Monday, December 31, 2007

2008 TBR Challenge

I can't think of a better challenge to join than the 2008 TBR Challenge. I started a few books in 2007 that just didn't engage me. I do want to get those books read so that I can weed out the ones that I don't want to keep. If you'd like to join this challenge, visit the TBR Challenge Blog for details. Also, I will be giving away a lot of the books on this list as I read them so keep your eyes peeled for that.

  1. The Real Lincoln by Thomas Dilorenzo
  2. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
  3. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  4. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom *Completed 1-18-08*
  5. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
  6. Club Sandwich by Lisa Samson
  7. A Bride Most Begrudging by Deeanne Gist
  8. The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers
  9. Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury
  10. Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange (I started this one but got side tracked)
  11. Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers
  12. Covenant Child by Terri Blackstock


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A Moment of Reflection

I happened upon this over at Adventures in Babywearing.

This Month...

The Thing I've Been Working On The Most:: Putting away Christmas decor and weeding out some old toys and clothes, preparing for the New Year

TV Show Worth Watching:: I can't wait for Lost to come back on at the end of January! For now, Pushing Daisies is pretty interesting. It's much different than anything I've ever watched.

The Christmas Present I'm Loving: Bath & Body Works lotions and soaps, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader board game that my mom got the girls :-o) It's fun!

My Favorite Blog Entry From This Month: Not sure if this means from my own blog or from another. I'll go with my blog. My favorite entry is "Happy Birthday To You" in honor of my youngest daughter's birthday.

Blog I Am Always Visiting:
Females Against Feminism , There Is No Place Like Home

Movie I’ve Seen (In or Out of a theater): I Am Legend, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Star Dust, Amazing Grace

What I'm Most Looking Forward To Next Month: Setting aside a whole day to craft with my best girlfriend Jenny. We are going to have a craft day each month in 2008 and my goal is to make EVERY single gift I give next year. No commercial gifts if I can help it!

Feel free to share what you're into, too...

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Leave It To Aunt Kat

Y'all know my baby girl had a birthday yesterday. Well, my birthday is today and I had hoped to scoot on by without mentioning it. However, when I came home from church today, I found this sweet little poem in my inbox from my favorite Aunt Kat. I wish all of you could know my Aunt Kat. She is such a wonderful person. She's a sweet, fun, thoughtful, person with a great sense of humor. She's a great cook and is excellent with sewing. I'm very blessed to have such a wonderful person in my life.

Here's the poem she sent. Thanks Aunt Kat! I love it!

'Ode to Sonya'
( tune to 'Mary's Boy Child")

Long time ago in Dryden, Virginia
A little blonde haired girl was born
Sonya Denise her mommy named her
Destined to be surrounded by Money and Fur.
Little did she know
Her money would be Cookie Dough
and the Fur would be from her Cats
But not a child was more loved by her Aunt
And if you ask me why
I'll tell you I can't
Because the reason lies in my heart.

And for inquiring minds, I'm turning 34 and thankful for every year!

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Got Pens?

Looking for the perfect gift for your co-workers? Why not purchase some of these promotional pens ? They make the perfect gift for any occasion. They come in a variety of colors and styles. The best part is that you can personalize them! Who wouldn't love a personalized pen?

These pens are also great for family reunions, fund raisers, conferences, or seminars. PensRUs offers discounts on large quantity orders. They offer fast shipping and right now you can save $25 off of your $250 order. Want to see a sample before ordering? No problem. Fill out the online form and request a sample beforehand. So what are you waiting for?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy Birthday To You

At Grandma's ~ Christmas Eve 2007

Guess who is turns 9 years old today? You guessed it! My baby has a birthday today. In honor of this special day, I want to share nine things about her.

  1. She has a beautiful singing voice
  2. Her favorite color is pink
  3. She loves girly things (hairbows, nail polish, etc.)
  4. She loves animals
  5. She's a left-handed computer whiz (she once tried to sign up with e-Harmony! LOL!)
  6. Her favorite thing to eat is her grandma's mac 'n' cheese (she always reminds me that mine is not quite as good as granny's)
  7. She is an excellent speller
  8. She is a great help around the house
  9. She has the most southern accent you will ever hear!

Holding a reindeer Webkinz ~ Christmas Day 2007


With her new Liberty doll (from Vision Forum) Christmas morning 2007

Happy Birthday my baby!

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In Need of New Luggage

When is the last time you took a trip? Was it a long trip or a short one? When I take a trip, I over pack. I'm not sure why I started doing that. I guess I just want to be prepared in case of emergency. When hubby and I went to NY last year, I packed so much that I could not have put one more item in the suitcase. I always hide when it's time for him to pack our luggage into the car. I just know when he lifts my suitcase, he's going to ask what all I've packed!

We've never been the type of family to take a week long vacation. We've always taken long weekend trips. I think the longest trip we've been on, as a family, has been about four nights. We take several of these short trips every year. 2008 will be even no exception since my hubby has decided to start competing in bagpipe competitions. Because ours took such a beating on the trip to NY, we'll need to purchase new luggage sets for these travels. His first competition is in February, in Charleston, SC. I'm looking forward to his ventures in this area because I know how much he loves playing the pipes. I will not be able to go on every trip with him but I hope to accompany him on quite a few of them. I love going to new places and seeing all of the things it has to offer. How about you? Do you travel? Do you like to travel? If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Separating My Material

At the suggestion of a friend, I have decided to separate my homeschooling information from my other blog material. When I started this blog, it was primarily to keep my family and friends, in other states, informed about what was going on with us. I will continue to blog here regularly about our family and various other things. I will use my new home, My Thousand Loves, for homeschooling material. I've just started posting over there and so I do have a few random posts up right now. From here on out, you can go over there to read about our homeschooling adventures, successes, and of course, our failures. I hope to share some things that will be helpful to many, like book reviews, curriculum reviews, as well as all things pertaining to the journey of homeschooling. I hope you'll join me! In fact, head over there and enter to win the children's book I'm giving away.

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Send Free E-Cards

Looking to send free e-cards? Look no further. Here's where to get the month2month free eCards . This year, Month2Month teamed with Toys for Tots to raise money for needy children. For every e-card sent, Month2Month donated money to help buy toys for these children. The e-cards available are absolutely free and are fully animated. There are many beautiful cards to chose from and I liked several of the 2008 New Year cards. Since the new year is upon us, go check out the e-cards and send a few while you're there. It's a lot of fun and for a good cause!

Press Release:



Bill Grein
Marine Toys for Tots
V: 703-640-9433
F: 703-640-0917

Steven Marcus
V: 914-933-2638
F: 501-325-9147

Marines Toys for Tots Needs Last Minute Help
Quantico, VA. December 21, 2007 / PR Newswire – The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is making a nationwide last minute appeal for more toys. Since time is critical as they go into their toy distribution phase this weekend the Foundation is encouraging people to make cash contributions because it allows them to purchase the toys they need to fill in gaps and match the remaining needs.
One novel way to get cash immediately into the hands of the Marines is to send lots of holiday eCards to everyone you know., a free eCard website has agreed to contribute up to $50,000 when their cards are sent and received.
Bill Grein, Vice President for Marines Toys for Tots, said: "Cash contributions are critical for us at this time because we can purchase the toys we need and can place them where they are needed most at the last minute. It will help us close a gap in many areas where the economy, toy recalls and even bad weather have caused us to come short of our goals so far. We urge everyone to take advantage of this wonderful offer from Month2Month."
John Aslanian, CEO of said: "We are expecting to have 1 million cards sent in the next few days that could result in a contribution of up to $50,000. We know that for some the economy might be putting a crimp in their generosity. But what this can do is to save them the cost of buying cards and the postage. We are asking everyone to send these cards, even if they already sent other cards, to help make this a merry Christmas and happy holiday for many more needy children." cards are all produced by top-notch artists working in a loft studio just outside of New York City. The cards show great care in design and detail and often take weeks or months to complete. They are all professionally animated often requiring hundreds of frames to get the motion to look smooth and flowing. is a privately held online greeting company founded in 2005. The site offers free high quality online greeting cards and can be found at
This year marks the 60th anniversary for the Toys for Tots tradition of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. In 2006, Toys for Tots delivered more than 19.2 million toys to over 7.6 million children.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

"In Their Shoes" Reading Challenge 2008

I'm up for a good challenge and I need one so that I will sit down and read more. Many times I let the computer get in the way of my reading time and when I look up from it, it is time for bed! So, I'm going to be doing a couple of reading challenges and the first one is the "In Their Shoes" Reading Challenge. I have assigned a few books to our oldest for school that I need to read myself. The first book on the list is my own choice and the rest are books I need to read before handing them off to my daughter. I think they all fall under the biography/autobiography/memoir requirement. I've also listed a couple of alternates in case some on my list are quick reads.

  1. Quiet Strength: A Memoir by Tony Dungy
  2. The Book of Margery Kempe by Margery Kempe
  3. Valiant for Truth: The Story of John Bunyan by Anne Arnott
  4. Ocean of Truth: The Story of Sir Isaac Newton by Joyce McPherson
  5. The Life of General Stonewall Jackson by Mrs M.L. Williamson
  6. Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom ~ Completed 1-18-08

A few of these are books that I need to read before my oldest daughter reads them. Since a few of them may go quickly, I'm adding two alternates:

  1. The River of Grace: The Story of John Calvin
  2. Beloved Bride: The Letters of Stonewall Jackson to His Wife (I think this can be counted as a memoir of sorts)

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Self-Defense Products

We all think of protecting our family whether it be at home or while we are out. We take necessary precautions to ensure maximum safety. Some may own a handgun while others choose alternate methods of protection. Some of the popular choices are stun guns, pepper spray, or some kind of household surveillance.

A few days ago, we were given the opportunity to review one of the many self defense products by Security Solutions. They were kind enough to send us one of their Tri-Pack Pepper Shot 10% Plus products. This product is a 10% pepper spray solution that uses very fine grain pepper, which makes it more effective than most pepper sprays on the market. The spray works by swelling mucous membranes so that breathing becomes difficult. It also swells the veins in the eyes causing them to close. The affect lasts 20-30 minutes, and causes no permanent damage. It simply allows you enough time to get to safety and get help.

Our package came with a 2 ounce wall mount spray for the home. It is meant to be mounted in a safe place that you have quick and easy access to. If there is a break in at your home, you want to be able to reach the spray quickly so that you might defend yourself. It also came with a 1/2 ounce visor clip to keep in your vehicle. With carjacking and other crazy things going on these days, it's a good idea to have something like this that is easily accessible in the event that you suffer an attack. Lastly, the package contained a 1/2 ounce spray with a quick release key chain. This is a handy thing to have, especially for females, for those situations where you are alone and need added protection.

Overall, this product is effective, easy to use, and can be placed in easily accessible places in your home, car, or on your person. Having the product makes me feel safer and I think it will be an effective defense in the event that I need protection.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Ten Years Later.....

Wednesday, Jeff and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. It is so hard to believe that after two months of dating, we were married and have grown stronger and stronger over the past ten years. I expect that it will only get better. Age will only add to the flavor of our marriage, just like a fine wine. God has blessed us every step of the way and I can't imagine being anywhere but where I am at this point in my life.

We went to Outback for supper and had a few hours of wonderful conversation. We reflected on our lives before we met and how miserable we were. I was truly more miserable than I realized because I was not yet a believer in the Lord. We talked about how our marriage started out and how hard it was the first year. Why so hard you might ask? Well, if you've seen Pride & Prejudice, you're familiar with Elizabeth Bennett and how stubborn, independent, and headstrong she is. That would be me :-o) Because Jeff and I both have strong personalities, we used to clash... A Lot! It took a year to get used to each other and for me to learn my role as a wife. Every year since that first one has been wonderful. I wouldn't trade those hard times for anything. The Lord was truly refining me that first year. To know me now, you would never recognize the person I used to be. Jeff and I still have those strong personalities and we clash but now I know exactly how I should react rather than reacting the way the "old me" would.

When it comes to buying gifts, we usually just have the other go pick something out. Jeff is hard to buy for and this solution works great for me! I'm sure he feels much the same. However, this was a special occasion and he took it upon himself to go in search of the perfect gift to mark the event. He first gave me a beautiful photo album with "Our Journey" on the front. I can't wait to fill it with photos of us over the years. I hope I can find some! LOL! We don't usually have pictures together because one of us is usually taking the photos. Anyway, he gave me a second present that I fell in love with instantly. Here it is:

It was so funny and sweet to hear him as I opened the gift. After I opened it, he told me the meaning behind his buying this gift. The necklace is from the Journey Collection and the diamonds start small but become a little larger with each one. There are seven on this pendant and it is just beautiful. The size of the diamonds represent our starting point (with the smallest one) and symbolizes the growth of our marriage over the years (hence the reason each diamond is a little larger). He couldn't have picked a better gift and it is one I will treasure.

I'm already thinking ahead. When my daughters get married, I hope each of them will borrow this to wear during their wedding. It can be their "something borrowed." I have lots of plans for this necklace but for now, I'm going to enjoy it myself! I can't wait for what the next ten years will bring!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing

Distant Heart

(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)


Tracey Bateman




Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Montana, with her husband and their four children.






About The Book:

In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

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Weight Loss Resolution for 2008

It seems like every year, I'm talking about starting the year fresh by exercising and loosing some weight. I never seem to do it but I really would love to take the necessary steps to see that happen. I have the perfect place to walk since we live in a quiet subdivision. Treadmills are expensive but I'd love to have a new electric one to put in the garage to use in the winter months. I have an old manual one but that thing is just so hard on my knees. I ache for days after using it.

I guess if I could find a diet plan that I could stick to, I would have better success as well. I've tried doing a low calorie diet but I always get so hungry. I don't need to loose major weight, only about twenty pounds. That sounds simple and easy enough. I think I have issues with diets in general because as soon as I hear the word, I'm hungry. I would love to find some kind of plan that would work in conjunction with exercise to help me lose the weight in a decent amount of time. I need to cut my caffeine in take, which I'm sure makes me crave food. Then there is my issue with sugar. At some point I have to realize that my diet is unhealthy because it consists of 90% sugar. Once I get a grip on my sweet tooth, I'm sure I could do well. So for 2008, I want to change my diet to be more health conscious and I want to get a good treadmill so that I'll exercise more. Today I'm off to make a plan to do these things. After all, if you write something down, aren't you more accountable to follow through? I sure hope so!

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Wordless Wednesday ~ First Skating Trip 2007

For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit 5minutesformom.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Do You Have Sensitve Teeth?

For the past year, it seems that I have spent much time in my dentist's office. I have had all kinds of issues and I've had major work done. Most recently, I had two wisdom teeth cut out. After the surgery, I found that I suffer from having sensitive teeth. Although I think this sensitivity has been worsened by the nerve damage I suffered from this surgery, I think I have had a little problem with it for years. I have never been able to drink from a glass without a straw. I find that it is mostly cold drinks that bother me and I panic if I'm not given a straw with my drink. There have been times that I have had to drink this way and it was a slow, painful process. It is very unpleasant and not something I want to deal with my entire life.

I've been reading about this new product called Biotene, which is supposed to get to the root of sensitive tooth pain rather than just block it, like most sensitive toothpaste does. For me, this would make a world of difference. I've never really considered using this type of product before because none of them stood out and there are too many to choose from. However, Biotene claims to get to the root of the problem instead of just covering it up. This is an advantage that is has on other products.

If you suffer from this same problem, why not give Biotene a try? You can order it through your pharmacy or you can pick it up anywhere Biotene is sold, including Bi-Lo or Rite Aid. If you want to try it beforehand, consider ordering a care pak online from Biotene for only $5.

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Ten On Tuesday ~ New Year's Resolutions

Many people make resolutions and I usually think about them :-o) I have trouble keeping them but this year, I am determined to give it a whirl. I hope I'll be more accountable since I am posting the list for everyone to see. So, here are my resolutions for 2008.

  1. Drop the twenty pounds I've been talking about for a year!
  2. Exercise more.
  3. Eat better. I need to cut the sugar and caffeine in my diet (which is basically all it consists of plus a bunch of carbs).
  4. Get more sleep. Five hours is not nearly enough. And that's on a good night!
  5. Read aloud with the girls more.
  6. Be better organized. This especially needs to happen with our homeschool schedule. I need to be more efficient with our time.
  7. Nag my husband less. I know he would appreciate this one.
  8. Be more joyful. Sometimes I am not joyful when doing things. My kids see this and I fear they will copy my behavior. I want to be more joyful in all things because God has blessed me beyond measure and I need to express my gratitude through being a joyful wife and mother.
  9. Spend more time in the kitchen with the kids. They are old enough to be making entire meals together. This would be a great blessing to both them and me. I have to worry less about them making a mess and more about them perfecting their skills.
  10. Establish at least a few new family traditions. I'd like to work on special traditions for birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We have traditions but I want to add to those by establishing a few new ones that are unique to our family.

For more TOT's, visit yanowhatimean.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

It's Beginning To Smell A Lot Like Coffee

Where would the world be without coffee? Seriously, everyone I know drinks it and loves it. I must admit that I love a good cup of java .I have to go out on a limb and tell you my secret. I like it iced! Cuppy's Coffee serves specialty coffee, espresso, lattes, and smoothies. You can go into the cafe and enjoy breakfast, lunch, a snack, or a treat while you enjoy your coffee. In a hurry? That's not a problem since the drive thru service will serve your gourmet coffee in under a minute!

I'm not sure about you but I like to try different coffees from different vendors. The hubby and I are celebrating our anniversary this week and we are planning a short trip to Knoxville. Well, guess where one of the newest Cuppy locations is? That's right, Knoxville! I can't wait to walk in and smell the wonderful aroma of the gourmet coffees they have to offer. I'm already looking over the menu so that I can go prepared to order. Right now I'm leaning toward the iced vanilla latte or the raspberry mocha. There are so many yummy things on the menu that it's hard to decide. I may end up choosing something totally different when I walk in and smell the heavenly scent of coffee. I'll think about you while I'm enjoying it and wishing you were with me!


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Latest Movie Reviews

Since I haven't written about movies lately, I wanted to share what I've seen and my thoughts. During the month of December, we love to watch Christmas movies and shows as much as we can. This year has been pretty slim picking due to the appropriateness of the things on ABC Family. You heard me right...I've had to filter ABC Family! Isn't that a shame? The girls have been unable to watch a lot of the movies on that channel because of the content. I'm amazed at how much innuendo and bad moral behavior is thrown into the movies on this "family" station. We've turned to Hallmark for many of the Christmas movies we've watched this year. We found a few things there we could watch, such as The Christmas Card.

Hubby and I have rented a few things recently that have been ok. We saw Lucky You a few weeks ago and it was pretty good. There was way too much emphasis on the game of poker and not enough on the relationships in the movie. I wanted to see more of the father/son relationship. It could have been a great movie but I could never feel the characters.

We took my mom to the movies on Thanksgiving evening to see Enchanted. It was a light hearted movie that we all enjoyed. It had several funny moments and I really enjoyed Amy Adams as Giselle. She was very entertaining and has a lovely voice.

A few nights ago, we rented The Nanny Diaries. I read this book several months ago and was very disappointed. It was harsh, sad, and filled with bad language. It's funny because it didn't add to the story at all so I wonder why the writers felt the need to throw it all in. The book was a depressing look inside the world of a family from the Upper East side of Manhattan, where the nanny did all of the child rearing while the stay-at-home mom kept up her "me" time. The movie followed the book but had a happier ending. The book ended, in my opinion, without the necessary resolution :-o) While the movie was good, it wasn't what I had hoped. I had hoped for more comedy because watching the trailer, you think you'll be laughing the entire time. This was not the case for me.

Saturday night, we watched Love's Unfolding Dream. This is the latest in the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke. All of the movies in the series have been wonderful to this point. I was a little disappointed in this one. It was good but there was a lot of "girl power" going on in the movie. Now, don't get me wrong. I think girls are great. We're raising two of them :-o) It's just that lately I've become acutely aware of how feminism creeps into everything and I'm tired of it. It gets old really quickly. Anyway, I've read that the books are very different from the movies so I am eager to read this series of books.

How about you? What have you seen lately?

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Click For A Contractor

Is your home in need of a face lift? Do you need new vinyl siding? Are you tired of thumbing through the phone book looking for Siding Contractors ? If so, look no further. offers a unique service that you're sure to be pleased with.

Back in the summer, we replaced the wood siding on our home with vinyl siding. I had to call many different places to get estimates and referrals. It was very time consuming and confusing. Well, long gone are the days of making multiple calls to get estimates for your remodeling projects. With SignatureContractors, all you have to do is visit them online, select the project that you want to tackle, and within one minute, they will give you three free estimates from contractors who were hand selected by other consumers. These contractors are thoroughly interviewed before they are selected to be part of the network. This assures quality workmanship and consumer satisfaction. All of the contractors are licensed and insured, which gives you one less thing to worry over.

This network covers more than just siding contractors. It provides contractors who do bathroom, basement, bedroom, and kitchen remodels, as well as a host of other projects. All of these contractors are just one click away. It's fast, easy, and it will save you a lot of time and energy. What are you waiting for? Isn't it time for a remodel or an addition?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Yummy Pound Cake

Last week while visiting a friend, I got a taste of this wonderful pound cake she had made. It was simple, light, and very tasty. Since Christmas is just around the corner, this could make a simple, quick treat to have around in case you have guests drop by.

Easy Egg Nog Pound Cake

  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 (4 serv. size) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
  • 3/4 cup egg nog
  • 3/4 cup veggie oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding, egg nog, and oil. Beat on low speed until moist.
  3. Add eggs and nutmeg. Beat on medium for four minutes.
  4. Pour into greased and floured 10" fluted or tube pan.
  5. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Cool completely.
  7. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

This is wonderful served with coffee! I'm not sure of the exact origin of this recipe but I believe it came from a Borden recipe book. Enjoy!

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Drug Treatment Facility in Michigan

Pretty much anytime I turn on the news, I see a story about a person, sometimes famous and sometimes not, who has a serious problem with drugs or alcohol. There is such a need for drug rehab facilities, that you can find one almost anywhere. If you live in or near south central Michigan, you'll be happy to know that there is a wonderful facility in your area.

Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center is located on 13.5 acres of land, with 350 feet of lake front frontage on St. Mary's Lake. It is located in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful trees. There is much peace to be found in this pleasant atmosphere. The facility offers short and long term programs to help those who suffer from a variety of addictions. The facility is staffed with twelve registered nurses and there are three medical doctors on call around the clock. If you know someone who is dealing with drug addiction and you are looking for a treatment facility, be sure to look further into Stone Hawk Rehabilitation Center.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

NYC: Hard On The Luggage

During our visit to NYC last year, my luggage really took a beating. I recently noticed just how bad it was when I had to drag our suitcases out for our Thanksgiving trip to my mom's. Hubby actually lost a wheel while we were in NYC. Thank goodness it was near the end of our trip as we were leaving the hotel. We stayed in Queens and had a mile long trek to get to the subway station. We took that to Grand Central Station and then we hopped onto the NJ Transit, which took us to Newark to the airport. This was a long way to try and roll a piece of luggage with one wheel so we picked it up and carried it some of the time. Just imagine if it had broken on our way into NYC. We would have had to fight it on the trip in and on the trip home. Not my idea of a fun time!

For now, we can use our beat up luggage but if we ever fly again, we'll definitely need new stuff. This makes me wonder if there are any really good alternatives out there. Most luggage has plastic hardware on the bottom to hold the wheels on. Have you had a problem with your luggage wheels breaking? Is there anything that can be done to prevent this from happening? Is there any brand of luggage that provides a warranty or replacement for such things?

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Peppermint Crunchies

Every year, the ladies in my church gather for a cookie exchange. Each of us bring five dozen cookies to exchange. It's a beautiful sight to behold, to see all of those cookies spread out along the dining table of the host. The exchange is always such a wonderful time of fellowship. All ladies, five years of age and older, are invited to come to the exchange. When we arrive, each of us take our cookies and put them on display. Then we gather to talk, sing Christmas carols and hymns, and eat some of the cookies.The younger girls usually form a circle in the middle of the floor and sing along with us. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to watch our daughters celebrating with us through singing. A few minutes before it's time to go home, the host tells us to gather our cookies. We form a line around the cookie table and start to collect the cookies we'd like to take home. I think last year we each brought home almost 60 cookies.

The exchange is coming up on Monday night so today I'll be making the cookies I will take. Last year I made Peppermint Crunchies and they were the only cookies of this kind. A few of the ladies have asked me if I will be making those same cookies this year and expressed how much they loved them, so I will be taking them again this year! I would love to take credit for the recipe but the way I found it was by looking confused in the baking aisle! Last year, I was in Walmart looking through the baking chips, trying to figure out what kind of cookies I wanted to make. There was a nice lady standing near me doing the same thing. We struck up a conversation and I told her that I had to make five dozen cookies and I was trying to determine what kind of baking chips I wanted to use in my cookies. She immediately picked up some Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips and showed me the recipe on the back. I'd never noticed these chips before and I listened as she told me how she made these cookies to take to a work party. She went on about how her co-workers raved about them.She said she was asked to make them for almost any work party they had. Right away I knew that making these cookies had to be a great idea so I picked up several packs of chips and off I went. I made them last year, took them, and they were wonderful. Alas, here is the recipe:

Peppermint Crunch Chunkies

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup sweetened grated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups Andes Peppermint Crunch baking chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat in egg and vanilla extract. On low speed, add baking soda, salt, and then flour. Mix completely. Stir in oats, coconut, pecans, and baking chips. Measure about 2 Tbs. for large or 1 Tbs. for small cookies. Place round balls on lightly greased cookie sheet two inches apart. Press lightly. Sprinkle some of the remaining chips on top of each cookie. Bake for 20 minutes for large cookies or 12-15 minutes for small cookies. Do not over bake. They get crunchy on the outside but remain soft inside. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool.

Yield approximately: 30-3" or 60-1 1/2" cookies.


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Friday, December 14, 2007

Donate Big Items

A few years ago, a couple I know gave a car donation to a local charity. I didn't know you could do things like that until they did it. I was impressed that they would do such a thing, rather than trade the car in toward the new one they were getting. To them, it was better to donate this older car to someone who might be without a vehicle, than to trade it in. Besides, the trade in value of the car was very low. Since their donation, I have seen many charities like this pop up. Car Angel is just one example.

Car Angel is a non-profit organization that takes car, boat, house, or RV donations. They use the donations to help people in need, by giving them these items. This organization also takes monetary donations and with those, they create children's videos and anti-drug videos like this one. To date, they have given away over 2.4 million videos.

To donate is the easy part. Do you have an old car sitting around collecting rust? Car Angel will come and pick it up whether it's running or not. Some restrictions apply among the various companies who do this kind of thing. In return for your donation, you will receive a receipt that you can use to file the deduction on your taxes. It is a wonderful way to give something that can really benefit someone who is going through a rough patch and can't afford a car. I've known many people over the years who have been in this position and they would have been so thankful for a car donation. So if you have an old car sitting around, before you just let it sit there, think about donating it. It will make such a difference to the person who receives it.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Never Said I Was Politically Correct

I used to block out all of the hoopla concerning the politically correct way to express “holiday” greetings. You know what I mean. It’s not proper to say “Merry Christmas” anymore because that might offend someone. I just figure people will say what they want and if someone doesn’t like it, well, they can get over it. We’re supposed to have freedom of speech, right? Now, some sort of wave has caught on and lots of major companies have started saying “Happy Holidays” or sending out there “holiday” catalogs. What these companies did was fold like an accordion under the pressure. Well, not me. Today a friend sent this Stoplight video, and I had to chuckle. I’m a little jealous because I didn’t think of doing this before! What a wonderful idea. So all you major companies out there, just keep on sending me your “holiday” catalogs and I’ll continue to toss them. Better yet, spend all of that money publishing these nice color “holiday” catalogs, and I’ll keep lining our kitty box with them. Oh, and by the way, Merry Christmas to ya!

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Need Christmas Cash?

Since it is prime Christmas shopping season, many people are out and about looking for that perfect gift. Some people really get into it. Sometimes they go so far, that they need Payday loans. These are short term loans that work like a cash advance. You can apply for a loan online and within minutes, you will find out if you are approved and how much you are approved for. These types of loans work well for short term needs. There is usually no credit check involved and no collateral is required. These loans work well for someone who gets paid at an odd time in the month. If you need Christmas shopping money but don't get paid until the end of the month, this would be an easy way to supplement. If you fit into this category, you may benefit from this type of loan. In doing so, remember that the most important thing is keeping yourself in check and not going beyond your own financial limits.

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Popcorn and Elvis

Lately, I've been thinking about some of the things I really enjoyed and miss about NYC. Don't read too much into this since I assure you I am a small town girl at heart. I love where we live. It's beautiful, small, close to family, and is very homeschool friendly. We have quiet neighbors, it is relatively safe (except for a domestic dispute next door and the two drug dealing murderers who use to live 30 yards away), and we are close to a great book store. I can't imagine living anywhere else. But back to NYC. I suppose that since I grew up watching the Today show, NYC had a certain nostalgia to it. I never thought I'd get to visit but was thrilled when we had opportunity last year. So, on to the things I enjoyed and miss.

Dale & Thomas Popcorn was a wonderful surprise. I did a lot of research before our trip and found that everyone raved about the popcorn from D&T. They had a little store in upper Manhattan (I think that's where it is) and you could go in and get this big bag of popcorn for $6.50. Oh it was so good. We bought a bag to eat on the plane ride home. After it was gone, I was very sad. I ordered some online last year as a gift to my BIL. I won't do that again because it is crazy expensive and the bags of popcorn are so small compared to what we got while up there. I miss the popcorn and if I ever go back to NYC, I'm taking an empty suitcase so that I can fill it with bags of popcorn I'll buy from the D&T store. My favorite was peanut butter and white chocolate drizzle.

Another thing I miss is Peanut Butter & Company. Again, I found this by doing research before our trip. I went here while strolling around Manhattan by myself while hubby was working. I remember walking through Washington Square Park on my way to find this place. They serve an Elvis sandwich that I had to try. Anything that carries the Elvis name has to be good! It's a grilled peanut butter sandwich with bananas and honey. For extra measure, I ordered it with bacon too. It was huge and I savored every bite. Yes, I could probably make this at home but going to PB&Co. is way better. It was such a brisk, peaceful day when I sat in the cafe and ate my sandwich. I remember thinking, "Jeff would think it was nuts to order this since I could make it at home", and later he did say that to me! LOL!

I'm not sure if there is a corporate relocation in our future but if so, I hope it's to a small town that has great specialty popcorn and sandwiches as good as my Elvis.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yummy Kitchen Eats

Hey there y'all. How are ya? Yesterday it was at least 70 outside, which is extremely odd for mid-December in our part of TN. I have to admit, it was really nice to walk around in short sleeves and no socks! It looks silly to see all of the Christmas decorations up in the subdivision with no snow or really cold weather in sight. I know that will change but for now things just seem kind of odd. We had every intention of washing our cars but alas, my grocery shopping took way to long. That's what happens when you run out of all the basics! Several hours and a whole lotta money later, I got home with a car load of stuff and the girls were diligent to help me put things away. I had been promising my hubby I would make an Italian sausage dish for him since last week. After my grocery trip, I really didn't feel like cooking but I hung in there and did so anyway. I'm really glad I did too because we had a couple of wonderful things that I want to share.

First, the Italian sausage dish. We don't eat this a lot and I had already determined (in my head) that no one would eat this dish except for hubs. We all LOVE meat but when it comes to something we don't eat very often, the girls and I automatically decide we won't like it. This is bad because we miss out on good food sometimes. Anyway, a few weeks ago, hubby went to the home of one of the guys in the bagpipe band. They were having a meeting and this guy's wife was kind enough to feed them lunch. She made lasagna and this Italian sausage dish and hubby came home raving about it. I heard him but never thought to go search for a recipe. Last week, hubby was still raving about it so he emailed the guy and asked for the recipe. To make a long story short, I got all of the ingredients while shopping yesterday and came home to make it. It was fabulous! I could not believe how tasty it was and very simple to make. By the time I thought to take a picture of it, the dish was all messy and most of the sausage was gone so I'll share the recipe with you:

For our family of four, we used:

  • One package of good Italian sausage (I used Johnsonville Sweet Italian Sausage)
  • One jar of Classico meat sauce (I used tomato and basil flavored Classico sauce)

That's it! All you have to do is cook the sausages on the stove top until browned (according to package directions). Next, put the sausages in a baking dish with a lid. Pour the sauce all over the sausages. Put the lid on and pop them into the oven @350 for 45 minutes. You will not believe how tasty this is! I'm sure it's not figure friendly but what's a little fat and grease now and then! I served this as a side dish. My main dish was fettuccine alfredo and I threw in some french bread.

For dessert, I made Apple Cranberry Crisp. I found the recipe over at Kelli's place and she made it look so good, I knew it had to be yummy! I used gala apples too since they are my favorite. The crisp was tart but you could easily tweak that by adding fewer cranberries, if you don't like tart things. I think it was wonderful and we served it with ice cream last night. I'll be trying it with Redi-Whip this week. It smells wonderful while baking too! Very easy and very yummy.

It looks wonderful while you're putting it together.

It smells great while baking and is very yummy topped with ice cream.

Have you made anything special lately? Was it as yummy as the things I told you about?

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Whose Your Favorite Johnny Depp Character?

I love movies. We watch movies on a weekly basis. I like all kinds of movies and many different actors. I must admit that I am a Johnny Depp fan. Who doesn't love Johnny Depp, right? He's played so many different roles and he's so strange. I think that's why I like him.

One of my favorite Johnny Depp movies is Edward Scissorhands. In this movie, Depp plays Edward, a man created by an inventor who dies before completing his creation. Edward is left with scissors for hands and is eventually befriended by the local Avon lady. She takes him home to live with her family and Edward falls in love with her daughter. At first, everyone is afraid of Edward but they soon grow to love this sweet, gentle man. There are so many great scenes in this movie. I love the scenes where Edward is cutting hair or the hedges into various shapes. If I had met Edward, I would have brought him to live with us too.

Another favorite movie is Secret Window. Depp plays a writer, Mort Rainey, who is going through a terrible divorce. On top of that, he has writer's block and starts to go a little mad. A stranger shows up at Rainey's door and accuses him of plagiarism. He demands that Rainey pay and starts to torment Rainey. This was a strange role for me to watch Depp play. He seemed absolutely nuts!

If I had to choose between the two, I'd have to say that Edward Scissorhands is my favorite Depp movie. That may change this Christmas when Depp's new movie, Sweeney Todd, is released. Depp plays a man who is unjustly sent to prison and looses everything. He vows revenge on the judge who sent him to prison when he comes back to reopen his barber shop. He becomes known as the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. His customers are never heard from again after their visit to him. I fully expect to like this film since it is based on an award winning musical thriller. I can't wait to see it!

If you are interested in learning more about this movie, visit the official Sweeney Todd movie site . You can also visit Sweeney Todd on MySpace .


Meny Plan Monday for Week of 12/10

I was inspired to make my menu this week because I've seen some really great recipes this week. So, here is what will come out of my kitchen this week.

  • Monday - Fettucine alfredo, italian sausage in marinara
  • Tuesday - Cuban black bean soup, salad, crusty bread
  • Wednesday - Burgers, baked potatoes, broccoli w/ cheese
  • Thursday - Taco salad, queso
  • Friday - Quiche in a bag (one of the meals from our freezer cooking group). I have no idea what to serve with this so please, feel free to give suggestions.
  • Saturday - Gyros, fries, Greek salad
  • Sunday - Leftovers of Cuban black bean soup

Sweet, simple, to the point. That's what this menu is all about. What's on your menu this week?

For more MPM's visit Laura.

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Neat Business Product

Several years ago, my husband and a friend started a home-based business. They offered Web-design and hosting services and were very busy. My husband was in charge of doing all of the design, while his partner was the salesman for the company. They spent much time on the phone and it really started interfering with my hubby's ability to complete all of his tasks. They really needed a product like Ifbyphone - "The Voice of the Web" .

This product can do so many things. The thing that would have helped my hubby with his business would have been the virtual assistant feature. By setting up voice dialogues, Ifbyphone allows you to reroute calls so that more of your time is free. This will eliminate hang ups and busy signals when customers are calling your business. Another great feature is the ability to link your phone to your Web page. What this means for small businesses is that when a customer visits your contact page, they can input their phone number and Ifbyphone will connect them with you. This Click-to-Call feature will help businesses connect with more potential customers as well.

It really looks like a neat product and one that would be worth investing. If you have a business and think you might benefit from this product, be sure to check out the press release I'm including below.

Press Release:

Ifbyphone Releases revolutionary Phone-Me-Now: the world’s first Zero Configuration Click to Call
With 100 free minutes per month Phone-Me-Now

Promises to be biggest Killer App of 2008

Chicago, IL: December, 2007 - Ifbyphone, a voice infrastructure and applications development company providing enterprise class services to Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB’s), has just released a solution destined to revolutionize the web to voice space: Phone-Me-Now, a zero configuration click to call application. To introduce Phone-Me-Now to hundreds of thousands of businesses that will be able to use it as a sales tool, Ifbyphone is making it available free of charge for 6 months and providing the first 100 minutes per month of usage for free as well.

This patent pending solution can be integrated in less then 60 seconds into any website, email or hyperlinked document and requires no experience to configure. It’s literally the Internet’s first instant voice mash up tool.
"While many companies provide click to call services we were troubled by how complex they are to use. Users had to cut and paste HTML or javascript, rendering these services outside of the technical reach of thousands of businesses. Once we designed this patent pending solution we configured our existing smart click to call services to work with the Phone-Me-Now interface." says Irv Shapiro, Founder and CEO of Ifbyphone. The zero configuration Phone-Me-Now service is literally the Holy Grail of web to telephone integration and ease of use.

Using Phone-Me-Now is as simple as typing:

into any web site, Word Document, Powerpoint Presentation, Spreadsheet, PDF or email. When a reader clicks on the link they are prompted for their telephone number and the Ifbyphone systems call your business, calls the reader and conferences the call. Phone-Me-Now works with any telephone number you register on your Ifbyphone account.

"We wanted to eliminate any barriers to basic click to call, and know that Phone-Me-Now will immediately set an industry standard for rapid deployment. If the Internet is all about speed and response, what could be a more appropriate Killer App for 2008 than Phone-Me-Now, which puts a business owner in instant voice communication with their customers," adds Shapiro.

Free Phone-Me-Now accounts can be updated to additional Ifbyphone packages that include:

- Click to Call with Custom Dialog Forms
- Integrated Call Routing and Reporting
- Find Me
- Virtual Voice Mail
- Virtual Receptionist
- Outbound Voice Broadcast
- Web Configured Voice Dialogs (Hosted IVR)
- Call Recording
- Backend Database Integration
- A Complete Call Management API

All Ifbyphone solutions work with any telephone system and are fully portable if a company moves from one telephone transport vendor to another.

# # #

About Ifbyphone

Ifbyphone is a hosted voice application and platform company with a simplified approach to the deployment of stand-alone and web-integrated voice services for small and medium sized businesses (SMB). Combining advanced telephony and web services, Ifbyphone's web-integrated voice applications turn the small business telephone into a powerful tool, increasing lead generation, improving sales conversion and enhancing the customer experience. Ifbyphone makes it easier for customers to connect with you from online and off. All of Ifbyphone's applications are accessible via a click on a Web site, an inbound call to a toll free number, an outbound call or with the help of a programmable API. Our configuration and deployment tools look and feel just like Web applications, and require no previous knowledge of telephony programming or terminology.
Previously available only to large enterprises, Ifbyphone is delivering these converged voice and web solutions at affordable monthly fees, with no major upfront costs. The company's services are available online and through a network of SMB value-added resellers.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sunday Seven....Meaningful Events

December is a busy month for many of us. We keep busy with holiday parties and events going on in our community. We enjoy ourselves in this season and make many special family memories. Without further ado, here are seven meaningful events from the past week.

  1. Monday night hubby and I enjoyed his company Christmas party. We enjoyed a wonderful evening of good food, entertainment, and bingo playing. It was loads of fun and is always a special event for us each year.
  2. Last Sunday, hubby, myself, our oldest daughter, and my FIL went to Knoxville and watched the Lady Vols defeat North Carolina. This has become a family tradition for the four of us. We take my FIL each year to see a game as part of his birthday gift. He will be turing 74 this month and we really enjoy being able to take him to do things like this. BTW, he LOVES the Lady Vols so this makes his month!
  3. Last Thursday, I took the girls to a local community theatre to see The Nutcracker. It was a wonderful performance and we were thrilled to be able to meet several families from our church at the theatre. This is a performance the girls and I try to catch every year.
  4. After the performance Thursday, one of the families from church invited us over for lunch. There are four children in this family and they are always a joy to spend time with. The lunch was simple, wonderful, and very much appreciated. To make it even more special, one of the children in the family had a birthday that day and we loved spending this time celebrating another year in his life.
  5. On Friday, an element in my oven went out. Hubby went and got a new one and replaced it for me. He took time out of his workday to go get the element and he has been really busy lately. I appreciate that he took care of this so that my life would be easier, especially since I have a lot of cooking to do this week.
  6. Saturday night, we were invited to the home of a young, single man in our church. He cooked supper for us and we spent a wonderful evening by his wood stove. He made the most delicious lasagna and lovely salad. He even called us beforehand to find out what kind of wine we preferred with our meal. This was so thoughtful. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and cherish the memories we make with our church family.
  7. Today we were a part of another blessed worship service. We love our church and our church family. Every minute we spend with each of them is special. They are all very encouraging and are wonderful examples to our family.

What are you thankful for? What meaningful events have happened in your neck of the woods this past week? To read more Sunday Seven posts, go here.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tenth Anniversary Gift....I Need One!

I'm in sort of a crunch here. Hubby and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary next week. I don't have a gift for him yet and when I noticed that the traditional gift is tin or aluminum, I knew I was in big trouble! What kind of gift can you buy for a man that is made from these materials? Sure, I could find a game that comes in a tin but that seems a little stale to me. An aluminum watch would be a nice gift if only my hubby would wear it. I wonder if I could cheat and get a pair of these silver cufflinks? I know they are not the right material but they are silver and maybe that would be good enough to still consider it traditional (I know, I'm stretching it here!).

I want to get him something really nice because living with me is not always easy. I would love to take him to Scotland but we have not saved up enough money for that yet. I still wonder where the past ten years have gone. They seem to have rushed right past us but then again, I feel like we've been married for ages. Whatever I get him, I want it to be very special and something that he will hang on to for the rest of our lives. Now, if any of you have suggestions, I'm all open for those!

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Wonderful Family Worship Resource

I just ran across a 3 month trial subscription to Table Talk magazine over at A Reforming Mom. There is no obligation but you can renew your subscription after the trial. This is a wonderful resource that we have used for family worship for quite some time. We have kept all of our old copies and sometimes we pull them out and go through them again. We let our subscription lapse so this free trial is a wonderful way to jump back in and start all over! To learn more about Table Talk, visit Ligonier Ministries.

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Need A Gift?

A few months ago, we were given the opportunity to do a product review on one of the shirts found over at Clothing4All. We were thrilled to receive a denim shirt that my daughter has worn many times since receiving it. Since we are in the midst of the holiday season and many of you are still doing your shopping, I wanted to remind you about this place so you could check it out to see if it has something you might be interested in. The prices are fair and we have been very pleased with the quality of the shirt we received. As I said, my daughter has worn it many, many times since we got it and we've washed it over and over. It still looks as good as it did the day it arrived.

There are many other products available such as jackets, backpacks, tee-shirts, and hats. If you need a gift, go check out all they have to offer. If you're having cold, rainy weather like we are, you'll be happy to shop from computer instead of going out!

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Our Tree Decor

I've been meaning to post pictures of our tree for at least a week. It seems that December is a month filled with parties, family outings, and lots of great holiday shows! Those things have been keeping us busy. I wanted to take a minute and share some of our holiday traditions with you. We love getting our tree each year. We usually get it the day after Thanksgiving and spend the weekend getting it decorated. We've had a real tree for as long as I can remember. We love them. They smell wonderful and there is something so special about spending time with your family as you pick out the perfect tree. We usually peruse all the trees on the lot before deciding on one. We used to go to a tree farm about an hour away and get our tree. However, the tree farm hasn't had any trees for the past few years (they've been waiting for new ones to grow) so we found a nice little lot near home that we've been going to for the past few years. Again this year, we found the perfect tree for our living room.

We tried to just do orange and white ornaments this year, in honor of our beloved Tennessee Vols. We found some nice orange ball ornaments but could only find one pack. That pack only had six ornaments and we knew that wouldn't be enough. We did manage to spread them out though and added some of our older ornaments that had orange in them. It worked out fine and I love this tree more than any we've had in awhile. It's very simple this year. We used clear lights, which is a break from our normal colored lights. We usually try and find a couple of special ornaments each year. These ornaments mean something to our family so we look carefully. This year, we chose two special ones that fit us perfectly. The first one is one that JennaG will appreciate:

My daughters and I love Elvis. I learned to love him as a child since my stepfather was a HUGE fan. He listened to Elvis tapes over and over and I heard them so much that I learned almost every Elvis song. I had to be a fan! We picked up this Elvis at Cracker Barrel in Beckley, WV this year. We visited my mom there for Thanksgiving and we happened to see this ornament as we were leaving.

The second ornament is just as special to us. If you read here very often, you know that we love animals and we have our fair share of pets, especially cats. We have a very unique story as to how all the cats came to live here and I've written about it many times. We get strange stray cats with little or no tail. Currently out of five cats, only two have regular tails. The others have no tail, half a tail and 3/4 of a tail. I've always heard that cats are great for stress relief. I can attest to that since these kitties do wonders for me. I love them all and couldn't imagine them not being around. So, in honor of Mr. Tumnus, Lucy, Tabbie, Jasper, and Molly, I give you our favorite ornament for this year:

We found it at Hobby Lobby in Beckley, WV this year.


I thought I'd throw in a few from the past couple of years. All of the ornaments pictured here are hanging on our tree this year. They all mesh well with our orange and white theme except for one. I'm sure you'll figure out which one from the pictures below.

A ballerina that is special to our youngest daughter, who used to be a ballerina herself.

A Titans ornament that is special to our oldest daughter,a HUGE Titans fan.

A UT ornament given to us by my BIL a couple of years ago.

Clan Forrester ornament. If you look closely, you'll notice a piece of our hunting tartan draped over the shoulder of the bear.

The orange balls we found in Beckley. Too bad we only found 6!

I hope you enjoyed looking at my tree. This year was all about being simple and I think we accomplished that. We have fewer ornaments on our tree than ever and I'm glad. Each one that hangs on the tree this year has very special meaning to our family and we plan to continue adding to that each year.

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Company Christmas Party

When I do laundry, I rarely ever check pockets. I don't like to take time to do it. I know it's a simple task that I need to master but I just hate to take the time to do it. I assume that everyone will check their pockets before throwing things into the dirty clothes. I need to stop assuming that because even I have forgotten and left a piece of paper or money in a pocket on occasion.

Monday, I was to meet hubby so that we could go to his company Christmas party. I was finishing up some last minute things and decided to get my clothes out and iron them. I had spent this morning doing all of our laundry and my new sweater was air drying across a chair in the house. I scooped it up and tossed it into the dryer for a quick fluff. When I got it out, I decided I'd hang it up to let the rest of the wrinkles fall out. I pulled a silver paper out of the dryer and tossed it into the trash. I never paid any attention to what it was....until I noticed something blue stuck to the sleeve of my NEW sweater. I gasped out loud as I figured out it was gum that was stuck to the sweater (did I mention it was new?). I tried to pull it off but it was too gooey. In a panic, I tried to think of an alternate plan for clothing this evening. Then I remembered reading somewhere, that you could put an ice cube on the gum and it would flake off easier. I yelled at our oldest daughter to bring me a cube of ice and I waited patiently as I held it on top of the gum on my sweater. I breathed a sigh of relief when I started picking at the gum and it did come off easier. Whew!

The Christmas party was held at the General Morgan Inn. This place is beautiful. We had a wonderful variety of gourmet food to munch on and there was a huge crowd. After supper, there was some entertainment (a comedian) and then we played Bingo. I have to tell you that my hubby is a winner almost every time he plays. This year was no exception. He won $150! Two years ago at the company Christmas party, he won $300. It was a nice time and I won a pink poinsettia. The kids stayed all night with my MIL so the house was very quiet. I got some much needed rest before picking them up! It was a nice little break since December tends to be a busy month. Have you been to any Christmas parties yet?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gift Basket Heaven

I love to give Gift Baskets as gifts to anyone for any occasion. I love the creativity and customization that you can put into them. When I came across Delightful Deliveries, I entered another world. I found gift ideas galore, and really nice ones at that. Food plus gift basket equals gift heaven in my book! If you can imagine it, it is likely you will find it here. They have baskets for any occasion you can think of. They have baskets for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and many other occasions. My favorites are the chocolate baskets. What could be better than giving a big ole basket of chocolate goodies to someone?

Need a business gift? No problem. You'll find a big selection of those too. Your employees will love you! Looking for a gourmet meal for two? Celebrate with one of the many choices you'll find here. They have a variety of items which have free shipping. Simply input your recipient's zip code, and you will be given a list of items that are included under this offer.

This site has been listed as the #1 gift basket Web site currently out there. I'm including the press release below so that you can read more about them. You will find so many wonderful gift ideas and I can't possibly share them all with you so get over them and check them out.

Press Release Recognized as Hot 100 Retail Web site

Internet Retailer Ranks Web site Among Best in Nation for 2008

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE), the premiere Internet Gift Retailer and America’s #1 Gift Basket Web site, today announced it has been named one of The Hot 100 Retail Web sites for 2008 by leading industry magazine, Internet Retailer. The Hot 100 list represents the best of what retailers are doing online, highlighting innovation and setting the standards in online for what the rest of the industry should be doing., a privately-held company, with one of the largest and most unique selections of gourmet gifts, ranked alongside larger sites such as Dell, Nike and, by building its award-winning site on selection, functionality, speed and the complete customer experience. A recent re-design has improved the customer’s shopping experience to make holiday gift-giving easy and enjoyable, including rating and reviews, behavioral recommendations and free shipping offers.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized as a pacesetter in online retailing,” said Eric Lituchy, Founder and CEO of “We pride ourselves on using the latest technology to make gift-giving fun and easy. Being named among the best in the nation validates we are succeeding in our efforts to deliver the best possible customer experience.”

In addition to making Internet Retailer’s The Hot 100 list for 2008, was recently recognized by Inc. Magazine as part of its Inc. 5000, which highlights the fastest growing private companies. offers over 2000 unique and delicious gifts from America’s best brands to the finest boutique shops. Consumers can easily shop the site by gift or food category, occasion, type and best-seller. Corporate gift-givers can choose from hundreds of customized gourmet treats.

For additional information, and to see a complete selection of gifts available, visit

About Delightful Deliveries is an award-winning web site that began in 1998 and quickly established itself as one of the premier Internet gift retailers. Its mission is to bring great products to gift-givers, while providing world-class service. The company selects its offerings from a broad variety of fine food gift products for consumers and for corporate gifts, and gathers them in one place to make the selection process quick and simple.

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Monday, December 3, 2007

Book Review: Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas


Katie Wilkinson's boyfriend Matt dumps her; not a total cad, he leaves her a gift, a diary kept by Suzanne, his first wife, for their son Nicholas. Though it's not exactly the diamond ring Katie was hoping for, she's unable to make herself destroy the diary--against her better judgment, Katie begins to read.

Drawn against her will into the other woman's world, Katie learns of physician Suzanne's heart attack at age 35 and her decision to slow down, accomplished by a move to Martha's Vineyard and a new job as a simple country doctor. When love comes knocking, in the form of house painter-cum-poet Matt Harrison, Suzanne is ready to listen to her newly repaired heart. Though painful for Katie, she begins to know and like Suzanne and her infant son Nicholas. Suzanne's devotion to Matt and their son shines through, as well as her plainspoken wisdom. While the journal helps Katie understand Matt, whether they can write a future together remains in question.

My Thoughts:

I just finished reading Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson and at just under 300 pages, it was a quick read. This is the first book I've ever read by James Patterson and I decided to read it because I had seen the made-for-tv movie in the video store. I decided before I rented it, I should read the book. I also wanted to read an author I had never read before. I had heard good reviews of this book and when I started reading it, I was hooked. That was short lived though and overall, I wasn't deeply touched by the book. My recent reads included Animal Farm by George Orwell and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, which I am still currently reading. Having said that, Patterson's book had stiff competition for my attention.

The Things I Liked:

I loved the diary entries written by Suzanne to her infant son, Nicholas. She wrote of things he was doing at various stages in his life and of her feelings for him. As any mother knows, your children make you feel so many emotions that sometimes they become overwhelming. I could feel Suzanne's love for her son through her entries. She was completely taken with him. She was also completely in love with her husband (and he with her) and I enjoyed having a window seat into their relationship. These relationships made the book for me.

Things I Didn't Care For:

I was not impressed with the modern day romance of Katie and Matt. Their relationship did nothing for me. I really get tired of this portrayal of romance. You know, boy meets girl, they get pregnant, and then they think about making a commitment to each other. It's just messed up logic that I don't care for. I would prefer to read of a more wholesome courtship and progression of a relationship (like some I've read in Francine Rivers novels). I think there is way too much emphasis on the "casual" relationship today. I think we read it so much in novels today that it becomes acceptable. Since I am trying to teach my daughters the biblical model of love relationships, I prefer to read examples of such.

Also, Patterson's writing style is a little lacking. As I said, this is the first book I've read by him so I would read at least one more to see if he could redeem himself. The book was not as descriptive as I like. The characters were a little bland. I do not recall any language in the book and there were only a few descriptive elements that were inappropriate for teenage readers. However, I see no value in a teenage girl reading this book. She would be much better off reading Pride & Prejudice.


This book was just OK. I definitely think there is better fiction out there. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars simply for the diary entries and husband/wife relationship. I would not let my teenage daughter read it for reasons listed above. It was not horrible but it was not a page turner for me. The story is very compelling. A man looses his wife and infant son, then finds love again. It would have been a great story, had the relationship between Matt and Katie been written a little different.

That's my two cents. I'm ready to pass this book along to someone else so if you'd like to read it, leave a comment and I'll draw a name on Wednesday to choose a winner.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Looking For Coupons?

The only thing I love more than shopping is saving money. I love to find discounts and special promotions on things I really need or on gifts. Webby Planet is just the place to find coupon codes for many of those items. They offer internet coupons to a wide variety of stores. You will also occassionally find printable coupons that you can take into the store. With Christmas right around the corner, we could all stand to save a little money so head on over there and search through all of the coupons they have to offer.

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No SEC Championship For Us...

Our beloved Vols played a wonderful defensive game but it wasn't enough to make up for Erik Ainge's bad throws toward the end of the game. We had looked forward to this game all week and were hoping our team could hang with LSU and win the SEC championship.

We started our Saturday by putting some pork in the smoker. We invited hubby's family to come over and watch the game with us and I spent the morning throwing together our meal. We waited patiently for 4pm to roll around. As we watched the first half of the game, we were surprised and hopeful. Our Vols were really playing physical and looking good. Things were going well until the fourth quarter, when our QB threw an interception that was run back for a touchdown. We thought we might be able to recover, until he threw another interception shortly after, which sealed the deal for LSU.

I have to say that it is really, really hard to be a sports fan and watch your team lose. I think Tennessee fans are so ready for an SEC/National championship team. It didn't happen this year. Maybe next year.....

Tonight, we're going to try and cheer ourselves up by taking my FIL to Knoxville to watch the Lady Vols play North Carolina. This is a yearly tradition for myself, hubby, my FIL, and our oldest daughter. Both our mens and womens basketball teams are ranked high and doing well. Let's hope the Lady Vols can keep it together tonight and beat NC. I don't think I could take another loss so soon :-o)

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Gift Ideas For The Outdoorsman

Do you have bird watchers or star gazers in your family? My girls love to watch the birds that come to visit our backyard every spring. There are tons of them. We've tried identifying some of them but a few have been too far away for us to see. Then there's my husband. He loves to stand outside at night and look up at the stars and planets. He is always telling the girls a story about a constellation or planet when they spot one. What could be a more appropriate holiday gift than a telescope or a pair of binoculars?

OpticsPlanet has many neat gift ideas. They've got everything from sunglasses, MP3 players, and cameras, to night vision goggles, handheld GPS, and gun holsters . There's a gift for almost everyone! What are you waiting for? Get over there and check it out. Make sure to grab a cup of coffee before you sit down. You'll be there for awhile!

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Christmas Meme

Saw this meme over at Annie's and just had to do it! If you decide to participate, let me know so I can read your responses.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I love gift bags! Wrapping paper is cool too.

2. Real tree or artificial? Real, of course! Fake trees are itchy and don't smell good.

3. When do you put up the tree? The week after Thanksgiving. We usually get our tree the day after Thanksgiving and spend the rest of the week decorating it.

4. When do you take the tree down? The first week of January.

5. Do you like eggnog? You bet. The girls and I usually enjoy some as we are decorating the tree. Hubby prefers custard.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? I can't believe I'm going to admit this but it was my red leather Michael Jackson jacket (and the one silver glove).

7. Do you have a nativity scene? No.

8. Hardest person to buy for? My bagpipe loving, tech-savy husband. It is nearly impossible to buy for him without asking him what he wants me to buy. Because his interests are so specific, you have to order the things he would like, and they are not cheap items! LOL! Second to him would be my mother in law. She has everything and doesn't want anything.

9. Easiest person to buy for? My 9yo daughter. She is all girl and likes all things frilly.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Well I can't tell you that because the person who gave it to me is probably reading! LOL!

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Oh my, mail those cards! I can't believe anyone would email cards. The only exception is if someone is unable to send regular mail.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Christmas Shoes, Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch That Stole Christmas

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I like to do it year round. I haven't done that this year so I am trying to get it done now!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Don't think so.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Spiral sliced ham, peanut butter fudge, pumpkin rolls

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? We do both. We used clear for several years but the past two years, we've done colored. This year it's clear again.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I have two: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence and Of the Father's Love Begotten (this is faster than we sing it at church but the tune is the same). They are both beautiful songs with lovely melodies. You

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We only have to travel an hour or so to my grandmother's house. We spend the morning at home enjoying our family.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? On Christmas Eve with in-laws, at home on Christmas day, again on Christmas night with my aunts and cousins.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The check out lines at Walmart.

23. What I love most about Christmas? The celebration of so many wonderful things.

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