Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 - Breaking Down My Goals - Time With God

*Remembering a MOST lovely view in Carmel from our 2nd honeymoon.



So for 2014, I really want to make a stronger effort in my relationship with the Lord.  I know that I need time with Him.  I see the results when I am kind of floating about on my own.  It can start off okay, but then a storm of some sort hits and BLAMMO!!!!!  I'm knocked on my tushy.  

The thing is I know that spending time with God isn't going to keep the storms away.  They will still come, but I will see them for what they really are...TEMPORARY.  I will also see myself for who I am...A LOVED CHILD OF GOD.  

Now...before I get with the planning, I do want to celebrate the victory I have had with my time with God.

This year I joined two online Bible studies with Proverbs 31 Ministries.  The first was with Lysa Terkeurst's book "What Happens When Women Say Yes To God."  It was so eye opening for me!  I really do feel that I received so much direction from God through that study.  I definitely drew closer to God, developed a stronger prayer life, and I learned new ways to study God's word via verse mapping (pretty awesome!!!!).  

I also joined the online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries that used the book "A Confident Heart."  This was such a big one for me.  On the outside, I look like I have it all together.  On the inside...YIKES.  I really had a hard time with my place in His world.  I am still a work in progress here, but what a blessing this study was to me as well.  I learned so many things and the most important was with how I compare myself to others.  Renee shared how a friend told her that when we compare ourselves to someone else, we compare out insides to someone's outsides.  Talk about a losing battle!  This was my first time also being involved in the online study with special Facebook groups too.  What a great way to study!  It was nice getting a chance to open up to one another on an even deeper level.  

I was also getting up extra early in the morning to spend time with God in prayer and study.  That kind of slowed down, but I am going to recommit.  For now, I am going to get up 20 minutes early and stick with that and increase my way up to an hour early.  I love my sleep so this has been a challenge.  That is why I decided to go for 20 minutes.  It is a small start, but I am looking forward to making it.  :)

Do you spend time reading and studying the Bible?  Do you follow a routine?  What works for you?

PS --- I am starting another study soon.  The book for this one is "Made To Crave" by Lysa Terkeurst.  I am really looking forward to it!




Sunday, December 29, 2013

The New Year is Coming - Where I want to see growth



*It is all about perspective





I have been thinking off and on about plans for the upcoming year, and what I am hoping to accomplish.  If I really am honest, there are a lot of things I would like to work on and change.  If I am PAINFULLY honest, I will also admit that there is no way I can accomplish it all.  Why?   Because I will be overwhelmed.  When I get overwhelmed I give up.  I want 2014 to be the year where I do not give up.  I want to continue.  I want to push on.  I want to move forward.  This year I do not want to measure my victory in any one thing completed.  I am okay with it not having an item checked off on my list.  I just want to see growth and change.  I want to look back next year at this time, and see improvement.  Period.

Here is what I would like to see growth:

1 - Time with God
2 - Weight/Fitness
3 - Writing
4 - Finances
5 - Clutter
6 - Fun well spent
7 - Time management 

I'll go into all of this in a more in depth manner in the days ahead.  I just wanted to take a little time to focus.  

How are you approaching the New Year?  Do you do resolutions?  Do you have goals?  Do you just let things happen as they will?

 



Saturday, December 28, 2013

Audiobook Review - The Inn at Rose Harbor: A Novel by Debbie Macomber



Nothing helps the housework loathing part of myself get things done like listening to a good audiobook...in my hunt for a book to take me away, I found "The Inn at Rose Harbor" by Debbie Macomber.  I downloaded this from my public library via the Overdrive App on my Kindle.






The Inn at Rose Harbor - A Novel
Author:  Debbie Macomber
Reader:  Lorelei King
Random House Audio

About the book (from Goodreads)
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.

Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start. Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast—the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn—ready to begin her life anew. Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine.

Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. But a long-lost acquaintance from Joshua’s high school days proves to him that forgiveness is never out of reach and love can bloom even where it’s least expected.  

The other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother’s wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn’t come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories from her past. And while Abby reconnects with family and old friends, she realizes she can only move on if she truly allows herself to let go.

A touching novel of life’s grand possibilities and the heart’s ability to heal, The Inn at Rose Harbor is a welcome introduction to an unforgettable set of friends.


From the Hardcover edition.


My Review:  Can a story truly inspire a feeling of coziness and warmth?  Yes.  Within moments of beginning "The Inn at Rose Harbor," I felt as if I was walking into my very own dream.  I don't know if it is true for many, but I have often fantasized about living and running a small B&B in a coastal town.  "The Inn at  Rose Harbor" vividly opened that dream back up in its pages, and I delighted in the escape from my own reality into a place where I lived that dream along with the character Jo Marie Rose. 

Jo Marie Rose is a new widow who is finding healing in embarking on her own dream and also being a part, a gentle part, of healing for her two guests at Rose Harbor Inn, and perhaps some of the town's people as well.  There is a gentleness and sincerity captured in her that is so completely real, I had no trouble picturing Jo Marie and believing everything that she feels and does.  This is something I like about all the characters.  They are flawed indeed, but there is hope there, and not one change happens that does not make sense to the character or the story. 

I look forward to seeing how lives and hearts will be changed with the other visitors to Rose Harbor Inn.  I also am excited to see Jo Marie's plans for this Inn come to fruition, and also seeing how this place will continue to provide strength and healing to Jo Marie as well.  This is a series that I look forward to returning to again and again.  It is nice walking away from a story simply feeling refreshed and hopeful.


I do want to share that  I have not read any of the Cedar Cove books, so this was my first experience walking through the town, enjoying the sites and the smells of the streets, the eateries, and the characters that populate this town that has a magical quality.  I am delighted that this is my first foray into Cedar Cove, because that means there are lots of treasures to find in novels also based in this town.

Production Review:  As I listened to the audiobook, I would also like to comment on production.  It was very well done.  A good reader is so important to an audiobook.  Vital really.  I have stopped listening to more than one audiobook (from favorite authors) because the reader was distracting or simply had a grating voice) Lorelei King perfectly voiced Jo Marie and captured the emotion of the story.  She is a skillful reader, and I hope that I will find her involved with other books that I listen to.


I received this audiobook on loan through the Overdrive app and my public library.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thrifty Tips for December 26, 2013

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THRIFTY QUICKS
Christmas is over and many great deals are available.  Here are your best bets for after Christmas sales:

Christmas decorations are always a given, but don't forget to think out of the box or basket.  I always get great deals on gift baskets after Christmas.  Grab those beauty gift sets that are at huge discounts due to their holiday packaging.  Baskets themselves are often found after Christmas for a great price.  If you have been considering an artificial Christmas tree now is the time to buy.  My husband and I picked up a great tree three years ago for 75% off.  Wrapping paper is always deeply discounted but don't forget gift bags, tape and tissue. 

Where should you shop?  Don't just go to super stores to grab all of those decoration deals.  Builder and hardware stores have huge discounts up to 75% on Christmas decorations.  The hardware stores also often have special deals leftover for those one-stop Christmas shoppers.

Now is also a great time to pick up those top tier television sets.  Their big sales are just beginning.   

Christmas themed clothing whether socks, t-shirts or pajamas are all good options for the day after Christmas.  Your socks are basically hidden, why not get them at a rock bottom price?

FREE EBOOKS (These books were free at the time of my posting.  Always check the price before you download)

Daily Wisdom For Women - January 2014 Devotional - Barbour Publishing (AMAZON)

No Place for a Lady (Heart of the West Book #1) by Maggie Brendan - Revell Publishing (AMAZON)

A Place Called Bliss by Ruth Glover - Revell Publishing (AMAZON) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM)

GROCERIES

FRY'S

Pork Loin Back Ribs or St. Lous Style Spare Ribs Previously Frozen are $1.99 lb (limit 2)
Romaine, Iceberg, Red or Green Leaf Lettuce 99 cents
Hass Avocados or Mangoes 88 cents
Pork Shoulder butt or Picnic Roast Moist &Tender, Bone-in, Sold Whole in Bag $1.49 lb
Hebrew National Beef Franks 11-12 oz 2/$6

ALBERTSONS

Dole Bananas 39 cents lb
Essential Everyday Apple Juice or Cider 64 oz Select Varieties 3/$5
Marie Callender's or Healthy Choice Dinners, Entrees, Pot Pies 8-19 oz $1.99
New Crop Navel Oranges 99 cents lb
Albertsons Gallon Milk Select Varieties $1.87 (limit 2)

SAFEWAY

Premium Gala apples or Premium Fuji Apples 99 cents lb
Campbell's Chunky Soup or Bowls 4/$5
Fresh 80% Lean Ground Beef $2.79 lb
Dawn or Ivory Dish Detergent 10.1 to 24 oz Liquid $2.99
Large Navel Oranges 99 cents lb


25 Days of Christmas Movies - Movie Number 8 - Christmas for a Dollar


In our effort to overflow our Christmas viewing with good cheer, my husband and I simply could not pass up "Christmas for a Dollar."  

Movie Eight
Christmas for a Dollar
Starring:  Brian Krause, Nancy Stafford, Heather Beers and Nancy Chuchman

About the movie (from Christian Movie Database):

America is in the midst of the Depression, and the Kamp family is struggling to get by, especially after Mrs. Kamp’s untimely death. Now little Ruthie, with her mother gone and her father overwhelmed by doctor bills resulting from her brother s polio, expects another Christmas without presents or festivities. But when her father brings home one dollar in change and lets the children use it to buy special gifts for each other, the Kamps come to find that money isn’t what fills Christmas with joy, love, and miracles.

My Review:
We loved the opportunity to watch the portrayal of another simple Christmas.  The movie takes place in the Depression so it is expected that times would be simple and also a bit stressful.  The Kamp family is struggling like many are financially but also struggling over the loss of their mama.  Mr. Kamp is doing all he can to provide for the kids financially and his elder children do what they can to make things work since the loss of their mom.  Because times are so tight, the kids worry that Christmas is pretty much going to pass them by, but Dad has been scrimping and saving.  The family will have one dollar in change to use to buy a gift for each member of the family.  It will take creativity and heart, but the kids are delighted at the task at hand.

"Christmas for a Dollar" contains everything I enjoy in a Christmas film.  Sweet kids, a message of hope and a display of generosity and caring.  There was a sweetness to it that was charming.  It is well written and well acted.  I hope that it will be a film we can watch again and again. We watched it on UPtv.

I give this family friendly film a solid four stars.  I hope to add it one day to our own personal collection. 




 
Here's the trailer:



 

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Movie Seven - Mr. Christmas





Period Christmas films are quite possibly my favorite type.  So I had to record (yep DVR time) Mr. Christmas.  



Movie Seven:  
Mr. Christmas
Starring:  Jace McLean, Jen Celene Little, Ireland Rose Maddox, Abigail Knslow 

About the film (from Amazon):
A young father can't afford to buy his 5-year-old daughter what she's expecting Santa Claus to bring her for Christmas. 

My Review:  
Mr. Christmas is a sweet and tear jerking film about a young family celebrating Christmas in 1941.  Times are hard for the young Carter family and they only get harder as World War II has pulled into full swing.  They do all they can though, to share a wonderful Christmas with their children.  

Carol Lee the eldest child (who maybe was 5 on my guess) and her sister Babby are excited about the arrival of "Santa's Catalog" (I remember similar feelings about the Sear's catalog when I was a child).  Mom and dad are stunned by the cost of everything in the catalog and try desperately to steer Carol Lee away from her number one Christmas wish, a bicycle.  Dad also desperately tries to figure out how he can grant that one wish while mom tries to make it clear to dad that sometimes, you get what you can and be happy with it.

Mr. Christmas is a sweet and brief Christmas story.  It made us laugh and made us a little teary eyed as well.  

I would give it 3 1/2 stars.  It is definitely family friendly.




Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Movie 6 - Christmas Do-Over






The next film on my 25 Days of Christmas movies was "Christmas Do-Over."  With a child on the cover and Jay Mohr, I was pretty sure I would find something to enjoy.

Movie Six
Christmas Do-Over
Starring:  Jay Mohr, Daphne Zuniga, and Adrienne Barbeau

About the Movie (from Barnes & Noble): A ne'er do well father and ex-husband who always raced his way through the holidays is forced to relive Christmas Day time and again until he gets it right in this family oriented fantasy comedy starring Jay Mohr. It's Christmas time once again, and as usual Kevin (Mohr) is scrambling to get his son Ben a last minute gift before stopping by his ex-wife Jill's house for a quick swig of eggnog. Ben can't stand Jill's impossibly perfect new boyfriend, and the prospect of spending the entire evening with his former inlaws is nearly too painful to ponder. But this Christmas things are going to be different, because this Christmas might just last forever. At first Kevin resists the curious development by simply reverting to his childish ways, though he is about to find out that sometimes in order to build a better future one must finally make amends with the past.

My Review:  Kevin is definitely a bit on the self-centered side.  He is invited to his in-laws' home for a Christmas celebration and drags his feet the whole way.  He, of course, wants to see his son, but he is not really thrilled about family time with the ex, her family and her new boyfriend.  Of course Kevin's son is thrilled to have the family together and doesn't care about anything other than that and wishes that it was Christmas every day.  

In the fame of "Groundhog Day," Christmas repeats itself again and again with only Kevin realizing what is going on.  Kevin is not remotely delighted to spend the same day again and again with his ex and her family and acts out like the selfish man he is.  But a change may come if he is willing to open his heart and his eyes.  

"Christmas Do-Over" is a sweet Christmas film.  There is a lesson to be learned which makes it nice for the family.  Don't dig too deep though because there are a lot of things that would make you dismiss the magic of the sweet spot of this story.  Well, once Kevin stops being a creep.  :)  

I would give this one 3 Stars.  I liked it.  I would possibly watch it again, but it would not be a yearly thing. 

Here's the trailer:



25 Days of Christmas Movies- Movie 5 - Four Christmases





I have been loading up on all things Christmas.  Christmas books, Christmas treats and Christmas movies.  I have watched a Christmas movie a day, but I have been a little slack on sharing them.  So let's get going.  

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Christmases-Blu-ray-Vince-Vaughn/dp/B001CTA1UW/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top



Movie Five -
Four Christmases
Starring - Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, Mary Steenburgen, Robert Duvall, and Sissy Spacek.

About the movie (from Amazon):  A happily unmarried San Francisco couple find themselves socked in by fog on Christmas morning, As a result their exotic vacation plans morph into the family-holiday.

My Review:  When I started watching "Four Christmases" I was kind of looking for a Romantic Christmas Comedy.  It was definitely a comedy, but it wasn't terribly romantic.  For me that was no major deal because most romances can almost be too formulaic in a holiday movie anyway.  

As the movie begins, Kate and Brad seem like a married couple who like to explore all kinds of activities together.  They look like an absolute fun couple who are trying to take the biggest bite of life that they can.  At first this seems refreshing but as they share about their feelings against marriage with others, they start to get more and more unlikeable.  It was actually kind of weird.  


When the weather causes their annual Christmas getaway to be put on the back burner, Kate and Brad instead visit their family who they have actively avoided spending the holidays with.  Each visit gives us a little glimpse into who Brad and Kate are as well as their families.  As both have divorced parents and are fairly dysfunctional, you can kind of see why they are not married themselves.  

Overall, considering the actors in the film, I really expected more.  Obviously they didn't write the dialogue nor direct it, but still there just was too much missing.  It was funny in parts but not that funny and it completely lacked warmth which is something I would expect in a holiday film.  Even when redeemed, these characters were not terribly likeable.  

Because of the actors and title, I would have thought this would be a family friendly film.  I am not a prude when it comes to movies, but I would say that this is not one I would share with my son.  It isn't over the top in sexual nature, but there are moments that would require conversations that I don't think any of the kids in my family would be interested in having.  Especially around the holidays.  

I'd give it about 2.5 stars because there are moments that are good, but again, I would NOT recommend this as a family Christmas film. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thrifty Tips for December 19th

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RECIPE

With Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts on sale, I knew that baked empanadas would be on our menu.  They are really easy to make and although the recipe I am linking to uses ground beef, I have found this recipe to go great with ANY leftover meet I have on hand from excess taco meat to leftover rotisserie chicken.  Follow this link to a simple Beef Empanada recipe.

FREE EBOOKS (Remember to double check the price before downloading because the prices can change at any time)  
Inescapable by Nancy Mehl - Bethany House Publishers (AMAZON)(CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (BARNES & NOBLE)

A Charlie Brown Christmas by  Charles M. Schultz (AMAZON)

A Texas Legacy Christmas by DiAnn Mills (AMAZON)

SAVING MONEY AND LOOKING GOOD

One of the places I am often looking for ways to save money is in my cosmetics.  If I can find an inexpensive product that works as well as a more pricey option, I am all about making the switch.  If I can MAKE that product myself and save even more, challenge accepted!  When I noticed that my makeup was not lasting throughout the day, I knew I needed to invest in a finishing spray.  A good finishing spray goes on  light, refreshes, and keeps your makeup from settling in the fine lines in your face.  A good finishing spray can cost upwards of $29 to $49!  I don't have $29 to $49 to invest on a finishing spray.  So I hunted down some recipes instead and make my own make up spray.  I had everything on hand except the spray bottle.

MAKE UP FINISHING SPRAY


--One 2 fluid oz spray bottle (I picked one up for 97 cents in a beauty department at Wal-Mart)
--Filtered water -A little under 2 oz (We had a few gallons on hand when the pipes were messed up in the neighborhood)
--1 Tbs Corn Starch


-- Okay this is where it gets hard.  No not really.  Empty 1 tablespoon of corn starch into the spray bottle.  I had a funnel but you can also make one with rolled up paper.  Pour filtered water into the spray bottle.  Cap it and shake it up.  From my pictures you can see what it will look like.  This will settle in between uses so be sure to shake it up before you use it and shake it well.  If you do not, you will have little white dots on you.  If you shake it up it will work wonders as an inexpensive finishing spray.

*The color is pretty opaque not quite as solid white as it may look.


MAKE YOUR OWN DEODORANT



Now this is good for men or women.  I do not have exact measurements.  Here's what you need. 
Clean jar (I prefer glass)
1 part baking soda
2 parts corn starch


Mix everything together and apply in the morning with a powder puff after remixing (you can get them in most beauty departments in drug stores or Wal-Mart in the beauty tool section).  That's it.  Super simple, no aluminum or damaging ingredients and I hear (haven't tried this yet) it is very effective.  You can even make a cream solution by adding coconut oil (a little at a time until it makes a creamy paste- a bit too messy for me)


FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS

FreeCCM has 10 free Christmas music downloads at their website.  You do need to sign up for their email to get the download link.  There is no spam, cancel emails when you want.  You'll get songs from MercyMe, Ashes Remain, Phil Wickham and more. Follow this link to sign up today.


iTickets.com has two free song downloads for their members (free membership) including Lincoln Brewster's "Miraculum" from his album "Joy to the World" Digital Deluxe. 

New Release Tuesday members can download four songs including Brandon Heath's "Mama Wouldn't Lie To Me" (for an entry into a special Brandon Heath contest. 

GROCERIES

ALBERTSONS (Doubling manufacturer's coupons  up to and including 50 cents, triple up to and including 33 cents manufacturer's coupons and quadrupling up to and including 25 cents manufacturer's coupons through 12/24)

Hormel Cure 81 Premium Spiral cut Ham $1.37 lb (limit 1)
Challenge Butter 1 lb Quarters $1.48 (limit 2)
Blue Bell Ice Cream 64 oz  (1/2 gallon) $3.88
Cuties Clementines 5 lb Box $3.97 each
Libby's Vegetables 11-15.25 oz Select Varieties 2/$1

SAFEWAY

Fresh All Natural Boneless Half Pork Loin Sold in the Bag $1.99 lb
Fresh All Natural Whole Pork Shoulder bone-in, Single Roast, Sold Whole in Bag $1.99 lb
Thomas's English Muffins 12 oz Original or Sourdough Select Varieties $1.99
Green Onions or Red Radishes 2/$1 (don't forget that you can plant those green onions in a jar with water and have a mini kitchen chive garden to snip when needed)
Large Navel Oranges 99 cents lb

FRY'S

Gold Pineapple Whole 97 cents each (limit 4)
New York Strip Roast USDA Choice, Bone-In, Hand Trimmed & Tied $3.77 lb (limit 1)
Blackberries 6 oz 97 cents (limit 4)
Kroger Cheese  Select Varieties Bar or Shreds 6-8 oz or Natural Slices 6 oz $1.79
Pillsbury Pie  Crusts Refrigerated 2 count packages 2/$5




Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Sixty Eight Point 5 - Yes...168.5 Moving On Down!!!



Time to check in:

Week one of sticking with my new goals is going great.  I again have not changed my eating habits really but I have been more intentional in what I do.  I have gone to the gym five days this week, and I am happy for that first victory.  Like I said, eating is not really changing yet, because I am trying to just establish this new habit like Chantel Hobbs did.  My weight has gone down though, and for that I am grateful.  It was nice stepping on the scale and not seeing 170.2 lb.  I was a bit nervous.  Actually I was a lot nervous.  

This is what I promised to do last week:

1 - Giving it to God.
I am literally asking God moment by moment for His strength.  I've had weak times.  This has been vital.
2 - Read "Never Say Diet" by Chantel Hobbs (taking notes if necessary)
I am still reading Chantel's book and learning so much.  I am not looking for "peak" moments in my life rather than getting my good feelings from food.  Big peak moment this week was finding that my blog post about Debbie Macomber's book "Starry Night" was linked on her website!  Not a bad peak!  Actually a great one!  Better than I ever imagined!
3 - Go to the gym five days a week.  
I've been hitting the gym just like a job.  Five days a week.  I can't wait for that time when I am not feeling so winded.  :)
4 - Not worry about what I eat for a month, finish Chantel Hobbs' book "Never Say Diet" first.  I will be making a point of drinking more water though.
I am drinking more water and I am also drinking green tea instead of going on coffee all day.  I still drink about two coffees in the morning and I do not really plan on stopping, but once I am in the office I switched to green tea.  I am still working on the book. I am also eating celery with almond butter for a snack before I hit the gym.  It seems to be giving me just the energy I need.  It also makes a great snack at other times of the day.  :)  I never thought I would enjoy that.  
5 - I will also hold onto a new Bible verse a week. 
This week's verse:
1 Corinthians 10:31
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 


I have no idea what will be in store for me this week, but I know one thing...I'm not going back to okay.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thrifty Tips for December 11, 2013

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WEBSITE

One of the reasons my husband and I have cats is it is far easier to travel when you have cats.  A friend can drop by feed them, water them and so on.  When you have a dog, it is a lot harder.  Finding a friend or family  member who can watch your pets while you are away is not always easy and your dog may not be too crazy about kennels, but there is a new way that you can maybe find a solution and that is called DogVacay.  With DogVacay you can find a pet owner in your area who will take in your pets and love them like you do while you are away.   You can see their home, read reviews from others who have had their pets stay at their home, see the kinds of pets that they have to make sure your pets are compatible, and ask all the questions you would like.  Your reservation also includes free photo updates and pet insurance.  Also, if you are a dog owner who would like to offer your own services, you can sign up to be a host as well to make some extra income.  Cool right?  Oh!  And if you are say traveling with your pet but seeing some site that doesn't allow pets, you can often find hosts at DogVacay who will take your pet in for the day while you do some special site seeing.  Learn more at the link here.   

GREAT RECIPE SALE MATCH

Bottom round roast is on sale at Safeway for $2.99 a pound and you can make a really tasty recipe with your crock pot.  This one is called To Die For Crock Pot Roast.  They promise you can use any kind of roast and it will work out great.  I tried it, and the whole family loved it!

FREE ALBUM PREVIEW


Head over to New Release Tuesday where you can preview Brandon Heath's new Christmas album "Christmas is Here."  Membership is free. 

New Release Tuesday also has six free music downloads including "O, Come All Ye Faithful" by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Don't forget the free Christmas songs you can get at Amazon each week until Christmas.  Even many of the ones they say are expired are still free and available like "O Holy Night" by Group1Crew.  

Spread the word via Twitter or Facebook or offer a tip and you can download Snow Globe featuring Rhett Walker Band singing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and Brandon Heath singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" among other Christian artists pick it up at Noise Trade.

FREE EBOOKS (Always keep in mind that these books were free at the time of my posting.  Double check prices before ordering.)

A Christmas Carol (Enriched Classics) by Charles Dickens  (AMAZON)

Nadia's Hope by Lisa Buffaloe (AMAZON)

Unconventional by J.J. Hebert (AMAZON)

FREEBIE

Do you have a pup?  You can put in a special treat in their Christmas stocking from Hill's Pet Nutrition.  The chance is from now until December 17th on their Facebook page

While supplies last get Aquafina Flavor Splash at their Facebook page (you  must be at least 14 years old - not sure why).  

GROCERIES

ALBERTSONS

Albertsons Gallon Milk (select varieties) Limit 2 $1.87
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $1.67 lb
USDA Choice Rib Roast Whole in the bag, Bone-in $4.97 lb (limit 1)
Red Ripe Roma Tomatoes 99 cents lb
Crisp Green Bell Peppers or Cucumbers 2/$1

SAFEWAY

Rancher's Reserve Boneless Beef Bottom round Roast $2.99 lb
Large Navel Oranges 99 cents lb
Fuji Apples or Gala  Apples 99 cents lb
Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Sandwich Bread 20 oz Selected Varieties $1.99
Jennie-O Turkey Store Breakfast Rolls or Bacon 12 to 16 oz Selected Varieties $2.99

FRY'S

Cook's Shank Half Ham Smoked, Bone-In, Limit one .89 cents lb, Cook's Spiral Sliced Ham Smoked, Bone-in, Limit one $1.47 lb

New York Strip Roast USDA Choice, Bone-in Hand Trimmed and Tied Limit one $3.77 lb
Halos California Mandarins 3 lb Bag $2.77
Broccoli or Cauliflower 99 cents lb
Kroger Butter Select Varieties 16 oz $1.99


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

170.2 Yep One Hundred Seventy Point Two --- OUCH (and that isn't just my waist talking about my tight pants)

Time to make a change. 

A number.  A horrifying number.  170.2

I looked at the scale and thought I was going to cry. 

Let me tell you about it.

About 2 1/2 years ago, I agonized over my weight.  Since my thyroid went bust on me, I was on a sliding scale going up up up.  It was not a pretty site.  When I got married I was in Juniors size 3 and small shirts.  At my most disgusted 2 1/2 years ago, my jeans were up to size 14.  Slacks and khakis were even worse!  In my desperation, I went on the HCG diet. 

First, I had read about it in a magazine.   The women went to a clinic of sorts and would get a shot and follow a very restrictive diet.  Second, my friend Diane came into the studio and had shown a serious weight loss.   She told me how she was on the HCG diet and that it was her second round and that it was amazing.  She then told me that she gave herself the shots.  I thought that was just crazy, but her weight loss was amazing.  I decided to see a doctor about it and go for it. 

I stepped on the scale my first day and wanted to cry.  I weighed 170 lbs.  I muddled through and followed the diet like my life depended on it.  After 30 days.  I had lost 28 lbs.  I then lost 6 more pounds.  I was elated.  I looked great.  I felt great. 

Then slowly, it all came back.

I felt like I was on a see saw.   First I went from 136 to 140...then I was 148.  Then I dropped down to 145 only to leap up to 151.  This last year was the worst.  I would see saw up and down up and down, and all I could think was "Please don't go back to 170! Please do not go there!"

And then...this week...POW

170.2

*GULP*

To be honest.  I am not surprised.  My jeans and pants hurt.  I am cranky.  I am winded easily.  And the scale sadly doesn't lie...well it can lie a bit with manipulation and a little funny balancing act, but even then the pants don't lie.  You know you have to make a change when you'd rather wear yoga pants and you aren't into yoga.

So now what?

I'll tell you what.  I cracked open a book.  This book

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Say-Diet-Decisions-Break/dp/0307444937/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1386736449&sr=8-1&keywords=never+say+diet




Yes, I opened up "Never Say Diet" by Chantel Hobbs.  I wanted to breeze through it and get the answers in one sitting.  I was ready to just read non stop and get moving, but I didn't.  Why?  Because that is what I do.  I race through things and get results, but they don't last.  This time I am doing it all differently.  This time I am taking my time.  I don't mean that I am going to mosey through this to the point where I lose interest.  I have simply made a choice to do what it takes and not rush myself to results. 

That is the difference in me.  Before I wanted results now.  If I didn't have results in a reasonable amount of time, I would give up.  Even if I had results from a good diet, I couldn't hold onto it, because I simply could not stand eating the way I was. 

Now I am believing that this isn't a sprint it is a marathon.  I thought I would share a little bit of what I am up to in order to be accountable. 

1 - Giving it to God. I learned that I really, really cannot do this alone.  I need the Lord's help, because I am so very weak.
2 - Read "Never Say Diet" by Chantel Hobbs (taking notes if necessary)
3 - Go to the gym five days a week.  Now, Chantel started going six days a week when she made her own decision on changing the way she thought and more.  I would like to commit to six, but I do not dare.  She suggested making it like a job.  As I work five days a week, I am going to put in five.  I can vow to do that. 
4 - Not worry about what I eat for a month.  This does not mean I will be eating all the garbage I can get in me.  I am simply not going to work on changing my eating habits right now.  I have only read up to chapter 5 so far, but one thing that stuck out to me was not taking on too much at once.   First I am going to get that gym habit in and get this "Never Say Diet" digested (so to speak).  Then I will start to work on my intake.  I will be making a point of drinking more water though.
5 - I will also hold onto a new Bible verse a week.  This week's is:

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3
 

After the above, I'll work on this book "The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer" also by Chantel Hobbs.  

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Diet-Personal-Fitness-Trainer/dp/0307446425/ref=pd_sim_b_1
For now, I will not be posting more about this until Saturdays when I will check my weight. That is another thing I have learned. I don't know if Chantel mentions it in her book yet, but I have realized that I can be highly influenced by how the numbers look on my scale.  

Okay...off to read.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book Review - The Hanging Judge: A Novel by Michael Ponsor



Through NetGalley, I receive the opportunity to request, receive and review books in eBook format.  I was excited to get the opportunity to read The Hanging Judge: A Novel by Michael Ponsor.





BOOK REVIEW
The Hanging Judge
Author: Michael Ponsor
Publisher: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller


About the book (from Goodreads): 
Based on the experience of the author, a federal judge who in 2000 presided over the first capital case in Massachusetts in more than fifty years, this extraordinary debut thriller offers an unprecedented inside view of a federal death penalty trial

When a drive-by shooting in Holyoke, Massachusetts, claims the lives of a Puerto Rican drug dealer and a nurse at a neighborhood clinic, the police arrest a black drug dealer. With no death penalty in Massachusetts, the US attorney shifts the double homicide out of state jurisdiction into federal court so that he can pursue the death penalty.

The Honorable David S. Norcross, who has been on the federal bench only two years, now presides over the first death penalty case in the state in fifty years. He must contend not only with an ambitious female prosecutor and a brilliant veteran defense attorney, but with a citizenry outraged at the senseless killing of a white hockey mom—not to mention the pressures of the media, anti-death penalty protesters, vengeful gang members, and the million other things that can go wrong in a capital trial.


My Review:  

I could not wait to read Michael Ponsor's book The Hanging Judge.  The first draw for me was my absolute love for legal thrillers, but the second was the locale.  I lived half of my life in New England and any book that will take me back their with any authenticity makes me very happy.  

The Hanging Judge brings the reader inside the the courtroom of a death penalty case.  It does so in a way that is absolutely flooring.  Not only does the reader get to see the case from the side of the judge, the lawyers, and the person being tried, but the police, investigators and victims' families and more are all included.  You might think this would be overwhelming, but Ponsor handles it remarkably.  Each character is not a shadow but brought completely to life.  They have back story and motives that are unique to themselves.  The star is the story though each character is living as if they are the center.  Michael Ponsor proved that he has a very intricate knowledge of the legal system as well as the human condition.  That strength shines through in this novel.

I was floored at how my mind switched gears as I read and grasped the intricate cuts of this mystery thriller.  The Hanging Judge had me scratching my head and stretching my mind's muscles as I tried to come up with the conclusion.  This excited me all the more.  There was no easy out for this story.  Well done.  I highly recommend it, and certainly do look forward to Michael Ponsor's next work.  I hope it comes soon.  

This eBook was provided to me for free through the publishers via NetGalley.  This had no impact on my opinion.  My opinion is all my own.

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Movie 4 - Holiday Road Trip




25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS MOVIES - HOLIDAY ROAD TRIP

Starring:  Patrick Muldoon, Ashley Scott, Kip Pardue, Shelly Long and George Hamilton.

About the movie (from Christmas Wiki):
Co-workers at a high-profile pet supply store in Washington D.C., Pat (Patrick Muldoon) and Maya (Ashley Scott) couldn't be more opposite. Maya works in accounting, she’s a driven, ambitious businesswoman looking to turn her job into a great career.  He’s in the design department and basically plays for a living, which is a perfect job for the little kid who never really grew up. She wears Manolos, and he wears Velcro. 

When Maya's obscenely successful boyfriend, Davis (Kip Pardue) leaves her right before Christmas, she begrudgingly decides to volunteer an RV tour along with Pat and the star of the company, Scoots (Uggie the dog, "The Artist"). At first, the road trip is a match made in hell. But the whole idea is the brain child of the company founder Max (George Hamilton), who is Pat's dad.
Once on the road, opposites are put to the test. Pat eats nothing but junk food, but she wants to be healthy. He listens to hard rock, while she prefers jazz. He drives 95, while she coasts at a leisurely 55. She thinks he’s an uneducated man-child while he thinks she’s a self-absorbed snob. But fate has a funny way of intervening. All the while, Davis, who feels he made a terrible mistake breaking up with Maya, is one step behind. 

My Review:  
Holiday Road Trip is one of those awkward yet sweet little Christmas movies that is intended to inspire some giggles and smiles.  Polar opposites Pat and Maya head out on a road trip with Scoots the mascot of Pet Products.  What starts out as a desperate attempt to just get away from home while nursing her wounded heart, develops into a friendship and romantic adventure.  

I believe my favorite part of the film was actually seeing actors from my childhood like Susan Olsen (Cindy from the Brady Bunch), Mindy Cohn (THE Natalie my favorite Facts of Life girl), Donna Partow of Angie and of course Saturday Night Fever, and Shelly Long among others.  It was a fun holiday romp that provided a nice evening's escape from shopping and planning for Christmas.  Loved it for what it was.  Do not expect "It's A Wonderful Life" do expect a sweet and quirky film.  

Book Review - The Christmas Promise by Kimberly Rose Johnson




I am absolutely in love with all things Christmas, and I have been throwing myself into as many Christmas books, songs and movies that I possibly can.  A short while ago I won the book "The Christmas Promise" by Kimberly Rose Johnson from author Trish Perry's blog Reading, Writing, and the Stuff in Between.  I was absolutely delighted to read another Christmas book, and I am happy to get the chance to share a review here.  

http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Promise-Heartsong-Presents-ebook/dp/B00D4MWFYA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top


The Christmas Promise 

By Kimberly Rose Johnson
 

About the book (from Goodreads)
Dr. Pete Harding doesn't date single moms.

No matter how lovely Keira Noble's smile, or how adorable her four-year-old son. He's been down that road before and knows it can lead to a broken heart. But that doesn't mean he can't help the pretty widow find a puppy to put under the Christmas tree for her son….

Pete claims he only wants to help her find the perfect gift for Cody. Yet Keira can't deny the tender feelings in his eyes whenever he looks at her. Could this handsome Scrooge have a change of heart, and create a new family for Christmas?


My review:  
There really is nothing that gets me into the Christmas season more than a Christmas romance in a smallish town setting, and the Christmas Promise certainly delivers on that.  Keira is a widow with a young son, who had lost her husband in a tragic accident on a snowy road.   This loss has caused a seed of fear to sprout in Keira that has kept her from going far beyond her own town.  Life has worked out well, she has a nice business, and she and her son have good friends, but love, there is simply no room in her life's equation for that, until a good friend decides it is really time for Keira to date again.  

Dr. Pete has his own baggage from a failed relationship and like so many of us has vowed to not date anyone who has close similarities to that person.  Basically anyone with a child.  He hasn't really felt a problem with his decision, but when he meets Keira, he begins to second guess himself. 

Filled with sweet characters and a delicious locale, The Christmas Promise, brings the magic of love and the Christmas season to life. 

I enjoyed the story a great deal.  It was sweet and not heavy handed.  I enjoyed the characters a great deal, and the author was so adept at description, I was ready to pack my bags and move to Leavenworth!  It was nice setting down my own life's concerns and picking up where I left off with Keira, Cody and Pete.  If you are looking for a sweet seasonal story with a wonderful cast of characters who are extremely likeable, The Christmas Promise will provide a fine slide into the season.  

As I wrote earlier, I did win this book, but there was no expectation of a review, and it did not impact my opinion. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Movie 3 - Christmas in Conway

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS MOVIES - MOVIE 3 - CHRISTMAS IN CONWAY

Is it Christmas without Hallmark Hall of Fame?  Certainly not.  So of course when "Christmas in Conway" was announced, I had to set the DVR for a viewing.  


https://www.hallmark.com/online/hall-of-fame/christmas-in-conway.aspx


Christmas in Conway

Starring:  Mary-Louise Parker, Andy Garcia, Mandy Moore, Riley Smith, Cheri Oteri, and Mark Jeffrey Miller.

About the film:  Usually I share a plot summary from Amazon or IMDB, but I really didn't find a good summary there and the one at Hallmark might as well just blow the whole film for you.  So here you go:  Natalie a home-care hospice nurse moves in with Duncan and Suzy as Suzy returns from the hospital after deciding that she wants to forgo any further chemo and spend her last days at home.  A distraught Duncan has to face that he cannot handle it all alone.

My review:  Christmas in Conway is the typical Hallmark Hall of Fame Film in that it is absolutely dear with enough conflict to furrow your brow and enough soft moments to have you grasping for a tissue.  

Initially I thought Christmas in Conway would focus on some sort of romance for young hospice nurse Natalie and while that is partially the case, the true romance is between Duncan and Suzy.  Duncan first enters the film as a rude and arrogant man, but when you realize that his wife is dying and has decided to stop the fight and finish of the remainder of her days at home, it makes some sense that he might be a rough soul.  As we learn more and more about Suzy and Duncan's romance, it becomes even more apparent that this man is tortured over the eventual loss of THE love of his life.

Being powerless to provide for certain aspects of her care, Duncan resigns himself to having a live-in hospice nurse, but he is hardly welcoming to Natalie or anyone else for that matter.  It is a long road of healing for this man.  The most important thing in Duncan's life is his wife, Suzy, and his decision to provide her with one last special gift is also the decision that just might bring healing to his broken heart.

Christmas in Conway is well written and acted.  There are definitely some obvious moments, but I figure there are some things that really don't need to keep us guessing.  The message of love is strong in this film and although loss is evidently going to rear its head, there is a joyful sadness in the film.  It was truly beautiful.

Here's the trailer:


You can preorder the DVD from Hallmark if you missed it at this link.   
PS I'm just adding that link in case you missed it.  It really is charming, and if you like Christmas movies, this just might be one, you would enjoy owning.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thrifty Tips for December 5

 photo 121953651_56e488791f.jpg




RECIPE FROM THE SALES

Albertsons has Hormel Pork Tenderloin tips on sale (buy one get three free!) and I have THE best crock pot recipe to go with this treat:  Crock Pot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (here is a link to the recipe).  I used a whole tenderloin the first time I made it, but with a sale price, I will make it work with the tips!  Try it...you will  LOVE it!  Oh and it calls for ground sage.  Get it in the international section, it is much cheaper that way.

Whole pineapple is just 99 cents each at Fry's.  One of my favorite sites Wise Bread has 20 delicious recipes that use this sweet fruit.  And because it is from Wise Bread, you can bet they are trying for frugal.  Follow this link to all the recipes.

LINKS TO GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE

Last year I shared how to make some gifts to take some of the edge off of your Christmas budget.  To save you the hunting time, below is a list of links to all of those posts so you can see if there is anything you would like to make.  PS These links take you to my posts at the radio station I work at.


Cranberry Hooty Creeks Jar Gift and BBQ Rub, Mediterranean Rub, and Cajon Blackening Spice Rub.
Necktie Key Ring
Duct Tape Wallet
Snowy Votive Jars
Lemon Sugar Hand and Body Scrub
Moonsand or Cloudsand






FREE EBOOKS (Always be sure to check the price before downloading.  These books were free at the time of my posting but that can change).

Take A Chance on Me by Susan May Warren - Tyndale House Publishers Inc (AMAZON) (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (BARNES & NOBLE)

Trinity: Military War Dog (A Breed Apart) By Ronie Kendig - Barbour Publishing (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON

Flame of Resistance by Tracy Groot - Tyndale House Publishers Inc (CHRISTIANBOOK.COM) (AMAZON) (BARNES & NOBLE)

The Christmas Gift (Marvel Holiday Series) by Vanessa Sissons (AMAZON)

Honeycreek Homecoming by Barbara Kaylor (AMAZON)



FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS

FreeCCM has four free music downloads including one Christmas song available for you.

At iTickets you can download two Christmas songs including "Joy to the World" by Jason Gray.

Download Group1Crew's "O Holy Night" for free at Amazon. While you are there, you should also check out these other free downloads:

For King & Country Angels We Have Heard on High
Big Daddy Weave O Come O Come Emanuel


Amazon is sharing 25 Days of Free MP3 downloads.  Save this link and check back with them on December 6, 11, 16 and 25 and you will find free songs from Big Daddy Weave, The Afters, Meredith Andrews and For King & Country among many others. 

GROCERY SALES

SAFEWAY

Fresh 80% Lean Ground Beef $2.99 lb
Large Navel Oranges 99 cents lb
Campbell's Chunky Soup 18.6 to 19 oz Selected Varieties 2/$3
Safeway Kitchens Granulated Sugar 4 lb $1.88
Safeway Kitchens Variety Bread 24 oz $1.99

ALBERTSONS

Center Cut Pork Loin Chops Buy 1 Get 2 Free ($6.99 lb)
Hormel Pork Tenderloin Tips Buy 1 Get 3 Free ($6.99 lb)
Mix and Match 10 for $10 of any of the following 1 or more $1 each
American Beauty Pasta 16 oz 10/$10
Dannon Oikos, Light & Fit or Activia Greek Yogurt 5.3 oz Albertsons Sour Cream or Half & Half 16 oz Select Varieties 10/$10

FRY'S

Gold Pineapple 99 cents (limit 4)
Fry's Milk Whole, 2% Reduced Fat, 1% Lowfat or Nonfat or Mountain Dairy Chocolate Milk Gallon $1.87 (limit 2)
Quaker Cap'n Crunch or Life Cereal Select Varieties 10.3 to 14 oz 2/$4
Pork Shoulder Butt or Picnic Roast Moist & Tender, Bone in, Sold in Bag $1.49 lb
Gold Medal Flour Select Varieties  2/$4

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hairvolution - From Emotional Hair Cutter to Satisfied Lover of Life


*There's a lot of beauty in the dings.  Don't you think?



Back when I was in my teens, twenties, and even thirties most of my hair changes revolved around relationships and breakups.  In High School all my girl friends had big hair and I had big hair, and my boyfriend loved that I had big hair.  We broke up a week before I graduated and everything changed.  I took off on a cross-country trip and went through a total transformation.  I kissed my can of Rave goodbye, stopped crimping and teasing my hair and instead began to braid my hair, I wove ribbons, daisies and embroidery floss in my hair, I walked in the rain and let it wash over me without worry of a sticky head, I transformed from East Coast into Crunchy Granola.  

As time went on and crushes and romances came and went, the different types of young men would change, but my response to breakups would not.  I would cut that man right out of my hair, or perm him out (well once, it was the time when spiral perms were the rage), or even color him out.  It was a way to tell the outside world that yes, I might be hurting, but I was still in control of me.

Then I met Scott, married at 40 (four days after my 40th) and the need to cut a man out of my hair disappeared.  I could cut my hair merely because I wanted to, and I did.  I reveled in the freedom of just choosing a color or cut because I wanted a different look and not because my insides were torn up from another relationship gone sour.  

I married my soul mate.  

My soul mate who liked long hair.

So two years ago, I stopped cutting it.  I did it because I knew he liked it.  I kind of was back to my old hippy hair.  I braided it as it grew, weaved floss in it again, and also just let it fly all wavy gravy.  It was all good.  Until I couldn't do a thing with it. I began to spin my hair into a bun or tie it back with a hair elastic.  I began to feel VERY dowdy.  Of course my soul mate loved my hair.  He loves long hair and most of all,  he loves me.  I could be bald (and came close thanks to a thyroid problem) and he would not care at all.  Instead of doing something drastic and different to my hair because of a guy, I kept things as-is because of a man.  And I didn't mind at all....until I did.  

So about three months ago, I brought up the idea of chopping my hair again to my husband.  Being the supportive man that he is, he was all for it.  He even suggested his stylist (who works wonders with his curly and cowlicked head).  I browsed Pinterest for just the right hair cut and after having one particular picture repinned over 455 times, I had my cut picked out.

Here it is though not me:


I got it from Juxtapost.  Now mine is more of a honey color (Truth, it was purple today and two days ago - long story- until I figured out how to fix that mess), but the cut is on point.   
My husband loves it.  

I love it too.

I love not having any emotional ties to what I do with my hair other than the tie of knowing that no matter what I do to it, my husband loves me.  He loves me more than the hair on my head, the weight on my body, and the baggage I have.  He's pretty incredible and I am definitely blessed.  If you have a relationship, how has it impacted you in even the small ways?




Monday, December 2, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Day Two- How The Grinch Stole Christmas

I am enjoying a Christmas movie a day for 25 days.  I thought it would be fun to share them here.




About the film (from IMDB): 
A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. 

My Thoughts:  I am not going to review this one, because I'm thinking you must know about it.  What I do  want to do is share why I love this so much.

First:  
I loved Max so much.  The Grinch's dog Max knew that the Grinch was pretty much a mane ole grouch, but he was loyal to him and loved him anyway.  I was pulled in by the hope in Max's eyes, but I also cried for Max as a child.  I wanted him to be loved and happy.  Seeing the Grinch join all the Whos in Whoville was a delight for me as a child but my biggest delight was seeing Max get the first slice of roast beast.  

Second:
I loved Boris Karloff.  I always had a soft spot for his part as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein.  

Third:
Dr. Seuss was the first author I actively sought out as a child.  When my mom was studying to be a realtor, she would take me to the library.  I would spend hours there reading his books.

Fourth:
The message that the important thing about Christmas is not what you get but who you are with.  

Book Review - Starry Night By Debbie Macomber




After some serious cleaning and cooking (I made two soups with our ham leftovers from Thanksgiving), I was delighted to finish Debbie Macomber's "Starry Night."  I won it from Angela at Griperang's Bookmarks.  What an absolute wonderful win!  





About the book (from Goodreads)

’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from Debbie Macomber.

Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author.

Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a mega-bestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.

Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.

Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places


My Review:  I have read so many amazing reviews of Debbie Macomber's books.  I have friends who simply go on and on about how amazing she is.  They tell me about Hallmark type films and how romantic everything is.  To be honest, because of all my friend's romantic hype, I stayed away, but then, I read a little bit about Debbie myself.  I decided to read one book and see for myself.  That book was "The Inn at  Rose Harbor."  Well, that did it.  I decided to try my hand at one more.  Thus...here we are with Starry Night.

Starry Night was a book that immediately pulled me right in.  I was taken with Carrie and Finn from the get go.  I could completely understand Carrie's willingness to do whatever it took to move onto a more meatier beat at work.  Fly to Alaska?  Why not?  Of course when someone doesn't really want to be found, they aren't terribly joyful when they are located.  Even if the person who locates them is absolutely adorable (which of course Carrie is).  

I loved the direction the story went.  I liked that it was a clean read, because I want to read a story and not a love scene.  The characters were well developed and likeable.  If I had any complaint it would simply be that they were a little too perfect.  Is everyone always perfect looking in a romance novel?  I don't read enough of them to really know.   

The visual pictures created by the author were quite lovely too.  I had a complete film flowing through my mind as I read the book.  Which by the way, I had to slowly work my way through.  I wanted to devour it in one sitting, but I didn't want it to end so I purposely would put Starry Night at the top of my bookshelf so I would do other things rather than read.  

As it is a Christmas themed book, I will give it a snowflake rating.  I give it four out of five snowflakes. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

25 Days of Christmas Movies - Day One - Review - The Christmas Child


CHRISTMAS MOVIE REVIEW

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the abundance of Christmas movies.  I am not terribly sappy, but I love a good Christmas movie (especially if it causes me to get a little teary-eyed too).  To keep myself in the glow, I've decided to watch a Christmas movie a day until Christmas, and do my best to share them here.

This past week, I picked up a new-to-me Christmas movie called "Christmas Child" at Family Christian Store.  It seemed to be a great way to start.  It is based on the book "The Christmas Cross" by Max Lucado.  I had not heard of either so it seemed to be a great way to go. 






About the film (from Amazon): 

Jack, a Chicago journalist dealing with a midlife crisis and a troubled marriage, is sent to Dallas, but a detour to a small Texas town that's home to a life-size Nativity scene leads him to a discovery about his past and the courage to face his future.

Starring:  William R. Moses, Megan Follows, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tonya Bordeaux, Vicki Taylor Ross, and Muse Watson

Impact Productions and Bridgestone Multimedia Group

My Review:   
Christmas Child brings us into the life of Jack Davenport, a journalist who is at a cross-roads in his life.  Jack's adoptive father has passed away, his wife and he are simply not getting along and he is on the cusp of turning 40.  With many heart questions and quite a bit of emptiness, Jack hits the road for another inconvenient assignment from his magazine.  Leaving behind an upset wife who is simply ready to close up her own heart.

The small town that Jack stops in is exactly the small town you would envision in your mind.  There is a large nativity in front of the church and the town is loaded with character and characters that brought me lots of smiles and a little bit of aggravation.  Almost everyone in the town is extremely open and helpful to Jack who really needs the kindness at this time in his life.  The genuineness of the townspeople caused me to hope that Jack would scrap it all, grab his wife, and move there....maybe in another film?

The actors were well cast though I must admit, Steven Curtis Chapman reminded me of Ned Flanders of the Simpsons (but I liked that about him).  It was also nice seeing William R. Moses who I remember from my young...young...young years when he was on Falcon Crest. 

Christmas Child is a story of searching, struggle and hope.  It is a story that shows the importance of reaching out to others.  There was a strong focus on adoption and redemption.  I enjoyed it a great deal and highly recommend it.  


If you can't find it in the store, I suggest you stream it.  I saw it was available on Hulu.  Myself, I'm glad I purchased it.  It will definitely be a part of our Christmas traditions.   Here's the trailer:

 
Christmas Child trailer from American Family Association on Vimeo.