Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday evening escape

I am thankful to Angie for seeing me comment on Facebook this afternoon that I sure could use an escape to Hobby Lobby after work.

The next time we decide to do that, we're going to have to sneak off and leave work early. Traffic was AWFUL on I-20 and it took much longer than it should to get there. We only had 35 minutes in Hobby Lobby before it closed at 8:00 which was an absolute crying shame.

I NEEDED MORE TIME!

I did find these birds for my bathroom though. (I admit I posted these pics after Friday night.)



Even if we didn't have enough time there, I took Angie to Cracker Barrel. There is something wrong with her. She had never eaten there before!

It won't be her last though. And yes, we had to take pictures of our food to make everyone jealous via social media because that's what you do. And my life hasn't been exciting lately. Makes me hungry just looking at it.



What was semi-exciting was the car on FIRE on 360 coming home. Angie was kicking herself for no picture of that.

We're going to have to go to Hobby Lobby again soon. I'm pretty sure Paige is going to have to go with us because I just know her and know she wants to go.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dishing it, but I can take it too

So obviously lately I have been trying to become a popular blogger with my posts on The Bachelor. I've been sharing the links via social media on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. including the show's pages.

I'm not going to become famous anytime soon because the posts only show between 100-150 hits though I can tell more people are coming to the blog than it shows. Anyway, I have picked up some readers.

I've also picked up some comments on Facebook from people that don't agree with me. Ok. I share my opinion, you yours... It's really kind of been funny. This week's comments were actually the first ones disagreeing I received.

Admittedly, I called Juan Pablo a shallow jerk and shared my link.

One reader wrote back: "If you can call him a jerk, and clare, "fake teeth," is it OK to call you FAT?"

I responded: "Since it is true, yes."

I deserved that for the fake teeth comments. That's on par. The jerk thing is a personality problem. Another category, but I digress.

Another remark: "Read your blog and I did not like the fact that you said you can't call the women "ladies", they may be dumb but they are ladies. I don't think he had sex with any of them until the overnight dates. I think the ocean thing with Clare might have been good editing. Did not like that you said how ugly Clare sister's dog was as I find all dogs beautiful lol. Anyhow the main thing I don't agree on is the fact that I don't think it would have made a difference if Rene would have told Juan Pablo that she loved him before the rose ceremony. HE WAS NOT THAT INTO HER. I know everyone was rooting for Renee but there was no chemistry there. I don't get why people don't get that Juan Pablo has been consistent on who his favorites were: Clare, Nikki and Sharleen who left on her own."

My answer: "Those were just my opinions - everybody has one. :)"

I stand by what I said. The dog was ugly. It just was. Think what you want about what did and didn't happen in the ocean. I think we know what happened. Renee is neither here nor there. Regardless of whether or not any of them "did" or not, I still think they aren't very ladylike.

In other reality TV news...

I should have blogged about Survivor last night. This season it is brains vs. beauty vs. brawn.

I REALLY want to cheer on the brains, but they are not proving their intelligence. It was a double episode and they went to tribal council twice. Dumb brains!

Sadly, I think the beauty team has more going for it, and I usually don't like those types on Survivor.

What I am most excited about TV-wise is the night I have been waiting for since November or December.

New episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. I'm so ready to go down and have TV night. Each show has 8 (Scandal) or 12 (GA) new episodes in a row coming up. YES!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pre-order Distortion by Terri Blackstock for $4.99. Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party!

Don't miss Terri Blackstock's latest release in the Moonlighters series, Distortion.

The book releases March 11th, and Terri will be kicking off the release with a fun Facebook Distortion party and giving away a Kindle Fire HDX. PLUS readers can pre-order the ebook for just $4.99 between now and 3/11 everywhere ebooks are sold.

distortion-400-click

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Distortion and Truth Stained Lies by Terri Blackstock
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 11th. Winner will be announced at the Distortion Facebook Party on March 11th. Connect with Terri for a "suspenseful" book launch party with prizes, a book chat, and more.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!


Distortion

{MORE ABOUT DISTORTION}


Juliet Cole’s life has been dismantled by the murder of her husband. She doesn’t know who—or what—to trust when everything she has believed to be true about her marriage has been a lie.
A husband’s lies can have deadly consequences.
When Juliet Cole’s husband of fifteen years is murdered before her eyes, she thinks it was a random shooting. Devastated and traumatized, she answers hours of questioning, then returns home to break the tragic news to her boys. But a threatening voicemail takes this from a random shooting to a planned, deliberate attack.
Juliet realizes that she and her children are in danger too, unless she meets the killers’ demands. But as she and her sisters untangle the clues, her husband’s dark secrets come to light. The more she learns, the more of her life is dismantled. Was her husband an innocent victim or a hardened criminal?
Pre-order a copy for just $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, or the eBook version on CBD until March 10th.

Terri Blackstock

{MORE ABOUT TERRI BLACKSTOCK}


Terri Blackstock has sold over six million books worldwide and is a New York Times bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of “Intervention,” “Vicious Cycle,” and “Downfall,” as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, Restoration, and Moonlighters.
Find out more about Terri at http://www.terriblackstock.com.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Juan Pablo wins Mr. Insensitive title on #TheBachelor, but that's ok!


I have really been trying to get my blog posts on The Bachelor to go viral. By doing so, I've been sharing links on The Bachelor's Facebook page.

I've been able to get a lot of blog reads from doing that, but one woman took exception to the fact that I couldn't call the women "ladies" and that I called Clare's sister's dog ugly. It's just my opinion folks, just my opinion. I stand by both comments.

Tonight promises to hold lots of drama as we get glimpses of the overnight dates in St. Lucia.

First is fake Clare and her fake teeth. After she gushes over never having expected a year ago to be in this place with the man she loves, she says she has been going back and forth on her answer about staying over for the overnight date when the time comes. Evidently, "swimming in the ocean," is code for, well, you know. She talks about how swimming in the ocean made him uncomfortable.

Once they board the yacht, they talk about her family. She makes a bigger deal of him loving her family than he does, and she tells him about her sister Laura's objections because it's just a TV show. She also shares that her parents only dated for three weeks before becoming engaged. Then she blathers on more (in voice over) as they actually do go swim in the ocean.

Tonight is a great night to figure out how he feels about Clare after spending a great day together. "Tonight, is a chance to get to know her better, a lot better."

Clare absolutely babbles on about meeting Camilla and makes no sense to me, but makes sense to him. Then again, I don't understand him either, so, maybe they just speak their own language.

He gives her the invitation to the fantasy suite. She takes a deep breath and takes a long time to find her words. She brings up Vietnam and wants to keep his daughter in consideration. "It matters to me that it matters to you." He tells her that part is over, but everyone left gets a chance at an overnight. Since it is their only alone time without the cameras to spend together, they go off.

Oh, but it isn't time for the cameras to leave yet. They sit in silence for a little bit before he asks why she is thinking a lot. (His words, not my awkward phrasing.) Then, there is some loud kissing. And the cameras still don't leave while they are in the hot tub.

Juan Pablo is the man she wants to have babies with, and she's never felt that way about someone before.

He claims their sleepover was a lot of talking.

I think at one point I was interested in him becoming the Bachelor because we didn't know much about him last season. That was because there was nothing to know. Nothing. There is not one thing deep about him from what I can tell.

Next up is Andi. She brings up her family's hesitation to the camera, but said there was greatness in seeing him in her hometown.

They start their day by playing drums with the street performers. Then, they sit down at a table with a couple of young kids and offer them food and drink. The kids are leery as they well should be! He plays soccer with the kids on the beach.

After playing around, they take a land buggy off to a remote waterfall. When they sit down to talk, she pins him down to answer questions about what happened with her family that he didn't tell her. He's not big on wanting to talk much.

No, he's more into kissing and making out in water... now under the waterfall.

Juan Pablo wants to ask some questions to make sure she isn't pushing things since she said she "really badly wanted to fall in love." He doesn't want to force it. She takes it seriously because of his daughter. She admits to over-thinking things.

There is some talking in circles about listening, mainly by him. I do pick up that he doesn't know if Andi will make a good mother or not, but he can see her in his life. He wants to talk more overnight.

This time, we see inside the special suite before the cameras leave. Juan Pablo thinks Andi could be the one. Then, we all get kicked out.

Juan Pablo claims they talked and laughed for hours. For hours.

Her take is completely different. She couldn't wait to get out of there. She said it turned into a nightmare and that she saw a side of she did not like. Andi hopes that he did not think that it went well and it was a good date.

While there was a chemistry that pushed her along, she realized that anytime she tried to talk about herself that he started talking about himself. She doesn't think he cares for her. He evidently name drops, and Andi was turned off by him bringing up his overnight with Clare. Since he has no filter, she now finds him offensive and in love with himself.

Andi now feels like she's wasted a lot of time and emotions. She wants to fall in love, but not with him.

Good girl for finally seeing that!

Now, it's time to ride horses with Nikki. He purrs at having spent all day with Clare in a bikini and he really enjoyed his time with Andi.

I don't know what is up with Nikki's clothing choice. Ugly patterned pants and a fringed bikini top that is hideous. Nikki says she's glad she brought pants. He thinks she should have been riding in a thong. TMI!

Nikki made the statement that it had been a long time since she had seen him and hopes he still remembers her. I'm guessing it's been a week? Two tops?

In talking about her family, she says they really liked him. She gets nervous about his admission to her (and her dad) that he wasn't 100% certain at this point. However, she does hope to be able to tell him that she loves him tonight.

"You're thinking a lot today." Juan Pablo's favorite line of the night when it gets quiet. It doesn't bother him at all to remind her how many people are still around. She doesn't have to think twice about accepting the suite.

I hope the room was sanitized before they entered. They sit down and she finally gets the words out between kisses. (And there are really loud nocturnal animals in the background.)

Now that the dates are over, and we see lizards scatter about, like an episode of Survivor, Juan Pablo sits down with Chris Harrison to talk about what has been going on. With three left, he doesn't know what to do now.

In a moment reminiscent of The Biggest Loser, Juan Pablo watches videos of the women recounting their time together. Nikki first talking about getting to say she loved him. Clare being Clare with her quirky body language brings him to tears.

Finally, Andi talks about going from crush to something more. Then, she rolls into that she had some thoughts after their overnight and she wants to talk to in person. So, the video fades, and she comes to talk.

Lots of little insects run around as we come back from commercial break. The prelude to Andi telling Juan Pablo it is over because she doesn't feel like he is taking it seriously. Kissing is his response to her trying to talk. Yep. I've noticed.

He really likes Andi. At least before she comes.

She does give him a hug when she walks up. He plays with her hair as she tries to figure out where to get started.

Andi starts off by telling him she had a good time and had feelings in the process. However, when she woke up in the suite she realized she was not - and would not be - in love with him.

Juan Pablo says, "it is fine. What's meant to be is meant to be." He just shrugs it off.

Andi tells him it should not just be ok if it meant anything to him. She says it comes off as him not having feelings. He tries to cover by saying the words don't matter since English isn't his first language.

He comes off as so "take it or leave it."

She asked him how she felt the overnight went. They discuss how bringing up the other overnight dates comes across. His answer, "I'm honest." Andi brings up him telling her that she "barely made it" to this round and how that hurt her feelings. Evidently it was close between her and Renee.

They argue back and forth about words that he actually used. Then, Andi asks him if she knows her views on any important issues. Juan Pablo puts it off on her that she should have brought up this stuff in the fantasy suite instead of now.

Here's the thing... no matter who he picks, communication is going to be a problem.

Once Andi leaves, Juan Pablo says he wasn't going to argue with a lawyer and puts it all off on her. She asserts in the car as she is leaving that it isn't about language - he just doesn't get it. I believe that too.

She's hit the nail on the head.

Juan Pablo was shocked that Andi left, "but that's ok." In the car, Andi says that Juan Pablo is just probably saying, "it's ok."

Andi's last words are that she hopes he is different with Clare and Nikki.

Chris Harrison tells the two women that Andi is no longer there. Nikki is shocked, but wants to know whose choice it was to leave.

Juan Pablo says Andi left because she didn't have strong feelings for him. He is giving out two roses, but if they aren't in it, they can tell him no, and he'll understand.

Nikki, and of course Clare, accept the roses and that is that.

Clare thinks now that it is between her and Nikki, it will tell a lot about what kind of person Juan Pablo is since they are such two different women.

Next week: The Women Tell All!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Evidently, #TheBachelor is for the birds, cows and squirrels

Chris Harrison should win the Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globe for all the drama he inserts into just the preview of tonight's episode... part of a special two night event.

What I never thought I would see? I bet it's not that outlandish.

I am ready for all these parents who think their daughters are idiots. BRING. IT. ON. 



We start off with Nikki in Kansas City which is somehow now synonymous with cows. I don't know why they start off with cows when introducing KC. I don't think I saw cows there. Fountains, yes. Cows, no. Union Station - yes, I've seen that. I guess it is because of the BBQ places. However, I think that KC BBQ is more PORK than BEEF. 

Nikki says that it is make it or break it time. First challenge: gas station BBQ (Oklahoma Joe's). The sauce is spicy for him. He said it was amazing.

Side note: gas station BBQ meant something else to me in KC. I had to chug Coke in order to burp after eating the nastiest BBQ I've ever eaten there.

I hope his food has settled before launching onto the mechanical bull. She thinks he's hot. I think he looks like a moron.

While she wants to tell him that she loves him, she wants to wait for the right time. Evidently riding a bull in tandem is not the right time.

Nikki's parents live in a mansion. Either that or everyone's homes are staged. We are introduced to Nikki's parents, two younger brothers and a sister-in-law. She hopes tonight to get the chance to tell Juan Pablo that she loves him.

Juan Pablo said that her dad made him feel comfortable as they sat down to dinner. When conversation went to how long the flight to South Korea was, we learned that JP got to ride in first class while everyone else went coach. That's pretty crappy. I guess that's why the women didn't see him until they arrived - or that's how they always act.

It isn't long before Nikki's mom takes her off in the other room to talk. Nikki, of course, is serious about her future and JP. How it can feel natural in this setting for her, I can't comprehend. She tells her mom she hasn't told him that she loves him yet. Her mom says that she'll support her, but you can tell she's skeptical about Nikki being ready for a proposal.

Nikki's dad thinks Juan Pablo has to be mature having had a child. (Yeah, let me just say that maturity and parenthood do not go together though they should.) Her father is not looking pleased at the words "live together." Bad move.

Dad wants to know what it is that Nikki sees in Juan Pablo that makes her think they are compatible. "Magical." "I can't put my finger on it." She has vagueness down to an art. While he tells her that he trusts her, he doesn't say he thinks JP is good for her. I think Nikki just saw what she wanted to see when it comes to her parents' opinion.

While they are kissing on the front porch, it seems a little awkward for some reason. The driver starts the car to get him going. That was less than subtle. It didn't feel right to tell him that she loves him, but she doesn't know why.

She doesn't know much, but she knows she loves him. (Hear the song in your head now?)



Next up is Atlanta where they start off showing what looks like Canadian geese. What's with animal shots anyway? 

According to Juan Pablo, there's definitely something going on with Andi. There's a connection.
Before meeting her family, Andi has something special planned him. They go to a gun range. In Andi's family, a guy shows his manliness with a gun. They can't meet her dad without a bulls-eye. We may be here awhile folks.

This stress reliever for Andi means she leaves really relaxed. She is evidently scared at the prospect of what is going to happen at home.

Andi is so much more nervous than he is. Evidently, Andi's nickname is Pookie. In addition to parents, we have a brother, sister, and brother-in-law.

Andi is waiting to fall in love - so close, but... She thinks her family is going to help her tip. Ummmm... pretty sure it won't be in that direction.

As they tell about their adventures thus far, Andi's dad asks how many girls were left at each and every point. Daddy is NOT happy at how long it took to get a one-on-one. Dad knows they are infatuated with each other, but he is not impressed. Two attractive people running around the world, but there are other girls there is his very accurate observation.

Andi's parents got engaged after 6 months. Married 6 months after that. For that reason, Andi thinks it can happen to her. Not sure that I see the similarities.

Andi's mom takes Juan Pablo out to talk. He finds Andi beautiful. Smart. Quick minded. Mom then wants Juan Pablo to dance with her to prove she didn't pass off the bad dancing gene.

Dad then takes him outside. Ol' Hy (what kind of name is that?) starts grilling him by asking him why he went on the show. Juan Pablo makes the mistake of asking Hy if he and Camilla would be accepted in his family if he proposes because that's his biggest concern. To the camera, Hy says, "it's not about Andi being able to find someone, it's about her being able to find someone good enough."

Hy tells Juan Pablo, as a father, to reverse the roles. With three other women being left, he is not going to answer the question. When and if the time comes that JP thinks Andi is THE one, and he comes to him, they will have that conversation then.

Andi tells her sister that she wants to say she loves him, then her sister lays on the buzz kill. Her sister doesn't see it because Andi has not said, "he's the one." Dad tells her he doesn't want to see her getting hurt, and you can tell he doesn't care that they are having fun together. "What happens if he doesn't choose you?" From the previews of tomorrow night, I hope he doesn't see the episode.

Daddy Hy closes the conversation by saying Juan Pablo can go home by himself. As they walk out the door, Andi wants to talk JP a couple of minutes. Meanwhile, Dad tells Mom and sister that he did not give his blessing and won't until after they choose each other after the show is over.

After everyone expresses their hesitations, now she feels like she might be falling in love... or very, very close to it. How close? Very close.


We are greeted in Renee's hometown of Sarasota, Florida by seagulls and pelicans because we must meet the animal life, right? 

Renee is so very ready to see Ben. While she and Juan Pablo are sitting around at the baseball field, he gets out of a car and we have a very touching reunion. Juan Pablo talks to the boy like he is 5, not 10. It's his first little league baseball game, and JP cannot wait to have a son to play sports with. 

In addition to meeting Ben, JP gets to meet the parents and a brother. Renee says that if the family doesn't get the vibe, she's really going to take what they think to heart.

There's a moment or two where Renee's mom makes a comment or two about what Renee has missed since being away from her son. 

When Renee goes to tuck Ben in, Juan Pablo makes the rounds with the family. The talk between Juan Pablo and the brother is short and uneventful other than JP saying that he likes that Renee knows what she wants. A conversation with mom follows, and you can tell she has a wall up. 

Before Renee can make it downstairs, Mom meets her to have a conversation. Mom says we can love our pets, but you need to be IN LOVE with him. Renee knows she has real feelings, but Mom seems shocked she hasn't said it yet. During their time together, they have wine glasses, and maybe someone I was talking to the other day was right. Maybe Renee is always drinking.

Renee's dad sees the glow, something he hasn't seen in a long time. To the camera, Renee says they can see them together as a family. It's really the first time that we see how crazy she is for him. 

Juan Pablo during the long kiss goodbye gives her a chance to say, "I love you." However, the moment passes her by. She regrets it afterwards.


I need to mentally take a moment before we meet Clare's family. Sigh. 

We have a saying in our family, "the shade doesn't fall far from the tree." It's a combination of "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," and an Oak Ridge Boys song where there is a line, "the shade comes free with the tree." I have a feeling we're going to find out where her shade comes from. 


Why are we introduced to each new city with an animal? Does the squirrel have something to do with Clare's teeth?

There are buzzy bees too in Sacramento. Juan Pablo feels goooood when he is with Clare. And he likes her smile. Gag.

They start their date at a rose garden where Clare often went growing up. He's going to let her lead the day. He can't wait to see why she is the way she is. CRAZY. And why is she sitting in his lap on the bench?

This is the first guy she has introduced to her family since her dad died. They talk about her dad, and I think he must have been a great guy by what she says about him. She had to have been a daddy's girl. They throw rocks into the water because her dad told her he would never be farther from her than she could throw the rock. They almost nail some ducks and geese. 

Juan Pablo gets to meet 4 out of 5 of Clare's sisters, her mom and a brother-in-law. Just one brother-in-law, but out of the 6 girls, Clare is the youngest and last to get married. One of the sisters (Lisa who is always holding her dog) notices that he is always touching and affectionate towards her which she thinks is good.

Someone points out how much swimming they did in one day when they rehash their stories. No joke! You don't even know the half of it.

Another sister (Madeline) takes her off for some alone time. This sister has been married 20+ years. She wants to know what Clare would do if she is proposed to. She would say "yes, in a heartbeat."

Two sisters (including the one with the dog) takes Juan Pablo off to grill him. He brings up the dad stories.

Mom and sister number four take Clare off next. This is the realistic and get to the point sister. She says, "what if he chooses someone else?" This sister, Laura, also says that they wouldn't give the blessing. Clare jumps her case for not letting Mom speak for herself. We see psycho Clare coming out again. Laura sees Clare's happiness, but that doesn't equal blessing. Clare and Laura accuse each other of manipulating Mom. The sister will not let Mom speak for herself. 

Clare goes crying to another sister. I have them all of them confused at this point, and now wonder if their are five sisters there even though she only named four. Laura then ends up with Lisa's dog (an ugly, scrawny thing) and tells Madeline part of what happened. 

Yeah, the shade... all kinds of crazy in this family of girls.

Juan Pablo wants time with Mom, and Laura goes out with them. Clare calls Laura inside, but that doesn't work. Laura defends her protectiveness of both Mom and Clare. Mom still doesn't say anything. Juan Pablo holds his own with her, then Laura goes inside. Mom and Juan Pablo speak to each other in Spanish a little bit before they move on to English. They get along well, and he may actually have the mother's blessing.

If he can get past her crazy family, Clare asserts that she would love to marry him. She would love it. 


Juan Pablo makes it back to Miami where there are flamingos standing around at night.

Chris Harrison brings Nikki in to stand next to Clare where neither speak to each other. Here comes Andi, and finally Renee for the rose ceremony. I'm not sure who looks the most nervous. They are all shaking in their heels.

Chris assures the women (I refuse to use the word "ladies"), that Juan Pablo feels the gravity of the situation before him.

When he comes out, Juan Pablo compliments all of their families.

Nikki gets the first rose.

Clare gets the second.

And if only Renee had told him how she felt, maybe she wouldn't be going home. Andi gets the third and final rose.

Kind of surprising, in a way.

Juan Pablo is genuinely in tears. He and Renee walk away, and they sit down where she admits her feelings and that she hadn't told him how she felt. Of course, she is emotional in the limo, but she's not crazy crying asking, "why me?" in the same way most women do.

Tomorrow, we will see when Juan Pablo and the three remaining women head off to St. Lucia. They will all be crying before the night is over. We see Clare's ugly face come out again. Oh wait, I mean the stare.

See ya'll back here tomorrow night!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Don't make me embarrass you!

This morning was one of those mornings. It just was.

After more than one child plopping a Bible down or bending back the covers, I had enough! I sang them the song we sing to the babies' class about loving our Bibles. Seriously.

Then, we didn't have much time for the song I wanted to do today, so I warned them that I would embarrass them by making them sing "This is the Way We Love Our Bible." To make sure they got something out of the lesson today, I made them tell me what they learned.

We now know what despise means. I used the example of the fact that I despise marshmallows.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Audra's brain - where great ideas go to die.

I always have such grandiose ideas, plans and intentions. If only they all came to fruition.

Honestly, I don't know how people with kids get anything done because I don't have that excuse and have half finished projects abounding.

I think I'm just lazy.

Other than the baby blanket I started 2 months ago that is still only halfway done, I'll tell you what else I am working on. The last time I worked on this new project was two weeks ago, by the way.

Based on the fact that one of the most popular posts EVER on my blog was my list of children's Bible class songs, I am trying to put a songbook of the words together for the teachers at church to use. I've started it, and have great plans, but I've not worked on it much.

What I would like to do is post the words, and then videos of kids singing them, but I don't know what to do about sharing the "book" when I am finished because of copyrights. I can use my church's CCLI number for us, but that leaves a problem for everyone else.

Anyone have any ideas? I'd like to hear what you think.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Don't miss Stephanie Landsem's outstanding sophomore effort, The Thief.

thiefbloggerbuttonBest-selling author Tosca Lee had this to say of the book: "Filled with memorable characters, The Thief is a tale of hopelessness turned to hope, of high stakes made higher, and ultimate love. What happens when a character at the lowest rung of society crosses paths with the most well-known figure in history? The story of The Thief. I couldn't stop reading."

Stephanie is hosting a Kindle Fire HDX and book giveaway at her website. CLICK THE BUTTON to find out more and enter to win.

Find out what readers are saying HERE. (Click the REVIEWS bar.)


{MORE ABOUT THE THIEF}


TheThiefcover
A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.
Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure. Desperate to escape the accursed Judean province, he accepts a wager. If he can catch the thieves harassing the marketplace before Passover, he’ll earn a transfer away from the troublemaking Jews.
Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Only with the help of Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, can she keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and a roof over their heads.
When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Longinus longs to learn more about the mysterious healer. Instead, his journey leads him to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.
Unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus, they wonder who this teacher is who heals others but does nothing to save himself. Is the mercy he offers in his teachings real, or just another false promise? Can Nissa and Longinus overcome their pasts to find a future free of their shackles?
The Thief is an evocative story of two people trapped in their circumstances and the life-changing power of forgiveness and love.
Stephanie Landsem

{MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE LANDSEM}


Stephanie Landsem loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.
Find out more about Stephanie at www.stephanielandsem.com.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Barbara Cameron’s SCRAPS OF EVIDENCE | Quilts of Love Giveaway

Barbara Cameron's Scraps of Evidence is the newest book in the Quilts of Love line, and Barbara is celebrating with an "intriguing" Kindle HDX giveaway!

scraps-400

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • Tempest's Course by Lynette Sowell
  • Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 8th. Winner will be announced on the Quilts of Love blog on March 10th.

Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.


ScrapsOfEvidence

{MORE ABOUT SCRAPS OF EVIDENCE}


A Quilts of Love book.
Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan,for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those couple nights a week she spends with her quilting guild.
Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home and she acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan seems to be communicating a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?
Learn more about this book and the series at the Quilts of Love website.

Barbara Cameron

{MORE ABOUT BARBARA CAMERON}


Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the “Everything Weddings on a Budget Book” and “Her Restless Heart: A Woman’s Longing for Love and Acceptance.” Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.
Find out more about Barbara at http://barbaracameron.com.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PRINCESS EVER AFTER $200 “Princess” Giveaway and Facebook Party with @RachelHauck!

Rachel Hauck is celebrating the release of her latest "swoon"-worthy romance,  Princess Ever After, with a fun $200 "Princess" prize package giveaway and a Facebook "Princess" party on March 6th. Grab your tiaras and RSVP today!

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  One winner will receive:
  • A $200 Visa cash card (buy your very own "princess ever after" gown or tanks of gas for your "royal" ride)
  • Princess Ever After, Once Upon a Prince, and The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 6th. Winner will be announced at Rachel's "Princess" Facebook Party on March 6th. Connect with Rachel for an evening of "royal" book chat, princess-themed trivia, laughter, prizes, and an exclusive look at the next book in the Royal Wedding series!

So grab your copy of Princess Ever After and join Rachel and friends on the evening of March 6th 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 todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!


Princess Ever After High Res

{MORE ABOUT PRINCESS EVER AFTER}


A Royal Wedding Book
Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.
But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.
Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future—and his own.
Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together—with a little divine intervention—Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.

{MORE ABOUT RACHEL HAUCK}


Rachel Hauck
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated “The Wedding Dress” and RITA nominated “Love Starts with Elle,” part of the Lowcountry series, the Nashvegas series and the Songbird Novels penned with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel “Softly and Tenderly,’ was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004. Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
Find out more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

Read more about Princess Ever After by clicking here!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Janette Oke invites readers to join her during live online event

Janette Oke's newest book, Where Courage Calls (co-written with her daughter, Laurel Oke Logan), is receiving rave reviews. It is the companion story to Hallmark Channel's TV series When Calls the Heart, set in the Canadian west.

Janette and Laurel are celebrating with an iPad Mini giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on March 4th.

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One winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 4th. Winner will be announced at the Where Courage Calls Facebook Party on March 4th. Connect with Janette and Laurel for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more!

So grab your copy of Where Courage Calls and join Janette and Laurel on the evening of March 4th 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 on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Long-time fans of Janette Oke will be delighted to learn the author  is hosting her first-ever Facebook party alongside her daughter and writing partner, Laurel Oke Logan, on March 4, 2014, at 8:00 PM EST. During the hour-long live online event, Oke and Logan will be introducing readers to their latest release, Where Courage Calls (Bethany House Publishers/February 4, 2014/available in hardcover, paperback and ebook), a special companion story to the Hallmark Channel’s new When Calls the Heart TV series.

Last fall, the movie When Calls the Heart, produced and directed by Michael Landon, Jr., debuted on the Hallmark Channel. The movie was inspired by Oke’s previously published book by the same name and launched the weekly TV series that premiered on January 11, 2014, and can be seen on Saturday evenings. The storyline and characters in Where Courage Calls are based on the TV series set in the Canadian west.

The authors describe their novel as a “coming-of-age” story with a main theme centered on Philippians 4:13. “Our faith needs to transition from finding our security and safety in our families first, to putting our trust in God Himself who is able to meet all our needs and give us strength,” explains Oke.

“This will be our first Facebook party. How nice that we’re sharing it with one another — and with reader ‘friends’ — both the newest ones who’ve seen Michael’s movies and those who’ve shared the stories for many years,” says Logan. “We are so glad for a chance to converse with you all!”

During the live online event, the authors will host a book-club discussion and answer reader questions. Readers will also have an opportunity to chat with other fans and answer trivia about the authors and their books. Prizes given out during the party will include copies of the paperback version of When Courage Calls as well as DVDs of the TV movie. At the end of the evening, the winner of an iPad mini will be announced. The iPad giveaway is being held in conjunction with the blog tour for When Courage Calls, coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group from February 17 through March 4.

“Janette is back writing prairie romance, and we are so excited, with the wonderful help of Litfuse, to bring her into contact with her many fans and give them a chance to ask all their long-held questions,” states Noelle Buss, marketing manager at Bethany House. “We also love that the tradition of writing is carrying on with Laurel Oke Logan, Janette’s daughter and co-author of the book.”

The Facebook party will be hosted on the Bethany House Publishers Facebook Page. Starting February 17, readers will be able to RSVP to join the event and enter the contest for the iPad mini. 


About Where Courage Calls:

Her courage and her heart will be tested in ways she never expected. . . .

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father’s wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way. 


But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she’d feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don’t even speak English. There isn’t even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth’s heart is torn between two young men — both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she’s had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?


A special companion story to Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart TV series.


About the Authors:

Bestselling author Janette Oke (pronounced “oak”) is celebrated across the world for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry. She is credited with launching the modern era of inspirational fiction with the publication of her first novel, Love Comes Softly, in 1979. Today, her novels have sold more than 30 million copies, and she is the recipient of the ECPA President’s Award, the CBA Life Impact Award, the Gold Medallion, and the Christy Award. Janette and her husband, Edward, live in Alberta, Canada.

Laurel Oke Logan, daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie, as well as the novel Dana’s Valley, which she co-wrote with her mother, and three other books published by Bethany House. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law. They live near Indianapolis, Indiana.


For more on Janette Oke’s books, visit janetteoke.com

Monday, February 17, 2014

The women on The Bachelor are all kinds of crazy


After the day I have had, I'm not sure how much The Bachelor drama and literal defining moments (Juan Pablo fakes his lack of English, I am certain) I can stand. The intro promises plenty.

We're back to the US, specifically Miami. Juan Pablo drives up to a mansion to go see Ca-Me-La. who he hasn't seen since he left Los Angeles. As if he hasn't had enough pool time, he goes swimming with his daughter.

The six remaining women are taken by limo to their latest resort hotel. Who can afford these places? There are boxes in the room with special bikinis. There are only three boxes, so I'm afraid of what that means.

Already anticipating home town dates, Sharleen is not ready to introduce him to her family. However, back at the family home, Juan Pablo tells his cousin that Sharleen may be the one.

When he comes to the hotel, he personally delivers the one-on-one date card to Sharleen who accepts it like it's a piranha. Awkward. "Come SEA my City."

Of course, Clare doesn't get her hesitation.

Sharleen needs to see a mental connection by the end of the date to keep it going. News flash! The man is not cerebral.

After they head out, Chelsie leads the conversation about how they can't see the connection and how Sharleen said she was in to intellectuals.

Clare says that if Juan Pablo and Sharleen have a connection, she can't figure out why she (Clare) is still there. That goes for two of us.

Immediately, there are awkward moments on the date aboard a yacht. Awkward, silent moments. She tells Juan Pablo that he's too relaxed. When he starts trying to make out with her, she tells him that he's trouble and stops him immediately. (She's attracted to him, but that's about it.) Then, she goes ahead and kisses him. She's such a tease.

Andi and Nurse Nikki have nothing better to talk about than Sharleen and how since she travels all the time, how would that work out?

Sharleen finds their time together fun - very playful, easy - they have chemistry. Well, a certain kind of chemistry. Once they make it to the beach, she addresses her career. She's been singing professionally for a while for and has put it as first priority, but change is good. She likes change.

So help me, she has got to be bi-polar. Or have a personality disorder. Seriously.

Later into the evening, their off kissing again because that is all they have. The race is on to see if there's a brain in there. He finds it perfect. He wants to go see her parents. I could deal without him chewing her lip.

Will Sharleen lie when he asks her what she thinks about him meeting her family? Yes she will. She says she wants to be honest, but she holds back. She tells him, "I wish I was dumber."

I wish she was smarter. However, the little voice in her head says it isn't right. I told you there were voices!

Next date card time. Chelsie laments that she hasn't had any significant alone time with him in forever, especially since her one-on-one date was weeks ago in LA. She's out of luck because, "Nikki... Listen to my heart beat." Nikki has already done that. Back to Chelsie, she thinks Nikki is way too negative all the time.

Sharleen goes off to have a conversation with Momma Renee, talking about how she thought she would have clarity by now about her feelings and doesn't want to take a place from someone who is sure. Renee encourages her by telling her time is irrelevant and that she would likely have regrets if she didn't stay.

Thank goodness there are commercials with the promise that Grey's Anatomy will be back on next week.

Nikki is falling in love with Juan Pablo, but isn't ready to tell him yet. They sit down to make a flower arrangement for Camilla's dance recital. While she is flattered to be the one chosen to meet the family first, you can tell she is floored. She's speechless. A true rarity.

Oh, and she has to meet Camilla's mother. Feel. The. Pressure.

"Chelsie, Renee, Clare, Andi... My hometown for yours." There will be a rose on this date unlike the one-on-ones.

Sharleen is still debating her inner voices off to the side while I'm wishing we could have a showdown two-on-one date. Why haven't we had one of those this season?

After the dance recital, Nikki can see this being her life. She's so civil around other people. Later that evening, they go to the Marlins baseball stadium where she is playing catch in a completely inappropriate blouse, especially for the activity. She MUST have some good tape under there to keep the censors from having to use black boxes.

They have a conversation about where Camilla's mother fits in all of this and if she is ok with this process since he is friends with Carla. Their date ends just great.

Enough of Sharleen already. She feels sick like the sick you feel when you make a decision you aren't sure about. Sharleen calls all the girls together to tell them while she feels that he is awesome, she's conflicted. She tells them all that just in case it takes a spot from them, that she is leaving. She's sad knowing there is something quality there, but it's time to go talk to him. Off she goes!

Juan Pablo wants to know what happened, and she he has to strain to hear her say that she doesn't know if she can get to the point she needs to be in three weeks time. "Loooook at me."

I think she just wants attention because of her body language and tears. The only thing that makes him mad is that she didn't sing enough for him. I thought for sure he was going to kiss his way into her staying. They finally go their separate ways and he goes out to cry on the balcony.

Juan Pablo likes her honesty, but doesn't appreciate the honesty this time. He's talking in circles. He does say to the cameras that she would have had a home town date.

The day has come for the group date. With one person gone, the rest feel the hometown is closer... unless he still decides to get rid of two. Before it starts, Andi is already getting emotional.

They take puddle jumper to a beach.

Chelsie takes him off and babbles on about her best friend mom who sent her with all these letters to read when she got home sick. Her mom and dad both sent cards with conflicting advice.

Andi is so whiny and just walking with him has her ready to breakdown. I think it's PMS. He calms her "so fast" and makes her feel so confident. Maybe they are all bi-polar.

Clare states the obvious about thinking the rose is a for sure thing when it comes to wanting to meet the family. Duh. Juan Pablo wants to know who he will meet if he goes home. She is one of six girls, and maybe he will meet them all. Juan Pablo makes her all emotional by saying he wishes he could have met her dad. She tells him about the video her dad made for the man she marries. It's so special and it's in a bank vault. They get their smooches in before going back to the group.

It starts raining and huddled up under the umbrella, he is ready to give out the rose. Why didn't we get any Renee time, by the way? He gives whiny Andi the rose, and Clare is confused since all the insecure people get a rose, but she wonders what she is doing here. I think that puts her in the same category as the others.

Since Andi got the rose on the group date earlier in the day, they go out on the town that evening. They go dancing at a Latin club while the rest of the girls head back to the hotel.

Clare is so excited (not) to go back and hang out with Nikki. She wants to hang out with Nikki like she wants to get stung by a jellyfish. When Nikki comes down to greet the others, and they explain what happened, there is another moment of awkward silence. Nikki observes they all have different reactions and that Clare has "checked out." Clare takes great offense to the observation of her facial reaction. She tells Nikki that she's not going to be fake and that it is disappointing for her. Clare says that maybe Andi needed the reassurance, then Nikki stalks off saying it's stupid.

Clare isn't ok with being disrespected, so she goes up to confront Nikki. Nikki didn't want to sit around while they were talking about her friend. Nikki thought they were going to talk bad about Andi, so she left before it started.

They argue about who cuts off who when they are talking to each other. Nikki tells Clare she can excuse herself from her room. Clare says that since Nikki didn't pay for it, she didn't get to call it. How completely immature.

Nikki makes some comment to the camera about there being so few times when she didn't get the rose on the group date, then states that Clare is like a dog who peed on Juan Pablo first, but is marking territory that may not be hers. Classy!

Here we finally are at the cocktail party. Chelsie must be the loser of the week because she's been talking about needing time, wanting him to go home, etc. the most. Renee is nervous, but at least she gets time first.

There's no nervous with Juan Pablo. Rico Suave that he is.

Chelsie tries to make up things to talk about like jewelry you wear all the time to try to make conversation since it's awkward while the four sit around.

With very little on camera conversation, he takes Clare off. Nikki's theory is her family is crazy because she didn't get crazy all on her own. Clare is the last of the six sisters to marry.

Nikki is so ready to be done with this night. The last cocktail party. She's so special since she got to meet his family. She's so confident. Annoyingly so. She's ready to take her boyfriend home to meet her family. He takes her off and the rest of the girls trash talk her.

I hate Clare's mouth and how her teeth fit. It wouldn't be a complete post without me pointing that out this week.

Chelsie decides she needs to go to the bathroom. Meanwhile Clare doesn't think Nikki is mature enough to be a stepmom. Nothing Clare has said convinces me she is. Evidently, they had to go to the bathroom in a group because we hear crickets chirping and trash trucks as Nikki and Clare sit alone. Andi finally comes back to join them. Then, the rest, but no one talking. At all.

Juan Pablo comes up to observe the silence. Thankfully, Chris Harrison comes up to chime the wine glass.

Chris emphasizes the importance of this particular ceremony. Who besides Andi gets a hometown?

Dramatic music feels the silence before he gives the first rose to Nikki. Looking at Clare's face, I've never wished so much for her to not get a rose. I am so disappointed because she is next.

The final rose goes to Renee.

My prediction from the get go of this episode that Chelsie was out of luck was correct.

I just wonder who else would have gone home if Sharleen hadn't opted out.

He walks Chelsie out. If I were the girl, I would have just told him there was no point, especially with hand holding, a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Limo crying ensues.

Juan Pablo "cannot be happy right now." He would have loved to meet Chelsie's family, but couldn't do it. He sheds more than one tear to the camera.

There will be two nights of shows next week. And twice the promised drama where Clare's mama calls her on her crap. Monday night is hometowns and on Tuesday night, we find out what terribly wrong in the fantasy suite with Andi when she couldn't get out of there soon enough. Clips show everyone in tears. Oh, I can hardly wait. (sic)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Will Call Upon the Lord

I wanted the kids to work on this one a little more, but they confidently said they had it. Not too bad considering they did the parts.

 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I could teach as well as she did



Rakia, Angie and I joined the Painting with the Twist craze. Rakia had actually been to one before, but Angie and I were newbies.


Even though I have a degree in art, painting was never my thing, although I do think I could have taught better than our instructor. She took a lot of breaks leaving me to want to ad lib, and as the only one looking at the original, left us with really crooked Eiffel Towers that didn't look like the original. She couldn't figure out why there was a semi-circle on the pink on the left side, so we had it in the wrong place because she didn't realize it was the arch of the fourth side. 

I came home wanting to go shopping at Hobby Lobby to see what it would cost to buy supplies to start teaching my own classes. Except my classes would have an official karaoke element because singing 80s songs was a lot of fun. 

But then again, if I just held classes at home, it wouldn't have been as much fun without Blake and Clare there. Blake was the token male there with his wife. We fed him from our Valentine's M&Ms stash (each of the three of us bought a different kind on sale at Target), and during his boredom during the instructor's breaks, he added "I <3 a="" and="" clare="" come="" drove="" for="" funny.="" get="" giant="" had="" he="" her="" his="" in="" into="" ladder="" order="" out="" p="" painting.="" pretty="" seeing="" step="" stool="" the="" to="" truck.="" truck="" was="">