The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorella

About The Clouds Roll Away – “Beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, Giorello’s mystery also features well-developed characters…”
—Booklist, starred review

I agree with the Booklist review above 🙂 The Clouds Roll Away did contain very interesting and intriguing descriptions and characters. I enjoyed the story line and the twists and turns of it. I especially enjoyed how it delved into deep serious issues like the problems and heartache that Christmas brings to many and the problems with racism. I thought that it was interesting that the churches that were mentioned were Catholic though I was left a little confused as to whether the main character was Catholic or not. I’m not used to that in Christian book so that left me with some questions.   As this is the second book in the series and I didn’t read the first I feel that contributed to my questions-. There were other aspects of the story I felt didn’t get fully resolved–but since it’s a book in a series that makes sense and makes me want to read the following stories.

It was an interesting, easy to read story and would make a good cozy read for anyone who loves a good mystery! Be sure to hop on over to Amazon and check out other readers thoughts-so far it has 4 stars!

I Don’t Like Santa

It’s true. For some reason I just don’t like Santa.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people who feels that he represents all that is evil and should be avoided and de-bunked at all costs. I like movies with Santa in them (all the classics-Rudolph, Frosty, Miracle on 34th St. etc) some Christmas stories like The Littlest Elf, and I like Santa hats–as seen by this way too cute future black mail picture 😉

But when it comes to other decorations, wrapping paper, and just other things about him in general-I just don’t like him at all. I mean–if you really stop and think about it an old fat guy in a red suit sneaking into your house?? Little creepy 😉
Now, I’m sure a big part of this is the fact that I never ever remember believing in Santa. Though my parents let us when we were really little as soon as we asked if he was real they told us the truth. I have always appreciated that they didn’t lie and honestly I never cared. As long as I got presents and we could play along I really didn’t care who brought them. My Mom always signed our biggest gift “From Santa” up until I moved out and I always thought that was fun.
Another reason, of course, is because I’ve always wanted to focus more on Jesus birth and the true meaning behind everything.
So this year I felt faced with a dilemma of sorts. I’m thrilled because Amber is old enough to finally “get” Christmas. She looooves the Christmas tree and decorations and is so excited about everything. I was debating whether or not I should start the whole Santa thing. I figured I should….but like I said-I don’t like Santa.
My dilemma was solved when she came running up to me the other day yelling “Momma-Santa’s coming!!!” (I later figured out that one of her PBS shows had a Christmas episode all about Santa, haha) I decided to go with it and tell her that yes, he is coming and will leave presents. My questions about whether or not to “have” Santa were answered when her eyes lit up and she jumped up and down in joy–and has continued to do every single day. 🙂
So although I still don’t really like Santa–it’s fun for Amber to like him. And since I plan on telling her the truth as soon as she asks I’m going to cherish these few years while she still believes!

Not So Fat Wednesday(?) ~ Week 12

So I’m hoping the insane picture will distract you from the fact that I’m posting this a day late…

Did it work? No? Just look at my c R a Z y family one more time! There we go 😉

So….yeah.

Plate of fudge + Nicole + Nicole not writing down in her food journal = Nicole eating entire plate of fudge…by herself…minus about 4 pieces eaten by hubby and Amber.

YIKES!!!!

I have a confession–again, since I’ve talked a little about this before. I. have. no. self. control.

At least not when it comes to yuuuummmyyy chocolate treats. When I don’t have a plan of action I will mindlessly stuff them in my mouth at random points throughout the day until my horrified husband comes up and goes,

“Did you honestly eat that entire thing of fudge all by yourself??!!”

*Gulp*

So, not the best of weeks for me. The really bad part is that I have 5 tasty Christmas goodies just begging to be made. Not wanting an Attack of the Fudge Pudge Part Deux to happen I have a plan!

I’m going to make all the goodies and then send 75% of them with hubby to work so that all the Coasties will feel loved and I won’t have them here to eat them.

I’m making a plate to give to a friend’s family and a plate for the UPS man.

Side note on the UPS man–I live on the 3rd story-40 steps one way. Between blog stuff, Christmas stuff that I’ve bought, Christmas stuff that the grandparents are sending to me, gifts from my best friend, etc, the poor guy has literally been here nearly every single work day for the past 3 weeks!!! I figure the least I can do is hand him a plate of cookies and a Christmas card next time–haha!!!

But moving on!

I will make up one and only one plate with the various goodies on it. I can eat what is on the plate and when it’s gone I can have no more sweets!!! That means I need to have one a day and make it last so I’ll actually have goodies to eat on Christmas since I’m just having those instead of making pies or cheesecake again (hence avoiding Insane Fire Alarm Drama Part Deux)

However–(and this is where most of you will begin to throw insults and pillows at me) when I stepped onto the scale today it said I weigh 1 1/2 lbs less than last week!

Apparently living on the 3rd story has it’s benefits 🙂

I’ll be taking next week off as my eyes are crossed from being so busy and I know it’ll only get worse!

We’ll re-group on 12/28 to discuss the game plan for 2011! Woo Hoo!

Have you fallen prey to the Christmas goodies? What is your plan to avoid it from here on out?

Merry Christmas!

Help a Cute Baby Out :)

Have you helped my cute little man out yet???!!! If not–what are you waiting for? 😉
You can vote once a day on the Parenting.com one! He was ranked waaaay down low at 616 as of today–come on people–look at that smile–get him up in the top 100 purdy please! 😀

So I’ve always known my kiddos are absolutely gorgeous 😉 Well now I know it’s not just me because Tyler is in the running for Two “cutest baby” things right now for the picture above! We’d really appreciate your help and vote!

Go Here to vote for Tyler to win the Weekly Cute Baby Parenting Contest (we would get $250–that would so help out with covering Christmas presents!!!)

And Go Here to “like” Tyler’s on the Soft Baby facebook page–feel free to gush a little about how he’d be the cutest lil model ever!

I don’t think you have to sign up for anything for either of them so it’ll just take a minute of your time! Feel free to pass along his cuteness and ask others to vote!

Thanks–you’re all the best! 😀

Sweet Knee *Review & Giveaway*

***This giveaway is now CLOSED congrats to #44 who won***

So I’m still semi-new to the vlog reviews but I’m getting the hang of it and really love doing them! 🙂 I forgot to add that the reason it was impressive there was so much of the bun glaze left was that I received my products about a month and 1/2 ago and have been using them ever since!

Do you want to try out the products for yourself? Of course you do! Well here’s a 10% Off Sweet Knee Coupon Code! These products would make perfect Christmas gifts for a new mom or her baby!! I’d love someone to buy them for Tyler as a gift–he’s at such a funny age where he’s not too much into toys or opening presents so something like this would be perfect and useful! When you make your purchase on the Sweet Knee Website please put in the comment section of your order that I sent you their way! It’ll help me out and make it so I can bring more delightful Sweet Knee Giveaways your way!!!

One Lucky Winner will receive a $10 Sweet Knee Gift Certificate!

This giveaway is open to US Residents 18 years and older only



As always be sure I have a way to get your email address so I can tell you that you won! If I don’t have an easy way to get it (in your comment, google profile, etc) I will automatically choose a new winner. A new winner will also automatically be chosen if any of the entries are not followed specifically (such as doing the mandatory entry). Also leave a separate comment for each additional entry that you do! One comment = one entry!


**Mandatory Entry**
This must be done in order for any other entry to count

Visit the Sweet Knee Website and let me know one other product you’d like to try!
**Additional Entries**
Because these are all natural baby products!


1 Entry each ~ Follow me through Google Friend Connect, Subscribe to my RSS feed (Ramblings For You on left sidebar), or subscribe to me via email (Ramblings to Your Inbox on left sidebar) –You only have to do one but each counts as an extra entry–come on, you know you want to!!! 😉


1 Entry **Daily** Follow Me (I follow back!) on Twitter and Tweet. Be sure to leave me the link! You may copy/paste the following:

Win a $10 Sweet Knee GC for all natural baby products! http://tinyurl.com/267vs4d @coastiewife321 ends 1/15 Pls RT!


1 Entry ~ Snag my blog button, isn’t it cute?! Leave me the url so I can come visit your blog!


1 Entry ~ Blog about this and be sure to link back to this post, leave me the URL to the post, you know you wanna share the love!

This Giveaway will end 1/15/11 at 11:59 p.m. EST

I will choose the winner via random.org contact them via email and post them on this blog. They have 48 hours to claim their win before a new winner is chosen.

Good Luck!!!

4 Steps to getting your family interested in volunteering

During this time of the year it’s so important to not only focus on time for yourself and family, but also on giving back to others! The true spirit of Christmas, and of being a Christian, is all about loving and reaching out to people who aren’t as fortunate or blessed as we are! It’s important to teach our children about this at a young age! Our church has a great retirement home ministry that I’m excited about getting involved in–I just know all the people there would love a visit from the kids! 🙂

Here are 4 Steps to getting your family interested in volunteering:
Step 1: Clarify your personal goals and motives for wanting to include your child in volunteer activities. Volunteering is a wonderful way to a share your values with your child. Pick a cause that is meaningful to you and your family rather than one that is simply convenient.
Step 2: Explain the importance of volunteerism and the contribution volunteers can make. A child’s favorite question is “why?” Keep your answers simple and concrete. For example, if you are going to volunteer at the food bank, tell your child that “The food bank has lots of food for people who need it, and it will be our job to sort the food so that people are able to find what they need.”
Step 3: Choose volunteer activities to do with your children that are age-appropriate. Children as young as three can begin volunteering. At this age they begin to enjoy participation in group activities and are better able to follow directions. Remember that a preschooler’s concept of the world is not very large and is usually limited primarily to their home, neighborhood and school; therefore, it is important to keep the activity within the realm of what they can imagine. A few examples:
•Participate in “clean the park” activities. Be sure to have your child wear gloves.
•Take recyclables to recycling collection centers.
•Act as a companion to the elderly in retirement or assisted living homes. Simply listening to their stories and relieving their loneliness provides multiple benefits for the senior citizen and your child.
•Participate in local races and walks that raise money for a charitable cause that you think is important; most races have a shorter race for children.
•Sort food at a food bank. Be sure to confirm that children are welcome to volunteer and that it will be a safe environment.
Step 4: Find a child-friendly not-for-profit. Ask the following questions to help you select the volunteer opportunity that is right for your family:

•Does the organization have experience with and a history of successfully working with children and families? Will the organization provide me with a reference from another family who has volunteered with them?
•Will the organization staff welcome my child’s participation?
•Is there a specific job that my child can do successfully? Who will show my children what to do?
•Are there special clothes or supplies needed for my child to volunteer with this organization?
•Does the organization conduct appropriate background screenings on its staff? Does the organization have insurance if there is an accident while your family is volunteering?
•Can the organization provide a concrete example that will help your child understand how his or her efforts benefit others?

To find these and other great tips for parents, check out Dr. Zurn’s blog at DrZandme.com. For more information on Primrose Schools, visit http://www.primroseschools.com/. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter!

Suicide Help

Although this should be “the most wonderful time of the year” for many people it holds despair and pain and hurtful memories. Here is some useful information that I was sent and hope will be of help to someone!

Many individuals will struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts during this Christmas Season. Some studies show that there is an increase in emotional/mental health struggles from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Author and speaker, Linda Evans Shepherd, understands full-well the added pressures many face this time of year. She has compiled materials to help others find the hope they need to win over depression.

You can find her website GodTest.com Here and go Here for 2 helpful articles!

12 Pearls of Christmas *Guest blog*

Hello – I’m thrilled to announce the 2nd Annual 12 Pearls of Christmas! We’ve lined up several authors to share their Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom”! Please follow along beginning today (Monday the 13th) through Christmas day as Melody Carlson, Lauraine Snelling,  Rachel Hauck, Tricia Goyer, Maureen Lang, and more share their heartfelt stories of how God has touched their life during this most wonderful time of the year.

We are also providing this series as free content for your own blogs (as 12 html posts) – if you’d like to share the 12 Pearls of Christmas with your blog readers email ( amy@litfusegroup.com ) and she’ll send you the content.

AND BEST OF ALL … there’s also a giveaway!!!! Fill out the quick form at the link located at the bottom of this post or any of the following 12 Pearls of Christmas posts (on any of the participating posts) to be entered to win a PEARL NECKLACE, BRACELET AND EARRINGS! You may enter once a day. The winner will be announced on New Year’s Day! Pearls – a tangible reminder of God’s grace to us all.

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Pearls of Patience

by Margaret Mcsweeney

As I write by the light of my Christmas tree on a late winter’s night, I reflect upon the poignancy and purpose of this season.  The tiny white lights look like strands of pearls draped gracefully (perhaps haphazardly is a more honest description) across the evergreen boughs.  Tomorrow I will hang the ornaments and at last place the angel atop the tree

Angels carry a special meaning this Christmas.  My brother, Randy passed away on December 2nd from a heart attack at age 53.  He was feeding a stray cat on his side porch.  Randy was always like St. Francis of Asissi – animals would find him, sensing a kind soul.  And my brother was a gentle and patient soul.  He loved to fish.  He tried to teach me, but I immediately lost interest when I realized worms were involved. And I could never sit still on the banks of a river and just wait.  However, Randy could do that.  He could wait, and waiting is a true gift.  He put into practice the Scriptures.  “Wait upon the Lord.”  “Be still and know that He is God.”  Patience doesn’t have to be passive.  Wait is still an action verb.  Part of the waiting process for fishing is seeking.  Elaine (Randy’s wife of 31 years) told me that Randy said he could see the fish deep beneath the waters.  He actively waited for the right time to catch them.

During Randy’s last fishing trip on earth – just a week before his death, he felt an urgency to take a picture of the clouds with his cell phone.  When he returned home, he showed the picture to Elaine.  They realized that a face of an angel was looking at Randy from the sky – perhaps waiting for God’s timing to bring Randy home to heaven.  In my heart I like to think that this “angel in the sky” was part of the heavenly host that appeared to the shepherds over two thousand years ago.  A Christmas Angel.

The Christmas Angels brought tidings of great joy that Jesus, our Lord and Savior was born.  And because of that incredible gift from God that these angels announced, we all have the promise of eternity. Let us actively wait for His return by sharing our faith, offering hope and acting with love in everything we do.

May each of you be blessed this Christmas as you celebrate the purposeful promises of the Season: Faith, hope and love.   And may the 12 Pearls of Christmas be a blessing to you, too.

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About Margaret: Margaret McSweeney lives with her husband, David and two teenage daughters in the Chicago suburbs. After earning a master’s degree in international business from the University of South Carolina , Margaret moved to New York City to work at a large bank where she met David. Charity and community involvement are very important to Margaret. She is the founder and director of Pearl Girls. For more information please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/. Margaret is fast at work on several fiction manuscripts and her book Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace was written to help fund the Pearl Girl Charities. Connect with Margaret on Facebook or Twitter.

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A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year’s Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com/) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info

Spend $75 get a $25 Gift Card!

So it’s no secret that we looooooooooveeeee books round these parts! You might remember my Barefoot Books Review last Spring. (see video above–so stinking cute! I can’t believe how different Amber is now even though that was just 8 months ago!!! It’s like she grew into a little girl over night!) We still love this book and read it all the time and I just bought another book from Amy for one of Tyler’s Christmas gifts this year!

Amy has a great deal going on right now! Spend $75 and get a $25 gift card–so you could get a ton of fabulous, fun, educational books for only $50! I’ve said it time and time again–you can never have too many books and they make the *best* presents ever!! So please consider going and doing your Christmas shopping with Amy and find the deal HERE!

How you and your wallet can survive kids fashions *Guest Blog*

Another clever little guest blog that I thought you might find interesting/funny/entertaining 🙂 Enjoy!

Shopping for kids clothes can be a lot of fun, but it can also be expensive, time consuming, and often frustrating. Nobody really minds shopping for the little ones, but getting too much information about “kids fashions” can get on your nerves. Like maternity dresses, kids fashions are a matter of personal taste. Good designs can speak for themselves, and you know better than anyone what your kid actually needs.

The kids clothes issues

Quality is the only issue. Kids clothes need to be good quality things that don’t wear out the minute you look at them and can be washed without a PhD in nuclear physics and a radiation suit. They shouldn’t be “cute” to the point of nausea or terrifying grandparents and other drivers on the road. A child’s outfit can either be seen as a fashion statement or a cry for help which may turn into a lawsuit when the kid grows up. Never mind the cheap garbage, stick to the good labels that make real clothes.

Dodging the credit card killers

There may be a recession going on, but that doesn’t mean you should have to single-handedly do a national bailout just buying a little outfit. You really should be able to get plenty of nice things for a young kid without spending next year’s budget. An extra digit on a credit card can do exactly that, and you need to be aware that you’re not only paying top dollar, you’re paying a premium on top of top dollar.

The quick way around this situation is shopping online. If you can find what you want, you can save yourself traipsing around the world to get things. Everything gets delivered, and it’s a very civilized way to shop. To avoid using the credit card, you can also use PayPal. It’s a lot cheaper than a credit card, and also more secure. Alternatively, you can use a debit card, so there’s a built in limit on what you can spend at any given moment.

Finding good prices

Shopping online also saves a lot of time doing quality and price comparisons. The online merchants are usually specialists in the kids clothes markets, and they’re generally pretty reliable in terms of communication and getting what you want. One Live Chat or a phone call can save you a lot of money, and you may also get suggestions about options you didn’t know you had.

It’s a good idea to lock in a few suppliers when your child is young, so you can deal with the “size factor” as the child grows. Good suppliers can save you a fortune between infancy and school age. There are usually at least a few good prices around, and a bit of tough-minded shopping will always pay off if you’re patient. Don’t settle for one price for anything, always check against other offers, and you’ll save money every time you shop.

One other tip: If you’re talking to a shop owner who looks like a mother, mention that buying kids clothes is as tough as buying maternity wear– You’ll get all the help you need.