Saturday, November 30, 2013

This is something you can be thankful for

I am sure everyone will be glad to know that my bathroom has been painted and I am done!
I did think that I was going to have to go to Home Depot to buy a sample size can of paint to finish. I had to use practically all of the bottom coating of the can because I used the same color as my bedrooms and hall. I was thinking about all the paint my dad poured on the floor and himself while I was painting the hall. Thankfully the lighting isn't that great and you cannot tell how good or bad the coverage is.

The new towel racks are up, new shower curtain my aunt found for me hung (I saw hers a few weeks ago and she has the same pink tile), and bath mat I found yesterday on the floor. So much better than the horrid almost neon pink wallpaper.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday shopping for myself

As it turns out, I usually buy more for myself on Black Friday than anyone else.

I bought some clothes and more owl stuff (while they still had it) at Belk in Waxahachie. Most of it was over 50% off. I did buy a few presents there too.

At Target, I found a new bathmat for almost finished bathroom (hopefully tomorrow)! I also bought a picture frame with openings for 12 pictures for the next trip I go on and I need a frame because it was over half off at only $6. 

I also bought something for a special little gag gift for Peyton. I'll post a picture when I get it done.

Then, we made an unplanned trip to my grandmother's house in Kaufman. She gave me her snowmen Christmas dishes, so now I can serve 16 people. I kid you not. Before any of the grandchildren married and had children, that covered all of us with plates and bowls.

On the road, I ordered a watch from Amazon using a gift card for over half my purchase. I have had the same watch for 18 years (I've replaced the crystal and stem!) and I've been wanting a different one. It was supposedly on sale 93% off at $87.99. I don't believe the "list price" because it doesn't have diamonds and is not gold. Puh-leeze! I have a feeling I'm going to not like it and return it. We shall see. 

I realized after I made this original post that I forgot to throw in that Dad found my purple lights on green wire at Target and bought me four boxes to wrap up and put under the tree for me to open on Christmas. In looking at recent page views on my blog, I also realize that I complain about decorating every year. 

I've been making some presents too. Here are the latest hats I have finished. Ignore the zit on my chin. The design is supposed to look kind of like a butterfly. I modified the hat from a pattern I saw on Pinterest. I was too lazy and/or impatient to follow instructions. And it's mingled colored yarn, so I didn't abruptly change colors or anything.





Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
(Even if I am late on getting this post up!)


We had a quiet Thanksgiving this year. It was just my parents, my brother and I. Paige and Peyton were with their mom in Wyoming. Most recent years, they've at least eaten with us. It was too quiet. I missed them.

Since there was only the four of us and my mom didn't want leftovers for a week, I was told I could make half the dressing as usual, so that meant only one pan of cornbread and that threw me off. I cut up too much onion and celery for one pan even though I cut back some on that. When I mixed the celery in, it was overwhelming, so put in more white bread in proportion. You could tell. The dressing was not as good as usual. It was white bread and celery. I was extremely disappointed since I LOVE dressing. Brian certainly doesn't want it for Christmas and since Mom was the one that didn't want leftovers, I told Dad I would do take two for Christmas Eve and just he and I would eat it. 

Last night, after much frustration, I got the staircase decorated. I've had the same two strings of garland for YEARS. It has the red and green foil-like holly leaves that leave red and green leaves everywhere. I pick them up and vacuum them up for months every year. I don't know how there are leaves yet. And the garland kept breaking at one end as I tried to connect it to the lights and the other garland. One thing is for sure... it is going in the trash when I take it down this year.

So, here is a picture of my current Winter Wonderland. My Disney tree is the red one in the corner (I wish I had added clear lights too because it's bloody red! The gold and green light tree has my Wizard of Oz ornaments that I usually have on my big tree. They got their own tree this year. With the big tree and staircase, all my different colored lights and ornaments went up somewhere. I'm OCD that way. That's why it took me until 2:30 the other night to get ornaments on. If I have 12 of a certain shape/color of a ball, I have to distribute them evenly around the tree. Yes. I admit it. I'm that particular. It's sad. 







Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It took me long enough

After much angst, and staying up to 2:30 AM, I finally got my big tree decorated. It may have to stay up year round after as much trouble as I had with it. But I love it!

Paige told me last year that I needed to combine the purple and orange trees. I added in teal to those with some cheap additions from Walmart. Most of the tree is cheap decorations from Walmart.

If you look really close, you can see how I stretched two strings of purple around the tree. And I do mean stretched to get some from top to bottom.


After waking up at 10:00 AM (after getting to sleep at 3), I spent most of the day cooking. I hope the pies taste as good as they look!


I am glad all of my trees are up, but I want to decorate the staircase and I hang some other lights. I really don't know why I go through the trouble!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas lights are the bane of my existence

I have been trying to get my Christmas trees up and decorated since Sunday.

I have most everything on my two mini trees, but even they aren't finished yet because I can't get down far enough into my divided decoration box to finish them. All this because I can't get the forsaken lights on the big tree.

I've had several strings of lights go half out. Then, I've tried replacing bulbs which is way harder than it should be, even if I switch out bases. A working bulb in one string (even if half the string is out) should work in another if you are trying to switch them out. But, no...

And a few years ago, I bought purple lights with green wire to go along with clear lights on my big tree. Now one of those strings is bad and I can only find white wire strings of purple now. At the time, they weren't an obscure item. Now they are.

So help me, tonight I better get the tree finished... lights or no lights.

Christmas lights... the reason suicide rates increase over the holidays.

Monday, November 25, 2013

In Search of A Better December

Given the official launch into the holiday season this week,
I offer interview with Steven Estes, Author of A Better December

The shopping, the family get-togethers, the office Christmas party, the decorating, the memories of loved ones who are no longer with us . . . What should be the happiest time of the year often becomes a stressful, anxiety-ridden, and emotional season for many who are seeking perfection and trying to meet unrealistic expectations. But December doesn’t have get the better of us.

In A Better December: Proverbs to Brighten Christmas (New Growth Press/October 2013/ISBN 978-1-936768-67-7 /$12.99), pastor and author Steven Estes offers gems of Solomon’s proverbial wisdom to help readers find the joy and celebration we all desire for the Christmas season. Even though Solomon lived long before Christ, and three thousand years prior to our modern observance of Christmas, his wisdom is timeless and remarkably applicable to those who long to find themselves refreshed and renewed instead of depleted and cranky in December. Estes deftly combines the wisdom of Proverbs with humor and touching stories, drawing heavily on traditional holiday themes.

Q: Who is the intended audience for A Better December?

What started as a book primarily for sad, stressed Christians evolved into an outreach book to give to unbelievers as well.

·         People sad at Christmas (singles, widows, elderly, those who have lost loved ones, students or soldiers far from home, people who long for the holidays of their yesteryears)
·         People stressed at Christmas (those dreading the shopping malls, visits to the in-laws, boring office parties)
·         People wanting a spiritual read at Christmas (without being “preachy”)
·         Non-Christian friends and neighbors. The book is a back‑door introduction to the gospel that starts lightly with humor, moves to poignant stories, and by the end, introduces folks to Jesus.

Q: Christmas is supposed to be a time of family, joy and celebration. Why is it so often a time of stress and anxiety?

Perfection. Unrealistic expectations. Trying to shake a snow-globe Christmas out of every holiday. For others, it’s the obligation to visit relatives who make you bristle. For some, the financial pressure of needing to appear generous. Plus, Christmas intensifies almost every sorrow of life. People out of work, divorced, never‑married, widowed, bereaved, far from home, estranged from family, or bereft of romance can find the season unbearable. That’s because it’s a time they are supposed to be doubly happy. The carols and bells that delight one person depress and embitter another. Plus, Christmas comes in the year's most sun‑deprived week.

Q: Obviously, the Proverbs were written long before Christmas was ever celebrated. How did you make the connection between Solomon’s wisdom and the holiday season?

The connection between Solomon and Christmas is tongue-in-cheek. People know about his vaunted wisdom, but do they know about his savvy market research where he predicted a major future trend: the Christmas holidays? Solomon wrote his blockbuster Proverbs to help future readers navigate December.

As a pastor, I preach on Christmas themes each year, but the New Testament narratives about Jesus’ birth are few. So for a change, one year I scoured Proverbs for any counsel it might offer on how to face December’s typical challenges: materialism, stress, loneliness, etc. The resulting sermon was the basis for A Better December. But when morphing that sermon into book form, this thought loomed clearer and clearer: Solomon offers good advice—but good advice (even divine advice) is never enough. What we need most is a Person to help us with stress and sadness, and to change the selfishness in us that Christmas often provokes.

So A Better December was written to: 1) give Solomon's good advice about Christmas; 2) disappoint us with that advice because, ultimately, it is still a self‑help project; and 3) make us hunger for someone better than Solomon. This leads us to Jesus, who said of himself, "Someone greater than Solomon is here."

Q: Could you give us a couple of your favorite examples of Solomon’s wisdom, and how they apply to Christmas?

There are so many to choose from:

·         Solomon likes winter, noting that “the coolness of snow . . . refreshes the spirit” (25:13).
·         He has an eye for “an ornament of fine gold” on a tree (25:12), and for the “fool full of food” at the holiday office party (30:22). But don’t assume that everyone smiling in the room is happy, he cautions, for “even in laughter the heart may ache” (14:13).
·         He feels for tired parents whose kids come bouncing from their rooms before dawn on the big day: “If you shout a pleasant greeting to your neighbor too early in the morning, it will be counted as a curse!” (27:14).
·         He counsels us that dazzling gifts won’t dazzle for long: “Death and destruction and never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man” (27:20).
·         To shopping addicts, he urges: ‘Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil” (15:16).
·         To those overly lenient with rowdy kids over the holidays, he warns: “If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end” (29:21).
·         Get yourself some joy when passing those sidewalk bell-ringers with their red kettles, because “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done” (19:17).
·         Write a letter to a soldier overseas this time of year, he prods, for “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (25:25).

And the above is Solomon just getting warmed up.

Q: What do you hope each reader will walk away with from reading A Better December?

Solomon is good, but Jesus is better. The former can lead you to the latter.



Steven Estes pastors an Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, PA, teaches a preaching class at Westminster Seminary (Philadelphia), and is on the board of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He is the author of Called to Die (the story of slain missionary Chet Bitterman), and co-author (with Joni Eareckson Tada) of When God Weeps and A Step Further. He and his wife have eight children. Learn more about Estes and his books at www.steveestes.net

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A take on Thanksgiving

As best I sort of could, I tried to relate our lesson on giving in 2 Corinthians 8-9 to Thanksgiving. So, we also sang a song with the word "thanksgiving" in it.

This whole video is an example of how the morning went. As I post this video, it started playing and I tried to pause immediately. A certain someone I know very well has her tongue sticking out. I hope it isn't the preview still shot, but if it is, well, it is. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Significant progress on two of the "never ending projects"

I declare this the weekend for progress!

Look what I finally finished last night. Or this morning. Ok, it was the wee hours of the morning after the night before having to deconstruct a piece of another project to get enough teal yarn to finish the border.





And I am in the home stretch of the bathroom project too!

This is before the texturing I did today (with my handy assistant, Dad).



And after...



All that's left now is paint. Paint I can handle!

My next weekend project - I have high hopes for after my Sunday nap - is to make this look like Christmas. Wish me luck!


Friday, November 22, 2013

Quilts of Love KINDLE FIRE HDX Giveaway & “Christmas Bee” Facebook Party 12/10!

In honor of their new Quilts of Love releases, The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose, 
authors Vannetta Chapman and Lisa Carter are gearing up
to ring in the Christmas season with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and 
a "Christmas Bee" Facebook Party on December 10th
with fellow Quilts of Love author Lynette Sowell!

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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman
  • Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 30th. Winner will be announced at the "Christmas Bee" Facebook Party on December 10th. Connect with the authors from the Quilts of Love series, Vannetta Chapman, Lisa Carter, and Lynette Sowell, for an evening of book chat, quilt trivia, Christmas traditions and gifts, PLUS get an exclusive look at January's Quilts of Love book!

So grab your copies of The Christmas Quilt and Aloha Rose and join Vannetta, Lisa, and Lynette on the evening of December 10th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on December 10th!


Abingdon Press authors to host live
Quilts of Love Christmas Bee chat
Facebook party encourages interaction between
authors and readers about popular series

On December 10 at 8:00 PM EST, Abingdon Press authors Vannetta Chapman and Lisa Carter will be hosting the Quilts of Love Christmas Bee, a live Facebook event, to interact with readers about their latest books. The Christmas Bee will highlight Chapman’s The Christmas Quilt (October 15, 2013 / ISBN 978-1426752773) and Carter’s Aloha Rose (November 19, 2013 / ISBN 978-1426752735), the newest releases in the series. This will be the first of a series of quarterly chats with Quilts of Love authors.

The Christmas Bee will be a fun chat with the authors, who will share their own holiday traditions and the story behind the story, as well as ask discussion questions so readers can participte as one large book club coming together from all over the country and world. Chapman and Carter will also be joined by fellow Quilts of Love author Lynette Sowell, who will be introducing readers to the next book in the series, Tempest’s Course (December 17, 2013/ISBN 978-1426752766). Throughout the evening, participants in the chat will be eligible for prizes, including copies of books from the series and gift cards.

“I'm thrilled to be in the company of authors like Vannetta and Lisa,” states Sowell. “We’re going to have a great time talking about the stories behind our books, and we'll have plenty of Christmas fun, too, while we chat with readers.”

At the end of the hour, the winner of a Kindle Fire HDX will be announced. The grand prize drawing is being held in conjunction with a blog tour and social media campaign coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group between November 15 – 30. More details about the contest and reviews from the tour can be viewed on the Litfuse website.

“Christmas is the perfect time to launch what we hope will be many more Facebook chats featuring Quilts of Love authors,” says Cat Hoort, Marketing and Publicity Manager for Abingdon Fiction. “Quilts and love are plentiful this time of year, and these books display the best of both! Plus, with the rush of the season, a Facebook event is a great reason to set aside your shopping list, stay home, wrap yourself in your favorite quilt, and chat about a good book with good friends. The prizes will make great stocking stuffers too!”

The premise of the series (launched in fall 2012) is that quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family history. Featuring contemporary and historical romances, as well as Amish fiction, women’s fiction and the occasional light mystery, readers are drawn into the endearing characters and touched by their stories. A new book will be released each month with titles already selected through January 2015. A special tradition the authors have instituted with each release is the donation of a quilt to their chosen charity or individual in need.

Readers aren’t the only ones who enjoy the opportunity to interact with the authors. “One Quilts of Love reader I met recently has read every book in the series. Contemporary or historical, each book in the series celebrates ‘every quilt has a story.’ As a quilter myself, I look forward each month to the new release too. I'm excited for the chance to connect with other quilt book lovers,” explains Lisa Carter.

Chapman, whose release The Christmas Quilt has already reached the top 10 of the ECPA bestseller’s list, muses, “I love to interact with readers and am looking forward to this Facebook party. In fact, I believe I'll make some popcorn balls to share!”

Readers can RSVP to the Facebook chat any time between now and December 10 by visiting the Quilts of Love Facebook page. All fans are encouraged to invite their friends to join in the fun.

Keep up with the Quilts of Love series online at:


About the authors and their books: 


The Christmas Quilt
by Vannetta Chapman 

Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife. And most days, she finds herself taking the buggy to her brother, Adam's home. Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives.

But God's plans are different from Annie's and she may not finish the quilt in time. And, it may hold a far greater significance that she ever imagined.

Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award winning member of Romance Writers of America and holds a B.A. and M.A. in English. The Christmas Quilt is her eighth book release. She currently teaches in the Texas hill country, where she lives with her husband in the city of Austin.

Learn more about Vannetta and her books at vannettachapman.com or her Facebook page (VanettaChapmanBooks). 


Aloha Rose
by Lisa Carter 

When Laney Carrigan’s adoptive parents encourage her as an adult to seek out her birth family, her only clue is the Lokelani quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island, she battles fears of rejection from a family that abandoned her once before while her faith struggles to embrace God's love. 

Along the path to her true heritage, she meets Hawaiian cowboy/helicopter pilot, Kai Barnes. Kai is determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family against a woman he suspects of being nothing more than a gold-digger, but he finds himself drawn to Laney in spite of his reservations. He's spent his entire life seeking forgiveness from past mistakes and longs for a second chance at happiness. Laney’s painstaking journey to find restoration and a place to belong among the breathtaking allure of the Big Island will lead her closer to her past and maybe even something more.

Lisa Carter has a Master's degree in history and has taught at the university, high school and middle school levels. She is a member of the ACFW, RWA and several online writers' forums. In 2001, she won the MOPS storywriting contest which re-ignited a lifelong love of writing. She has been published in MomSense and Christian Parenting Today. She is a Precepts Bible Study teacher and loves to share the Word of God with other believers. Involved with music most of her life as a soloist, former Continental Singer and praise and worship leader, Lisa is currently teaching music at a preschool and enjoying the enthusiasm and joy for life for which preschoolers are famous. She and her husband, David,  have two beautiful daughters.

Visit lisacarterauthor.com to learn more about Lisa and her writing.


Tempest’s Course
by Lynette Sowell 

Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal town of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt, with one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House where the quilt is stored. Tom Silva, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky coastline, is the caretaker employed by the mysterious absent owner of Gray House.

Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she is drawn out of her self-imposed shell and embraces the family God has given her after her own family failed her. As Kelly reads stories in a journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns there is no transgression beyond God's forgiveness, but the real obstacle is forgiving herself. During her and Tom's journey to grace and love, an unknown force works to keep both of them from discovering a long-buried truth that will change their lives forever.

Lynette Sowell is the award-winning author of five novels and six novellas. In 2009, Lynette was voted one of the favorite new authors by Heartsong Presents book club readers. Her historical romance, All That Glitters, was a finalist in ACFW’s 2010 Carol Awards. When Lynette's not writing, she divides her time between editing medical reports and chasing down news stories for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband and a herd of cats who have them well-trained.

Lynette’s online home is www.lynettesowell.com and readers can also interact with her on Facebook (lynettesowellauthor) and Twitter (LynetteSowell).  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Catie’s Secret Kindle Fire Kid Pack Giveaway from Laura Nonemaker

Catie’s Secret is the second book in Laura Allen Nonemaker’s
children’s series, God’s Secret Garden Adventures
Laura is celebrating Catie's Secret with a
Kindle Fire Kid Pack giveaway!

catiesecret-400

Catie's Kid Pack
  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Butterfly Pavilion Hatching Kit
  • Butterfly Pattern Carryall Bag
  • Butterfly Suncatcher Kit
  • Benny's Angel T-Shirt (small)
  • Catie's Secret and Benny's Angel with free E-Live audio downloads by Laura Nonemaker
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 23rd. Winner will be announced November 25th at Laura's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Laura's blog on the 25th to see if you won.

Catie's Secret
{MORE ABOUT CATIE’S SECRET}

Catie Caterpillar looks different from any bug Herbie and Bella have ever seen. When Herbie makes fun of Catie, Mayor Benny shows him why he should not judge anyone by how they look. In the end, Catie reveals a secret and the bunnies learn the joy of forgiveness.
Catie’s Secret is the second book in Laura Allen Nonemaker’s children’s series, God’s Secret Garden Adventures. Like the previous book, Benny’s AngelCatie’s Secretinvites young readers to join an exciting adventure while it teaches a valuable lesson.




Laura Nonemaker{MORE ABOUT LAURA NONEMAKER}


Laura began writing as a child in Bermuda when a favorite teacher had one of her essays published in a local newspaper. She is a contributing writer for Kentucky Monthly Magazine and her first children’s book,”Benny’s Angel,” was published in 2011. She is on the planning team for Artful Missions, which produces juried art shows and donates most of the proceeds to ministries that help women and children escape human trafficking. When Laura is not dreaming up her next God’s Garden adventure, she enjoys spending time with her large family.
Find out more about Laura at http://godsgarden.tateauthor.com.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pin It & Win It! Stones for Bread KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway from Christa Parrish!

Christa Parrish is celebrating her fourth novel,
Stones for Breadwith a KitchenAid Mixer giveaway.

#StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish http://bit.ly/1aBTNz9

Easy steps to enter:

1. Follow Christa Parrish and TNZ Fiction on Pinterest.

2. Then Pin the Stones for Bread book cover (below), the contest graphic (above), or both, and link to this post (using this URL: #StonesforBread KitchenAid Mixer Contest #ChristaParrish http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/stones-for-bread-by-christa-parrish).

3. Then fill out THIS SHORT FORM to let us know. (There are also some additional ways to earn extra entries, as well as an option for non-Pinterest users. It's true—people like that do exist!)

Questions? Email info @ litfusegroup dot com.

Winner will be announced on 12/9 on Christa's Facebook Page.


{MORE ABOUT STONES FOR BREAD}


A solitary artisan. A legacy of bread-baking. And one secret that could collapse her entire identity.
Liesl McNamara’s life can be described in one word: bread.  From her earliest memory, her mother and grandmother passed down the mystery of baking and the importance of this deceptively simple food. And now, as the owner of Wild Rise bake house, Liesl spends every day up to her elbows in dough, nourishing and perfecting her craft.
But the simple life she has cultivated is becoming quite complicated. Her head baker brings his troubled grandson into the bakeshop as an apprentice. Her waitress submits her recipes to a popular cable cooking show. And the man who delivers her flour – a single father with strange culinary habits – seems determined to win Liesl’s affection.
When Wild Rise is featured on television, her quiet existence appears a thing of the past. And then a phone call from a woman claiming to be her half-sister forces Liesl to confront long-hidden secrets in her family’s past. With her precious heritage crumbling around her, the baker must make a choice: allow herself to be buried in detachment and remorse, or take a leap of faith into a new life.
Christa Parrish

{MORE ABOUT CHRISTA PARRISH}


Christa Parrish is the award-winning author of three novels, including the 2009 ECPA Fiction Book of the Year “Watch Over Me.” When she’s not writing, she’s a homeschool mother of three wonderful children. Married to author and pastor Chris Coppernoll, Christa serves with him as co-leader of their church’s youth ministry as well as serving as a facilitator for a divorce recovery ministry. She is now also slightly obsessed with the art of baking bread.
Find out more about Christa at www.christaparrish.com.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Enter Anita Higman’s A Marriage in Middlebury Double Kindle Fire Giveaway

Anita Higman is celebrating the release of her latest book,
A Marriage in Middlebury, with a double Kindle Fire giveaway
(one for you and one to give away!) and a
"Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th.


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One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire for you AND a friend
  • A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman (one to keep and one to give away!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 12th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea for Two" Facebook Author Chat Party on December 12th. Invite your friends and connect with Anita for an evening of book chat, prizes, and an exclusive look at Anita's next book!

So grab your copy of A Marriage in Middlebury and join Anita on the evening of December 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 12/12!


MarriageInMiddlebury_FInal.indd

{MORE ABOUT A MARRIAGE IN MIDDLEBURY}


One decision changed both their lives . . . but will love win in the end? Charlotte Rose Hill enjoys a comfortable life serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky, devoted customers. The only thing lacking is someone to share it with. At eighteen she denied Sam Wilder’s marriage proposal after his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. They both moved on . . . or so she thought. When Sam walks back into her life more than a decade later, Charlotte is surprised that her heart still quickens. But is it because of his presence? Or because of the presence of Sam’s new fiancĂ©e? A second chance at love doesn’t happen often, but their past may keep them apart. Is it too late for Sam and Charlotte?
Anita Higman

{MORE ABOUT ANITA HIGMAN}


Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.
Find out more about Anita at anitahigman.com.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It would bore you if you knew

In case any of you were curious as to what I have done on my birthday, it would bore you terribly if you knew.

Yesterday, my parents took me and the girls out to Chili's with our Sunday lunch friends. Peyton, of course, told them it was my birthday. As annoyed as I was at her, I gave her my ice cream. My parents gave me my gift early, an owl cookie jar I picked out and told my mom to buy and hold on to until my birthday. That happens most years at birthday or Christmas.



I did take the day off because who wants to deal with all things Monday when it's your birthday?

My day started off with... oh wait, I was up until 2 AM this morning working on my mom's Christmas present. I wasn't working on it until then, but until about 1 or so. I finally got all the hexagons together! I got to sleep about 2.

At 7:59, my home phone rang with my mom calling.

"Happy birthday! Am I the first one to call?"

"Thank you. Yes."

"You aren't working today, are you?" (She gets this from my sleepy tone, I think. Though I think she did know I wasn't working.)

"No."

"Oh, then I woke you up, didn't I?"

"Yes."

"Sorry! Go back to sleep."

"I don't know if I can, but I'll try."

I sort of did when my doorbell rang about 9:01. I answered the door in my pajamas, but it was worth it to get these beautiful flowers from my mom's cousin/my landlord Nancy who knows me all too well!


When I got up this time, I checked my cell phone, thankful that my ringer was off because dear Paige texted me 8 times before 7:00 this morning when she had to be at school. She was so sweet she made me cry.

I had been debating what to do today. Whether or not I would get out of Corsicana to entertain myself. I decided shopping wasn't the way to go, or simply driving to Ennis for Starbucks, so I went to the slot machine coffee shop.

My birthday quite honestly depresses me something awful, so by this time, I had started crying like 6 times for no reason, so my eyes were all terribly puffy.

I drank my frappachino while replying to all of the very nice "Happy birthday!" messages on Facebook, followed by working some more on the Christmas gift for my mom. Dozed for 15 minutes on the chaise in my office until a text message woke me up.

Then, I started sorting pictures and scanning some stuff for the scrapbook I hope to get done by Christmas.

Now, I'm about to log off the computer to watch Paige's first junior high basketball game. All extremely exciting, huh?

At least I did decide against texturing my bathroom which I was seriously considering. :)

UPDATE since original post:

Right after I posted, Angie and Deacon brought me my favorite Sonic drink and the owl salt and pepper shakers that match the cookie jar. I love them!

Paige's basketball game was great too.

The worst part of the day was when I walked out of the laundry room and smelled something foul. I found sewer back-up in my guest shower. I literally had to clean, well, you know, out of the shower. Isn't that fun? Not. It was gross. Really gross.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

When you have to reference Duck Dynasty to get a point across

I have been trying to have the kids sing a DIFFERENT song EVERY week. I forgot we had already done "Sanctuary" this quarter. It's Peyton's favorite song, and I just gave in and went with it since I usually tell her we can't sing it.

They were singing like they were depressed or exhausted, so I told them to add some pep. Add in some "happy, happy, happy." To which a child asks, "do you watch Duck Dynasty?" I think that question comes up every single week. And the consensus of the class is yes.


After they sang it through with my additional instruction (that worked, by the way), I told them "now, we're cooking with peanut oil!" Some got that. Some didn't. My co-workers who have not joined the bandwagon may one day be out of the loop on many references made. They are missing out!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The never ending projects

The good news is that I didn't procrastinate any longer with the wallpaper project. It is now officially all off except what is underneath the the light fixture itself, so there is a little wallpaper poking out from it.


After I finished, I went and bought the texture to go on the walls. I'm not exactly sure when I will get that part done. But, I have it all ready to get started.

The bad news is that this crochet project for my mom's present is NOT ANYWHERE near as big as I had originally planned for it to be. However, it is big enough to be a royal pain in the rear to keep rotating as I am piecing all the hexagons together.


The coloring is off by using my phone camera, so I need to get some better pictures, possibly in another room. I almost have all the hexagons stitched together, but I don't think it's going to get king size bed sized (my original goal). This is a queen bed here. I'm just plain tired of making hexagons for one thing. I don't like to spend so long on a single project and I've been working on this one a while.

Besides, I have other projects I want to finish by Christmas.

Next weekend, I plan on decorating. I want to finish my bathroom by the second Saturday on December since I'm having a party. I need to crochet at least 2 hats. I need to work on a Shutterfly project I would like to have done in time for Christmas (least likely to happen by my self-imposed deadline).

So therefore, I think once I finish the stitching, I'm going to do the edges and be done with it. I'm hoping when I edge it, the floppy edges of the outside hexagons flatten out. It's not that it's been hard, but I just don't see me attempting another one like this anytime soon.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lisa T. Bergren brings readers to the last stop on the Grand Tour

An interview with Lisa T. Bergren,
Author of Glittering Promises
  
Each of us must set upon a spiritual journey to find out who we really are. For Cora Kensington, the greatest discovery about herself occurred during an epic Grand Tour across Europe. In Glittering Promises (David C Cook/October 1, 2013/ISBN 978-1434764287/ $14.99), the final installment of the Grand Tour Series by Lisa T. Bergren, Cora comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her while wrestling with increased demands on her life and heart.

Throughout the series, readers have joined Cora and her travel companions not only on a Grand Tour of the major sites of Europe, but on an adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awareness and self-discovery. Cora’s quest to find her place within her new family parallels her realization that her true identity rests not with her earthly family, but with her Heavenly Father. “The Grand Tour is not only Cora’s journey toward understanding true identity in Christ, but I hope it will help every reader understand it better too,” explains Bergren.

Q: The series begins by Cora discovering something huge about her true identity. How does finding her place within her new family parallel the spiritual discoveries she makes along the way?

While she’s biologically connected, what she’s really after is an “adoption” among her siblings. Along the way, she finds out what we all find out on our spiritual walk—our family is much bigger than any biological family tree... we have brothers and sisters the world over. And a familial bond is possible wherever we go. Now that process for Cora, of course, is rather challenging... just as it is for most of us. We make strides, and then we fall a few paces back. But then we stand up and make strides again.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a theme of identity for this series?

My husband and I are a part of a ministry called 3DM, and a core principle is to understand our covenant bond with our Father. If we truly understand the deep love He has for us and rest in that identity first (above all others), then we can move forward in obedience. We all often get so wrapped up in the wrong, temporal identities (whether it’s our work or familial “hats”) that we forget the eternal. And when the temporal identity ends or changes, we feel lost. If we can get that eternal bond down solidly in our hearts, no matter what comes at us, we can remain strong and sure in our walk.

Q: At the end of Glittering Promises, what message do you hope readers walk away with?

I’m never what I call a “soapbox” writer. So there is that theme of identity in there. But mostly, I love it when readers can try on a fictional characters troubles and triumphs for size and think about what they might do in the same situation. I think that’s the expansive power of fiction. But I also want just to tell an entertaining story, in order to fully engage the reader. I want my readers to reach the end of the series and say, “Well, that was worth my time.” It’s such an honor that readers spend their hard-earning money and hours on my books—I want them to be satisfied.

Q: When faced with pressures of what family, friends and society expect of us, what are some of the ways we can discern what God has planned for us? How have you seen God direct you in your own life?

It is hard to find God’s voice in the midst of all the noise, isn’t it? But the more I experiment with immediately acting on the Spirit’s direction, the more He seems to speak to me. It’s almost as if His voice gets louder and clearer in my heart the longer I walk with Him. But I greatly value weighing options and challenges with my brothers and sisters. Again, in the 3DM movement, we use a tool called the Circle, which begins with a “kairos.” We all get daily kairos, whether we recognize them or not. A kairos is sometimes small, and sometimes they’re big. They’re those moments you know that God is breaking into your everyday chronos-time to make you stop and think about what He’s saying. The challenge is to clarify that, and then decide what you’re going to do about it. Stopping to discuss it with people you trust allows the Spirit to speak further into your life about that particular kairos and formulate a plan. Giving those people permission to ask you about how you did on that plan is big encouragement to truly complete that circle. It’s incredibly motivating and gratifying as you continue to “work the circle,” daily, weekly, monthly. It’s kinetic. Through that process, I’ve seen God direct me on what to accept in work and volunteer commitments, reaching out to neighbors, and modifying and deepening relationships with loved ones.

Q: When you start writing a series, do you know how it’s going to end? For example, did you know which man Cora would choose all along, or did you make the decision right along with her as the writing process progressed?

I don’t know how each book will end. But I do know the end goal—romantic and theme-wise. So yes, I knew the hero Cora should choose, regardless of how tempting the other was!

Q: Do reader reviews from early in a series ever influence later releases?

Not as much reader’s reviews as reader’s questions. If I haven’t made something clear or satisfied the reader in some way, I seek to accomplish that by book three. That’s another luxury of a series! However, I’ve had bit characters that seem to take a life of their own and capture readers’ attention—they simply demand a bigger piece of the pie as we go.

Q: Cora’s tour comes to an end in Italy, which is one of your favorite places to visit. Were you able to go to Italy to research any specific locales for Glittering Promises?

Oh my, yes. I adore Italia. There really is something about the place that gets under your skin. And two years ago this fall, my daughter Emma and I spent ten days in Rome, a city you could spend a year in and a few more in Venice. But even ten days gave me enough new fodder for the book, as well as precious memories for the two of us.

Q: Now that the Grand Tour Series has come to a close, what’s next on the horizon for you?

I’m hard at work on a new dystopian series called REMNANTS. My readers know me... I’m always on to something different. So far in my career I’ve written contemporary romance, historical women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, speculative medieval fiction, time travel YA, back to historical women’s fiction for the Grand Tour Series, and now dystopian YA. It makes it hard to market me—a lot of readers stick to one genre, so publishers prefer that. But it gives me ultimate creative freedom to follow where God is leading me next. Still, my really hard-core fans who read everything I write deserve a badge or something...

Learn more about Lisa T. Bergren at her online home, www.lisatawnbergren.com. Readers can also join Bergren’s Facebook fan page or follow her on Twitter.