Archive for Books

Awesome Pre-Order Bonuses When You Buy ‘Living Well, Spending Less’

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for participation on her launch team.


So I’ve been (ever so slowly) working through Elite Blog Academy and had the opportunity to participate in the launch of Ruth’s new book.  I had been reading her blog for a while…before her post about taking her kids toys away went viral.   Anyway, I liked her blog and volunteered to be a part of her launch team.


If you aren’t familiar with the blog, Living Well, Spending Less, Ruth started it to keep herself accountable when her spending started to cause marriage problems.   In the beginning, it was a savings blog dedicated to buying awesome things at rockin’ prices.   But then she realized that living well had very little to do with the stuff she was buying (albiet for less than ever before).

Her book Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life, is more than just another financial book.  It’s part memoir, part examination of what the “good life” really IS, and some quick and easy ways to spend less.   It’s an awesome book and I plan to re-read it again before it’s available again in a few weeks.


If you are starting to think about changing your life, financially or otherwise this coming year, I really think you should get a copy of Living Well, Spending Less.  And if you pre-order one, two or 5 copies, there are some awesome bonuses you can get — a 156-page home planner, art work & necklace (if you buy 5 — book group, anyone?)



Living Well, Spending Less is really going to help get 2015 off to a great start.  And affordable too–the Kindle is only $5.99 and you will still get the pre-order bonuses.  How cool is that?

Are you planning ahead for next year?  What resources are you using?

Jen S.

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Favorite Christmas Books – Kids Choice (2014)

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for your support!


christmas picture books kids choice

Each year, I try to get new Christmas books for the kids because, well, books are my thing :). I love everything about them. I don’t even mind the cost of them! The last few years, I have shared new (to us) favorites. This year, I want to share my kids favorites.

The Little Man – 18 mos


We have had this board book version of Frosty the Snowman for awhile & no one really liked it much. Until this guy. The pictures are cute and he loves to hear us sing it. If you are a purest, you might not like it because the verses & refrains are not all exactly in the same order. I don’t mind and neither does The Little Man.


Itty Bitty – 4 years


Itty Bitty’s favorite book is a new one this year, Elsa’s Gift. This is a large format padded pseudo-board book about Anna & Elsa (from Frozen) getting ready for Christmas. Elsa keeps trying to make & do all these things to show Anna how much she loves her when all Anna wants to do is spend time with Elsa. Cute, but not one of MY favorites :).


Lil’ Bit – 6.9 years


My not quite 7 year old likes another new acquisition — The Legend of St. Nicholas. This is another beautiful hardcover from ZonderKids. This is very similar to The Legend of the Candy Cane that I reviewed last month. This is the story of a young boy who goes shopping for presents on Christmas Eve. He pokes his head in the child care room (I want to shop there!) and hears Santa telling the children about St. Nicholas. It’s not quite the version I know.

Instead of it being the Turkish bishop (or even the VeggieTales version), its a wealthy & privileged young man whose parent dies. In talking to his “friends” he realizes he can help them with his wealth and then goes around giving to others. Parts of it are the same and parts are…off. I’m not a huge fan, but obviously Lil’ Bit is a fan because she picked The Legend of St. Nicholas above half a dozen other beloved favorites.


Interested in more?  Check out these other posts about Christmas picture books at Happy Little Homemaker:


What are your favorite Christmas books?

Jen S.

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St. Juan Diego Picture Books – December 9

 Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links; Thanks for your support!

saint picture book club december st juan diego

I’m so excited to share our first Saint in the Virtual Saint Picture Book Club – St. Juan Diego. St. Juan Diego’s feast day is December 9. If you are unfamiliar with him, St. Juan Diego is the saint to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe revealed herself.



St. Juan Diego Picture Books

I suggested two picture books for this month’s saint. The first was Talking Eagle & the Lady of Roses by Amy Cordova and Eugene Gollogly. This is a beautiful hardcover picture book that will be in your family for years. Not only are the illustration colors rich and vibrant, but the paper is thick and the pages are actually sewn together. That is rare indeed.


Aside from the fact that Talking Eagle & the Lady of Roses is physically a quality book, it is equally quality as far as story and picture are concerned. Unlike many stories, this one actually tells a bit about St. Juan Diego’s life and culture so that there is a little context around the story. It tells of his people and his childhood and even his wife. The pictures depict Juan & Our Lady as I imagine his people would recognize them (not white, but Mexican). The illustrations are beautiful and the story is accurate as far as I can tell. The story was woven together beautifully, told as a story, not as a textbook. The only thing I wish it had was a pronunciation guide for the difficult words. TOTALLY worth the extra money for Talking Eagle & the Lady of Roses!


The other book is a simple little paperback. This has all the pertinent details such as time period, place, feast day, and map in addition to a simply told story. Juan Diego: Mary’s Humble Messenger tells the story of how Mary appeared to Juan Diego. The pictures are detailed and the text is in a rose framed text box.


The end also shares a little bit about the church that stands there today, a prayer, and a glossary. This book is intended for a younger reader and the words and sentences are very simple. If your children are a little old for it, perhaps they could read it to their siblings who cannot. A cute book and a very affordable way to add books about saints to your library. They have several series of Saints and Me! books and have a workbook to go with each set.

St. Juan Diego Activities

While I started this book club for those who want to live the liturgical year but never have time, I did want to include a few extras pin case you have a little extra time this week. Many of these would work as activities for Our Lady of Guadalupe, too. That is celebrated on December 12.

Easy Food for the Feast of St. Juan Diego

If you are interesting in doing a little extra, have a small Mexican feast. Tacos, burritos, or enchiladas would easy to do. You have to eat dinner anyway, right?

Didn’t plan ahead? How about some cookies & hot chocolate. Add some cinnamon, nutmeg and the tiniest bit of cayenne pepper, for Mexican hot chocolate.

If you have extra time & energy, you could make Mexican Wedding Cookies. I love those!

Make a God’s Eye (or Ojo de Dios)

You remember making God’s Eyes as a child, right? Now is the time to pass the torch! Popsicle sticks & yarn scraps. This video is really the best way to refresh your memory.

Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe Printables

Real Life at Home just released a set of printables for Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe (feast day December 12) that were hand-drawn and colored by her husband!

If you have the Glory Stories Vol. 1 (includes the story of St. Juan Diego) from Holy Heroes, they have a free set of coloring pages about Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe available on their website.



While you are a little late to get the SaintMail package for this saint, if you would like to celebrate the liturgical year and not have to do any prep, you might want to give SaintMail a try. We got to review SaintMail last year and have been subscribing ever since!

You can see our package for St. Juan Diego above (we pay for the extra sibling supplement). Every month, you will get items relating to the Saint, a letter from the saint (with a wax seal! Love that touch :D), a craft or other activity, discussion points and ideas to take it further if you have time. Oh and a magnet, too. These are all on our fridge & the letters, activities and discussion points are filed to use again in the future as we have time. It’s totally worth the money. If I could afford it, I would buy them for my Godchildren, too! If you DO have a budget for an awesome Godchild gift, consider ordering a subscription to SaintMail for Christmas!

Molly & I have been working closely to coordinate our packages whenever we can, though we can’t always. It’s hard to find good picture books!


Do you have any favorite books, activities or other quick and easy ways to learn about St. Juan Diego for busy families?  Please share them in the comments.  Links welcome!   Did you read one of our selected books for this month?  I’d love to hear what you thought of them!

Jen S.


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Is Christmas Stressing You Out Already?

While I don’t air much of my “dirty laundry” very much on this blog, I’m finding that this particular Christmas season is shaping up to be almost as basic as the one in which I was still in the midst of morning sickness.  I found out yesterday that my hormone levels are pretty crazy low and I’ve got the start of some adrenal fatigue.   While I wait for things to start kicking in, I am scaling back in a big way.

Maybe you don’t need to scale back due to health reasons.  Maybe you are just feeling overwhelmed by life in general and adding the Christmas season to it is pushing you over the edge.  Or your budget is busted and pressure is on.   Or family is pulling you in too many directions.

Help is here.


Ruth is having a 12 Days to a Stress Free Holiday Challenge.  Every day you will get a new video about calming down your holiday season AND you get a beautiful little planner to help you keep it short and sweet.   It’s designed to get you thinking about prioritizing the most important things for the Christmas season.

Sound good?   Join the 12 Days to a Stress Free Holiday Challenge.

Are you in?

Jen S.

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The Spirit of Christmas: A Giving Tradition {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This post contains affiliate links; thanks for your support!

A few weeks ago I was surprised by a beautiful Christmas picture book and book gift set by Tiny Tales. The Spirit of Christmas: A Giving Tradition is a beautifully illustrated story about a little boy who is eagerly anticipating Christmas. His mom explains that not everyone’s parents can buy Christmas gifts and his brilliant idea to help is to write a letter to Santa. He finds a letter under the tree telling him to collect things in a bag for his elves to pick up.

He grabs clothes that are too small, toys he doesn’t play with AND his favorite train. Santa’s elves pick up the toys, clean them and pass them out. In exchange for the boy’s bag of things to share, Santa leaves him a bell. The gift set includes a bag, a bell and a hardcover copy of the book in a magnetic box ready for gift giving.

My family is obviously not the audience of The Spirit of Christmas. Nowhere is God even mentioned and it further asserts that Giving is the reason for Christmas. If you know of children who have a bit of a selfishness issue, but whose parents aren’t religious, this would probably be a good book. If you are looking for a Godly Christmas book, you are probably going to be disappointed despite the beautiful illustrations and presentation.

Do you know of any other non-Christ centered Christmas books that teach a good lesson?

Jen S.

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