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!