Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"The Sparkle Box" Children's Book Review and GIVEAWAY *Closed*

Congratulations to the winner, Marissa!

Christmas is quickly approaching!  With it only being a couple months away, I'm already looking forward to the traditions that we enjoy doing as a family.  A couple of my favorites tend to be picking out our Christmas tree together and doing our Advent calendars.  Although I haven't thought of it as a tradition before, something else that our family enjoys doing more this time of year is giving to others.  The book "The Sparkle Box" is a great way to introduce children to giving at Christmastime and shares why it is so important:

About the book
Sam is so excited about Christmas! He's thinking about his Christmas list, looking forward to holiday parties, and puzzling over one very mysterious gift: a sparkly box sitting on the mantel. In the midst of the festivities, Sam and his family participate in various acts of kindness to others. On Christmas morning, when Sam finally opens the Sparkle Box, he finds only slips of paper that record the family's good deeds. Sam's mom explains that the things that they've been doing are, in fact, a gift for Jesus, for Jesus said that whatever we do for those in need, we do for Him.

Author Bio
Author Jill Hardie and her family began placing a gift for Jesus under their Christmas tree as a way of bringing more meaning to the holiday. The first time they opened His gift, the commercialism of the season melted away and they felt a profound joy and peace. Jill hopes that The Sparkle Box will spark a new Christmas tradition, bringing light into thousands of lives.

Illustrator Bio
At a very early age, Christine Kornacki developed a love for painting and bringing stories to life. After receiving a BFA in illustration from the University of Hartford, her dreams of illustrating children's books began to take shape. She spends her days painting in her studio, which adjoins a charming cafe in New Haven, Connecticut.
My Review
Our copy with the Sparkle Box that comes in the inside back cover.
The Sparkle Box has a lot of things I love wrapped up in one book.  It's a well-written, beautifully illustrated, heartwarming children's book that focuses on Jesus, giving, tradition and Christmas.  :-)  On top of all that, it also comes with a Sparkle Box, so that those who purchase it can easily start the tradition as well.  It's a wonderful book to share with children, and even adults, at Christmas.

I highly recommend The Sparkle Box as a must read this Christmas.  I know I can't wait to share it with my kiddos and start a new, meaningful, tradition!

Buy It
The Sparkle Box hardcover 10x10, 32 page book, with enclosed sparkle box, can be purchased at Ideals Books for $19.99.  It is recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Be sure to visit the following sites to learn more about The Sparkle Box:
Thank you to FlyBy Promotions and Ideals Books for providing me with this book to review, as well as another to share with my readers! :-)

One of my readers is going to be blessed with their very own copy of The Sparkle Box!  To enter to win, please leave a comment about a Christmas tradition you enjoy or a favorite way you like to give during the Christmas season :-)  Please be sure to leave your e-mail address, so that I can contact you if you win!

Giveaway will end Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 at 10:00pm EST. Winner will be chosen that night and contacted via e-mail. The winner will have 48 hours to respond otherwise I will have to choose a new winner.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Harvest 2012

We've been spending a good amount of time the last couple weeks taking care of our fall garden. 
This is our sweet potato harvest.  I've never grown sweet potatoes before, so I really didn't know what to expect, but we got all this from 6ish plants.  (Once all the vines ran together it was hard to tell where the original plants were and I don't remember what I planted anymore! LOL!)
This was the monster sweet potato.  I had Blake hold it, so you could get an idea of how big it really was.
We also picked our pumpkins the last day of September.  We had some going soft/rotting already, so we didn't want to wait any longer.  We figured we might as well decorate with them while they were still good.  I was having a hard time getting a good smile from Morgan and turns out she was sick when we took this.  I thought it was cute the way Blake was looking at her in this pic while she was trying her best to smile.  I also thought it was funny that the cattle had to come see what was going on.  And, even though the chickens aren't in the picture, they came to check things out too! :-)
These are 6 of the 10 butternut suqash we got.  I've used 2 already and gave 2 away.  I found a yummy recipe where you mix one squash with sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and a little flour and bake it.  It's suppose to have a topping too, but I like it just fine without!  YUM! :-)  I'll probably use some in pumpkin recipes too, since I didn't grow pie pumpkins this year.
The last of our tomatoes that I picked before we got a frost.  This is what's left after 17 quarts being canned and 15 pints of salsa...plus some that I just froze because I didn't have enough to do much else with them at the time.  I've also used several in some dinners.  I'm hoping to can most of the rest of these and maybe make a few green tomato recipes :-)
These are the last of our peppers too.  I've used several and froze a bunch.  I'm hoping to make some stuffed green peppers before freezing the rest :-)
Part of our indian popcorn harvest!  This, along with digging potatoes, has to be the kids' favorite thing in the garden.  These are fun and easy to grow and pick.  Plus they love husking them and seeing all the pretty colors...of course that only lasted a little this year while before they wanted to play with them.  They were sorting them by 'boy' and 'girl' colors then making little 'families' of them-lol!  Once the playing was over, I then bunched them and hung them to dry, so in a couple weeks we'll have some home grown popcorn to eat...just in time for the colder months! :-)

We got a boatload of potatoes too.  I'd take pictures, but I gave a bunch away to my sister and her husband.  If we had them all, I'd imagine we dug at least 2 milk crates full.

I couldn't be happier with what we were able to get from our garden this year!  It's SO much work to grow, then preserve or come up with recipes and ways to eat it all while it's still good, BUT it's also very rewarding!
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