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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Remodeling-Stage 1

After living in my house for almost 6 yrs.. (This May) I've been wanting to have new floors put in the kitchen and all the bathrooms. We live in a very nice, spacious, manufactured home, and with that comes the manufactured walls in the kitchen, laundry room and all 3 bathrooms. I've hated that ever since we moved in.. Well.... I'm finally taking care of that problem without having to take down the walls and redo them.. I found some really nice paintable wallpaper at Lowe's that I am putting over the walls and will be painting them after it's all applied. I've started in the kitchen area and have been working everyday since Monday on it. It's a lot of work since all the walls need to be redone.
We've decided to do two different kinds of wallpaper. The bottom half looks like wainscoting and the top half just looks like textured walls. We will be adding chair moulding in between once it's all painted. The top half will be a light beige/brown and the bottom a medium/dark brown. With my new walls, comes new flooring.. Hip Hip Hooray!!! When we bought our home, the people who owned the home before us disguised some rips in the kitchen flooring.. So for almost 6 yrs I've had to hide them with kitchen rugs.. Not for much longer... oh yeh!!

Here is one wall as you enter the kitchen from the living room (BEFORE)


Here is two pictures of where I finished the wainscoting wall paper on the bottom half of the wall

It's hard to really see this as the wallpaper is still wet so it gives it a weird tint but the top half is a textured wallpaper

Here is another kitchen wall (BEFORE)

Here is the same wall with the wainscoting bottom done. I just finished the top half of this wall this evening but didn't get a picture of it yet.

We purchased our new wood floors on Sunday and if I can get the walls painted by Saturday, hubby will be starting it.. We are putting in the wooden floors in our kitchen, and our dining room (which is really the family room ( see below some photos) but we now have it our dining room and our REAL dining room is our homeschool room). The flooring will also flow into our laundry room making it nice and streamlined. It's going to look fabulous..

Here is a BEFORE photo of the same red wall you saw in the kitchen. It's all one wall. This is part of our family room turned dining room

Here is the bottom half done with the wainscoting wallpaper.

We've decided to take the wainscoting wallpaper all the way around the room and add chair moulding to make the room look more elegant. Here is a BEFORE of another wall in the dining room (formerly family room)

Here is the wall done on the bottom. We will add the chair moulding and just paint the top part without adding wallpaper since this is a real wall and not the manufactured walls that are in the kitchen. You can see there to the right of the photo our new flooring.. YEH!
Tonight I was able to add the top wallpaper to over half of the kitchen so I should be done with the kitchen portion tomorrow and then I'll work on adding the wallpaper to the other half of the red wall in the dining room. Then I'm off to painting all the walls...

Ashton Park by Murray Pura

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Ashton Park
Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
Murray Pura


Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

My Thoughts on this Book:
I've had the opportunity to read a couple of Murray's books so far and couldn't wait to pick this one up to read it. Set in England during World War I, you get to know the Danforth Family very intimately as Murray brings out details about each family member while sharing a bit of history throughout. This was a little harder for me to read than his other books though. He doesn't lack details and I think that's what caused me to slow down a bit while reading this as he adds quite a bit. That doesn't take away from the storyline but it does extend it a bit.
With that said, he does have moments in the story where you are gripping the seat because it was so good and then the chapter ends, to then have the next chapter jump almost a year ahead and then he spends a chapter trying to catch up with the story from the previous chapter. I thought that a bit odd.. Overall, it was a good read. Enjoyed the time period, the characters and the realistic aspect of their lives. I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book in this series has to offer.


For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park.
Among the green hills and trees of Lancashire, only a few miles from the sea, lies the beautiful and ancient estate of Ashton Park.
The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William's and Lady Elizabeth's three sons are all in uniform--and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.

As the head of a strong Church of England family for generations, Sir William insists the Danforth estate hold morning devotions that include both family and staff. However, he is also an MP and away at Westminster in London whenever Parliament is sitting. During his long absences, Lady Elizabeth discreetly spends time in the company of the head cook of the manor, Mrs. Longstaff, who is her best friend and confidante. This friendship includes visits to a small Baptist church in Liverpool that exposes Lady Elizabeth to a less formal approach to Christian worship and preaching than she is used to and which she comes to enjoy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ashton Park, go HERE.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Friday, January 25, 2013

52 Week Money Challenge

Are you looking to save some money in 2013 but don't really have a lot each week to set aside? I came across an awesome idea that would give you $1,378.00 in 52 weeks. Sound interesting? What is it you ask? It's called 52 Week Money Challenge.
Print out the sheet that tells you what you deposit each week and watch the savings begin. You can find the printout HERE
I saw this great idea while searching through Pinterest and thought, I could totally do this. At the end of the year we will have a nice little set of 'change' set aside for things we'd like to do in 2014 or projects we'd like to tackle etc.
I already got myself caught up on my money jar and will be paying myself each Friday, treating it like a 'bill' and setting it aside at the same time I pay my bills each week. If you can't print off the form for any reason, basically you will pay yourself a dollar for each week it is..
For instance:
Week 1- $1.00
Week 2- $2.00
Week 3- $3.00
Week 44- $44.00
Week 52- $52.00
So if you are on week 12, you'd add $12.00 that week to your jar. Make sense.. At the end of Week 52 you will have saved $1,378.00.. If you have more money to spare, maybe you can double it each week and end up with $2,756.00 in 52 weeks.. the possibilities....

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher PLUS Giveaway

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher
Book 2 in the Where the Heart Lives Series
About this Book:
In the sequel to Belonging, Robin Lee Hatcher weaves a story of romance in the old west. With her dead husband’s half-brother threatening to take her Wyoming ranch, Julia Grace and drifter Hugh Brennan fight to hold on to her livelihood. Can two wounded hearts find a way to learn to trust again?
My Thoughts on This Book:
I've had the opportunity to read Book 1 of this book before reading this one. I feel this book could be read without reading the first book. With that said, I loved the first book so recommend reading it so you can get the feel for Hugh's sister's life before diving into this one. Who is Hugh? He is one of three siblings that were put on the orphan train back in Chicago at the age of 13 when their mother died and they couldn't locate their drunkard father. All three siblings were placed in homes, but soon after, Hugh's father found him and brought him back to live with him.
Life was not peaches and cream for him. A life of crime thanks to his father. But Hugh didn't want his live to be defined by his father or his past so he sets off to find his two sisters. One, Felicia, that was in the first book and the other Diana. On the way he meets Julia Grace, the owner of Sage-hen ranch. He finds the need to work for her as he gathers money to continue his journey to Idaho to find his long lost family. Both full of baggage, will love spark between them or will their differences keep them apart?
Fantastic story and now I can't wait to read about the last sibling, Diana in the 3rd book in this series which comes out later this year..
You can learn more about this book by visiting the publisher HERE or you can pick up a copy wherever paperback books are sold.
I am delighted to be giving away a Brand New Copy of this wonderful book to one lucky reader. I just ask that you leave a comment with a contact email below to enter to win. It's that simple. I will pick a name on Friday January 31, 2013.
Please place your comment/info below by 11:59pm Thursday January 30, 2013 to enter..
I have received two copies of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and to provide one free copy to one lucky blog visitor. No other compensation was given.

Grace Given by Beth Shriver

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Grace Given
Realms (January 8, 2013)
Beth Shriver


Childhood memories of her grandfather's ranch came alive as Beth wrote her first Amish story. Her parents grew up in the country, so she appreciates pastoral life and respects those who make a living off the land. She visits a nearby Amish community just south of Fort-Worth for an occasional church service or brunch with the bishop and his wife. And on the way home she stops at the community store to get some plum jam!

Beth received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband, two children, along with two cats and a beagle live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Beth is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency.


“Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” —Amish Proverb

Elsie Kline can’t forgive her sister for leaving the community. Gideon Lapp helps Elsie through her bitterness by studying the Martyr’s Mirror book that is centuries old, describing their ancestors’ sacrifice for their faith. But he feels there is something more. When the community moved to Texas, they were not welcomed by some of the locals. They have told Katie and Elsie that harm will come to their community if don’t go back up north where they came from. Gideon stays by Elsie’s side as she learns to give grace and to humble herself to accept grace as well.
“Beth has a heart for helping others, whether through her nonfiction and fiction writing or in other capacities. It has been my pleasure to read and respond to her work during the past few years of knowing her.” —Leanna Ellis, Author of Facelift and Forsaken and winner of the National Readers Choice Award.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Grace Given, go HERE.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher

About this Book:
Leaving behind her bitter past, Felicia Kristoffersen seeks to make a brighter future for herself as a teacher in Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho. But in this tiny high desert town, she can’t afford to fail. And not everyone is happy she’s here to begin with. Award-winning novelist Robin Lee Hatcher weaves a historical romance that asks the question: Can faith triumph over life’s harshest storms?
My Thoughs on this Book:
After losing their mother at a young age, Felicia and her two siblings board the orphan train in Chicago, bound for the West. Felicia lived on a farm in Wyoming with her new family, separated from her two siblings. After the death of her new parents, she moves to a small town in Idaho to become their  schoolmarm.
Colin, the local mercantile owner, is part of the schoolboard and has offered his little cottage behind his store to the new school teacher, Felicia. As their lives intertwine, will loss from both of them in their past hold them back to love in the present? Will Felicia ever find a place to call home? You'll find out when opening up this delightful story set in the late 1800's Idaho Territory. A wonderfully quick read will delight you even after you turn the last page!

You can check out more info on this book or to purchase a copy you can go directly to the publisher HERE or wherever paperback books are sold.
I have received two copies of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review and to provide one free copy to one lucky blog visitor. No other compensation was given.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Path of Freedom
Abingdon Press (January 2013)
Jennifer Hudson Taylor


Jennifer Hudson Taylor is an award winning author of historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas and a speaker on topics of faith, writing and publishing. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, won the 2011 Holt Medallion award for Best First Book. Jennifer's work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Romantic Times Book Reviews, and The Military Trader. She serves as the in-house Publicist at Hartline Literary Agency and co-owns Upon the Rock Publicist. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Communications. When she isn't writing, she enjoys spending time with family, long walks, traveling, touring historical sites, hanging out at bookstores with coffee shops, genealogy, and reading.

My Thoughts on This Book:
The story is set in North Carolina during America's history where blacks were not free, but slaves. At the beginning, we are introduced to the town of Greensboro, North Carolina and the local Quaker's. Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan, both knew each other as children. Bruce taunted and teased Flora growing up and now as adults she is having issues with forgiveness and trust towards him. Then the local pastor asks both of them, along with Flora's sister, Irene, to take part in the Underground Railroad to help save a couple that is pregnant from slavery. Armed with their faith, and a quilt stitched with a map to help them lead the way, they embark on this journey to save these two American's. Will their past affect the trip? Full of adventure, a little romance and a whole of history, this book was an easy read and an easily enjoyable one as well. I love reading the "Quilts of Love" series books. This was just as good as the other one.. Look forward to reading more...


2nd in the Quilts of Love series

When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.

As they embark on their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Path of Freedom, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:


I receieved this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. No other compensation was given.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Craft Room Makeover

Since the last week of December I've been working on re-organizing my craft room to make it more efficient and easy to just sit down and make a card or two without much effort. I started out by organizing my paper. That was a task. I had a HUGE selection of paper from solids to patterns and most were tucked away and still in there original bindings. I went through each sheet and tore them apart and organized them by gender and whether they were patterned or solid. I now have a large crate with my 12 x 12 paper organized with dividers. I have a 6 x 6 mini crate organized the same way and my solid colored 8 1/2 by 11 paper is organized by color.



This above is more organized 12 x 12 paper. Each sheet is now easy to just pick up and use instead of having the thumb through pages that were still adhered to their folders.


My solid 8 1/2 by 11 paper organized by color


6 x 6 paper organized with dividers by gender and whether it's patterned or solid.

I also did this with my 8 x 8 paper. I just forgot to take a picture of it done.

On another day I spent the whole day organizing my ribbon. I started about a year ago storing them in glass cookie jars but over time I bought a lot of ribbon and got behind in putting them in there. I would unwrap them from their original containers and roll them each onto a wooden clothespin and store them color coded in the cookie jars. Well after I finally got them all done, I realized I had more than what the cookie jar could hold, so I went out and bought these really nice jars with lids since they are stored on top, dust won't get in the jar.


Then came the big change. I organized all my crafting drawers. Purchased a lot of drawer organizers at the Dollar Tree and went to work. Took me an entire day and a half to re-arrange everything and use the organizers to help me put everything in a good place to make it easy for me to make cards quickly.

After all the organizing I still didn't like how it looked from the outside. I could still see inside the drawers because they were see through and even though they were organized it didn't look like it through the drawer faces and from the side. So I lined each drawer face with beautiful decorative scrapbooking paper and then sewed a fabric side/top cover for the sides of the drawers. The finished product looks awesome and it really makes my craft room look more elegant instead of a plastic storage bin area..




After: with the paper and the fabric lining on the side




After. You can't see the fabric lining really well on these two sets as they are tucked away next to my bookcase. These are two drawer sets stacked on top of each other. I lined each set separately in case I ever decide to move them.






Before-Another view


After- Another view



Here is a couple shots of the fabric lining when I pulled the drawers out from the wall. Doesn't it make the plastic containers look so much nicer. I'm very happy with the results and had fun making some cards this evening now that everything is all done..

You can check out my cardmaking blog @ Creative Cardmaking.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Goodnight, Brian by Steven Manchester

About the Book:
Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was devastating and absolute. Fate had written off Brian. But fate didn’t count on a woman as determined as Brian’s grandmother, Angela DiMartino who everyone knew as Mama. Loving her grandson with everything she had, Mama endeavored to battle fate. Fate had no idea what it was in for.
My Thoughts on This Book:
Tugging at the heartstrings. This book shows us the strength of a family that endures heartache, and pain and overcomes it with the power of love and family. Brian, a healthy baby boy at birth finds himself with a large obstacle in his path after he suffers brain damage from consuming bad infant formula. While the author could of easily turned this book into a legal drama showing us that side of the story, he didn't. He showed us the better side, the struggles, the unconditional love, and the hope each of Brian's family members showed through all the obstacles that he endured. Powerful testimony that even when life brings you things that may bring us down, God can show us that we can fight for it all and come out better on the other side. Gripping and well worth the read! Highly recommend this book!

About the Author:

Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 best seller, Twelve Months, as well as A Christmas Wish (Kindle exclusive), the heart-warming prequel to Goodnight, Brian (release date, January 8, 2013). His work has appeared on NBC's Today Show, CBS's The Early Show, CNN's American Morning and BET's Nightly News. Recently, three of Steven's short stories were selected "101 Best" for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or his four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing. Visit:

I receieved a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

100 Things Continued

Doing really well so far with my 100 Things challenge I set forth. The goal is to take away 100 things in my house I no longer need, use or want. I now have a bag full of stuff. Looking at about 20 things so far. I've also sold 10 things on Ebay, and about 20 items on a local Facebook Yard Sale.. It's looking good and so good that I may easily exceed the 100 items challenge number.. Can't wait to see by the end of the week..

Under the Summer Sky by Lori Copeland

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 author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***


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.


After a man named Jones rescues Trinity Franklin from a river, they find their destination is the same: a small town in North Dakota. A seemingly coincidental beginning comes to a delightful and charming ending when orchestrated by the One who can put the pieces of any lost and broken life together.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930205
ISBN-13: 978-0736930208
My Thoughts on this Book:
What a great sequel to her first book in The Dakota Diaries series. I love how she ties in the previous characters allowing you to remember the details of the previous book without overwhelming us with repeats if you'd had the opportunity to read the first book like I have. I loved this book. Full of laughter, romance and adventure. I couldn't put this book down until the last page was turned.
Trinity's life was full of heartache from a young age watching family leave or die. When Jones comes into her life with a bang her whole life turns upside down. She's out of money, and needs her families land sold quickly so she can return to her comfortable life. That is not the case though. She goes for a huge adventure, and she may turn out better for it in the end. You'll need to read the book to find out!! I highly recommend it!


Near Piedmont, South Dakota, 1893

“Don’t put me in that barrel!”

“Do you want to die, woman?”

“No! That’s why you can’t put me in the barrel—I can’t swim!” She had gone to the river for a simple bucket of water when this beast had swept in and captured her. She loved the good Lord, but she wasn’t ready to meet Him face-to-face. The sound of rushing water overwhelmed her senses as iron hands gripped her waist. War whoops filled the air as three riders poured over the hillside. She pounded the solid wall of flesh that enveloped her. “Let me go!”

“I’m trying to save your life, lady.”

The stranger heaved her over to the barrel and unceremoniously dumped her inside, stuffing her head between her knees before he slammed the lid down on top.

“I can’t swim!” Her muffled voice echoed in her ears. Was he deaf    ? Mad? What kind of man would put a woman in a barrel and send her over the rapids when she couldn’t swim? She banged on the wooden sides. “Let me out!”

All bedlam broke out, and even through the barrel Trinity could hear grunts, shouts, and the sound of bare fists meeting flesh. Her heart hammered in her chest. She willed herself to be still, but she could feel the barrel shifting underneath her, teetering at the water’s edge. “Don’t let me fall in, don’t let me fall in,” she whispered. A flour mill sat downstream, but if she reached it she would be too late. A few minutes in the turgid waters and she would drown.

Grunts. More fists.

Please, God. Please, God.

She swallowed back the urge to shout. Calling out would mean certain death. Her brother, Rob, had written tales of rebels, both Indian and white, banding together to plunder and commit unspeakable acts, but never in her wildest dreams would she have thought to encounter one of the lowlifes. A gunshot—then another. Trinity’s heart crowded her throat as the fighting grew fiercer. The barrel shifted again.

Don’t let me fall in. Don’t let me fall in.

A deep rumble. A shove. Trinity’s heart sputtered. She was close—too close. She could almost smell the cold, rushing water. She heard the shuffle of men’s boots—though now it sounded as though there were fewer of them. Maybe two? Against overwhelming odds, the stranger appeared to be winning.

Rapids rushed in the distance. Relax. That beast of a man is strong. He still faced formidable odds, but it sounded as if he were besting the enemy. Trinity felt the tension draining away from her. The ruckus would be over soon and he would release her from her wooden prison.

And then she would demand to know who he was and how he’d had the audacity to risk her life!

Locked in a duel, the men’s groans filled the air as they strained against one another. The sheer force in their tones made her cringe. Then—the unthinkable. A boot caught the edge of the barrel and sent it toppling into the churning water.

Trinity screamed as the current caught the barrel and bounced it downstream. Terror-stricken, she watched the water seeping through the cracks in the wood. The rapids were only two hundred yards downstream—she had to be getting close.

She was going to die. Rob had perished far too young, and now she was going to join him. And it was all her fault. She should never have left her nice, safe café job in Sioux City and come to this rugged land. She had refused to accompany Rob a year earlier when he’d pleaded with her to join him and help him settle Wilson’s Falls, the plot of land their family had owned for generations. She should have held to her belief that no good would come of her visiting this remote country for even a short time. No amount of money on earth could keep her safe now—not even the handsome sum the railroad was likely to offer for the family’s parcel of land.

The trip was supposed to be brief. Never once had she thought her journey would end at the Pearly Gates.


Jones whirled when he heard the barrel hit the water. The man locked in his grip took advantage of the distraction and landed a blow that took Jones to his knees. He swung wildly, landing a punch that momentarily staggered his opponent.

His eyes swung back to the barrel. Only a few moments before it went over the rapids. The other thug came at him and he managed a hard right and then his signature left, the knock-out blow. His opponent slumped to the ground and Jones took off running down the bank. His boots thrashed through a heavy thicket as his eyes followed the bobbing container. When he reached a wide spot, he dove in and surfaced just within reach of the barrel.

“Hold on! I’m here!” he yelled.

The girl’s reedy voice came back. “I can’t swim! Get me out of here!”

“I’m trying!” He lunged, his hand brushing the barrel in vain. Charging again, he only managed to hurry the barrel along. It flew over the rapids and he heard her screams until the roar of rushing water snatched them away.

Shoot. She was going to be mad as a wet hen.

“Are you still there? I can’t hear you!”

He couldn’t imagine why not. She was yelling loud enough for them to hear her all the way to Canada.

“I’m here! Just hang on!”

“I can’t swim!”

Like he hadn’t heard her the first eight times. Closing his eyes, he dove under the swift current.


The thin wood split as the water and rocks smashed the barrel into kindling. Trinity gasped for air, her breath lodged in her throat. The wind and water whipped wildly about her. Where was he?

Anger churned with panic as she bumped along. Objects blurred as she choked, struggling to right herself. She went down, down, down, thumping and bumping over rocks. This was it. This was the end. She’d never done anything worthwhile in her nineteen years. Nothing but wait tables and serve others—but that was good. To her knowledge she’d never caused anyone an ounce of trouble, so she could meet her Maker in good faith.

Now she would draw her last breath—gurgle it, more like—but…she broke the waterline, choking. A strong hand latched onto her hair as she went under again.

Pain blinded her—pain the likes of which she’d never experienced. Her very roots were being ripped out. She struggled to break the fierce hold, and did, momentarily, but then something snared her and yanked her back to the surface.

“Stop fighting me!” a male voice demanded.

She saw him then—the man who’d stuffed her in the barrel. At the moment it didn’t matter what he’d stuffed her in; he was an anchor in the storm. Her efforts ceased. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held on tight.

He was a strong swimmer, but she was dead weight. Dragging her through the water, he reached a ledge and paused to catch his breath. Paralyzed with fear, her heart threatened to pound out of her chest, and for the first time in her life she couldn’t find the words she wanted. His arms around her were powerful, and the feel of his prickly dark beard against her cheek brought a blush to her face. She’d never been this close to a man before—except Rob, of course. When she poured coffee at the café she bent close, but never this close. She could smell him, hear his ragged breath in her ear.

“Sorry I scared you,” he said, swiping his face to clear the water out of his eyes. “I didn’t mean for the barrel to go over.”

She nodded, still not able to find her voice. She was in the middle of a rushing rapid, standing in the arms of a stranger, finding her brush with death very difficult to comprehend.

“Hold on.” He hitched her up and swam the remaining distance to shore. Throwing her on the bank like a landed carp, he crawled out and collapsed beside her. For a moment they lay in the warm sun, gasping for breath. In a novel the moment might have been romantic, Trinity thought. Instead it was wet and cold and ghastly.

“Who are you?” she asked, finally finding her breath. Since she could speak she should probably thank him—it was only polite—though at the moment she wanted to throttle him for putting her life in danger in the first place.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m just passing through.”

“What’s your name?” She had the right to know who’d almost killed her, didn’t she?


“Jones what?”

“Just Jones.” Rolling to his back, he stuck out his hand. “Are you all right?”

Trinity stared at the proffered hand, stultified. “Why did you stick me in that barrel?”

“I saved your life.”

“You could easily have taken it. I don’t…”

“Swim. So you’ve said.” Struggling to his feet, he removed his left boot and dumped out a stream of water. “Sorry I upset you, but those men would have distressed you more.”

Her gaze fixed on the tall stranger. She knew she should feel nothing but gratitude, but he’d scared the wadding out of her. “Well, before you stick a lady in a barrel and send her downstream, you might want to make certain you can save her.”

Jones dumped the water out of his right boot. “Don’t figure there’s any reason for me to apologize for saving your neck.” He glanced up. “What are you doing out here alone, anyway?”

“I was doing my wash.” She pushed to her feet and brushed the wet hair out of her eyes.

“You live around here?”

“Not live. I’m staying here for a while. I’m in the process of selling my land, and once I do I’m going back to Sioux Falls.”

“Nice town.”

“You’ve been there?”

He nodded, shoving his foot, wet sock and all, back into his boot. “Couple of times. Do you want me to walk you back to your place?”

“No, thank you.” She’d had quite enough of him for one day.

Nodding, he set his Stetson on his head and adjusted the band. “You might want to keep a close eye out for the others. The men scattered, but they’ll meet up again.”

Trinity swallowed, trying to retain her composure. She’d get home, and then she wouldn’t rest until she’d sold the land and left this godforsaken place behind her forever. “Thank you. I’ll be careful.”

“You think you can handle these wilds?”

She lifted her chin. “Of course I can handle myself.” Granted, he had caught her in a bad circumstance, but chances were that the men were only passing through and she’d have no more trouble with them.

“Do you have a gun?”

“My brother left one.”

“Do you know how to use it?”

The chin rose higher. “I do—if necessary.”

He paused, a slow grin starting at the corners of his mouth. Dark curly hair, penetrating brown eyes, and skin browned by the long hours in the sun. He was handsome, no denying it, but Trinity had more important things on her mind. “I see you’ve got things well in hand.”

She nodded coolly. He had every right to suspect that she was one of those helpless simpering females, but she was far from vulnerable. She’d been on her own since Rob had left to work this land, and she’d learned to care for herself nicely.

He started off and then turned back. “By the way…”

She pushed another lock of soggy hair out of her eyes. “Yes?”

His gaze drifted down. “You lost your skirt in the water.”

Gasping, she looked down. She was wearing nothing but her bloomers! And he hadn’t said a word until now.

When she looked up, he was gone. Drawing herself up straight, she sniffed. And a good riddance it was.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given.

Monday, January 7, 2013

100 Things...

I came across this blog above from a pin on Pinterest. She mentions to get rid of 100 things in one weekend. I've had a huge desire lately to purge my house of clutter. I've actually been doing this for sometime but still seem to get more things into the house and then again have to declutter once again.
I started this already this past week by re-organzing and selling off some crafting supplies I no longer need or use before even seeing this but feel like this might be the motivation I need to shed a little more weight from the house stuff. I know it's only Monday and not the weekend but who says you have to wait until then. I'd like to take this week to see if I can find 100 things to let go of.
I'm looking forward to decluttering my life and to RENEW my house. I'll post a picture at week's end of what I've been able to gather..

Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter

About This Book:

Only one pair of boots—and the cowboy wearing them—can get Annie out of the mess she’s in.

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight as she tries to put her kid-sister through college and provide for her young nephew. When Annie’s column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love.

Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters.

Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him. But her unwavering conviction that cowboys are nothing but trouble has kept her heart safe for years. And she can’t risk getting hurt now.

The more Annie tries to control things, the more they fall apart. Her feelings are spinning out of control, and her sister’s antics are making life increasingly more difficult. Annie knows she needs to turn the reins over to God, but surrender has never come easily.

When Dylan reveals his feelings for her, Annie doesn’t know what to trust—her head or her heart. The trouble with this cowboy is that he might just be exactly what she needs.

My Thoughts on This Book:

The third book in the Big Sky Romance Series by Denise Hunter. I've had the opportunity to read all three of the books and found each one equally enjoyable. The great part is you don't have to read each one in turn to understand and enjoy this book. This storyline follows Annie and Dylan. One young woman afraid to love a cowboy due to her cowboy father abandoning her and her younger sister Sierra when they were younger. Watching her mother have relationships after relationships fail with none other than more cowboys, she sees them as unstable, untrustworthy and unreliable. She then meets Dylan, a cowboy, who needs her help with his injured horse.

To pay the bills, Annie takes on a part time job as a writer for the Montana Living magazine. Starts out as a horse column, turns into a love column. Something she doesn't have any experience in. She calls upon Dylan to help her in exchange for helping with his horse.

Full of funny one liners,  cute little letters to read at the beginning of every chapter that pulls you in before you even start, romance at every turn and an overall A++ enjoyable read. I couldn't put this book down until the very end.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the book. No other compensation was given.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

One Word-2013

January 1st brings a new year and a new direction for my life. For the past two years I've focused on ONE WORD that will help me each year. In 2011, my word was SIMPLIFY.. I took 2011 and used it to simplify my life. From outside commitments to organizing my home and schooling.
In 2012, my word was BALANCE. After a year of simplifying my life, I needed to take a year and balance everything out. From not committing where I didn't have time and to balance schooling, home life and family time..
So that brings me to 2013's word... RENEW!
What does this word mean to me this year?
  • Renew my walk with the Lord first and foremost. To use this year to give more time with my relationship with God and to bring Him into my daily life, by conversing and reading the Word.
  • Renew my fitness goals by getting back to the gym on a regular basis. I've slipped over the past three months with hunting season and just life in general so I want to make this a part of my regular life again.
  • Renew my healthy eating habits. Two years ago we started eating whole foods, and organic where possible. I've got a bit relaxed in this area and I want to get back to really eating better. We let a little processed food into our home over the past couple months. (it's all gone now) but I want to get back into the habit of making my food from scratch again.. All the time where I can.
  • Renew my marriage.. YEP.. I want to make a habit of having a date night with my beloved once a month as a minimum without kids. I already have January and February planned..
  • Renew my relationship with my children. I've allowed negativity and sarcasm into our home and I really need to work on letting that go. I would like to spend more time with my children individually so I can get to know them better on a personal level. As a homeschool Mom, I've noticed lately that I've let this part of our relationship slide because I'm around them 24/7 and think being AROUND them is enough and it's not.
  • Renew my love for photography. I've let this slip a bit. While on Pinterest this past year I've come across a lot of pins that talk about photography and how to better your pictures using software and technology. I've also come across a lot of people trying to sell their pictures or start a business with little or no skills in photography and it really puts a bad taste in my mouth seeing this. I know that's a little harsh, but I really work to do my best with my camera at the taking pictures stage and I don't rely at all on software to enhance my images other than cropping to get them printed.. I need to let go of that and just go back to taking pictures because it makes me happy.
  • Renew my attitude. There has been a lot of things lately that have affected me and I need to take all of this and place it at the feet of Jesus. I need to transform my way of thinking and realize that I can't control everything that goes on around me.
  • Renew my love of running. After my vigorous schedule I put on myself after my 10K run in May to run a half marathon, I felt that running was a chore and have really cut back. I would like to find that feeling I once had for running and to just run for fun!
  • Renew my desire to blog more and to be more real. I've felt like I needed in the past to censor my words so I wouldn't offend anybody that may come across my blog. I'd like to be more real on here with my feelings and to also blog more about my day to day life.
  • Renew my love for crafting. I've been making cards for sometime. I got a little discouraged over Christmas when the post office told me I had to pay 85 cents for each Christmas card because it couldn't be machined. I had to handstamp each of 124 envelopes NON MACHINABLE and then had to add all the postage to them all. They told me about the thickness issues and because I love to make my cards pop. I got a bit disapointed in how the post office is charging so much for a simple letter card.. I don't want that to stop me from continuing on making these cards that I love to do..
So that is some of the reasons why I chose RENEW as my word for 2013.. Do you have a ONE WORD for this year or in the past? Would love to hear from you.. Happy New Year!