Merry Christmas! | Share the Gift

Merry Christmas to you, my friend!  

I do hope this day is chock-full of blessings for you and yours as we celebrate the first coming of our Saviour.

Below is a video I wanted to share with you.  Over 1000 people came together to make this happen and they broke a record while doing it. 

Live Nativity
featuring YouTubers from all over the country. 
(You may recognize a few.)

Enjoy! and #SharetheGift

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First Day of Winter | Baby, It's Cold Outside

Today marks the first day of the Winter season, dearies.  Perhaps where you live, it seems Winter has been there for weeks due to snowy days and frosty white.  But here, it's simply bare.  And cold.  :]  Hoping for a white Christmas, yes, but I still don't like the cold. . .  Heheh.


Here's a song I found that's simply adorable.  I'm not a huge fan of the singers (who happen to be Idina Menzel and Michael Buble *le gasp!*) but the two little performers are marvelous.


Have any unique Christmas traditions? Hilarious? Down-to-earth?  
Do tell! I'd love to hear.

As for my family, ever since we were little (and even now that we're grown and still at home) my daddy would read us this little book on Christmas Eve called What Child is This.  It's such a simple story, I love hearing my dad read it every year.

So, how about you, dearies?  :]

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A + A Friday!

  • Eating a delicious breakfast as your cat stares at you as if you are a traitor to the country.
  • Sewing machines make me nervous.
  • When you lose your phone late before bed (and you have to have it 'cause it's your only alarm clock) and your sister goes downstairs to text it.  It dings right AT YOUR HEAD.
  • Having one of THOSE days: you get up early, take a shower, then head downstairs to fix your breakfast and the first thing you do is drop an egg.  Then, the butter.  You clean up messes and head to work only to discover you've arrived FIVE hours early, because you forgot you had switched shifts with one of the other girls. . . And so, you spend said time roaming the city and browsing stores.
  • Writing your 100 words for that day late at night and you review the entry from the day before and notice a horrible mistake: you'd written "tale" instead of "tail."  x_x
  • Browsing through a store and you notice someone you know. . . You quickly try to decide whether to say hi or not and turn to focus all your attention on a particular book that you have no interest in whatsoevah.  Oh, come on, we all do it, right?  . . . Right?  -_-
  • Awkward Avoidance Viking -- Must see!  To explain, the Awkward Avoidance Viking pops up during your times of awkwardness and therefore gets rid of what causes the awkward. . .ness. xD

  • The HOBBIT: BotFA is now in theaters!! and we are going tomorrow!!!
  • A brand new film (and one we've been waiting THREE years for) is finally going to be released! Beyond the Mask by Burns Family Studios is coming April 6th, 2015.  More on this later. I have a big announcement regarding this film. . . :] So excited!
  • Christmas is less than a week away! Can you believe it? Looking forward to time with family and friends.  And food.  Good food.
  • The fact you've been done with your Christmas shopping for a couple weeks now.  *fist pump*
  • Scoring gas for $2.04 per gallon!!! (Don't know about you, but that's pretty good right now. . .)
  • Enjoying a nice evening after work at Panera Bread, with friends.  A blueberry bagel and hot chocolate.  Mmmmm.
  • Receiving a brand new book in the mail for Christmas from your dear friend.  You know who you are, girlie! Thank you!

So, that's a review of these past two weeks.  Can you believe Christmas is only six days away?? GAH! It came too fast. . . I know, I know, I always say that, but it's true!

And due to this season, I won't get a chance to post much.  But that's okay!  So, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.  Enjoy this time with friends and family as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Merry Christmas!

God With Us

Christmas is nigh, dearies.  And we now begin the 12 Day countdown!  

Can you believe it?  GAH.  We'll blink and 2015 will be here.  So, enjoy the closing of 2014 and spread the gift of love that we have received through God's gifted Son.

Here is a video I wish to share with you that my church showed during service this morn:

God With Us
an excerpt from one of Charles Spurgeon's sermons
Christmas Eve, 1854

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Book Review | Deadly Puzzle

Deadly Puzzle
Katie Maloney

Publisher:  Amazon (Kindle Edition)
Genre:  Mystery, Christian, Fiction, YA
Released:  2014

She looked at me – and I knew. She needed me. I saw past her striking beauty, her royal bearing, I looked into the blue eyes that were deep, that changed with her feelings, encompassed as many shades as the blues of the oceans. People see the beauty, but I see the depth of her soul. Name's Lake, Inspector Lake. I’m an Irish Wolfhound, I stand 37 inches at the shoulder and I can kill a wolf at a dead run. 

The more you know about Audrey Carlisle-Holt, the more you like her, but the less you ever want to have walked in her shoes. Denim jumpers and blood make her queasy, so how my very chic owner went from a homeschooled student to a detective bounty hunter is quite as much a mystery as the one she is solving. 

We’re undercover in Brownsville to trace the killer of a young teenage girl, but the persistent attention of two charming local bachelors reveals in my usually clear-sighted and objective owner a deep yearning for a different life. She must endeavor to silence her dreams and press on as she uncovers connections to more chilling murders. 

The clock is ticking. Her past makes her a match to the victims, and the killer knows it.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

* I was provided a copy of this novel in return for my honest review. *

[The Basics]
OK, I confess.  When I discovered that this book was, more or less, written from the perspective of a dog, I was rather hesitant.  Then I found out the dog himself was an Irish Wolfhound--the dream dog I would one day love to own myself (and name him Fitz)--and I tried to have an open mind.  This is fiction.  It's a story, not really reality, but that's what stories are for!  They open up the imagination for the impossible.  

Oh, it's a mystery as well.  So, 'nuff said.  And I do love a good mystery. :]

So, in this little tale we see the life of one Audrey Carlisle-Holt from the point-of-view of her loyal Wolfhound, Inspector Lake, and his little West Highland Terrier friend, Mr. Puddles.  

Audrey is a Private Investigator and Bounty Hunter, of sorts.  And in her previous years as such, she has experienced much for one lifetime.  This causes her to doubt what she'll do after the current case is resolved.  Life as a PI is rather dangerous and she comes to long for her dream (to one day marry and have a family of her own) that much more.

The relationship between Audrey and her brothers is so intimately sweet.  It's quite obvious they are all each other has and would do anything and everything to protect their little family unit.  

The "banter" between Inspector Lake and Mr. Puddles is kinda cute.  While they don't actually talk aloud, their thought process is easily understood among others of their kind.  We see how much they care for their mistress and the tolerable love they have for each other.  Their "conversations" can be hilarious.  :]

Because Audrey is a drop-dead beauty, men are drawn to her.  And despite her firm "No," they don't seem to know that it means, "No."  

The local church is, and has been for years, struggling to keep together.  In short, it's pretty messed up, and it's leaders have definitely fallen away due to certain circumstances.

At one point, Audrey doubts her decision (made long ago) not to date divorced men.

Audrey's parents are themselves divorcees.  And her relationship with each is barely holding on, if not nonexistent altogether.  We learn she was assaulted by her stepfather years before.  Her own father doesn't even try to keep contact.

When Audrey's secret is revealed, she meets quite a bit of hostility with the town's long-time residents, including a sweet, older woman who owns a kind of coffee shop with her husband.  Audrey stops by for the last time, hoping for a warm cup of coffee and fresh-baked breakfast treat, and is greeted with cold contempt and derision by the woman, who orders her to leave and "GOOD RIDDANCE!"  (The husband tries to sooth Audrey and explains his wife simply needs time to process.  Audrey seems to understand.)

[Spiritual Content]
Mentioned above, the town's church is struggling with many issues.  The men, in particular, have fallen away as the spiritual leaders of their families.  And the women blindly believe most anything, simply because it sounds and feels nice.

This is a mystery thriller and therefore there has to be some kind of crime and/or murder, right?  Well, this one involves a series of murders, and it's Audrey who must discern whether or not they are connected and who is behind it.  The victims are young girls who've been raped and stabbed multiple times.  This makes for some bloody scenes, none of which we "see" in person, simply in photos when reviewing cases.

Lake and his pal, Mr. Puddles, growl at a man and it's quite obvious they dislike him.  A lot.  It's mentioned the little dog's tendency to bite people who's shoes he doesn't like. 

A big dog jumps between a man and woman, because the man got too close to his mistress and he didn't like it.  He growls in warning, scaring two little girls.

A man barges into a home where a Christmas party is taking place.  He disrupts the gala and gets into a little tangle with another man.  A switch-blade is deflected and dropped to the floor.  No one is injured.

A man's duffle bag is mistaken for a bomb.  ([SPOILER] It's not.)

[Language, Alcohol & Drugs]
None that I can recall. . .  Wine is present a time or two.  Men drink beer.  One man admits to being drunk in the past.  A drug ring is mentioned.

[Love-y Content]
One man attempts to pull her close to kiss her, and Lake jumps between them with a fierce warning growl.  Hoo-rah! for the Inspector!  

Audrey is attracted to the chief of police, but refrains from being anything other than a friend.  She has something to do with getting the man back together with his ex-wife.

A divorced man tried to man his former wife jealous by dating other women.  One is rather clingy.  Later, she dumps him.  And good riddance to her.

As you will see below, I've given this book four stars.  I suppose the only reason (or reasons) I've not given it five stars is simply due to the numerous typos and technical mistakes.  That, and the dialogue seemed to have holes.  For example, there were places a statement was possibly left out or missing and should have been there to help explain--I don't know.  At times, I had to go back and re-read a paragraph because I felt I missed something.  Another thing I noticed and found myself annoyed with, was the amount of times they described Audrey as beautiful and/or outrageously gorgeous.  (And no, I'm not jealous in any way. *sticks out tongue*) There was always one man or another who tried to get a date with her--more than once.  I know, I know, 'tis not uncommon.  But the amount of times it occurred was just a bit too much for me (and Audrey, as well, for that matter).

As it is told from a dog's perspective, I found this story different and fun.  I loved Inspector Lake.  His conversations with Mr. Puddles are worth a chuckle or two.  And it was definitely an experience to get to figure out how a mystery is solved when you only see the POV of a dog.

So, all in all, I found this story intriguing, enjoyable, and an easy read.  It took me awhile to figure out who the actual culprit was and even then I would doubt myself.

With all that said, I would definitely recommend to any of you stay-at-home daughters who happen to love a good mystery thriller.  :]

Recommended ages:  16+

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What's in a Name?

This set features names of an Ancient sort.  Celtic and Egyptian, to be exact.  :]  I know, odd combo, but these are pretty fantastic, in my opinion.

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Ancient Celtic (Latinized)
Pronunciation:  BREN-ǝs (English)

Meaning & History
Latinized form of a Celtic name, or title, possibly meaning "king, prince" or "raven."  In 4th-century BC, Brennus was a Gallic leader who attacked and sacked Rome.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Ancient Celtic

Meaning & History
Gaulish form of the French Genevieve, which possibly means "tribe woman."

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Ancient Egyptian

Meaning & History
Means "of Seth" in Egyptian.  This was the name of two pharaohs in the 19th dynasty.  [Not related to the Biblical name; this one comes to mean something like "pillar" or "dazzle."  Seth (pro. SET or SAYT) was the Egyptian god of chaos and the desert.]

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Ancient Egyptian
Pronunciation:  nef-ǝr-TAHR-ree (English)

Meaning & History
Means "the most beautiful" in Egyptian.  This was the given name of an Egyptian queen of the New Kingdom, the favorite wife of Rameses II.

Any suggestions?

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Names and meanings via
Photos via Pinterest.

A + A Friday!


  • Working in a part of the store hanging up signs and you are called up front, so you promptly run (hustle) to the registers with a stuffed moose in hand. . . 
  • When a wasp hangs onto your car mirror for the WHOLE half-hour drive to work--on the Interstate, at 70 mph.
  • When you make this your new catchphrase when you are stressed:

  • The fact you cannot walk down to the mailbox in the dark, because. . . well, BECAUSE.
  • Purchasing the Expendables 2 and a Barbie movie at the same time. 
  • Realizing how much you quote The Lego Movie
  • BAHAHAHA! This pin:

  • Fretting over your hair 'cause its not doing what you want it to.  Later, you walk into work and the first thing your sweet manager lady says is how pretty your hair looks.
  • The fact you are overwhelmed with a stack of books you've never read.  Love meh books.  :]
  • Receiving your brand new copy of Fly Away Home in the mail today! Can't wait to read!
  • And because of the above fact, you get to rewatch the other Hobbit films.
  • This song because it is so fantastically horrible and sadly awesome all at once: The Hobbit: BotFA -- The Last Goodbye sung by Billy Boyd (Pippin!)
  • Gathering together all of your Christmas presents for your family and friends and wrapping them pretty.
  • GIFs: 

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Photos via Pinterest.

Book Review | The Merchant's Daughter

The Merchant's Daughter
YA Romance Fairy Tales #2
Melanie Dickerson

Publisher:  Zondervan
Genre:  YA, Fiction, Historical, Medieval, Fairytales
Released:  2011

An unthinkable danger. An unexpected choice. 

Annabel, once the daughter of a wealthy merchant, is trapped in indentured servitude to Lord Ranulf, a recluse who is rumored to be both terrifying and beastly. Her circumstances are made even worse by the proximity of Lord Ranulf's bailiff, a revolting man who has made unwelcome advances on Annabel in the past. 

Believing that life in a nunnery is the best way to escape the escalation of the bailiff's vile behavior and to preserve the faith that sustains her, Annabel is surprised to discover a sense of security and joy in her encounters with Lord Ranulf. As Annabel struggles to confront her feelings, she is involved in a situation that could place Ranulf in grave danger. Ranulf's future, and possibly his heart, may rest in her hands, and Annabel must decide whether to follow the plans she has cherished or the calling God has placed on her heart.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
First off.  This is a retelling of Beauty & the Beast.  Which, I think, is definitely my favorite fairytale.  So, I knew I would love this one.

Unlike the other novels of Melanie Dickerson, which take place in Germany, this one is set in Gylnval, England, where the people have suffered disease and hardship.  Three years before, Annabel lost her father, a wealthy merchantman, to the pestilence and finds no comfort in her own home with her mother and two older brothers.  The town council calls forth the court to decide the verdict for her family's fate, as they have shirked their duties as part of the township, ignoring the fieldwork and struggling to live like the wealthy people they used to be.

Annabel alone seems to realizes the magnitude of the court's decision, while her mother and brothers choose to be ignorant and dwelling in their self-pity.  Upon learning the verdict, she makes her own decision and enters into service as an indentured servant to the new lord of the land.  She strives to give every job her best, ignoring the criticism and severity of her fellow workers.

Annabel has a sweet and gentle spirit, and a starving thirst for God's Word.  God eventually quenches this thirst by sending Lord Ranulf, and in his allowing her to read from his Bible in an evening session every night.  The first time her lord places the heavy Book in her lap, she weeps, for her lifelong dream has been fulfilled.

[To me, Annabel's desire to read from God's Book was such a refreshing breath of air.  It made me realize how much I take for granted.  Here I am, living free, with several copies of my Lord's Bible and I only read it because I should.  Not because I want to?  Annabel's attitude really put it into perspective.  And in her joy, I found joy.]

The town bailiff is a horrid man.  Many times does he attempt to assault Annabel (each time she gets away), whispering to her the lewd things he would do to her (we never hear just what).

Annabel's mother and brothers care nothing for her, going so far as to betroth her to the bailiff in hopes of securing their own futures free of hard labor.

The village priest rejects Annabel's request to borrow his Bible, basically saying it is not for a woman to read and sending her away with instructions to "confess her sin."  [SPOILER] It turns out that he does not even own a copy of the Holy Book!  He merely repeats his sermons over and over.  In her own reading sessions with Lord Ranulf, Annabel comes to see the flaws in the man's teachings.

A servant girl openly flirts with Lord Ranulf, faking a couple "accidents" so she could throw her arms around him (i.e. hurting her ankle, falling out of a chair, etc.).

{Spiritual Content}
It is required of the lord's staff to attend the church services every Sunday.  Annabel prays to God and is overjoyed at the opportunity to read from His Bible.  Passages from Scripture is quoted and stories related.

Annabel learns she must love her enemy and finds difficulty in that.  Lord Ranulf knows his Scripture and tells her it serves to calm him.  But it's only after she reads his Bible each evening and he sees her reaction, that he realizes he has drifted from his faith.

A woman is nearly assaulted by a horrid man, who roughly grabs her and attempts to kiss her.  She wrestles free only to be nearly run over by a horse.  (She is unharmed, save for a few bruises and a cut on her wrist from the man.)

A barn is set on fire, destroying a Winter's worth of grain.  The livestock are saved, and only Lord Ranulf walks away with a minor injury--burns to the arm.

Lord Ranulf, himself, is rather disfigured from a previous wolf attack in his youth.  He wears an eye-patch, has a wealth of scars, and a beastly attitude.  And it doesn't help when, in remembering his past mistakes with a woman he loved, he leaves his own in the middle of the night and collapses on the ground with an anguished howl.  This only adds to the rumors of his beastly behaviour.  But he has a reason--he's not a werewolf, I assure you.

A series of paintings is rather graphic in depiction. . .

A man attacks a woman as she is returning from the privy.  She frees herself and draws a knife, but the man takes it from her.  Her friend arrives in the nick of time and defends her, throwing a rock which hits the man on the head.  Believing they had killed him ([SPOILER] He doesn't die), they flee, and she promises to keep the truth a secret as long as possible, in order to protect her friend.

The villagers, roused together in anger by a particular man, rally to kill Lord Ranulf.  The lord's men and workers gather in defense, though they are outnumbered, but someone comes to the rescue and defuses the scene by negotiating.

A man is shot in the leg by an arrow, merely a graze.

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
Ale is used as a staple drink in the village.  The bailiff is a drunk and is seen many times as so.  A woman uses herbs and honey to treat a burn.

{Love-y Content}
There is an attraction between Lord Ranulf and Annabelle.  (Of course!)  He holds her a couple times in an embrace, but they pull away because of propriety.  He wants to kiss her, but refrains from doing so.  (They eventually do in the end, of course.  No spoiler there. :] )  He comes to love her, and her him, but they both think the other doesn't.  O_o  Anyway, she sees through the scars and anger of the beast and finds the hero and gentleman inside.  He realizes that not all women are the same, and compared to his first wife, who only married him for his fortune and status (she died earlier, leaving him a bitter man), Annabel is the right one.

LOVED this tale.  Annabel's character is such a beautiful example of a quiet and gentle spirit.  She has her flaws, and must ask forgiveness for ungodly thoughts and hate toward a certain man.  But all in all, she strives to live as God ordained, ignoring the hurtful remarks of her fellow servants and trying to see the good in terrible situations.

So, to conclude: I thoroughly enjoyed this little novel and would definitely recommend to all my friends and lovers of fairytales.  :]

Recommended ages:  15+

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What's in a Name?

C'est Français, mes amis.

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  French
Pronunciation:  Do-NAH-tee-en

Meaning & History
French form of Donato, which comes from the Late Latin name Donatus, meaning "given."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Welsh, English (British), French
Pronunciation:  GWEN-de-lien (English), GWEN-de-leen (English)

Meaning & History
Variant of the Welsh given name Gwendolen, which means "white ring."  It is derived from the Welsh elements gwen "white, fair, blessed," and dolen "ring."

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  French
Pronunciation:  lee-o-NEL

Meaning & History
Diminutive of Leon, which is derived from the Greek leon, meaning "lion."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  French
Pronunciation:  say-ra-FEEN

Meaning & History
French form of Seraphina, the feminine form of Seraphinus, which is derived from the biblical word seraphim (Hebrew in origin), meaning "fiery ones."


Requests? :] Who/What should I do next?

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Names and meanings via
Photos via Pinterest.