Monday, March 31, 2014

Re-blogging {The Good Life: Tips for Gracious Living}

I'm getting ready for a small birthday celebration this evening. My youngest daughter is 29 today. I remember her first cry like it was yesterday. Such a precious sound.

Enjoy each moment of life, dear friends, and cherish the sweet times with your family.

I'm always in a rush but I wanted to share this wonderful post from author Debby Mayne on etiquette.

The Good Life: Tips for Gracious Living: Ever since I was a little girl, my parents insisted I follow proper etiquette - both at home and in public. My mother enrolled me in a varie...

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tea Cup Exchange #3

Once again, Stephanie @ The Enchanting Rose put together a phenomenal Tea Cup Exchange! I enjoyed shopping for my recipient, Ceil @ Surrounded by the Spirit. She has been a delight to get to know. 

Now, Bonnie @ White Lace and Promises had my name in the exchange and sent me an AWESOME package of goodies! If you get an opportunity, hop on over there and see what an amazing transformation she's done to her kitchen! 

Notice the fun and whimsical colors on the left side of this photo. It's an oven mitt! I don't have one of those but it sure has come in handy with all the baking I've been doing. I was challenged to get any good photos inside, so after this one I took it all outside :)

All these terrific skin care products from Mary Kay...
Let me just say I was in desperate need! 
How did she know?!

With being cooped up so much this winter because of my surgery, I have experienced some terribly dry skin. These lotions are A. MAZ. ING. The lip gloss feels so good on my chapped lips. And that pretty pink bottle is filled with an oil-free eye makeup remover. Oh yeah. Love it!

oops...The tea is all gone! How did that happen? ;)

But the crowning glory of the package is my tea cup. Tears welled, fast and hot, when I unwrapped this jewel. My mom loved white fine china and I inherited her set after she passed away. It's rimmed in silver but still, when I saw this dainty cup and saucer, I couldn't help but think how much my mom would have loved to see it. And those are her pearls that compliment the loveliness of my new cup.

I didn't take a photo of the bottom of the cup but it's a Royal Bayreuth from Bavaria. There's actually a collector's club and I've been reading the fascinating history of this company. I know it may sound dull to some but not to me. I love learning about who made such delicate and fine china, the country of origin, etc. 

Just look at that sparkle! She's a real beauty and I want to say how much I appreciate Bonnie sending me such thoughtful gifts along with an extraordinary teacup that I will always treasure!

Thanks again, Stephanie! Love you much and appreciate all you do for your blogging friends.

To see what everyone exchanged, hop on over to...

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . ."” 
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

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Review ~ Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings

Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2014)

Contributor Review from Rebecca Maney

"Is God to be loved apart from His gifts?" "Is He to be obeyed despite the consequences?" Anne Tillerton and Nicholas Lovelace are about to find out. 

First impressions are important; and first chapters can drive readers to distraction or immerse them into a story line with amazing results. "Caught in the Middle" has a great first chapter. Anne Tillerton, disguised as a man, happens on the same train as Nicholas Lovelace, obviously a man; when they suddenly discover that they have been acquainted in the past. Before they can fully decide what to do with that revelation, their train is overtaken with bandits; and Anne saves Nick's life with her quick thinking and even quicker draw of her gun.

Both head to Garber, Texas; Nicholas to resume his business as a railroad transportation specialist, providing valuable lumber for a large railroad company, and Anne to hunt down a runaway cook from the Pushmahata Indian Territory depot. Both become "derailed" when their paths cross again; Anne is homeless and guardian of the runaway cook's young son and Nicholas discovers that his recent appointment to the county commission is a ruse to ensure that he votes against a proposed bridge project.

There were so many things that I loved about this book; great characters, an interesting story line and deep, personal struggles that took courage to resolve. Anne is an amazing young woman; she has survived a difficult childhood and a murderous, abusive husband. Although smart and witty, her broken heart is terrified of love. Nicholas learns, mostly the hard way, that there are more important things in life than money and fame. People whom he thought were honorable friends become ruthless enemies when threatened with exposure. When Annie takes off with Sammy, to avoid relinquishing custody of a child she has grown to love, Nick follows her. They are both driven to overcome their fears of total commitment; to their God and to each other, if a deep attraction is ever going to grow into an enduring love. 

"Caught in the Middle" is an amazing book that I was privileged to receive from the author as an advance reader. Regina Jennings has now written three great stories and I am thrilled to know that there is a fourth one on the horizon!

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To Purchase...

(When you purchase a copy using the above link
I make a small commission on the sale of the book. Thanks!)

Have a great day in the Lord!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Little Sunshine for the Day

I hardly have a moment to spare this week. However, I did notice how beautiful these Daffodils looked with raindrops still clinging to their bright petals. And my camera was home so I hopped out there to catch them for you ;) They're a burst of sunshine in my day, and I hope yours, too!  

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations. ~Isaiah 61:11

Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review ~ Life Support by Candace Calvert

About the Book  Nurse Lauren Barclay put her life on hold to keep a watchful eye on her troubled sister. It's why she's back in Houston. But that means confronting the brooding physician assistant who caused painful turmoil in her family--and left Lauren with memories her heart can't forgive.PA and single parent Elijah Landry is no stranger to stormy relationships, including one with his father, who is threatening him with a restraining order. It won't stop Eli from protecting his disabled brother--or from making peace with Lauren. He wants that and so much more.But as Lauren and Eli draw closer, a powerful hurricane roars toward Houston. Survival instincts take priority and everything changes. Can hope weather the storm?

My Review

There are times I read a book, put it down and basically forget the story. This was not the case with Life Support! My heart strings were being pulled from one side to the other like a rope during a rousing game of tug of war.

The  medical drama present is riveting. At a certain point, I thought the author was going to take the story to a place I did not want it to go but instead she gave voice to one of the characters that lifted my heart and brought about happy tears. I was left with no doubt that the situations portrayed could be true.

Life Support  is a beautiful story of the love between two brothers, the love between two sisters, and the love between two people who have devoted their lives to watching over their siblings. The story is quite satisfying with just the right touch of faith, suspense and romance. Fans of medical fiction will enjoy this fast-paced, arresting read.

I want to thank Tyndale House for providing me with an advanced reader electronic copy for review purposes through Netgalley. My honest opinion is all that is required. No other compensation is received.

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Author Bio (short)

Former ER nurse, wife, Mom and grandmother, Candace Calvert believes that love, laughter, and faith are the bestmedicines of all. Her new Mercy Hospital Series for Tyndale House offers readers charismatic characters, pulse-pounding medical drama, romance, humor, suspense--and a prescription for hope. Think, “Grey’s Anatomy finds its soul.” 

 I make a small commission on the sale of the book if you purchase it through the link below.

Random 5 Friday

Welcome to Random 5 Friday -- where you share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!

1. Smudge knows a good deal when she sees one. ;)

2. We're supposed to get 1-3 inches of snow next week. It is spring in NC, right?!

3. I love quotes. Especially book quotes. This one is so true for me right now. 

“So many books, so little time.” 

4. A sort of cool thing happened a couple months ago. A clip from one of my reviews was used in a press release for an author's second book in a new series.

5. Note to self: Quiche does not keep overnight without the crust becoming slightly soggy and gross. I did not know this. Next time I will try a crustless quiche. 
But then, wouldn't that just be a casserole? 

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Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I know it's true...

 Spring is Coming
Spring is coming, spring is coming.
How do you think I know?
I see a flower blooming,
I know it must be so.

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
How do you think I know?
I see a blossom on the tree,
I know it must be so.
~ Author Unknown ~

Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
~Psalm 92:13~

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Rurality Blog Hop #55

Monday, March 17, 2014

Interview with "Farm Lit" author Valerie Comer

Hi Valerie! Welcome to Stuff & Nonsense. I appreciate you taking time to answer a few questions so my readers and I can get to know you a little better. 

Hi Anne! Thank you so much for inviting me here.

             I know that you are a big advocate for eating homegrown or organically grown foods. Do you have any advice for a beginning gardener?

Start small. For some people that might be a few pots of herbs on the windowsill or a potted tomato plant on an apartment balcony. Others might be able to manage a single raised bed in the backyard, but do take a year or two to experiment at that level before digging up the whole yard and planting forty kinds of vegetables! Gardening is a lot of work—very satisfying work, most of the time, but definitely work. Oh, second tip: look for organic seed.

We made that mistake the first year we grew a garden. It was huge and we could hardly keep up. Enthusiasm does not weed a garden :) 

         How many acres do you and your family farm and what types of veggies do you grow? A favorite?

We farm 40 acres. Most of that is in pasture for our cows and a few pigs (and hay for the cows over winter).  We have two kinds of nut trees (hazelnuts and walnuts) and grow a bit of fruit (plums, raspberries, rhubarb, and strawberries). We also have about a dozen hives of bees. Most of the rest of our efforts go into our vegetable garden, where we grow tomatoes, potatoes, a few kinds of squash, eggplants, beets, kale, peas, and several varieties of beans. I'm sure I've forgotten a few things!

One of my favorites is Blue Lake Pole Beans. They're a heritage variety of green beans that we eat several times a week while they're in season. I love to sauté them in a bit of olive oil and a splash of sesame oil, with a bit of garlic and a dash of salt added in. A slosh of lemon juice just before serving kicks them up a notch. Yum.

Your homestead sounds like a great place to grow up. We have a greenhouse, 25 chickens, five pecan trees, a lone pear tree, and a couple of peach trees just on an acre and a half. I can't imagine what my husband would do with 40 acres!  

           You’re known for your trademark ‘Farm Lit’ stories but you have written a novella about Geocaching. Do you Geocache? If so, what’s the coolest thing you’ve found or left for someone else?

Yes, my hubby and I enjoy geocaching. We've discovered some local history we might not have found without this hobby. One of our favorite local hikes these days is to a set of pictographs in our valley. We're not particularly into "swag." Meaning we rarely participate in putting items into the cache or removing them.

A few years ago, I got to thinking how fun it would be to use geocaching in a story. When Barbour placed a call for novella anthology proposals in the fall of 2010, several friends and I created a proposal around a fictional geocaching contest put on by a church as an outreach event. It became Rainbow's End and released in May, 2012.

Geocaching sounds like a fun family activity. I think my teenagers could get into it if there was "swag", or maybe that would be my motivator ;)

           Your books have some of the cutest covers! Are you the designer? If not, do you have any input into the design?

Thanks, I love my covers! I'm not the designer, but I bought crayons, chalk, watercolor paint sets, and sketch books for my designer when she was a small child. Yep, my daughter creates my covers, and I'm so very thrilled to be able to collaborate with her! She reads the novel, comes up with a rough idea for the cover, and runs it past my publisher and me. We toss in some input and Hanna goes to work. My publisher and I get another round or two of tweaks at the end. So far, it's worked very well for us.

That's wonderful that your daughter designs the covers. I have an artist child as well, and know all about buying those colorful supplies.

           I love the term ‘Creation Care’ on your website. Can you share a little of your testimony with us and how you came to know the Lord?

I grew up in an old-school Mennonite family and became a Christian as a small child. The journey since, of course, has had many ups and downs, but I'm so thankful for the life God allowed me to lead. One of the joys has been that both my husband, Jim, and I had parents who gardened, cooked from scratch, and preserved food for winter. We didn't have much money in our early married life, so continuing those habits served us in good stead.

As culture became absorbed with convenience "foods," GMOs, and pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides on everything, Jim and I started pulling back even further. How could all that possibly be good for our bodies, for our health? What was it doing to our environment? What would happen when landfills were, indeed, filled? When all the planet's water supplies became so polluted they couldn't sustain us?

I wouldn't call us environmentalists so much as conservationists. We're Christians who think believers should be taking care of creation, not exploiting it. We don't worship creation, but we believe that caring for it is an act of worship to the Creator of all.

That's the place most of my writing comes from: trying to share, through fiction that will make you laugh and cry, the challenge of looking at God's world through His eyes.

I love your philosophy. I'm sure the Lord is pleased by your efforts. It's amazing what each of us can do to better care for His creation.

           What’s next on the horizon? Where can my readers connect with you?

I'm in the midst of two big projects right now. One is the third novel in the Farm Fresh Romance series, Sweetened with Honey, which releases in March 2015. The first chapter is tucked into the back of book 2, Wild Mint Tea, and I've got a fair idea where the story line will take me. Of course, there are always surprises!

I'm currently doing edits on a Christmas novella that will release this September in a book called Snowflake Tiara. My co-author, Angela Breidenbach, is writing the historical half to this volume, and mine is the contemporary part, both set around a Christmas beauty pageant. And before you ask, the answer is yes. Yes, this project does tie directly into my farm lit and creation care brand. You'll have to read it to see how!

There are a few other very exciting things on the horizon as well. The first people to find out about them will be my newsletter subscribers, so, if the ideas of farming, food security, and sustainability wrapped up in contemporary romance appeal to your readers, Anne, I invite them to sign up!

I blog where food meets faith and fiction at as well as being a regular contributor on several other sites. My social media links can be found on the header of my website. I'd love to connect!

Thanks so much for having me over, Anne. I appreciate your enthusiasm for my stories, and I enjoy visiting with you!

Thank you for being here today, Valerie. I always enjoy learning more about my favorite authors!

Read an excerpt of Wild Mint Tea, click here.

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Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released in August, 2013.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Random 5 Friday

Welcome to Random 5 Friday -- where you share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!

"Move your feet, lose your seat!"

1. My kitty, Smudge. This is what she does most of the day. If she knows you have gotten up from a chair or out of the bed, she takes your place, immediately curling up and falling asleep.  

2. The winds blew so hard here on Wednesday that the roof of an old shed on our property collapsed. It's pretty good sized so we have some serious clean up to be done. 

3. My husband bought me a car. It matches his. How silly is that?! I am looking for Duke/Carolina front license plates so we can tell them apart ;) 

4. Now if I could only get him to buy me another camera. I really miss not having my camera available whenever I want it. Of course, I always want it when my son has it at school. 

5. I have five art journal pages that I am working on at once. Of course, you'll notice I haven't made any photos or posts about them because I never have my camera when I think of it. Oh. Did I mention the camera thing again?

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Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review -The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

On Sale: April 15, 2014
Pages: 400 | ISBN: 978-0-307-73149-4

Reviewed by Rebecca Maney, Contributing Reviewer 

An absolutely wonderful book; extraordinary historical research; rich, enduring characters, and a story line that just kept getting better! And the ending; nothing short of brilliant!

Loved at first sight by two men, Tamsen Littlejohn is pursued by many things; a would-be suitor, a vicious stepfather, a horrific memory, secrets from her past, and a variety of scurrilous characters. Along the way she was found . . . . . . by the love of her life.

Leaving Morganton, North Carolina in the middle of the night on the back of a horse with a complete stranger, Tamsen fights through her unrelenting grief and suffocating fear to rely on Jesse Bird; a man of few words and unparalleled courage. In order to protect Jesse from unwarranted charges of kidnapping and worse, Tamsen decides that marriage will protect them both.  Succumbing to the wise advice of a mountain minister, Tamsen and Jesse decide to delay their nuptials and wait out danger in Jesse’s cabin deep in the mountains; one that he shares with his enigmatic “pa” named Cade. Giving Tamsen the time that she needs to sort out her feelings and become accustomed to a different way of life, Jesse, Cade, their closet neighbors; the Allards, provide a measure of security. Until, her past comes knocking on the door.

Forced to flee after Tamsen’s location is compromised, chapters full of flight and danger fill the second half of this story; leading Tamsen and Jesse through snow-capped mountain passes and Indian encampments. Entangled in local politics and civil unrest, all of Tamsen’s pursuers finally converge in one location; ending the long pursuit, and in some cases their lives. The secrets of two families are finally unraveled; and these fine characters discover that the truth does indeed set them free.

A spectacular five-star read! 

Rebecca received a copy of the book from the author and publisher in exchange for an early review. No other compensation was received.

Read an Excerpt here.

Pre-order links:
Amazon, $11.24 (pb), $7.99 (Kindle)
CBD, $10.99 (pb), $9.99 (eBook)
Random House, $14.99 (pb)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Random 5 Friday

Welcome to Random 5 Friday -- where you share 5 random facts about you, your day, your pets, your kids, whatever!

1. This was an AWESOME sight! These choppers went over our house a few weeks ago. I had to hurry and get my camera so the picture isn't good but they literally were so low our windows rattled and walls shook! I tried to zoom in and get a clearer shot but didn't manage it. My son said they looked like Black Hawks refueling. Then they did it again after dark. It was pretty cool and scary at the same time.

2. My new glasses came in. First time with progressive lenses. My husband assures me I will get used to them but I don't know. They are so different from line bifocals.

3. My cat is driving me crazy. She will not stay off the counters and stove. I find little kitty prints all over in the mornings and have to completely sanitize them. I really don't want to lock her int he laundry room at night. She enjoys hopping on the bed and sleeping with us at night but...

4. Our chickens are going crazy laying eggs; at least 18 a day! But one of our Barred Rocks that was laying the biggest eggs we have ever seen in 14 years of chicken keeping (always streaked with blood on the outside and huge double yolks inside) is no longer with us. I think her poor little body couldn't take the stress and she died. :(

5. Here's to hoping we manage to screen in our porch this spring. I saw a cute little patio set at Home Depot but refuse to buy it until the project is finished. And I want a swing bed out there. Those are so cool. If you haven't seen one, look them up on Pinterest!

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Have a blessed day in the Lord!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Review ~ 40 Day Devotional Challenge - To Encourage Your Heart and Deepen Your Faith by Kathi Macias

Available in eBook only

Reviewed by Anne Payne

As soon as I finished the first devotion in the free sample I downloaded, I knew that this book was going to have an impact on my life. The Scripture used is taken mostly from the Old Testament, which is a rarity in devotionals today, and I thoroughly enjoyed this aspect of the book. Kathi explains and applies the Scripture passages by using short but effective personal examples.  

At the end of each devotion the reader is encouraged to “Make it Personal”. Picking up my journal and pen, I expected to jot down one or two reflective thoughts but each one turned into full page or longer prayers. I love how the Lord has used these simple but thoughtful writings from Kathi to inspire me to put my prayers on paper. Time flew by as I wrote and it opened up a whole new level of worship. I can’t help but think it is sort of like writing a love letter to the Lord; my heart to His.

I highly recommend purchasing this lovely book to have as an ideal companion alongside your Bible. I know some will hesitate at using an eBook but perhaps it will eventually be in print for those who like to have a paperback book on hand. Don’t forget to have your pen and paper handy, and maybe your favorite beverage because you might find yourself sitting there for a while, like I did J

After I shared my enthusiasm for the sample chapters with a friend on Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from the author offering to gift me a copy of the complete 40 Day Devotional Challenge in exchange for a review. Thank you, Kathi Macias!

FYI - There are FREE apps for reading eBooks on your computer if you don’t have an electronic handheld device like a Kindle. Just click here.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

{Sunday} Where is your treasure?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, 
and where thieves break in and steal. 

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, 
and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, 
there your heart will be also."
Matthew 6: 19-21

Have a blessed Sabbath, my friends!

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Scripture and Snapshot