Friday, November 30, 2012

Shutterfly Photobook Giveaway

My children are growing up so fast. As they grow I love to reminisce about times when they were younger. I love photo books from Shutterfly because they help capture great memories all in one book. Shutterfly allows you to easily arrange your pictures with a variety of layouts, different backgrounds, text boxes, fun embellishments, and cover options to choose from. You can also see exactly how the pages are going to look before they are printed. They are so fun to make and so easy too. I would love to make a photo book for each one of my children up until the age 8 (their baptism age) and filled with great memories and moments that we don't want to forget. Shutterfly Photobooks are perfect for holiday gifts and I hope to make one for my oldest son, Delbin this year.

Please watch this: Shutterfly Photo Books: The Best Gift Ever

 WIN IT
Prize: Win a code for an 8x8 hardcover photo book (20 pages) (2 Winners) (shipping not included).

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about Shutterfly's Photo Books I am getting a free 8x8 hardcover Photo Book with 20 pages from Shutterfly and two to giveaway (expire on 12/31). My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review and giveaway.

Dial Holiday Foaming Hand Wash Review

Dial Complete Foaming Hand Wash now comes in four limited edition holiday designs: Santa, Snowman, Candy Cane, and Holiday Scene with trees. These are so festive to decorate your bathroom, kitchen, or mudroom with. These decorative bottles contain Dial Complete's antibacterial foaming hand wash that kills 99.99% of germs while still being sensitive to the skin. Brighten your sink or counter with a bit of holiday cheer this season.

I received the Santa and Holiday Scene hand soap to try out and bring a little more merriment to my sinks. I love how cute the designs are. The foaming hand soap is fun for my kids and they like it more than the regular dispensers. The scent is very pleasant and reminds me of grapefruit a little. I love how it leaves your hands clean and fresh smelling.

Dial is also having their Dial Stocking Stuffer Giveaway which began at 12:00:00 PM ET on November 23, 2012 and ends at 11:59:59 AM ET on December 21, 2012. They are giving away (4) Weekly Assortment of Dial products and (4) Weekly $50 gift cards. Prize winner’s names will be posted on the Dial Facebook Fan page. To enter like the Dial Facebook page then go to the Dial “Holiday Giveaway” tab and enter the application. Fill out the on-screen registration form to enter the Giveaway.

Also, if you write why you use Dial on the palm of your hand and upload a photo of it on Dial's Facebook page in the Hand in Hand tab you can and get a coupon for $1 off of any TWO (2) Dial Liquid or Foaming Hand Soap & Dial Hand Sanitizer (7.5oz size or larger).

Cold and flu season is here. To keep your holidays healthy as well as happy have some "Holly, Jolly Handwashing" and "Let it Foam, Let it Foam, Let it Foam!" :)


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Purex for the opportunity of doing this review and Dial for sending me product for free and promotion information to facilitate my review. By posting I will be entered to win prizes. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Colortime Crafts and Markers Savings Opportunity

Since 1990, over 5 million children and adults have loved creating t-shirts, pillowcases, backpacks, tote bags, bandanas, and more for parties, slumber parties, and scout meetings with our permanent fabric markers. Colortime has provided their customers the opportunity to entertain their guests with a creative activity that becomes a permanent keepsake. Also, they are a licensed vendor of the Girl Scouts of America. Check out their wholesale program, great for your organizations.

They also offer free downloadable coloring pages (http://www.colortime.com/Free-Coloring-Pages-c64.html) and a "Birthday Club" (http://www.colortime.com/Birthday-Club-c85.html) with special incentives.

Get 15% off all orders Promo Code: 15USFG when you check out at colortime.com

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about Colortime I am getting a FREE Sampler Project and 3 Markers. Thanks to USFamilyGuide.com for providing me this promotion information and free product. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Real Food Moms & Simple Food For Busy Families Review and Giveaway

Real Food Moms is a great website and blog that is all about nutrition and helping parents make easier, tastier and healthier meals for their families in less time. Parents have a lot on their plates these days, but usually those plates don't involve healthy food. People are spending less time in the kitchen and more eating out. Usually the fast food choices to meet our busy schedules aren't the healthiest in the world. Real Food Moms helps break the unhealthy food cycle and bring good food to your table.

I know I have very little time for meal planning, shopping, food preparation or worrying about what to feed my extremely busy family. I admit that I have a hard time with planning things ahead of time and time management. I am a major procrastinator and usually have a mountain of things to get done on my to do list. This is why I love this website! Most of the recipes that are on this website take less that 15 minutes of prep time. Real Food Moms also shares essential tools, reference charts, time-saving tips and cooking tricks you will need to make your life easier in the kitchen.

Join and Follow Them
They have an app you can download for your convenience on your iPhone. An internet radio show called Family Food Experts that airs every Wednesday at 6:00 PM (EST) on www.W4WN.com (replay on Tuesdays at 9am) The Realfoodmoms.com will co-host every 3rd Wednesday of the month. Each week they'll talk about Healthy Meal Ideas. Join their Twitter chat every Tuesday at 2pm EST #famfoodexperts There will be a weekly giveaway too! Enter on Facebook or Twitter through www.familyfoodexperts.com. Follow them on Pinterest. They also have a forum that you can join to get support and quick answers to your questions. You can also get the Summer Issue of their Cook Once Eat Twice Menu Planner for Free by subscribing!



I received a book written by the Real Food Mom Founders called Simple Food for Busy Families to also review for free. This book is packed with good information. I love how it is laid out. This is my new go to book for helping me put healthier meals together. While this book is not really a cookbook (there are recipes in this book, just not a lot of them), it is a quick reference guide to many things essential for putting meals together. It takes on a whole foods approach to nutrition and tells us how to stray away from the Standard American Diet (SAD). I loved the chapter Seasonality: Eating in Harmony with Nature and learning the benefits to doing so. I loved reading and learning about the different herbs and spices, vegetables, grains and beans, and how to mix and match everything for tasty healthful meals. I really need to execute and administer the daily routine suggestions that they have in this book. I already love to make crust-less quiche and couscous and have incorporated them into my diet. I think I after reading this book I am well on my way to making better choices to put on the table.

Buy It
You can purchase their Pantry Makeover Kit to help you organize and makeover your pantry for $14.95! You can also purchase Books by the Real Food Mom Founders; Great Expectations: Best Food for Your Baby and Toddler From First Foods to Meals Your Child Will Love for $9.36 and Simple Food for Busy Families, The Whole Life Nutrition Approach for $14.24.

WIN IT
Prize: Win the Simple Food for Busy Families Book

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Real Food Mom for sending me product for free to review and letting me giveaway one for free also. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our Shutterfly Christmas Cards 2012

Framed In Snowflakes Christmas Card
Send Christmas cards personalized with your family photos.
View the entire collection of cards.


DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: For sharing my card that I created and ordered through Shutterfly, I get $10 toward my next order.

You can get $10 too if you order your Holiday cards or other project through Shutterfly. The order summary page will give you an option to share your creation. After you've shared the project like I have then email Shutterfly.com at shareproject@shutterfly.com your active link (no screenshots, please) to the Web page containing your embedded project.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shutterfly Holiday Cards 2012 Review and Giveaway

Shutterfly has got a fantastic new collection of Holiday Cards this 2012 from traditional to modern styles. They also have religious/scripture based cards including: Christmas and Hanukkah. They have cards you can personalize with your family or fur babies photos on from the photos that you can store online on Shutterfly. Whatever your style is they’re sure to have something you’ll love.

I love Christmas. This is one of my favorite times of the holiday season. I love getting together with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love giving gifts, decorating, sending out my yearly happenings newsletter, and personalizing cards to send out to family and friends.

I have gotten cards with Shutterfly before and they turned out wonderful! I just recently picked out my family Christmas photo and I believe the Christmas Cards that I picked to go with it will look fabulous with it! I picked the Framed In Snowflakes Christmas Card. They also have a lot more Photo Christmas Cards to choose from and because of the photos these will become great keepsakes. You can usually personalize the cards from Shutterfly in a number of ways by: choosing to have them printed on high quality matte or glossy photo paper or premium card stock, word personalization, and photos. Order your cards in time for the holidays so they can be shipped and get to your friends and family on time!

Shutterfly: Get Social
BUY IT
Go to Shutterfly's Special Offers page to see what you can save on. They also have photo books, other cards, stationery, prints, calendars, photo gifts and home decor that you can purchase also! Just hurry if you are going to get holiday cards to get them shipped in time to friends and family.

WIN IT
Prize: Win a gift code for $50 off your order of $50 or more (Excluding tax and shipping, cannot be combined with any other promos. Expires on 12/14/2012 – no extensions.)

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about Shutterfly's Holiday Cards I am getting a promo code for $100 off my order of $100 or more (excluding tax) including US or Canada shipping (expires 12/14/2012 – no extensions) for free from Shutterfly. They are also giving me an extra $50 off order of $50 or more (excluding tax and shipping & cannot be combined with any other promos (expires 12/14/2012 – no extensions) to giveaway to a reader for free. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Adventures of Scooter The Penguin DVD Review and Giveaway

Teaching lessons of acceptance, honesty, teamwork and understanding, this family friendly animated movie is about a unique blue penguin named Scooter that is from a lost colony of penguins known for their amazing speed and strength. He was abandoned before he was even hatched and is taken in by a family of silver penguins that encourage his talents. Still, Scooter doesn't feel like he belongs. He finally learns the lessons of love and self-worth and returns to his village to save the day.

This movie was low budget and the events seem to drag on too long throughout the movie. It is OK for younger kids, but didn't hold my little ones' attention and my older kids were extremely bored because the events were too predictable and there was very little eye candy or real detail to the animation. It was, however; a good storyline and message so I believe the whole thing could have been presented better.

BUY IT
You can purchase The Adventures of Scooter The Penguin on Amazon for $9.59.

WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of The Adventures of Scooter The Penguin DVD. (3 Winners!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Entertainment One for sending me product for free to review and 3 to giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bailey Christmas Hero DVD Review and Giveaway

In Adventures of Bailey Christmas Hero the beloved Bailey is up to his antics and mischief once again as the Baker Household gets ready for Christmas. Bailey, the cute pooch, is worried that he won't get any presents from Santa because he has been a bad dog. He is told of a mysterious Indian chief that will answer his questions and make his wishes come true. With visions of tennis balls, dog bones and squeaky toys dancing in his head, he sets off with his brother Duke on an adventure to find this Indian chief. However, his pursuits get in the way of the Baker Family plans. Will this doggy ever learn the true meaning of Christmas?

This family friendly live action film is sure to help you get into the spirit of Christmas. We loved the cute "tail" and the message that it had. I am glad to be able to add it to my collection of Christmas movies. I have to admit I am a sucker for cute animal movies. I am also very fond of dogs myself and my kids enjoyed the movie very much. If you love dogs and would love to get into the true spirit of Christmas with your family, this movie might be right up your alley.

Watch the trailer:

"Adventures of Bailey - Christmas Hero" trailer from Liz Franke on Vimeo.

BUY IT
You can purchase Adventures of Bailey Christmas Hero on Amazon for $12.99.

WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of Adventures of Bailey Christmas Hero DVD. (3 Winners!)

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Entertainment One for sending me product for free to review and letting me giveaway one for free also. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Polar Express with Mount Hood Railroad - Our Experience


On Wednesday, November 21 my children dawned their PJs and we headed out for the evening to go on our scenic journey towards Hood River, Oregon to go on the Polar Express at Mount Hood Railroad. We stopped along the way and a magnificent rainbow arched across the sky. We took highway 14 on the Washington side and I was sure glad we did because the scenic drive was so gorgeous. It was raining a lot though so I didn't get my camera out for most of it. We fist saw Cape Horn and it is pictured above. We also saw some absolutely breathtaking waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge. We couldn't tell which ones we were seeing from the highway, but some of the waterfalls include: Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls. Even from the distance we were, they were all spectacular. We caught a glimpse of  Beacon Rock as we drove. It was large and it looked like it was cut out from the surrounding landscape. We also passed the Bonneville Dam which I also would have loved to see up close. Then we passed the Bridge of the Gods. The wind blown trees along the highway were one-sided because of the high amount of wind that goes through the valley, hence the name of the nearby river, Wind River. There is also a stretch of highway 14 that goes through a total of 5 tunnels that I counted located between Stevenson and White Salmon in the lovely valley of Skamania. Then we went over Spring Creek and I wish we could have stopped to go see the fish hatchery that was there.

We finally arrived at the toll bridge to Hood River, Oregon and went across. We arrived at the Mount Hood Railroad and got the tickets at the call desk. While we waited for the train to arrive we looked at the many items in the gift shop and display cabinets. Then it was time to board. As we were boarding we were greeted by the train chefs :) The last picture of the chef is our train car. Brian wanted me to take a picture of the train wheels because they looked neat.


We seated ourselves and put our coats and bags in the upper rack. We had coach seats and I guess they are more traditional like the seating you see in the Polar Express movie. The train car was decorated with nice Christmas garlands, lights, bows, and ornaments. It felt very festive.

As soon as all the passengers had boarded the conductor greeted each family and punched the Polar Express golden tickets we were given. He was punching them close to Delbin's head so he got some clippings in his hair.

Then we were underway on our ride to the North Pole. Shortly after we were moving we were served cookies on a napkin and hot chocolate in Styrofoam cups. I was expecting mugs and plates, but I guess this was coach, so not as fancy. I wish we had gotten carbohydrate information for Delbin (he has type 1 diabetes) ahead of time because it took forever for the servers to track any down. They do not have the nutritional information on their website and for those of us with diet restrictions this would be very helpful. They also almost forgot about giving us any refreshments after a while passed and we had to remind them. Unfortunately they didn't have any straws and I was ill equipped as well with no sippy cup for Zari. The cups were easily spilled in the hands of my toddler, so I tried to manage by letting her have a couple of sips here and there, but this was very tedious. At least the hot chocolate was not scalding.

As we got closer to our destination the Polar Express story was read to us. The reader stopped to show the pictures to us at every page turn which was nice. He also tried to put as much feeling into the reading as he could muster. I am sure reading the story over and over gets a little old after a while.


We were interrupted many times while on the train by a loud "bum", Hobo Jo, (one of the characters of the movie) that said crazy things and tweaked the kids' noses as he passed. He interacted well with the kids and was pretty funny to watch.

We finally got to the North Pole and were directed to look out the far window. The inside lights were fairly bright and since it was so dark outside by contrast we couldn't see much except for the Christmas lights and dancing shadows of the elves. I would have loved to see Santa's reindeer better that were looking at us from below. We never got off the train to actually see Santa's workshop and the North Pole like I thought we were going to do originally. I was also thinking that the display would be better seen in the dark and that was why I picked the 4:30pm departure time, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. They really need to have the outside display more lit up next year!

Then after we waited a bit Santa's elves and the jolly man himself joined us on board the train for a picture and gave my kids each a large bell like the one given in the movie. The Santa definitely looked the part with his real beard. The elves were dressed merrily, although my husband said that I would have made a better elf because of how short I am in comparison. Santa was definitely the best part of the whole train ride.

The trip was fairly short. It basically consisted of the ride to the North Pole and a reverse leg back on what I believed to be the same track. On the return leg of the trip we sang Christmas carols. Most of the passengers were trying to remember the words and it felt a bit awkward to be singing in front of strangers, but at least we were trying to make it heart felt.

Even with everything not going as I had hoped we enjoyed our first time on the Polar Express at Mount Hood Railroad. My children will treasure the bells that they received and remember this time we had as a family together. It was a nice retreat from everyday life.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:
For my participation in the US Family Guide Polar Express Promotion I received 4 FREE coach seats valid weekdays in November and chose to buy 2 more for my girls to go also.

Thanks to USFamilyGuide.com for providing me this opportunity and Polar Express at Mount Hood Railroad for hosting it. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this review.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beautiful Beasties - Pet Photography Book Review and Giveaway

Beautiful Beasties by Jamie Pflughoeft of Cowbelly pet photography is a fantastic book all about pet photography. It is a how to guide that goes over everything from equipment to use, photography basics, lighting, exposure, composition, challenges, developing, processing, editing, marketing and building a business, etc. This book mostly touches on photographing cats and dogs with a small blip about other pets.

My dog, Prince, is hard to capture on film or digital. I have found his neurotic behavior troublesome. Every time I get out my camera he knows that the red light or flash will illuminate stuff and create shadows. He loves to chase the light and shadows and it drives me and himself completely bonkers. He barks, whines and tries to scratch the floor or nip at the light. I have tried to stop him from doing this, but my husband and kids think it is funny and try to get him to engage in the behavior. My camera isn't the only thing he gets this way with. He also does this with flashlights, rainbow/sun catchers, sunbeams, laser pens, mirror balls, etc. I have yet to figure out a way to rid him of this habit.

I was excited to get this book to see if it had any specific tips for me and photographing him. In the chapter on behavior challenges it goes into neurotic behaviors very briefly. I was hoping for more in depth, but what this book did tell me was still helpful in my situation. It told me to get his energy out before the photo shoot so that maybe he would be more calm and relaxed. It also said to try to let the pet be themselves how ever silly, energetic, or neurotic they may be. If I let him be himself I could capture more of his personality.

I also re-learned a whole lot about photography that I had forgotten from my photography class I took in college and some stuff I hadn't learned about digital cameras and more on editing in Photoshop. I edit my photos in either Gimp or Picasa so I am not as familiar in Photoshop as I'd like to be, but everything seemed very straight forward.

So, here are some of my results...

This picture was washed out because of the lighting and time of day that I was shooting. In Picasa I hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, then brought up the highlights a little and brought the color temperature all the way up.

This photo was Prince at play and one of my favorites I shot. He just pounced toward his rubber chicken toy and I caught him in the action just as he had landed and cocked his head toward the camera. If you look you can see his long floppy ears are still up a little as the wind caught them and as he tossed his head about :)

Here is my mini pony Gizmo. This book also has a short entry about photographing and working with other animals like: horses, small furry rodents, birds, and reptiles/amphibians.

This book taught me a lot and proved to be a very useful guide to photographing animals in a creative way. I am glad I got this book for free to review. It was fun to photograph and experiment with different settings and things. I still have a lot to learn, but this book was definitely a great starting point for beginning pet and animal photography.

BUY IT
You can purchase this book from different retail places for around $17. If you are going to try to photograph your pooch, feline, or other pet friend this holiday season consider this book.

WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of Beautiful Beasties by Jamie Pflughoeft.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Global Influence for sending me product for free to review and letting me giveaway one. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Festival of Nativities - Free Events


While I was at church this past Sunday I heard about an free event for the public for the holidays and ever advancing Christmas season. The Longview LDS Stake Center is having their very first annual Community Festival of Nativities. I have been to one of these festivals when I was living in Ohio and it is really something to behold. People donate their unique nativities to be displayed for the time of the festival. Longview hopes to have literally hundreds of different Christmas nativities from around the world on display for people to come and view. They will also have music from talented local performers.

If you don't live in my neck of the woods there is also one located in Vancouver Washington and Gladstone Oregon that is closer to Portland. Both Vancouver and Gladstone will also have a live Nativity and a room with activities for the kids to do.
  • What: 12th Annual Festival of Nativities (FREE Event)
  • Date: Thursday through Sunday, November 29th-December 2nd, 2012. The live nativity will be held outside the building on Saturday, December 1st, at 6pm and then again at 8pm on the northeast lawn.
  • Time: 12-9pm (OPEN HOUSE)
  • Place: 10509 S.E. 5th Street Vancouver, WA, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
These events are a great way to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with your nearby community. If you do not live nearby one of these churches just inquire of an LDS church close by you to see if they know of a Festival of Nativities that you can visit in your area.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I became aware of these events and was also given more information by email about this. Thanks to everyone involved for these events. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any compensation for posting about this event. The above art is used with permission by Longview LDS Stake Center to advertise their event. It is ©Joseph F. Brickey and is called "A Savior is Born".

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rock The Tea Shopping for Girls 15% off Deal



Shopping Just Got Easier at Rock The Tea! Girls shopping on-line store. Rock the Tea offers crafts, dress-up clothes, make-up and jewelry for young girls.

Readers of Eccentric Eclectic Woman Save 15% Off Your Order at www.RocktheTea.com - http://www.usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=460&bid=10955&dealid=1049

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about Rock the Tea I am getting a free $12. Thanks to USFamilyGuide.com for providing me this promotion information and free GC. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

World Vision Gift Catalog and Hand Carved Serving Spoons Review and Giveaway

The true meaning of this and every holiday season should be giving and what better way to do that than to create a Christmas list through World Vision and their Gift Catalog. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

In their catalog you can choose a meaningful, life-changing gift to meet the essential, immediate needs of children and their families around the world. These alternative gift ideas such as: animals (goats, sheep, cows, chickens, pigs, oxen, ducks, donkeys, rabbits, alpacas), sewing machines, bicycles, education and training, homes, clothes and shoes, clean water, fruit trees, honey bees, supplies and tools, medicine, etc. - honor the recipient and make a lasting impact for people in need. The catalog also offers a wide variety of gifts to match the interests and hobbies of the gift recipient to make the gift giving more meaningful. The recipient of the gift you give, whether a friend or family member, will get a special card describing the gift and its impact. Also with a contribution to the Maximum Impact Fund donors can also receive free handmade items from around the world: such as ornaments, jewelry, scarves, totes, etc. These donations help the areas of greatest need.


New to 2012 is a online tool allowing individuals the option to make a personal My Gift Catalog page at www.mygiftcatalog.org for personalized fundraising. The individual can then encourage family and friends to visit their page and purchase a gift from the catalog instead of or in addition to traditional holiday presents. You can use this during all year round too, such as: the holiday season, birthdays, weddings, graduations or other celebrations.

Donors can also follow "The True Spirit of Christmas" tour on Facebook where World Vision staff travels around the world to get a look inside the lives of families impacted by the Gift Catalog. You can also learn more about some of the recipients of the items purchased from the gift catalog through their catalog Facebook page.

From the Maximum Impact Fund selection of gifts I received the Hand-Carved Serving Spoons to see for myself. This is a gorgeous set of two hand-carved serving spoons delivered in a gift bag of African fabric hand-sewn by local women. The serving spoons are made to benefit orphans of the Kamba tribe in Kenya. Each one is unique—just like the children they help. These are made of olivewood and have such fantastic figure in them. They have exquisite spiral handles that loop around and are nice to hold. These would be wonderful in tossing a salad or serving a pasta or other dish. The bag has a floral design of earthy tones and has a drawstring that closes it. It is a very nice set and will "serve" many less-fortunate souls.

BUY IT
To order from the World Vision Gift Catalog, visit www.worldvisiongifts.org. To order by phone or to request a print catalog, call toll-free at (888) 511-6511.

WIN IT
Prize: Win the Hand Carved Serving Spoons and Bag.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to review and one to giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Susanna’s Christmas Wish by Jerry Eicher FWCT Book Review

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

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



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jerry Eicher’s bestselling Amish fiction (more than 210,000 in combined sales) includes The Adams County Trilogy, the Hannah’s Heart books, and the Little Valley Series. After a traditional Amish childhood, Jerry taught for two terms in Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. Since then he’s been involved in church renewal, preaching, and teaching Bible studies. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From the pen of bestselling Amish fiction author Jerry Eicher, (more than 350,000 books sold), comes a truly delightful and inspiring Christmas novella. A perfect holiday delight for lovers of Amish fiction…and those who love a heartwarming and tender Christmas tale.





Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736951512
ISBN-13: 978-0736951517



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Susanna Wagler stood by the living room window watching Herman’s broad shoulders as he guided the team of horses into the field. Was he really her husband? The thought raced through her mind, and she pushed it away. These were not the thoughts a woman of God should have. Of course Herman was her husband. They had said the marriage vows in front of Bishop Jacob not three weeks ago. She could still hear Bishop Jacob’s voice intoning, “Do you, sister Susanna, believe Da Hah has given our brother Herman to you as your husband?”

The words had hung in the air only for a moment before she whispered, “Yah.”

Herman was the husband Da Hah meant for her. She had been certain of it. As certain as she could be. He was a man deeply loved by the community for his honest ways, his open face, and his dedication to the faith of the fathers. This was why she had said yah to Herman’s first timid request when he’d asked her home from the hymn singing. And so far Herman Wagler hadn’t let her down. Not like someone else had…Susanna also pushed that thought away.

She had forgotten about him—shut his memory from her mind. But even now she shouldn’t think badly of Matthew Yoder, though he had broken her heart. The truth had come out, and it was better this way. How awful would it have been if the truth had waited to appear after they were married? That was what her sister Mary told her, and she was right. Mary was wise about Matthew, having married his brother Ernest. Even before Matthew had left, Mary had seemed unsure of his intent. Older sisters were good for something after all, it seemed.

Still, Susanna tried to give Matthew the benefit of the doubt. He must have had his reasons for leaving the community. Even though she couldn’t understand them…or follow him into the Englisha world. And his reasons were obviously greater than his love for her. That was what hurt the most when he’d informed her he didn’t plan to stay in the Amish community. He hadn’t been able to tell her before, he’d said, though he’d assured her he hadn’t been playing her along all those years.

But a man didn’t suddenly make up his mind to leave, she figured. Such a desire had to have been there for a long time. Matthew had known something, regardless of how much he insisted he hadn’t. If she had loved him enough, she would have gone with him, she supposed. But how could a woman love a man who loved the Englisha world more than he loved her? Still, she had wavered for weeks over the matter. Struggled with the agony of it. Was she at fault? Did love require the sacrifice of everything…of all she held dear? Things like this land of her people? These open fields she’d grown up in? This place where she’d been born?

Matthew seemed to have no problem leaving all of it, and he’d soon put his words into action, getting himself placed in the bann in the process. As if she could face something like that. The cutting off of all contact with her past. This couldn’t be love, she’d finally told herself. She could not choose this.

So Matthew was gone.

And slowly she had put the fragments of her heart back together. Finding a piece here and a piece there that fit. Herman, with his tenderness, had helped. And her heart had healed somewhat, hadn’t it? She wouldn’t have married Herman if it hadn’t, would she?

She loved Herman. She did. Herman was the kindest man around. She should be thankful he had even considered her. Especially after Matthew left and caused such a stir in the community. No Amish young man would have been blamed for avoiding her completely, like she was a second-rate, cast-off shirt. And yet Herman hadn’t thrown her away. He had asked her home from the hymn singing and eventually asked if she would be his frau. Someone to love and cherish forever while they lived on this earth. Herman had done that, and was that not love?

Susanna’s eyes lingered on Herman’s face as he turned the team of horses around. The prancing hooves left tracks in the light dusting of the overnight snow. For a moment Herman glanced toward the house, and she ducked behind the drapes. It wouldn’t be decent for him to see her staring at him from the window. Not yet. Even if he was her husband. They should learn to know each other better first.

When Susanna stole another look, Herman was headed out over the open fields, hanging on to the lines. He is a handsome man, she told herself. And one she was thankful to have as her husband.

There was at least one brokenhearted girl in the community that she knew of. Herman had left behind Ruth Byler. She sure hadn’t kept her desires to have Herman take her home from the hymn singing a secret. And if there was one who did so openly, there had to be others who had hid their feelings. Yet Herman had chosen her.

Susanna turned back to the kitchen with a sigh. This had to stop. This wondering and puzzling over things. She had expected it would be over after the wedding. In fact, there had been plenty of signs during the weeks before the wedding that her doubts had flown away. Now they apparently were back in force.

But they would live through this, Susanna told herself. Herman loved her and she loved him. He had made that plain enough in the days since the wedding. And she had no reason to complain. She was sure Herman was aware that her heart hadn’t totally healed from Matthew, but he was being kind and understanding. What woman wouldn’t love such a man?

Susanna ran hot water into the kitchen sink while she brought the last of the breakfast dishes to the counter. Herman’s plate was sopped clean—it looked almost washed, like it always did. Even though it had been a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, and home fries she’d fixed him. Herman would have made a gut bachelor, that was for sure. The way he kept everything tidy around himself. And yet he felt the need of her, felt it necessary to bring her into his life.

But why?

Because he loved her, of course, Susanna told herself. There didn’t need to be a reason beyond that. Perhaps it was the conversation at the breakfast table this morning that was bringing this indecision up again. Well, it was more of an argument, really. Their first timid disagreement. And she had been shocked at the feelings that rose up inside of her. The insistence that Herman see things her way. And she had even grown angry, though Herman hadn’t, even as he remained firm. There would be no celebration of Christmas in their new home. And they wouldn’t be going to her parents’ place to celebrate either. It was not the way of his family, and it would not be their way.

Susanna washed the dishes and stared out the window at the snow. Soon the snow would be falling in earnest, the flakes floating past this very window. The joy and hope of Christmas would be in the air. The celebration of the Christ child in the manger would be coming. Was this feeling just an Englisha thing, like Herman claimed? He said her family had given in to worldly influences and his family had not.

Yet how could this be true? Her family didn’t celebrate Christmas like the Englisha did, with their Christmas trees and lots of store-bought presents. Nee, their celebration was simple. They began by gathering on Christmas morning for breakfast. In his deep voice, Daett would read the story of the Christ child’s birth. Then the day would be spent together visiting, eating candy and goodies galore, and letting the children race around the house. Maybe that was a little like the Englisha, but she would be willing to adjust something, like leaving early, if that helped Herman get used to her family’s ways.

But Herman had said no. No hesitation, right out, flat no.

And she had gotten angry. Even her cheeks flushed and her fingers tingled. She had stood up from the table to get a drink at the sink even though her glass was still full of water. His eyes had followed her as he seemed to be waiting for harsh words from her.

But she had not spoken them. She knew that Herman, being her husband, was in the right. And she knew what he would say further on the matter—that she knew before the wedding what his feelings were. He had made no secret of them. And there had been the talk with his mamm. Herman’s mamm had made two or three special trips to the Keim farm before the wedding to visit Susanna. From that first visit, it seemed as if his mamm was sizing her up as a daughter-in-law. Would she be good enough for her Herman? That was her purpose in that first visit. She must have passed the test because there had been the second visit. That’s when Mrs. Wagler told Susanna what Herman’s favorite dishes were and how important it was to honor their family traditions. That was when she mentioned their longstanding abhorrence of the celebration of Christmas that had somehow infiltrated the community. Those visits had been uncomfortable enough, but then only two days after the wedding Herman’s mamm had showed up to help her organize her kitchen. Hadn’t it occurred to her that if Susanna needed such help she would have asked her own mamm?

Nee, she couldn’t say she didn’t know how Herman and his family felt about Christmas, Susanna acknowledged. And now with their first Christmas together approaching, Susanna was realizing it would also be her first Christmas without the joy she had experienced at home. Nee, she would never get to be at Mamm and Daett’s for Christmas morning again.

Knowing about his objections beforehand wasn’t making it any easier, no matter how often she’d told herself it should be. She had thought maybe there was some sort of compromise possible. Surely there had to be. Susanna sighed. It was useless, really. She already knew that. Hermann was handsome and nice and calm, but he was “Amish stubborn.” That was just how it was. And she was his frau.

Well, she could imagine that Christmas was no big deal. Perhaps she was being silly about such a small matter. They would find something else to do on Christmas morning.

Susanna dried the plates and placed them in the cupboard above her. She would have to learn submission, that was the only answer. This was the first big test being placed before her by Da Hah, and she would have to pass somehow. Oh, if she only could. Who would have thought she would have trouble with being a gut frau? That had been the least of her expectations. A sloppy housekeeper, perhaps, or being unable to keep up with the sewing once she had a bunch of kiener. Those things had worried her, but letting her husband have his way about Christmas had not been on her list.

Susanna closed the cupboard door. She would learn this lesson by Christmas morning. She still had time. Thanksgiving was this week, and that left nearly a month until Christmas. Yes, that’s what she would do. She would set her whole heart to the task. This would be her gift of love to Herman. She would learn to keep her mouth shut, and even if she didn’t succeed right away, it would happen. She would apologize until it did happen. Surely by Christmas the task would be done. Herman would see on that morning how much progress she’d made in fitting herself into his family’s lifestyle.

By Christmas Day she would love him fully, with all of her heart. What better wish to aim for than to live in total harmony with your husband, she decided. And love would keep growing in her heart for him. Perhaps not exactly the love she used to feel for Matthew, but a better love. A higher love. One that would grow from suffering.

Hadn’t Matthew shown her how shallow their love used to be? He’d sure been able to cast it off as if it didn’t matter.

Running to the window again, Susanna peeked out. Herman was a dim figure now, almost lost from view in the distant field. He looked intent on his work, his head bent toward the ground as his plow turned up the black dirt. Susanna turned away. How like plowing her plan was. Turning her old life under like Herman was doing to the ground today. Preparing for the spring when things come alive again. She would do the same. Plow under her selfish desires to plant a future spiritual harvest. Here was the sign as to what she should do as plain as day and right before her eyes. How like Da Hah to show her so quickly that He liked her plan. He would surely be answering her wish soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hillsong We Have A Savior Christmas CD Review and Giveaway

We Have A Savior is the fourth Christmas worship album of Christian contemporary music composed of Christmas songs led by Hillsong Church. Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal mega church affiliated with Australian Christian Churches (the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God) and located in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

I have not been acquainted with their music until now. I received We Have A Savior and thought it was very different from other Christmas music I have heard before. This collection of songs were recorded over 2011 and 2012. The first five songs on this album are from their previous Born Is The King Christmas album. There are also two new songs We Have A Savior and Our King Has Come. All other songs on this album are traditional Christmas songs you've heard before.

Hillsong has rearranged these to have a fun twangy folky feel to them. I actually love folk music so I really like the style of this CD and its arrangements. You can hear banjos in Joy To The World and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. Emmanuel is a soft sweet song about the Savior. O Holy Night takes a more traditional approach. I really love the song We Have A Savior and love to sing along with it. Hark The Herald Angels Sing has a neat introduction and you can hear a tambourine throughout along with other instruments. This album reminds me of some tree huggin' hippies singing a Christmas songs...but I see nothing wrong with this, being a tree hugger myself. The organic feel is refreshing.



Track Listing:
01. O Come Let Us Adore Him - Lead Vocal: Annie Garratt
02. Joy To The World
03. Born Is The King (It's Christmas) - Lead Vocal: Matt Crocker
04. Emmanuel - Lead Vocal: Darlene Zschech
05. O Holy Night
06. We Have A Savior - Lead Vocal: Ben Fielding
07. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
08. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Tidings)
09. Unto Us - Lead Vocal: Brooke Ligertwood
10. (Gloria) Angels We Have Heard On High - Lead Vocals: Dave Ware & Hayley Law
11. Our King Has Come - Lead Vocal: Dave Ware
12. The First Noel (Holy Is The Lord)

BUY IT
Amazon
iTunes
Hillsong Store
 
WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of the Hillsong We Have A Savior Christmas CD.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to review and one to giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Josh Wilson Noel CD Review and Giveaway

Josh Wilson is a contemporary Christian musician from El Dorado, Arkansas. I love the style Josh brings to the table. He has a strong unwavering voice. I am glad I was introduced to his music because I really like what I have heard so far.

His first full length new Christmas album, Noel, was released October 9th as a followup to his successful Christmas Tour in 2011. I haven't heard his other albums, but this one has a fresh and new way of arranging the songs that I have heard. He has an amazing amount of instruments in this album. On the cover just counting there are 10 different things and I can hear others as well throughout his music. Apparently on tour he had more than 20 instruments, most of which he plays, and he will again. He creates his albums and now stage performances with a technique called looping (below you can see him do this in the recording studio telling about looping).

This album is wonderfully well balanced with: 4 original songs, 4 traditional carols and 2 instrumentals. Having that many good originals on a Christmas album definitely takes talent and skill. The first song on the album, The First Noel, is an instrumental piece and beautifully arranged. I love the saxophone and sleigh bells in Almost Christmas and the song is so fun too. O Come, O Come Emmanuel has a verse with in the original  Ecclesiastical Latin which is very cool. There are so many songs on this album that I haven't heard and that I think, makes this album special. It is not comprised of too many traditional Christmas songs that one has heard so many times that they get annoying. If the song is one I have heard before he makes it new with the arrangements and instrumentation. I really love this album and I know it will be playing in my Christmas rotation of music a lot.

The Verse in O Come, O Come Emmanuel in Ecclesiastical Latin:
Veni, veni Emanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio.

Refrain

Gaude, gaude, Emanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.

About looping:


About his 2012 Christmas Tour:


Track Listing:
01. The First Noel (instrumental)
02. Jesus Is Alive
03. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Featuring Mandisa)
04. Do You Hear What I Hear?
05. Christmas Changes Everything
06. Almost Christmas
07. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
08. Carol of the Bells (instrumental)
09. Angels We Have Heard On High
10. Once A Year (Featuring Andrew Peterson)

BUY IT
Amazon (mp3 album)
iTunes
Josh Wilson Store (actual physical album)

WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of the Josh Wilson Noel CD.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to review and one to giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Jeremy Camp Christmas: God With Us CD Review and Giveaway

Jeremy Camp is a contemporary Christian musician from Lafayette, Indiana. He has released 14 CDs: 4 of them are Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)-certified as Gold and two are live albums and he has received many more accolades. He has 25 number-one hit songs. He does a mixture of ballads and rock in his original music. I love Jeremy Camp's down to earth and rough around the edges voice. His music has been a favorite of mine.

Christmas: God With Us is Jeremy Camp's first full length Christmas album in his 10-year music career. It was released September 25th. I love this Christmas album, although I was surprised to find a mix of both secular and Christian Christmas songs on it. Most of the album has the Christian feel I would expect from Jeremy Camp, but Jingle Bell Rock, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Let It Snow are more secular. I believe that these songs gave the album a more rounded feel, but I didn't expect them. Jingle Bell Rock is also the very first song and if you have your sound too loud, it will blast it out of your speakers because of the abrupt beginning. I especially love his own song on this album, God With Us. It has beautiful lyrics and I love the strings. My favorite though is O Come, O Come Emmanuel. I really love the arrangement on this. I also love the song Mary Did You Know With only 10 songs on the album it does feel like there should be more. I love the pretty cover picture and the fun picture on the back of Jeremy in an old car with a Christmas tree in the back. Overall this is a great Christmas album, especially for Jeremy Camp fans.

Here is a sneak preview:

Track Listing:
01. Jingle Bell Rock
02. Hark The Herald Angels Sing
03. Joy To The World
04. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
05. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
06. Let It Snow
07. Mary Did You Know
08. God With Us
09. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
10. Away In A Manger

BUY IT
iTunes
Amazon
Walmart
Family Christian Stores
Lifeway

WIN IT
Prize: Win a copy of the Jeremy Camp Christmas: God With Us CD.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I received product for free to review and one to giveaway. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.

Friday, November 9, 2012

30 Days of FRIENDS Trivia Challenge: Giveaway, Blog App and Video Player

Warner Bros. Pictures is proud to announce the release of Friends: The Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set November 13th 2012; along with the 30 Days of Friends: Trivia Challenge Blog App and Video Player!



Trivia Challenge Blog App and Video Player:
  • 30 Days of Friends: Trivia Challenge! Come back everyday to earn a different Friends character badge, unlock hidden badges, and earn awesome Friends content along the way.
  • Mashup Clip Countdown! Relive all your favorite Friends moments in these fun clips. Each week a new clip will be unlocked. Come back week after week to check them out!
  • Which Friend Are You Most Like Quiz! Everybody loves the characters of Friends for their distinct and quirky personalities. Chandler’s wit, Monica’s OCD, and Phoebe with her free-spirit. Take this quiz to find out what Friends character you are most like!
  • Get Social! Tweet with the #FRIENDS hashtag about this post and the long awaited release of Friends: The Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set.


BUY IT
Pre-order Friends: The Complete Series Blu-Ray Box Set on Amazon.com


WIN IT
Prize: Win a Friends prize pack with two oversized cappuccino mugs and a picture frame just like the one on Monica’s door.

I am trying out Rafflecopter on my blog. Please click on this post link if you do not see the script for it below. Also, if there is anything that is wrong with it let me know by emailing me: finamoon AT gmail DOT com I will try my best at fixing it. Thanks for being awesome readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Because I am posting about the Friends blog app I am getting a free Friends prize pack with two oversized cappuccino mugs and a picture frame just like the one on Monica’s door for my readers as a giveaway. Thanks to PartnersHub and Warner Bros. for providing me this promotion information and free product. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this blog app and giveaway.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Harvest - September and October 2012

During the month of September and October we were very busy picking, harvesting, foraging, gathering and wildcrafting. We picked apples and pears off our trees and grapes off our vines. We picked plums from the neighbors trees that they wanted us to help ourselves to and I gathered up fallen walnuts from both our many Black Walnut and English Walnut trees. I have also been trying to educate myself about the flora and fauna in and around Portland and Rainier Oregon, where I live. I am learning a lot about canning and dehydrating too.

We made Golden Plum fruit leather in my dehydrator and it turned out a to have a gorgeous stain glass look to it. All I did was wash them, peal the skins off, pit them and mush up the plum fruit in a bowl or if they were really ripe I just mushed them with my fingers and spread the mush out on the fruit leather tray somewhat. It is fine if it has juice in the tray with it because that will get dried also. So yummy and without any additives or extras.

We canned pear sauce and dehydrated pears too. I don't have a proper water bath canner or a good canning rack, but we used what we had and got the job done. The dried pears turned out really chewy, but still really good.

I have a handy dandy Pampered Chef apple peeler that gets the job done quickly if I want apples peeled and cored. My Nesco American Harvest Food Dehydrator is perfect for making yummy apple chips! The kids helped load them onto the trays and then they were dried. We like to bag them up and freeze them. They stay crispier this way.

We have different varieties of grapes that grow on our grape arbor. The grapes are really good straight off the vine too. We made both white and red grape juice. After we plucked a bucketful of each variety off of our grape vines we washed, sorted and de-stemmed them. I used my Vitamix to blend it a little in batches then we placed it all in a big pot on the stove to boil while stirring. Then we strained it all through our strainer (we don't yet have a food mill) and bottled it.


We gathered and foraged loads of walnuts from our trees that had fallen to the ground too. I don't have pictures of the walnuts yet, but I will get some.

We also love to visit local orchards, farms and "u-pick your own" places to get things we haven't yet grown at our place. Since I am still learning I love to take photographs of plants and identify them to see if they are edible or medicinal or useful in another way. This is a fun hobby of mine that I want to soon get really good at.

What have you picked, harvested, foraged, gathered and/or wildcrafted this year? Have you made anything special out of the things you got? How have you preserved your harvest?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Free 2013 Calendars - Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Joyce Meyer

Here are my 3 favorite FREE calendars to get for upcoming years...
If you're a Betty Crocker member (as of 10/24/12), hurry to request a FREE Betty Crocker 2013 calendar. They're in limited supply, so you’ll want to act fast! These are filled with great recipes!

*Limit one calendar per member. Limit one calendar per household. All fields required. You must be 18 years of age or older to receive the calendar. Offer limited to the United States and expires 12/31/2012. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

If you're a Pillsbury member (as of 10/29/12), hurry to request a FREE Pillsbury 2013 calendar. They're in limited supply, so you’ll want to act fast! These are filled with great recipes!

*Limit one calendar per member. Limit one calendar per household. All fields required. You must be 18 years of age or older to receive the calendar. Offer limited to the United States and expires 12/31/2012. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.

If you sign in or register to have an account you can get a FREE Joyce Meyer Ministries 2013 Calendar filled with quotes from Joyce Meyer and great insight.

*Free upon request, while supplies last. Limit one per household. Offer valid in U.S. and Canada only.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: I wrote this blog post because I thought you might be interested in knowing this information and taking part of these opportunities. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any compensation for doing this post, but did participate in getting the free items too.

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

The Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway is happening now! Starting, today, November 6, They’ll be giving away an item from their Terrific Twenty list EVERY DAY for 20 days to their Facebook fans! Check out the entire Terrific Twenty list here. Become a Melissa & Doug Fan on Facebook and enter to win here.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:
For my participation in this Melissa & Doug Promotion I will receive a toy to offer as a Giveaway to my readers from their Terrific Twenty list and a toy to keep for myself. Thanks to Melissa & Doug for providing me this promotion information and free product. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Polar Express Coming to Mount Hood Railroad


All Aboard! The Polar Express comes to life this holiday season as the Mount Hood Railroad rolls out of the station bound for the "North Pole!" Come early and climb aboard with your family to cozy-up and enjoy our festively-decorated vintage train cars. Dancing chefs deliver hot chocolate and a cookie to each guest to savor while music from the Polar Express movie plays en route to the North Pole. Make sure to have your tickets handy, because your conductor will be by shortly to punch each child's ticket. Before arriving at the North Pole, the iconic book, The Polar Express is read as your Chef turns the pages to share the beautiful illustrations in the original book.

With the station far away, The Polar Express magically arrives at the outskirts of Santa's North Pole village, where Santa Claus himself and his elves joyously welcome the train! As you stay comfortably settled and warm in your seat, Santa and his helper elf board the train! During the return trip, Santa will greet each child with his signature holiday spirit and the first gift of Christmas: a bell cut from his sleigh. It is said that only children and those who still believe can actually hear the bell ring. Join in the singing as your Chef or Conductor lead Christmas caroling on the 30-minute return trip. For those wanting the magic to last or to do a little Christmas shopping, visit our gift shop in the station for special Polar Express gifts and merchandise. Oh, one last thing, children are encouraged to wear their PJ's; adults who still believe have been known to wear them, too! So, are you coming? All Aboard!

All Aboard the Polar Express is coming to the Mount Hood Railroad, visit http://www.mthoodrr.com/ or call 1-800-872-4661 to climb aboard.

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER:
For my participation in this US Family Guide Promotion I will receive FOUR FREE coach seats valid weekdays in November.

Thanks to USFamilyGuide.com for providing me this promotion information and free product. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for posting this promo.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Kylie Minogue The Abbey Road Sessions CD Review

Australian born, Kylie Minogue has been a global pop icon for 25 years. She has had 60 million global album sales, multiple hit singles, global tours, collaborations, countless industry accolades, acting roles and TV appearances. In 1987 her music career started when she released her first single; a remake of the 1962 Little Eva hit “Locomotion”. She has been singing and acting ever since.

Being released in the US on November 6th, this album, The Abbey Road Sessions was recorded in London's legendary Abbey Road Studios with Kylie's band and a full orchestra. As much as I love full orchestras usually, I miss her 80's flair on this album. The songs do not have the same flavor. Her songs don't pop in the same way and are not as upbeat. The sixteen tracks on this album have been radically reimagined and rearranged. She had always wanted to record in this way and so it was one of those things I think that she needed to do and I applaud her in living out her dream.


Don't get me wrong, I love the album, but in a totally different way. This album has a more emotional tone to it. Her voice shines and resonates more in this album. The songs are more clear and defined. The orchestral arrangement of this album and sound of the studio gives it a special ambiance. I love the reworked "Can't Get You Out Of My Head". It still works well with the orchestra. The previously unreleased "Flower" is one of my favorites on the album. I love the lyrics! She wrote this song years ago following her battle with breast cancer as an ode to the child she hopes to have some day.

Kylie Minogue - The Abbey Road Sessions Album Sampler

Tracklist:
01. All the Lovers
02. On a Night Like This
03. Better the Devil You Know
04. Hand On Your Heart
05. I Believe in You
06. Come Into My World
07. Finer Feelings
08. Confide in Me
09. Slow
10. Locomotion
11. Can’t Get You Out of My Head
12. Where the Wild Roses Grow
13. Flower
14. I Should Be So Lucky
15. Love At First Sight
16. Never Too Late

BUY IT
This would be great for a stocking stuffer or gift for the upcoming holidays.
iTunes $11.99
Amazon (Deluxe) $14.46
Amazon (Standard) $9.99

Follow Her
Kylie on Twitter
Kylie on Facebook
Kylie will appear on Dancing With The Stars on November 13th and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on November 14th to perform "The Locomotion."

DISCLOSURE/DISCLAIMER: Thanks to One2One Network for sending me product for free to facilitate my review. By posting early I am entered to win prizes. My thoughts are mine and my family's own opinion and have not been altered by anyone else. I did not receive any other compensation for doing this review.