Christmas Traditions

Anybody else have Christmas fever? It’s going strong at our house. In fact, my daughter woke me up at 4:52 am on Saturday morning because she wanted to know if it was Christmas yet. While I was carrying her back to bed, I noticed that the light in my son’s room was on. Yep, he was up, too. He was “thinking about how he wanted to decorate the Christmas tree. Let’s just say we had to lay down some very strong “don’t-get-out-of-bed-until-the-sun-comes-up” and “we-promise-we’ll-tell-you-if-it’s-Christmas-so-don’t-ask” rules at our house. Since there’s so much Christmas fun floating around, I thought I’d dedicate the next few weeks on my blog to Christmas traditions. I’ll be sharing mine– but I also want to hear yours. So, tell me your favorite traditions in the comments and I’ll post your ideas, too! As far as decorating goes, I usually decorate the day after Thanksgiving. I know, I know, it’s early, but I get antsy. This year, my kids wanted to help which I have to admit is a stretch for me. I’m slightly particular about things being just-so so I had to let go of some of my predetermined notions and let them have a say. On Friday evening, we decorated both of our trees. I have a big 12-footer in my living room that’s decorated with my grandmother’s antique crystal ornaments. Then, the kids have a smaller 8-footer upstairs in their playroom that’s decorated with whatever ornaments they want to use. Of course, both of my trees ended up with a thick layer of ornaments on the bottom and nothing up top. I had...

Shop It To Me

My friend Rachel wrote this awesome article for our MOPS newsletter and I loved it so much I wanted to share it with you all. Shop It To Me by Rachel Spies I LOVE the Christmas season – the decorations, the smells, the parties, and of course, the shopping in crowded malls lugging lots of bags while balancing my sentimentally bought chai latte from Starbucks while keeping track of at least one of my kids that I had to bring so my husband could stay home and watch the football game, I mean “finish a project.” Errr, I really do like shopping for gifts. The last couple of years, however, I have found more meaning in buying them from vendors who produce a great product and also serve the community in some way as well. Some of these businesses call themselves not-just-for-profit companies, some ask you to “vote with your dollar,” some call it “capitalism with a cause;” I say, call it whatever you want, its just plain smart. I have gotten amazing and unique gifts that say way more than some generic coffee mug or bath salts I grabbed last minute because I couldn’t think of anything else (we’ve all been there, no judgment). This year I am doing the vast majority of my shopping for the grown-ups in my life through these vendors and companies – join me and together we can make a real difference not only in the lives of a lot of kids, but in our stress levels this holiday season as well! Noonday Collections – I am OBSESSED with this company. Not only...

What’s for Breakfast Wednesday: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Syrup

This is one of my FAVORITE recipes for fall and I always try to make it on Thanksgiving morning for breakfast because it’s so yummy and decadent and SO easy to make (cause who needs something HARD when you’re going to be slaving away in the kitchen for the rest of the day?!) Here ya go! (and here’s a link to my recipe on my old site so you can see it all pretty: http://www.parentsconnect.com/dishes/pumpkin-bread-pudding-recipe.jhtml) 1 loaf Challah bread (or soft white bread), cubed 2 cups milk (or half-and-half) 1 can pumpkin 1 cup brown sugar 2 eggs 2 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. nutmeg (I use freshly ground) 1 tsp. cloves Syrup: 2 tsp. vanilla 1 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup milk For the pudding: 1. Spray a 9X13 pan with cooking spray. Spread bread cubes evenly in pan. 2. Whisk milk, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a large bowl. Pour over bread cubes. 3. Let sit 2 hours-overnight. 4. Pop into a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-60 minutes. For the syrup: 1. Head butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan on low until melted. 2. Add milk and vanilla. Stir and pour over pudding...

The Editing Process

How many times is a book edited and changed before it hits the shelves? I can’t tell you how it ALWAYS works, but I thought it might be helpful for some of you to see how the process works (and how long it takes) May 1st, 2010: I sent my manuscript to my publisher. May 12th, 2010: My editor sent back my manuscript with changes. My contract gave me 30 days to return those changes to her. June 5th, 2010: I sent those changes back with some notes. (Just FYI: it took me about 20-30 hours to make the changes she suggested.) June 18th, 2010: My editor sent back a few small changes and tweaks and asked me to have them back to her in two weeks. July 5th, 2010: I sent those changes back to my editor, my manuscript was officially accepted. My editor then sent my manuscript to the copyeditor. August 3rd, 2010: I got my manuscript back from the copyeditor and my editor asked me to read through it again to check for clarity, make sure I agreed with the changes. The copyeditor also had a bunch of questions for me and clarifications for me to make. My manuscript was then sent to a lawyer. September 29th, 2010: I got the manuscript back from the lawyer with some (minor, thankfully) legal changes. We made those over the phone. Then, my editor sent me a hard-printed copy of my manuscript and asked me to give it one final read. October 15th, 2010: I sent the edited manuscript back to my editor (I confess, I was tired of...

First Sight

See what cute little Kate is holding there? It’s my book… my real, paper-and-ink, in-the-flesh book. Okay, so it’s not really my book, it’s my pre-release galley– which means it’s uncorrected and doesn’t have the cool two-color interior that my real book will have–but it’s gorgeous nonetheless. My editor, Rebecca, sent it to me on Friday (along with three other scrumptious novels that I’ve already read and enjoyed, thank you, Rebecca) and when I got the package, I stood there for a few moments just staring at the box. I knew what was inside– and I knew I was about to get my first glance of something that I’ve poured my heart and soul into for months. It was a surreal moment– all those edits, all those word documents, all those critiques, all those long nights at the hotel trying to figure out exactly how to explain labor and delivery to someone who has never been through it were all sitting there in front of me in a white Fed-Ex box. When I eventually tore it open and pulled out my galley, I actually started to cry. Sappy, I know, but it was just so amazing to see how much work and effort (thank you, again, Rebecca, Rachelle and the Guideposts team) had gone into my book. It was amazing how everything came together. And, I confess, it was amazing to see my name on the cover. I’m so grateful for this opportunity– and so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way. This week, my galley is being sent out to media folks around the country....
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