Friday, November 30, 2012

SIBU Beauty Products (Review & Giveaway)

I am new to using the SIBU products but I'm certainly cheering for any product that is more natural and has less "chemicals" or toxins to use on my skin.  You do know that a lot of what touches our skin actually goes into our bodies or interacts with us biologically and internally and not just on the surface.  So we need to watch what goes on as much as what goes into our bodies.

I was wonderfully blessed to receive two products from SIBU  to try out and tell you dear folks just what I thought of them.  

First of all, let's look at the "Repair & Protect sea buckhorn Facial Cream."  This is a mighty product in a little bottle that has a pump to dispense just the right amount to apply to your face.

It feels delightful.  Not heavy.  I sense it working to help the skin of this little lady of-a-certain-age protect and repair her skin.  I know, I know there is just so much that can be done when you have traveled many times over the bridge, but I'm all for working to preserve and boost the quality of what I have.  I think the Repair & Protect Facial Cream is a lovely product and I believe it will produce good results. Lovely ladies need lovely products to help them maintain their lovely appearance.  Don't you just love it when a child reaches up and touches your face in awe and says, "It's so soft!" I know it means a lot to me and it should to you!

The second product we're going to look at is the Cleanse & Detox bar. I have used this several times to lather my face and clean it.  It removes makeup nicely and leaves my skin feeling so silky and soft.  After several days, my skin has the appearance that the pores are smaller and the skin fresher appearing.  Now is this just my imagination? Who knows? But I know I am enjoying using this product and plan to continue to do so.  Thank you Sibu for introducing me to a new facial cleansing bar.  I'm thinking it would be a good all-over-the-body cleaning soap as well!

Now I want to invite you to visit the good folks at Sibu on their website presences and learn for yourself a bit about them. Facebook-   Pinterest-   Blog-
Website -
 ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~
 The good folks at Sibu are graciously providing a giveaway of a bar of Cleanse & Detox soap as a prize for one of my readers who will be randomly selected from entries via the form below.
(Please wait patiently while Rafflecopter loads).
Begins November 30 and ENDS Dec. 13 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: Sibu Beauty graciously provided the two products mention in this review at no cost to me to facilitate my honest review. There was no requirement for a positive review. No monetary compensation was given. Sibu will also provide the giveaway prize shipped directly to the winner of the giveaway.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Ella the Pink Elephant" by Doris Rueger (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN: 978-1469937564
Softcover - $9.00

Kids love stories about elephants and who can resist one about a pink elephant.  But how in the world can there be a pink elephant?

Ella arrives as a new born elephant born in captivity in a zoo.  Her birth makes everyone happy.  She was taken care of by Zeppo, who was once a clown in a circus.  Having a flare for different and exciting, Zeppo outfitted Ella in pink clothes and jewelry.  Now since we are telling a story, Ella has feelings (like you and I) and the feelings of enjoying all the pretties that Zeppo fixed her up with. But she outgrew them.

Next she became a fixture at weddings outfitted still in the lovely pink and taking part in the weddings.  But she outgrew that and the reason was she was simply getting older and was too tired to work.  She didn't feel pretty any more. She had many wrinkles.  She felt unloved and unwanted.

The story is developed by the author to teach that we can be loved simply for who we are and not because we are outfitted with pretty things or because we look pretty or can do fun things.  We can be loved simply as we are.

The illustrations are simple crayon drawings that children can identify with.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Begins  Nov. 29 & ENDS Dec. 10 @12:01 a.m. EST
Open for USA Addresses Only

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
About the author:  Born and raised in Germany, Doris Rueger attended college in the United States and graduated with a master's degree in literature and journalism. After a 30-year career in the scientific community, she now pursues her love of literature by writing and illustrating children's books.Ms. Rueger currently lives in Bellport, NY.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary review copy of this book via Bostick Communication and the author to facilitate my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not required to render a positive review. Giveaway copy is provided by and shipped by the author to the winner.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Noxicare™ Natural Pain Relief cream - Product review & Giveaway

My husband and my daughter both had cancer two years ago.  Prior to that, I was becoming more conscious of ingredients in our foods and in products that we use on our bodies.  We take several prescription medications and use over-the-counter products as well.  So whenever I can intelligently and with good conscience deviate from heavy medications I do so.

Example, I prefer to try topical creams and lotions before I ingest something to alleviate pain.  Use heat or cold.  Use plant based and natural pain reliever products.  Sometimes this is all I need to do.  Sometimes I need to further medicate.  But it is good to know that those times I actually do ingest pain relievers, I take a lower amount to get the job done.

Noxicare™ Natural Pain Relief cream is a new product to me.  I saw it on another blogger's website and thought it interesting.  I began my investigation and now the good folks at Noxicare have provided a 1.5 oz. tube of their Noxicare™ Natural Pain Relief cream for me to try out and see how I like it.  They also sent along a white T-shirt inscribed with the Noxicare logo.  Nice!

Over the Thanksgiving holidays I pushed myself (body, mind, and spirit) a bit extra and that pushed the muscles and joints a bit more than they liked to be pushed.  That means I have some extra aches.  So I decided this is a really good time to give Noxicare a trial-run.  I wasn't disappointed.  I applied a generous amount to the aching areas and soon I felt some relief.  One day, though, it wasn't quite enough, so I added a little extra pain reliever in the form of an over-the-counter tablet I had on hand. (Sadly, it wasn't the Noxicare brand.  I'll have to give that a try later.)  But the combined did the job on relieving the aches I was experiencing at that time.

I like that the product has no scent. Is non-greasy.  Feels good to the skin. Does not sting or burn!

Let's look at the product ingredients: 
  • Turmeric is one of the most powerful healers found in nature, recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Willow Bark has been used to treat pain and inflammation since the time of Ancient Egypt and Greece. 
  • Holy Basil: Properties include anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral.
  • Rosemary Extract has served a variety of purposes including topical use for joint or musculoskeletal pain. 
  • Alpha Lipoic Acids are antioxidants used to treat diabetic neuropathy and increasing blood flow to the nerves. 
  • Ginger helps alleviate muscle strains, arthritis and rheumatism, and is a catalyst for improving the effectiveness or other herbs.
  • Boswellia Extract is an anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis and joint pain. 
~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~
 The good folks at Noxicare™ have graciously provided a giveaway of the same size 1.5 oz tube of Noxicare™ Natural Pain Relief cream and one of the T-shirts as a prize for one of my readers who will be randomly selected from entries via the form below. (Please wait patiently while Rafflecopter loads).
Begins November 28 and ENDS Dec. 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open USA addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: Noxicare™ provided a 1.5 oz tube of  Noxicare™ Natural Pain Relief cream and a T-shirt in exchange for my honest review of the cream. I was not required to post a positive review. No compensation was given for the review. Giveaway prize is awarded by Noxicare and shipped by them to the winner of the giveaway hosted here on Chat With Vera.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dial® Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash

I have been given the opportunity to share with you what I think of Dial® Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash.  The good folks at Dial provided two bottles of the foaming hand soap in holiday labels for me to sample and tell you about.

As you know, Dial "antibacterial" has been around a long time.  They are dependable. They are well known.  They are trust-worthy.  So when I see "Dial" products, I don't doubt their veracity or effectiveness.

The Dial® Complete holiday foaming hand soap fragrance is light and is a "berry" type of scent.  Pleasant and not overbearing.  The foaming qualities are good and the pump dispenses a good amount without waste for hand washing.  A good way to make certain the kiddies are washing adequately and without wasting the soap. And the kiddies DO LOVE the foam!

Dial® Complete kills 10x more germs than ordinary liquid hand soap.  So you can encourage good hand washing with this good soap confident that it will adequately do the job.  This time of the year we see so much more illness and we need to fight it on all fronts.  Especially the "hand front." And the holiday season brings family and friends together more often with lots of hugging and loving and spreading of germs.  But the hugging and loving are good!  It's just not good to share the germs.  So Dial® Complete Foaming Hand Soap can help you battle the germs. Prevent the spread of germs by the best way possible - wash your hands!

Dial® Complete foaming hand soap is available in limited  Holiday themed dispensers. And this makes it fun for kids and guests to wash the germs right out of their lives.  Dial® has a Holiday Giveaway on their Facebook page.  Be sure you check it out!
DISCLOSURE: I was provided 2 bottles of Dial® Complete Foaming Hand Soap so I could review them. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cozy up to a cup 'o tea with love

During the Thanksgiving holidays, my grand daughter visited me from California.  She and her parents brought a lovely bit of love that I can treasure; and each time I use this beautiful keepsake bit of love, I can sense their love reaching out to me.  Won't you look at this lovely cup 'o tea and imagine yourself embraced by the heartfelt of love that it represents??? On top of the feeling it sends forth to me, it is stunningly beautiful!

"Nutcracker" by E.T.A. Hoffmann, Illustrated by Maurice Sendak and Translated by Ralph Manheim

ISBN: 978-0-385-34864-5
$24.99 Hardcover
Press Release:  For many of us, Maurice Sendak illustrated our childhoods. We grew up with the Caldecott Medal-winning book Where the Wild Things Are. Director Spike Jonze may have captured what made Sendak's work so powerful when he described making his film adaptation of the book and explained, "The main goal wasn't to make a children's movie. I wanted to make a movie about childhood."  Through the mystical and outlandish, the foreign and bizarre, Sendak took us to worlds far from our own to illuminate a reality of childhood beyond what Disney could allow. It is only fitting that Sendak, internationally renowned for his darkly tinged, numinous storytelling that places him in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm, should return us to E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, upon which so many iterations have been based. Called "a classic, new and complete" by the New York Times Book Review, Sendak's NUTCRACKER (Crown; October 30, 2012) brings to life E.T.A. Hoffmann's mysterious world with his extraordinary illustrations, and this stunning reissue will be published just in time for the holidays.

Since its premiere in 1954, The Nutcracker has been performed by the New York City Ballet over 2,000 times, carrying children and adults alike into the dreamlike realm of a story that has fascinated and inspired artists, composers, and audiences for almost two hundred years. But the Nutcracker ballet many of us are familiar with is far from the story E.T.A. Hoffmann imagined.  When Sendak agreed to design sets and costumes for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Christmas production of the tale, he made it his mission to restore the "weird, dark qualities that [made the original] something of a master piece." As he did in his designs for the ballet, many which appear as illustrations in this book, Sendak brilliantly renders the wondrous world of the true Nutcracker, restoring to E.T.A. Hoffmann's originall all of its magnificent richness and perculiarities.

Reissued at a time when Sendak's legions of fans worldwide are honoring his legacy, this lush and beautifully illustrated edition serves as a wonderful tribute to Sendak's life just before the 50th anniversary of Where the Wild Things Are  next year, and his timeless, haunting, and wildly imaginative art illuminates Hoffmann's story in this tantalizing treasure. (Crown News, The Crown Publishing Group, New York, New York)

My thoughts: As a young child, I danced ballet and throughout my life I have enjoyed the beauty, precision, and strength represented by the performances. The music of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker has always enchanted me. To see E.T.A. Hoffmann's NUTCRACKER performed so graciously would be a real treat.

The collaboration of Maurice Sendak as artistic designer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for E.T.A. Hoffmann's NUTCRACKER brought the story to a new level of intensity revealing the darker side of the story and "characters." The book I am reviewing is a reissue of the story as translated from the German by Ralph Manheim with the illustrations of Maurice Sendak as developed in 1984.

This is a large chapter book (nearly 100 pages) which would be a delight to read to children bit by bit.  They will look forward with excitement to the next reading "to see what happens next." The distinctive illustrations will capture their attention as Mr. Sendak's illustrations have in many other books. The book contains the entire text of "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King"  as written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816 and is beautifully translated into English for the enjoyment of children (of all ages). It is timeless, indeed!

I see this as a book families will treasure and pull out yearly to read with Tchaikovsky's music playing in the background.  Then they will pass it along to their children's families.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary, review copy of  NUTCRACKER by Crown Publishing of Random House, Inc. to facilitate an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation to review this book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Charley's First Night" by Amy Hest & illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN:  9780763640552
Hardcover - $15.99
Boy meets dog! Always an engaging opportunity for a tale worth telling.  With Henry (boy) bringing Charley (puppy dog) home, you will see the delightful joy of first-knowing and first-sharing between boy and dog.  Henry brings Charley home and learns from his parents that Henry will the one responsible for feeding (forever) Charley, the one responsible for walking (forever) Charley, etc.  But those are not daunting tasks.  They are joy.

Then the "blow" that Mom and Dad want Charley to sleep in the kitchen.  Well, Henry knows Charley wants to sleep with him in his bedroom, but Henry obeys and fixes a wonderful bed for Charley in the kitchen.

The story unfolds with episodes during the night and a boy loves dog ending that is totally believable. 

Hest writes, "Charley curled up in a ball and I put my face next to his and I waited for Charley to fall asleep,...." you see this is like Mom and Dad caring for Henry so now Henry cares for Charley.  And later, to sooth Charley, Henry.... "I showed him my mother and father, sound asleep in their bed, and held Charley close in my strong arms."  Henry knows how it feels to be held and comforted by strong arms.

The illustrations of Helen Oxenbury are classic watercolor and ink and tell in a charming way exactly the feeling that Amy Hest is writing about in the story. And then in the end.... "We didn't mean to fall asleep, but we both fell asleep on my bed...." you know that all is going to be well with Henry and Charley.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Graciously, Candlewick Press is providing a giveaway copy to one of Chat With Vera's readers.  Open in USA addresses only.
Begins November 21 & ENDS December 5 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Charley's First Night from Candlewick Press on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and there was no obligation to render a positive review. Giveaway copy will be provided by Candlewick Press and shipped to the winner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Torani Flavored Beverage Syrups (with $1 coupon giveaways to 2 winners)

Flavored coffee.  You either love it or you hate it.  Frankly, I like my coffee sweetened, creamed, and about half of the time - flavored.  It is a treat when I purchase coffee at one of the many first class coffee shops to get flavored.  And my favorites of these are hazelnut and mocha.  Now really good coffee with a pump or two of rich hazelnut syrup is super good!   Now all this leads me to say.... .....

Regular and Sugar Free flavored syrups
that add flavor and enhance beverages.
I am a SheSpeaks Blogger Society member and they asked if I would accept, try, and review some of the Torani flavored syrups.  Now what's a Southern lady that loves good coffee going to say to that, I ask you?  Of course, I said I would (I would love, love, love to do so!).  So my box arrived just the other day.

They provided are two large bottles of Torani Syrup - Salted Caramel (sweetened with Splenda) and Gingerbread (sweetened with sugar).   I will be offering a small coupon "GIVEAWAY." It will be easy-peasy!
About Torani:  Since 1925, family-owned Torani has been crafting great tasting flavored syrups that coffeehouses use to make their flavored drinks taste so delicious. With over 120 flavors in regular and sugar free varieties, Torani flavored syrups are perfect for flavored lattes, mochas, coffees, cocoas, Italian sodas, teas, lemonades, cocktails and smoothies.
I noticed on the bottle that this syrup is made here in the USA.  Also, the ingredient label is easy to read  because I can understand the names of the ingredients - you know nut flavors, cane sugar, purified water, etc.

I'm already into the bottle of Salted Caramel for a couple of days.  While not my "most favorite" flavor, it is tasty.  I brewed an "upscale" brand of coffee and added the Salted Caramel.  I found I didn't need to add sugar or other sweetener.  I also creamed my coffee with one of the liquid creamers

Then I broke out the Gingerbread flavor. I brewed a single cup coffee. Again, no additional sweetener was needed.  I creamed the coffee with a good creamer.  I found the spicy flavor nice and not at all over powering.  Next time I may add a bit more to see if it is bolder. 

You can create hot or cold coffee beverages.  You can mix fruit drinks or anything you can imagine.  Torani has a vast array of flavors.  Click to shop at     
Please wait patiently while Rafflecopter loads.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE:  SheSpeaks provided me 2 bottles of Torani syrups to try and review as well as coupons for the giveaway. I was not required to write a positive review. No compensation was given.

"Ten in the Den" by John Butler (Review & Giveaway)

Hardcover: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-344-3
Last summer I feel in love with the books and artistry of John Butler.  He is a gifted story-teller and illustrator of books for the very young.  I reviewed Hush, Little Ones back in July  (Read my review)  and recently While You Were Sleeping (Read my review).

"Ten In the Den" is a large, hardcover picture book that takes young children through counting to ten.  Butler has a delightful re-take on "there were 10 in the bed and the little one said, 'Roll over, Roll over." Each page is illustrated with a clutch of a variety of critters tucked in the den.  Each page has one less because one rolled out (or rather was pushed out by tiny mouse).

Butler's illustrations are again beautiful and will entertain and draw the young child's interest. Soft colors and edges of pictures create a lulling that is suited for bedtime or nap-time reading. Of course, it can be read at any time; and I can just hear the giggles as the reader sings along the "roll over, roll over" as each critter is pushed out of the den.

But this time, when the little one (mouse) is left all alone in the den, he is lonely and rolls out to seek his friends who are now outside the den.  The book teaches the concept that just because you are crowded, it is not always best to "un-crowd" your circumstances.  Life can be lonely when there is only you.

Counting: In this book the reader can engage the young child to count how many are actually in the den and then at the end of the story the child can count to see that all 10 are together again.

I encourage the purchase of John Butler's book and think you and yours will treasure it.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Graciously, Peachtree Publishers is providing a giveaway copy to one of Chat With Vera's readers.  Open in USA addresses only.
Begins November 20 & ENDS December 4 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Ten In the Den by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author for the purpose of my rending an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not obligated to give a positive review. The giveaway copy will also be provided by Peachtree Publishers and shipped directly to the winner.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"At Every Turn" by Anne Mateer (Review)

In Anne Mateer's latest book, At Every Turn, the reader will find they are on a rapid race to see if Alyce can be many things -
ISBN:  9780764209048
  1. A woman driver in 1916 when cars were new and women drivers virtually non-existent.
  2. A woman driver in a competitive automobile race - when automobile racing was new and only males allowed.
  3. A Christian with missionary zeal to help the unfortunate children and peoples of Africa when she is confronted with photographs and stories of them.
  4. Compassion for people she meets who are in need from day to day.
Alyce is a daughter of wealth, but her wealthy father does not share her Christian beliefs and will not help in her desire to give $3,000 (Yes, a lot of money - especially in 1916) to the missionary from Africa.  Since she has publicly pledged to give this amount, she is honor bound to produce it.  But how?

Alyce's life is further complicated by deceiving folks about what she is doing even if what she is trying to accomplish is for a good cause.  Also, she has trust in individuals where such trust should not be placed.

There is a sweet romance in the story with no overt involvement of the characters with one another.

A fast moving story of a young Christian lady who is not the typical lady of the times as she simply does not fit the genteel lady mold that constrains.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of At Every Turn on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review. There was no obligation to render a positive review and all opinions expressed are solely my own.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot

About the book: Amanda Cabot invites readers to cozy up with a romantic, heartwarming tale of the greatest gift of all--love.

Celia Anderson doesn't need anything for Christmas except a few more boarders, which are hard to come by in this small mining town. She certainly doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a wandering carpenter finds lodging at her boarding house, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle to get roses during a harsh Wyoming winter. But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . .

My thoughts:   Christmas Roses  by Amanda Cabot is a novella written for the enjoyment of those who relish the delight of stories set during the Christmas season. It is 1882 in the Wyoming Territory and winter is upon them. The Widow Anderson and her infant are trying to make a go of running the local boarding house as a source of income.  But alas, there are virtually no boarders.  Celia's baby is sick and she is alone and panicking. 

I was not prepared for the beauty that flowed through this little book.  Charming word pictures of children.  Personalities coming across in full bloom - their quirks, their attitudes, their good features and their bad.  The little town with it's warmth and love shinning through - especially in the Pastor and his wife.

This is a story of finding.  Finding one's place. Finding forgiveness. Finding the gift of forgiveness. Finding love.  Truly a full-blooming rose of a tale for you to enjoy.

Author: Amanda Cabot is an accomplished author under various pen names and a popular speaker. The author of Paper Roses, Scattered Petals, Tomorrow's Garden, and Summer of Promise, she is also a charter member of Romance Writers of America, the cofounder of its New Jersey chapter, a member of the ACFW, and an avid traveler. She lives in Wyoming.

“Available September 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

DISCLOSURE: I was given a complimentary copy of Christmas Roses by Revell on behalf of the author for the purpose of a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was under no obligation to render a positive review.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"A Season for Tending" by Cindy Woodsmall

ISBN: 9780307730022

There is a plentiful supply and selection of Amish themed books available in the Christian fiction market.  Cindy Woodsmall is among the best authors of this genre. I believe in A Season for Tending she presents some interesting insight into life among the Amish.

With Rhoda, our mail female character, we have an unwed Amish young lady who is dedicated to growing herbs and berries.  But other issues are at play involving Rhoda. She has something akin to "second sight" though it is not called that in the story.  Need-less-to-say, her ability to glimpse into what is about to happen is not looked upon favorably with the Amish nor in the community in which they live along side of non-Amish. She also possesses knowledge of herbs and how the various herbs can aid in the healing process and in making folks feel better.  This, too,  creates suspicious thinking regarding Rhoda.

She is exceptionally talented in making her small plot of land product copious amounts of quality fruit and herbs.  Is this because she has talent and knowledge or because she is a witch or something similar. The community wonders.

Samuel King comes into Rhoda's life and sees the possibility that her plant care and canning talents can assist him with the apple business in King's Orchard. Throughout the book, we are given a good look into the troubles, trials, and joys of being in the business of growing apples.

Emotions run taunt throughout the book as lives interweave.  The books does not end like  a typical romance where boy meets girl and all live happily ever after.  There is a bit of a cliffhanger. 

A good read; and as usual Cindy Woodsmall doesn't disappoint with her characters' development, the story line, and the twists and turns it takes.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of A Season for Tending from Blogging For Books on behalf of the publisher, WaterBrook Press, and the author, Cindy Woodsmall for the purpose of an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cold or flu got you or yours down? Try this..... simple chicken 'n rice basic dish

How about some plain and simple chicken 'n rice. Frugal, easy eating, simple. Please NOTE! This is NOT a glamor dish but one that will satisfy.

Boil your washed chicken (use the whole chicken if possible, or a combination of white and dark pieces) in enough water to cover with about 1/2 in. over the top of chicken.  Salt & pepper to taste. You can add some salt later but remember you can't take it out. Add a branch of celery cut to fit in pot but so you can easily remove later. You can add a carrot cut in chunks and this adds vitamins and flavor. Add onion - maybe 1/2 or a small onion and cut so you can remove it later, too. Now cook it all until the chicken falls off the bone.

Remove chicken, celery, and onion. Debone chicken. Measure broth to have 2 cups broth to 1 cup white rice (I know other types of rice are better for you, but white just does the job in chicken 'n rice). I always add a little extra broth because I like my rice cooked this way to be moist.

Tear chicken into bite size pieces (torn is better than cut). Now you cook the rice with the chicken until rice is done - about 20 minutes.

If you want the rice to be a bit colorful, when you are ready to cook the rice (the last previous step) you can add some diced raw celery and carrot. Not a whole lot, but just enough to brighten it. (Remember, you have already removed the chunks of veggies you had in the original pot for cooking.)

This is very good when your tummy needs a satisfying meal, there is sickness in the house, it is cold outside, or you just want something simple and old fashioned.

"Child of Bethlehem" by Elena Paquali & illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

About the book:  (from Barnes & Noble website) Closely following the gospels, this lilting retelling of the Nativity perfectly matches Kristina Stephenson's heartwarming illustrations that put children at the heart of the story. The traditional stories of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men are told with additional gentle moments depicting the children of Bethlehem eagerly watching the miraculous events of the first Christmas unfold. This delightful retelling of the Nativity will bring young readers to the heart of Christmas.

My thoughts:  As the traditional Biblical account of the birth of Jesus unfolds, there are children on the scene. Perhaps they were there in the time and place it all really took place, and maybe they were not.  However, this rendering of the Nativity brings the story to children through the eyes of a child as they see THE Child of Bethlehem.

The illustrations by Kristina Stephenson are gentle, big enough but not overly large, and simple.  Just like children like them.  The story shows that there was doubt on the part of Joseph but that his fears and doubts were allayed by God's message.  The trusting heart of Mary is revealed in her response to the message she received from God's messenger as to her role in the birth of the Savior.

Little hands will delight to hold this book about Jesus and point to the babe. 

DISCLOSURE:  Kregel provided a complimentary copy of Child of Bethlehem on behalf of the author and publisher, Lion Hudson, to me in exchange for my honest review. I was not obligated to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

"The Christmas House" by Carol Bullman & Illustrated by Jim Madsen

ISBN: 9780824955984
Hardcover - ages 4-8
About the book:  As the music pours into the night, each passing neighbor is drawn to the house from which it comes. A knock on the door reveals the happy couple with their newborn baby enjoying the true spirit of Christmas without the need for presents stacked under a tree. Beautifully illustrated, this charming story is sure to be a new classic.

My thoughts: Brightly and beautifully  illustrated, The Christmas House is a warm story of a young family who has moved into a neighborhood but to whom the neighbors simply haven't warmed up.

Just prior to Christmas the neighbors each doing his or her own thing - skateboarding, walking, shopping - passes by the little house aglow with warm lights. As they pass by, they are enthralled by the beautiful piano music coming from inside.

One by one they step up to have a listen.  Then the door opens...... well, it just magically becomes a warm happy place of music, formed friendships, and giving to less fortunate.  The warmth of the holidays fuses with the beauty of Christmas music.

Visit with Ideal Books at the following: and

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of The Christmas House by Ideal Books on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated monetarily for this review no required to render a positive review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Some Cat" by Mary Casanova & illustrated by Ard Hoyt (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN:  978-0-374-37123-4
Hardcover Picture Book

A distressed cat has been clawed onto the cover of  Some Cat  where the author has combined soft watercolors and scratched pen drawings to bring to life the story.  Violet (the cat) has been imprisoned in the animal shelter, and she once lived where there was too much shouting and not enough to eat.  Alas, she is continuously passed over for adoption because she hisses and scratches in protest. But finally a couple sees hope in her and does take her home.

Home is also home of two dogs; and being the queen she thinks she is, Violet terrorizes the dogs.  But one day danger strikes Violet in the form of stray dogs on the attack.  She tries to escape but does so only with the help of her housemate dogs, George and Zippity and her new owners.  This experience shows her she has friends and protection.

I don't see this as the typical animal humane society story of adoption of a pet.  I see it as a tale of the undeserving gaining friends and protection.  However, I also see a darker underlying story of abused children available for adoption but passed over. I see them as striking back in their adopted homes once they do gain entry.  I see them as vulnerable in the world (the stray dogs) and needing the protection of family.  So even if you don't actually pass along these underlying, darker elements of the story to the child to whom you are reading the book.  Perhaps it will plant a seed that family matters and family is protection.  Also, that there is hope for the abused and unlovable.

Illustrator Ard Hoyt has aptly drawn the illustrations of Some Cat depicting a distressed, angry, out of sorts cat set upon by stray dogs and saved by strong "family" with  beautifully soft watercolors and brisk pen/pencil lines. Once "saved" the drawings of Violet (Some Cat) soften adding to the illusion that her life has adjusted and softened, too.
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Begins November 13 & ENDS November 27 12:01 a.m. EST
Open USA addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of Some Cat by the author in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to render a favorable review. The giveaway copy is being graciously provided by the author, Mary Casanova.

Garden Botanika Warm Thoughts Almond Cream Gift Collection (Review & Exfoliating Soap Bar Giveaway)

Just look at the lovely items in this picture.  I know you're going to be envious of me to know that Garden Botanika has provided this absolutely beautiful package of goodies for me to try and then to tell you about.  My package arrived beautifully packed in a round and very decorative holiday box.  Not your traditional Christmasy green and red but a lovely shade of green and a rosy Happy Holidays print top.  All done up with a pink satin bow.  That was just foretelling the wonderful contents.  
I just had to try them out immediately! So first of all I spritzed a bit of the body mist on my wrist and gently rubbed it in.  Such a refreshing fragrance of almond.  Then I gave the lotion a pump and applied it generously to my hands, wrists, and lower arms.  Oh my!  I can tell you that felt so-o-o-o-o- good and the fragrance was divine.  Not strong, just right.

Days later...... I have now used the body wash, lotion, and exfoliating soap and have found each of the products to be wonderful.  As a "lady-of-a-certain-age" I find that I have to be careful and watchful of how I choose my skin care products.  I need to keep the skin soft and lubricated with a quality lotion.  If I don't, watch out!  It shows the wear of the year.  But with a lotion like Warm Thoughts Almond Body Cream Lotion, I find it feels soft, fragrant, and does not have the appearance of dry skin.  Sometimes fragrant lotions are a bit too much (as in "they know you're in the room now!") on my senses (and I assume those with whom I come in contact).  But not this one!  Also, sometimes a lotion with fragrance tends to dry out my skin even though it is touted as being good for the skin.  I have not noticed drying with this lotion.

I found the Almond Cream Body Cleanser to be a light cleansing agent that lathers adequately and leaves me feeling clean but not leaving my skin feeling stripped.  I think this one is a keeper! I just love the pump bottle, too.

I find that occasional washing with a cleansing product that actually exfoliates my skin is most helpful.  It aids in removing dead skin cells and helps the skin look better. So this soothing, smoothing exfoliating bar soap is a wonderful product to do just that.  This quality is only found in fine stores and now you can order it from Garden Botanika (or maybe be the one to win a bar in my giveaway - see below). 

The product/s
NEW Warm Thoughts Almond Cream Gift Collection

A gentle warmth that’s sweetly received, this collection envelopes the body and the senses in the irresistible aroma of Almond Cream and pampers the skin with nourishing botanicals.

  • Body Cleanser 16.9 fl. oz.
  • Body Lotion 16.9 fl. oz.
  • Body Mist 6 fl. oz.
  • Gentle Exfoliating Soap 3.5 oz.
    all in a ready-to-give gift box.
    This and other special gift sets - click here
  • Almond Cream Body Lotion
    This lightweight, delectable body lotion is a delight for the skin. Soothing Algae and Chamomile extracts combined with nourishing Sunflower Seed Oil hydrate and protect skin from the drying effects of the environment. Skin emerges softer, smoother and scented with the warm and comforting fragrance that is Almond Cream. 16.9 fl. oz.  Free of Parabens, Glycols, PEGS, Phthalates, Artificial Dyes and Gluten. Always Cruelty-Free.
    Almond Cream Body Cleanser  
    Almond Cream Body Cleanser is a delectable treat for both your skin and your senses! Gentle cleansers combined with Glycerin wash away impurities, leaving the skin soft and smooth – never dry. Aloe and Chamomile extracts calm and condition while the warm, comforting scent that is Almond Cream envelopes the body. 16.9 fl. oz.  Free of Parabens, Glycols, PEGS, Phthalates, Artificial Dyes and Gluten. Always Cruelty-Free.
     NEW Almond Cream Body Mist  
    Our Almond Cream Body Mist instantly refreshes and envelopes the body in the warm, comforting fragrance that is Almond Cream. Spray throughout the day for a truly delectable sensory experience. 6 fl. oz.  Free of Parabens, Glycols, PEGS, Phthalates, Artificial Dyes and Gluten. Always Cruelty-Free.

    New Almond Cream Gentle Exfoliating Soap
    Soothe and smooth rough, dry skin with our Almond Cream Gentle Exfoliating Soap. A blend of certified organic saponified Olive, Coconut, Almond and Palm oils work into a luxurious hydrating lather, while ground oats gently buff away surface dead cells, leaving your skin clean and soft. 3.5 oz.  Free of Parabens, Glycols, PEGS, Phthalates, Artificial Dyes and Gluten. Always Cruelty-Free.
    Special Discount Code for Chat With Vera Readers!!!
    10% off Almond Cream Collection and/or Twinkle Toes collection
    Here is the discount code for 10% off the Warm Thoughts Almond Cream Gifts Set and the Twinkle Toes Sweet Mint Foot Gift Set. You will need to enter GIFT10 in Step 1 of the check out. Additional discounts do not apply. Free shipping on all orders $25 or more. Offer is good until 12/1/12.
    Your opportunity to purchase that special lady a special gift!
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
    Begins Nov. 13 ENDS Nov. 28 @ 12:01 a.m. EST - Open USA Only
    (Please wait patiently while loads)
    The good folks at Garden Botanika have graciously provided a little giveaway to give you an opportunity to get an idea of the quality products they offer.  They will ship a bar of the New Almond Cream Gentle Exfoliating Soap  valued at $8.00 to one lucky (or should I say, blessed) Chat With Vera reader.  This way you get a chance to try this company's wonderful merchandise for yourself and luxuriate in the gentle experience of bathing with this fine soap.
    This past Spring I was also given the opportunity to review several of Garden Botanika's products.  Please click HERE to read my review of those wonderful products, too.

    DISCLOSURE: I was graciously provided the pictured products, Warm thoughts Almond Cream Gift Set, shown above by Garden Botanika in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to render a positive review. No monetary compensation was given to me. Opinions stated are solely my own.  Information about products was taken from the Garden Botanika website.

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    "Bible Detective - A Puzzle Search Book" by Peter Martin & Illustrated by Peter Kent

    About the book: 
    Young detectives will never tire of this picture-search puzzle book. Readers can pore over 17 cleverly illustrated scenes of Bible events to find the answers to the questions posed on each page. Some puzzles involve looking for details of everyday life, others highlight things that happened in the Bible stories--offering hours of fun to readers as they search for the answers.
    With lots to find, this kind of picture book is particularly great for reluctant readers and visual learners, helping all children get an overview of the Bible's history and content as they super-sleuth their way through the book. Warning: may be addictive!

    My thoughts: 

    Most children have a bit of a detective in them.  Always searching out tidbits of the unknown and ferreting out information in the smallest form.  Well, if you happen to know one of these child-detectives, Bible Detective by Peter Martin is just the book for them.  It is actually a learning tool, a story book, a Bible study book, and a "game" all rolled into one.

    The illustrations by Peter Kent are tiny, detailed, and packed full of trivia and major points of interest.  It is the goal of the reader to find specific hidden items in each illustrated story.  And then there is, of course, the hidden "fox" that is tucked away in each scene.

    But the larger picture of this book (or should I say "gem") is the fact that the reader is taken on a timeline Bible study learning facts from the Old and New Testaments.  The gleaned information is further implanted on the reader's mind because of his/her involvement in searching out minute details within the illustrations.  The "game" per-say.  Exercising one's brain in the solving of puzzles is a stimulus that cements the learning.

    Bible Detective opens with the story of Noah and completes with the New Testament voyage to the port of Caesarea.  Each story gives the Biblical reference as well as the time in which it occurred.

    I foresee children from the age of 5 and up and the adults that read with them thoroughly enjoying their romp through the pages of Bible Detective as they learn the small details, the main points, and see the bigger picture of these Bible stories.

    DISCLOSURE:  Kregel provided a complimentary copy of Bible Detective by Peter Martin and illustrated by Peter Kent to facilitate my giving an honest review.  I was not obligated to render a positive review and received no compensation for this review.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    "The Christmas Pony" by Melody Carlson

    ISBN: 978-0-8007-19271-2
    Hardcover, 176 pg
    About the book: The queen of the Christmas novella, Melody Carlson pens another magical tale of expectation and excitement as one little girl dreams big and the impossible becomes possible.
    Eight-year-old Lucy Turnbull knew better than to wish for a pony that Christmas in 1937. Her mother had assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony was the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they needed at their boarding house were the paying kind. But when an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, Lucy starts to believe her Christmas wishes might just come true after all.

    My thoughts: It is always a delight to me to pick up a novella written in and around the Christmas season because so often they tell the story of goodwill amongst men, warm-fuzzy emotions, wrapped up in the loveliness that is the season. But just because there are some warm-fuzzies afloat, doesn't mean that the story will be without heartbreak or without hardships.

    In The Christmas Pony we see life in 1937 just prior to Christmas. It is cold. Times are hard - especially when the dad, the head of the family has died. The brave mother is running their home as a boarding house in a small town. The farm can't be farmed because the dad is gone. Most of the animals have been sold - they have a milk cow and a few chickens who have nearly stopped laying.

    Grandma helps as much as she is able and mostly by cooking up scrumptious meals. There is a little girl gifted with a charming personality, a vision of hope, and belief that perhaps - just perhaps - her Christmas wish for a pony will come true.

    The story moves rather quickly because as a novella you've got to get the tale told. The characters are well-developed and their conversations and the word-pictures drawn tell a delightful story that has a happy ending. (Well, it is Christmas, isn't it? And we do want it to end well, don't we?)

    A good read for a cold evening that will leave you feeling you can have a little faith in your fellow man and that a little girl's dreams can come true.

    About the author: Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than five million. She is the author of several Christmas books from Revell, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, which is being considered for a TV movie. She is also the author of many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, Double Take, The Jerk Magnet, and the Diary of a Teenage Girl series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books in 2010 and won the award in 2011. She and her husband live in central Oregon. For more information about Melody visit her website at

    Praise for Other Melody Carlson Christmas Titles
    • The Christmas Shoppe: “This magical Christmas story is filled with anticipation, holiday traditions and delight. What happens … is a true gift to readers.” 4 Stars - RT Reviews
    • Christmas at Harrington’s: “Melody has unforgettable characters. It was heartbreaking and fascinating all at the same time. This author has a way of writing a story readers can connect with. This is a meaningful, touching story that will become your families’ favorite. You’ll want to read it again and share it with friends.” – Novel Reviews
    • The Christmas Dog: “Whether you’re struggling to find that perfect gift or just craving a cheery story to put you in the mood for Christmas, this book is for you.” – Faithful Reader
    “Available Sept 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of The Christmas Pony in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

    "While You Were Sleeping" by John Butler (Review & Giveaway)

    Last summer I feel in love with the books and artistry of John Butler.  He is a gifted story-teller and illustrator of books for the very young.  I reviewed "Hush, Little Ones" back in July.  Read my review.

    ISBN: 978-1-56145-254-5
    Board book $6.95
    Today we're going to look at another of his gems for our wee-little-ones - "While You Were Sleeping." In this little board book he charmingly addresses what is going on in the world while the child is safely asleep - a concept that there is activity, daylight, movement going on when he is least aware.  The "me-centric" world of the young child has difficulty grasping the idea that everyone is not asleep while he is and everyone is not at play while he is.  So John Butler introduces the young to this idea of an active and a sleeping world.

    The animals hunt, play, work, watch in the trees, romp in the ocean, traipse through the woods and all this is done while "you" sleep.  To make it even MORE interesting and engaging to the young mind, it is a counting book.  Count up to 10 as each critter is busy while you sleep safe and sound. So you can teach your little one two concepts with this adorable book - that of a world awake and asleep at the same time and that of counting to ten.

    A nice read-aloud-at-bedtime book or read-anywhere book.  Sized perfectly for the young child to carry about and treasure.  Beautifully illustrated with drawings of a variety of wildlife from the tiniest mouse to dolphins, penguins, and elephants.

    I encourage the purchase of John Butler's book and think you and yours will treasure it.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Begins November 11 & ENDS November 25 at 12:01 a.m. EST
    Open in USA addresses only.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of While You Were Sleeping" by Peachtree Publishers on behalf of the author for the purpose of my rending an honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not obligated to give a positive review.

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    "Pansy at the Palace: A Beverly Hills Mystery" by Cynthia Bardes & illustrated by kim Weissenborn (Review & Giveaway)

    ISBN: 978-0615692531
    November 2012 release
    Hardcover $17.95
    About the book:  Pansy’s life blossoms when she is adopted from an animal shelter by a loving family and little girl named Avery. Swept into her new life at the Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills, this smart and courageous puppy saves the day by solving a mysterious theft. Pansy at the Palace celebrates the spirit of curiousity and exploration, and teaches us that no one is too small to make a difference in the lives
    of many!

    Information You Can Find About Pansy

    My thoughts:  This is a large picture book with a very entertaining "first mystery" that will engage the young reader or the child who can't quite read it yet but would love to learn about Pansy and the excitement at the hotel.

    The story opens with Pansy in the shelter wanting so much to be adopted.  Finally a lovely little girl, named Avery, arrives and falls in love with Pansy at first sight. Off they go to the hotel where Avery lives.

    We meet the various characters who live or work at the hotel.  They are a ritzy group and beautifully drawn to give you an idea of what they are like and what their life is like at the "Palace Hotel."    But all is not well and Pansy suspects something and saves the day.  But you'll have to read the story to understand just how a curly haired doggie can save the day.

    A delightful book replete with wonderful illustrations that capture the essence of Pansy and each of the characters.  I recommend the book to you and yours. Released just in time for Christmas gift purchasing, this would make a delightful gift.  To purchase online, click here.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ GIVEAWAY ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Begins  Nov. 9 & ENDS  Nov. 23 @12:01 a.m. EST
    Open for USA Addresses Only

    About the author:  Cynthia Bardes and her husband, David, spend each fall at a Beverly Hills hotel with their toy poodle, Pansy. Inspiration for this story was born out of random misfortune. One day, when crossing Wilshire Blvd., Cynthia was struck by a car. Her injuries required surgery and a lengthy recuperation at the hotel.

    While bedridden, Cynthia’s vivid imagination and Pansy’s popularity with employees and guests of the hotel made for a perfect story.

    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Pansy at the Palace Andrew Freedman Public Relations on behalf of the author to facilitate a review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own. Information about the book is derived from PR materials. I was not obligated to render a positive review.