SRP Review Holiday Edition (Part I): A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas, How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas, and The Christmas Bake Off

During the holiday season, the reviews I post on The Self-Rescue Princess will have a different focus as my reading habits change. From Thanksgiving until the New Year, I only read novels set during the holiday season or have a seasonal theme. The Holiday Edition reviews will focus on the holiday spirit in the stories, and I plan to review more than one book in each post. I decided to go with more than one because I find I read more at this time and I want to share as many holiday short stories, novellas and books that I can during this time frame.

a nutty nutcracker christmasFirst, I’m going to start with a children’s book that I read this holiday season: A Nutty Nutcracker Christmas. I’m going to add one new to me children’s book to my reviewing schedule every holiday season. I really liked the take on the Nutcracker story which incorporates video games. I read the book on my Kindle and would love to see the print version of the book. I loved the pictures on the Kindle Fire and know they have to look so much better on the printed page. (I was sick at the start of this holiday season so I checked out books through Overdrive.) It was an engaging story that can be completely read at one bedtime. It wasn’t scary and had the perfect mix of humor and message.

The next book is How the In-Laws Wrecked Christmas by Fiona Gibson. I’d classify this story as having taken place during Christmas Eve/Christmas rather than one which showcases the holiday spirit. The story is about Anna meeting her boyfriend’s parents for the first time. how the inlaws wrecked christmasWhile the events happen on Christmas Eve, the focus of the story is on Anna and Ben’s relationship and realizations that are made during the time rather than on the holiday. It’s a quick read and I think it does portray though how sometimes it’s during the holidays when we truly come to know and understand a person and our role in their life.

the christmas bake offThe last book for this post about my holiday reads is The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements. The story is set in Skipley village during the annual Christmas Bake Off. The reader gets to meet a few of the residents and might, like me, come to root for all of them to win the bake-off. There was a reason that I wanted each of the contestants I met to walk away with the win. Unfortunately, there is some ‘grinchy’ competitive spirit and some sabotage occurs. The truth is found out and not all is what it seems. This was a cute story filled with holiday shenanigans along with holiday spirit and some romance. I enjoyed this short story and it was what I needed (great mix of humor, town coming together, and romance) when I was feeling under the weather. Helped put some holiday spirit into me. Also, this story does include some recipes at the end.

Stay tuned to the Self-Rescue Princess for more holiday book reviews. One of the books to be featured next week is Mrs. Miracle. And, if you have any suggestions for holiday books please feel free to list them in the comments. I’m always on the look out for the perfect holiday/Christmas story.

SRP Heroine Interview: Lady Elizabet Armstrong from An Oath Taken

An Oath Taken Cover (1)1.Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life? 

I tend to be strong-willed, and I live in Wolfhaven Castle on the Scottish border.  Months ago, King Edward seized Falconshire Castle, a Scottish castle, as his own.  Then he installed the vile Sir Renaud as its castellan. The man is ruthless, but at least he’s dead.  Except, Sir Nicholas Beringar, the new English castellan has arrived, and sadly, my father, brother and many of my people captured during a previous attack are held within Falconshire’s dungeon.  Though my father has always doubted my abilities throughout life, and my steward forbids me to go near Falconshire Castle, I will do what needs to be done to free my family and people.

2. What lead you to make the changes you did in your life?

I was attempting to raise coin to bribe the castle guards of Falconshire Castle, which was failing miserably, when I mistakenly held up Sir Nicholas Beringar, the new castellan of Falconshire Castle.  Believing me a boy, he offered me the job as his squire.  Though the man is as handsome as formidable, I agreed as I believe once inside, I can figure out a way to free my family and people.  Once they’re safe, I will slip away and Sir Nicholas Beringar will be none the wiser.

3. In your life, what has empowered you?

What has empowered me in life is my close relation with my brother, Giric.  His love and belief in me when my father couldn’t spare me a kind word growing up has been my lifeline.  I would do anything to save to Giric.

4. What are strengths and weaknesses?

My strengths are my quick and creative decisions, that I’m fearless, and that I love deeply.  I’m not fond of admitting my weaknesses, but I tend to be stubborn, I don’t follow advice to well, and I allow my emotions to guide me vs. thinking things over.

5. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

The years of striving and never gaining my father’s approval hurt almost as much as those without his love.  This is my chance to prove myself worthy of his love, and to save my people.

6. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

I would tell women to believe in themselves nd go after your dreams.

7. Favorite quote.

I love quotes!  I’ll share my favorite three!

“If you did not care at all what anyone else thought about you, what would you do differently or change in your life?” — Brian Tracy

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” — Bruce Lee

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

8. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

~The soundtrack for King Arthur – Hans Zimmer.

9. Will you be continuing your journey in written form?

Sadly, I won’t appear in any of the other books in The Oath Trilogy, but I will be thought and mentioned in my brother’s book – #2 An Oath Broken, and my close friend’s book – #3 An Oath Sworn.

10. Is there anyone in your life (a friend or family member) who will be sharing their life?

I’m thrilled that my brother, Giric Armstrong, Earl of Terrick, will have the next story in The Oath Trilogy, “An Oath Broken,” and a very close friend, Colyne MacKerran, Earl of Strathcliff, will have the final book, “An Oath Sworn.”

About the author Diana Cosby:

A retired Navy Chief, AGC(AW), Diana Cosby is an international bestselling author of Scottish medieval romantic suspense.  Her award-winning MacGruder Brother books are available in five languages.  Diana has spoken at the Library of Congress, Lady Jane’s Salon in NYC, and appeared in Woman’s Day, on USA Today’s romance blog, “Happy Ever After,” MSN.com, Stars & Stripes, Atlantic County Women Magazine, and Texoma Living Magazine.

After her career in the Navy, Diana dove into her passion – writing romance novels. With 34 moves behind her, she was anxious to create characters who reflected the amazing cultures and people she’s met throughout the world.   With the release of her 6th book in the bestselling MacGruder Brothers series, she’s now working on the 1st book in her new Scottish medieval The Oath trilogy, “An Oath Taken,” which will be released December 8th, 2014.  In addition, she’s excited about the upcoming release of the MacGruder Brother series box set early in 2015.

Diana looks forward to the years of writing ahead and meeting the amazing people who will share this journey.

www.dianacosby.com

Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Diana-Cosby-Romance-Author/150109024636?ref=ts

Places where you can purchase An Oath Taken:

-Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-oath-taken-diana-cosby/1119908499?ean=9781601833075
-Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Oath-Taken-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00LGZ9JMS/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406395705&sr=1-1&keywords=An+Oath+Taken
-iTunes:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/an-oath-taken/id895504779?mt=11
-KOBO:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/an-oath-taken

 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like

homicidal holidays cover…holiday reading time. I love reading all year-long, but have to admit my favorite type of books are holiday themed books in any genre. From Thanksgiving until January 1, the only types of books I read are those with either a holiday theme or holiday setting (preferably winter holidays). It’s something I start anticipating in the beginning of October.

Considering my love of holiday books, it was a thrill for me to help choose the stories for the Chesapeake Crimes Homicidal Holidays Anthology. I loved reading stories set during many different holidays, especially ones not usually featured in books like Groundhog Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. I must say all of the stories are wonderful and range from cute to a little on the dark side but no matter the mood of the story, they are all well-written and cleverly crafted.

Right now, I have a few books on my TBR pile and I’m already trying to figure out which one I will read first. I’ll probably go with the one that has the closest due date (some are print library books, others ebooks from the library, and other ones are ones that I have bought). But as any avid reader knows, one is always on the lookout for a perfect read. The perfect, and what could be my favorite read of the year, is out there but I might not have heard about it yet so please feel free to add in the comments any suggestions. And there might be others readers also who are on the lookout for some wonderful holiday reading.

Here are some links of holiday books that I have read in the past years. Maybe one of them will become a favorite holiday read for you.

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-i-the-killer-wore-cranberry-the-perfect-christmas-and-christmas-in-bayeux/

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/srp-review-holiday-edition-ii-blue-christmas-bah-humbug-and-the-christmas-singing/

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/srp-reviews-holiday-edition-iii-lakeshore-christmas-decorating-for-christmas-and-christmas-with-hope/

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/srp-review-holiday-edition-iv-harlequin-holiday-collection-the-dos-and-dont-of-holiday-parties-and-hurry-less-worry-less-at-christmas/

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-1-a-christmas-story-let-it-sew-and-never-noelle/

http://theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/srp-review-holiday-edition-part-ii-mistletoe-magic-where-angels-go-heartache-motel/

Incorporating FE Gifts Into Layouts

When we went on a Disney Cruise, we joined the FE group and received many awesome gifts. While some never made it off the ship (candy, snacks for movies, and Glo sticks), and others are being used (like my awesome scissor protector, photo frame, and chalk board), there were other gifts I wanted to save and display, but was afraid they’d get lost or ruined by having them out. I wanted a way to showcase and keep them protected.

For those who are wondering what is an FE (fish extender), it is a fabric bag with pockets…similar to a shoe or jewelry organizer…that is hung from the fish that is outside the door of the cabins on a Disney cruise ship. Christmas Themed FEThe fish is a large hook type decoration that is used to hold messages from the Disney crew members (like reminders for booked appointments). Fish Extenders can be handmade, re-purposed items like tote bags and organizers, or bought from seamstresses (usually can be found on Etsy or small business pages on Facebook). The gifts placed in the pockets range from handmade items, items unique to the state or country the participant is from, to treats to enjoy on the cruise.

The picture frame and the bookmark were also FE gifts. I don't usually use titles on portrait pages, but this bookmark worked as one. And, I was able to save it. Since the bookmark is laminated, I used photo corners to attach it to the page.

The picture frame and the bookmark were also FE gifts. I don’t usually use titles on portrait pages, but this bookmark worked as one. And, I was able to save it. Since the bookmark is laminated, I used photo corners to attach it to the page.

I’ve been working on our Disney Cruise album for a while and am now scrapbooking the professional photos we had taken on the cruise. Most of the pictures are self-explanatory, and also are 5×7 or 8×10 so I didn’t feel these layouts need a title and I use only one picture on a 12×12 scrapbook page. I realized these layouts were perfect for adding in our memorabilia, and that some of our FE gifts were perfect embellishments.

I store all of our memorabilia and FE gifts I wanted to save in a plastic box and bring it out when I’m scrapbooking. When working on a layout of one of my favorite pics…me and Captain Mickey…I knew it was the perfect page to also show off one of my favorite FE gifts, a lovely bracelet.

This  beautiful bracelet was one of our FE gifts. I was afraid it would get lost or broken if I wore it, so I included it as a border on the layout. I used Mickey brads to hold it onto the page.

This beautiful bracelet was one of our FE gifts. I was afraid it would get lost or broken if I wore it, so I included it as a border on the layout. I used Mickey brads to hold it onto the page.

I used the bracelet as a border on the bottom of the page, making sure to drape it to create some movement on the page as all the other elements were straight lines (frame, bookmark, and border around the page).

Me and Mickey

 

 

Here is my completed page of Captain Mickey and me along with some of our FE gifts. I used a simple style for the layout as I wanted to keep the focus on the picture and also the lovely gifts. 

Writing for a Good Cause – Guest Post by Teresa Watson

Today, I’ve opened up the Self-Rescue Princess to my friend and fellow author Teresa Watson who has an important message and cause she’d like to share. I don’t want to take too much time, so I’ll ‘step’ aside for Teresa to talk about her mission.

For Dave & River

I’m a writer.

People ask me why I enjoy writing so much. Well, I’ll explain it this way: I’m a natural born klutz. I can trip over a rock and hurt myself. And usually the way I hurt myself is, in fact, pretty stupid and funny. For example, if I say ‘trunk of my Malibu’, most of the people that know me are going to start laughing. Why? Because I tore the ligaments in my right ankle trying to reach something in the back of the car trunk. No, really, I did! Trust me, the list of injuries is a long one. I’m known as Queen Klutz.

When I tell people how I got hurt, I always do it in a funny way, and people laugh. My son and I are known as “The Traveling Comedy Show” because we make everyone laugh with our stories. So it was only natural that I became a writer.

As a writer, I don’t make a lot of money. Don’t believe the myth that all writers are rich; it’s not true. Most of us don’t make enough to take a vacation to Disneyland. WalMart, maybe, but no Disneyland.

But every once in a while, something happens and you want to use your writing for a good cause. And that’s what I’m doing this month. I have a friend, Dave Harris, who I met on Twitter, and started following him on Facebook. He’s a very funny fellow, which is a big plus in my book, and he’s a musician, also a major plus because I was in the band in junior high and high school. We comment on each other’s posts once in a while, and have a few laughs at each other’s expense.

A few months ago, something happened to Dave and his family that made me care a wee bit more. His 2 ½ year old son, River, was very sick and in the hospital. You all know me, I have a soft spot for kids. So I started paying more attention to what was going on. I remember the night he broke the news that his son had Kawasaki Disease. I could read the heartache and frustration in his words, and I could see the pain on River’s face through the pictures Dave shared. There wasn’t much I could do, being so far away, so I sent little messages of encouragement, and said prayers for the whole family.

Like Dave, I had never heard of Kawasaki Disease, but what I have read totally freaks me out, so just imagine what Dave and his family are going through. Let me share Dave’s words with you. This is from his Go Fund Me page, where he is raising money to produce an album to raise money for the Kawasaki Foundation:

 Hey everybody. I’m Dave Harris. Songwriter, producer, Radio host, and father. My son River was a victim of Kawasaki’s disease. There is no cure. It’s is an immune disease in which the medium-sized blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. It is largely seen in children under 5 years of age. It affects many organ systems, mainly those including the blood vessels, skin, mucous membranes, and lymph nodes. Its rarest but most serious effect is on the heart, where it can cause fatal coronary artery aneurysms in untreated children. Without treatment, mortality may approach 1%, usually within six weeks of onset. With treatment, the mortality rate is 0.17% in the U.S. That being said, we were one of the lucky ones. Many doctors don’t recognize the symptoms that fast. Chances are it’s a disease you’ve never heard of. I hadn’t either until River got it. There is a foundation set up and they are trying to raise money to fund research and to make others aware.

Here’s a link to the Go Fund Me page so that you can read more about Dave’s project.

Dave said that when children are suffering from the disease, there is nothing you can do to comfort them. All the little ones can do is cry, because they are in so much pain and feel miserable. You can’t hold them, because they don’t want to be touched. And that’s murder for a parent, because when their children are crying and hurting, you want to hold and comfort them. You want to do anything to take that pain and suffering from your child.

So, here I am, a small-time writer, trying to figure out what I could do to help Dave and River. And of course, there’s only one way I can help: through my writing. That’s why I’m donating this month’s proceeds from the sale of the Lizzie Crenshaw box set to the Kawasaki Foundation in River’s honor. I’m also donating last month’s sales, which came to $116.20. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.

So how can you help? Share this story with your friends and family. Let’s double last month’s total, and make a big donation for River. The box set is only $.99, folks. You might have to give up a cup of coffee or a couple of glazed donuts for one day. But there is way more at stake. Children like River shouldn’t have to worry about being sick at that age; they should be outside, laughing and having fun.

lizzie crenshaw box set

Please click on the link provided for the Lizzie Crenshaw mysteries and purchase a copy of the box set. Send it as a gift to a friend or a family member. Spread the word! Let’s help find a cure for this disease.

People ask me why I’m doing this. Everyone has special, God-given gifts that they use to help others. Dave is a musician, so he’s using his talent to produce an album to raise money for a cause that is near and dear to his heart. I don’t play my flute or tenor sax anymore, haven’t in over thirty years, so I can’t help him with that (I do sing though, Dave, if you need a backup singer!). My God given gift is writing, and I’m using my one gift to do something good.

Packing for a Crop – Step Three: Packing the Car

 Step Three: Packing the Car

2014-09-25 19.27.02I just completed the last step of going away for a weekend crop retreat: packing the car… also known as the trunk edition of Tetris. It is a game of skills and patience as a cropper tries to fit a small store of scrapbooking supplies into their car. Oh, and clothes. I’ll be adding my Vera Bradley weekender tote into the car tomorrow morning. It goes in the back passenger seat.

The first thing I do is bring all of my boxes, totes, etc and placed them behind the car. I like to get an overview of everything before I start loading up. Like with preparing for a crop, I divided the packing into three sections: books, scrapbooking, and yard sale items. I’m having the book launch for my newest scrapbooking mystery at the retreat, so I have extra items to bring along. I was a little worried about this as the car is usually tight when I’m just bringing scrapbooking goodies. I had no idea how this was all going to work. I decided to put the books in first as I knew none of those boxes could be left behind if worse came to worse and I had to do another purge. Fortunately, the boxes fit together perfectly in the back row of the trunk.

After the books were snug in the trunk, I moved on to the scrapbooking items. My hope was that I could get my paper tote, Cameo, and my Scrap This tote (that’s the name embroidered on the bag) in front of the boxes. The Malibu has two side pockets and I used them for my the box with my photos, lamp, and a hard-case paper storage container. 2014-09-25 19.36.03

I was so happy that it all fit like it went in like I envisioned (doesn’t usually work that way). Next, I put my quilted bag which holds my white storage carousel. I’ve traveled before without putting it in a bag and it didn’t work out to well. One of the little drawer got jostled open and brads were everywhere in the trunk, so now I make sure it’s contained. I had an empty sticker binder and paper pack I was bringing for the yard sale at the retreat and put those on to of the Cameo. Nothing too heavy and it also braced the white container that was on the boxes.

2014-09-25 19.38.56All I had left was the remaining items for the yard sale. I put those boxes on the back passenger floor. I try not to place items on the seat because they can slide off and hit into the back of the driver’s seat. I hate driving and having something continuing to bump into me or fall onto the floor and make a loud sound. The box I left on the seat has old magazines and idea books. I figure if those tumble off, it won’t be too loud and if they get damaged, I’d be okay with it. And I put the wire hanging rack for my storage unit in the back seat. It takes up too much trunk space and I’m concerned it’ll get broken when I close the trunk.

The last remaining item is what I call my traveling buddy and it goes on the passenger seat. 2014-09-25 19.39.47It was a gift from the last crop I attended. It comes in handy when I driving long distances. I hook up my iPod to the car stereo and hate when it slides around so I put it in one of the slots. I also keep my sunglasses case in another and a snack. It keeps everything I might need while driving close at hand and out-of-the-way. 

Soon I’ll be on my way to the Heavenly Scrapbooking Retreats crop. I can’t wait to start cropping!

 

Packing for a Crop – Step Two: Packing Totes

Today, I’m moving on to the second stage of packing for a crop:

Stack of Tote BagsStep Two: Packing the Totes

Of course, the overhead light would decide to take a nap while I was taking pictures. When I gather up all my totes, it always amazes me how many I have (and one isn’t even pictured here). I have a weakness for totes. Every time I’m done buying scrapbook storage items, something new comes out that will work better for an item, is cuter, and pinker and I find myself bringing home another one.

The dark green plastic tote with wheels (which can barely be seen in the pic) was the first scrapbook storage item I bought. I purchased it when I first started scrapbooking in 1997. All (yes all) my supplies fit in that rolling cart. Now, I have an entire room of crafting supplies…or as my family calls it my mini scrapbooking store. I love bringing this unit because it’s on wheels and the top is sturdy enough to place items on. It’s like having an extra small table. I decided to leave it behind as it’s hard for me to get into and out of the trunk of my car.

After I eliminate the storage items I won’t be bringing, the first tote I pack is my paper. It’s the most fragile of my supplies, easy to get torn or bent, and I have a method of packing that works great for me. I have some hard sided paper storage cases and sort my paper into them, placing regular color, neutral, and glitter cardstock in separate ones. Then I have one for pattern paper with has two plastic dividers. I separate the paper into two sections: theme and general designs.

My pink paper tote

My pink paper tote

For theme, anything that relates to cruise or Disney (since that’s the album I’m working on) goes into the theme section. Pattern paper in other designs (geometric, flowers, etc ) goes into the other section. The clear holders with the black zippered top hold my scraps for die cutting and also die cuts.

My filled three-drawer workspace organizer.

My filled three-drawer workspace organizer.

I have a three-drawer workspace organizer that I store my embellishments and letter stickers (Thickers), Washi tape, and other smaller items. Once I get to the retreat, I hang my embellishment packages on my wire spinning rack that fits into a wooden storage base. I use the three-drawer workspace to keep my Thickers, inks, corner rounder and Kiwi Design Templates in…basically anything I use frequently but don’t want left out on my work surface.

I use a Thirty One Pro Duffel bag as the carrier for my Cameo or the Cricut Expression, depending which machine gets to join me on the crop. In the side pocket, I keep the cord, and two other items just as important when bringing an electronic cutter with you: an extension cord and grounding adapters. 2014-09-21 17.23.14 I never know if the portable extension cords the hotels use will have a two or three prong outlet to plug into. If my extension cord has the wrong number of prongs, I can convert it. Another good item to bring (and not pictured) is a roll of duct tape to secure the extension cord to the floor. You don’t want to create a tripping hazard. And don’t forget to bring a cable to connect your Cameo to your laptop. (I emailed that last reminder to myself at midnight)

load it upNow, all that is left is to load up all my scrapbooking totes into the trunk of my Malibu (along with the boxes of books for the launch).

Step one of my packing process can be found here: Packing for a Crop – Step One: Gather and Purge.