Saturday, December 26, 2009

Free e-Books!

ManyBooks offers free mysteries , children's books, and many more titles. You can do a search by author, title or category. A super resource!

Learning to Be a Writer

Recently, I was asked how I learned to write for publication.  The answer, so far, is by reading books. Here is a list of books I've read and recommend:

Here are some books I am reading or going to read:

Friday, December 25, 2009

What's next?

I've finished my college degree, finally; so now it's time to get to work! My immediate goal is to finish my new Web site, How To Homeschool Today. I hope to make this a helpful resource for homeschoolers all over the country.

Next, I'll continue to write educational products and magazine articles, as well as reviews of books, educational products and iPhone apps.

Eventually, I want to write a mystery. I'm looking into taking a fiction writing course to help me with this, as I have no idea how to write fiction. I'm sure I'll need a traditional publisher for this type of work. In preparation, I'm looking into online classes such as Christian Writer's Guild, Writer's Online Workshops, or Gotham. Anyone out there have any experience with any of these? I'd love to hear your experiences. Email me at

I'm also going to try to get involved in a writer's group. I'm a member of several, but haven't had time to really get involved. I'm looking forward to that.

In the meantime, I'm reading lots of books on writing. I'll add reviews here as I can.

Whatever is in store for me, I look forward to learning more about the writing profession and sharing what I learn.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Review of Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain by Paul Meier, MD

How many times have we asked questions like, “Why did God allow that innocent child to be abused?” “How can I deal with this failure?” or “How can I live without my spouse?”

Meier deals with these questions and more in his latest book, Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain. As Meier says, everyone deals with struggles of some kind, whether it’s injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure or death. Meier uses this book to explain not only how to get through these struggles, but how to grow through them.

As someone who has experienced pain and who came out of a church where “struggles happen only to those whose faith is weak or who are out of God’s will,” I was interested in reading how Meier would explain these struggles and what his suggestions would be to overcome them.

I was not disappointed. Using interesting stories, he quickly identified with pain and demonstrated how it feels to experience pain. He then explained how pain could affect us emotionally, physically and mentally; and what happens if we are unable to move through it. Finally, he provides sound advice and solid Biblical teaching to help us not only overcome the pain, but also to use our pain for the good of others.

In short, Meier’s book gave me hope; and as Romans 5:5 says, hope does not disappoint. I recommend this book for anyone going through the struggles of life.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adobe InDesign CS4 Digital Classroom

I've been using Quark for my desktop publishing software, but have been wanting to move to Adobe InDesign. I just wasn't looking forward to the learning transition. This month, I received a review copy of Adobe InDesign CS4 Digital Classroom from Wiley Publishing and tried it out. It wasn't near as painful as I thought it would be!

Adobe InDesign CS4 Digital Classroom is better than a classroom. There's no waiting for others to catch up or missing a tip because I'm busy practicing something else. I can do the video on my time, in my home, at my pace. I love that!
The instruction is excellent - very clear and easy to understand. The book comes with a DVD (includes video training from Adobe Certified Experts) and lesson files. I can watch the video and work on the lesson files at the same time. The instruction is well organized enabling me to work through the lessons one by one in the order presented or select a specific topic, as needed. The graphics and sound quality is professional and positively enhances the learning experience.
In the lessons, you’ll learn all the essential skills you need to get started. The first lesson teaches you all about the tools. Although I had used InDesign a bit before, I learned a lot of nifty tricks from this lesson. For instance, how to set up my master pages so that they are horizontally rather than vertically aligned. This is important when you work on large documents like books.
Other chapters include:
  • How to format type
  • How to create style sheets
  • How to add and manipulate graphics
  • How to design and edit a table
  • How to use and manage colors
  • How to create special effects such as drop shadows, feathering, emboss, and blend
  • How to create a book, an index, and Table of Contents
  • How to share documents in various formats
  • How to use XML with InDesign
  • How to create interactive documents using flash
For a novice like myself, this book and training DVD is just what I needed to get started. For Intermediate users, you will probably benefit by picking up some tricks to help you use InDesign more effectively.
Visit the Web site for updated lesson files.
For more information, see the Wiley Web site.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Toastmasters is a great way to learn to speak in front of the public. I joined a Toastmasters Group and enjoy it very much. The most important thing I am learning is to speak extemporaneously. That's always the hardest part for me.

You can find Toastmaster Clubs around the country. Try one out!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

If you are looking for good, old fashioned, high calorie yummy food that sticks to your ribs, you'll want to check out The Pioneer Woman Cooks. My friend, Liz Eubanks, sent me the link and it's my kind of food! You might even find some salads!

She also writes about gardening, her farm animals, homeschooling and more. A very interesting blog!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

FREE Recession Guide

Consumer Reports just published a free Recession Guide on their Web site. 

It includes information on how to save money at the grocery store, on health care, you car, and more!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cindy's Double Tall Mocha

I LOVE Starbucks, and my favorite beverage is a double tall mocha. However, the fat and price of this treat is something I am trying to cut back on. So, I've created my own version - no fat and no sugar! 

Here's the recipe:
This is yummy and good for you - 105 calories, 0 fat, 5 mg. cholesterol, 5 grams fiber and it's really inexpensive! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fiber - You Need Fiber!

I went to my doctor last year about stomach issues and discovered that I did not get enough fiber! I eat whole grain breads, cereals and snacks. I eat fruit and vegetables. BUT I still don't get enough fiber and it's creating problems for me. My doctor made me write out each food I ate and then figure out the amount of fiber I was getting - about 5-10 grams per day. A person needs 25-30 grams a day! So much for thinking I was eating right!

So I started taking fiber supplements, but all the ones I found had artificial sweeteners or other stuff that I don't like. I finally discovered Fiber-sure. It works and it has nothing else in it but fiber. It's completely tasteless and you can cook with it! I've been on it for about four months now and it is helping tremendously. I just wanted to share it with those of you who might be going through the same problems. I hope it will help you too! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Essence of the Bible

My pastor has challenged our church members to read through the Bible in a year. I'm not quite ready to make that commitment, but I did find this resource on BibleGateway: A chronological reading plan that tells the essence of what the Bible is about and that can be read (and listened to at the same time!) in 61 days. If I get through this, I'll take the next step!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

iPhone Tricks

For everyone out there with iPhones, here are some super tricks from ismashphone for the iPhone. I tried the ringtone maker and it works great! 

My son just moved to California, so I made this Surfin' USA ring tone for his calls: 

by — ringtones.

You might also be interested in iPhone Fully Loaded for more ways to use your iPhone!

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Favorite Online Bible Study Resource

RBC Ministries offers free Bible studies, devotion booklets, and Christian courses. I use Our Daily Bread everyday. I like it better than other devotionals because of the amount of scripture in each lesson. Rather than one verse and the rest commentary, it includes one page of a portion of scripture and one page of commentary. Sometimes I don't even read the commentary. It's like reading the Bible in chunks! 

I've also used one of their Christian courses and love it! As of February 2009, you will be able to take the Christian courses for certification for a fee of $20/CEU unit. I would use this as a high school credit in Bible also. Highly recommended. The materials are written by Christians of many denominations. You can read their biblical principles here.

If you use their materials, PLEASE, send them a donation now and then. God would want you to!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Beef Roast with Tomatoes, Onions and Peppers

This came from the book, Fix-It And Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes and it's yummy!!!

  •  3 lbs. boneless chuck roast 
  •  1 garlic clove (minced) in 1 Tbs. oil.
  • 2-3 onions, sliced
  • 2-3 sweet green and red peppers sliced (I used stir fry green peppers)
  • 16 oz. salsa 
  • 1 can Mexican style tomatoes
Stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 - 10 hours. 

Asian Beef Stew

This recipe was in the booklet that came with the cooker. My daughter works at an upscale restaurant and has very expensive food tastes. She loved it! 

Cut 3 lbs. of beef chuck into 1 inch cubes. Coat with a mixture of: 
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder 
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Brown meat on all sides in 2 Tbs. oil, then place into crock pot. 

Saute in the same oil and then add to the pot:
  • 1 med. onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
Combine and add to pot:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. hoisin sauce (mine had plum in it)
  • 2 Tbs. ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. honey
Stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. 

Stir in:
  • 1/2 lb snow peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
Set on high, cover and cook for 20 more minutes. Serve with fried Chinese noodles.

New Crock Pot

I've been through three crock pots with no luck. They either burn the food or produce mush. I just gave them away and decided crock pots weren't for me.

However, this semester my classes are during the dinner hour, so I needed to figure out a way to have a meal waiting. All my friends said, "Crock pot." So, I began a new search and finally found the cadillac of crock pots - an All-Clad Stainless Steel Slow Cooker.  It's wonderful! See my full review on the product page. I'll put up a couple of my recipes next.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Investing Resource

As a Vine Reviewer for Amazon, I get to review books as they come out. This week, I read the book, "The Motley Fool Million Dollar Portfolio: How to Build and Grow a Panic-Proof Investment Portfolio." I sent my review to Amazon today. 

This is not a subject I am an expert on, but reading books like this helps me learn more. Despite the economy, there is a reason to invest, especially if you are young! And this book helped me see some areas I might work on to improve my shrinking portfolio - maybe it will get bigger instead of smaller like it has been! I highly recommend checking out this book. It was easy to read and had lots of information for newer investors. While you're there, please comment on my review. Let me know if it was helpful. 

Blogging as a Profession?

I love working on my computer, writing, and surfing the Internet. It's even more fun if you can make some money from your efforts!

For Christmas, I received two books: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income by Darren Rowse and Moonlighting on the Internet by Dan Kennedy. Both are excellent!

Each one attacks it from a different direction but generally cover how to decide on a niche, strategies for making money, and how to promote your blog. Moonlighting also covers making money from eBay, eCommerce stores, and affiliate links.

If you're looking for a way to make a little money while on the Internet, I highly recommend these two books.