Fiction Untitled 2.3


This time she woke up mad. There was no way she was going to be a victim in this concrete jail. In her mind, she decided it was time to start formulating a plan. Unsure of how many children there actually were, she thought there were perhaps three. She reached down to see what condition her legs were in and discovered there were two primitive splints taped around her broken limbs. Knowing they would eventually heal, she hoped they had at least been set properly. The candle was burning across the room and she examined her surroundings. A simple concrete room, probably at least partially underground. A wooden door, probably locked from the outside. The table under the candle, old and barely standing. No windows at all. She strained to lean over the side of the bed and found a small plastic bottle of water. She grabbed it and drank it down, feeling much better afterwards. She struggled to sit up and still couldn’t. She wondered when she might see someone again. The room smelled musty, confirming she was likely underground, maybe in a cellar. If she was going to get out of here, she might be able to manipulate the children. That man was obviously controlling and abusive. She hoped he wouldn’t return any time soon. Yes, her only hope was the children. 

Miss the beginning of my novel? Start HERE!

Two New Planet Weidknecht Winners

I love to announce winners!
Congratulations to...

Fawn H.
winner of the Jumbo Safari Counters


Alicia Ponce
winner of the Emma Rose Plaid Ruffle Purse!

Halloween Treats from Smiley Cookie - Review

Made from pure ingredients, these Halloween Cookies are baked by light of the full moon with a pinch of witch magic then costumed in pumpkin orange and ghastly green icing. SmileyCookie.com has created these spooky, delicious treats that are nut-free, Kosher, and under 100 calories each.
These Halloween Treats are 2.5 inches in diameter, perfectly sized for classrooms and parties. They can even be ordered individually wrapped and trick-or-treaters will think your house is the best one on the street this Halloween!
My teenage son was very happy to help me sample these scrumptious cookies! They arrived well-packaged in bubble wrap and not a single cookie was broken. My husband was asleep in his chair while we opened the package, but when he smelled cookies he awoke right away.
A bag of Halloween cookies from Smiley Cookie would make wonderful Halloween Gifts for teachers, neighbors and even your local firehouse! It's a great way to let someone know you appreciate all they do for you.
Luckily for my dog Buddy, I accidentally dropped one on the floor, so he got to sample a cookie too. He was quite happy about it and nibbled up every crumb!
You can purchase Halloween Cookies at http://www.smileycookie.com and if you use the special coupon code BLOG10, you can save 10% off any of their unwrapped Halloween cookie treats. Be sure to follow them on Facebook too!
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.


eShakti Dress Review

I used to spend hours in department stores and boutiques, trying on dozens of dresses, then usually leaving empty-handed. It can be so frustrating! I don't want to spend a fortune on a dress, but I want something that looks like I did. I also want it to fit comfortably, to make me look smaller than I am, and to be in style. I'm not asking for much, am I?
When I was offered the opportunity to try out a dress from eshakti.com I looked over their website and was excited to see they offer customization on their dresses. I chose the Vintage Graphic Print Knit Dress, thinking the material would probably have some give in it. The example dress on the website is sleeveless, but since we are officially into autumn now, I customized my order with the cap sleeve.
The first thing I noticed when I received my dress was the heavy weight of the material. Rather than feeling bulky though, it was smooth and silky to the touch. Once I had it on, I felt very glamorous. I love the button accents at the waist and on the chest.
It's a great style, fits perfectly, and I wore it comfortably all evening for a date night downtown with my husband. By the way, he loved the dress on me too. The eShakti website is very easy to use and their dresses are affordable. I am very happy with my dress. Would you like to WIN a dress, or two, or three, or four? Keep reading!
Disclosure: This dress was provided for me to review by eShakti in collaboration with the Fashionista Blogger group hosted by Still Blonde After All These Years and ModlyChic.
This eShakti Giveaway includes: ($930 total prize package)
1st place prize: one winner will receive a dress each season for the year (estimated $430 value)
2nd place prize: three winners will pick the dress of their choice
3rd place prize: three winners will pick the skirt or top of their choice

To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter form below! Then visit the other bloggers and see what eShakti dress they are modeling. And don't forget to mark your calendar for the fabulous Fall Fashionista Giveaway Event from October 11-17, where you can enter to win thousands of dollars in prizes!

I Won My Way to a Blogger Conference

You might remember the post with my "Ode to Aiming Low." It was a contest entry through Simply Sassy Media (thank you!) to attend the Aiming Low Non-Conference and I WON! Congratulations also to the other winner, Linda Roy of Mod Mom Beyond IndieDom, who will be my roomie at the conference. I'm so excited because this will be my first-ever blogger conference!

People Still Read Magazines

Even with the abundance of websites, people still read magazines. I love being able to sit in the recliner at the end of the day and just browse through the latest issues. My favorites are usually about home design, do it yourself projects, scrapbooking, and outdoor design and decor. I like looking at how other people are decorating their homes to get ideas for my own. What kinds of magazines do you like to read?

Sometimes at the bookstore, I might flip through some magazines, but I refuse to pay the full price for a magazine. I'm always looking for magazine deals because I can usually save at least fifty percent if I buy the subscription. MagazineDeals.com allows me to compare between magazine deals and get the absolute best offers. There are over 2000 titles on their site from the most top rates discount magazine merchants. What that means is that if I want to begin a subscription or renew a subscription to Old House Journal, I can log onto MagazineDeals.com, find that title, and see that I could order it for as low as $14.31 from 8 different stores. Even better, they do comparisons for different subscription terms, like 6 issues, 12 issues, and 18 issues for Old House Journal, and then list the best price with it broken down to a per issue price.

They also list descriptions of the magazines as described by the merchants. There are personal reviews available for the magazines and suggested titles that might also appeal to readers that are similar to the magazine you might be considering. The website is very user-friendly and easy to navigate, with categories like Home and Garden, Education, Business and Finance, Men's Interest, Children, Teen, Family and Parenting, and many more. You can also search alphabetically or by price point. I had to giggle at the disclaimer I found - "no prison orders allowed." How funny is that?

Did you know over 93 percent of adults read magazines? I was really surprised to discover that number because I had no idea it was so high. Then again, I guess they are counting even those of us who are stuck in doctor's waiting rooms or hair salons with piles of magazines that don't interest us. Since there is nothing else to do there but sit, we almost always grab something to read. What's the funniest magazine title you ever came across?

Fall Shoes that Feel Good

I love shopping this time of the year! New shoes each fall for school have always been one of my favorite purchases. Thank goodness I don't have to go to school anymore, but I still love getting a new pair of shoes in the fall. I remember as a teenager I would buy what was popular, regardless of how much they made my feet hurt. No longer constricted by peer pressure, I can choose exactly what I want....beautiful and comfortable shoes.
SchulerShoes.com must have had me in mind when they put together their website, because it offers so much more than just comfortable shoes for women. You can read their blog about foot care and foot health. You can find dates and places to meet the reps from the huge selection of brands. You can even schedule a free foot screen evaluation with their in-house pedorthist at dozens of locations across the country. Best of all, their shoes are beautiful and fashionable! You can find boots, clogs, athletic shoes, dress shoes and more from brands like New Balance, Clarks, Aravon, Rieker, and many more. Not just for women, Schuler Shoes also fits the men and children in your life with shoes they will love!


Austin Perfect Pairing #beaujolaisburgers #wine #travel

Wednesday night my husband and I ventured out to 6th Street in downtown Austin, Texas to attend the Beaujolais and Burgers: A Night of the Perfect Pairing. Amazingly, we got a parking spot right on 6th Street, just a half block from Parkside Austin where the event was happening.
Entering Parkside, we were directed upstairs to the party. It was early evening and sunlight streamed in through the old windows, giving everyone sort of a wispy glow. There were lots of Georges Duboeuf wines to sample, so sample we did and they were all quite delicious!
Pairing up wines and burgers might not seem like a good idea, but these were no ordinary burgers. A huge table was filled with different trays of assorted gourmet burgers and of course we had to try all of those too. Ever had a lamb-burger? Scrumptious!
People-watching is absolutely hysterical at Parkside because Austin is so eccentric and everyone has their own unabashed style. No one was snobbish and everyone chatted with everyone else. I even got to say, "You have a baby! In a bar!"
Everyone who was working at Parkside was friendly and helpful. The hosts and wait staff were on top of their game Wednesday night. The wine poured freely, the burgers kept coming, and even the security guys were nice.
One of the best things about Parkside is that they have a wonderful second-floor, outside patio that overlooks 6th Street. Since this week has been very autumn-like with high temps below 90 degrees, it was an awesome evening to sit outside.
We had a fabulous evening and even got a little gift bag as we left. Inside was a lovely plastic promo cup and some temporary tattoos...it doesn't get any more Austin than that!
A walk up and down Historic 6th Street was definitely in order after Beaujolais and Burgers. It's been a while since we've been downtown and we reminisced about our first lunch date together on 6th Street back in June of 2000. Johnny and I are definitely a Perfect Pairing!
Thanks to Geoff at Tasting Table for sponsoring our wonderful evening.
 Thanks also to eShakti for the beautiful dress I got to wear to the event!

Children's Halloween Book: Terribly Funny Monsters

Halloween is coming soon and it's time to get your little ones ready for one spooky night. AZ Books "Terribly Funny Monsters" is a fabulous pop-up book with sounds that will have your little gremlins giggling.
Interactive books are always so fascinating to children and combining a pop-up book with sounds is a great idea. My group is ages 2-4 years and every one of the kids absolutely loves this book. The sounds are scary in a funny way and I think reading it over and over helps them feel empowered over the "monsters" in their imaginations.
It's a hardback book and the pages and pop-ups are made of glossy, heavyweight stock. The sounds happen automatically as each page is turned. We've gone through over 200 readings of it so far and none of the pop-ups have torn or fallen apart, so I'm very impressed with the quality.
Check out the short video below of some of the sounds and then visit AZ Books fantastic website at http://azbooksusaconsumer.com/ to see their huge line of interactive books!
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Teach Children About Giving

Parents and grandparents who love to give Heifer International animal gifts can share the full wonder of that gift with children through a new animated character. Sarah the Goat will show children how a goat, chicken, cow or other animal can bring a family from poverty to self-reliance.

Sarah the Goat provides a fun and interactive gift-giving experience for kids ages 5-10. Youngsters will learn about animals like bees or llamas, and the benefits these animals would provide to a needy farm family somewhere in the world.

Hunger is a problem that children can easily grasp, and every day Heifer International sees how passionately many kids want to be a part of the solution. Sarah the Goat is an accessible, enjoyable forum for children to learn and engage with the help of their parent, grandparent, or another generous adult.

With Sarah the Goat as a guide, the choice of which animal to give rests in the child’s hands. Kids can select, once they understand the potential of these dynamic animals, which kind of animal they’d like to donate, based on their gift-giving budget.

Meet Sarah the Goat is fun for both kids and those young at heart, and lets you see how one little goat can change an entire community. Visit www.heifer.org/alt-gift/sarah to experience Sarah the Professional Goat’s special tour of Heifer International’s gift-giving possibilities.

About Heifer International: Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in more than 40 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org or call 1-800-696-1918.


Gifts For My Girlfriends Giveaway Hop

Welcome to Gifts For My Girlfriends Giveaway Hop hosted by BloggerPR! September is Women’s Friendship Month, so we're celebrating our girl friends! In honor of friendship, our bloggers have lots of amazing giveaways! This event begins on September 20th and ends on September 27th, so you have plenty of time to hop down the linky list below! Each blogger is giving away prizes valued $20 or more, so you don’t want to miss out!
I'm giving away a 
$25 Kohl's Gift Card!!!
To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. Only the first entry is mandatory, but bonus entries increase your chances to win! You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the USA to win. Good luck!

Wedne$day Wealth Giveaway Link Up

Welcome to my blog!
Here are some awesome giveaways
from around the bloggysphere
and I hope you win something wonderful.
Got giveaways? Link 'em up!

Children's Book Review: Ambition's Not An Awful Word by Zack Zage

Written for ages 6 and up, "Ambition's Not An Awful Word" is a picture book that encourages children to dream big. When Zack Zage gets his turn to tell the class what he wants to be when he grows up, he's got grand ideas like astronaut, singer, chef, and architect. For each idea he has, there are negative reasons why he shouldn't or couldn't do those things.
The rhyming text and fun selection of words entertains as well as educates the reader. It's a great read-aloud story and at the end of the story, Zack finds comfort from his mother who always has positive things to say to him.
I think it's a great book for elementary age kids, especially in this day and age where reality sometimes stifles creativity. Dreaming big is the first step to succeeding big and children should be encouraged as much as possible. The illustrations by Adam Watkins are beautiful and this hardback book is filled with high-quality pages that will last for many reads.
You can purchase "Ambition's Not An Awful Word" at the link below. Your school-age children will love this book and you'll love reading it to them.
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.


Considering a Closet Makeover

I've been so good lately about clearing things out that I'm not wearing. I've made huge donations that past two months to charity and my closet is looking so much less cluttered now. I have so many shoes and purses so I've been researching ways I can organize my closet so that I can find what I want at a moment's notice. Creating one of those customized closets is just totally out of the question right now, so I'm looking for ideas that are affordable.

Retail display fixtures are a wonderful solution and I've been searching through websites all evening. From beautiful bins and baskets to spiral handbag trees and harp style jewelry holders, RetailResource.com has given me so many ideas! I even found a fabulous cap wave tower that would display all of my husband's ball caps. I love the acrylic hand ring display and think it would be such a cute accessory on top of my jewelry chest, allowing me to keep things organized and on display at the same time. I definitely want some kind of handbag storage since I've been so addicted to purses lately.

If you are looking for wonderful storage solutions or have your own retail shop, you certainly need to check out RetailResource.com for all your display needs. The cute oval basket stands make me wish I had a store to put them in, but then again, they'd make wonderful fireside decorations!

Fiction Untitled, 2.2


Some hours later, she awoke again as her stomach growled. In the dark, she felt for the bowl and it was gone. She wished she had finished it. She tried to move her legs and couldn’t. She tried to sit up and couldn’t. She tried to call out and her voice muscles were so weak, she barely made a sound. She was so warm and pulled the quilt off to the side. Rolling a bit to her side, she reached down to feel her legs. They were there, just useless to her. Summoning up the strength to cry, she cupped her tears in her hands to drink them. Salty and unsatisfying, her tears soon dried up. She heard heavy footsteps in the distance and scrunched her eyes closed, hoping they didn’t approach her door. He strode into the room and she could smell him.

“Open your eyes,” he barked at her and she complied, shrinking away at his strong voice. “It’s about time you came home. Now that you are unable to walk, I guess you won’t be leaving any time soon.” She squinted at him but didn’t recognize him. Home? This was her home? Her mind strained to recall something from her past, but there was nothing. “From now on, the children will wait on you when I tell them to do so. Otherwise, you will simply lay here.” And with that he walked out of the room and slammed the door. She shivered with fear and desperately tried to scream out but only silence came from her throat.  

Did you miss the beginning? Start reading my novel HERE.

Resources for Grandparents

According to Grandparents.com, 72 percent of today’s grandparents take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis, while 6.2 million households now have grandparents living under the same roof as their grandkids.
On Your Lap, In Your Heart: Supporting Your Young Grandchild’s Healthy Development is a new set of free, online resources developed by ZERO TO THREE to support ALL grandparents (especially those providing routine care) in the vitally important role they are playing and to celebrate the unique and special relationship between grandparent and grandchild. All materials are available in English and Spanish. Funding for the resources was provided by MetLife Foundation.

Visit www.zerotothree.org/grandparents to read more on the following topics:
  • Child development from birth to three
  • Sharing caregiving responsibilities with adult children
  • Communicating effectively with adult children
  • Supporting your grandchild through a separation or divorce
  • Fun early learning activities
  • Sharing family traditions
  • Setting age-appropriate limits
  • Impact of trauma on young children

Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too! Review

VeggieTales has released brand new titles for fall and this DVD is a collection of three classic stories that encourage even the littlest among us to be courageous with God's help. As a preschool teacher, I absolutely love these stories because they offer great examples for young children about not being a bully. When children learn this lesson early in life, perhaps they will better resist bullying in school.
The three stories on this children's DVD are Pistachio: The Little Boy Who Woodn't (A Lesson in Listening to Your Parents), Lyle the Kindly Viking (A Lesson in Kindness) and Dave and The Giant Pickle (A Lesson in Self-Esteem). All share the message of how you don't have to be big to be able to do great things. There is also new footage on it from the adorable Veggie Kids.
My preschoolers gave their stamp of approval for Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too! They always get very excited when I pull out a VeggieTales movie for them. I love being able to provide great Bible stories to them in a charming and engaging way.
You can purchase this and other great VeggieTales titles at http://store.veggietales.com. Be sure to follow them on Facebook!
Disclosure: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Snack Coupons to Print

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Winner Announcement

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Check your email!

Enter more giveaways HERE!


My Take: Naked Pictures of Kate

First of all, if Kate doesn't want naked pictures of herself plastered all over the world, then she needs to confine her nakedness to her bedroom. Really, it's not like she didn't know the story of how the paparazzi chased down Princess Diana all the time. If you are the future queen of England, then perhaps you should consider whether or not you really want to strip off your top on the beach.

Second, I'm sure Kate has nothing to be ashamed about. She is beautiful and even though I've not personally viewed the naked pictures of Kate, I don't envision her being embarrassed about her body. If she weighed 250 pounds or 83 pounds, yeah, she might have something to worry about. It seems to me that all this media attention related to her nakedness is just silly. After all, the female body is beautiful...just look at some of the Renaissance art! 

Children's Book Review: Joi the Koi Gets a New Home by Devon Anthony

This is a wonderful story of hope and faith! Joi the Koi Gets a New Home is written by Devon Anthony. The story begins in a busy pet store where we meet Joi and several of her friends. Her wish is to be taken from the store to a home. She disappointingly watches her friends leaving one by one.
The beautiful illustrations by Gwen Clifford show Joi trying her best to impress someone by swimming and blowing bubbles. Listening to the small voice inside her she kisses the glass of the fish tank and finally gets a new home. It's a great book to read aloud to young children.
The book comes with a narrated audio CD in English and Spanish, plus the back of the book is filled with fun fish facts and real photos. I love the diversity of the children throughout this book, which makes it a wonderful addition to any early childhood classroom.
My preschoolers absolutely love the story and my almost-four-year old boy can nearly retell the story on his own since we've read it and listened to the CD so many times. At the end of the story, there is even a Bible verse from Hebrews about faith, which ties perfectly to the story. You can purchase Joi the Koi at the link below.
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.


Fiction Untitled, 2.1


The door creaked open and tiny footsteps approached the bed where she lay. She smelled food and opened her eyes to see a young girl, perhaps about eight years old, standing beside her with a small bowl and a spoon. The little girl kept her eyes cast downward as she set the bowl and spoon on the bed, then she was gone and the door closed again. Realizing how hungry she was, she wondered when she’d last had anything to eat. She tried to sit up and couldn’t. She pulled the bowl up towards her to see a bowl of what might be described as oatmeal. Managing to lean a bit to one side, she reached for the spoon and clumsily scraped a bit of the food onto it and lifted it towards her mouth. The bland mixture was barely moist enough to stick together and she choked on it, coughing and then grimacing at the resulting pain in her midsection. She knew she had to eat it, awful as it was, or she would likely die of starvation. Slowly she fed herself tiny bites until the bowl was half empty and then she collapsed back on the bed. Not knowing when she might get food again, she tucked the bowl and spoon under her arm on the side away from door, hoping to protect it from being taken from her. The mere act of eating sapped her of the little strength she had and she closed her eyes. Her mouth was very dry and she hoped the little girl might bring her something to drink. As the food settled into her stomach, a feeling of queasiness came over her and the room felt as though it was beginning to spin. She thought maybe the child had poisoned her, but the feeling suddenly stopped. She exhaled with relief and relaxed a bit. For now, she decided just to try to stay alive. A thought crossed her mind that perhaps she was already dead and this must be hell, a prison where she lay confined to a bed and where loneliness was broken only momentarily by the appearance of people she didn’t know. Without even the strength to cry, she could do nothing more than fall back to sleep.

Did you miss the beginning? Start reading HERE.