Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Break

Eight inches of snow landed on our lawn this Saturday! It definitely looks a lot like Christmas around here. So pretty!

I'm taking a few weeks off of blogging. Looking forward to baking, making fudge, wrapping all those presents, reading a few books, and seeing our loved ones. 

Wishing you God's blessings this Christmas season!!

See you back here in early January!

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Organizing: Good for the Soul

December and organizing. Enemies, right?


Sure, we all have too many things to do this month, and organizing gives us the shakes at any time of the year. How can I possibly suggest adding this dreaded task to a month full of errands, parties, and temptations?

The short answer? It will put you in a good mood.

Yes, you'll want to cram a dozen snickerdoodles in your mouth and shoot anyone who comes near you while you're organizing--no biggie. When you finish, your soul will lighten. Your brain will find a teeny bit of room for possibilities. It's true!

We have a "scary closet" in our basement. It's full of photo albums, toys, board games, books, and out of season coats. For months I couldn't push my way into this small room. Last weekend I got serious. Pulled everything out. Grabbed trash bags. Forced the kids to decide what stays and what goes. The closet is now organized and even has room for more storage. I can't tell you how delighted I am to know this room isn't bulging anymore!

One of our pantry shelves was an explosion of napkins, paper party plates, and who knows what else. Every time I opened the door, I saw a big mess, which made me think I should clean it up, but I just shut the door. Yesterday, I organized that beast. No more guilt!

I'm also tidying my computer files and organizing my address book (what better time to do this than while filling out Christmas cards?).

Honestly, the pantry situation took about twelve minutes to fix. The computer files? Thirty minutes. My address book? An hour tops. The scary closet took two hours but was worth every second.

Without all of these known clutter areas in my house, my soul feels lighter. And yours will too!

What problem area in your house can you organize before the new year? 

The fabulous, Jennifer Hale, hosted me on her blog yesterday! Stop by to read "Busy Mom? Find Peace in Your Day."

Have a terrific weekend!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Static Head

Ugh. How is it that I'm a grown woman and still have static head? I don't even have to wear a hat to get this.

It's not as if I'm skipping conditioner, either. Oh, no. I slather it on and apply leave-in conditioner. I drink tons of water and choke down fish oil supplements. My hair? Still an unruly mess.

Maybe it's my brush. I could buy one that claims to cut static.

Or I could rub my head with dryer sheets.


Do you live in a cold climate and deal with static head? How do you combat it?

Have a terrific Wednesday!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday Blessings and a Winner!

It snowed last night--just a thin layer of snow--but enough to make the roads slick. We encountered three car accidents on our way home. It forced me to slow down, pay extra attention to the road and other drivers.

This week I'm applying that focus to life. It's time to pay extra attention to the details and slow down. Yes, I'll be Christmas shopping, but I will try harder not to get stressed about all the things I still need to do. I'll sing along to the Christmas songs instead of leaving them on as background music. Maybe I'll bake. Maybe I won't. :)

On Saturday I spent a few hours helping out at our church's Christmas for Kids. Since I adore children, it was a win-win! I got to hold a sweet baby, play with a few toddlers, and help preschoolers make simple crafts. My favorite part of the day was simply saying a silent prayer for each of those precious children. I'm so thankful for parents who share God's word.

So today, I'm sending you Monday blessings. I pray you find joy in this Christmas season!

Congratulations to Virginia Winfield!! Virginia won the signed copy of Jody Hedlund's latest book, Rebellious Heart! Thank you to everyone who entered!!

What can you focus on today to bring joy to your life? 

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Rebellious Heart: Interview and Giveaway!

When I first saw the cover for Rebellious Heart, I couldn't wait to read it! Then I read the back-cover copy and really got ansty! I am a huge fan of Jody's writing and any novel set in America. This book is her best yet (my review is posted later in the post). 

Jody graciously agreed to answer a few questions about Rebellious Heart, so let's get to it!

1. Rebellious Heart is set in 1763 Massachusetts. Did anything surprise you when you researched this setting?

I was very fortunate that I was able to take a trip out to Massachusetts while I was researching the book. During my trip, I visited places like Boston, Braintree, and Weymouth which all are integral parts of the book.

I was actually able to take a trolley tour of the John Adams National Historical Park in Braintree. The trolley took us to John Adams's birth place and then to the home he lived in later in life (after he was president). It was fascinating to "go back to the colonial era" and get a picture of how people lived during that time period. I especially enjoyed getting to see John Adams's family library and the walls upon walls of books.

However, most surprising during the research trip was just how much the area had changed in the two hundred plus years since John and Abigail Adams had lived there. I was rather let down when I stepped off the trolley at the birth place to realize that it was smack dab in the middle of a really busy intersection of town with cars and buses passing and buildings all around it.

Since it used to be a farm and set in a rural area, it was a little hard for me to imagine what it must have once looked like since I found myself staring at cement slabs, chain link fences, and a sea of businesses in the place that had once been open, empty farmland.

All of that reminded me of how much historical writers have to rely upon biographies, diaries, and other books written during those early time periods in order to get the real flavor of what the setting was like.

2. If you could go back in fictional time, which of the characters in Rebellious Heart would you most like to have dinner with and why?

I'd probably like to have dinner with Mrs. Smith, Susanna's mother, just so that I could argue with her about the importance of educating women. Of course, like many women of her day, she didn't believe women needed an education. As was the custom, the mothers homeschooled their young children in the basics of reading and writing and math. Boys were then given the privilege of going on to a local school or having tutor (if from a wealthy family). But girls weren't so lucky. After the initial homeschooling from the moms in a dame school (held mostly in kitchens), girls weren't allowed in any of the formal schools (or at least very rarely).

I'd love to sit down with Mrs. Smith (and Reverend Smith) and present to them all the reasons why girls deserve an equal education to that of boys! Wouldn't they be surprised if they could step into our time today and see women as lawyers, doctors, and ministers?

3. What's next for your readers, Jody?

My next book is Captured by Love and it's releasing in the summer of 2014. It's set in 1814 when the British have taken hold of Mackinac Island (in Michigan) and its fort, forcing American residents to swear an oath of loyalty to the British crown in order to retain their land. Pierre Durant is a voyageur—a fur trader who left his family home to find adventure. He’s been gone five years and when he returns, his family’s farm is at the mercy of the British invaders.

Torn between the life he’s grown used to and guilt over leaving his brother and mother, Pierre’s drawn back into the loyalist fight against the British—and into a relationship with Angelique Labelle, a beautiful local girl who’s been befriended by the British commander's daughter. As tensions mount and the threat of violence increases both Angelique and Pierre must decide where their loyalties rest, how far they will go to find freedom, and how much they will risk to find love.
I'll have one other book releasing next year (probably in December). And that will be the first book in a Michigan lighthouse series that I'm writing.

Wow, Jody, the research trip sounds fascinating! I'm sure it must have been strange to picture a lonely farm where a city now rests. :) And if you need a back-up gal for your dinner with Mrs. Smith, I'm in. You're absolutely right. Wouldn't it be something for them to see how far women have come? 

We've vacationed on Mackinac Island many times, so I don't think I can wait six months for your next book! It sounds amazing!!


In 1763 Massachusetts, Susanna Smith has grown up with everything she’s ever wanted, except one thing: an education.
Because she’s a female, higher learning has been closed to her, but her quick mind and quicker tongue never back down from a challenge. She’s determined to put her status to good use, reaching out to the poor and deprived. And she knows when she marries well, she will be able to continue her work with the less fortunate.
Ben Ross grew up a farmer’s son and has nothing to his name but his Harvard education. A poor country lawyer, he doesn’t see how he’ll be able to fulfill his promise to make his father proud of him. When family friends introduce him to the Smith family, he’s drawn to quick-witted Susanna but knows her family expects her to marry well. When Susanna’s decision to help an innocent woman no matter the cost crosses with Ben’s growing disillusionment with their British rulers, the two find themselves bound together in what quickly becomes a very dangerous fight for justice.
My Review: 5 Stars!!
Every time I read a book by Jody Hedlund I say, "That was the best one yet." Rebellious Heart is no exception!! I loved this book!

Set in colonial America, the story follows Susanna Smith and Ben Ross as they work together to help an escaped indentured servant. Both have compelling reasons for marrying into wealth, thus keeping them from marrying each other. I think this was Ms. Hedlund's most romantic book to date!

The fall setting, suspenseful theme, and fascinating historical details all added up to a perfect read for me! I can't wait to read her next one!

**I was given an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own--and I loved it!!**
Jody has graciously agreed to give one lucky reader a copy of Rebellious Heart!! Just write your e-mail address (ex: jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com) in a comment below to enter! I'll randomly pick a winner on Sunday, December 8, 2013!

**Contest open for U.S. residents 18 and older. Winner will be notified by e-mail.**

Do you like historical fiction? What time period is your favorite?

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

One Minute Vacay: Private Oasis

Every December I'm giddy about Christmas, but I'm also overwhelmed by all the extra tasks on my to-do list. I find myself needing more breaks. Less frenzied hours. Do I actually take these breaks? Debatable.

All month we'll be taking one minute vacations on my blog, and that's good enough for me!

Up first?

A private oasis. Yes, I fantasize about spending a day, week, or month (take your pick!) in a valley with waterfalls and sunshine. I'm partial to snorkeling gear, comfy lounge chairs, plenty of chips and salsa, ice-cold drinks, and hot, gourmet meals. The meals just kind of appear. Isn't that nice?

And if I'm relaxing in the valley, I'm taking my husband with me. And a stack of books. :)

Oooh, look, a rainbow!


Photo by portobaytrade

Hey, I'm less stressed already! Here, have a fruity, frozen beverage.

Photo by alexbrn

Ahh...I feel better already. :)

Do you ever dream about a private oasis? What would you take with you?

Have a wonderful day!