Litfuse Tour for THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR by Ace Collins

I’m part of the Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour today for Ace Collins’ THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR – A Christmas devotional. This is a super little book chock full of scripture, reflection, recipes, and crafts. I plan to share mine with my family.Thank you for my review copy!See below for more info and to enter the fun giveaway!The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Ace Collins

Make this upcoming Christmas holiday a Christ-filled season of joy and wonder with the help of Ace Collins’ new devotional, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. From December to New Year’s Eve, reawaken the Christmas season with daily scripture and inspirational readings of stories behind popular Christmas traditions, carols and movies. Enjoy a wealth of fun activities to help make the most of the season, including heartwarming holiday recipes and homemade gift ideas. Download a free sampler of the book by clicking here.

About the book:

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Abingdon, October 2016)

Celebrate 31 days of a Christ-filled Christmas season.

For Christians worldwide, the month of December is filled with joy and wonder as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. There is no other time of the year that can compare to the Christmas season for both the young and young at heart.

With this soon-to-be-cherished holiday devotional, best-selling author Ace Collins will capture your imagination and help to make each day of December more memorable and meaningful to you, and those you love, by shining a light on the real spirit of the season.

Purchase a copy:

About the author:
Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.

Join Ace’s Christmas festivities by entering to win the Magic of Christmas Prize Pack. Create new traditions this holiday season with your family and friends with the goodies included in the giveaway.


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! 

The giveaway ends on November 21. The winner will be announced November 22 on the Litfuse blog.


Cookbook Review: SUPERMARKET HEALTHY by Melissa D’Arabian

I recently received the new Melissa D’Arabian cookbook from Blogging for Books. The subtitle is “Recipes and Know-How for Eating Well without Spending a Lot”. I enjoy watching Melissa on the Food Network and I had heard good things about her first cookbook – $10 Dinners – though I don’t own it.

This book is chock full of healthy recipes, all made with affordable ingredients found at your typical grocery store. I have a pet peeve: cookbooks that have strange, hard to find ingredients in them that cost a lot and we don’t usually eat. None of these recipes were like that! Melissa does give some suggestions of how you can substitute various grains, etc. in some of the recipes, to modify them. Most of the recipes were geared to four servings, which is perfect for our family. Melissa also has some “blueprints” which gives you a visual of how to create a staple dish in various ways.

There are lots of good sounding recipes, but the first on my list is the potato-cauliflower soup. It substitutes cauliflower to make the soup less starchy. There are lots of healthy suggestions/recipes like that in this book! There are some delicious sounding breakfast smoothies that we will be trying soon, too.

Fresh, affordable, and healthy — this book of recipes will be sure to be a staple in your kitchen!

Thanks, Blogging for Books, for my copy —

Find it at an independent bookstore near you:  (I am an Indie Bound affiliate)

Find it at an Indie!

Cookbook Review: A Good Food Day by Marco Canora with Tammy Walker

I received this cookbook through Blogging for Books. I’m a bit of a cookbook junkie and I love checking out new recipes!

The premise of this book is that food that is good for you doesn’t need to be bland or unexciting — it can taste good. That way, you can make every day a “good food” day!

At the beginning of the book, author/chef/restaurateur Marco Canora goes into his back story for a bit, telling how he really didn’t eat well or take care of himself until suddenly, in his 40’s, all his numbers were off and he was overweight and on his way to Type II diabetes. He moved to eating clean, wholesome foods – with lots of fresh veggies – and this book is chock full of his yummy recipes! (For instance, tomorrow for dinner I am making his pork tenderloin medallions, cook with a pan gravy that includes fennel, garlic, and white wine, with roasted lemon asparagus with pesto). His recipes are easy to follow and include what I would consider basic kitchen ingredients, assuming you have a well-stocked pantry/fridge. I haven’t seen anything I couldn’t pick up at my local grocery store or any recipe that should take hours to prepare (yes — some soups simmer for a while, but I don’t need to stand over them).

I’m so glad I chose this selection as it will be a staple in our kitchen!

Thank you Blogging for Books for my copy!

Find it at an Indie near you — I am an indie-bound affiliate:

Find it at an Indie!

“All Recipes” Magazine

In our house, we love food. We all enjoy watching the Food Network, and my daughter is completely obsessed with Pioneer Woman and her family (I can see why!). We love to cook, especially my ten year old. So, when I got an offer in the mail to order “All Recipes” magazine for a low price I did it.

Now I don’t usually review magazines, and I’ve only reviewed a few cookbooks, but I can’t express to you how much I LOVE this magazine! It has the BEST recipes, culled from the free All site. Most of them have been reviewed hundreds if not thousands of times, and they put the most popular ones in the magazine. Along with the recipe are reader comments and test kitchen notes. We have made several dinners, easily and quickly, from entrees featured and each one is a hit out of the ballpark (and I have two PICKY kids!). While I bought the magazine for $10/year, you can also just use the free site (I like the magazine, though, as it gives me suggestions; I often have a blank mind about what to make for dinner).

Anyhow, I just had to share my enthusiasm about our favorite cooking magazine. The best thing: we eat out less (in part because the recipes usually are comprised of things I have around the house). Even better, the kids actually ask me to cook and don’t want takeout!

Check it out at

All Recipes did not contribute to this post or give me anything for free (though I’m a happy taker of free things if offered!). They probably don’t know who I am unless they check their paid magazine subscriber roll (or they read my blog!).

Here’s their You Tube channel:

I’m excited to review: “The Good Life for Less” by Amy Allen Clark with Jana Murphy- in stores 1/2/13

I usually try to keep these posts short and to the point: what did I read, what is it about, and did I like it? I figured most folks are pressed for time and are looking for an opinion or a book suggestion. However – today I just MUST take more time and get chatty and talk about my dear friend Amy Clark’s new book: “The Good Life for Less – Giving your Family Great Meals, Good Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget”. Amy sent me a copy hot off the press so I could review it, and she wrote the most touching note to me on the inside – I will cherish it along with my memories of our friendship!

First some back story (if you aren’t interested in our back story, please skip this paragraph). I met Amy through community theater over ten years ago, here in Massachusetts. Amy, originally from Indiana, was a young newlywed and she and I hit it off right away. We had a lot of shared interests and had similar personalities, and we enjoyed our “girlfriend moments” together. I was going through a period in my life when I really needed a good friend and I had recently moved to a condo which just happened to be right across the street from Amy and her husband Ryan, so we saw a lot of each other and they were definitely there for me when I needed support. Amy became pregnant, which was very exciting, and I knew she looked forward to being home with their baby. Then one day Amy called me to say that Ryan had been laid off unexpectedly from his job. This was a huge blow and understandably threw them into financial crisis. Amy was pregnant and working to try to support them and worrying about the baby coming. I was dealing with my own personal crisis and trying to be a good friend to them. I remember one specific day I took Amy out to lunch and we talked about how sometimes you think you know God’s plan for you, but apparently he had something in mind for both of us that we were still discovering! In time Amy and Ryan moved back to Indiana where Ryan was offered a new job. Of course I missed her terribly but we stayed in touch and one day Amy told me she had started a “blog” for at home moms, using her experiences, focusing on budgeting, house ideas, and recipes. I had no idea what a blog was. I remember saying, “You mean a listserve or a “web log”?” (People – this was a long time ago!). She asked me to sign up for it and I was proud to be number 12 on the roster. Little did I know that this was the beginning of big times for Amy! Her site – “Mom Advice” – became huge and she has become a major blogging force. She is a spokesperson for several companies (places you’ve heard of – like Wal-Mart!) and her happy face often appears in the women’s magazines I read. Now, she has her first book, which compiles a lot of her advice from her website. I was thrilled to be able to read and post about it here on my blog (my web log – just kidding!).

At just over 200 pages, “The Good Life for Less” is not too long and gets right to the point. The chapters include making a budget, the frugal kitchen, recipes, holiday/special occasion ideas, and keeping your house clean and organized (when my nine-year-old saw that chapter she said, “hey, now there’s something we need!”). Amy shares her experience, her opinions, and her resources throughout, from how to establish and keep to a budget to her recipe for pumpkin waffles to how to make times special without blowing your bank account. This book is written in Amy’s voice and I felt like I could hear her talking to me throughout — with that touch of a midwestern twang to it! The book also has short inserts of the best tips or specific ideas that are highlighted. All in all, this was a great read and a good resource to have on hand.  This is the type of book I wish I had when I was in my twenties. It’s a great gift for a newlywed and/or young parent, too. I look forward to Amy’s next book (there is a next one, right, Amy?)

Reviews of Three Diet Books…

If you know me, you know I have this small obsession with diet books. I love to read them and contemplate them and compare and analyze them.

What I don’t like to do is follow them.

So – for today I have a quick overview of three diet books that I’ve read through Net Galley. I have not followed their plans. My goal here is to give you some information on these books so you can decide if you want to read them yourselves.

The first book I read was “The S factor Diet” subtitled “the happiest way to lost weight” by Lowri Turner.  The “S” in the title refers to serotonin. The premise behind this book is that chemical imbalances lead to weight gain and/or inability to lose weight. I liked the premise of this book as it seems logical scientifically. I also really liked how the author doesn’t push supplements but gives various  venues to find these needed chemicals naturally through foods. According to the checklist provided, I need more serotonin and less cortisol in my system. Sounds reasonable to me.However, at the same time, I can’t find any credentials on Ms. Turner. There is no little list of letters after her name suggesting she is a nutritionist/dietician/doctor/etc. Perhaps I missed something?

This book releases in January and is not available for pre-order (that I could find) on Amazon.

The next book I read was “The Zen Diet Revolution” by Faulks, Faulks, and Faulks (one listed as “Dr”),  which focuses on the importance of meditation and in making small changes in order to exact big differences. While I love this premise in principal, I’m not sure it would work for me. My body tends to hit a saturation point where I can no longer make incremental changes (think: marathon training). I would love to believe, though, that I could slowly adjust to eating about 1200 calories a day – over time – and be at peace with that.

This book also releases in January.

Lastly I read “The Virgin Diet”. At first I thought, “Um, may be too late for this one.” However, this book was written by nutrition expert JJ Virgin. She espouses that many people have food intolerances and these are making people’s bodies inflamed and unhealthy and unable to lose weight. As a person with food allergies, this book really spoke to me. It makes sense that if your body is reacting to the things you put in it, you won’t be healthy. Virgin proposes that you cut out the seven most common allergens: gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, peanuts, corn,and eggs for a period of time (3 weeks) to calm your system, then slowly add them back in to see if you can tolerate them. Her byline is: drop 7 foods, lose 7 pounds, in just 7 days! For me, this was a bit drastic. I will say, though, that I cut way back on dairy (specifically milk and cheese and yogurt) and found that my stomach felt much better – so perhaps she’s on to something!

Have you read any good diet/nutrition books lately? If so, let me know!

Thanks, Net Galley, for my copies!

Quick Cookbook Review: “Soup of the Day” by Kate McMillan (Williams-Sonoma)

I had a chance to download this cookbook through Net Galley. I loved it so much I’m going to purchase it (and its companion “Salad of the Day” book).

This cookbook presents 365 soups – one for each day of the year – set off in calendars. As a very non-creative cook, I appreciated all the wonderful recipes and ways to create soup for my family. While some of my friends prefer cookbooks that show step by step prep with pictures, this book had one picture of the finished product for some of the soups (or at least my digital download did). I still really liked it and got some great ideas for soup beyond my two standards: pumpkin at Thanksgiving and chicken.

I’d be curious as to whether others have used and enjoyed this cookbook or its salad counterpart!

Thanks, Net Galley!