Saturday, December 5, 2015

Free Advent Calendars and Christmas Printables

December is already in full swing! What?!?

When my kids were younger there weren't a lot of quality printables and worksheets available. So lots of times I would create my own. Here are 3 that I made for them.

We've never celebrated Santa but it was a big deal with lots of their friends and it's fun to make crafts with cotton balls so one of them includes Santa just for "jollies". :) Enjoy and feel free to pin or share them.

#1 - Activities for Advent Calendar: Each day leading up to Christmas do an activity together as a family.

#2 - Countdown to Baby Jesus: Cut out and paste a star every day to countdown to Baby Jesus! 

#3 - Countdown to Christmas: Build Santa's fluffy beard with cotton balls glued on each day. 

#4 - Happy Birthday, Jesus! Coloring page - A cute little coloring page for Christmas. Makes a great stocking stuffer with crayons. 

#5 - Nativity Coloring page - Complete with the star on top and says "A Savior is Born"! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Free Printable Gratitude Journal and Don't forget about Tom Turkey!

The past 2 weeks have been extremely low key around here. Our homeschool co-op was cancelled for snow 2 times which means we didn't have to leave the house! It's been really nice and quiet. We've gotten school done, done some cooking, cleaned out a closet, packed 10 shoeboxes! 

Here's my chickie with the boxes we packed. 

Here's an example of what we included in the boxes. 
Contents (l to r): tshirt, notecards, pencils, erasers, pens, crayons, clothes pins, deodorant, devotional, craft project, bookmark, paper, stuffie, fork and spoon, bell neclace, balloons, soap, toothpaste, paperclips, rubber bands, hard candy. 

Also, with all this "free time" I organized a Thanksgiving party for homeschool kids. During this planning, I created a printable for a Mini-Gratitude Journal. It is 2 pages, so print it on card stock and print on both sides of the page. Cut it into 8 cards, punch a hole, tie a cute ribbon and write down all your blessings! 

Here is the link to download it: 

Also, it's that time of year again! 
Don't forget to download and make your Countdown to Thanksgiving featuring Tom Turkey!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Dollar Store Finds for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

We pack a shoebox every year. And my teens and I volunteer for the warehouse every year. It's so much fun! If you are fortunate enough to have a distribution warehouse in your area, I highly recommend signing up to work. You get a free t-shirt, ornament and a huge sense of accomplishment when you see all the awesome shoeboxes! Don't forget national collection week is next week November 16-23rd. For more information on Operation Christmas Child go to the website:

Every year I try to pack as much as I can in to the box we put together. And being a frugal mama, I always try to get more bang for my buck. So I thought I'd take a trip through our local Dollar Tree and see what we could find in multi-packs. So here's what we found during a really fast run through the store.  I'm sure with a little more time we could have found lots more. These are great for fillers.

Shower Caps for older girls

Microfiber clothes are great for baths or cleaning. 

Great for all ages and both boys and girls!

Can you imaging the look on the little girls faces?

Super cute socks!

Awesome 4 pack!

So cute!

Gotta love the Smurfs :) 

Monday, November 2, 2015

What's in the November Book Pile?

These are the books in my pile right now. What's in your pile? 

Not in the pile because I've been carrying it around with me is From the Start by Melissa Tagg. I was first introduced to the work of Melissa Tagg when I received a review copy of Made to Last. It wasn't bad. I found out that she'd written even more books so of course I had to check them out. From the Start is the first in a series called The Walker Family. 

Comment with your pile! I'm always looking for new authors whose works I can devour. 

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Book Review: After a Fashion & In Good Company

If you haven't discovered Jen Turano you are seriously missing out on some of the funniest romantic comedies to date.

The first time I got my hands on one of her books was through Bethany House's Blogging for Books program. The cover of the book just jumps out at you and makes you have to read it. I mean look at this face. She's practically begging you to sit down and let her explain how the whole thing came about.

A Change of Fortune
The covers always catch the eye. The ladies are fashionable but don't let them fool you. They are not the well-behaved ladies that their well-poised photos would have you believe. These ladies always find themselves in the middle of some sort of mischievous activity.

After reading the first series, I had the great fortune of meeting Jen at my local library. She is a very interesting and utterly charming lady. So when I got the chance to read the latest books from Jen Turano, of course I jumped at the chance.

This latest series is called A Class of their Own. The first book is After a Fashion. It features leading lady Harriet Peabody who after quite the "eventful" delivery of fashionable goods finds herself in need of employment. Enter our leading man, Oliver Addleshaw. He's in a bit of a bind as he needs to play the part of a family-type man who's more settled in life to impress a client. Oliver makes Harriet a completely honorable proposition to have her pretend to be his fiancee until the deal goes through. It's a bit like in Pretty Woman but a lot less inappropriate. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can't tell you how many times I've laughed so hard I woke up my poor snoozing husband (I read at night).

The second book in this hilarious series is In Good Company, which I've read twice now. I LOVE this book! It follows up with some of the characters in the previous book and introduces the story of Millie Longfellow. She's a brilliant if not under appreciated nanny. She's once again found herself out of a job. Coincidentally, Everett Mulberry, a wealthy bachelor who has recently inherited 3 wards is once again in need of a nanny. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? It's got a very Pride and Prejudice feel with a lot of Lucy and Ethel thrown in. Everett and his lady friend are preparing to go to Newport for the summer as most classy people do. But with Millie, the children, a nosy (if not well meaning) matchmaker in tow it's not smooth sailing.

I love love love this book! I read it in July and just finished re-reading it last night. It's a wonderful seat-of-the-pants adventure. Lots of swoon-worthy scenes. And yes, plenty of laugh-out-loud-wake-the-poor-sleeping-husband-up scenes. I am so ready to read the next book in this series. It needs to show up soon! It's called Playing the Part and it follows the story of Lucetta Plum from the previous books. And it's not going to be out until March next year?!? Seriously? Oh well, that's plenty of time to catch up on all of Jen's books :)

I get to read awesome books for free because of the wonderful people at Blogging for Books. If you'd like to learn more please visit their website:

Monday, May 4, 2015

A letter to Deeanne Gist and a review of Tiffany Girl!

I just wanted say that I have read every one of your books, including Tempest in the White City. Which obviously isn’t as hard as writing all those books but I’m proud none the less. I’ve been a die hard fan for a really long time. Okay, I'm done being fan-girly. All the talk about you crossing over in to to the secular market had made me nervous. I had a serious heart to heart with myself before finishing the book. I told myself it didn’t matter how much I loved to get my hands on the newest book Tiffany Girl if it didn’t glorify God. 

So you will understand my surprise when I decided to finish it and found that other than two other books this is by far one of my favorite books. The others, by the way, are A Bride in the Bargain and Hi Honey, I’m Home by Linda Windsor. The only thing I've noticed any different about Tiffany Girl than your other books is that it’s slightly more “edgy”.  But I've come to love that edginess about your books. I’d like to give a little background information on myself and then I’ll follow up with my review.

I grew up reading. Loved books. I remember the Dear Dragon books from elementary school. I totally ate books such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Thanks Mr. Wright) during my accelerated reader years. But sometime around middle school and high school I picked up Harlequin novels. I was obsessed. They became my companions because we moved a couple times. I had my favorite author and, as is my way, I read all of her books. After high school, I went to a Christian college and we passed my books around the dorm. During, my freshman year one of my friends was getting married and was "studying up" as she called it to prepare for marriage. Sometime during a chapel service, I felt convicted and I ripped up and threw out all 150 of my collection. It was really hard and I suppose some people wouldn’t see that. But I love books. Thinking back now, if I'd found books that were more like yours when I found these books I'd have probably have been more of a positive influence at the time. After that time, I couldn't find anything to read for the rest of college. It’s really hard to call yourself a book lover and reader while not reading. I met the love and best friend of my life and was married my junior year. My heart broke as I saw book after book that my husband read and I still couldn't find anything. I really felt that for that time God took away my love for books. To this day, I say God wouldn’t let me read.

After my first child was born a friend offered me her collection of Lori Wick’s books. I devoured them. I now own every one. The stories were funny and the love stories were warm and comforting. But after a time, I realized they didn't even come close to the love I felt for my husband. There wasn’t as much passion. Our story isn't dramatic but it's real. We have deep emotions and we make decisions that aren't necessarily the best but learn from them. So for a time, again, I wasn’t fully enjoying my life of reading.

I happened upon A Bride in the Bargain at the local rinky dink library where we lived. I haven't looked back.  It's my favorite book of all time. The characters were very real. The tension was real. I fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and lumberjacks :-) And I could not wait for the next book. I continued reading other things but they all paled in comparison. In all honesty, the only ones I didn’t enjoy were Deep in the Heart of Trouble and Courting Trouble. The reason I didn’t was because of the sin that Essie allowed in her life. Which, by the way, is just a reality for lots of people. And to be honest it was just because of the sin that I saw in others that were close to me that I rejected those books. The story didn’t suffer but my heart was broken for Essie. So, for the sake of argument, I did learn something from reading those 2 books even if they weren’t my favorites.

I’ve read all of them. I’ve enjoyed every other one in some way. I’ve learned from the stories of these women who put themselves out there. I’ve cried with them and laughed out loud. I’ve been so encouraged by the talent that is behind these books and by the passion of the woman who continues to author them. So, when I heard that after all these year that you had crossed over...I was sad. I was concerned for someone I’ve come to know (from a distance) as a friend. I thought…Why? When you obviously have this gift from the Lord. Why would you use it for the secular audience? Were you going to “Leave the Door open”? Were you somehow hurt by the Christian industry? There were lots of questions bouncing around in my head. What on earth was I going to read?

The thing is though, that after seeing you so humbly come before your fans and saying what you felt was what God had called you to, I could not find blame. I could not find fault. I found courage. God has not called us to witness to the Christians; He calls us to reach those that don’t know Him. If we spend too much time worrying about what other Christians think, when do we have time to reach those who really need to hear the Good Word? I’ve felt this for a while now. Not just in the books arena but also in other outreach arenas. There is a very popular Christian play/production that has repeat performances and is always packed out. But it always occurs to me that what’s the point if only Christian people come to see it? But I digress.

Thanks Deeanne for all your beautiful works! I have always been and will continue to be one of your biggest fans. I hope you continue to crank out these works of wonder and romance. I appreciate all the details of fashion, architecture, historical research and wonderful settings that go into making every one of your books (even the Essie ones) just really danged awesome.

Your admiring fan and sister in Christ,

Now for the review:

This brings me to Tiffany Girl . This is the 3rd book in the World’s fair series. The first 2 books are It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play. All 3 of these books have given me a new research project. I honestly had no idea there was a World’s fair back then. This book is nothing less than what I’ve come to expect. A strong-headed and very human female lead. A strong and very human male lead. A setting that you can see in your mind. A very flushed out history lesson. You have moments when you seriously want to slap both lead characters and moments when you just want to yell “Kiss her already!”.  The characters are very real.

Flossie is what I was and lots of girls are at that age: headstrong, arrogant, driven, emotional and naive. She’s a bundle of energy. She’s creative and she has the ability to fill up a room with joy, for those willing to abide in it. Reeve is also headstrong, arrogant and driven but he’s seen enough of the world to know that it’s not all that great. He’s lived a somewhat sheltered life but he knows how the world works. He’s willing to stay in his safe corner and he doesn’t want some free-spirited chirping woman messing with his safe life.

In spite of their similarities and differences they both evolve and grow. Reeve learns that he doesn’t so much mind the chirping magpie. He actually becomes quite fond of her and realizes that her ideas aren’t completely bonkers. He learns to see people as something other that stories. Flossie comes to some realizations that shatter her ideas about who she is as a New Woman, a daughter, a friend, an artist and how the world works. This story is one of discovery, love, hope and redemption. It takes you through what is actually a short amount of time in the grand scope of two lives. But in that time, you and the characters learn so much that you find that you’ve both changed. That’s time well spent. I highly recommend this book and all the others to anyone and everyone who loves a good love story.

***Slight spoiler alert***

Now as to the controversial parts, I only found myself wondering finding 3 things that might push the envelope and make you feel slightly uncomfortable if you haven't read any of Deeanne's books before. Reeve does notice the way Flossie’s arms were hugging her breast. Typically, I think chest or bodice or something like that would be used. Reeve does “french kiss” Flossie. Which, by the way, was just a great scene and my favorite chapter in the whole book. And a final chapter of the book is a honeymoon type scene. It’s very tastefully done but it’s there, just fyi. There are mentions of the way the New Women are treated throughout. But none are overly detailed. So honestly, if Deeanne hadn’t mentioned the change in publishing house, there’s a chance I’d have never noticed.

Get your own copy of the book on Amazon!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Book Review: Take Flight! A Sisterchicks Devotional

I don't know about you but I have great intentions when it comes to devotions. I find a cute book and I just know I'm going to sit down every morning and spend time with the Lord. Only sometimes my intentions and the devotion and my alarm clock don't have the same ideas. Luckily, I've found that if I find a devotion book with lots of white space, a couple of key verses, a short story and not a lot of effort required on my part it works. And that my friends is what I'm loving about Take Flight!

The stories are short, usually around 4-5 pages. Followed up with what I'm calling a reflection. It's a couple pages returning the story to scripture and ending with verses to look up and a space to respond. All of this is followed up with a quote or two by fellow Sisterchicks such as Amy Carmichael and Mother Teresa. Then it sometimes wraps up with a way for you to take what you've learned "to the streets". It may be helping a friend, take a class, give flowers, etc.

This book is beautiful. I have the hard bound copy. It's just got that lovely new book smell. Yes, that is a thing. It's so pretty I don't even want to write in it :)

If you are looking for a quick surface study to get you through the mornings, this book is for you. If you love the Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn you must have this for your collection.

I received this book in exchange for my review. If you'd like to get free amazing books just click the Blogging for Books link in the side bar.