Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day Sales are Big!

Typically the Boxing day sales have been big in stores, but the online retailers don't want to miss out on the fun!  Many of them are starting their year end clearances now.  This is the time to shop ahead for next year!  Check out the details below.

*These are affiliate links and I will make a small commission if you shop through my links.  Thank you!

Tea Collection

It's the beginning of Tea Collection's End of Season sale.  They're clearing out the Argentina and Bolivia line to make way for the spring destination coming soon!  Everything Tea labeled is an extra 25% off marked prices with code ADIOS (aren't they cute?).  Sale runs from the 26th through the 30th.

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Hanna Andersson

This is THE big End of Season sale for Hanna Andersson and stuff will go fast, if it's not sold out already.  Up to 60% off everything!  Prices will be marked, no code needed.  Sale runs the 26th through January 7th, but I wouldn't wait!

Big Big Sale - Up to 60% off Kids & Baby Clothes


If you're not such a fan of the specialty kids' brands Gymboree has a great sale going on now as well.
This one started yesterday and only runs through tomorrow (the 27th) but it's up to 70% off everything online!  No code needed.

Gymboree Sale On Now!

And finally, if you got cute new stuff for Christmas or your kid has already lost a coat or something else at school this year, consider buying some Mabel's Labels so the lost things have a better chance of returning home!

Mabel's Labels

Mabel's Labels has clothing specific labels as well as labels for everything else you can think of and they are 50-70% off this week.  Everything is totally customizable and they even have custom books and other fun personalized items.  Sale runs from the 26th through January 4th.

Mabels Labels Boxing Day Sale

Happy Shopping! And hey, this year you don't have to leave your house and brave the stores!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

From our (wiggly) family to yours,

Yes, the reason we parents aren't on the card this year is because we didn't get a group shot that had all of us in focus at the same time!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Stitch Fix #5

Well, these photos aren't the greatest, late evening light never is and I have no one home to take them for me anywhere else tonight. But when Stitch Fix offered a free styling fee a couple weeks ago I thought I'd give them another try. And wow, I have to say I'm really impressed with my stylist this time, Marissa did her best!

I was pretty specific in my comments and she said she read this blog, probably helpful if you're a stylist!  So let's get to it.

Sweater #1, would have been really cool in a different color.  I'm sure they have some limits to their options, but when you can't even tell that there are holes on the bodice where my skin shows through... yeah, probably not the greatest match.  Too close to skin tone.

I did specifically ask for mostly jewel tones, this one wasn't, but the rest of them were!

Shirt #2 was sooo soft that I really want to keep it, but the neckline is just a bit too high and after wearing it a few minutes it felt like it was trying to choke me.  It really rode up higher than these photos.  The hubby didn't love the shoulder patches and it's pretty obvious I could lose some weight while wearing this.

I also didn't love the price.  Sometimes I have really noticed that you get what you pay for, my kids clothes from Old Navy show wash wear after one wash while Tea and Hanna look brand new after multiple washes.  But with Stitch Fix it's kind of hit and miss on the quality.  So for the price on this one, not joining my closet.

Jacket #3

I really wanted to love this jacket just because it seems super in style while not being so out there that it would be out of style in 2 months.  However, once again the hubby really didn't love the lines of it.  And unfortunately I think the snap may have been placed too high because I could never get the underneath side of the collar to lay flat when it was snapped.  Bummer.

Sweater #4 I adore the color on and the fit was okay, but being 100% cotton it was too short.  One wash and this one would be showing my (fat) belly even when I wasn't lifting my arms.  Maybe short is in style now, but when you have a borderline long torso that doesn't work on me.  The arms were also very snug so again with the 100% cotton content it probably wouldn't fit long.

And finally dress #5, the keeper!  When your husband tells you it's the best dress he's ever seen on you... well, I guess you have to keep it!  There will definitely be some tacking going on because me and cross over front tops, well, we like to flash the world.

I have actually wanted a fun geo print dress for years, but never found one that I could stand the way it looked on me.  This one is lined and stretchy and I love it!  It's a bit on the short side for what I'm used to, but I don't think it's too short for once!  Now to find those knee high boots... it really stinks to have wide feet in size 11 and wide calves.

Once again I would have to say that I was super impressed by their choices this time.  I asked for no woven fabrics because they just don't give with my body and they listened!  And while the dress was probably a risk since I asked for winter tops, it was the clear winner!  Other than some minor issues with each piece (and the fact that this year has been a really heavy year for me) I might have to give this Fix option a few more tries.

What do you think of their choices this time around?  Here were my third and fourth fixes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

What I Think About... Giving

Yesterday, I washed my hands so many times and did so much laundry that my hands started to bleed all on their own.  I have a sick child and I'm hoping that the rest of my kids don't catch it.  It's the beginning of the sick Christmas season after all.

On Friday I went out shopping a bit (at a reasonable hour) and found a good deal on something I've been wanting to get for my girls' birthday in March.  I can afford it full price, but I got it half off.

Then I bought some clothes this weekend because they were also on sale.

None of these things did I think really hard about before I spent money.  None of it was extravagant, but none of it was absolutely necessary either.

And I have a warm house while it snows outside and a good washing machine to help me when my kids do get sick.  And this is all that I really need.

Today, is what's known as Giving Tuesday.  After we've spent all we want on ourselves some people have proposed we should maybe think of others.  And most of us will think really long and hard about just where we give our money, if we even give at all.

Is this a worthy cause?  Will they use my money well?  Where would it do the most good for the few dollars I can give?

All of these are good questions to ask of a charity, but sometimes we get so hung up on the asking, the verifying, that we forget that even we don't spend all our money wisely.

So today I'm wondering, what if we remembered that our money isn't really ours.  That we can be an amazing blessing to those in need.  That probably it won't even be a real sacrifice for us.

What if we remember that Christ came down and sacrificed everything, not so that we could live in plenty, but that we could live in joy and thanksgiving.  What if we let some of that flow out in tangible ways this Christmas season?

I admit, I'm not the greatest either, but when I remember I love to try and support businesses that are directly helping men and women, those who simply have less and could use our help.  Businesses like Ruhamah Designs (their jewelry is gorgeous) and Freeset bags (I love the simplicity and durability of my new sling purse!).  Gifts for friends? I'm absolutely sure you can find something through Come Together Trading Company. Or a fun monthly piece from the Mercy House's Fair Trade Friday subscription.

Some of these companies are even working with women who have been not just poor, but rescued from some of the worst fates and given a way out.  You can read more on the websites I've linked above.

And besides getting something with our giving, because sometimes, but not always, these items cost more than those made in China, what if we just gave?

Compassion International and World Vision and lots of other organizations let you sponsor a child.  What I've received in return are letters from a child in another part of the world.  A child who may not turn out perfectly, but who has a chance for a much better life through my minimal gift each month.

Or you can simply give a Christmas gift with no strings attached, no long term commitment, but a gift of the heart to a child or family in need.  Both Compassion and World Vision have giving catalogs.

There's also the Preemptive Love Coalition I learned about this summer working in the war torn areas of the Middle East, bringing the hands and feet of Love to those in need.

There are so many ways to enter in this season.  I've listed some of the organizations I love.  How will you join the Joy of Giving today?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tea Collection Cyber Monday Sale is On!

It's time for the Cyber Monday sale at Tea Collection and EVERY Tea item is on sale at 30% off plus totally free shipping!  Even things that are already marked down are an extra 30% off! 

Use code SHOPNOW when you're checking out!

Items are starting to sell out so you won't want to miss this sale!

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The sale runs from Sunday, November 29th through Wednesday, December 2nd, but hurry for the best selection!

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Make Time for Pley

*This is a sponsored post, I have been compensated for my time to bring this information to you.  There are also affiliate links, through which, if you make a purchase I will make a small amount.


  • Do your kids have so many toys you wish you could sometimes just get rid of them and yet they're still bored? 
  •  Do you have a toy rotation system?  
  • Do you spend more on toys just so they will have something new?

I could answer yes to all of the above and it drives me crazy!  New is always more interesting, but also more expensive and ultimately pretty wasteful.  So in the last month I've heard of a new company called Pley that I'm pretty excited about.

What is Pley? 

Pley is a toy rental company with over 400 educational toys, a vast majority of them building toys like Lego sets, K'nex, and others.  They even have Duplos for smaller hands.

For a set fee (about the price of one average size Lego set every month) you get unlimited rentals and so many sets to choose from!  Shipping both to you and back is included and there's no limit on how many sets you can get in a month. Well, other than shipping speed.

Introducing New Star Wars LEGO Sets from Pley

I know my boys have plenty of Legos to create with on their own (see above), but they love to get new sets.  Yet, once the set is made it is taken apart, the directions lost, and it's never created the same again.  This would allow them to build all kinds of new sets without breaking my toy budget.  And yes, Pley understands that Lego pieces are small and a few might get lost and you aren't charged for them.

New toys for the kids, less mess for me to worry about, and no need for me to find a place to store them. I like the sound of it!

Bonus, if you're worried about sharing germs, especially in the winter months (ick!) all toys are sanitized before they are sent out to new families to play with.

Give the Gift of Unlimited Toy Rental

Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles, Pley also offers gift subscriptions and even gift certificates so parents can start the subscription when they need it rather than right at Christmas or a birthday when there are new toys already.

What do you think? Would this kind of service be useful to you?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book: Hand-Me-Down Princess

Prince Malachi Van Renssalaer of Mevendia is getting married. The problem? He’s never even met his bride. His father arranged everything, right down to the marriage contract. Malachi swears to himself that he will be nothing like his father in the ways that count - including his fidelity to his wife.

Jessabelle Keller would happily spend her entire life in obscurity, but her father once saved the life of a future king. Before he dies, her father is committed to seeing that king make good on his promise to have one of his sons marry her so she would be taken care of for life.

No sooner than Prince Malachi and Jessabelle return from their honeymoon, they find themselves dealing with both private trauma and the very public drama of groundless accusations from the press. Just as they begin to weave their fragile trust back together, a ghost from the king’s past arrives and threatens everything they’ve ever held dear.

Secrets have a funny way of coming out and this one could rip the faith of the country in their leaders to shreds. Malachi is determined to protect Jessabelle no matter what it takes, but will it ever be enough for her to not feel like a Hand-Me-Down Princess?


You know those stories about modern girls finding out they are really princesses?  This is definitely right up that alley, but I love them.  And this one in particular had a bit of a mystery to it which really made it impossible to put down.  Jessabelle has a lot to overcome, being thrown into the princess role against her wishes, but at least Malachi is a gentleman about it, unlike some other men in the story.

I have to say, this is the first book in a series, but it's actually the second series in a set and there was a lot of previous information that it would have been nice to have.  It stands alone okay, but I would rather read the others first.  Lucky for you, the first book in the overall series, Good Enough for a Princess, is free on Amazon Kindle so you can get hooked in yourself!  I may have also read that one in the last week and it did not disappoint.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Hand Me Down Princess, go HERE.

When she’s not writing about her imaginary friends, Carol Moncado is hanging out with her husband, four kids, and a dog who weighs less than most hard cover books. She prefers watching NCIS to just about anything, except maybe watching Castle, or Girl Meets World with her kids. She believes peanut butter M&Ms are the perfect food and Dr. Pepper should come in an IV. When not watching her kids – and the dog – race around her big backyard in Southwest Missouri, she’s teaching American Government at a local community college. She’s a founding member and President of MozArks ACFW, category coordinator for First Impressions, blogger at InspyRomance, and represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Girl quotes

The girls always say, "Mom, I want to tell you a question" and I'm never quite sure if it will be a statement or a question!

Hope sings "head and shoulders, peas and toes".

The boys think they're being sneaky by asking for "C A N D Y" but the girls have quickly figured out what that means so now they ask for "C N D Y" too. 

Our neighbors put up giant blow up characters for the holidays. The turkey went up now that it's November and the girls love it. Today when we got home from picking brother up at school they wanted to get out and go touch it. I said no, because it was raining and Joy said,  "Aw, but I want to snuggle the chicken!"

Monday, November 09, 2015

Book: An Endless Christmas

Sometimes love looks different than we imagined.

On the way to Christmas with his family, Micah asks Katie to marry him. She says no, but there is no getting out of Christmas now. The Binder family celebrates every Christmas as if it were their last. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.


Cynthia Ruchti's books always keep me captivated with plot twists that don't disappoint.  An Endless Christmas is much the same and I really wasn't sure how it would all end.

The story is told mostly from Katie's perspective with a few brief thoughts from the grandparents.  Unfortunately I was reading a review copy of an e-book and the formatting was really wonky so this threw me the first few times.  But I think it really does add to the story.

The underlying theme of the story for me was whether your family and your past defines who you are.  Echos of grace ran throughout the story making me think about how I treat other people.

A very fun Christmas read.


Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events, nonfiction books, and devotionals, drawing from 33 years writing and producing an on-air radio broadcast. Her books have been recognized by RT Reviewers’ Choice, Selah Awards, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, CR’s BEST Awards, Carol Award honors, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year honors and others. She has a total of 15 books on the shelves, with more contracted. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

I read an e-copy of this book provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Sweden: Visiting My Ancestors

So after one long day walking all around Gothenburg, the next morning we slept in and then I met one of my college roommates for a traditional Swedish fika!  She lives in Gothenburg with her Swedish husband and two little boys.  It was very fun to catch up and actually discuss how she likes living in Sweden!  Quite interesting to hear an American's perspective on things from someone who's actually lived there for awhile with a family.

This picture is just outside my cousin's apartment, they have since moved (after being on a city wide waiting list for 5(!) years).

Then Clara and I took off for downtown again to walk through the botanical gardens and meet up with my in-laws.

The weather was pretty gorgeous this day so it was a nice walk.  This is the national theater as we're standing in front of the entrance to the garden.

Just to the right of the photo 2 above runs one part of the moat.  Here we are looking at what I think are some of the original city walls.

The garden was such a lovely park area right near downtown Gothenburg.  It was getting chilly after the first of September (and almost all the main tourist attraction type things close at the end of August) but I could see this place being very popular in the summer.  Also wondering if my brother would have tried to climb one of these structures!

With it being significantly into fall there I was actually quite surprised at how much was still in bloom in the gardens and how many tropical type flowers they had growing outside.  I'm not sure how they survive in the winter or if Gothenburg's winters are just mild enough because they have such a maritime climate even though they are pretty far north.

This greenhouse had very tropical type things in it like palm trees.  There is a balcony at the back with cafe tables and chairs, looked like a great spot to get some warmth in the winter!

Another view of the same wall as we walked through the garden.

Past the greenhouse were some formal gardens with lots of rose bushes.  These had mostly passed their prime, but it was still gorgeous.

Then we walked around the corner to the main square.  This is the train station where all the trains go to other parts of the country.  We came back through here on Saturday.

90 degrees to the left was another section of the canals and the bridge said the year 1873. I'm not sure there are ANY man made structures in my area that old.

Exactly opposite the main train station (and across the canal) was the hotel that we'd stayed in, the Radisson Blu.

Then we took a drive, where I promptly fell asleep, for about an hour and a half up to the family home of Skara.  It's also home to the oldest cathedral in Sweden!

This is the crypt under the alter area (above) which traces back to the year 1060!  Two former churches were on this spot before the current cathedral was built around 1250.  So much history!

It's not a super large cathedral, but in such a small town it feels really big.  The towers are 215 feet tall and the building is also 215 feet long.

The roof is green copper, but the spires roofs were replaced in the 80's and it since it takes over 100 years for it to become green they don't look the same as what Clara remembers from her childhood.

Across the street is a small library and historical society.  The Skara Missal or Mass Book is the oldest preserved book in Sweden.  It's over 850 years old!

This lovely gentleman helped us look up some of our family history on the computers.  I wish we'd had a LOT more time with him.  But I now have copies of the original ledger papers where my grandfather and his parents are listed, as well as the dates they left for America.

And then we went out to dinner at a Mediterranean place.  We were the only customers and after awhile we struck up a conversation with the owner/chef.  He was a Syrian and had been in Sweden just a year.  He said he actually wasn't a refugee, but I'm not sure what else you could call him.  I actually had a harder time understanding his English than Clara, not sure why, maybe because I was just so tired!

I then crashed at my cute little hotel where my room on the third floor was labeled 106 and the first floor rooms were labeled in the 300's.  Shower down the hall and motion sensor lights in the in room toilet which turned off if you sat still for too long!  Still a more comfy bed than I've ever slept in in any hotel in America.  The Swedes do beds right!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tea Collection Friends and Family Sale

Still need a few pieces of winter layers for your kids?  Christmas outfits?  Tea Collection's Friends and Family sale is here now!  Even their Patagonia items are included in this sale.

Get 25% off your purchase, even things already marked down, with code FAMILIA.

Tea Collection Friends and Family Sale

There are some adorable tops from this Argentina and Bolivia line that are coming for my kids to wear! And how perfect is this dress for Christmas? It's lovely!

Get your shop on, sale only runs through November 2nd.

*This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

So My Friend Wrote a Book: Copenhagen Cozenage

Kristen has been my friend ever since we moved to her town back in 1992.  She's been getting up at 4am to write in peace and quiet for the last many years and finally an agent recognized her work!  I'm sad to say she sent me this book early this summer and with the state of my life lately I just finished it last week.  Sorry Kristen!

All that to say, it was quite amusing to read this book knowing her so well.  I'm pretty sure it was semi-autobiographical and the dog scenes are very much true to life!  I actually had to look up Cozenage and in this sense I think it means to be deceived.  Probably should have looked that up before I read the story, but it all made sense in the end!

So without further ado, my friend's first published novel!

Morgan Ravn arrives in Denmark seeking clues about her mysterious heritage. What she finds is a flirtatious stranger who regales her with a story about a jewel thief from 1958 and then abandons her with a large unruly dog. Can Morgan locate the irresponsible pet owner before his monstrous canine drags her through every puddle in Copenhagen and sheds all over her last dress? And why are strangers dogging her every step, snapping photos? Is the shutter happy behavior a bizarre Danish custom or something more sinister?


I wasn't quite sure what to think of this book in the beginning.  I think it reads a little bit like a Robin Jones Gunn Christy Miller story in the timing and story development.  Those were the young adult novels of our generation!
About halfway through I actually realized that it was a mystery novel though and it got quite interesting.  It ended quite satisfactorily and not how I expected at all and I totally loved that there was an epilogue!


Copenhagen Cozenage is currently on sale through Pelican Book Group and can also be found on Amazon and other book stores.  This is an e-book only. 

Kristen Joy Wilks is the wife of a Camp Director and board game enthusiast, the mother of three fierce boys, and the owner of a Newfoundland. She has learned many things from living at a remote mountain meadow with her family. Including but not limited to: Spiders are endearing pets that must be named and coddled and gazed at with rapturous affection, Risk is a “total dice fest” and must never be included in a true gamers collection, and when you reach for your floss and it is wet, there is a good chance that a loving family member has washed it for you. But be cautious, for the sink and tub are not the only water producing fixtures in the bathroom. She once took her 120 lb puppy on a walk and the fact that she was 5 months pregnant did not keep him from yanking her off her feet and dragging her forcefully across the lawn when he spotted the water. But she is grateful. Her many adventures with the aforementioned puppy, her practical joking husband and overly imaginative sons have provided a plethora of story ideas. Kristen is a member of ACFW, a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest, and a contributor to Nature Friend magazine and Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family Magazine. Her story Day of the Cyclones is included in Nancy Kennedy’s book Miracles and Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories from Mothers, and Pelican Book Group is publishing her debut novella, Copenhagen Cozenage, in September of 2015 and Athens Ambuscade in 2016.

Kristen provided me with a free copy of her novel to facilitate my review.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

On the Second Day in Sweden: History in Gothenburg

After a very late start (because jet lag, and also finding out about my son's preschool teacher just before I was supposed to go to bed) we headed out to see the sites in Gothenburg.  Of course as soon as we got downtown on the tram I had to use the bathroom, but Clara knew of a nice one in a theater nearby and in the process... hello 400 year old original city walls!  These are underground here, but you can see some of them out in the open in other areas.

This is my cousin Clara, my lovely hostess for most of the week!  It was so fun to be with her because I felt like I got to really see Sweden and participate rather than just doing all the touristy things.

But of course some of the touristy things are quite interesting so we did those too. 

The government buildings and the original German Christian church, founded in 1623.  It was destroyed a couple of times, but what is seen now dates to 1783.

Not very big inside, but very simply beautiful.

There were candles you could light and so we each did, I in memory of Senor Martin.

Then we went next door to the City Museum where they had the history of Gothenburg and the area all the way back to the Vikings.

These swords were from somewhere around 700AD.

This is the remains of a Viking ship, discovered in the 1930's just upriver and most likely from the 900AD period. 

Much of the information in this museum, at least in the older history sections and the city sections, was also translated into English so my cousin didn't have to translate for me!

This is a depiction of Gothenburg when it was first founded.  The walls are those points sticking out into what was water.  The canals are still there and so is most of that moat area.  Now of course this area is only considered downtown and the city is quite a bit larger.  Clara lives off to the left and bottom.

After the museum we wandered through the back alleys on our way to a candy/souvenir shop.  It was pretty amazing to think that some of these buildings were close to 400 years old.

Lots of cobbled streets, courtyards, and rooflines that weren't quite straight.  I think this building with the green roof (copper and it takes at least 100 years to become that color) was perhaps an old guild meeting hall based on the signs.

When we finally got to the candy store I was kind of in awe.  There was another wall to the right of this photo, time and a half as long, as well as 3 or 4 large two sided stands in the middle.  Actually I think their taste in candy is quite different.  There was quite a bit of licorice and as much as I like licorice this stuff is NOT to my liking.  It's VERY salty.  Plus lots and lots of gummy/chewy candy and many with marshmallows in all shapes and flavors.  I tried a few of the chocolate covered ones, but mostly, I just like chocolate and there wasn't that much.

This was also the place to find all your cheap souvenir trinkets.  Surprisingly there weren't really any gift shops that I saw.  One "information center" that obviously did cater to tourists, but it essentially only had one small section of souvenirs, about the size of my kitchen and dining room.  The biggest "souvenir shop" was actually in the airport!

To end the day we went to the maritime museum where they had displays of the history of modern shipping and then a special exhibit about the Swedish American Line which ran from 1915 to 1975 and connected Swedish immigrants with their homeland.

The ship pictured above is actually a ferry that takes people (and cars) to Copenhagen or Kiel, Germany.  (And really I just took the picture because it has Curious George on the side and my kids would love it!)

And then we were bushed and went back to her apartment where she made some amazing salmon with lingonberries that I tried to recreate at home last night (yes, I brought home lingonberry jam!) and wasn't entirely successful.

The end of day 2!