About Me

My photo
Mysteries, polka dots, California Rolls, TJ Maxx, cozy blankets, rainy days and getting the first spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar make me smile. Spiders, rude people, cold fingers and toes, baby leashes, people that don't wrap their packages before going to the Post Office, poison ivy and Math (pretty much all of it) make me want to scream. My perfect day would be spent with my wonderful husband and sweet girls- watching movies in our jammies! Of course, having the movie theater to ourselves would be great, too. Please pass the popcorn and M&M's.:) I am saved by the grace of God. He is my constant companion and hears my every prayer. What a blessing! I'd love to hear from you! Lori at toosillysisters@cox.net

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Secretly Smitten is Perfectly Delightful!

My Thoughts:

Let me begin by saying that I was smitten with this book cover!  After opening the book, I fell in love with the town of Smitten, Vermont as well as the people.  Secretly Smitten is a beautifully written love story (created by 4 different authors who are real life best friends!) detailing the lives of a mother and her daughters.  The book contains 4 stories that are knitted together in the sweetest of ways- with love.  Secretly Smitten begins with a mystery and a love story from the past.  Anna, Tess, Zoe and Clare Thomas are enchanting and lovable but nowhere near perfect.  Delving into history and memories, the women hope to uncover information about a pair of dog tags found in their grandmother's attic.  What they discover may bring happiness but what if  heartache occurs instead?

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Anna, Tess, Zoe and Clare Thomas.  Their stories are unique and heartwarming but also filled with real life frustrations and worries.  God is who they turn to when frustrated/upset and I found this truly refreshing.  Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerback, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter have created a delightful patchwork of characters that made me laugh and even cry!  I was drawn to Tess most of all as I saw much of myself in her.  She's insecure about her looks, is overly sensitive at times and a bit "chubby".:)  She also loves books and has a big heart (Does Colleen Coble read my blog??- lol!)  I think her story was my favorite, although each one was wonderful.  The sisters are as different as the colors of the rainbow and yet they all shine in their own way.  Secretly Smitten is a series I highly recommend.  Run out and treat yourself to a copy!

Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!
There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?
The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?
Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

The "gals" are celebrating the release of Secretly Smitten with a fun Live Webcast on February 5th. They'll be debuting the *NEW* animated Smitten trailer, giving away tons of prizes, dishing on the book and their friendship. They'll also be wrapping up the Secretly Smitten blog tour, answering audience questions and testing your trivia skills. Don't miss the fun and bring your friends. Click here to RSVP and set up a reminder.

*I was given a copy of Secretly Smitten by Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abel's Field review and GIVEAWAY!

The winner is Debbie!  Congratulations!!

Abel's Field is a winner of a movie.  It's a film that will make you think and laugh and boy did it make me cry.  The main character, Seth McArdle, is a bit of a modern day Job.  And Abel, well, I'll let you decide which biblical character he is at the end of the movie.:)  (Don't want to list an spoilers here!)  Seth carries the weight of the world on his shoulders while attending high school, working 2 (soon to be 3) jobs all the while raising his twin 7 year old sisters.  Their mother has passed away and their Dad is nowhere to be found.  The football team bullies him daily, his home is soon to be sold in a public auction, and he's tempted to commit a crime out of desperation. Seth feels that God no longer cares about him.  So many of us have been there.  But all is not lost...

Every day most of us get up and try to accomplish everything by ourselves.  At what point do you call out to God for help?  Abel's Field has heart, and you'll find yourself smiling quite a bit through the tears.  I watched it with my 15 year old daughter and we both agreed that it was a great movie.  There's action, drama, even a touch of romance.  There's also prayer (rarely seen in movies today) and gut wrenching moments of desperation.   Sometimes God helps us in the most unexpected ways.  And that's all I'm going to say except- you're going to want to watch this movie.:)

About Abel's Field
Left motherless by tragedy and abandoned by his father, high school senior Seth McArdle (Samuel Davis) faces enormous pressure as he strives to support his little sisters. At school, he endures the daily bullying of the football team. But fighting back only finds him singled out for punishment and assigned to an after-school work detail under the supervision of the reserved groundskeeper, Abel (SOUL SURFER’S Kevin Sorbo). Much to his surprise, Seth discovers that Abel may be the only one who truly understands his struggles. As dark times lure Seth toward desperate measures, the reluctant Abel may be the one person who can point him back toward the light.

Abel's Field is being released on January 22nd and FlyBy Promotions is generously giving a copy of it to one of my readers!  Leave a comment on this post if you'd like to be entered to win!  I'll choose a winner on Friday, February 1st!

*I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie Klassen

My Thoughts:

I was delighted to get my hands on an advance copy of The Tutor's Daughter.  Within it's pages I ventured back in time to a place where love is a luxury, rarely indulged, gentlemen must marry to secure the future of their family and secrets must be kept- at all costs.  Emma Smallwood, the tutor's daughter, is a clever young lady whose future becomes uncertain as her father mourns the loss of his wife.  Through her memories we learn of the Weston family whose sons attended her father's academy. Emma contacts the family and discovers they are in need of a tutor for their younger sons.  Would John Smallwood be willing to come to Cornwall and teach them?  

This is where the book gets veeeerrrryyyy interesting.  

I want to tell you so badly what happens!  But alas, I cannot.  I will tell you that there are secrets, oh yes, there are secrets!  Strange noises are heard late at night, the pianoforte is played when all are in bed- but by whom?  Love letters appear, private journals disappear and there are rumors of a ghost that roams the halls.  Who can be trusted?  The stormy Cornwall coast with it's history of shipwrecks and pirates will have you shivering with anticipation- or is it dread?

The Tutor's Daughter is a suspenseful pot of tea, filled to the brim with intrigue, secrets, history and deception.  The Weston brothers kept me guessing until the very end as to their intentions and Emma Smallwood's memories running through the story were delightful.  Lizzie Henshaw, Mrs. Weston's ward, was an interesting wild card of a character that added a clever twist to the puzzle.  The Chapel of the Rock "incident" was one I won't soon forget! 

I wish I could tell you more but I don't want to ruin it for you!  Brew some tea, snuggle up with a blanket and treat yourself The Tutor's Daughter.  It's a must read for for fans of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights!

Filled with page-turning suspense, The Tutor’s Daughter takes readers to the windswept Cornwall coast–a place infamous for shipwrecks and superstitions–where danger lurks, faith is tested, and romance awaits.
Emma Smallwood, determined to help her widowed father when his boarding school fails, accompanies him to the cliff-top manor of a baronet and his four sons. But soon after they arrive and begin teaching the two younger boys, mysterious things begin to happen. Who does Emma hear playing the pianoforte at night, only to find the music room empty? And who begins sneaking into her bedchamber, leaving behind strange mementoes?
The baronet’s older sons, Phillip and Henry Weston, wrestle with problems–and secrets–of their own. They both remember the studious Miss Smallwood from their days at her father’s academy. But now one of them finds himself unexpectedly drawn to her…
When suspicious acts escalate, can Emma figure out which brother to blame and which to trust with her heart?
Purchase a copy here.


Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess (2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Find out more about Julie at http://www.julieklassen.com/.

Julie is celebrating by giving away one of the new Paperwhite Kindles, Downton Abbey (season 3) and hosting a fun Author Chat Party on Facebook. (January 31st)


One fortunate winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Paperwhite

  • Downton Abbey, Season 3

  • A Julie Klassen library (The Tutor’s Daughter, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Girl in the Gatehouse, and The Silent Governess)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 30th. Winner will be announced at "The Tutor's Daughter Author Chat Party on January 31st. Connect with Julie, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at the trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be great giveaways - gift certificates, books and season 3 of Downton Abbey!

So grab your copy of The Tutor's Daughter and join Julie on the evening of the January 31st for a chance to connect with Julie and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

*I received a copy of The Tutor's Daughter from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was given to me.*

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Lesson by Suzanne Woods Fisher

My Thoughts About The Lesson:

The Lesson, by Suzanne Woods Fisher, is the third book in her Stoney Ridge Season series.  Each book- The Keeper, The Haven and The Lesson is absolutely delightful in it's own right and you will want to read them all!  I normally gravitate toward suspenseful mysteries and thrillers but Suzanne Woods Fisher has made me change my ways.:)  The Stoney Ridge Seasons books have beautifully flawed characters that make you laugh, cry and think.  Their strengths and weaknesses make them endearing and almost real.  (I was tickled to read that Suzanne Woods Fisher describes herself as being a bit like M.K.!)  Following the story of the Lapp family, you may even find yourself wishing you were Amish!  The Lesson is the story of M.K. (Mary Kate Lapp) who longs for adventure and excitement.  She may even be ready to leave the Amish community to travel the world- if only her passport would arrive!  It includes a mystery or two, a surprising twist of fate, and suspenseful new characters that unwittingly bring an answer to buried secrets.  Add to that wonderful sparkles of humor (Ms. Fisher truly knows how to make me laugh!), quiet wisdom, and a constant faith in God.  I adored The Lesson but am so sad that the series has come to an end.  Good thing, the next Adventures with Lily book is soon to be released!

Pictured above is the gorgeous x-stitching my dear friend, Lindsay, made me for Christmas.  We both adore The Stoney Ridge series that tell the stories of Julia (The Keeper), Sadie (The Haven) and M.K. The Lesson.  Can you tell?:)

About the Author:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace.  She is also the coauthor of the new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp.  Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can by directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist.  She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines.  She lives in California.  For more information, please visit www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.  Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iphone or ipad!  Download the free App!

Celebrate the release of The Lesson with Suzanne Woods Fisher by entering to win one of TWO iPads!


Two winners will receive:

  • A brand new iPad

  • A $15 gift certificate to iTunes

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 20th. Winner will be announced on 1/22/13 at Suzanne's Blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

*I was given a copy of The Lesson from Litfuse in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Les Miserables-Focus on the Family Radio Theatre

I love Les Miserables- the story line, the characters, the music and more.  Anxiously awaiting the release of Les Miserables in the movie theater, I was disappointed to hear that it's truly made for adults, not children.  The reviews have been wonderful, but the events/sights are quite a bit more than I'd anticipated.  I know people that have walked out of the movie and asked for their money back.  We won't be going as a family.:(  Just in time I was given the opportunity to review Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre of Les Miserables!  To be honest, my expectations were quite low as I'd seen the stage performance of Les Mis, but I thought it would be fun to listen to in the car with my girls.  

Wow. I was blown away.

My girls listened and asked questions. 
They were engaged and looked forward to the story.
We discussed events, a bit of history and what is truly right and wrong.

I cried, or should I say, sobbed at the end.  I sat in my driveway absolutely overcome.  And I already knew how the story would end!

The story is the same but takes a gentler path at times.  The people are still miserable but there's no bad language and the focus is on redemption, not drunkenness, prostitution, or thievery (although Valjean does steal the silver at the beginning of the story and is forgiven).  

There's no singing, but you know what?  I didn't miss it.  Gasp!  But I love the singing!  Yet, in this version the instrumental music is enough.  It beautifully carries you from chapter to chapter.  The character voices are spot on, too!  Javert sounds just like Javert!  Sinister, sneaky and snide.  Valjean is perfect.  Angry at the beginning and then kind and gentle as his life is transformed.

If you're looking for a way to share Les Miserable with your family- without covering their eyes and ears-I highly recommend Focus on the Family's Les Miserables.  It's charming, frightening, heart warming and sad.  It has all the elements that make Victor Hugo's story timeless. 

The story that has thrilled millions comes to life in a brand new way in Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's Les Miserables. This audio drama beautifully portrays the redeeming power of forgiveness through the story of Jean Valjean, an embittered convict whose life is changed by a single act of kindness. Recorded in London with some of England's finest actors, it will mesmerize adults and families alike.

*I was given a copy of this CD set from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.* 

Monday, January 7, 2013

J.R.R. Tolkein: The Making of a Legend by Colin Duriez

My Thoughts:

Being a huge Lord of the Rings fan, I'd always wondered what J.R.R. Tolkein was really like.  What inspired him?  Frightened him?  How did hobbits, Gollom, and the Dark Riders come to be?  While reading this book, I was tickled to discover that he described himself as being was very much like a hobbit!  J.R.R. Tolkein, referred to as Ronald in J.R.R. Tolkein: The Making of a Legend, was an amazing individual.  He was orphaned at a young age but because of his brilliant mind and the kindness of others he was able to grow into a man with great faith, incredible creativity and a love of languages.  The pages cover Tolkein's turbulent childhood, exciting college years, forbidden love, war and more.  In his book, Colin Duriez also goes into great detail describing events, places and people that were Tolkein's inspiration for hobbits, the Elvish language and more.  Though the book is non-fiction, I believe that Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans would find the pages fascinating.  It was like taking a step back in time and having a chat with J.R.R. Tolkin himself.  

Like to take a peek inside the book?  Click here!

Long before the successful, Lord of the Rings film trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginary world and characters had enthralled and delighted millions of readers. But who was this man who dreamt up the intricate languages and perfectly crafted world of Middle-earth?Tolkien had a difficult life. Orphaned and poor, his guardian forbade him from communicating with the woman he loved. He also went through the horrors of the First World War. An intensely private and brilliant scholar, he spent over fifty years working on the languages, history, peoples, and geography of Middle-earth, aided by his vast knowledge of mythology and early northern European history and culture.
This delightful and accessible biography brings this legendary man to life and explores the deep Christian commitment that inspired and informed his work. A close friend of C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, Tolkien was one of the famous Inklings, a group of literary figures in Oxford in the 1930s who met to discuss their work, which included C.S. Lewis's Narnia books.

*I was given a copy of this book by Kregel in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Trim the Fat in 2013

I've taken a bit of time to think about my "word" of the year and have decided to choose a phrase.  Hey, what can I say?  I'm a rule breaker.

Trim. the. Fat.

"Trim the Fat" applies to many areas of my life.

Obviously, eat healthier.  (I'm Miss Picky Pants when it comes to fat.  Yucky pooey in my mouth.)

But even more importantly, cut out things that cause stress

-Negative people (this can even include friends)
-excessive obligations (ie. stop overcommitting)
-less whining/crying/worrying

Simply, Trim the Fat.

It's time.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crab & Corn Chowder

My inspiration was the Pioneer Woman.  
Adore her, but she must have a seriously high metabolism or an intense daily workout.
Her Corn & Cheese Chowder caught my eye but I decided to tweak it a bit with what I had on hand.  Modifying a few ingredients to make the recipe a bit healthier was also my intention.
Here we go...

Crab & Corn Chowder

1 pound "fake" crab (go for real crab if you can get it, but we're landlocked and it's pricey)
4 red skinned potatoes (skinned and chopped)
1/4 stick of butter
1 onion, chopped
3 slices of bacon
1 bell pepper- any color (finely diced)
5 ears of corn, kernels sliced off (or 2 cans of corn)
1/4 cups flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Pepper Jack Cheese
1/3 cup of green onions (sliced)

In a large pot, melt butter over med. high.  Cook potatoes and onions for a couple of minutes, until potatoes are soft.  Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add bell pepper and cook for a few more minutes.  Finally, add corn and cook for 1 minute.  SPrinkle four evenly over the top and stir to combine.  All this to thicken for 3-4 minutes, then reduce heat to low.  Stir in skim milk and half and half, then cover and allow to thicken for about 15 minutes.  Stir in cheeses and green onions.  Stir in crab.  When cheese is melted and the soup is hot add a dash of salt and pepper, to taste.

This chowder is unbelievably delicious and tastes even better the next day.  My husband and daughter asked me (immediately after we finished it) when I was going to make it again.:)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure- The Perfect Way to begin 2013

Hello, 2013.  How I love the "fresh start" that you offer all of us!  I read If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure last month and couldn't wait to implement Sheri Rose Shepherd's recipes and coaching tips into my life.  Each chapter is written with personal stories and humor and the book includes over 100 delicious recipes!  Craving more energy?  Why not try Cajun Jumbo Shrimp Kebabs!  Craving rest and relaxation during the cold winter months?  How about making Corn Chowder and Healthy Corn Bread tonight.  Sheri Rose is encouraging and real as she covers New Life recipes too.  They are like a mini Bible study for your soul.  A connection with the Lord.  Often our spirit and faith needs to be nourished more than our bodies do.  Right?

Not only did I enjoy Sheri's sense of humor, but I loved reading her personal stories.  She was severely overweight as a teen (you can't tell from the cover- she is gorgeous!) but she managed to lose over 50 pounds and is here to tell the story.  She has "walked the walk" and has earned the right to "talk the talk"!  I lost 30 pounds last year and have no plans on ever finding them again, thank you very much.  The yummy recipes in this book are proof that eating healthy can also be enjoyable.  I particularly enjoyed the chapter Craving a Celebration, which showcased recipes for the holidays- when eating well is not always easy.  Stuff Me Full Turkey, Veggie Pie and Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice Cookies- yes, please!  

The chapter Craving Healthy Food to Satisfy Your Children was also a favorite of mine.   Choco Sauce, Yum-Yum Nachos, and Healthy Chili Cheese Fries- oh, yes.:)  There's also a chapter on romance for you and your sweetie pie.  Valentine's Day is just around the corner....  Sheri Rose Shepherd has thought of everything!

If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure is an excellent tool to use in your quest for a healthier life.  It will also inspire you in your walk with God.  It's helping me to get a great start on 2013!

Life can be hard . . . but food, faith, and fun are three amazing gifts from God to satisfy and refresh us every day. Yet all too often, we focus primarily on what we can not do, and what we should not eat—which leaves us feeling deprived and depressed. Instead of being energized by following Christ, we waste our days feeling bored and burnt-out on our faith, while battling the guilt that comes from craving the food that we love. In If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure, best-selling author and speaker Sheri Rose Shepherd encourages you to embark on a new adventure with faith and food. She reveals the food coaching tips that enabled her to lose over 50 pounds and keep it off, and shares fun recipes in celebration of the healthy, delicious food our God created for us to enjoy. It’s time to let go of guilt, grab hold of grace, and recapture the life God craves for us to live! “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the 
joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Psalm 34:8)

*I received a copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest opinion.  No other compensation was received.*