Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BzzAgent Jono: Private Selections Campaign & Giveaway

** MKB, you win! You'll receive an email shortly about your prize.  Congratulations!

I'm currently participating in my very first BzzAgent Jono campaign!  (BzzAgent is basically a marketing ploy - it's a company that passes out free stuff in the hopes that you like the products and will then spread the word.)

I won a spot in a Private Selections (Kroger store brand) campaign.  I was sent coupons for a free appetizer, pizza, and dessert, and last night I made my choices.

As a general rule, I don't buy prepackaged frozen foods; they're usually expensive, high in salt and fat, and not easily modified, but I do like to keep a few items on hand for quick meals when life gets crazy.  Since Advent is upon us, I think this qualifies.  :-)

I was sent coupons for a free appetizer, pizza, and dessert.  I chose southwestern chicken trumpets, barbecue chicken pizza, and molten chocolate lava cakes.  They all sound yummy to me!

I'll let you know what we think after we try them.  In the meantime, I have 5 coupons for $2 off any appetizer, pizza, or dessert (except ice cream) from the Private Selections brand - and a nice black oven mitt to go with them.

Want to win them and try Private Selections yourself?

Here's how you can.  You will receive one entry for each of the following.  Leave a separate comment for each and be sure to leave contact information in case you win!
  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite kind of party food.
  2. Leave a comment sharing how you would use your coupons if you win them.
  3. Follow 'A Nest in the Rocks' by GFC.
  4. 'Like' A Nest in the Rocks.
Good luck!  I'll choose a winner randomly on December 13.

Traits of a Good Mentor

Today I'm guest posting over at Titus 2 Moments, where each Wednesday Lauren features a woman who lives out Titus 2 and shows others the impact that we women have on each other.  If you'd like to learn more about my mentor and what our relationship looks like, visit Wednesday's Woman at Titus 2 Moments!

I've had different mentors at different stages of my life for different things - a mentor when I went through my confirmation class, a mentor/overseer as a new teacher - but the role of a Christian woman mentor is different from all of those.  It doesn't have to be as narrow or specific, although it can be, but a really great mentor is someone who shines in lots of different areas.  

If you're just beginning to pray for a mentor (and don't forget that important step!), then here are some things to consider:

  • Your mentor must be of the same gender.  This may seem silly, but the Bible is clear on that - and while you may need some cooking help and know a great male chef, men just have a different perspective than we do.  
  • A good mentor knows how to keep a confidence.  You can't trust somebody who slams on other people, and you don't want your private struggles shared with everyone on Facebook.  Be sure that the woman you choose to trust knows the difference between 'public' and 'private' information.
  • Old vs. wise?  A good mentor doesn't have to come with blue hair and Depression-era experience - though she might; but a good mentor must be someone who is further along in her journey than you.  If you're struggling with your teenager and need a sounding board, a mother of toddlers will not have the wisdom gained through experience that you need.  Same goes with marital advice or household organization.  Find someone who has practiced the skill or information you want to learn more about - that woman might have information you can use.
  • Having a mentor does not have to feel like school.  You don't have to meet twice weekly for lessons; in fact, my mentor didn't even realize that I considered her in this position until I was asked to write this post.  Your mentoring relationship can look like a really great friendship as you do life together naturally.  Of course, if you find yourself struggling with something out of the ordinary, you might prefer something more formal.  Like any other relationship, a mentoring one can change as your life changes, so you may have different needs at different times.
  • This may be one of the most important criteria of all:  Your mentor should not be a member of your family.  Yes, if you want to learn how to make a fabulous pie crust, ask Grandma; but if your need for mentorship goes deeper than that, find someone outside of your family circle for those discussions.  If, for example, you are experiencing a time of "intense fellowship" with your spouse and want to discuss this issue with someone else, you will (probably) get the topic off your chest, work it out with your spouse, and forget all about it - but your mother might not forgive the man who hurt her baby quite so quickly.  
God always knows what we need before we do, but He listens to our prayers whether they are specific or general; so why not ask specifically for the type of mentor you'd like? Let Him amaze you with the perfect match for you!

PS - Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of My Memories Digital Scrapbooking Software and a $10 gift certificate for their online store - a $50 value!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GratiTuesday - Passing Down Handicrafts

When I was a kid I loved learning how to do the things I saw my older family members do.  I learned how to sew and crochet from my mom, decorate cakes from my grandmother, and embroider and from my great-grandmother.

This weekend, I got to see the beginning of the transfer of these skills to my daughter.

My Big Helper got excited to see my mom's crocheting and asked to learn.  She wanted to make a blanket for Sarah, her doll.

Mom and I took turns sitting with her and helping her make stitches.

Before we knew it, I spotted this as we made dinner:

She pulled out the yarn and went to town on her own!  She even recruited Daddy to hold the yarn and correct the tension as she went.

I'm sure it won't be long until she's crocheting away completely on her own.

I was 6 when Mom taught me to crochet - exactly her age - and I loved it as much as she does.  My first "piece" also turned out to be for a doll.

Isn't it wonderful to see the circle of life at work?

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.


Come back tomorrow for information about finding a Titus 2 mentor - and information about my guest post on this topic.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Multitudes on Monday - November 28, 2011

It was Thanksgiving!  This year we traveled to my parents' house, where my sister, aunt, and grandmother also came.  We spent several days together, and while there, we experienced these blessings:

- A Little Man, excited to help make cookies - and enjoying the cookie cutter sorting.

- Wonderful help from two enthusiastic kids.

- Rolling out the dough for the first time - so excited!

- A 'happy birthday' doughnut from the kids, decorated by my daughter.

- My Little Man's joy at eating his doughnut.

- The many blessings we listed on Tom.

- A walk with family on a beautiful Thanksgiving day.

- My Big Helper was excited to find this "Christmas tree" in the park and insisted on carrying it home.

- Cookie painting time with four generations:  my kids, my mom, myself, and my grandmother ...

- and the yummy results!

- A beautiful sunset through the trees.

- My husband helped my daughter with her newfound skill:  crocheting.

- Manly football time.

- An old-fashioned game of "Wheel of Fortune" with the girls.

What blessings have YOU been blessed with this week?

For more Multitudes on Monday, visit A Holy Experience.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - November 28, 2011

We're home!  After traveling for the better part of last week, we're back in North Carolina and settling in for the Christmas season.  I'm hoping to get the tree up and some decorations up this week.

Advent has begun and so now our family does devotions by candlelight after dinner each night.  We've found that it helps us focus on the real reason for the season, and we look forward to this each year.

So, this week we'll be eating these things by candlelight:

- Banana muffins and oranges
- yogurt and granola parfaits
- scrambled eggs, toast, and oranges
- cinnamon apple coffee cake
- cereal and bananas X 2
- apple pie French toast

Lunches will be our usual assortment of leftovers or sandwiches with sliced fruits and veggies and cheese or yogurt.

- Pizza, sliced carrots, apples
- Roast beef, roasted carrots and potatoes, apple crisp (recipe coming this week)

- Barbecue, steamed broccoli, leftover apple crisp

- Veggie Beef soup, bread, cheese

- Chicken stir fry
- Chicken sandwiches, crashed potatoes, applesauce
- Grab it and Growl

What are you serving this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Meaningful & Frugal Gifts

With the biggest shopping day of the year just around the corner, most of us have at least begun to plan what we'll be gifting to our loved ones this holiday season.  With my birthday in the midst of this craziness and my kids excited about giving me gifts, it's made me remember some of the most exciting gifts I've received - and I realized that most of them cost very little money.

My all time favorite?  A weekend away with my husband and then-baby girl!

"Expensive!" you may say, but no, it was free.

My husband has a friend with a farm, and in the middle of the farm is a small, renovated Civil War-era cabin.  As my birthday approached six years ago, he took them up on their offer for us to spend a weekend there - which was perfect for this full-time teacher with a new baby.  I was stressed and sleep-deprived, and my husband knew it.

The cabin was gorgeous - simple, full of wood and quilts, with no heat except for a fireplace.  My husband kept the whole thing a surprise and packed everything for all of three of us.  When the weekend arrived, he made a few secret trips out there with our stuff and started a fire, then came back and picked up the baby and I.  We spent the weekend playing games, reading, and taking naps by the fire.  He did all the cooking - and even took cleaning supplies to clean out the bathtub and give me a candlelight bath with fresh rose petals!

My husband went to a ton of time and trouble for this weekend, but it cost us nothing - and was a fantastic gift to me.  He knew the best thing he could give me was rest and time together, and this weekend met those needs as nothing else could have.

If you have a weekend retreat, garage apartment, lake house, or empty rental, consider gifting a night or weekend to someone you know.  (Two years ago Red Roof Inn ran a promotion where you could get rooms for $1.15 a night.  I kidnapped my husband and we spent a fun weekend in a nearby town, so watch for special deals, too!)  It would make a most memorable gift!

Looking for a gift on a smaller scale?  Consider these:

  • Themed gifts are always fun.  A movie night basket is fun for the whole family.  Throw a movie or rental gift card, some popcorn, candy or cookies, and a candle into popcorn container.
  • Date nights are incredible gifts for most couples.  Consider giving a coupon for a few hours of babysitting time.  Paying a babysitter on top of the cost of doing anything out as a couple greatly increases the cost of even the simplest date.  
  • Removing regular duties can be a great blessing for new parents.  I love to cook and bake, and that hasn't changed as my family has grown.  It has made it a bit trickier at times, however, and when two colleagues offered to bring us dinner after our daughter was born, we thought it sweet.  When they arrived, however, we discovered that they'd gone all out.  Now, these two are not exactly known for their kitchen skills, even though they're good cooks; they just choose to spend their time elsewhere.  In this case, they delivered a complete meal that showcased their thoughtfulness without pulling them away from their own families.  They brought:  a chicken casserole, a bagged salad, a bottle of salad dressing, a plate of baked brownies, and a carton of ice cream.  Simple, complete, and (somewhat) healthy with the chocolate this new mommy was craving.  Cooking not your thing?  One neighbor offers to do our laundry each time she hears that someone is sick.  
What sorts of frugal gifts do you like to give - and to receive?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

GratiTuesday - Kiddie Crafty Time

Things have been crazy around our house lately, and so any extra time with the kids is special to me.  In the past week, we've reserved some special time for crafty endeavors, and it's been great!  

First, we worked together to make fudge.  (More about this recipe coming up on December 7th.)

I love how the kids pull a chair over and share it when they both want to help.  Seeing them working side-by-side, being best friends, just makes my heart happy.  I realize there are probably rocky times ahead, but I hope that they come through on the other side as close as they are right now.

My Big Helper was determined to get each step just right.  She was thrilled to be using her own small (butter)knife and showed promise as she worked.

My Little Man thought he was big stuff as he manipulated his (butter)knife.  

We also began making Christmas presents.

Working hard!

Our kitchen table is still covered in pom poms and paint, but we've spent lots of time together.  As we cut and colored one of our Christmas projects this weekend, My Big Helper said, "Mommy?  Isn't this fun?  Doing activities together?"

It is indeed.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Multitudes on Monday - November 21, 2011

We've been traveling a lot lately and have also had commitments at other places, so we've been on the go a lot - more than I like to be.  It's all good stuff, but knowing that the holidays are just around the corner adds to the to-do list and the stress level automatically, you know? 

Wonderfully, however, Sunday always comes, and this week we had nothing scheduled except our usual day of rest.  We also had a fancy date thrown in there, a crafty afternoon with the kids, and the realization that we're less than a week away from the purchasing of the new microwave - yippee!

So here are a few of the blessings we've received this week:  

- A son who often rejects sweets in favor of veggies - and at lunchtime this day turned down the chocolate-y yogurt for the strawberry variety.

- A cooking project with the kids (more about this on December 7th, when the next Crazy Cooking Challenge is revealed!).

- Small hands, strong, determined to learn new skills, wanting to be helpful.  Someday to be a man's hands!

- A rare nap, sweet sleep after a hard morning of play.

- Dinner out at a restaurant I've been wanting to try, using a Groupon to put it within our price range.  I love those deals that make it possible to experience new things.

- A recent rainy day, in late afternoon, changed into a blue-skied one after the clouds blew away.

- That same day, the view from the front of our house.  Isn't it beautiful?

- Finding my Little Man engrossed in his Bible storybook after finishing breakfast one morning.

What blessings have come your way this week?

For more Multitudes on Monday, visit A Holy Experience!

Meal Plan Monday - November 21, 2011

We traveled part of last week and will be again this week.  It is difficult to organize the types of meals I usually do when we won't be home to finish off groceries and when my husband works late a lot, so our meals have been a bit different this week.  When I've had the chance to cook, I've cooked things in big batches and then we eat what we can, when we can, and I'm freezing the rest.  Here's a bit of what you'll find on our table:

- Baked apple pie French toast

- Pizza Dip

- Baked Corn

- Chili

- Cheeseburger Mac 'n' cheese

- Steal-good pumpkin bread

- Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

I've also got a bunch of apples that need to be used, so I think that applesauce, apple butter, an apple crisp, and some spiced applesauce bread are in order.  My Little Man and I will be cooking and baking up a storm tomorrow.

What's going on in your kitchen this week?

For more Menu Plan Monday, visit OrgJunkie!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tiny Prints Talent Search

Tiny Prints, a photo printing company, is holding their annual talent search.  To enter, you enter photos in certain categories, and then when the contest ends on Monday, they will open up the voting to everyone.  The photos in each categories to receive the most votes will win $1000,a  $500 Tiny Prints gift certificate, and will be featured in their 2012 marketing campaign!  

I'm not going to become a deal-sharer, but sharing special photos of our families is just plain fun.  So maybe this is for you!

The categories are:

·         Cutest Baby (From ages of 0-24 months)
·         Cutest Kid (From ages of 25 months - 10 years old)
·         Cutest Family
·         Cutest Couple
·         Cutest Pet & Owner

You can enter the Tiny Print Talent Search Contest via Facebook or on their website. For Official Rules, click here.

You have until Monday!  Go find those photos that everyone oohs and aahs over and enter the contest! 

(If nothing else, a trip down memory lane while digging through photos before the holiday craziness begins is always nice, isn't it??)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kindle Giveaway with Tricia Goyer!

Win a Kindle Touch for YOU and a Friend from Tricia Goyer!

Tricia Goyer is celebrating the release of her novel, Remembering You, with a KINDLE Touch Giveaway for you ... and for the friend of your choice. Then on 11/29 she'll be wrapping up the release of Remembering You with a Book Chat Party!

During the first half of the party Tricia will be chatting, sharing a sneak peek of her next
book, and giving away a ton of great stuff. Then she'll head over to her website for a Live
Chat! Readers will be able to chat with Tricia via video or text.

Don't miss your chance to win a Kindle Touch for yourself ... and to "remember" a
friend this holiday with a Kindle Touch for them!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Kindle Touch and a Kindle Touch for a Friend (winner's choice!)
  • A copy of Remembering You by Tricia Goyer for each

Enter 11/16 - 11/29. RSVP for Facebook Party on 11/29!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Remembering You" by Tricia Goyer


TV producer Ava Ellington can't ignore her grandfather's last wish:  to accompany him to Europe for a tour of World War II battle sites.  Uninterested in his old wartime memories but desperate for a good story to save her career, Ava agrees to go.  The arrival of her first love, who just happens to be an old war buddy's grandson, further complicates the trip as travel plans go awry and old war mysteries demand attention after 60 long years.  Can Ava find closure in the past that will give her hope for the future?

I have always loved history, and the World War II era has fascinated me for years.  I've read everything I can find about this era, which is why this book drew me - and why it kept me turning page after page.  Goyer's approach to this book is very different from most of those out there; she doesn't dwell on the Nazi atrocities, though they are mentioned, and she doesn't linger on how hard it was for civilians during the war.  Instead, Goyer's historical aspect is written from the perspective of an military man who has struggled with his wartime experiences throughout his entire life - and who sees all of those involved as other people, just like himself.  Void of the hatred often contained in books about World War II, this story resurrects wartime memories of veterans and puts them in perspective.

Goyer's main character Ava adds drama to the plot.  You can't help but like her sincerity, yet her self-centered, shallow outlook made me wish for more - and Goyer delivers.  Ava grows spiritually and emotionally throughout this book, and many of her struggles (as well as her grandfather's) make you wonder: how would I handle this situation?

Though much of this book deals with weighty issues, it is at heart a love story - a story of love between a man and a woman, between grandfather and granddaughter, between soldiers and victims, between God and His people.

This would be a great introduction to World War II history for those who want to learn more, as well as a reminder for the rest of us of the extent that others have suffered - both as war victims and soldiers - for freedom and equality.  The stories of these soldiers should not be lost, and Goyer should be commended for her work in preserving them.

To read an excerpt, watch a video, and more, visit here.

I received a free copy of Remembering You in exchange for an honest review.

Want to buy Remembering You?  You can - right here!

Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German MoonThe Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. 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 MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. On Tricia's weekly radio show, Living Inspired, she shares stories of inspiration and encouragement. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

For more information about Goyer or her other books, visit her website.

This review is part of Remembering You's blog party.  To read other reviews of this book, visit the blog tour website.

Tricia Goyer is giving away a KINDLE as part of this blog tour!  Come back tomorrow to find out more.