Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amish Values for Your Family by Suzanne W. Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of Amish Values for Your Family, her latest non-fiction release. "It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful." -Mary Ann Kirkby

Read the reviews here.   If you have entered the contest to win a FREE KINDLE, please remember the winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

 About the book:

For readers who long for strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much to learn from the Amish. Values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car, changing your wardrobe, or moving out to farm country.

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what's truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

Recently, I was selected to participate in this blog tour for Suzanne W. Fisher's newest release,Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life.  Having read a few of her books (and reviewed them too!) previously, I can't tell you how excited I was to participate in this tour.  I do admit, freely, that I was unsure of how I would tie this blog post into my life.  We were asked to pick one chapter from the book and relate it to our own family life.  There were so many lessons that I learned, it is very hard to just pick one to relate to.  Ironically enough, the two that I am most torn between are:  family vacations and the (a) circle of life.  Could I be torn between two more different subjects?  I guess I am having problems choosing because we experienced both this summer.

Let's go with Family Vacations and call it a post!!

We were introduced to our family vacation spot, the Outer Banks of North Carolina by my inlaws (Hubs' brother and his wife) way back when our oldest were both one.  8 years ago.  Hard to believe it has been that long.   (We skipped the year the kids were two but have been back every year since.)  Specifically, we visit Hatteras Island.

When we first started going to the OBX (Outer Banks) it was a huge Hubs side of the family get together.  We had many families going and staying in one extra large house.  We would go to the beaches together during the day, build bonfires at night and hand out at our pool.  We would take the ferry to Ocracoke Island and have lunch together at a local pub.  Shop together for food and souvenirs.

In this chapter, Suzanne points out that "Sometimes, the simplest things in life are the very best."  I agree wholeheartedly.  While I enjoy our vacations to the heart of Florida, to Walt Disney World, I have to say that there is nothing I enjoy more then spending time together, as a family, on Hatteras Island.  In the OBX, our children got the chance to know their cousins that were older than them and not seen as often as they would have if they were around the same ages.  The got to know their aunts and uncles for a whole week and learned to love them more than they already do.  They were part of a huge family, not our little network of 5.  They learned to appreciate and respect their family members.  On the flip side, the families without small children any longer, were able to enjoy the little ones:  swimming, giggling, playing in the sand.  Things their older children might not do as readily.  The week was always filled with smiles and laughter.

Last year, we were down to just two families going down.  We made the best of it and still had a great time! This year, the two families went down on separate weeks but were still able to get together one day to chit chat and hang out.  It was awesome.  Our vacation this year was a totally different experience for us, with only our family but we still made memories our children will hold dear.

I can only hope that our children love the slower pace of life and the unspoiled beauty offered on Hatteras Island and that they will continue to bring their families to vacation with us after they have grown.  (On a separate note, please include our friends on Hatteras Island in your prayers as they struggle to recover after being dealt a terrible blow by Hurricane Irene last week.)

This is another book by Suzanne Woods Fisher that I absolutely loved.  There were many stories - some funny, some sad, all full of life lessons that we can apply to our every day.  What a better society I think we could be if we all just lived a little simpler.

Please note that I received a copy of this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review which I am pleased to present here.  No monetary compensation was received.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: OBX 2011

photo courtesy of Daniel Pullen Photography (I could only wish that I really did that kind of talent!!)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cutie Pies - A Review


Product Description
Praised by Bon Appetit, DailyCandy, and Sunset magazine, the secrets behind Dani Cone's signature handmade, all-natural miniature pies are revealed for the first time inside Cutie Pies: 40 Sweet, Savory, and Adorable Recipes. Whether you're grabbing the perfectly portable Flipside on the way to work, enjoying a Piejar as a tasty afternoon treat, or looking for a fun and impressive dinner party dessert, Cutie Pies provides the perfect morsels to satisfy sweet and savory cravings alike.
Inside Cutie Pies, Cone presents 40 exclusive recipes inspired by the unique line of compact pastries she serves at her Seattle-based Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie locations, which have received a Best of Seattle Weekly award. Sweet, one-of-a-kind treats like a Mango-Raspberry-Lemon Piepop mingle with savory recipes like Cone's Curry Veggie Piejar, all in a distinct and delightful design.
Cutie Pies is illustrated throughout with more than 20 mouthwatering, full-color photographs, and its contemporary fashion and straightforward recipes enable bakers everywhere to create these tiny treats with big flavor.
About the Author
Barista and businesswoman Dani Cone is the founder and owner of three Fuel Coffee locations in Seattle, Washington, as well as High 5 Pie, where she developed her signature Cutie Pies, Flipsides, Piejars, and other tiny tasty pastries.

Who’s Lucky?   ME! 
I recently had the opportunity to review the galley of this cookbook, Cutie Pies, before it hits the shelves on September 27, 2011 (but you can preorder on I am certainly not a baker.  However, this book makes me want to bake!! 

Check out these chapters of the book –
Chapter 1 - The Perfect Pie Crust
Chapter 2 - Cutie Pies
Chapter 3 - Petit 5's
Chapter 4 - Pie Jars
Chapter 5 - Flipsides
Chapter 6 - Piepops
Chapter 7 - Full Sized Pies
Metric Conversions and Equivalents

Not only thorough, with instructions on how to make a few different types of crusts, but the variety of recipes is awesome.  The photos included made my mouth water. 

Even if you are not a very good baker, which I already told you, I’m not – this book might just be perfect for us.  With its detailed instructions, photos and a variety of items to choose from, this cookbook might make me a very popular person after I start baking and taking to parties this summer. 

I received a galley of this book from the publisher, via  I was only asked to provide my honest opinion, which I am pleased to do in this post.  I received no monetary compensation for this review.   

Keeping our mind off Irene with Studio J

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Golf for Autism

It's definitely been a little crazy 'round here.  A few weeks ago, Hubs and I participated in (ok, he participated in and I volunteered for) the Golf for Autism, a local golf outing which raises money for Autism Speaks.  The fellas (and a few ladies) played 18 holes at the beautiful Indian Springs Country Club in Marlton, NJ.  (Hey, are you in the local area - NJ/PA/DE/NY - and want to participate next year?  Drop me a line and I will get you in touch with my friends who set the wonderful fundraiser up!)   I've included a photo of the guest of honor, their son, Evan, who has Autism.

All proceeds from the golf outing, the beer sales (lol), the 50/50 and the silent auction all go to Autism Speaks.  So far, the tally of funds raised is $4,000 and climbing.  Golf for Autism will touch base when they have a final number in for the donation.

Beechwood Landscape Architecture and Construction was the Platinum Sponsor for the event.  Besides building beautiful landscapes and "stay-cation" areas for homeowners to enjoy, they take pride in sponsoring community events that are close to their hearts.  Beechwood frequently sponsors youth organizations in the surrounding communities, participates in community and civic events; generally trying to embody the spirit of community by helping out and pitching in whenever they are able.

The Volunteers (some of them!) 


The Beechwood Foursome

Always a good time!
If you are local or want to be in our area on September 16, 2011, the Camden Riversharks are participating in a fundraiser to benefit "Golf for Autism".  See the flyer attached below - you need to purchase the tickets online and there are specific instructions on how to do so.  The tickets are only $11 each and $5 from each ticket gets donated directly to Golf for Autism.  A great way to enjoy a fall evening and support a great cause!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Guest blog from Suzanne Woods Fisher for “Amish Values for Your Family” (Revell)

Five More Things I’ve Learned from the Amish that Have Nothing to Do with being Amish and Have Everything to Do with being a Christian:

Live humbly. This is the basis of the Amish life. They don’t waste, they reuse and recycle, they live simply and without luxury, they provide for each other’s needs. Daily life is embroidered with gratitude for all God has given them. Two prayers bookend every meal—a meal begins with thanks to God for the nourishing food, and ends with gratitude for what was received. 

Amish proverb: “The blessing of sharing outweighs the blessing of having.”

The Lesson: Choose simplicity over clutter. Economy over luxury. And give thanks!

A task takes as long as it takes. It seems like such a paradox—the Amish are busy, yet unhurried. They have a deliberateness in their actions—one job isn’t more important than the other. And they don’t have televisions or computers or radios or telephones—which gives them more time to cook, fish at the lake, enjoy a good book, and spend with their children and grandchildren. They have time to slow down a bit—to smell the roses along their path.

Amish proverb: “Every day that dawns brings something to do that can never be done as well again.”

The Lesson: Reduce the time where attention is focused on electronics (computer! Cell phone! Television!) and strive to be more emotionally present when with others.

Success and Size are not related. The Amish have rapidly adopted to the demands of the modern business world. Their self-owned businesses are remarkably successful, but not at the cost of everything else. They view money as a tool, not the goal.

Amish proverb: “Love, peace, and happiness in the home is of infinitely more value than honor, fame and wealth.”

The Lesson: Never let ambition destroy life’s better goals.

They teach us not to seek vengeance but to forgive. The Amish take the Lord’s Prayer seriously—if they are asking God to forgive them their sins, they must be willing to forgive others who have sinned against them. Being a forgiving person is an everyday intention.

Amish proverb: “It is far better to forgive and forget than to resent and remember.”

The Lesson: No doubt you’re familiar with the Nickel Mines tragedy. If the Amish can forgive the killer of their children, can’t we forgive a friend for not inviting us to a party? Or a driver who cuts us off? Make forgiveness your default button. A habit. An everyday intention.

God has a plan. To the Amish, everything passes through the hands of God. Everything. Joys and sorrows, both. God is sovereign over all—from weather to illness to births to who’s in the White House. They yield to God’s perfect will, trust Him for what they don’t understand, and thank Him for what they do.

Amish proverb: “God’s hand that holds the ocean’s depth can hold my small affairs. His hand, which guides the universe, can carry all my cares.”

The Lesson: Trusting God isn’t passive—it takes a lot of work! But what peace and joy are available to us when we put our faith in the Almighty God. Everything, ultimately, works out for good.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction and the host of a weekly radio program called Amish Wisdom. Her most recent book, Amish Values for Your Family released in August. The Waiting is a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. Amish Peace: Simple and Amish Proverbs were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world.  When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. Keep up on Suzanne's latest news on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter: A book review

From the publisher:

When Amber's favorite teacher goes missing she and her fellow archaeology classmates are plunged into arace against destruction to track down clues and find Ms. H. Buteverything erupts when they unearth an ancient artifact so powerful it could mean global disaster-if they fail to protect it. The struggle to escape and return the scepter to its original protectors will demand all their own secret strengths.

What I thought:  

The Guardians of the Hidden Scepter by Frank Cole is a modern Indiana Jones type book.  The main characters are 14 years old and in a cool private school.  Amber loves her archaeology class and her teacher, Mrs. Holcomb - herein lies the problem.  Mrs. Holcomb (prefers to be called Dorothy) goes missing and it is up to Amber and her friends to find the clues to bring her home safely.

A fun read that didn't disappoint.  Most concepts in this book will be well handled and understood by the younger crowd.  My kidlets will be in 4th and 5th grades this year and I believe they'd handle this book well and enjoy it too!  (I'm sure if it was made into a movie too, no one in my house would complain!)

Note:  I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I am pleased to present to you here.  I received no monetary compensation for this review.  KW

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Lawman's Christmas (Linda Lael Miller) - A Book Review

From the publisher:

Love comes home for the holidays in a brand-new McKettrick tale from #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Linda Lael Miller.

The sudden death of the town marshal leaves Blue River, Texas, without a lawman…and twenty-five-year-old Dara Rose Nolan without a husband. As winter approaches and her meager seamstress income dwindles, she has three options. Yet she won’t give up her two young daughters, refuses to join the fallen women of the Bitter Gulch Saloon and can’t fathom condemning herself to another loveless marriage. Unfortunately she must decide—soon—because there’s a new marshal in town, and she’s living under his roof.  With the heart of a cowboy, Clay McKettrick plans to start a ranch and finally settle down. He isn’t interested in uprooting Dara Rose and her children, but he is interested in giving her protection, friendship—and passion.  And when they say “I do” to a marriage of convenience, the temporary lawman’s Christmas wish is to make Dara Rose his permanent wife…

What I thought:

Amazing.  I loved this book.  Just the right touch of stubbornness and heroism in this romantic mix of Clay and Dara Rose.  The setting was excellent too ... the era of stagecoaches, trains and sheriffs ... petticoats, horses and chivalry ...opening up the west ... opening up cold and closed hearts ...A Lawman's Christmas is book 14 in the McKettrick's series and is an excellent continuation or a wonderful stand alone book.

This book by Linda Lael Miller creates warm and loving characters (ok, there are some that you love to hate), beautiful and vivid scenes and moments that will make your heart melt.  It will debut in hardcover and Kindle edition on September 27, 2011 and is available for pre-order now.   

Note:  I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I am pleased to present to you here.  I received no monetary compensation for this review.  KW

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Today was Hard.

So, today, we said goodbye to my Grandfather.  My Dad's dad.  If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you'll know that my Dad passed away in 2005.  So, Poppop buried his firstborn.  Then in 2007, he buried his wife, my Mommom.  Then, the next month in 2007, he buried his 2nd child, my uncle Jim.  Now, much like Farmer and The Dell, Aunt Helen stands alone. 

Granted, Pop was 91.  He led a great life.  He served in the 2nd World War.  He raised his three kids in the same house that he passed in.  He loved his 6 grandkids with all he had.  He even had 5 great grandkids.  The photo I posted yesterday for Wordless Wednesday was from when SweeTart was about a month old.  She's now three.  (and not so squishy anymore.) 

My cousin HK and I are the same age, apart by a few months.  I am the older.  (She doesn't let me forget it.)  For his birthday, she wrote Pop a poem celebrating him.  It was awesome.  They made copies and handed it out at the funeral Mass today.  Some of the memories only include the first 4 grandkids - he used to take us to the park when it was hot (they had a baby pool there to cool off in.)  He used to take us to Great Adventure and he went on all of the rides with us!!  The Log Flume, the Runaway Train, Roaring Rapids (hell, even Mommom went on Roaring Rapids sometimes it was so hot!!) there wasn't really a ride he would deny us.  He would trap squirrels in his backyard (humanely, of course) and we'd go with him to release them in a wooded area not far from their house.  Every time we'd ride down the road near the woods with Mommom and Poppop, we'd yell "hi happy, hi happy, hi happy"  because he always told us that the squirrels were much happier in the woods than in his backyard (messing with his garden!)

I have foggy memories of going to the boardwalk with him, just to ride the carousel.  I remember walking into my Great grandmother's apartment in her later years and him yelling "yoohoo" up the stairs to let Nan and Aunt Hon know we were there (a doorbell?  not in the late 70s.)   I remember him doing his "softshoe" dance - whenever and where ever - he always seemed so happy.  Sitting at his kitchen table, I remember Mommom making me a bacon omelet (which I have never, ever been able to replicate, as much as I try) and having coffee and buttered crackers with Poppop.  I remember him teaching us, as soon as we were able to count, to play 21 for his pennies.  Sometimes we even brought our own but it was much more fun winning his pennies.  I remember games of Kerplunk in the middle of his living room.  I remember sitting on his lap and reading the Sunday funnies and listening to the Phillies game on the little red transistor radio he had.  

Did you know that the Grimm fairy tales used to be in the Encyclopedias?  I remember him reading to us for what seemed like hours.  Did you know that the story wasn't just Snow White?  Snow White and Rose Red.  So there.  Ok, maybe they were separate stories but why didn't Disney love Rose Red just as much?  I will have to go back and revisit. 

So many very special memories but the one that I hold closest and most dear is one from more recent years.  The one when our second born, Twink, arrived a month ahead of schedule and was in the NICU for a few days before we were able to bring her home.  Besides my Mom, Poppop was the only other family member who was brave enough to "scrub up" and visit with her inside of the NICU.  The wires and tubes?  The didn't intimidate nor scare him at all.  He took her in his arms and loved her from the very beginning.  I *wish* I had a photo of that moment.  He was always so gentle and loving with each of the babies. 
Twink - June 2002

PopPop and Twink July 2002
So many more memories, such a great man.  He will be missed with loads of fondness and love.  We are also happy that he lived to be the ripe old age of 91, able to spend so many years with us.  Love you Pop.  xoxo

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PopPop and SweeTart: Wordless Wednesday

He loved all of those grand babies.  It's going to be hard to say goodbye to him tomorrow. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Witches - a Children's Book Review

A very cool book for little ones.  You can be sure it will arrive just in time for the beginning of Halloween celebrations, with a release date of 8/15/11 (although Amazon is listing it as "available in 2-4 weeks." which is still plenty of time for Halloween celebrating!)

Vivid, bright and spooky (just the right amount of spooky for the littles) the story is short and cute.  I must give the author and illustrator kudos for also including children with disabilities into their storybook. A light and airy story with photos of children making goodies and trick or treating. Children on two legs, children with crutches and children with wheelchairs. I love it! I teach my children to keep an open mind - that children with disabilities are no different than anyone else. I hope, if nothing else, that lesson sticks with them. I enjoy reinforcements on this lesson when and where ever I can get them! Don't delay, put your order in for this children's paperback seasonal story as soon as you can.

*I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of the book, Witches, which I am pleased to present to you here.  I received no compensation in exchange for this review.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apathetic - A Book Review

I recently had the opportunity to read Apathetic, the newest release by author Heather Muzik. Having read Celia's Journey and 2 Days Til Sundae, I should tell you how much I was looking forward to it's ebook release. In a word, awesome!

In a few more words: creepy, crazy and spooky (not ghostly spooky, but the kind of spooky that haunts your dreams for a while.) Like Celia's Journey, Apathetic closely examines family dynamics - this time of the Marshall Family. Most people think of men being the "abusers" of the family. Not in this one. Chris Marshall is thrown for a loop when his wife, Victoria, becomes his worst nightmare - for him and his two daughters. Follow this family through their ordeals with Victoria ~ it's a page turner that you're sure not to forget anytime soon.

A few days ago, Heather took some time to chat with me.  I asked her if she needed therapy herself after writing such a deep book.  This makes me laugh out loud ... she indicated that she wrote 2 Days til Sundae, an airy and light hearted chick lit book to take the edge off.   You can definitely compare and contrast the two works out of the same author.  Must be true that writing is good therapy!!!  PS:  Keep in mind that this book is not happy-go-lucky like 2 Days til Sundae ~ it is utterly blood curdling and jaw dropping at times. Be prepared!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Straight Talk2 - Should I make the switch?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Check this out:  Straight Talk2

Right now, I am in deep with my iPhone 4.  Not that I don't love it.  But I can almost smell the extra cash that will be in our bank account if I can give it up ... I'd save ... almost $70 per month on the unlimited plan.  Times 12 months?  $840 a year ... 4 sports camps for our son ... 3 months of gymnastics instruction for our oldest daughter ... 3 months of preschool for the littlest one.  An amazing opportunity and there are no contracts (like the one I'd have to break), no credit checks and call 411 at no extra charge! 

I don't think I'd be giving up much - I would get another smartphone in place of my iPhone.  One that has features that I enjoy now:  a camera, video recorder, music player, instant messaging (even my kids are web texting me these days) and is Bluetooth compatible.  A new feature I don't currently have is voice navigation ... .everything you need  How neat would that be?  I could even get the kidlets their own phone, starting at just $10 - a whole new word awaits them. 

Don't believe me?  check out hook, line and sinker.   Or,    call a friend in another country:  very flexible and cost efficient plan for you to talk to them more often. 

I can tell you that when I get home today, the Hubs and I will be having a serious discussion about our cell phone usage and the *very good* possibility of making a switch! 


PS:  mom knows best

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