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  • Friday Favorite – Sienna Commercials

    When my sister told me she and her husband were thinking about getting a minivan, I had a good chuckle. My trendy sister and fire-fighter/weight-lifter brother-in-law driving around in a minivan. It doesn’t exactly fit in my mind … but well … with another baby on the way necessitating a third car seat, Hannah says there just isn’t enough room in their little SUV for all the kids. Hence the minivan.

    I suggested one with wood paneling. Hannah said probably not. Apparently that’s not “cool” enough for them.

    In light of Hannah and John’s new purchase, I thought I’d share my absolute favorite new commercials: the family with the Toyota Sienna.

    I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

    I hope Hannah and John’s new ride matches their awesomeness!

    Friday Favorite – Men from my favorite movies!

    I saw this on my friend Kaye’s blog, and it made me smile–no mean feat since I’ve picked up whatever has been making Amy cough up a lung all week. Thanks for the grin, Kaye. Hope everyone else enjoys this little montage of some of my favorite guys from Jane Austen and other period dramas. I think Bingley’s delightfully high hair made me smile the hardest. Of course, the inclusion of Mr. Rupert Penry-Jones from Persuasion automatically puts this on my favorites list.

    Friday Favorite – A Vanlentine’s Wish

    a-valentines-wishI told you last week that I was reading A Valentine’s Wish by my good friend Betsy St. Amant. I confess that I kept getting interrupted while reading the first 11 chapters. I was frustrated that I didn’t have time to get lost in it. But then I came across this wonderful scene where our hero Andy and heroine Lori have a movie night and almost kiss. The romantic tension is palpable, and it’s so sweet!  From that time on, I practically locked myself in my room until I finished the book. I wasn’t going to delay my enjoyment any more.

    What a perfect read for Valentine’s Day. While I really liked Betsy’s first book from Love Inspired, Return to Love, I think A Valentine’s Wish is even better! It’s a classic love story of best friends with mixed signals. Their friendship is the most important thing to them, and the fear of injuring that friendship throws a wrench in Andy’s plans for love.

    In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m happy to share with you a short interview with Betsy St. Amant:

    What’s your favorite Valentine’s Day candy?
    I LOVE the SweetTart brand hearts with the messages written on them They just taste so much better than the old fashioned chalky ones! lol Now I want some, just talking about them!

    What’s the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever received?
    Hard question! I’ve gotten some nice things over the years. Roses, jewelry, candy, etc. Probably the sweetest was the year he sent me roses at work. I’d always wanted flowers delivered at work and never had that honor until then! It was a fun moment. I have to say though, I’ve been married five years though and I think the best holidays we’ve celebrated together have been the years we didn’t have much money and tried to get homemade and creative instead of blowing a bunch of cash on material items. (but of course, I have to admit, the material items are fun too!! lol) One thing is tried and true though, my husband will always get me a Snoopy Valentine card. betsy-st-amant1Snoopy is my favorite, and I can depend on that! =)

    Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day when you were single?
    I did, actually! As a child, teenager and young woman living at home, my parents always gave me some of my favorite candy and a fun surprise, like new socks or a bracelet or something nice to let me know they loved me. It was very thoughtful and sweeet and I plan on passing that tradition on to my baby girl! I already have her a sack full of goodies waiting for the big V-day!

    Why is your husband such a great valentine?
    I think my husband is a great valentine because he’s not your stereotypical romantic kind of guy…he’s an outdoorsman, a daredevil, a hunter and fisherman, a fireman, a real manly-man who’d rather go mud-riding on a four wheeler or chop down a tree than “talk about his feelings” or any of that stuff he finds mushy. ::grin:: But despite that, he’ll still make time to watch the occasional chick flick with me, buy my favorite candy at the store just because, or surprise me by involving our daugther in a homemade card. His romantic moments are that much bettter because they’re not every day, and I know they are truly from the heart! =)

    Don’t miss out on this great book! It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the woman in your life who loves to read. Available at Walmart, CBD.com, Amazon.com, and other fine retailers. Don’t miss out!

    Friday Favorite – Bones

    I gave my sister and her husband the first season of Bones on dvd for Christmas a couple years ago. I’d never seen a single episode, but a friend of Amy’s highly recommended it. And I found it on sale on Amazon. They watched and enjoyed it, so I asked if I could borrow it a couple months back. I hung onto it for months without watching it, but as Christmas drew closer, I knew I should return it, so I started watching it.david-and-emily-bones

    Bones is an hour-long drama about FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) and Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel). Brennan, who Booth calls Bones, is a forensic anthropologist–the best in her field in the country–for the Jeffersonian. Brennan and Booth team up to solve homicides for the FBI.

    Sound like your typical procedural? Kind of.

    But what sets Bones apart from its peers is the relationship between Booth and Bones. Bones is a certified genius, who’s people skills are … well … lacking. She’s blunt and often harsh and sometimes downright rude. And that’s where Booth excels. Smoothing things over, getting suspects to open up to him. Bones is all about pure logic. Booth often relies on intuition and his gut. Together they play off each other, making the show all kinds of fun.

    Also unlike many other procedurals, Bones explores the character’s back stories. Bones’s parent disappeared when she was 15 and Booth was a former Army sniper in the Middle East. This adds depth to their characters, making them way more interesting than the characters on CSI, which I watched faithfully for the first 5 seasons.


    I also love the supporting cast. T.J. Thyne as the conspiracy theorist Dr. Jack Hodgins and Michaela Conlin as Angela Montenagro, the team’s artist, are hilarious and oh-so-fun. Hodgins is especially fantastic with his curly hair and who’d believe it theories. Zach Addy, the overly brilliant intern/doctoral student, is so socially awkward that at first it feels painful, and then becomes totally endearing. I love it when he and Booth have an understanding in the first season where Booth doesn’t speak to him. Ever. And when he finally does it feels so strained, that they go back to the old habit.

    The characters and their relationships are developed and entertaining. And the mysteries aren’t completely obvious. But they’re definitely gruesome. I don’t recommend this show for anyone with a weak stomach, but if seeing burn victims and decomposed bodies doesn’t bother you, then this show is fantastic.

    I confess that the first half of the first season was a bit of a struggle for me to get through. Bones was so socially abrasive that I wasn’t sure I could stick it out. But because David Boreanaz (see picture) is … well David Boreanaz, I stuck it out. And I’m really glad that I did! I’ve just started the fourth season on dvd, and it continues to surprise me with its heart and humor.

    If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend! Catch new episodes Thursdays on Fox and reruns on TNT.

    Friday Favorite – Casting Crowns – Until the Whole World Hears

    It’s been a while since I posted a Friday Favorite about music, but lately I just can’t get enough of the new Casting Crowns album called Until the Whole World Hears. The title track is addicting, but really all of the songs are amazing.

    Maybe my favorite song on the album is an old hymn written by Avis M. Christiansen in 1920–Blessed Redeemer. Check it out here.

    Funny story about this album. Everyone in my family knows my sister loves Casting Crowns. For her birthday last year, I sent her and her husband to their concert in Phoenix. So I thought I’d be all thoughtful and get her this album for Christmas. Turns out her husband figured he’d do the same thing. My mom did too. So Hannah ended up with three copies of the cd on Christmas morning. Oh, well! There are certainly worse things to get. 🙂

    Anyway, as previously mentioned, I recommend the entire album, which is on sale on itunes right now for $7.99. Be encouraged. Be uplifted. Be brought to your knees before the grace of God.

    Friday Favorite – LetsSayThanks.com

    A friend of mine shot me an e-mail about LetsSayThanks.com recently. It’s a site hosted by Xerox, and it’s purpose is to allow regular folks, like you and me, to say thanks to the many amazing men and women currently serving overseas.

    The site lets visitors pick a card design (drawn by kids from across the country), write a message (or chose one that’s already been written), and sign their name. Then Xerox prints off these cards and notes and sends them to our military personnel abroad.

    What a really, really cool idea! My hat is off to the folks at Xerox for providing this free way for all of us to offer our gratitude to men and women who sacrifice so much. The site also has a section from the troops, with notes from men and women in the armed forces, sharing why they do what they do.

    If you haven’t thanked someone who serves our country recently, take a moment and visit LetsSayThanks.com. Remember that we have freedoms in this country because of the men and women who have laid down their lives for people they don’t even know.

    “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

    This Thanksgiving, I’m really, really thankful for the men and women who put their lives at risk for all of us. Thank you!


    Friday Favorite – Jeopardy

    jeopardyA couple weeks ago, I happened to glance at the clock over the stove after work. It read 6:28, so I hurried into the living room and grabbed the remote. Amy shot me a strange look, and I shrugged. “I can watch Jeopardy today!” I might have also included some small happy dance in conjuction with the realization that I was going to get to watch one of my favorite shows.

    To my enthusiasm, Amy responded, “Don’t forget your walker.”

    Can you believe that? I may be a little younger than the average Jeopardy fan, but I still love it. I enjoy the trivia and testing my own knowledge of random facts. I enjoy surprising myself when I do know the question to a hard answer. Not to mention Alex Trabec is a bit of a hoot. And this week finishes up the annual Teen Tournament. My odds of me getting the right response improve dramatically during the teen and kids tournaments, which is … you know … always a good thing. 🙂

    So next time you’re hanging around your house in the evening, pull up your walker and stretch your brain with a little answer and question time.

    Friday Favorite – Christmas Shopping

    I love, love, love shopping for Christmas gifts. What is it about finding the perfect gift to fit a friend’s personality? Or finishing a hand-made gift for my mom? Or tying the last ribbon around a toy for my niece?

    I love shopping for these gifts and putting the time into making themchristmas-gifts because I can imagine the faces of my loved ones as they open them up. Last year, when I traveled back to Arizona, my sister told me that she and her husband really needed new pots and pans, but they just didn’t have the money to buy them. It was so fun for me to wrap that huge box of Rachel Ray cookware. Even more funny was the terrible wrapping job I did on the 12-inch pan not in the box. It was such an awful wrapping job, I was sure that they’d figure it out. But the shock and joy on their faces was everything I’d hoped for.

    And last year I was just strolling through Barnes and Noble when I discovered a book about Michael Phelps. Let’s just say that when Amy tore the paper off, I think I saw a tear in her eye. 🙂

    That’s one of the coolest parts of Christmas.

    But all of those wonderful Christmas moments don’t come without a bit of planning. Or a lot of planning. Usually my planning begins in August. So you can imagine my worry when I confess that I haven’t even started my shopping this year! I am so behind.

    This year is going to include a rapid-fire shopping spree. And most definitely a visit to Amazon.com for the day after Thanksgiving sale. Huge savings! 🙂

    Of course, if you have a good suggestion for a great gift, I’m always open to suggestions!

    Looking forward to finding deals and making smiles until next time. -LJ

    Friday Favorite – Jenness Walker and GIVEAWAY

    Hey guys! I’m so excited to introduce you to another author friend of mine, Jenness Walker. I had the pleasure of meeting Jenness at the ACFW conference in September, and she’s fantastic. Oh, and she’s an amazing writer, too. So I couldn’t wait to tell you about her new book Double Take, just out.

    First tell us a little bit about your new book Double Take.
    Double Take begins with Cole, the hero, reading a best-selling thriller where the villain plays a double-take1deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the heroine. When the first scene from the book is replicated in real life in front of Cole and a woman is kidnapped, Cole believes he holds the clue to her survival in his hands. But will anyone listen to him? Or will he be too late to save her? The story is set mostly in Atlanta and includes some of the scenes from the thriller.

    Where were you/what were you doing when you got the call that Steeple Hill wanted a contract on this book?
    Um…I was in the shower, actually. 🙂 I got a message to call my agent back ASAP, and I had a pretty good idea what it was about. But since I didn’t know how I would react if it was really THE CALL, I figured I should get completely ready for the day before I talked to her. Just to play it safe. 🙂

    What’s your worst habit when it comes to writing?
    Becoming distracted so easily. Email, house projects, new story ideas, spider solitaire (which has been banished from my computer before and is about to be once again!), etc. One of these days I’ll figure out how to stop procrastinating. 🙂

    Now let’s have a little fun. It’s Girls Night Out, and you’re next in line at karaoke. What’re you going to sing?
    First of all, this is fantasy, right here, because I am so not a solo kind of girl. 🙂 But…for some reason Unbreak My Heart is the first song that popped into my head–a favorite from my melodramatic high school days. 🙂

    If you could “borrow” one character from a movie, TV show, or another book for your current WIP, who would it be? Why?
    jenness-walker1I’d say Adrian Monk, but I don’t think I’d have the patience to put up with him as one of my characters. lol. So I’m thinking Morgan from Kristen Heitzmann’s A Rush of Wings. He’s a secondary character in this book, not yet attached, with a past that’s left him wounded and somewhat mysterious. I love writing/reading about heroes like that.

    If you had a Saturday all to your self-no deadlines, no commitments-what’s the first thing you’d do?
    Right now I could use some extra sleep and a relaxing day. So I’d say change into fresh pajamas and read a book while I eat an Entenmann’s devil’s food doughnut for breakfast.

    Any parting words?
    Read Liz’s book! It’s a lot of fun. 🙂

    I swear, I didn’t pay her to say that!

     Want to learn more about Jenness? Visit her online at www.jennesswalker.com.

    And … because Jenness is AWESOME … I have a signed copy of Double Take to give away. Just for you! Or you! Or any of you. So if you want to win, leave a comment with the last thing you saw that made you do a double take. I’ll pick one winner at random next Friday, so leave a comment and get a chance to win. And if you don’t win, be sure to pick up a copy at Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, or any other book store.

    Friday Favorite – Christmas books

    When it’s as cold and wintery as it is now, there’s nothing I like more than snuggling up under the covers in my bed and reading a great Christmas romance. I love YAs, historicals, and contemporaries. I just love a sweet holiday story.

    There’s something so romantic about snuggling in front of a fire, the mood set by snow falling, and spending time with ones you love. It just seems like the perfect time of year to fall in love. And I’ve always thought it would be fun to write a Christmas story. Maybe I’ll get my chance.

    Here are some books I’m especially excited about reading this winter. What am I missing? What is your favorite Christmas book?