Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stages of Beauty Review and Giveaway!

I have to tell you, I am not a real big fan of putting a lot of stuff on my face. I have a schedule I follow and I do certain items every day, but otherwise, I hate applying a lot of different products. It tends to clutter the face and I break out more often. But I received a product from Stages of Beauty that I was pretty impressed with and I just had to tell my readers about it.

Stages of Beauty sent me their Radiance Treatment Cream. They have different lines for women of different ages and this specific product is targeted for women in their 20's. The product comes in a can that keeps it from getting wet or damaged. This is supposed to be a cream, but I found the consistency to be more like a gel. It has a slight scent to it that I didn't find bad but it also wasn't the greatest. But I like that it doesn't have all the scents other lotions have. I find that they don't do well on my face. This is formulated to put on your skin twice a day after cleansing your face. I personally only used this once a day because of my skin. I know it well enough that I only put a moisturizer on once a day so I just added this instead of my normal lotion.

The must-have cornerstone of our Radiance line. This lightweight cream is the 24/7 damage control skincare choice for the woman in her 20s. With continued use it is proven to help repair the skin and prevent the premature appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

I was pretty impressed with the results. This goes on as almost like a gel and I like the feel of it. Very soothing and calming. After using it for two weeks I have noticed a little bit of a change in my face. Realize that most products say to use for 4 weeks before you will notice a big change. So I am happy with the results I have seen in just two weeks. Also, another thing I like is that you only use a small amount and it goes a long way. Using this for two weeks I have only used about 1/4 of the bottle, if that! This is going to last me a long time. Realize though that I am only using this once a day.

At first I thought this was not something I really had need of. I mean, I am in my late 20's, why would I need anti-aging care already? But after reading the information found on their website, I am so glad I am faithful at skin care and using moisturizer, sunscreen, etc. You don't realize how much it means to your body. This is a product I will be using for a while and just might purchase in the future. Please take a look at the Stages of Beauty reviews and see how people are happy with this. You can find Stages of Beauty on Facebook. Also make sure to check out Stages of Beauty on Twitter for plenty of tips!!

So, anyone interested in winning your own product from Stages of Beauty? Follow directions below. You MUST become a follower of them on Twitter or Facebook to enter. This is mandatory. After you do one or the other, just click that you have done the opposite one. Please email me if you have any confusion. I apologize to those who can't enter because of this but that is their requirement, not mine.


Giveaway will end 4/16. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and they will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. US ONLY!!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tropicana and How My Family Starts the Day Together on a Pure and Fresh Note

Breakfast in our family is a time of everyone coming together in the morning. In this day and age of everyone running all over and not getting a meal time together, we go out of our way to try and have the whole family at the table. And let me tell you, one of our favorite things to have at the table, is Tropicana Pure Premium 100% Florida Orange Juice. Social Moms has teamed up with this great company who is known for their simple yet distinct taste in orange juice.

Tropicana is running a sweepstakes that I am happy to tell you all about. Please make sure to go enter the Tropicana Sweepstakes! You just might win a one years supply of Tropicana Pure Premium 100% Florida Orange Juice, or one of 100 Florida prizes! I am definitely going to get my entry in:) Anyways, Tropicana is one of those companies you just have to like. They are almost homey in their standards and way of doing things. After all, it is 100% pure Florida Orange Juice. Below is just a little bit of information about the Tropicana company I think you just might find interesting.

Tropicana is the single largest buyer of Florida fruit, buying over 11 billion oranges every year. Can you imagine how much orange juice you can get from that many oranges?
Tropicana uses groves in 22 different Florida counties, primarily in central and southern Florida. That means more work for people in those areas as well.
The different microclimates and soil types mean that fruit reaches peak maturity at different times, allowing Tropicana to harvest ripe fruit throughout the entire growing season.
The two major orange types in Tropicana Pure Premium are Valencia and Hamlin. Valencias typically have more intense color and flavor, while Hamlins can be sweeter. They each add unique characteristics to the TPP blend.
Tropicana’s roots in Florida go back a long way. Some of its current grower relationships date to the 1960s. Can you believe how long this company has been in business? I sure can't!

One thing I like about them is that their orange juice is something I have a lot on my breakfast table. Like I said above, breakfast is one area we make sure to have everyone come to the table. It is a time of starting out on the right foot so to speak. We plan our day, have prayer and this often means we have a good day. Definitely not all the time, but it is amazing how well it can get your day off to a good start! Tropicana Pure Premium 100% Florida Orange Juice is a part of that morning. I often like to make smoothies with it for the whole family and they love them for breakfast! Lots of yummy nutrients in there too:)

So, how do you get your family together in the morning? Or is your time later in the day? Tell me about it below. I always love to hear from my readers. Also, while you are at it, make sure to enter the Tropicana Sweepstakes and like their page on Facebook.



I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Tropicana blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.

Nutritious Kid's Meal Chick-Fil-A Giveaway

If anyone knows me, they know that I am a big fan of Chick-fil-A. Well known for their principles, excellent way of doing business, quirky cows, and healthy eating, Chick-fil-A is a restaurant I frequent often. When I go on trips, I go out of my way to find one along the route to stop at. They are a restaurant I can trust as far as polite employees and food that is the same everywhere. So I was happy to hear about some changes they have recently started with their Chick-fil-A kid's meals. Check it out and make sure to enter the giveaway as well. You can't go wrong!


Lace up your sneakers because the new Nutritious Chick-fil-A Kid’s Meals are going to help fuel active family fun! Spring is here and what better way to promote an active lifestyle, and enjoy the great outdoors than with some old school games for your family to enjoy.

Chick-fil-A has been implementing some changes to their kid's meals that I am sure many parents will love. And trust me, the children love them as well. I have always enjoyed that they don't feature modern toys but they give out items that will enhance your child's life. Books to learn reading, science items, learning games, etc. Well, now they are changing the food to be even better. The meal is now along the lines of applesauce and grilled nuggets. I love it! I have always liked that their foods are better for you and now they are taking it a step further for the children.




So, are you someone who wants your children or grandchildren to eat healthier? Make sure to stop by a Chick-fil-A today and don't forget the giveaway below!

One reader will win 3 free kids meals. This is one winner in the US only. Giveaway will end 4/12. Winner will have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Follow instructions through the Rafflecopter form.
The prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS. No P.O. Boxes please.


Get The Best Deal On Free Shipping

Thanks to Jenel Quincy for contributing this article.

It’s pretty obvious to me that the best deal for free shipping on the Internet is being offered through FreeShipping.com. Rip off your child gloves and start shopping in the online marketplace as a proactive super-consumer, saving time and money everywhere you go. That doesn’t just have to be a pipe dream – the brilliant money-saving specialists at FreeShipping.com are making it happen for lots of satisfied customers right now. And their ranks of loyal members keeps growing.

FreeShipping.com is legit and practical savings that virtually any online shopper can put to good use. Whether you’re an avid bargain-hunter, always seeking out the best prices and opportunities, a recreational shopper, or even just a browser, they have devised a system that has something to benefit everyone. And for twelve bucks a month they’ve made a membership affordable enough that the potential savings easily make it worth the funds.

So here are the things you can expect to get if you decide to sign up. First, you’ll be able to redeem rebates for free shipping any time you shop at a vendor who is partnered with the program. That list includes thousands of names, so you’re sure to find the ones that suit your shopping tastes. Now, what happens if you’re unhappy with a product you buy? FreeShipping.com also ensures you get free return shipping on any products purchased from their partners. Add to that a host of consumer protection tools, and the picture of a really awesome discount service starts to come into focus. And here’s the truly great thing about FreeShipping.com: you don’t have to hear any of this from me to know its true. Go take a look at their website and you’ll find all of the information you need to make an educated decision, all in clear, forthright language. You can even check out their 30-day no-cost review while you’re there!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Need Some Advertising?

As my blog has grown (honestly it has grown more than I ever thought it would) I have learned that promotional items are a huge help. Whether I’m at a fair or show of some sort and need a way to make my blog stand out from others, or just want something to hand out to people who express an interest in visiting my site, there’s no better way to advertise! Business cards are just so...well...normal, that I prefer using something different. And I recently discovered a site that has a wealth of promotional products available!
If you’re looking for a way to promote your business (or blog) I would suggest checking out PromoPeddler. The promotional pens look like something that would be very easy to hand out to customers or potential customers (or in the case of a blog, potential sponsors!). Something that will be used, not just thrown in a card file somewhere. There are stores and restaurants we have visited a few years ago that I still have that promo pen from, so I never forget where to go for that certain service.
Of course, getting some promotional items for your business would also be great for giveaways, so you end up generating even more interest in your specialty. It’s a win-win situation, since simply holding a giveaway garners interest, and the winner(s) will receive something with your business info or logo on it. After all, holding a giveaway at your business or online for some promotional shirts would be a great way to get your name out there!
I have not purchased from this site. All thoughts are 100% mine.

YooHoo And Friends Wanna Be Review and Giveaway!

Are you searching for that just right gift? Children will love this next product I am featuring today! YooHoo and Friends is an item that you can't go wrong with. I even love them and I am an adult;) These little nifty stuffed animals are soo adorable. Well, they just recently released a new line. Are you ready? These are super cute! They are called Wanna Bes! Basically it is the YooHoo and he is dressed as another animal. They have all different types such as a cow, elephant, dog, cat, tiger, giraffe, and horse.

5" YOOHOO WANNA BE All new Baryard stuffed Animals and Dog and Cat! Part of the Wanna Be Collection - they make fun animal sounds when you squeeze its belly! Also comes with removable hoodies! Choose from a Dog, Cat, Elephant, Cow and Horse.

I received the cow. His horns and cow head are actually a removable hoodie so he can become just a regular YooHoo as well.
I think this thing is adorable. I actually have a couple of the YooHoo and Friends, Dreamy Eyes, etc and the kids love them. They are well made and I personally think they are one of the best toys you can give a child. You can't beat a little stuffed animal that moos and looks so adorable. Yep, you heard me right, they even make noise:) Mine is dressed like a cow so he moos like a cow. And believe me, coming from this little thing, it is funny.


So, if you have a child that you are looking to get a gift for, or maybe even a teenager, I would urge you to check out the YooHoo and Friends line. Very well made and I can't say it enough, they are cute as all get out!! Is anyone interested in winning one of these little buggers? I just knwo you will love your prize. Get your entries in below through the Rafflecopter form and please follow instructions.

US ONLY!! This giveaway will end 4/9. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and they will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. I received product for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

DISCLAIMER-Aurora will try to send the animal that is asked for but does not promise to do this. In the case they can not, you will receive another stuffed animal at random but it will be from the Wanna Be line.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Memory Foam Dog Beds?

Hey, we’re all very familiar with memory foam beds, right? But did you know that you can get memory foam dog beds? Yes, that’s right; your four-footed friend can now sleep in luxury as good as your own bed! We have 3 small dogs, and as you’re probably aware, smaller dogs tend to be a little bit snobby at times :) This is certainly something they would enjoy.

The site I found these on not only makes sure your pet is sleeping in luxurious comfort, but they will also be sleeping in style! Yep, your dog’s bed can be designed to match the decor of your home, or whichever room the bed will be in. Check it out; orthopedic dog beds to give your pet a better rest sound like an intriguing idea!

I have not purchased from this site. All thoughts are 100% mine.

CFBA Tour for The Chase by DiAnn Mills!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Chase
Zondervan (March 27, 2012)
by
DiAnn Mills




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010.



DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops.



DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/diannmills





ABOUT THE BOOK



To the FBI it's a cold case. To Kariss Walker it's a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it's a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl's missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch's brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss's pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.



Watch the book video!







If you would like to read the first chapter of The Chase, go HERE.

MY REVIEW-I am a big suspense fan. And if you want one of the best writers, DiAnn Mills is a name you will know. Her newest book, The Chase, is no exception to the rule! A wonderful book with a lot of suspense, mystery and even romance mixed in:) I especially liked Santiago, or Tigo as his friends call him. He is the perfect protective cop with an attitude but he also has a tender side as well. A plot that is different and pulls you right into it. Pick up a copy at your local store!

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Credit Repair

I have never been in the need of credit repair. Personally I keep pretty tight reigns on my finances and have a daily budget, etc. By doing this I don't have to worry about my money. I don't use credit cards and all those cards you would need credit repair for. But I know many people who are in need of this type of service.

This company evaluates your credit report and then they develop a plan for your specific needs. Whether you have a lot that needs paid off in a short time or a long time. They can handle the specific need you have and get it all done in a reasonable amount of time. I also like their policy. Done the legal way! That is the best and only way to go in my opinion:) Everything done legally. They also have a no-risk refund policy that is pretty good. Another thing I like is that they have client testimonies of people who have tried this program and liked it. I hate when a company has no testimony from previous clients and you can't find any reviews, etc on the internet.

So, if you are on the lookout for a good credit repair service, I would definitely check this one out.

I have not used this company. All thoughts are 100% mine.

Friday, March 23, 2012

SEO Services and RankPop

Wow! I can't believe how fast this week has flown by. It seems like it just started and now we are almost to Sunday. I ran across an interesting website and I though those of you who are bloggers might be interested in it. Affordable seo services are hard to find now a days. They run pretty high and you often don't get any real performance after paying your hard earned cash. Well, I found an affordable seo that offers performance, before you pay anything!

This is not just your regular cheap seo that gives you a lot of big talk and then doesn't deliver. I have seen the fan talk and how much they like this company. Their big thing is that you don't pay until they deliver you some results! I love it!! This is the type of company I respect and want to take my business to. Guaranteed seo services is nothing to balk at.

So, if you are looking for a way to better your blog, get more traffic or readers, etc. then I would suggest looking at this website. Guaranteed seo at a good price. You can't beat it!

I have not personally used this website. All thoughts are 100% mine.

CFBA Blog Tour of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot!!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Center Point Pub; Lrg edition (March 2012)
by
Stephen Bly




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Stephen Bly (August 17, 1944 – June 9, 2011) authored 106 books and hundreds of articles and short stories. His book, The Long Trail Home (Broadman & Holman), won the prestigious 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock (Crossway Books), The Outlaw’s Twin Sister (Crossway Books), and Last of the Texas Camp (Broadman & Holman), were Christy Award finalists. He spoke at colleges, churches, camps and conferences across the U.S. and Canada. He was the pastor of Winchester Community Church, and served as mayor of Winchester, Idaho (2000-2007). He spoke on numerous television and radio programs, including Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He was an Active Member of the Western Writers of America. Steve graduated summa cum laude in Philosophy from Fresno State University and received a M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Blys have three sons: Russell (married to Lois) and father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross) and mother of Alayah; Michael (married to Michelle); and Aaron (married to Rina Joye) and father of Keaton and Deckard. A third generation westerner, Steve spent his early years working on California farms owned by his father and an uncle.



Janet Chester Bly received a B.S. degree in Literature & Languages and Fine & Performing Arts from Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho. She speaks at women’s luncheons and retreats and does writers’ workshops. She is a member of Winchester Community Church where she serves as music director. She has authored eleven nonfiction and fiction books and co-authored twenty others, as well as contributed to five books. Janet’s hobbies include decorating her home in “country clutter,” reading almost all genres of fiction and mall walking. She lives in Winchester, Idaho–elevation 4,000 feet, population 300– situated on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.







ABOUT THE BOOK



In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon - now a rancher and widower - had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for his longtime friend didn’t persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down . . . people trying to kill him . . . lawless gangs preying on the innocent.



Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.



How could he refuse a request from the President of the United States?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot, go HERE.

MY REVIEW-I have not really read many books by Stephen Bly. My younger brother loves his western series about Stuart Brannon so I was overjoyed to get this book and be able to pass it on to him. I did read it and I don't know if it was just me or if I am not used to his style book, but it seemed to be for a younger level reader. I enjoyed it but it felt more for a teenager than an adult. Not that this is a bad thing by any means, but it just felt that way to me. The story of how this book came about was very interesting to me. I remember getting the news that Stephen Bly had passed on and my brother mentioned that he would have loved to find out how the Stuart Brannon series ended. Well, this is it:) A pretty interesting historical western.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Summer Wear and Modest Clothing.

Well, spring is here and summer is close. I can't believe how fast time has flown by and the year is well under way. Another thing that has baffled me is the way the weather is. We barely had snow like we normally do and right now it is a nice warm day out. I can't imagine how warm it is going to be though if it is like this now. It feels like May outside:) One thing that I have to think of with the weather though is how I dress. I am one who always dress modestly because of convictions and this is when it is somewhat harder to do this. Modest swimwear is not often seen during the summer time:) So, I am going to give some tips on how to dress modestly this summer and still be fashionable. Don't we all want to be in fashion? Check out my tips below!

1.Wear Denim.
I can't tell you how much I love denim!! It is a staple in my wardrobe and I couldn't live with out a denim skirt. But I have learned that there is so much more to denim other than skirts. I absolutely love denim shirts:) Denim is very lightweight, depending on what you get, and they are very easy to wear. Almost always in fashoin too. I don't know how many times I get a compliment on my denim skirts.

2.Pair Colors.
I like to wear a denim skirt and pair it with a cute t-shirt. You know the ones with the slogans on them? My favorites are sweet tea:) Gotta love those! But these turn out to be very light and airy. If you can get a good denim skirt and several different t-shirts, you can get many different outfits that are modest and yet fashionable.

3.Purchase Light Blouses.
I like a lightweight blouse and I have had many people love the peasant blouses. They are airy and you can pair a light camisole or tank underneath without adding a lot of bulk. They are quite modest and yet good for the summer heat.

These are just a couple of my tips. I love wearing these types of clothing during the summer. They are nice and modest but at the same time fashionable and you don't feel out of place. If you have any tips for me, leave them below. I am always in the mood for a good tip on dressing modestly yet fashionable. Thanks!

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was
compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Review of The Woodcarver + Giveaway!

It is very hard now a days to find a good movie. Especially one you can watch with the whole family and not have any problems at all. That is why I was very impressed with the recent movie I viewed, The Woodcarver. This is a faith and family film and I was somewhat skeptical at how it would be from previously viewing other faith and family movies but this one was very good! Check it out and make sure to enter the giveaway.

Matthew Stevenson is a troubled kid from a broken home. When he vandalizes the local church to get back at his parents, Matthew has to repair the damage to the church to avoid criminal charges. While working at the church, he meets Ernest (John Ratzenberger), an accomplished wood carver who created the intricate woodwork decoration that Matthew destroyed. Ernest has become something of a hermit, but reluctantly comes out of reclusion to help repair the church. Now Ernest and Matthew must work together to preserve the church's beautiful antiquity, and along the way, they also manage to restore their faith in God and in life.

MY THOUGHTS-This movie focuses on a teenage boy who has vandalized the local Church. His family is getting a divorce and he is having a hard time handling it. The pastor tells him that he has to help fix the Church as punishment. While he is painting over the graffiti along comes the woodcarver who did all the work on the Church before. Needless to say, the teenager is drawn to this woodcarver while the woodcarver is pretty much upset at God because his wife died. They both help each other along and at the same time the whole family. I don't want to spoil the film for those who haven't watched it, but this is a great movie.

One thing I was impressed with was that Ernest, the woodcarver, tells Matthew that before he makes any choice or decision, he should think, WWJD. This totally changes the teenagers perspective on things. The acting is very well done in this film and I was impressed with how real it was. There were a lot of good sayings and good lessons in this. The boys father, Jack, is telling Ernest about how he started missing Church for work and how it slowly went to the back burner, then next thing he knows they are getting a divorce. What a lesson there is in this!

If you like a good Christian film with good principles, I would urge you to pick up a copy of this movie at your local store. If you don't win it, make sure to purchase this! Excellent for unsaved relatives or a Church movie.

US ONLY!! Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Giveaway will end 4/2. I received a copy of this DVD for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation. All thoughts are 100% mine.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heart's Frontier Blog Tour!!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!









Today's Wild Card authors are:







and the book:





Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)




***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

MY THOUGHTS-I have long been a fan of Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith. I enjoy when they write books together and this one was on my WL to get. The historical novel was entertaining and one of those nice easy reads. If you enjoy something like that, then I would urge you to pick up a copy of this book. There was one area I thought was a little odd and that was the Amish girl. I guess you can have someone who is doubting things for a while and just doesn't act on it but it was somewhat fast for her to just all of a sudden have doubts and leave her faith. She seemed pretty strong in her religion and then all of a sudden she leaves it. It was just a bit fast for me. Otherwise a pretty good book.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.



Visit the author's website.






Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.



Visit the author's website.






SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:





An exciting new Amish-meets-Wild West adventure from bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weaves an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.



Kansas,1881—On a trip to visit relatives, Emma Switzer’s Amish family is robbed of all their possessions, leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking into the nearest trading settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a man lands in the dust at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, The Lord might have cleaned him up first.



Luke Carson, heading up his first cattle drive, is not planning on being the answer to anyone’s prayers, but it looks as though God has something else in mind for this kind and gentle man. Plain and rugged—do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other’s match?
















Product Details:

List Price: $13.99



Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736947523

ISBN-13: 978-0736947527








AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:









Apple Grove, Kansas


July 1881





Nearly the entire Amish district of Apple Grove had turned out to help this morning, all twenty families. Or perhaps they were here merely to wish Emma Switzer well as she set off for her new home in Troyer, fifty miles away.


From her vantage point on the porch of the house, Emma’s grandmother kept watch over the loading of the gigantic buffet hutch onto the specially reinforced wagon. Her sharp voice sliced through the peaceful morning air.


“Forty years I’ve had that hutch from my dearly departed husband and not a scratch on it. Jonas, see that you use care!”


If Maummi’s expression weren’t so fierce, Emma would have laughed at the long-suffering look Papa turned toward his mother. But the force with which Maummi’s fingers dug into the flesh on Emma’s arm warned that a chuckle would be most ill-suited at the moment. Besides, the men straining to heft the heavy hutch from the front porch of their home into the wagon didn’t need further distractions. Their faces strained bright red above their beards, and more than one drop of sweat trickled from beneath the broad brim of their identical straw hats.


Emma glanced at the watchers lined up like sparrows on a fence post. She caught sight of her best friend, Katie Beachy, amid the sea of dark dresses and white kapps. Katie smiled and smoothed her skirt with a shy gesture. The black fabric looked a little darker and crisper than that of those standing around her, which meant she’d worn her new dress to bid Emma farewell, an honor usually reserved for singings or services or weddings. The garment looked well on her. Emma had helped sew the seams at their last frolic. Of course, Katie’s early morning appearance in a new dress probably had less to do with honoring Emma than with the presence of Samuel Miller, the handsome son of the district bishop. With a glance toward Samuel, whose arms bulged against the weight of holding up one end of the hutch, she returned Katie’s smile with a conspiratorial wink.


Emma’s gaze slid over other faces in the crowd and snagged on a pair of eyes fixed on her. Amos Beiler didn’t bother to turn away but kept his gaze boldly on her face. Nor did he bother to hide his expression, one of longing and lingering hurt. He held infant Joseph in his arms, and a young daughter clutched each of his trouser-clad legs. A wave of guilt washed through Emma, and she hastily turned back toward the wagon.


From his vantage point up in the wagon bed, Papa held one end of a thick rope looped around the top of the hutch, the other end held by John Yoder. The front edge of the heavy heirloom had been lifted into the wagon with much grunting and groaning, while the rear still rested on the smooth wooden planks of the porch. Two men steadied the oxen heads, and the rest, like Samuel, had gathered around the back end of the hutch. A protective layer of thick quilts lined the wagon bed.


Papa gave the word. “Lift!”


The men moved in silent unity. Bending their knees, their hands grasped for purchase around the bottom edges. As one they drew in a breath, and at Papa’s nod raised in unison. Emma’s own breath caught in her chest, her muscles straining in silent sympathy with the men. The hutch rose until its rear end was level with its front, and the men stepped forward. The thick quilts dangling beneath scooted onto the wagon as planned, a protective barrier from damage caused by wood against wood.


The hutch suddenly dipped and slid swiftly to the front. Emma gasped. Apparently the speed caught Papa and John Yoder by surprise too, for the rope around the top went slack. Papa lunged to reach for the nearest corner, and his foot slipped. The wagon creaked and sank lower on its wheels as the hutch settled into place. At the same moment Papa went down on one knee with a loud, “Ummph.”


“Papa!”


Ach! Maummi pulled away from Emma and rushed forward. Her heart pounding against her rib cage, Emma followed. Men were already checking on Papa, but Maummi leaped into the wagon bed with a jump that belied her sixty years, the strings of her kapp flying behind her. She applied bony elbows to push her way around the hutch to her son’s side.


She came to a halt above him, hands on her hips, and looked down. “Are you hurt?”


Emma reached the side of the wagon in time to see Papa wince and shake his head. “No. A bruise is all.”


“Good.” She left him lying there and turned worried eyes toward her beloved hutch. With a gentle touch, she ran loving fingers over the smooth surface and knelt to investigate the corners.


A mock-stern voice behind Emma held the hint of a chuckle. “Trappings only, Marta Switzer. Care you more for a scratch on wood than an injury to your son?”


Emma turned to see Bishop Miller approach. He spared a smile for her as he drew near enough to lean his arms across the wooden side of the wagon and watch the activity inside. Samuel helped Papa to his feet and handed him the broad-brimmed hat that had fallen off. Emma breathed a sigh of relief when he took a ginger step to try out his leg and smiled at the absence of pain.


“My son is fine.” Maummi waved a hand in his direction, as though in proof. “And so is my hutch. Though my heart may not say the same, such a fright I’ve had.” She placed the hand lightly on her chest, drew a shuddering breath, and wavered on her feet.


Concern for her grandmother propelled Emma toward the back of the wagon. As she climbed up, she called into the house, “Rebecca, bring a cool cloth for Maummi’s head.”


The men backed away while Katie and several other women converged on the wagon to help Emma lift Maummi down and over to the rocking chair that rested in the shade of the porch, ready to be loaded when the time came. Maummi allowed herself to be lowered onto the chair, and then she wilted against the back, her head lolling sideways and arms dangling. A disapproving buzz rumbled among the watching women, but Emma ignored them. Though she knew full well that most of the weakness was feigned for the sake of the bishop and other onlookers, she also knew Maummi’s heart tended to beat unevenly in her chest whenever she exerted herself. It was yet another reason why she ought to stay behind in Apple Grove, but Maummi insisted her place was with Emma, her oldest granddaughter. What she really meant was that she intended to inspect every eligible young Amish man in Troyer and handpick her future grandson-in-law.


Aunt Gerda had written to say she anticipated that her only daughter would marry soon, and she would appreciate having Emma come to help her around the house. She’d also mentioned the abundance of marriageable young men in Troyer, with a suggestion that twenty-year-old Emma was of an age that the news might be welcome. Rebecca had immediately volunteered to go in Emma’s place. Though Papa appeared to consider the idea, he decided to send Emma because she was the oldest and therefore would be in need of a husband soonest. Maummi insisted on going along in order to “Keep an eye on this hoard of men Gerda will parade before our Emma.”


As far as Emma was concerned, they should just send Maummi on alone and leave her in Apple Grove to wait for her future husband to be delivered to her doorstep.


Rebecca appeared from inside the house with a dripping cloth in hand. A strand of wavy dark hair had escaped its pins and fluttered freely beside the strings of her kapp. At barely thirteen, her rosy cheeks and smooth, high forehead reminded Emma so sharply of their mother that at times her heart ached.


Rebecca looked at Maummi’s dramatic posture and rolled her eyes. She had little patience with Maummi’s feigned heart episodes, and she was young enough that she had yet to learn proper restraint in concealing her emotions. Emma awarded her sister with a stern look and held out a hand for the cloth.


With a contrite bob of her head, Rebecca handed it over and dropped to her knees beside the rocking chair. “Are you all right, Maummi?”


Ach, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s my time. Yet.”


Emma wrung the excess water from the cloth before draping it across the back of Maummi’s neck.


Danki.” The elderly woman realized that the men had stopped working in order to watch her, and she waved her hand in a shooing motion. “Place those quilts over my hutch before you load anything else! Mind, Jonas, no scratches.”


Papa shook his head, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Ja, I remember.”


The gray head turned toward Emma. “Granddaughter, see they take proper care.”


“I will, Maummi.”


Katie joined Emma to oversee the wrapping of the hutch. When Samuel Miller offered a strong arm to help Katie up into the wagon, Emma hid a smile. No doubt she would receive a letter at her new home soon, informing her that a wedding date had been published. Because Samuel was the bishop’s son, there was no fear he would not receive the Zeungis, the letter of good standing. Rebecca would be thrilled at the news of a proper wedding in tiny Apple Grove.


But Emma would be far away in Troyer, and she would miss her friend’s big day.


Why must I live there when everything I love is here?


She draped a thick quilt over her end of the hutch and sidled away while Papa secured a rope around it. The faces of her friends and family looked on. They filled the area between the house and the barn. She loved every one in her own way. Yes, even Amos Beiler. She sought him out among the crowd and smiled at the two little girls who hovered near his side. Poor, lonely Amos. He was a good father to his motherless family. No doubt he’d make a fine husband, and if she married him she wouldn’t have to move to Troyer. The thought tempted her once again, as it often had over the past several weeks since Papa announced his decision that she would live with Aunt Gerda for a while.


But she knew that if she agreed to become Amos’s wife that she would be settling. True, she would gain a prosperous farm and a nice house and a trio of well-behaved children, with the promise of more to come. But the fact remained that though there was much to respect about Amos, she didn’t love him. The thought of seeing that moon-shaped face and slightly cross-eyed stare over the table for breakfast, dinner, and supper sent a shiver rippling across her shoulders. Not to mention sharing a marriage bed with him. It was enough to make her throw her apron over her face and run screaming across Papa’s cornfield.


He deserves a wife who loves him, she told herself for the hundredth time. Her conscience thus soothed, Emma turned away from his mournful stare.


“That trunk goes in the front,” Maummi shouted from her chair on the porch. “Emma, show them where.”


Emma shrank against the gigantic hutch to give the men room to settle the trunk containing all of her belongings. An oiled canvas tarp had been secured over the top to repel any rain they might meet over the next week. Inside, resting on her dresses, aprons, bonnets, and kapps, was a bundle more precious to her than anything else in the wagon: a quilt, expertly and lovingly stitched, nestled within a heavy canvas pouch. Mama had made it with her own hands for Emma’s hope chest. The last stitch was bitten off just hours before she closed her eyes and stepped into the arms of her Lord.


Oh, Mama, if you were here you could convince Papa to let me stay home. I know you could. And now, without you, what will happen to me?


Yet, even in the midst of the dreary thought, a spark of hope flickered in the darkness in Emma’s heart. The future yawned before her like the endless Kansas prairie. Wasn’t there beauty to be found in the tall, blowing grasses of the open plain? Weren’t there cool streams and shady trees to offer respite from the heat of the day? Maybe Troyer would turn out to be an oasis.


“Emma!”


Maummi’s sharp tone cut through her musing. She jerked upright. Her grandmother appeared to have recovered from her heart episode. From the vantage point of her chair, she oversaw every movement with a critical eye.


“Yes, ma’am?”


“Mind what I said about that loading, girl. The food carton goes on last. We won’t want to search for provisions when we stop at night on the trail.”


An approving murmur rose from the women at the wisdom of an organized wagon.


“Yes, ma’am.” Emma exchanged a quick grin with Katie and then directed the man carrying a carton of canned goods and trail provisions to set his burden aside for now.


A little while later, after everything had been loaded and secured under an oiled canvas, the men stood around to admire their handiwork. Samuel even crawled beneath the wagon to check the support struts, and he pronounced everything to be “in apple-pie order.”


Emma felt a pluck on her arm. She turned to find Katie at her elbow.


“This is a gift for you.” Her friend pushed a small package into her hands. “It’s only a soft cloth and some fancy-colored threads. I was fixing to stitch you a design, but you’re so much better at fine sewing than I am that I figured you could make something prettier by yourself.” She ducked her head. “Think kindly of me when you do.”


Warmed by her friend’s gesture, Emma pulled her into an embrace. “I will. And I expect a letter from you soon.” She let Katie see her glance slide over to Samuel and back with a grin. “Especially when you have something exciting to report.”


A becoming blush colored the girl’s cheeks. “I will.”


Emma was still going down the line, awarding each woman a farewell hug, when Bishop Miller stepped up to the front of the wagon and motioned for attention.


“It’s time now to bid Jonas Switzer Godspeed and fair weather for his travels.” A kind smile curved his lips when he looked to Maummi and then to Emma. “And our prayers go with our sisters Marta and Emma as they make a new home in Troyer.”


He bowed his head and closed his eyes, a sign for everyone in the Apple Grove district to follow suit. Emma obeyed, fixing her thoughts on the blue skies overhead and the Almighty’s throne beyond. Silence descended, interrupted only by the snorts of oxen and a happy bird in the tall, leafy tree that gave shade to the porch.


What will I find in Troyer? A new home, as the bishop says? A fine Amish husband, as Papa wishes? I pray it be so. And I pray he will be the second son of his father so that he will come home with me to Apple Grove and take over Papa’s farm when the time comes.


A female sniffled behind her. Not Katie, but Rebecca. A twist inside Emma’s rib cage nearly sent tears to her eyes. Oh, how she would miss her sister when Rebecca left Troyer to return home with Papa. She vowed to make the most of their time together on the trail between here and there.


Bishop Miller ended the prayer with a blessing in High German, his hand on the head of the closest oxen. When the last word fell on the quiet crowd, Maummi’s voice sliced through the cool morning air. “Now that we’re seen off proper, someone help me up. We’ll be gone before the sun moves another inch across the sky.”


Though she’d proved earlier that she could make the leap herself at need, Maummi allowed Papa and the bishop to lift her into the wagon. She took her seat in her rocking chair, which was wedged between the covered hutch and one high side of the wagon bed. With a protective pat on the hutch, she settled her sewing basket at her feet and pulled a piece of mending onto her lap. No idle hands for Maummi. By the time they made Troyer, she’d have all the mending done, and the darning too, and a good start on a new quilt.


Emma spared one more embrace for Katie, steadfastly ignored Amos’s mournful stare, and allowed the bishop to help her up onto the bench seat. She scooted over to the far end to make room for Papa, and then Rebecca was lifted up to sit on the other side of him. A snug fit, but they would be okay for the six-day journey to Troyer. Emma settled her black dress and smoothed her apron.


“Now, Jonas, mind you what I said.” Maummi’s voice from behind their heads sounded a bit shrill in the quiet morning. “You cut a wide path around Hays. I’ll not have my granddaughters witness the ufrooish of those wild Englischers.”


On the other side of Papa, Rebecca heaved a loud sigh. Emma hid her grin. No doubt Rebecca would love to witness the rowdy riots of wild cowboy Englischers in the infamous railroad town of Hays.


Papa mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “This will be the longest journey of my life,” but aloud he said, “Ja, Mader.


With a flick of the rope, he urged the oxen forward. The wagon creaked and pitched as it rolled on its gigantic wheels. Emma grabbed the side of the bench with one hand and lifted her other hand in a final farewell as her home fell away behind her.




Interview with Margaret Brownley and Giveaway!!

Hi everyone,
Sorry for being absent last week but I went on vacation and had a break from blogging, other than what was already scheduled. Today I have an interview and a giveaway with an author who is known for her humorous western novels. And this one is quite interesting:) I will be posting my review this week but you also have a chance at winning your own copy of Dawn Comes Early here today.

Thank you for being with us today, Margaret!!!
Thank you so much for having me!

How long have you known you wanted to be an author?
I wrote my first “novel” in fifth grade so it’s been awhile. It was a mystery I didn’t know how to end (still don’t).

Can you tell me a little bit about your newest book?
“Dawn Comes Early” is the first book in my Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. Disgraced novelist Kate Tenney travels to Arizona Territory as “heiress to a cattle ranch. The west is nothing like what she wrote about in her books—and neither are the men!

When a reader gets done with your book, what do you want them to come away with?
My heroine is pretty disillusioned when she travels to Arizona. Not only was her latest book banned, effectively ruining her writing career, every man she’s ever known deserted her. For this reason she’s willing to sign a document forbidding her to marry. Men aren’t permanent; land is.
However, she’s soon to learn that God has a plan for her—and it’s bigger than any plan she could have thought up for herself. All she has to do was put her trust and faith in Him. That’s just as true for us as it is for Kate.

There is an interesting story about how you got the idea for this series. Could you tell us about it?
The idea for Brides of Last Chance Ranch series came to me after reading an old newspaper article in the New York Times dated 1891. A group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Millford formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry. Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one who remained unmarried the longest. Thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and being a romantic I sincerely hope no one had— but that’s the wonderful thing about being a writer; you can make up your own endings.

Is there a place you have always wanted to visit? A vacation spot, historical monument, overseas, etc?
I’d love to set a western down under. Those Australian cowboys are yummy.

What one event would you love to be at? Historical or future?
It would be fun to go back in time. If nothing else I’d know what stocks to buy.

Do you have any suggestions for the aspiring writer?
Enjoy the journey. Being published comes with its own challenges, so you really have to enjoy each step of the way or you won’t survive. Surround yourself with a support group and celebrate every success. Celebrate when you finish a chapter; enter a contest; pop a query in the mail; or sign up for a writing workshop. This is what kept me going during the five years it took me to sell my first book, and it will keep you going, too.

Any last thoughts for your readers?
Thank you all for your interest. If it wasn’t for readers like you I wouldn’t be able to do what I love doing!

And how can they connect with you?
You can reach me through my website: Love and Laughter in the Old West.
I’m also on Twitter and Facebook.

So readers, what did I tell ya? She is a wonderful writer and I thoroughly enjoy her books. Dawn Comes Early has it's funny moments but also moments that make you sit there and think. An excellent book that you will love if you enjoy historical novels. Get your entries in below!

READERS, MARGARET IS HOSTING A GIVEAWAY ON HER SITE THAT I THINK YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT!! DETAILS BELOW!!

More Love and Laughter from New York Times Bestselling Author
Margaret Brownley
“Daily Reasons to Smile” Contest

“I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”
—Aunt Bessie in Dawn Comes Early (Brides of Last Chance Ranch)

Characters from Margaret’s new book will send you a reason to smile every day until April 11th. Join in the fun and you could win a book, potted cactus (the story takes place in Arizona Territory) or an iPod Nano and alarm clock docking station. To enter send an email to info@NancyBerland.com. Be sure to put “Reason to Smile” in the subject line. That’s it!

US ONLY!!
Use the Rafflecopter form to enter this giveaway. It will end 3/29. Winner will be chosen through Random.org and they will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Thanks so much for entering!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Payday and Loans

How manyof you have ever needed money before your next payday came around? I haven't really had much trouble with that because I keep a pretty good budget on my money and finances. But there are some people I know who every once in a while could use a couple small loans. Have you ever needed one?

If you are ever in the need of small personal loans or anything like that, I would check out out this company. I have not used their website but I have looked around and I am pretty impressed with what I found. The site is easily accessed and looks pretty nice. There is an area that gives you a ton of information for any questions you might have, or if you can't find the answers you can easily contact them through their website or on the phone. This is the place to go for your short term loans! Check out Little Payday!

LinkI have not used this site at all. All thoughts are 100% mine.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Plumbing and Water Septic Problems.

Have you ever had plumbing problems? Maybe a water heater replacement needed? Or that tub that just won't drain? Possibly the toilet that overflows on you? I for one hate when plumbing problems happen. It isn't bad when it is something small that a little work will fix, but when it is big... I just hate it. We have had a tub that has needed some plumbing work recently and it is a pain, but one of the biggest things that ever happened was actually with our septic tank. And believe me, it was not nice!

We were living at a house that was in a nice neighborhood. Not the type of area you want the water flooding your front yard at all:) Needless to say, that is exactly what happened. Our septic tank overflowed and the yard was swimming. We had to call a plumber to come in and fix things up but in the meantime, it was not good. The smell, the water, etc. I am telling you, you don't realize how much you miss something until you no longer have a clean yard to walk through.

So, what about you? Ever had a nasty problem with your plumbing? Maybe a water heater that needed replaced? Tell me about it in a comment. We love to hear the funny stories:)

I am participating in a blogger campaign by Bucks2Blog and was
compensated. However, the views and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour for Before the Scarlet Dawn!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Before The Scarlet Dawn
Abingdon Press (February 2012)
by
Rita Gerlach




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland.



"Romantic historical fiction that has an inspirational bent, is one way people can escape the cares of life and be transported back to a time of raw courage and ideal love," she says. "The goal of my writing is to give readers a respite, and inspire them to live fully and gratefully."



In many of her stories, she writes about the struggles endured by early colonists, with a sprinkling of both American and English history. Currently she is writing a new historical series for Abingdon Press entitled 'Daughters of the Potomac'. See her 'Novels In Progress' page on her website to learn more.



There are other novels on her list to be published, and a proposal for another book series.



She was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in a large family in the Maryland suburbs. Her family claims that storytelling is their blood, handed down from centuries of Irish storytellers. Rita believes there just may be something to that theory.



ABOUT THE BOOK



In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father’s estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar’s daughter,

Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life.



Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward’s path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward

joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Before The Scarlet Dawn, go HERE.



Watch the book video:





MY REVIEW-I have read several books written by Rita Gerlach before. But this one really caught my attention and I fell in love with it from page 1!! I rushed through this in about half a day!! The characters are real and even though you don't like some of them, they are still very life-like. I practially fell in love with a character who doesn't even appear until near the end of the book.

Now, Rita left the end of this hanging and I sure hope there is another book in the works:) Excellent book even though there are a couple things people might find objectionable. I think Rita did very well in not being specific about the sin that occurs. Way to go!

I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I did not receive any monetary compensation.
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