band is firing on all cylinders and making sure their fans will never stop believin'.
"The world is so ready for us," states Schon. "Things are opening up everywhere we go. Journey is a world band now."

Here is one of my favorites by them:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sleight of Hand Virtual Book Tour by Deanne Blackhurst)

Summary from goodreads:  Is it possible to con your way out of hell? Fifty-two year old Daniel Cabrero thinks so and why wouldn’t he? That’s how he spent his entire life. But Jonah his spirit guide has reasons of his own for making sure Daniel pays for all the suffering and misery he’s caused others. Still sometimes people can change, even in hell. And maybe Daniel can keep his son from following the same path.

About the Author (from her website in her own words)

I’m Deanne Blackhurst, the author of Turning Hearts andSleight of Hand. I was born in Oakland, California and grew up all over the California Bay Area with a few two year stint in New Providence, New Jersey. I went to BYU and majored in drama, communications, creative writing and family sciences in that order.
I spent a year and a half in Paraguay before returning home and marrying my long time friend turned sweetheart Kent Blackhurst. We have three biological children, one adopted from Mexico and two from Haiti, a son-in-law and will be adding a daughter-in-law in a few months
Over the years I’ve always had a great love for writing. I’ve written for Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, web pages… just about anything you can think of. I’ve addressed topics as widely varied as raising credit scores and alpine horn enthusiasts. However, given the choice, I always enjoyed writing humors articles in the style of my hero Erma Brombeck. I currently write a weekly blog called The Book of Deanne that features short humorous insights into the life of a writer/mom.

In 2002 I began what would be an eight year journey to write my first novel. It was accepted by a publisher in 2008 and released a year and a half later.  Turning Hearts is the story of a young female LDS missionary searching for a family she’s been dreaming of.
In the mean time I began work on a second novel with a somewhat unique premise. Daniel, a seasoned con man dies unexpectedly and finds himself in the afterlife. His spirit guide Jonah leads him to a beautiful cabin in the woods and Daniel believes that he has conned his way into heaven. But hell isn’t necessarily a burning landscape with devils and pitch forks and sometimes the worst punishment a man must suffer comes from the depth of his own conscience. Sleight of Hand was released as an eBook on July 15, 2010.
On the horizon is a romantic thriller, and contemporary fantasy.
I am also the author of Exploring the eBook Jungle, a blog about my experiences publishing and marketing an eBook.
When I’m not writing, I like to read (of course), eat chocolate, explore international cuisines, design on-line graphics, play with my grandson and shop for dangling earrings. I’m forever trying to drop a few pounds and get out to the gym more often. I love watching Psych and Castle on TV and the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have to admit that when I began this book, I really was not sure what I would think.  It was a different sort of book than I normally read.  I generally do not read books that deal with the afterlife.  It was a little different to have the main character spend most of his life in the book as a dead man.

As I continued to read the book, I was greatly impressed by the author's ability to tell a compelling story and create such intriguing characters.  I cannot say that Daniel was someone I actually liked.  I know a lot of reviewers felt sorry for him and grew to like him, but I cannot say I ever did.  The end was actually a bit of a disappointment for me in that respect.  I will say that the author minced no words when describing his depraved past.

The thing that disturbed me most about the book was that it took a different view of the afterlife than I believe.  I was able to set all that aside, but I do not like the idea of someone getting a second chance after death to make everything right--especially a character like Daniel.  In my opinion, all the pain and suffering he felt after death did not atone for the atrocities he did while alive.  I would have much preferred having the story follow  the line of thinking in "A Christmas Carol" or "It's a Wonderful Life."  I prefer the idea of changing your life while still alive rather than waiting for death. It would have been nice for Daniel to wake up at the end and realize everything was a dream and that he still had a chance to right some wrongs while alive.

I realize that I come from the perspective of an evangelical Christian, and that could turn some people off to my review, and that is fine.  The stories I mentioned are favorites of mine that deal with people coming back from the dead as angels or ghosts.  Those stories can still be enjoyed by me in spite of my personal beliefs.  Understand that my issues with the book were making things right while still alive instead of waiting until after death.

My only other complaint was the ending.  I felt that the author somewhat rushed the last chapter or two, and I would have preferred a little more explanation at that point.  But that is just my preference.

Would I recommend this book?  I really depends on many things.  If you are one who enjoys a well-written story about divine justice and the afterlife, this may very well be the book for you.  I cannot fault the author for writing a book that embodied a clever tale with a variety of characters and situations.  However, if you are like me and prefer to see people handle the issues of their lives before they die, this book may not be the one for you.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are one hundred percent my own.

Sleight of Hand can be purchased at Smashwords.

DEAL ALERT:  Until August 31, 2011, you can buy this book for just $1.99 by entering the code MX73D.  Get it while you can!

Solution Sunday--Cankermelts Review

For as long as I can remember, I have suffered with mouth ailments.  Cold sores were the first ones I had.  I can remember using all the topical ointments to cure them.  I found that if I didn't scratch the corner of my mouth, they wouldn't come.  Sounds  strange, but I have not had a genuine cold sore in ages.

I wish I could say the same for canker sores.  I can't remember when I first suffered with these, but I would say I was a teen the first time.  Maybe even younger.  No matter what I did, I tended to get them.  It got so bad this year that I began taking a load of Lysine, and that at least seemed to help.  Before that time, I was averaging canker sores twice a month.  I found that stress and hormones tended to bring them on.  I even had a mouth yeast infection.  That was, by far, the worst!

I can remember running across product reviews at this time for the product cankermelts.  The sore underneath my tongue was so horrible that I was desperate.  I can remember trying this  product and being somewhat impressed.  I think that by the time I used this, my mouth sore was already healing.  

I never forgot about cankermelts.  I have been known to give them on occasion to my daughter, but she is so difficult to figure out that I could not tell you if they helped her or  not.

Recently, I had my first canker sore in quite some time, and I was looking for my normal medication a few nights ago.  I saw cankermelts, and decided it was time to try it again.  I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical.  There was not much change the first night, but I have now used this medicine 3 nights in succession, and my sore is nearly gone. I have to say that  after the second application, I truly began to see the healing process begin.  

There are several things I like about cankermelts.  I love the fact that you use it at night,  My only complaint is that it is not effective to use it during the day.  I love the fact  that this does not burn when you put it on, and it is good to know that there areno harsh chemicals.  It is all natural--licorice root is the ingredient the active ingredient along with collagen.  I am so glad to know that you can buy these at just about any drugstore as well as grocery stores.  Be sure to check out where you can buy yours today!

Just so you will know, I was not asked to write this review nor compensated in any way.  All opinions are one hundred percent my own!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sporadic Saturday--Some Interesting Facts About Me

Well, I realize that I am just about at 500 followers!  I am totally humbled and amazed!  I want to thank each of you for supporting my blog for various reasons.  I have not been blogging steadily for a year yet, and this many people actually want to read what I have written.  And enter my giveaways--I know.

Since so many of you are new to the blog, I thought that giving you some interesting facts about me might be a good idea.  And to my long-time followers, there might be some information you didn't know about me.  Keep reading--you might learn something.

1.  I was  born in Tacoma, Washington.  I lived in Long Beach, Washington while my parents were divorced for a couple years.  Then when my parents got remarried, I moved back to Tacoma, Washington.  I went to college in Lakeland, Florida.  I met my future husband there, and he was from Bloomington, Illinois.  We spent our first summer there then moved back to Lakeland, Florida.  In summer of 1998 (if I remember right), we moved to Fort Worth, Texas. Four years later,  we moved to Duncanville, Texas.  Then Dallas, Texas.  Then we divorced.  My daughter and I moved back to Washington state--Yelm, Washington--two years ago and live with my Mom and Dad.

2.  I was married for about 10 years.  I won't go into great details.  We dated 6 weeks, got engaged, were engaged for 13 months, then we had the wedding of my dreams.  Several years into the marriage, I realized that he had some control issues. He was 10 years older than I, and I was finally growing up (I was only 19 when I married).  After the birth of our daughter, I realized he was mentally ill.  It became dangerous for me to remain in the marriage--I got out before anything happened to my daughter or me.  It was a 10-month divorce--pretty nasty at times.  It was hard due to my strong faith in God, but God and I worked through it.  My ex-husband is completely out of our lives.

3.  I have been a Christian most of my life.  I grew up in the church, and God and I have grown much closer as the years have gone on.  I have been a Sunday School teacher, a choir member, a choir director, a VBS worker, and much more.  I went to Bible college, and I love studying the Word of God.  I live my life by His Word.

4.  I am a classically trained soprano who at one time thought she would be on the Broadway stage starring as Christine Daee in the Phantom of the Opera opposite Michael Crawford.  I have sung all sorts of music, but as most people will tell you--songs that are more classical in nature seem to suit my voice better.  Yes, I have sung opera.  I have sung folk songs.  I have sung in four languages--actually 5--English, French, German,  Italian, and Spanish.

5.  I am an amateur author.  I have been writing since I was in the fourth grade.  I actually have written about 2-3 unpublished books and several plays.  I used to dream of being a published author, but I have to admit that I probably never will.  I have written the script for several church and school musicals--even an occasional song.  Blogging is a natural outgrowth of my love of writing.  And people, including teachers and professors, say that I am a good writer.

6.  I have an 8-year-old daughter named Martha who is more of a tomboy than anything.  I was the "girly girl" growing up who quietly played by herself.  Not so with my daughter.  She is active and bright and would rather play with "boy things."  No dolls for this girl!  She is type A personality definitely!

Okay, that should be enough to get things rolling.  I welcome any comments.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Free-Wheeling Friday--(With a Little Bit of Fortified Thrown In)

Okay, first of all, I am sorry that it has been a crazy week for me.  I worked on Monday, tried to work on Tuesday, but missed out on a job, decided I was done Wednesday, and so I am trying to get a summer schedule together without a lot of success.  We have a big party tomorrow.  And in addition to this, I have a ton of giveaways and various requests all over for various things such as guest blogging opportunities, review opportunities--I tell you, when it rains, it pours!

I didn't plan recipes last weekend because our schedule got off, and we had a recipes I had not made yet.  So about this middle of the week, I planned out these recipes to make it easy:

I know, it's kind of cheating, but I picked those recipes, and I have made a couple.  When you don't have much time, it works well to just use what someone else has made up already.  And you can't beat the $5 Dinner Mom for inexpensive, easy-to-make family recipes.

I want to make sure everyone gets and opportunity to enter my giveaways.  I still have a review or two to do, and so expect to see more reviews in the days and weeks to come.

With all this "busyness", I have wondered if I lost the original reason I began blogging.  And you know what? I haven't.  My problem is trying to squeeze everything in during the school year.  Even though I am only a substitute teacher, things are pretty busy when you sub in 10 districts!  I have so many new followers, and I do feel I have a lot of stories to share.  So as I begin to share on a more personal level, I plan to share something personally and/or spiritually either on Fridays or Saturdays--whichever day I do not plan out recipes.  I think that sometimes I have forgotten and just gotten caught up in all the blog business.  So here's to reintroducing myself and going on with all the stuff you have come to expect from me.

Thank you for your patience with me, and don't forget to enter my giveaway that ends tonight!  You could win a book or two!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday--Spring Thing Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Well, I have to say that this was a really good experience.  I participated in the fall, and this went a whole lot better.  While I ended up reading books that were not on my list, I did really well.

About halfway through the challenge, I put up this post to let everyone know how I was doing with the challenge.  So I do not plan to say anything about the first half of the challenge except that I stuck religiously to my list!

As I look at my original post, I see how well I really did.  My goal was to read 12 books.  Of those original 12 books, I read 8 of those original ones.  So here are the two I read that were on my original post.

Here is the one I added in the mid-post.

Then here are the books I added:

Wow! I read 13 books!  That is a record, I do believe.  Of all the books I read, I liked A Maze of Grace  and The Daughter's Walk best.  Thanks for the challenge!  Maybe I'll read the books I didn't get to at another time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

McDonald's $5 Arch Card Giveaway (ends 7/17) (closed)

Okay, I know this is not really exciting, but I thought I would offer one more giveaway.  My daughter absolutely loves McDonald's.  I know McDonald's gets a bad rap sometimes, but my daughter loves their happy meals and  toys.  So when we were in there tonight, I decided to use some of my birthday money to purchase and Arch Card.  I know that $5 is not that exciting, but it is enough to get a happy meal or even a coffee (their coffee drinks are really good) or possibly even a dessert.  And in this economy, every little bit helps.  So here goes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Midsummer Eve Hop (ends 6/24) (closed)

I am participating in another wonderful book giveaway hop hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer. My giveaway is pretty simple.  I will be giving away 2 prizes that are open internationally (for the most part!).  Please read on.

The first giveaway is open internationally with one exception.  The winner will be able to choose one book from the book depository up to $15 (as long as they ship to your country).  

The second giveaway is a little different.  I sell books on amazon and  I have a bunch of stuff on both sites, and what I am willing to offer is $5 worth of merchandise from any of my inventory.  I am willing to ship this worldwide as long as the books are not too heavy or too big.  Here are the links to my "shops."  

Don't forget to hop along and enter the other wonderful giveaways!

Jadey! is my second winner.

Music Monday--I Know It's Been A While!

I have several music reviews saved up, and I can finally get caught up as the summer is basically here.  Watch for double reviews in the weeks ahead--maybe even triple reviews!  But onto tonight.

I have been a Sara Evans fan almost from the first moment I heard her sing.  It was Martin (my English friend) who first introduced her music to me.  Sadly, she has some serious marital issues, and she stepped out of the limelight for quite some time.  Not as long as Shania Twain, but for a couple of years, I think.  I was so glad to hear that she was making a new album.

That is until I heard her first single and saw the accompanying video.  I found her performance mediocre.  The single was Stronger.  While a fine song, it just didn't seem to match her voice.  She sounded fine, but I had gotten used to her singing songs that were of a different caliber.

Well, I decided to give her album a chance.  I picked it up at our local library, and I put it in my CD player.  The first song, Desperately, showed quite a bit of promise.  I think I could see where it would make a pretty good single.  I almost felt like I was listening to her old stuff.

The next song was Stronger.  Although I have kind of gotten used to the song, I still don't really care for her version.  It was written in part by Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum fame, and I think if they had recorded it, I may have liked it better.

After that, there is not another song worth mentioning until you get to the last song--the bluegrass version of Born to Fly.  Of course, that was a big hit already for her, and this version just reminds of how good she is and what she does best.  I just wish that the rest of her album would have lived up to the first and last songs.

I am not going to post a video from this album because I haven't found any that I like.  However, I am happy to post the first song I ever heard of Sara Evans.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Solution Sunday--Tropical Traditions Review

Several months ago, I discovered a fantastic site for truly organic, responsibly produced items for consumption and household use.  It is an online store called Tropical Traditions.  I  was first introduced to them through several blog giveaways that I won, and I have to admit that I was instantly hooked.

The first thing of theirs that I ever tried  was their shredded coconut.
I was first impressed by the size of the package that came (and how hard it was to get open, so I knew it was fresh!).  It replaced all the coconut that I used for cooking, and of course, this is one of tropical traditions' signature items.  Indeed, it was nice to have organic coconut that was not sweetened (like we normally get in the store).  It has become something I use on a regular basis, and I doubt I will ever use the cheap stuff in the store again.

The next thing I had the privilege to try was their organic whole golden flaxseed.
I had never tasted flaxseed before, but I tell you, I am hooked!  At least on their flaxseed.  I made the mistake of getting some recently that was not made by them, and I have  to admit that I regret it.  I was happy to add their flaxseed to my cereal,  my yogurt, and even my toast in the morning.  The flavor and crunch that their flaxseed provides (besides the health benefits) is definitely worth it!

The third item I won from them was their Canadian Raw Honey.
This item is a favorite of mine and my Mom's.  It is a cream honey, and the flavor is absolutely extraordinary. It is the only honey I will use.  I'm sure I will have to order some more some time soon.

Those are the only three items I have won that I have actually had a chance to use, but there were items that I really wanted to try that I never saw in a giveaway--or at least, I hadn't won!  I had signed up for their e-mails long ago, but I had yet to order from them.

As I was reading various blogs last weekend, I was pleased to find a free shipping deal from them.  I figured that I was tired of waiting, and it was time to place my first real order.  So I did.  The best part was that they accept paypal, and I was able to pay for half of my order with my paypal balance.  

So what did I order?

I have not tried the vanilla yet, but the other items are fantastic!  The chocolate has the be the best dark chocolate I have ever tasted!  And as for the coconut peanut butter, once you make sure it is stirred, it is  pretty fantastic!  And it is healthier than most peanut butters out there.

So what is my verdict?  Well, I will say that Tropical Traditions is a fantastic company that offers a great variety of organic, environmentally responsible company.  Yes, you will pay a little bit more, but I have to say that it felt good to be sending my money their way.  I wish more companies would take this company's lead!

For your information, I was not compensated for this review in any way.  All opinions expressed are 100 percent mine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kyjen Dog Toy Giveaway (ends 7/8) (closed)

Remember the dog squirrel toy I reviewed from Kyjen?  Well, the company has been gracious enough to give away a dog toy to one of my readers.  They are a wonderful company with a wide selection of dog toys that are not boring (one of their slogans is "boycott boring toys") and long-lasting.  Be sure to check out their new puzzle toys and their hard boiled softies (oh, so cute!).  One of their most popular toys is their hide-a squirrel toys.  It seems like their selection is endless.  For sure, if you have a dog or know someone who does, you are certain to find some kind of toy that will appeal to that certain dog.

For this giveaway, the wonderful people at Kyjen are allowing one of my readers to pick their own toy.  Isn't that exciting?  I was hoping that was what they would say, and although given several options, this is the one I chose.

Well, enough talking.  Let's get to the giveaway, shall we?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Giveaway Issues Fixed

I apologize to everyone who tried to enter my giveaways and was not able to.  I was able to fix the issues, and I invite you to come back and enter!  Thanks!

My Giveaways

Note--if you still have trouble, feel free to leave a comment with all your entries, and I will definitely count it.  For some reason, one browser seems to see it fine, and if I use a different browser, it doesn't seem to work.  Sorry about any issues.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spring Into Summer Blog Giveaway Hop (ends 6/21) (Closed)

I am participating in a fantastic giveaway hop as we prepare for the advent of summer. It is hosted by Coffee & Romance and  Release Notes.   There are two giveaways.  Both are open internationally (but be sure to read the fine print).  I plan to keep this simple.  And please be sure to check out the other blogs below and enter all the giveaways you can!

The first giveaway is open internationally with one exception.  The winner will be able to choose one book from the book depository up to $15 (as long as they ship to your country).  

The second giveaway is a little different.  I sell books on amazon and  I have a bunch of stuff on both sites, and what I am willing to offer is $5 worth of merchandise from any of my inventory.  I am willing to ship this worldwide as long as the books are not too heavy or too big.  Here are the links to my "shops."  

Giveaway ends promptly June 21st at 9:00 P.M. Pacific time.  Thanks for entering my giveaway!

Spring Into Summer Blog Giveaway Hop

1. Coffee & Romance, a book blog  22. Jean Joachim  
2. Release Notes  23. A Novel Life...Shawna Hill's Blog  
3. Gabrielle Bisset: A Writer's Blog  24. Hot Blogging with Heart  
4. Fiona McGier: Erotic Encounters That Lead to Romance  25. Under The Covers Book Blog  
5. JT Harding: Erotic Stories You Can Believe In  26. Lorelei Confer  
6. Kay Springsteen: The Romance of Your Life  27. Daisy Harris  
7. Books and Crochet  28. Shadows of Romance  
8. Tonya's Tales  29. Carolina Valdez: Passionately Sweet Ecstasies  
9. Books That Leave You Breathless  30. Got Fiction?  
10. The Sweeter Side of Love  31. DemonLover's Books & More  
11. My Devotional Thoughts  32. Romancing the Darkside  
12. Romance You Can Sink Your Fangs Into  33. Book Briefs  
13. Astral Plane Publishing  34. The Book Nympho  
14. Getting Naughty Between The Stacks  35. The Thoughts and Travels of Rachel Cotterill  
15. Theresa Stillwagon  36. Romance Mama  
16. Dawne Prochilo: An Open Book  37. Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger  
17. Randi Alexander  38. Nadja Notariani: An Author's Adventures  
18. Shameless Romance Reviews  39. Book Obsessed Chicks  
19. Looksie Lovitz: Books and Wits  40. Spades High Reads  
20. Books and Bling  41. Leigh Ellwood: Me Want Food  
21. Bitsy Bling Books  42. Riverina Romantics  

Krystal Larson is the winner of the second giveaway--no way for rafflecopter to share that!

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