Archive for April 2014

Freebie Friday: Camera Graphic

Friday, April 25, 2014

I didn't have much time this week for any graphic work but here's a camera that I made digitally for a logo. You're free to use it for whatever you'd like or recolor it.

Here's an example of a logo that I made with it

Hunger Games Gift Idea

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I had previously posted this on another blog, thinking that I would keep all "DIY" type things and craft ideas separate. I found, I just didn't have the time to keep it up. So, I deleted that blog and am reposting this gift idea here!

You will need the following

.88 Cent Hunger Games cups from Walmart
Reduced "coal" from the Christmas section
Chocolate Pirouettes

Optional Treat ideas:

Red Hots
Fire balls
Trail Mix

Fill each cup with coordinating treats.

Pirouettes look like logs so use them in the District 7 Cup. Coal works well for any of the district 12 characters however you could branch out and use Jerky,Red Hots or Fireballs in the Katniss cups. Red Hots and Fireballs would all work in any of the Mockingjay cups. For district 4 use Goldfish as that is the fishing district.

Happy gifting and May the Odds be Ever in your Favor!

My Week in Review 4/12-4/19

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Someone remind me…never decide to paint my house 48 hours before I have a holiday party or dinner planned…yeah, I did that this week.

Aside from the house work…this week has been sorta humdrum. I’ve been much too busy for a lot of blogging. I finished a lot of books but I’ve just not had the time to get them all reviewed.

In fact, I only got two reviews up this week; An Amish Garden and Gift of the Phoenix. I finished Rachel by Jill Eileen Smith and also, The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis. Then, I started in on Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard. While I have yet to finish the ARC (advance reader’s copy) of Merlin’s Nightmare, I’m really enjoying it so far.

Arthur, now eighteen, is missing, and Merlin must find him before a shadowy pursuer catches him first.
With the High King and his kingdom caught in a trap of sinister deceit, Merlin has to find a way out before all is lost. Having everything to fight for, and almost nothing to fight with, Merlin and Arthur must rally Britain’s warriors against three overwhelming enemies: Saxen hordes in the south, Picti raiders in the north, and a chilling new enemy that has arisen in the west. At the same time, Morgana brings Merlin’s deepest fear to life and sets a horde of werewolves loose to destroy Britain. But when the secret purpose of this nightmare is finally revealed, will Merlin and Arthur find a way to survive—without unleashing an even greater evil?

There isn’t much else to report. As I said—while it was a busy week, it was all the, “same ole, same ole.” So, I’ll just jump right into what I accomplished this week.

First up—walls were painted and I distressed all the picture frames in the house to make them pop against the dark color I chose. Excuse the cell pic but it’s the only chance I’ve had to even capture the new color. See the green shelf? I got it distressed and painted a turquoise color now as well. I'll try to get a better image before next week's review

I got some super cute pictures of Arie this week as I practiced with my camera.

Then I got a picture of Kahlan to document how badly her legs turn in. She should get her orthotics in the upcoming week so I wanted to get a shot to document where she is starting from. Therapy is going okay but it isn't helping as much as I had hoped. I think we made the right choice in choosing to get the orthotics in addition to her therapy. I just worry that she is going to hate it.

Also, another favorite from this week is this picture of Piper. We had a jedi themed shot and I captured this gorgeous image of her. I just love it!

Today, egg dying…we’ve never done it! Can you believe that I have an almost thirteen year old daughter and we’ve never dyed eggs? I never really did it growing up so it was never something I just thought of starting with the kids. Today when I waited in line to pick up Kahlan’s albuterol, I decided I was going to pick up egg dye. They turned out so loverly. Yes, I said loverly…deal with it. *winks*

Oh and last but not least, a huge congrats to Amara Zee. She is the winner of the $25 Hazelaid Giftcard! If you haven’t had a chance to read my review about Hazelaid amber and how it has helped Kahlan’s asthma, feel free to drop by and do so!

Sorry this blog is so scatterbrained (and I’ll admit…unproofed) but I nearly let the day go by without a chance to catch everyone up! I hope you all have a great Easter weekend.

Signing out until next week,

P.S. Don't forget to check out the freebie timeline pics that I shared with everyone. Feel free to grab your own and be sure to check back next Friday for a new set of free graphics!

Freebie Friday: Timeline Covers

Friday, April 18, 2014

Feel free to snag them! Simply click on the image and right click and then save the image to your computer. You can add monograms to the center with a free editing program like ipiccy or picmonkey. These are suitable for use as facebook timeline covers but you're welcome to use them anywhere!

Sample of the text you can do on these covers

Gift of the Phoenix Review&Giveaway

Gift of the PhoenixGift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book. Why? Well, I am in a Guild Wars guild and our emblem is the Phoenix—so, it’s natural that I’d love to read a book about a phoenix and sort of delve into some cool fantasy tale about them.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into this book. First, it was terribly long. It really should have been three separate books rather than one. It was broken up like three books already, anyway. Instead, every time I neared the end of a section, I would literally groan and realize that I wasn’t yet finished. The length was particularly frustrating because in addition to a few other issues—the kindle version wouldn’t save progress on this particular book. I had to try to find where I had left off.

Then there was the issue with poor sentence structure and odd descriptions. I’m paraphrasing it but something like, “Salerno taught Nicolai how to find Salerno on his own.” There was a lot of repetition and overall—it really could have just used an editor’s touch. I’m not saying that to bash the author—I think that the book had promise. It just needed some guidance to cut out the unnecessary and to fix the issues that bogged down the story.

Three young men find that their future, and their past, is intricately woven and their destiny is intertwined in a quest to save a phoenix as it is rebirthed. I will admit, I started skimming a large part of this book because I just couldn’t keep interest so; I’m not so sure why it would be so awful for the phoenix to die—other than that folks with magic would lose that.
That is pretty much the entire premise of the story but it had other elements that I really felt didn’t belong. Don’t get me wrong—I LOVE dolphins, they just didn’t seem to fit into a fantasy tale, despite the explanation given for them.

I wish I could elaborate more but I’ll just say that this book has promise, you may even like it. I personally just couldn’t get into it and felt it needed a bit of polishing up.
View all my reviews

gift of phoenix tour

Gift of the Phoenix

When three strangers are brought together by the discovery of a common enemy, they must fight to keep the magic of the Phoenix out of dangerous hands before their world is destroyed forever. The Three must learn to unite in spite of what separates them, and unlock the magic of three stones that seem to harm as much as they help. But uniting will not be easy for Nicolai, the simple peasant with a powerful secret; Marcellus, the warrior prince who’s no longer heir to the throne; and Corren, a gifted wizard whose ambitions threaten to ruin them all. Full of magic, mystery, and a touch of romance, Gift of the Phoenix is an epic fantasy that takes the reader deep into the heart of a wondrous world and the three men destined to defend it.

Praise for Gift of the Phoenix

“An incredibly impressive book that grips you from the very start. There is plenty of action in the story, some wonderful characters and magical, atmospheric settings. Donna has created a fascinating realm in this story which, even if you don’t consider yourself a fantasy fan, you’ll definitely enjoy.” – Excerpt of Stephanie Dagg’s review at Books Are Cool.

“As an avid reader of fantasy, I often encounter boring or overused plotlines—this was neither! With a fresh new take on fantasy adventure, Cook constructs an enchanting world of magic, kingdoms, rebirth, and death.” – Excerpt a review by Artemis at Fantasy Book Lovers Unite

“Gift of the Phoenix reminds me of a mix of Paolin’s Eragon and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but stands on its own as a unique fantasy-adventure. Cook creates a magic system that is intricate and unique, which can be hard to do in a genre littered with magic. The story is very complex, and yet very easy to follow… layers upon layers of intertwined plots that all culminate to a fantastic ending. I would recommend this book to anyone of any age.” – Excerpt of a review by Will Wortner at Zero2Fiction


Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition

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Donna Cook is an Arizona native transplanted to Boise, Idaho, where she is delighting in the change of scenery. When she’s not writing she spends her time chasing the kids, exploring delicious eateries downtown, and dancing with her talented husband. Her fantasy adventure, Gift of the Phoenix has won several awards, including Semifinalist in the Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Awards, and Notable Read in the Shelf Unbound/Half Price Books Indie Book of the Year competition. It was also nominated for the Whitney Award, which recognizes LDS writers. She’s currently working on the sequel to Gift of the Phoenix.
Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 4/31/14

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I received this book free from the publisher through a fantastic blog called I am a Reader. I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts and opinions I have expressed are my own. To view other reviews and learn more about the blog tour for Gift of the Phoenix please visit the I am a Reader by clicking here

Review of 'An Amish Garden' by Beth Wiseman, Tricia Goyer, Vanetta Chapman&Kathleen Fuller

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

An Amish GardenAn Amish Garden by Beth Wiseman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 12+
Genre: Christian,Amish Fiction

Beautiful cover and fantastic book! Of course, the stellar author lineup guaranteed a good read.
This book has four novellas written by four different authors as follows:
  1. “A Place of Healing” by Vannetta Chapman
  2. “Flowers for Rachael” by Kathleen Fuller
  3. “Seeds of Love” by Tricia Goyer
  4. “Planting a Future” by Beth Wiseman

“A Place of Healing” Vannetta Chapman
There is no doubt that Emma loved her husband but he is gone now and all of Emma’s children are grown. Alone, except for her aging Mother in Law, Emma struggles to find new purpose in her life. With the discovery of a runaway teen in her barn and the return of her first love—Emma must make a decision about what she wants from life.

“Flowers for Rachael” Kathleen Fuller
Gideon has fallen for Rachael but he’s too shy to tell her. His sister cooks up a scheme to get Rachael to notice him but his plan backfires. This was a super sweet story about how it is best to be ourselves and that we can miss God’s will for us when we try to be something we aren’t.

“Seeds of Love” Tricia Goyer
Sadie’s parents have died in a buggy accident and she moves to Montana to live with relatives. All that she has to remind her of her parents are her mother’s heirloom tomato seeds. Eli is a bachelor who is interested in Sadie but will he be able to help preserve her family’s memory and win her heart?

“Planting a Future” Beth Wiseman
Rosemary has been in love with Saul for as long as she can remember. A dark secret got in their way though and Rosemary has kept it hidden from him for a long time. Still, he pursues her and though her heart aches to be with him—this secret looms over their relationship. At the end, Rosemary has to decide where her heart truly lies and if her love for Saul will outweigh other desires.

I thought each novella was fantastic. I think Flowers for Rachael was my favorite out of the four but I enjoyed each of them. If you’re looking for a quick read and love Amish fiction—I would suggest this one.
View all my reviews


This is a multi-author book by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer,and Vannetta Chapman.

I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

My Week in Review 4/5-4/12

Saturday, April 12, 2014

If the last two weeks have been crazy then this week makes crazy look absolutely sane! This week has been nothing short of chaotic. In fact, as I sat down to write this, I realized that I have no clue where to start. I’m overwhelmed with the task of recalling this week.

I’ll start with the important stuff…Prue’s visit with the pulmonologist. We drove to Charlotte this week, almost two hours from our home, to see why Prue still has pneumonia after twelve weeks. We still really don’t have a definitive answer. Rather, we got a speculation and a treatment plan. We go back for an X-ray in three weeks to see if the treatment works.

That brings me to my next chaotic situation—trying to find someone to fill the prescription. Prue was prescribed Sodium Chloride 3% for nebulizer. I drove home from Charlotte, went to my pharmacy where it was called into and was told, “We don’t have it and can’t order it.” I went to eight different pharmacies. The last one that I went to told me that they could order it but that I would have to order more than I needed and pay $300 because insurance won’t cover it. They suggested yet another pharmacy to me that may have it in stock and I could purchase only what I needed. I gave them a call and they didn’t have it. At this point that was nine pharmacies that didn’t have this prescription. They called their supply pharmacy in Boone, which is about forty-five minutes away, low and behold—they had it and it was only going to cost $82! Unfortunately, they only send a shipment twice a week and I’d already wasted a day so I didn’t want to waste another two days before I could get the script filled.

Off we went to Boone to get this medication filled. When I got there, the pharmacist asked me if I minded to wait because she wanted to call my insurance. She called them and haggled with them for a while. Finally, she came back and said that insurance had relented and they filled my prescription for $1!!! Talk about a shock!

On Wednesday, Kahlan had her usual therapy session. That went okay—nothing important to note about that. No word yet from her casting for orthotics.

Thursday we went to look at a house. We really like it and I think we are going to put in a contingency offer on it. Currently, we have nine people living in 1600 square feet of space. The house we’re looking at has just over 4,000 heated square feet!

Thursday was also Prue’s birthday! She is nine years old and such a blessing. I’m proud to call her my daughter! We were planning to have a party for her this weekend but had to reschedule since some of her friends came down with a stomach bug and we don’t want to be exposed.

That was pretty much my week in terms of the family—reading this week was pretty steady. I put up my review for Woman of Courage by Wanda Brunstetter and also for Tracy Higley’s, The Queen’s Handmaid.

In addition to that I finished 'An Amish Garden' and I started in on 'Rachel' by Jill Eileen Smith.
“A Place of Healing” Vannetta Chapman
Emma discovers a run-away teen in her barn, and the bishop asks her to provide a haven for a woman and her two children. Then her mother-in-law reveals a secret about her garden. Will Emma choose loneliness or learn to accept God’s gifts?

“Flowers for Rachael” Kathleen Fuller
Rachael’s garden is beautiful, but she is lonely. Gideon is in love with Rachael, but when Rachael finds her garden in shambles after a crisis, she rejects his help. Will she realize she doesn’t have to do everything on her own?

“Seeds of Love” Tricia Goyer
When a corporation shows interest in buying Sadie’s heirloom seeds, she panics. They are all she has left of her Dat and Mem. Eli believes he can help Sadie, but a misunderstanding leaves her heartbroken. Will she trust him again, and will the seeds of a new relationship take root?

“Planting a Future” Beth Wiseman
Rosemary is doing her best to run her family’s household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul has been interested in her for years, but Rosemary has turned him down repeatedly. Saul begins helping with her family’s garden, but someone is sabotaging his efforts—and keeping a secret that could change their lives.

Can true love overcome a legacy of betrayal?

Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Leah wishes her father would find a good man who would love her alone. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

I didn’t have much time for photography this week but on Wednesday I happened to grab a few shots of my niece. I’m still working on the lighting and editing but we had fun working on the shots!
Oh and before I forget—I paid off my washer this week! One bill out of the way on my journey to being out of debt! I’m hoping to also have my van paid off within the next couple of weeks—I felt that was an important thing to update about!

That’s pretty much it. Nothing but chaos this week but overall it was a pretty good one. Thanks for reading!

A Litfuse Review of 'The Queen's Handmaid' by Tracy Higley

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Queen's HandmaidThe Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 17+
Genre: Christian, Historical Fiction

We’ve always heard the scripture in the Bible about rendering to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. Have you ever really stopped to think about that for a moment? Have you stopped to think that Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Herod the Great were all leaders at the same time? I guess I just didn’t think. I appreciate that Higley researches things so well and brings history alive to me. Her stories help me understand the political and religious situations of ancient history. I am forever thankful to this author for bringing history to life!

When we first meet Lydia we are swept away to ancient Egypt. When her story begins, she is the handmaid of Cleopatra and a nurse to her young son, Caesarion.

Enter to win a Kindle HDX
Cleopatra is a cruel and hard woman but Lydia is still fearful when she is traded to Herod. Mariamme is to marry Herod and he has procured Lydia to be her handmaid.

It may be Herod who takes her into the Holy City, but, it is the dying requests of her mentor that makes Lydia question what she is doing in the city. She has been charged with delivering the scrolls of the prophet Daniel, to the temple on a set day of the year. Why are these scrolls so important and could there really be just one God for all men?

It had been Simon’s wish for Lydia to know the One God of Israel but Lydia is confused about what she should believe. It doesn’t help that the dark arts of Herod’s sister, Salome are influencing the people of the palace. Lydia’s life is in danger and the scrolls are at a risk of being found.

As Lydia tries to serve Mariamme as faithfully as she can, the cruelty and malice of the political leaders of the day are becoming more apparent. Secrets whispered about a promised Messiah have stirred fear and unrest among the nobles.

As the story progresses, the instability and hatred that Herod is capable of becomes more apparent and at the pinnacle of his madness, Lydia must make a decision to either embrace darkness or find her faith and salvation.

This story is so intricately woven into actual historical facts. Some were fascinating, others were scary and some were downright heartbreaking. The life of Herod and the genealogical details of that family are so confusing that I had to refer to the family tree on more than one occasion. The author so graciously provided the family tree in the front of the book for easy reference.

If you’re looking to better understand the time in which Christ was born and the political unrest that plagued His world, this is a fantastic book. I was enthralled from the first glance of the cover and the story inside did not disappoint. Another fantastic book from Tracy Higley!
View all my reviews|Read an Excerpt


Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows.

Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at

I received this book free from the publisher through a fantastic program called Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts and opinions I have expressed are my own. To view other reviews and learn more about the blog tour for The Queen's Handmaid please visit the Litfuse group by clicking here

The bzzz on Quaker® Warm & Crunchy Granola

Monday, April 7, 2014

Quaker® Warm & Crunchy Granola

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Taste the crunchy side of oatmeal

Just like you, NEW Quaker® Warm & Crunchy Granola proves that nothing is impossible. Your family squeezes soccer practice, homework and piano recitals into one day, while Quaker® has added the crunch of granola to the wholesomeness of oatmeal for a bold new breakfast to help fuel your family. The hearty goodness of whole grain Quaker® oats are specially baked into delicious clusters of multigrain granola that stay crunchy even after being heated with milk. The only question is which flavor to start with:

This stuff is great! When I got it, I was a little scared because I noticed that unlike instant oatmeal—this says it needs to be microwaved! I do not own a microwave. However, I prepared it according to the directions and stuck it into my convection oven on 350F. I think I cooked it for 12 minutes but I was making 6 packets at once. I’d say probably 5 minutes for a single serving.

My kids loved it. It worked fine in the oven. The kids loved it and they’ve asked me several times when I’m going to buy it again. The only problem is—I’ve not yet seen it in our grocery store! I’ve looked with the oatmeal and hot cereal type products but I’ve not yet seen it.

There are three flavors to choose from. I'd love to see more flavors at some point but for now you have these choices

  • Apple Cinnamon is made with real pieces of apple and the ideal touch of cinnamon
  • Cranberry Almond has the perfectly sweet taste of cranberries and the nutty flavor of almonds
  • Honey Almond sets up your day with the sweet and nutty flavors of honey with almonds mixed in

Overall, I enjoyed the taste and the crunchy texture. I'll definitely be looking to buy it just as soon as I see available at my local grocery store.

I received this product free from Quaker for being a BzzAgent! To find out more about this fantastic program and how you can get involved please visit I was not required to write a positive review. The views and opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review of 'Woman of Courage' by Wanda Brunstetter

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Woman of CourageWoman of Courage by Wanda E. Brunstetter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suggested Age: 17+
Genre: Christian, Historical Fiction
I adore Wanda Brunstetter. She’s super friendly and engaging on social media and just such a dear.

I’ve read most of Wanda’s Amish fiction and I’ve never been disappointed with her books. I had never read anything about Quakers before but I was excited to give this book a try. I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed the book. It was well written and I’d read more Anabaptist or Quaker fiction that is written by this author.

Amanda was set to marry Nathan Lane, but the day before their marriage he announced that he had fallen in love with another woman. As if adding insult to injury—Penelope claimed to be Amanda’s close friend!

Brokenhearted, Amanda talks to her father about leaving their State of New York to be missionaries to the Nez Perce Indians. Along the way, tragedy befalls—multiple times. It’s no real surprise, really. A three thousand mile journey is no easy feat—especially in the 1800’s. Traveling was fraught with danger and Amanda has seen her share of it.

To fulfill a promise to her dying father, Amanda continues on her journey. She is rescued from a precarious situation by a mountain man by the name of Buck. She is taken, by Buck, to the home of another local mountain man, Jim and his wife, Mary.

Mary is a skilled herbalist, in truth, her name is Yellow Bird and though she is pregnant with their first child—Jim is positively awful to her. You see, Yellow Bird is an Indian maid that was traded to Jim. Jim is a hard man, he blames himself for the death of his first wife and in his grief, and he won’t allow himself to love his young wife.

As time goes on, Amanda finds herself being able to witness to Mary and Jim. She becomes great friends with Mary and even gets to help with the birth of Mary’s son, Little Joe. It is after their son is born that Jim comes to accept Christ and agrees to help Amanda reach her destination –the Spaulding Mission.

Once again, Amanda is on the trail. Unfortunately, tragedy seems to strike at every turn and during an hour of great need, Buck is once again thrown into Amanda’s life. Amanda finds herself falling for the intriguing “half-breed” but it isn’t his parentage that is a problem. It is his lack of faith.

This is a beautiful love story that emerges from the ashes—actually, there are three love stories. Beautifully written and like real life—filled with heartache and joy.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to friends of historical and Christian fiction
View all my reviews


A nationally recognized authority on the Amish community, Wanda E. Brunstetter has seen her book sales over the two million mark. Wanda enjoys an uncommon kinship with the Amish and continues to visit their communities throughout the country. Her books have won numerous awards and topped several bestselling charts.

I received this book free from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own