Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Inn At Ocean's Edge

A visit to a luxury hotel for a business meeting turns into the biggest mystery of Claire Dellamare's life. The secrets from her childhood come back to haunt her and in the midst of figuring out what happened to her during the missing year of her childhood she finds love in the most unlikely place.

Colleen Coble's new book The Inn At Ocean's Edge (the first in the Sunset Cove novels) is riveting and exciting. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. I could not put this book down (I read it a week of evenings). I felt like I was an onlooker in the book of all of the events that took place. It is a must-read if you like murder-mystery books with a side of romance.

In this book, Claire Dellamare is the main character. She and her family are very wealthy and own a jet line. A merger meeting with another company is about to take place on the island of Folly Shoals, Maine. The Hotel Tourmaline is so extravagant and beautiful. Though Claire has never been there before it seems very familiar to her before she even steps foot in the door. Her father is very surprised to see her there and it becomes very evident that there are reasons he didn't want her to come to the meeting on this particular island.

Claire's life gets turned upside down and sideways when she meets a local man named Luke Rocco. He tells her a secret about her past that even she did not know. After questioning her parents about this latest bit of news she finds out that the year she went missing on this very island is also the year that Luke's mother went missing.

Just when I thought I had the mystery figured out Colleen Coble comes back with another surprise twist. This was one of my favorite books of all time to read. It was fun, adventurous, romantic (but without all of the sexual stuff), and fast paced. It made me want to visit this island. It made me come to truly care about the characters and their lives. It left me wanting to know more about the others mentioned in the book. Thankfully, this is the first in a new series by Colleen Coble. I can't wait until the next one comes out!

I was given this book by Family Christian in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Friday, June 19, 2015

HEAV...These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things!

I am still on a high from the HEAV Homeschool Convention last weekend. Honestly, it was exhausting but in a very good way. I woke up this morning and actually wished I could go again this weekend. So, I decided since I can't go again this weekend I would just write a blog post about all of my favorite things about the convention. There were so many vendors and speakers and exhibitors that I have quite a few. But, I whittled the list down to my all time favs (in no particular order).

1. The Widows Friend- Paula Zitzman comes to the convention every year. With her, she brings beautiful hand-sewn and hand-stitched items. This organization provides opportunities for widows and orphans living in poverty in Bangladesh to earn money to provide for their families. This organization includes many other ministries including The Women's Center, Tongi School For The Deaf, FOB Girls Hostel, Clinics, Home Of Joy (an orphanage), and so much more. The items that are brought to the convention include scripture texts sewn on to table runners, pillow covers, frame-able items, and handmade jewelry. I just love this ministry because the money goes straight to the person who made the item for sale. They get half of it up front and half goes into a bank account. For more info email Paula Zitzman at

2. Queen Homeschool Supplies, Inc.- I use Queen Homeschool Supplies for some of my curriculum for homeschooling. It is a Charlotte Mason style curriculum that is easy to use and uses the Bible as the basis for all of its books and materials. I did an interview with Sandi Queen a while back and you can check it out HERE for more info. Her booth is always a favorite to visit because I can actually look at each item before purchasing anything.

3. Good Steward Books- This booth always has wonderful products including Christian t-shirts, Christian books at a low price, and CD's and DVD's that won't break the bank. I stop by and grab a new shirt for each member of my family as well as an Odyssey CD for the kids and a book for myself. Right now they are running a special on their website, if you spend $25 or more you get Free Shipping.

4. The Young Entrepreneurs- I love visiting with the young people in this section of the exhibit hall. This year there were so many homemade items and each one has a story behind it. I've bought books written by homeschoolers, games, etc. This time I purchased a crocheted head band with a flower on it at the Hooked On Blooms booth and a couple of crocheted hair scrunchies at Us Girls. These young ladies (at both booths) were so delightful and sweet. What a blessing to get to know them personally.

5. The Neely Team Marketplace- As a Blogger for HEAV I received a warm/cold wrap from them called a Thera-pit-tics pac. It is a microwaveable heat wrap that is filled with cherry pits. It can also be put in the freezer to be used as a cold pack. They sell many therapeutic items such as candles, music, books, and more. I have used my cherry pit filled wrap many times and it is wonderful!! Thank you so much!

6. Laurelwood Books- I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting the owner of this company Mary Ellen. She specializes in selling homeschool books, classics, and educational items. She has written quite a few books including Patriotic Penmanship books for all levels including a transition penmanship book from print to cursive. They are beautifully written and the copy work includes bible verses and quotes from our fore fathers. She has also written Latin Readers for beginners. These include the story of The Three Little Pigs, The Tortoise And The Hare, and more. In it, Mary Ellen gently leads the student into Latin by introducing each letter and the sound it makes and then the story is written in English and then in Latin with the English translation beside it. These are wonderful books. Visit her website for more info and more products.

7. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation- I live in Williamsburg so I stopped by to chat with Winette (the lady who was running the booth). She is a lovely lady and gave me lots of info on upcoming events and gave me her info so I can stay up to date on the latest news about Colonial Williamsburg. For more info go to and let your historical adventure begin!

8. Happy Heart Children's Book- I recently wrote a blog post about this wonderful lady and her book HERE. Michelle Marttila is such an inspiration and her company is wonderful. Yes, I know I said wonderful again but she really is so sweet. Please check out her new book Happy Heart for yourself. The story is a moral one and there are bible verses included.

My overall experience at the HEAV was refreshment and rejuvenating. I had the best time and absolutely cannot wait until next year!!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happy Heart Fill 'Er Up! {Review}

Last weekend I was honored to attend the HEAV Convention as a Blogger. You get to meet and greet all of the vendors ahead of time. Some of them give you samples of their products or tell you about a giveaway they are having. It is such great fun to meet these wonderful people and get to know them and their products. I had the pleasure to meet Michelle Marttila who is an author and artist. She has written a book called Happy Heart Fill 'Er Up! It is a children's book with a biblical perspective.

Michelle was the sweetest person. She put her heart and soul into this book and has a passion for teaching others about God and His love for us. The book is meant for young readers who want to find lasting joy. In Happy Heart, the character feels empty and  tries to fill that void in his heart with many different things. He tries, sports, money, fame, and friends but nothing seems to last. He feels sad after each one of those things comes to an end.

Finally, the Heart finds true joy in Jesus and His word. This book is meant for children but it pricked my heart. I look for joy in so many things. The only One who can give me lasting joy is Jesus. No matter where I go or what I do, He is the only One who is there for me no matter what. His love is the greatest. His love is everlasting.

At the end of the book are several bible verses to guide you in your walk to find true joy. She ends her book with a prayer to accept Jesus and the joy only He can bring to your life. No matter your circumstances, He is always there with you.

Michelle Marrttila did a wonderful job writing and illustrating Happy Heart. She is a graduate of Liberty University. She has served as Dean of Women for Student Affairs at Liberty University for eight years. She loves to teach children about art in a home school co-op. Her gifts are amazing and are being used to spread the Good News of Jesus.

You can find out more about Michelle Marttila and her book by visiting:

Please visit her website and purchase her book. It will bless your children and family. 

Devotions From The Garden {Review}

Taking time for yourself to soak in God's presence and His word is hard when you have little children. For me, I have to make an effort to get up early in the morning and have my quiet time before the kids get up. That's why I love devotional books. They give me the lift I need in the midst of chaos and clutter. Devotions From The Garden is the perfect addition to my devotional collection. Miriam Drennan came together with Thomas Nelson to create this beautiful devotional book to encourage people with God's word.

I love just sitting in my garden and listening to the birds sing and the bees buzz and soak in God's beauty. This devotional is the perfect addition to my time in the garden. The themes throughout the book are all garden related. Some examples are: Soil Testing, Grace In The Garden, Fruit Trees, Watersheds, The Mustard Seed, Container Gardening, Herb Gardens, Sowing To The Spirit, Thanks For The Harvest.

The pictures are so beautiful. They consist of flowers, trees, produce, fruit, and gardens. The colors are almost life-like and I loved reading every single page. The book is hardbound and comes with a built-in ribbon bookmark. The theme is "Finding Peace and Rest From Your Hurried Life". I recommend this devotional book to any person looking for some quiet time among the loud and crazy life of having "littles".

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, we all need and crave to have time with Him. He is the Maker and Creator of the universe. We aim to please Him in all areas of our lives and giving Him a few minutes a day is just a small thing we can do to become closer to Him and more like Him. Devotions From The Garden gives you that lift for your day and includes a bible verse for each day. This is an uplifting and encouraging book that will bless you.

This book was given to me by Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own. 

No More Excuses Diet {Review}

Maria Kang made headlines with her rocking body after having three children. Her philosophy is that there are no excuses for you to be unhealthy. In her new book The No More Excuses Diet she explains what she does and what works for her as well as the research behind it all. I chose this book for review because I have tried many different diets since having my third son and nothing has worked. I want something that sticks and isn't hard to follow.

Many women (and men) struggle with body image, especially after having children. Your body isn't the same and your metabolism changes. Things you could eat before turn straight to fat after. Maria Kang explains what to eat, when to eat it, and what it does for your body. She gives examples of meals that give you the best ingredients for a healthy diet.

I felt motivated throughout the book and tried many of her suggestions. She says that it takes "3 days to bust any excuse, 3 weeks to easy new eating habits, and 3 months to total transformation". She is an amazing woman and very inspirational. I felt that she put her heart and soul into writing this book and she is very passionate about women's health.

Maria also gives plenty of tips for exercising the right way. There is a wrong way to exercise. If you have ever been pregnant you body changes. You can't just simply jump right back into an exercise routine. Her exercise plans are easy and there are step-by-step directions with pictures to go with them. They were easy to understand, although some of them looked very difficult for this beginner.

I plan to continue using this book and implementing the ideas and strategies to keep myself on the right path to a healthier me. I want to be healthier for my children and husband and Maria Kang is helping to support that plan with her book The No More Excuses Diet.

I was given this book by Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are solely my own. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

CTC Math {Review}

CTCMath Review

My two oldest sons love math. They are each excelling in their grade level and they are always counting everything (money, days of the week, people at the park). I am so glad I have the opportunity to review CTC Math and their 12 Month Family Plan. This is an online program only with levels starting at Kindergarten and going all the way up to Trigonometry and everything in between. I was given the 12 Month Family plan for the purposes of this review.

I am not a math wiz by any means. I actually excel in reading and history. I need all the help I can get when it comes to teaching my children their math skills. CTC Math does a phenomenal job at guiding my children through a gentle way of learning math. Though my children already loved math before this program, they would beg to do their math lessons each day. They love their “computer” time and learned a thing or two about math in the process.

The 12 Month Family Plan includes unlimited access to all lessons across all grade levels, video tutorials that allow you to pause and replay, detailed progress reports, timed speed skills, and quizzes at the end of each lesson. The Family Plan is for the whole family. You can enroll all of your children as well as yourself (you know, for those hard to understand calculus problems). I love this program.

How CTC Math Works:
  • First, the parent logs in and creates a separate account for each student with their own password.
  • The parent can choose which level they believe their student should be on. There are many different skills to choose from on each level. Then select the skill your student will be working on and begin the lesson.
  • There is a short video for each of the lessons/skills that explains in detail how to solve a problem.
  • After the video (in which you can pause and replay if you need more time), several questions are asked (I call these “quizzes” because it tests their understanding of that skill).
  • The results from the “quiz” are posted in a report after it is taken and the parent can view these reports at an time. If the student needs more practice with that particular skill they can re-do the quiz.
  • At the bottom of the screen you can view the reports for each skill and student. You can also click on the “Speed Skills” button to see how well your student knows the skills on a timed level. It is actually pretty neat and my kids loved being timed. They would compete to see who was faster.
  • After each level is completed to the parent’s satisfaction (or has been mastered), the student can move up a grade or level.

What We Liked About CTC Math:
  • I loved how easy this program was to use. It couldn’t be simpler. You create an account for each student and off they go. The directions are easy to understand (my children who used this program are 4 and 6).
  • My children could sit by themselves and complete their lessons and quizzes. If they needed help understanding something they would ask for my help. The only help they ever needed was reading the questions for the quizzes (the program assumes that your child can read and neither of mine can read yet).
  • The quizzes help my children to gain more confidence in their math skills and they were often so proud of themselves for accomplishing a new task. They did not dread doing this math program at all and were quite excited each day to complete their lessons.
  • My children loved the timed “Speed Skills”. They are competitive boys and would see who could finish the most in the time allotted. They didn’t complain if they “lost”, they just said they would do better next time. It was fun for them.
This online math program is a great addition to our homeschool. I feel very blessed to have been a part of this review and plan to continue use even after the review is over. My husband even got involved and would sit with the boys and watch them do their lessons. He was impressed with the amount that the children learned from CTC Math.

I recommend this to any homeschool family who would like an easy to use online math program for the whole family. There are so many levels that your student can learn as fast or slow as they would like. It is a wonderful program that would help anyone with improving (and learning new) math skills.

For more info please visit their Facebook page at

CTCmath Review

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal {An Apologia Product and Review}

As a homeschool family field trips are what we live for. I make sure to plan at least one per month but strive for two or three. Some of them are quick trips to our historic downtown area and some are paid trips to a museum. I have fun planning all of our adventures. My usual go-to for recording and journaling these trips is a composition notebook. Apologia Educational Ministries has come up with a wonderful product to take care of those field trip journaling needs. It is called the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal. I was given a physical copy of this product for the purposes of this review.

I will tell you right up front, I was so excited when I was chosen for this review. I love everything that Apologia offers. We have used a few of their other products and have truly loved them all. My boys were just as excited and we couldn’t wait to go on a field trip.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

How We Used The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal:
  • After receiving the journal in the mail I read through the front section that gives the directions on how to use this item properly. I also glanced through each section to get a feel of what we were expected to do.
  • I went through each section with my boys and told them about the book and how we would be using it.
  • We had already planned our trip to the mountains of Virginia months ago. So, we read a few books about the mountains to prepare us for the adventure. We wrote down the books we read in our journal.
  • We packed our journal for the road and headed to the mountains. I gave the boys each some ideas of what to look for and I asked many questions along the way.
  • We enjoyed our adventure and when we got home from the mountains we recorded all of our findings and favorite things in our journal. It was so much fun thinking about the trip and what we loved most.
  • After our first trip it was very easy to use the journal. We have been to several places since and have enjoyed journaling the things we find and love.
  • Since my children are so young still I did all of the writing in their journal. I only wrote what they told me to write with no prompting at all.

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

What We Liked About The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal:
  • I personally loved the ease of use. Any child can use this journal with the help of an adult (for the younger ones). Older children will not need help at all.
  • My boys liked drawing pictures of their favorite part of their field trips. There is a section on each journaling page to draw a picture of your favorite memory. There is also a part on each page for drawing a map of the trip (my boys love pirates and these maps were great to satisfy their pirate obsession).
  • The journal comes with so many field trip ideas that you can’t run out of places to go. The list at the beginning of the journal with the instructions.
  • I just loved that it is spiral bound and labeled so I can find it easily and store it easily as well.

Here is a list of the Table of Contents:
Preparing for a Field Trip
Field Trip Ideas
Places I’ve Explored Maps
How to Use the “Specific Trip” Pages
Field Trip Pages
How to Use “My Special Spot” Pages
My Special Spot Pages
How to Use “As I See It” Pages
As I See It Pages

As for the different sections that this journal offers:

Specific Trip Pages- Includes the date of the trip, the location of your trip, a map that you draw of the trip, a photo or drawing of your trip, emergency contact plan, “I want to see or do” section, books that you have read to prepare for the trip, a large “story of my day” section, and lastly a place to write about the things you never want to forget about your trip.

My Special Spot Pages- This part of the journal encourages your child to find a special spot for each season of the year to observe nature and wildlife. It includes a page for each season (Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer), a place to draw a picture of your special spot, notes about footprints and other wildlife observations, the location, temperature, rainfall, and date you went to your spot.

As I See It Pages- These pages are designed to get your child’s creative juices flowing. They are for drawing and creating pictures of something prompted on each page. For instance, there are pages that prompt the child to draw “predators & prey”, “heavens”, “reflections & shadows”. There are many more and the ideas are endless. They include some blank “As I See It” pages so your child can come up with their own ideas.

I absolutely loved this book and plan on using it all summer for our trips. I also plan to purchase another one for my other children to use as well. Our final conclusion is to tell everyone about it. It is not very expensive and Apologia is a great company that teaches science through creation.

For more information about Apologia and their other products please visit:


Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

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