Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Solo Dinnerware Products *CLOSED*

For this review and giveaway, I had the pleasure of using 3 different Solo brand products: The Sesame Street decorative 5 oz. cups,

plates and cups from Solo's new Bare compostable products,

Solo's Heavy Duty bowls, plates and

the new Solo Squared cups.

The Solo Heavy Duty bowls held up well, including use with most wet foods. We found that the are excellent cereal bowls! We also ate such dinner foods as pasta and chili in them, and the food did not soak through. Hot foods should be served at the table as opposed to buffet-style since the bowls are hard to carry full, and do not offer any insulation. The bowls were microwavable, but heating did tend to soften the bowl a bit quicker. This would mean that these would be better suited for items only needing a quick heating--no more than a few minutes.

The Heavy Duty plates performed with excellence! The 6 7/8 in. size are particularly handy for sandwiches, burritos, and other snacks. The plates held up to microwaving much like the bowls up to about 3 minutes. The smaller plates were easier to transfer from microwave to table than the larger size, as they tended to become more flimsy after heating. Cold foods, however, were easy to handle on both sizes.

These products are much sturdier than other paper products, but aren't quite as sturdy as styrofoam products. Of course, they are microwavable, whereas their styrofoam equivalents are not.

The Solo Bare plates perform much like the Heavy Duty products. In addition, they are also attractively designed and would be suitable for serving at a picnic or casual dinner. Serving dinner on these felt more like using real dishes and less like using paper or plastic plates. Knowing that these are additionally good for the environment is a definite plus to using them! These plates are made with annually renewable sugarcane and are free of chlorine, dyes and inks.

Solo Bare cups performed much like Solo's well-known plastic drinking cups. They were of a high quality and could easily be rinsed and reused. I found that these held up to rinse and reuse better than styrofoam cups. They also had a different texture than typical plastic cups, which is probably due to their high-quality compostable makeup.

The Sesame Street 5 oz. cups proved a big hit with my 5 year old. They are a great size for him, as he usually struggles to finish a drink in an 8 oz. cup in one sitting. This size was also great for rinsing teeth after brushing, and they even withstood his using them in the bathtub! The package also included a handy cup holder that we are currently using in our bathroom to keep the cups stacked neatly.

The Solo Squared cups were very nice for use with the kids as they provide more stability than the typical round cups. These cups perform just as one would expect when using Solo plastic products: wonderfully!

I want to share these products with you! One reader will be sent a sample of both lines I had the opportunity to try:

the Heavy Duty dinner size plates and

the Bare 8.25 in. plates.

To win, all you have to do is comment here! That's it--as easy as can be!

For additional entries, you can do each of the following:
--Follow this blog

--Follow my other blog, Blah Blah Blog

--Follow me on Twitter

--Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter (please RT it to me @ChristiS!)

Please leave a comment for each of the extra entries that you choose to do, and don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you! If your email is not included on your blog dashboard, please leave it and/or your twitter address in your comment. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

This giveaway will be open until Wednesday, August 4 at 11 am.
I will then contact the winner, and you will have 48 hours to contact me with your mailing address, or I will need to choose another winner.

Thanks again to Emily at Solo Products for this review and giveaway opportunity!

Monday, July 27, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Woman Who Named God

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:

The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths

Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)


Charlotte Gordon graduated from Harvard College and received a Master’s in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in History and Literature from Boston University. She has published two books of poetry and, most recently, the biography Mistress Bradstreet, which was a Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book. From 1999-2001, she taught at Boston University’s School of Theology. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English at Endicott College.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031611474X
ISBN-13: 978-0316114745


My review:
I found this book immensely interesting! I love history of Biblical times, so this book was perfect for me. It was also very educational in that I didn't know much of the information it contained on the formation of Judaism or Islam, and of course I learned much about the formation and beginnings of my own faith! I would definitely recommend this book to others!

Friday, July 24, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Deadly Intent

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:

Deadly Intent

Steeple Hill (July 14, 2009)


Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Originally from
Hawaii, she worked as a biologist for 9 years, but now she writes full time. She is a staff worker for her San Jose church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service, which specializes in book doctoring.

On her blog, she gives away Christian novels, and she ponders
frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.50
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (July 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373443471
ISBN-13: 978-0373443475


Chapter One

The man who walked into Naomi's father's day spa was striking enough to start a female riot.

Dark eyes swept the room, which happened to be filled with the Sonoma spa's staff at that moment. She felt his gaze glance over her like a tingling breeze. Naomi recognized him instantly. Dr. Devon Knightley.

For a wild moment, she thought, He's come to see me. And her heart twirled in a riotous dance.

But only for a moment. Sure, they'd talked amiably— actually, more than amiably—at the last Zoe International fund-raising dinner, but after an entire evening sitting next to her, he hadn't asked for her phone number, hadn't asked for any contact information at all. Wasn't that a clear sign he wasn't interested?

She quashed the memory and stepped forward in her official capacity as the spa owner's daughter and acting manager. "Dr. Knightley. Welcome."

He clasped her hand with one tanned so brown that it seemed to bring the heat of the July sun into the airy, air-conditioned entranceway. "Miss Naomi Grant." His voice had more than a shot of surprise, as did his looks as he took in her pale blue linen top and capris, the same uniform as the gaggle of spa staff members gathered behind her. "It's been a few months since I've seen you."

He still held her hand. She loved the feel of his palm— cool and warm at the same time, strong the way a surgeon's should be.

No, she had to stop this. Devon and his family were hard-core atheists, and nothing good would come out of giving in to her attraction. "What brings you here?"

"I need to speak to Jessica Ortiz."

An involuntary spasm seized her throat. Of course. Glamorous client Jessica Ortiz or plain massage therapist Naomi Grant—no comparison, really.

But something in his tone didn't quite have the velvety sheen of a lover. He sounded almost… dangerous. And danger didn't belong in the spa. Their first priority was to protect the privacy of the guests.

"Er… Ms. Ortiz?" Naomi glanced at Sarah, one of the receptionists, whose brow wrinkled as she studied her computer monitor behind the receptionists' desk. Naomi knew she was stalling—she didn't need to look because she'd checked Ms. Ortiz into the elite Tamarind Lounge almost two hours before.

Naomi's aunt Becca also stood at the receptionists' desk, stepping aside from her spa hostess duties to allow Naomi to handle Dr. Knightley, but Aunt Becca's eyes had a sharp look that conveyed her message clearly to Naomi: the clients' privacy and wishes come first.

Naomi cleared her throat. "Are you her physician?"

Dr. Knightley frowned down at her, but she kept her air of calm friendliness. He grimaced and looked away. "Er… no."

Naomi blinked. He could have lied, but he hadn't. "If you'll wait here, I can see if Ms. Ortiz is available to come out here to see you." If Jessica declined to come out, Naomi didn't want to think what Devon's reaction would be.

His eyes grew stormier. "Couldn't you just let me walk in back to see her?"

"I'm sorry, but we can't allow nonfamily members into the back rooms. And men are not allowed in the women's lounges." Especially the secluded Tamarind Lounge, reserved only for Tamarind members who paid the exorbitant membership fee.

"Naomi, surely you can make an exception for me?" He suddenly flashed a smile more blinding than her receptionist's new engagement ring.

His switching tactics—from threatening to charming— annoyed her more than his argumentative attitude. She crossed her arms. "I'm afraid not." She had to glance away to harden herself against the power of that smile.

"You don't understand. It's important that I see her, and it won't take long." He leaned closer, using his height to intimidate.

He had picked the wrong woman to irritate. Maybe her frustrated attraction made her exceptionally determined to thwart him. Her jaw clenched and she couldn't help narrowing her eyes. "Joy Luck Life Spa has many high-profile clients. If we let anyone into our elite lounges, we'd lose our sterling reputation for privacy and discretion."

"You don't understand how important this is—"

"Dr. Knightley, so nice to see you again." Aunt Becca stepped forward and inserted herself between the good doctor and Naomi's line of vision. She held out a thin hand, which Devon automatically took. "Why don't I set you up in the Chervil Lounge while Naomi looks for Ms. Ortiz?"

Aunt Becca whirled around faster than a tornado. Her eyes promised trouble if Naomi didn't comply. "Naomi."

Aunt Becca's taking charge of the conversation seemed to drive home the point that although Dad had left Naomi in charge of the spa while he recovered from his stroke, she still had a long way to go toward learning good customer relations. Part of her wanted to be belligerent toward Devon just to prove she was in the right, but the other part of her wilted at her failure as a good manager.

She walked into the back rooms and paused outside the door to the Tamarind Lounge, consciously relaxing her face. Deep breath in. Gently open the door.

Softly pitched conversation drifted into silence. Two pairs of eyes flickered over her from the crimson silk chaise lounges in the far corner of the luxuriant room, but neither of them belonged to Jessica Ortiz. Vanilla spice wafted around her as she headed toward the two women, trying to glide calmly, as the daughter of the spa owner should.

"Good morning, ladies. I apologize for the intrusion."

"Is it already time for my facial?" The elderly woman gathered her Egyptian cotton robe around her and prepared to stand.

"No, not yet, Ms. Cormorand. I've come to ask if either of you have seen Ms. Ortiz."

An inscrutable look passed between them. What had Jessica done to offend these clients in only the couple of hours she'd been at the spa? Jessica seemed to be causing the spa more and more trouble recently.

The other woman finally answered, "No, she left about a half hour ago for her massage. I thought she was with you."

Naomi cleared her throat to hide her start. Jessica's appointment was at eleven, in fifteen minutes, not now.

"Yes, doesn't she always ask for you when she comes?" Ms. Cormorand blinked faded blue eyes at her.

Naomi shoved aside a brief frisson of unease. Jessica should be easy to find. "Which massage therapist called for her?"

"Oh, I don't know." Ms. Cormorand waved a pudgy hand beringed with rubies and diamonds. "Someone in a blue uniform."

Only one of almost a hundred staff workers at the spa.

"Thank you, ladies. Ms. Cormorand, Haley will call you for your facial in fifteen minutes." Naomi inclined her head and left the room, trying to let the sounds of running water from the fountain in the corner calm her growing sense of unease.

Where could Jessica have gone? And an even juicier question: Why did Devon Knightley need to speak to her?

She peeked into the larger Rosemary lounge, which was for the use of spa clients who were not Tamarind members. Several women chatted in small groups, but no Jessica Ortiz. Naomi hadn't really expected Jessica to forgo the more comfortable elite lounge, but the only other option was checking each of the treatment rooms individually.

She headed into the back area where the therapy rooms were located, navigating the hallway scattered with teak and bamboo furniture, each sporting East Asian cushions and throws, artfully arranged by Aunt Becca. Had Jessica switched to a different massage therapist? And had someone forgotten to tell Naomi in the excitement of Sarah's new engagement?

As she moved down the hallway, she started noticing a strange, harsh scent suffusing the mingled smells of san-dalwood and vanilla. Not quite as harsh as chemicals, but not a familiar aromatherapy fragrance, a slightly discordant counterpoint to the spa's relaxing perfume.

She knew that smell, but couldn't place it. And it didn't conjure up pleasant associations. She started to hurry.

She first looked into the women's restroom, her steps echoing against the Italian tile. No sound of running water, but she peeked into the shower area. A few women were in the rooms with the claw-foot bathtubs, and a couple more in the whirlpool room, but no Jessica. No one using the toilets.

The mirrored makeup area had a handful of women, but again no Jessica. Naomi smiled at the clients to hide her disappointment and growing anxiety as she entered. She noticed some towels on the floor, a vase of orchids a little askew, and some lotions out of place on the marble counter running the length of the room, so she tidied up as if she had intended to do so, although the staff assigned to restroom duty typically kept things spic and span.

She peeked into the sauna. A rather loud ring of laughing women, but no Jessica.

Back out in the central fountain area, the harsh smell seemed stronger, but she couldn't pinpoint where it came from. Had a sewage pipe burst? No, it wasn't that sort of smell. It didn't smell rotten, just… had an edge to it.

She entered the locker area, although the Joy Luck Life Spa "lockers" were all carved teakwood cabinets, individually locked with keys. The smell jumped tenfold. Naomi scoured the room. Maybe it came from a client's locker? No. Maybe the dirty laundry hamper?


She flipped open the basketweave lid.

And screamed.


Chapter Two

The scream pierced Devon's eardrums. Beside him, Becca Itoh started. The heavy wooden double doors she'd just opened, leading to the men's lounge, clunked closed again as she turned and headed back down the corridor they'd walked.

"Where—?" He kept up with her, but not easily—for a woman in her fifties, she could book it.

"The women's lounge area." She pointed ahead as she hustled closer. "Those mahogany double doors at the end."

Devon sprinted ahead and yanked open the doors. "Stay behind me."

Becca ignored him, thrusting ahead and shouting, "Naomi!" as they entered a large circular entry area with more corridors leading from it. "Naomi!"

A door to their right burst open and Naomi Grant spilled into the entry room. "Aunt Becca!" Her face was the same shade as the cream-colored walls. "There's blood in the women's locker room.”

“Blood?” Becca reached for her as Devon pushed past her into the room she’d just exited.

Despite the urgency, he couldn’t help but be awed by the fountain in the center of a vast chamber with a veined-tile floor. Scrollwork signs on the walls pointed to “sauna” and “whirlpool” and “locker room.” Luckily, no women appeared. He veered right.

He almost wasn’t sure he’d actually arrived in the right place, but the carpeted room lined with teakwood locking cabinets was in line with the luxurious entry hall of what he realized was the women’s bathroom.

The metallic smell of blood reached him. He followed his nose to the basket hamper in the corner, filled with bloody towels. It reminded him of the discarded gauzes from his orthopedic surgeries, bright red and a lot more than the average person saw.

This was not good.

He returned to the two women. Naomi’s hands were visibly shaking, although her voice remained low and calm. “And I couldn’t find Ms. Ortiz.”

Jessica’s name still caused the reflexive crunching of his jaw. But he’d never wanted any harm to come to her—she wasn’t a bad person, they had just clashed too much on personal matters. And now she was missing, and there was an immense amount of blood in the bathroom. Devon’s heart beat in a light staccato against his throat. She had to be okay.

“Where else have you looked?” He scanned the other corridors leading from the fountain entryway. He’d need guidance or he’d get lost in this labyrinth.

“I haven’t checked the therapy rooms yet.” Naomi nodded toward the larger central corridor, which ended at another set of double doors.

He headed toward them when Becca reached out to grab his arm in a bony but strong grip. “You can’t just barge into private sessions.”

“Why not?” He turned to face the two women. “There’s blood in your bathroom and Jessica Ortiz is missing.”

Naomi’s light brown eyes skewered him. “Do you really think it’s wise to cause a panic?”

“And I suppose you have another option?”

“Sessions don’t last more than an hour or ninety minutes. We’ll wait for those to finish—if Jessica’s just in one of those, there’s nothing to worry about. In the meantime, we’ll check all the empty session rooms,” Naomi said.

Becca turned to leave and said over her shoulder, “I’ll check on the schedule at the receptionists’ desk to find out which rooms have clients and when the sessions end. I’ll call you on your cell.”

Naomi turned down a corridor in the opposite direction, this one lined with bamboo tables draped with shimmery, lavender-colored fabric so light that it swayed as they moved past.

It reminded Devon of the papery silks he’d seen in Thailand, giving the spa a soothing and very Asian atmosphere. His heartbeat slowed. Jessica was probably fine and had accidentally taken someone else’s session in her artless, friendly way. She’d emerge from a facial or a manicure in a few minutes and wonder what all the fuss was about.

A group of three therapists turned a corner. They spied Naomi and immediately stopped chatting amongst themselves, although not fearfully—more out of respect that the boss was suddenly in front of them.

“Girls, have you seen Ms. Ortiz?” Naomi’s smile seemed perfectly natural and warm—inviting a rapport with her staff, yet not too cozy. If Devon hadn’t noticed her fingers plucking at the linen fabric of her pants, he wouldn’t have known how anxious she was.

Two of them shook their heads, but the tall blond woman to his left nodded and pointed directly across the corridor. “I saw her talking to Ms. Fischer about an hour ago before Ms. Fischer went in for her manicure.”

His heartbeat picked up. “An hour ago?”

The blonde eyed him with a hard look, but a quick glance at Naomi seemed to allay her suspicions. He had the impression that if her boss hadn’t been by his side, he’d have been thrown out, even if it took all three women to do it.

Naomi was shaking her head. “Ms. Cormorand saw her leave the Tamarind lounge only thirty minutes ago.”

His hopes popped and fizzled.

The blonde jerked her head at the nearby door. “Ms. Fischer is almost done in room thirty-five if you want to talk to her anyway.”

“That’s a good idea. Thanks, Betsy.”

Betsy nodded, and the silent trio headed down the corridor and around the corner.

Copyright © 2009 by Camy Tang

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

My review: I really enjoyed this book! It was different from what I usually read, so that was refreshing in a way--though the book kept me interested, it was NOT a passive read! Thanks again for the opportunity!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Need affordable birthday invitations?

In this time of economic trials, who doesn't need to spend less on things?! Of course, you don't want to totally scrimp on little Joey's birthday invites, but what is a person to do??

I'll tell you what I'd do....I'd check out Tiny Prints! As a reputable online shop full of all sorts of stationery, you can't go wrong with Tiny Prints! Not only is their work adorable, they offer many unique styles, with prices as low as $0.59 per invitation! They have a wide variety of options, including cards with pictures. If your child is really into characters such as those seen on Nickelodeon, these are an option as well!

But their shop is not limited to only birthday invites. You will find everything from birth announcements to holiday cards to business and personal stationery, also reasonably priced. As if all this isn't enough, you can also get a 1-year subscription to Cookie Magazine ($10 value) included with your order of $75 or more!

The website is well organized by both gender, age, and designer. Oh, and don't forget the invitation of great importance....Tiny Prints also has wedding invitations available! If you need assistance with your order, Tiny Prints has an option of chatting live with a customer service representative either on the computer, or by phone Sunday through Friday.

As an added incentive to shop with Tiny Prints, they are currently offering a Sitewide Sale! Just use coupon code JULYSALE to save $10 off orders of $49 or more, or $20 off orders of $99 or more. This offer expires at 11:59 pm (PT) on 7/27/09.

Or if you are currently planning your wedding, check out this deal! Wedding Paper Divas is offering a Signature Sale! Enter the coupon code JULYSALE at checkout to save $15 off orders of $99 or more, $30 off orders of $199 or more or $50 off orders of $299 or more. Offer will expire at 11:59 pm (PT) on 8/3/09 This offer is available through Tiny Print's Sister site, Wedding Paper Divas.

So please be sure to check out these great, affordable sites for all your invitation and stationery needs! Don't forget to tell them that Blah Blah Reviews sent you!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Want to keep up with your child's homework?


If you do, then you need to check out this awesome website that I have the honor of reviewing today: Parentella!

Let me tell you: I was impressed with this site from the get-go. I liked its clean organization and its easy to navigate style. I LOVED the concept behind the idea of an easy to keep up with way for teachers to post information that their students needed to know, and an equally easy way for parents to keep a check on what their child needed to be completing. To combine them into one site that is all this AND MORE, was more than I even expected!

Here is a description from the site:
Parentella is the place to keep up with news for your children's classes and activities. Get all the latest from schools, and teachers, keep in touch with other parents, and keep current for after-school activities!

Never forget a special day and stay in the loop on all your kids’ activities.

Sounds great, doesn't it??

But it gets even better, ya'll!

How much do you think this type of thing would cost? Do you think there might be a site fee for a school to use it, or maybe if a teacher paid a small fee it would allow a certain number of parents to log in as well? As a teacher and a parent, I would be willing to pay for such a thing.

Nope. Don't have to. Believe it or not, this lovely little connection can be set up for FREE!! I could hardly believe it!

So here is what I suggest to you:

If you are a teacher, set yourself up an account. After you do, tell your teacher friends about it. In fact, while you're at it, tell your administrators about it, too! Make sure you send home information with your students on the first day of school so they can quickly get 'in the know' on what their little darlings are up to during the day.

If you are a parent, ask your child's teacher(s) if they would be willing to give it a try. I am sure that there are some teachers out there that wouldn't totally love it, but I'd say there are even more who would jump at the chance to use this life-simplifying tool!

Finally, I would like to thank parentella for thinking of and sharing their wonderful tool with us, and especially for doing so for free!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

GUESS WHAT I just won?!

Just guess! You'll never guess! I'm so thrilled!!

I just finished the twitter party with the Wiimoms

and I won a vacuum cleaner! I won a Hoover Platinum WindTunnel Vacuum! Can you tell I'm excited?!

I just wanted to say THANK YOU to the WiiMommies, and to Hoover for this fantastic prize! These ladies had already inspired me to try the Wii for weight loss and fitness and was also blessed to make some great new friends. Now with THIS--they've won my everlasting devotion and love! Truly, if you don't know these girls, GET to know them. They are awesome!

Again, THANK YOU, and c'mon over and check out how clean my carpets are soon!

Bored with your current music? Check out Dion Roy!

I've recently been given the opportunity to listen to the music of a fantastic new independent artist named Dion Roy! I was very pleased by what I heard, and you gotta admit--he's easy on the eyes as well!

Here's a little bit about him from his website:
Dion Roy is an emerging artist on the indie music scene, fusing his electro-acoustic roots with his knack for writing an unforgettable pop/rock hook.

Born in Namibia, raised in South Africa, later raised in New Jersey and now a true New Yorker at heart, Roy has lived and breathed the downtown Lower East Side music landscape for the past 9 years.

The boy has been around! Now, he probably needs to get some tour dates and try out the South, don't ya think?!

As Roy points out in more detail on his bio, it is clear in listening to his music that comes from his soul. It is evident that his songs are based on real experiences. However, his sound is original and contains a definite edge. Truly, though, the thing that was most impressed upon me while listening to his recent debut album Gallery was honesty. This is not 'pre-packaged' stuff; if you're looking for something that hasn't been played to death, this is it!

From the soulful guitar on You Can't Take to the bittersweet melancholy on So It Goes, Roy draws you in with his different sound. Even so, I was reminded of some of the great musicians that he reminds me of on other tracks: I heard a sound that reminds me of the early Beatles on Won't Go On, a song that also showcases Roy's vocal range. Reconsider reminded me a bit of U2 with its syncopation.

What I like the best:
Though all the songs have their individual merit, I was most drawn to I'll Never Know. I found myself singing the chorus of this somewhat haunting tune later in the day. I also loved Wants It--that song is one that just made me say, "Oh, yeah....I've been there!" Here are the lyrics so you can see for yourself:

She said she wants it

just not from me

you can take it out

on the street

then when you fall down

I’d have to leave

you don’t think you know me

we finally agree


she said she wants it

just not from me

I feel the air between us tighten up and freeze

I know you’ll take it

so casually

your grace and pretty face no effect on me

you’ll leave without your clothes and walk with what you know

it’s enough to be afraid unwillingly

Dion Roy would LOVE for you to not only check out his music, but if you like it, he'd love for you to spread the word to others! You can find him several places on the 'net, including twitter, Myspace, YouTube, and Facebook. You can even purchase his music on iTunes!

Let me make it clear: You're gonna love Dion Roy! We're gonna hear more from this man, and I know he will only get better with time! Don't miss out on hearing this talented musician!

Disclosure Policy

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This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

To get your own policy, go to http://www.disclosurepolicy.org

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Blue Like Play Dough

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:

Blue Like Play Dough

Multnomah Books (July 21, 2009


Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty books including From Dust and Ashes, My Life UnScripted, and the children's book, 10 Minutes to Showtime. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like Today's Christian Woman and Focus on the Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in the mountains of Montana.

Visit the author's website.

Tricia Goyer's Go-Go Campaign!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 21, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421524
ISBN-13: 978-1601421524


Chapter 1

In the Middle

of My Mess

Inever thought I could meet God here. In my home. In my mess. In the midst of my ordinary suburban life. To me, God was someone you met at church or connected with at weekly Bible study. I knew deep down it was possible to have mountaintop moments, but I believed they came during weeklong spiritual retreats, hour long morning Quiet Times, and a once-a year women’s conference.

Instead, I found God in surprising places. I found Him as I sat on the couch cuddling with my three-year-old and reading Goodnight Moon for the 2,345th time. He spoke to me as I made dinner and even as I stuffed laundry into rickety dresser drawers. I heard Him in the midst of my untidy, desperately-in-need of-a-reorg life. I found God, experienced Him…well…while mixing Kool-Aid and playing with play dough.

And it’s a good thing God allowed Himself to be found there, because as a mom my opportunities for solitude, contemplation, and three hymns and a prayer are few and far between.

I used to think the ones who knew God best were nuns and monks who lived high in the hills. I imagined it must be hard for such people to separate themselves and to give up so much. What they had, I believed, was true devotion and an ultimate connection with God. Everyone else—those of us who lived ordinary lives—missed out. Well, I don’t think that anymore.

Yes, I still think nuns and monks are devoted people, but in a way they have it easy. They find God in routines and rituals. They talk to God because there is no one else around. They don’t have to deal with bad drivers cutting them off and then flipping them off. Or with grass stains on a new pair of capris that actually fit and don’t make their butts look too big. Or with a child practicing her name one hundred times on the bathroom floor in permanent marker. Sure, their prayers sound eloquent, but a mom’s prayers for a sick baby are just as pious and maybe more passionate.

In my way of thinking, the most devoted people are moms who whisper prayers for their neighbor, their friend, and their brother (who’s messing up yet again) while watching their kids play in the sandbox. Moms who try to read their Bibles while Dora the Explorer is blaring on the TV in the next room. Moms who stop to talk with an elderly man at the grocery store about the creamed corn, not because they even like creamed corn, but because they want to show a lonely person the love of Jesus.

I think God would agree. I believe He sees the challenges and the effort. He appreciates the smallest turning of our attention to Him or to others for Him.

Even though seeking God is worthy, that doesn’t mean it’s easy or natural. In fact, it almost seems wrong to squeeze God into the middle of a busy, ordinary life. God is BIG. My pursuits are small. God is GLORIOUS. Scrubbing sinks and changing poopy diapers is not. Nor is pushing a shopping cart filled with teetering toiletries, humming “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” as the song plays through the store speakers.

I’ve read many books written by people who “went away with God.” The authors often write about how God speaks to people in solitary, beautiful places. But not all the places He visits are beautiful. Or solitary. My life is proof of that.

Truth be told, it wasn’t I who discovered God. He came down and met me where I was. It doesn’t matter to Him that I can hardly see my desk under the piles of mail and bills and kids’ craft projects. He doesn’t care that I’m twenty pounds overweight (or maybe thirty, no matter what my driver’s license says). He loves me just as I am. He knows my to-do list and that I’ll never get to the end of it. Ever. God sees my heart. He understands that I’m trying to get my life in order so I can focus on family dinners and Bible reading times. He knows I’m working at not feeling envious that my neighbor is thinner than I am and has a better flower garden. My flaws neither surprise Him nor dissuade Him from entering my life.

It’s not as if God says, “I was going to visit you today, but I think I’ll wait until you balance that checkbook, clean out your fridge, and start that Bible study you’ve been meaning to get around to.” God’s not like that. He walked with dirty, smelly shepherds and hung out with jailed prophets, so I don’t think my waist-high laundry pile is going to scare Him off.

Still, I struggle with feeling as if I have to clean up before I approach God. Organize my closets. Transform my kids. Rearrange my priorities. Renew my heart. I forget that God wants me just as I am. That belonging to Him is enough.

Like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32, I need to remember who my Father is. The kid had it all, and he threw it away. He was broke. He was hungry. He was dirty. He was a mess. Then he remembered his father and his home.

For the prodigal son, it wasn’t just about going back to his home. It was also about letting his dad take care of him. I need to do the same. And if I took two minutes to think about it— as I’m doing now—I’d realize the perfection I long for will never be found in the place I live and parent and strive. It’s found in who I turn to. In who is waiting for me with open arms.

The problem isn’t whether God will show up. It’s all about me not being aware that God is already here…that He has been in my life all along. And that He doesn’t care about my mess. Sometimes I do better at remembering. And other times, well… I live in a house with my husband, my grandma, my three teens, and a foreign exchange student we invited into our home just so we could make sure life didn’t get too boring. That’s seven people, each involved in numerous activities, each with his or her own schedule. Circles and scribbles and arrows fill my desk calendar. White spaces are few and far between. Daily life keeps me running. Add in volunteering at church and my work projects, and I wonder if it’s possible to think, let alone contemplate.

While I’m no longer potty training and all my kids have learned to write and read and say please and thank you, I’ve discovered that every season comes with challenges of its own. Right now I’m in a season where little messes sprout up around me like dandelions on a manicured lawn. As soon as I try to cut one down, the seeds scatter and weeds sprout up in a dozen more places.

In the last two months, my nineteen-year-old son, Cory, had two knee surgeries (due to basketball injuries). And my daughter, Leslie, celebrated her sixteenth birthday with a “Never Been Kissed Party,” which means that my years of lectures about abstinence and purity have paid off thus far. My youngest son, Nathan, has been helping me housebreak a dog that, for the past year, has assumed the downstairs bathroom was his potty spot too.

I used to think stumbling over LEGO blocks was irritating. Now I live with a teen driver, a social butterfly, and a child who must believe that showers spray acid, judging by the lengths he goes to avoid them. On a daily basis, I’m not sure who is going where with whom…or if any of my kids are clean enough to be going out at all!

When I read the familiar Scripture verse, “Be still, and know that I am God,” my stomach knots and my thoughts bounce around like a Ping-Pong ball on steroids. Even as I try to focus on the words, my mind wanders to the phone calls I need to return. I find myself trying to stack and restack the piles in order to make them seem more appealing and not quite so overwhelming.

Yet I know this verse doesn’t necessarily mean I have to still my body in order to connect with God. In the middle of my busy life, I can refocus my thoughts and my mind and my heart on Him. I can be fixed on God, even when my feet are hustling. I can look for Him, listen for Him, even if the looking and listening happen in the short drive I take to pick my daughter up from her job at a fast-food restaurant. Or in the prayers I offer up as I shave my legs in the shower.

Being still is trusting that when I do fill the white space with some quiet moments (which I try to do daily), God will have something better in store for me and my kids than what I could’ve come up with on my own. (Like the afternoon when, instead of cleaning off my desk, I took my daughter for coffee. That inner urging led to great conversation about issues I didn’t realize Leslie was dealing with.)

Being still is realizing that even though the world is traveling around me at breakneck speed, sometimes—most times— God’s schedule is in the horse-and-buggy mode. Just because life is moving faster and my needs are growing like kernels of popcorn in the microwave, it doesn’t mean that God has to answer my urgent prayers in the next .287 seconds. In fact, sometimes I think He holds off on purpose, because the greater my need, the more I seek Him. In the end the seeking and waiting and trusting may be more important than the answer.

The mess isn’t going to get cleaned up today, but that doesn’t mean I need to hold God at bay. He loves joining me, even if I’m placing Him into my chaos. In fact, if God had His way, I’m sure He’d write Himself into all parts of my life, using permanent marker, reminding me of where He wants to be—everywhere. In all of my life. And if I close my eyes, I can see His message in my day, in my life:

Insert God here.

My review:
Oh, but how this book has spoken to me! What a wonderful testimony to how God can take any of us--any 'normal', flawed person and make us into a shining example of His love! I relate to so much of what Tricia is saying, both from high school days on up to how we view housework vs. relating to others! I have definitely been blessed by this book, and plan on sharing it with others!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog Hop: Three Things You Don't Know About Me

Hmmm.....I'm pretty durn transparent on the web, so let's see.....

1. I was in an outdoor drama when I was a little girl. My sister and parents were in it, too!

2. Orange is my favorite color, and not just 'cause I'm a

Tennessee fan! Blue runs a close second, and not just because it is our local high school color, either!

3. My sister and I ran away when I was little. We got as far as two yards over before we went back home!

So there ya go! Please come visit again sometime!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Technorati much?

I'm trying it out! I'd love it if you added me to your list or whatever you call it! :D

~Copy and paste this blog post into a new blog post on your site.
~Come back here and leave a comment with a full link address to direct us to your post.
~Your link will then be added to the list.

When the list ends in late June, come back and update your list with all of the members. We are atttempting to limit this list to 100 blog links.

The Contest Hub
I am Harriet

Lifes Perfect Pictures
Diana Rambles
Insanity and Bliss
Lolas Diner
Life is Sweet
Happy Healthy Families
Five Monkeys
http://www.ilikeitfrantic.net/2009/06/technorati-list.html http://theredheadriter.blogspot.com/2009/06/technorati-list.html http://yesiknowwhatcausesthat.blogspot.com/2009/06/technorati-list.html




Confessions of a Moody Mommy
Penelope's Oasis

Friday, July 10, 2009

Review: The Momnificent Life

I have the pleasure of sharing a review today of a wonderful book called The Momnificent Life: Healthy and Balanced Living for Busy Moms. This is a wonderful resource for any mom who might be feeling run down, too busy to take care of herself, or just wants to make sure that she is giving all areas of her life the attention they deserve!

Check this out:

From the book:
Lori Radun is a certified life coach, accredited energy leadership coach, inspirational speaker and author of many personal and family development products. Aside from being a happy life coach and passionate entrepreneur, she is a proud mommy of two wonderful boys, and the wife of a very loving and supportive husband. She lives with her family in Aurora, Illinois.

It is obvious from the beginning of the book that Radun sincerely wants to do all she can to help others.
The introduction gives a short description of the eight components that Radun considers essential to living a momnificent life. She then leads you through examining your own life balance and satisfaction, and introduces her readers to The Wheel of Life. By analyzing each of the eight essential components, one can get a better picture of where she might be out of balance. The introduction then goes on to give specific tips on how to maintain this life balance, and begins to look at the reader’s values, priorities, and choices. The reader is also encouraged to identify some aspects of life that might be draining her of energy.

And this is only the introduction!

This brings me to what I like best about the book: it is divided into the eight components of the life wheel that the introduction helped one examine. Because of this, it isn’t necessary to read it straight through; you can pick a specific focus to start, or look for a topic that seems to fit best with what your life needs right now. Each chapter also includes an action assignment that can be used to reinforce the information presented.

Radun truly is the guide here; you will be learning from yourself! As a Christian, I appreciate that she shares her faith, but it is presented in such a way that persons of other belief systems would be able to incorporate their beliefs with her guidance.

This description offered from Mom Coach Press sums it up well:
…finally a life coach takes the time to mete out much needed direction to mothers in order to minimize mommy stress, identify and solve problems to begin living life as an adventure. By walking the talk, mothers begin teaching children about independence and responsibility—they are the first one’s to answer the call and open the door to create extraordinary families living extraordinary lives.

Radun also offers a comprehensive website describing her offerings ranging from individual coaching sessions to group conference topics and availabilities. Be sure to check out Momnificent University and the videos of Radun teaching about guilt!
There you can also sign up to receive Radun’s biweekly newsletter, and that also entitles you to 2 free useful reports: 155 Things Moms can Do to Raise Great Children and 52 Positive Affirmations for Moms.

For specific information about The Momnificient Life book, you can visit here! The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Target.com, and Walmart.com.

Thanks again for the opportunity to review this book!

FIRST Wild Card Tour: What the Bayou Saw

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:

What the Bayou Saw

Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)


Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University with a B.S. in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until 2006, when she began to pursue writing full-time. She has two grown children and lives in Illinois with her husband, Alan, and a dog named Laura.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825429374
ISBN-13: 978-0825429378



Hold the Wind, Hold the Wind, Hold the Wind, don’t let it blow.

—Negro spiritual, “Hold the Wind”

August 26, 2005, Normal, Illinois

“I’m meteorologist Kim Boudreaux.” Clad in a dark suit, the petite woman smiled big for her television audience. “Katrina’s track has changed.” She pointed to a mass of ominous-looking clouds that threatened to engulf the screen. “She’s no longer headed for Mobile but is on course for the Crescent City.”

Sally Stevens checked her cell phone, then paced in front of the television, as if that would make her brother Robert pick up the phone. She needed to talk to him, needed to know that he’d gotten her nieces and her sister-in-law out of the death trap that New Orleans suddenly had become. Needed to have him assure her, with his balmy Southern drawl, that he and his National Guardsmen were going to be okay.

A slender hand pointed to what must be a fortune’s worth of satellite and radar imagery. “As you can see, Katrina’s moving toward the mouth of the Mississippi, toward the levees . . .” The meteorologist buzzed on, seemingly high on news of this climactic wonder.

Every word seeped from the television screen, crept across the Stevens’s den, and crawled up Sally’s spine. Louisiana had once been her home. Her heritage. What would this hurricane do to the Southern state that she still loved?

A glance at her watch told Sally to get moving. Instead, she once again punched in Robert’s number. If she could just hear his voice, she’d know how to pray later as she stood in her classroom pretending to be passionate about her lecture on the history of American music, pretending to act like it was another ordinary afternoon in Normal, Illinois, while this mother of a storm wreaked wrath and vengeance upon her brother. Her home.

“. . . the next twenty-four hours are crucial . . .” The camera zoomed in for a close-up, focusing on a perfect oval face that, for just a moment, seemed to stiffen, as if a personal levee was about to be breached. “I’m not supposed to say this.” Urgency laced the forecaster’s voice “But I’m telling you. Leave. This is a killer.” The pulsating weather image seemed to confirm her report, a mass of scarlet and violet whirling about an ominous-looking eye. Growing like a cancer. Moving in for the kill . . .

Talk turned to evacuation, log-jammed roads, but Sally barely listened. Years flew away as she studied Ms. Boudreaux’s flawless mocha complexion, the tilt of her chin. The determination of this woman to save her city, or at least its people. So like the determination of Ella, that first friend, who’d taken off for New Orleans. It was as if the lockbox of Sally’s memories had somehow sprung open. Ella, that friend who’d saved her. Ella. And her brother Willie, if he’d gotten out of the pen. Were they digging in, evacuating—

A classical song Sally’s kids had downloaded onto her phone poured from the tiny speaker as the device vibrated in her palm.

“God, let it be—” She glanced at the readout. 504 area code. New Orleans. Robert. Her fingers suddenly clumsy, she struggled to flip open the phone.

Static greeted her.

“Robert? Bobby?” She was shouting, but she didn’t care. “Are you there? Are you—”

“Ssss—got them out.”

He’s out there somewhere, right in the elements, from the sound of it. “Where are you?” Sally cried. “Robert, what’s going on?” Sally pressed the phone against her ear until it hurt. All this technology, yet she could barely hear him, could barely—

The whooshing stopped. So did Robert’s voice. Sally stared at the readout. Ten seconds she’d had with him. Ten seconds to gauge the climate of a city. A city that might still claim as a resident that once-best friend. Sally whispered a prayer as she grabbed her briefcase and headed to class.


August 29, 2005, New Orleans, Louisiana

“It’s no use! The generator’s flooded!” A single battery-operated hallway light revealed the faint outline of Dr. Powers, the thin, impeccably groomed physician whom Ella Ward had worked with for a decade. “Ella? Ella?” He groped against the hospital’s second floor wall, his hands and arms made ghoulish by the shadowy dark. “Are you there? Ella? We’ve got to get them out of here! Now.”

Screams, howling winds, and debris crashing against boarded-up windows swirled into a hellish cacophony that tore at Ella’s heart. What were the three of them, she, Willie, and the doctor—no. Willie didn’t count. What were the two of them going to do for sixty-three patients writhing in excrement, gasping for breath, thousands of dollars of ventilators and BiPAPs rendered powerless? Dying, minute by minute, second by second?

Just to keep from falling down, Ella dug her fingernails into a wall sweaty with humidity. She opened her mouth to answer, but no words came out. At Dr. Powers’s side, she’d watched an aortic artery explode, a patient gurgle in his own blood . . . “The scalpel, Ms. Ward?” he’d said. “Suction, please.” With ice-blue cool, Dr. Powers had plucked life out of mangled messes and never even raised his voice. Now his screams pierced Ella’s ears, and her hopes. Even with one of New Orleans’ best surgeons at her side, the prognosis of surviving this storm was dim. There was nothing for Ella to do but close her eyes and beg. “Oh God. Please Spirit. Please Lord Jesus, please.”

Dr. Powers clutched at the sleeve of Ella’s cotton scrub. “Where’s Willie?”

The doctor’s touch and the mention of her brother brought Ella around. Still, she could barely speak for the quivering of her lip. “Where . . . do you think a junkie would be?”

“The . . . pharmacy?”

Even though Dr. Powers most likely couldn’t see her nod, Ella went through the motion. Twenty-four hours ago, she’d decided she and Willie would come here together. Yet even in her worst nightmare, she hadn’t really believed that they’d die here together.

“Someone, anyone, let me outta here!” It was Mrs. Smith, in Room 215.

“Hold the wind, Lord!” Mr. Lunsford, who’d thought he’d die of cancer.

Ella gritted her teeth. One by one, the patients were seeing the storm’s demonic fingers etching out a death sentence, and screaming their response.

“We’ve got to do something.”

Dr. Powers’s words sent a shiver through Ella. Had he read her mind? Or had she babbled without even knowing it? She clamped her hands over her ears. Lord! I’m goin’ crazy! Help me, Lord!

“What’s happenin’, Lawd? Oh, Lawd Jesus!”

“Sweet Jesus! Where are you?”

What had acted as a twisted tonic to incite the patients to a new level of chaos? Was it the howls of the winds, the thuds and crashes against the windows, the doors, the very roof of this place?

“Jesus, oh Jesus!”

Every moan, every scream, knifed into Ella like a scalpel. Nursing school hadn’t trained her for this. Nearly thirty years working at understaffed facilities hadn’t trained her for this. Nothing had trained her for this. With taut fingers, she pulled the doctor close, then shoved him to his knees and knelt by him, her hands flush against the wall. “We gotta pray,” she said.

My review:
I really enjoyed this book! It keep me interested...it was hard to put down! Intriguing is the word that comes to mind when describing this book. You will LOVE it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We have a winner--How to Start a Christian Giveaway Blog!

First, thank you for entering the giveway! The winner is.........Brenners!! I'll be contacting you by email soon, and will fill you in on details of how you will receive your copy of this e-book! I would love to hear about YOUR giveaway blog if you get it up and running, too!

Have a GREAT week, ya'll, and check back SOON for some fun reviews and giveaways!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Favorite Photograph!

Howdy! I'm so glad that these Blog Hops are so successful! I'm Christi, and you may have stopped by my other blog, BlahBlahBlog. This is my blog where I do reviews and such! Welcome!

This picture is the latest of mine and my sister's kids. It was taken this past Christmas. My two are the ones on the far right--the two smallest! I am so glad that we all live in the same town and get to see each other often, and that these cousins actually LIKE to be around each other!

Thanks for stopping by, and please come back soon!

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, July 6, 2009

Responsible Sports

Over at TwitterMoms, a contest has been going on focusing on one question:
"As a parent, how do you encourage and reinforce the positive aspects of youth sports?"

I was not very athletic growing up. I liked dance lessons and cheerleading, but put a ball in my hand, and I was pretty useless. However, knowing how much sports mean to little boys, we have encouraged our boys to join in. Thankfully, around here we have both Upward Soccer and Upward Basketball. This starts our kids out with a positive introduction to both sports where they have the chance to learn basic skills in a Christian environment. I also really like that the Upward program insists on giving each child equal playing time. That way if the boys happen to inherit my lack of skillz, they still get to play! This is a boost to ANY child's self-confidence!

In the past month, both my sons have started taking TaeKwonDo as well, and are really enjoying it. It, too, teaches about control and respect, and they have to rely on their individual skills and confidence to succeed.

Another way that we have encouraged Isaac in sports is perseverance. In baseball, he struggled batting at first. We had several talks about how we didn't want him to succeed for US, but that we wanted him to keep trying for himself to see that he could do it! I am sure that if we had said it was okay for him to quit baseball mid-season, he would have done it. But we insisted that he carry through with the commitment he had made to his team. Though he didn't end up the star player by the end of the season, he did learn much about the sport and about his ability to take constructive criticism from others and work on improving his playing abilities.

Thanks to Liberty Mutual's Responsible Sports program, which can be found at www.responsiblesports.com, for encouraging kids to move and to be good sports!