Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas From My Babies

My kids submitted (some more gracefully than others) to our annual Christmas Sunday photo shoot.
I love to get them new outfits for church and dress them up matchy matchy.
Yes, I'm that mom.
But I only do it once (or twice) a year.

This was the best we could do for all of the kids together.
 The others involve crying and/or wrestling.

My two little girls are so excited for Christmas they can barely sit on their chairs at dinner.
One or both of them falling off their chairs is becoming a regular occurrence. 

And for our own Christmas Miracle : Neal and Amberly posed nicely together for a picture. And strangely enough, they've been getting along the whole day.

From my family to yours :
We wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The House Girl - Book Review

I don't know how many times I've repeated the same conversation with others. It goes, essentially, like this : "It's so hard to pick a book for a book club that everyone can enjoy. An otherwise well written, insightful book is ruined by profanity or unnecessary sexual scenes." It can be frustrating to find really good books. So, when I find one that I can recommend to everyone, I am especially delighted.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin is such a book. Well written with superb attention to detail and a wonderful ability to make scenes come to life, The House Girl tells the stories of two women--Josephina, the artistically talented house slave in Virginia and Lina, the ladder-climbing young attorney in New York City. Their stories become intertwined when Lina starts working on a retribution case for a big client. Looking for the perfect plaintiff, Lina discovers that Josephina may actually be the true artist of the famous works of her owner.

To be honest, the story began slowly and I struggled to stay involved. I must admit that I only had quick moments of time to read lately and The House Girl sat neglected on my night stand for a few weeks. It was only the last few days that I was able to devote the time this book deserved. I spent the last few evenings devouring the story and falling in love with the likable and rich characters.

Part heartrending tales of the abuse of slaves; part a genealogical mystery and part a story of individual healing, The House Girl won me over.

** I received a complimentary copy of The House Girl is exchange for my review. No other compensation was received. **

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Winner of the Initials, Inc. Give-away

I feel like I'm always apologizing on the blog any more. And here's another one. I am announcing the winner of the $25 gift card from Initials, Inc. Give-away a day late.

Better late than never. The winner is . . .


Congratulations! Please contact me right away with your information so that you can receive your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered the give-away and who follows Utah Mom's Life.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Favorite Books of 2012

I am no where near reaching my reading goals for 2012. I have plenty of excuses but the fact remains that I have not read as many books as I generally do or like to. However, as I was going over the list of books that I did read in 2012 there is something that is very obvious.

I am clearly drawn to and enjoy a certain kind of book more than others. Of the books that I rated five stars, the majority were rip-your-heart-out historical fiction novels.

Since my reading list is shorter than usual, my favorite books list is also shorter than usual. Here are a few of my very favorites that were also published in 2012--in no particular order :

The Healing by Jonathan Odell

You can read my review **here**.

In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

You can read my review **here**.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

You can read my review **here**.

Perla by Carolina De Robertis

You can read my review **here**.

Honorable Mention :

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Initials, Inc. - Review and Give-away

Initials, Inc. is an exciting direct sales company that sells lovely purses, bags, luggage and totes. As a mom, I can never have enough bags to carry all the stuff that is part of our lives, so I was really delighted to be able to try two bags from Initials, Inc. I got the classy black and white Soho Shopper purse and the sports duffle.

I've been using the Soho Shopper as my church bag. It's not as big as a traditional tote but the three-ring binder I need for my calling fits fine.The fabric is beautiful and trendy as well as sturdy. I'm impressed with the quality of construction. I love that I was able to personalize my bag with my initials.

I love love love the Sports Duffle. Big enough for a few soccer balls or all our winter gear, the duffle is perfect for my family when we're on-the-go. With handles on the sides, top and back, the duffle can even be carried as a backpack. Again, it's made of good quality materials. And no one will mistakenly take ours after the game, because our last name has been embroidered on the back.

Amy Bonner, an Initials, Inc. consultant is sponsoring a $25 Initials, Inc. gift certificate give-away! All you have to do to enter is check out her facebook page and take a minute to look through the Initials, Inc. catalog. Come back to this post and leave a comment with your favorite Initials, Inc. product.

The contest will be open to entries until Saturday, December 15th at 11:59 pm MST. The winner will be chosen randomly from the comments and announced on Sunday, December 16th.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Minted - Holiday Cards

I've been mostly absent from the blog for awhile. Goodness! It's hard to keep track of all the crazy and busy things that have been going on around here. I'm sure you all understand. The calendar at Christmas time really fills up with fun stuff and all the day-to-day, regular busy stuff doesn't really go away (including shopping for a new hot water heater and renewing the driver's license-ugh!). December is just seriously awesome.

One of the things on my to-do list this year has been to actually get Christmas cards sent out to my friends and family. I just spent several hours hand addressing the envelopes because it used to be one of my favorite things to do. It's been awhile but I found that I really enjoyed it again. I might have to get out my paper crafting stuff again -- some day.

So, while we're on the subject of Christmas cards . . . there are so many great options for printing beautiful Christmas photo cards. And Minted is one of the great ones. It's a partnership between independent graphic designers and a print shop. Seriously! You are going to need to check out the very beautiful holiday photo cards at Minted.

Then, while you're visiting the Minted website, check out all the other cool paper stuff -- stationary and journals and invitations and cards for every occasion. You're going to be impressed. 

** This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are 100% mine. Really. **

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Winner of the Shutterfly Give-away

OK, this post is later than I planned but better late than never . . .

The winner of the give-away from Shutterfly is . . .


Please let me know your email address as soon as possible so that you can redeem your prize.