Friday, May 29, 2009

Mama always said there'd be days like this . . . but unfortunately, she didn't have

Whether you're a new mom or one that's "been there, done that," is changing the way moms get insight, advice, and all the information they need. It's a one-stop-shop website where mothers can get the real scoop from millions of other moms. There are years of experience and miles of guidance on this site, and has left nothing out. Topic headings include:

Kids By Age: Questions covering children ages 0–19 and even before, when you're still pregnant.
All About Me: From health issues to careers to how to get some "Mommy time."
Health: Covers not only your basics, like kids needing glasses, but also serious health concerns and dental issues.
Finances: Adding another child to an already tight budget? This is the place to look. It even teaches kids about managing money and making major purchases.
House & Home: Gardening tips, housecleaning, cooking, decorating, caring for pets, and holiday entertaining. It's all in here.
Search Box: Still can't find the answer to your question? Just type it in the "Search" bar and hit "Enter."

Want to know what's hot on the minds of moms right now? Look no further—this site even tracks top live searches, making it easy to find the answers. Plus, it's free, and no registration is required. offers "wisdom and advice without judgement." Check them out today at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Maxwell Duck Seris by Jackie Urbanovic

Duck at the Door


What would you do if a duck were at your door?

You'd let him in, of course.

Max loves the spring so much that he thinks winter will most certainly be wonderful, too. But when his flock leaves him behind to fly south and Max finds himself all alone, he starts to look for a place to stay. Max picks the right door to knock on: Brody the dog, Irene, his human caretaker, and a whole cast of animal characters welcome him in.

At first, Max needs to learn a lot about living in a house, but his wonderful new friends do such a great job teaching him the ropes that Max soon fits into his new family . . . or does he? From hogging the remote to taking frequent bubble baths, Max causes the family to grow weary of him. Someone has to talk to him. However, before Irene has a chance to utter a single word, Max's flock returns, and he leaves to join them. It's only then that Max's friends realize just how boring life is without their beloved duck. Then on a cool October morning, everyone perks up when there's another . . .


Could it be? Could Max have returned? You'll have to read this hiliarious and heartwarming adventure, Duck at the Door, by New York Times bestselling author Jackie Urbanovic, to find out.

Duck Soup

Max is back and "OOOOOOO-LA-LA! This is going to be grand."

Maxwell Duck has made many soups before, but always using someone else's recipe. Now he's ready to create his own. After a pinch of this and a dash of that, Max's soup still isn't quite right. He decides that fresh spice from the garden is what his soup needs to be perfect, and off he goes to fetch some.

However, the back door hardly closes before Brody the dog and Dakota the cat walk through the front door. The smell is heavenly, and soon they're anxious to try Max's latest concoction. They call and call for him. "We're about to eat your soup!" Brody warns loudly. When Max doesn't answer, Dakota grabs a spoon and is about to dig in when he gasps in horror. "I think I know where Max went!" he cries.

Brody and Dakota panic and immediately jump into action looking for their beloved duck among the floating vegetables. What happens next?
To find out, you'll have to read Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic. With a cup of giggles and a heaping spoonful of laughter, it's the perfect recipe for fun on a hot summer day.

Now check out the deals Kohl's is sponsoring below on these fabulous books :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kohl's Takes $5 to the Max

Looking for a great deal on some fantastic books for your child? How 'bout a soft plush toy to go with it?

With Kohl's Cares for Kids program, you can have both without breaking your budget. From now until the end of June, Kohl's is offering another unbelievable deal. You can buy Duck at the Door and Duck Soup, both written by the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Jackie Urbanovic, for only five dollars each. No, that's not a typo. Each of these delightful and beautifully illustrated hardcover books is now available through Kohl's. And that's not all—you can also purchase Max the Duck and Brody the Dog plush toys for just five dollars each.

And you're not the only getting a great deal, one hundred percent of the net profits from these sales goes to benefit children's health and education initiatives nationwide. Since the beginning of Kohl's Cares for Kids in 2000, Kohl's has turned these five-dollar deals into over 126 million dollars for kid-related causes. So you can feel good knowing you're supporting educational programs for diabetes, asthma, and childhood obesity, as well as injury prevention and immunizations.

But the best part is that the fun adventures of Max the Duck and his pal Brody are sure to get a giggle from both children and adults. And at five dollars each, you can afford to stock up for upcoming birthday parties or stash them away until Christmas. This is one deal that's too good to pass up!

Once you get a hold of Duck at the Door and Duck Soup, why not create some unique fun for your little readers? Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Rainy Day Fun: Kohl’s Cares for Kids books and plush toys can spark a child’s imagination on a rainy day. Read Duck Soup and then encourage a child to create his or her own recipe and even test it out in the kitchen (with supervision, of course). Children can also imagine and act out new adventures for Max the Duck and Brody the Dog after reading the books.

Kids Book Club: Develop an early love of reading by starting a book club for kids. Invite a group of parents and children to read Duck at the Door or Duck Soup. Determine a meeting date and encourage everyone to come with a discussion question. Plan an activity to compliment the book, such as making soup.

Plan a Charity-Focused Birthday Party: Encourage guests to bring Kohl’s Cares for Kids books and plush toys as gifts instead of other presents, then donate the books to a local school, library, or hospital. Invite the children to join you when you deliver the books so they can feel the joy of serving others, perhaps reading their favorite stories to children in a local hospital.

Share the Love of Reading: Volunteer to read at a daycare, then leave Kohl’s Cares for Kids books as a gift to the center. Take children to a nursing home to read with residents and teach them about volunteering their time while practicing their reading skills.

Now that you're getting the idea, run—don't walk—to your closest Kohl's and grab onto this fantastic deal. Remember, you only have until the end of June before these five dollar bargains are over. And if you don't know if there's a Kohl's located near you, check out their website at for store locations and much more.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Take a Peek at Speakaboos

Take a peek at one of the hottest new websites online today. Since its debut in October of last year, is getting accolades from both parents and the media alike.

What makes this website different from thousands of others?

With over 50 titles of songs and stories on their list, has something for every child's taste. From classics like "Old MacDonald" and Little Red Riding Hood to fables, folktales, lullabies, nursery rhymes and even contempory favorites like Arthur's Baby. But that's not all—this online publisher recruits celebrities like Kelly Ripa, Jennifer Grey, and Tim Daly to read the stories or sing the songs. In my opinion, "Old MacDonald" has never sounded better than as Nick Cannon's rap version of this popular classic.

Don't feel like seeing a story? also has games, ecards, contests, Karaoke, printables, and a place where kids can type in their very own online diary.

If that's not enough to convince you, is 100% free to listen to and play online. If you want to download something from the website, a small fee of $0.99 is charged. If you prefer, you can purchase an album of selected titles for just $8.99. And all Speakaboos's audio tracks are available on and You can feel good about a purchase from Speakaboos because at least fifteen percent of all proceeds from downloads go to supporting children's charities.

To tell us more about, I caught up with Noelle, the Associate Publisher. With her background as an English major in college, Noelle says that she "always had a strong interest in writing and publishing." She also notes that "with the explosion of the internet in homes and the classroom, children are spending a considerable amount of time online. We saw an opportunity to combine [entertainment and education] in a unique storytelling site." Noelle's goal is to "promote literacy and a love of reading at a young age."

Noelle and her colleagues spent about a year developing the site. She recalls that "critical to its development was working with teachers every step of the way to ensure all of our offerings meet national standards." They also did "considerable testing with parents and their children to make sure [the site] was engaging and fun."

Noelle finishes by telling us that Speakaboos is "constantly developing and improving." In fact, they are currrently developing a "Record Your Own" section, which will allow parents and kids to sing songs or read stories in their own voices. Plus, Speakaboos will continue to add new stories, nursery rhymes, and games to the site.

This kind of quality doesn't just happen. Noelle says that she "loves to receive feedback from parents, teachers and children," so don't forget to drop her a line on how they can best meet your needs at home or in the classroom.

Now go and take a peek at this educational, lively, and just plain fun website. Speakaboos—it's just a click away!

Monday, May 11, 2009

VBT - Writers on the Move - Amazon Discussion

In an effort to get discussions going on different aspects of writing, VBT ~ Writers on the Move will begin individual discussions started on one members blog (on the 10th of each month) for the world to comment on.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson has started up an interesting discussion about Amazon and what their procedures are for book reviews and how it truly hurts writers and reviewers.

Be sure to stop by Sharing With Writers and join in the discussion.

If you haven't heard about this, you will be shocked to learn the details. Be sure to stop by Carolyn's blog and let your voice be heard.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Whole Grains Made Easy

In our fast-paced lives, eating properly often goes by the wayside. We're content to grab something quick at a fast food place and get on with our day. But in doing so we are quickly becoming a society of unhealthy and overweight individuals.

So how do we change this? The answer is simple: whole grains.

You may be thinking . . . "fine, I'll have a slice of whole wheat toast for breakfast." But even though that is better than a doughnut or McBreakfast, it still isn't enough. Just because your bread says it's whole wheat doesn't mean it's whole grain. Whole grains have all three parts of the grain present—bran, germ and endosperm. It's in these "terrific triples" that the magic lies.

Whole grains taken daily (three servings) reduce the risk of strokes, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as helping regulate weight maintenance. And if that's not enough to convince you, this wonder food also reduces the risk of asthma, results in healthier blood pressure levels, and can even fight gum disease and tooth loss. Whole grains are also a good source of vitamins B and E and contain magnesium, iron, fiber, and antioxidants.

So how can you squeeze whole grain into your busy lifestyle and (this is the really important one) have it taste good?

Bob's Red Mill has done it for you. This company has been in business for 25 years and has over 400 products. Bob's Red Mill is the "nation's leader in stone milling and offers the widest diversity of whole grains found anywhere." They have everything from a full line of baking aids and flours to low-carb and gluten-free products made with 100% organic ingredients and conventional.

Still not sure how to incorporate whole grains into your diet? Bob's Red Mill has many prepackaged mixes from "10-Grain Bread Mix" and "10-Grain Pancake Mix" to "Whole Grain Chocolate Cake Mix." That's right! Who says chocolate cake can't be healthy?

To get you started on the road to whole grains, here's a quick, easy breakfast idea that's sure to set your tastebuds "a-singing" and kick your energy levels into high gear:

Teff Porridge with Dates and Honey
contributed by Lorna Sass

This recipe was developed especially for Bob's Red Mill by renowned whole grain specialist, Lorna Sass, author of Whole Grains Every Day Every Way.

1 cup Teff Whole Grain
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup pitted dates (halved crosswise) or Date Pieces (Oat-Covered)
1/4 tsp sea salt
3–4 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup Walnut Baker's Pieces
Milk or cream for serving (optional)

Set a heavy, 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the Teff and toast it, stirring frequently for 3 to 6 minutes until the grains emit a mild, toasted aroma and begin to pop. (You will notice little white dots of popped grain but may not hear the popping.) Turn off the heat and stand back to avoid the sputtering. Add 3 cups of boiling water, the butter, and the cloves. Stir well. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom. Mash any lumps against the side of the pan..Stir in the dates, salt, and honey to taste. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender and one color throughout. Serve immediately.

You can also use these healthier choice products in place of ordinary flour, but check for recipe guidelines.

To find out more about Bob's Red Mill, their products, and their recipe guides, check out their website at

Until next time . . . have a healthy week! :)
Sandie Lee

Friday, May 8, 2009

Summer Story Synopsis by Nancy Famolari

Summer's Story by Nancy Famolari.
Summer Langston's father, a famous racehorse trainer dies leaving her with nothing but Meadow, a potentially great trotter. Summer and her father have been living and training at Golden Oaks, the farm owned by Ned Granger. Summer blames Ned and herself for not doing enough to keep her father from drinking himself to death. Although Ned offers her a home at the farm, she decides to strike out on her own and train Meadow. Her plan is complicated by Max, a wealthy owner, who covets the mare for his stable. He has a bad reputation for drugging his horses and fixing races, which makes Summer determined to keep Meadow for herself.

Davis, a famous race driver, offers to help Summer by giving her money to stable the horse at a good training farm. After Davis wins a claiming race (A race in which a horse can be claimed by a new owner before the race.) with one of her horses, Summer falls in love with him and agrees to share his townhouse. She doesn't realize that Davis is being paid by Max to help him get Meadow. Although unplanned, Davis falls in love with Summer and fails to give Max the help he wants.

Summer insists on driving in Meadow's first race. Davis knows there will be trouble and volunteers to drive instead, but she refuses. Max's driver causes an accident. Summer is badly hurt and Meadow suffers a torn tendon.

Davis blames himself for the accident. Unable to watch Summer's slow recovery and to avoid Max, he goes to California. Summer recovers, but is lame. Mike, an old friend of her father's, offers her a job as second trainer at Showplace Farms. She agrees provided she can continue to train Meadow. Summer feels that because of her lameness she has to do more then everyone else in the stable. She offers to truck yearlings to the Harrisburg sale and gets lost. Ned sees her as he's coming out of a restaurant and helps her get to the sale. He offers her a business proposition. They will be partners to train Meadow for the Hambletonian Oaks, the world's most famous trotting race for three-year-old-fillies. After her racing career, she will become a broodmare at Golden Oaks.

After Jeremy, Summer's groom, is attacked at Showplace by a man hired to put Meadow out of contention, Summer agrees to move back to Golden Oaks. It has a private track and she doesn't have to worry about sabotage from Max. The close relationship established by training the horse leads to a love affair between Ned and Summer. He wants to marry her, but they agree to put decisions on hold until after the Hambletonian.

Max contacts Davis in California and reminds him of his promise to come back to drive Meadow in the Hambletonian Oaks and throw the race. Guilt and the pressure of racing have driven Davis into the drug scene and he is feeling very bad. He still loves Summer and wants to see her so he contacts her and tells her that he wants to drive Meadow. Ned and Summer are unsure, but are forced to agree when Davis shows up in New Jersey.

Davis drives Meadow in the Hambletonian Oaks. After placing second in the prelim, to satisfy Max, he refuses to throw the final and wins. Max is furious and tells him that somebody's going to pay. Davis doesn't believe him. He goes to Golden Oaks to claim his reward from Summer. As he approaches the farm, he sees the stable on fire. He and Ned get the horses out, but the guard is still inside. Davis rescues him, but in the process his hands are badly burned.

Because of his injury, Davis can no longer drive. Summer feels responsible and agrees to train horses with him. Ned reluctantly steps aside. Davis is too impatient to be a good trainer.. Summer finds him beating a filly, steps between him and the horse and is struck instead.

Davis realizes that he is completely out of control. He has to blame someone and focuses on Max. High on drugs, he steals a gun from Ned and goes after Max. He finds him at Freehold Raceway, shoots him and gets away by forcing a driver outside the track to help him get away. The police stop him. He realizes he can't get away and kills himself.

Summer and Ned find it difficult to get back together after the tragedy. Finally, Ned tells her that he loves her, but he can't wait forever. While they're watching Meadow's foal scampering in the paddock, she agrees to marry him

For more information on her blogs, and upcoming books go to:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Get Hooked on MamaBargains

Celebrating its one-year anniversary this month with a growth of more than 400 percent, gives a whole new meaning to online shopping.

Based in Salt Lake City, is a unique, fast-paced way of shopping. It provides "access to the most sought-after products one deal at a time." There's no waiting and debating on this website, no sitting and bidding like on ebay. If it's there and you want it, grab it now, because once the little cartoon mom gets to the words "all gone," you're out of luck.

But why would you want to wait? offers premium brand-name products from Fleurville, Uppababy, Baby Star, Itzy Ritzy, Easy Walker, Kate Quinn Organics, and many more. And with bargains of 50–80 percent off the retail price, getting hooked on this site isn't going to be difficult. In fact, it should come with a warning. Don't see what you want? No problem—just let Mamabargains know, and they will track it down for you and still strive to get it at a top-notch price. You'll want to bookmark this site and check back often. Since the items on are sold one at a time, shoppers may find two deals on one day and eight or ten deals the next.

If that's not enough to convince you, was just named as one of the Top 20 Mom-Owned Businesses in the 2009 StartupNations Leading Moms in Business Competition. This is no easy task, since thousands of applicants entered this prestigious competition. Plus, employs ten staff members, several of whom are stay-at-home moms.

So get hooked on! Their website is Have fun shopping and remember to watch that cartoon mom—when her walk is done, so is the bargain :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

SFC Familes Matter Mother's Day Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who entered our SFC Familes Matter Mother's Day Contest. The entries are all wonderful and heartfelt. It was a tough decision but, unfortunately we can only have three winners.

So without further ado here are the winners of our Mother's Day Contest.
Drum roll please...

1st place goes to Adrienne for "A Little of This"
2nd place goes to Michelle, for her "untitled" piece
3rd place goes to Mara for "The Greatest Teacher of All"

Remember winners to please email us your mailing address so we can send you your prizes.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers, Grandmothers and Step moms. You all deserve a wonderful day filled with love, happiness and above all appreciation :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mother's Day Getaways

Mom works hard, so why not give her a break? Treat her to a fun family getaway for Mother's Day (May 10th). With a little bit of planning, you don't have to break your budget to show her just how much you care.

Any mother would love a day or two of pure pampering; however, most spas are pricey. But did you know that some bed-and-breakfast inns offer complimentary in-room massages, whirlpool tubs, and other specials for mom? These quaint homes are usually found in picturesque environments and are situated on lakes, nestled among mountains, or sequestered in a forest on a wooded lot. Look through your local phone directory or at the tourist bureau for pamphlets for information about an inn near you. With the economy down, a lot of these inns and resorts will likely be running promotions for Mother's Day weekend. And once you get there, don't be afraid to ask at the front desk for promotional coupons for other fun sights and activities in the area. Even if your local B&B doesn't offer a whole lot of "spa-like" amenities, Mom will still be guaranteed a nice breakfast that she didn't have to prepare herself.

Family-style vacations for Mother's Day can also include her favorite things. If Mom is a nature lover, renting a cabin on the water would be a sure-fire hit. Be sure to pack the beach/lawn chairs, some sunscreen, and Mom's favorite novel or magazines. This is her weekend, and relaxation is the key. Most cabins come equipped with everything you need (i.e., cooking utensils, furniture, etc.), but check with the owner so you aren't left without something important. (picture courtesy of AshRidge Cabins Hocking Hills of Ohio

If your budget is really tight, there's no need to panic. Take Mom on a special picnic with all her favorite foods. Again, check you local listings for free events. Some parks run festivals or open markets with artisans displaying and selling their wares. Museums, zoos, and aquariums are also good spots to check for Mother's Day specials.

Whatever you do for Mom, whether big or small, remember to do it from the heart. She's guaranteed to love it.

See you next time...Sandie Lee

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Unique Gifts for Mom

Since all moms are "one of a kind," don't they deserve a gift that's unique too?

HomeGoods offers a wide range of everything from home furnishings, bedding, and bath products to rugs, lighting and gardening tools.

So what makes HomeGoods different from all the other home supplies stores?

HomeGoods buyers shop all over the world to make sure that every store is stocked with an "ever-changing array of interesting" and incredible merchandise at discount prices. "Their motto is . . . 'Live the Life, Without Paying the Price,'" which gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "bargain hunting." With everyday sales, merchandise at HomeGoods is always slashed 20 to 60 percent off what you'd normally pay at a department or speciality store. Here are just a few bargains you'll find starting Thursday, April 30th, at HomeGoods:

· Monogrammed Stationary and Jeweled Frames for $3.99–$4.99 (reduced from $8)
· Tea Gift sets and Jam and Breakfast sets for $2.99–$24.99 (reduced from $39)
· Assorted Statuaries for $7.99–$19.99 (reduced from $20)
· Spa Accessories for $3.99–$12.99 (reduced from $24)

Can't decide what Mom might like? HomeGoods also offers Gift Certificates. And remember, since HomeGoods specializes in one-of-a-kind products, merchandise will vary from location to location, and new shipments arrive weekly.

To find a location near you or to view some of HomeGoods fantastic items check out their website at...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Nancy Famolari, Author of Summer's Story

We are pleased to have author, Nancy Famolari as our guest today.

Nancy lives with her husband, five horses, two dogs and five white cats on a farm in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Her stories and poems have appeared in Long Story Short, Flash Shot, Fiction Flyer, Lyrica, Alienskin Magazine Clockwise Cat, and Matters of the Heart from the Museitup Press. She received an award from Fiction Flyer for one of her flash fiction stories. Her novel, Summer's Story, will be available from Red Rose Press in the fall 2008. Her mystery, Murder in Montbleu, will be available from Red Rose Publishing in 2009.

Nancy will be checking in periodically throughout the day to field your questions.

Q: What do you most enjoy about writing?

A: What I love most about writing is feeling the characters come alive. When I write a novel, I know where I want to end up, but I let the characters take me there by talking to each other. Their actions move the story forward. It's such a rush to be able to interact with your characters. They become friends. I actually miss them when I've finished the novel. It's better than reading because you get to know new people in an in-depth way.

Q: How do you advertise your books?

A: Since my two book are ebooks, I advertise primarily on the web. Being part of a virtual book tour, like this one, is a good way to tell prospective readers about my book and to let them get to know me. I also have been on blog talk radio. That was great fun. If my book comes out in paper eventually, I will have several opportunities. The library wants to feature me at a local author's luncheon and the local Barnes and Noble wants to invite me to a local authors day. I have business cards with my book cover and information on where to purchase it. Since the book isn't available yet, I will be looking to see what avenues work best for sales.

Q: What is the best tip you can give someone who wants to write?

A: The best tip I can think of is apply your seat to the chair and write. Courses are great, so are critique groups, but the sad fact is that you have to put in the hours developing your voice and learning to use all the things you've discovered in courses. Critique groups are a double edged sword. You can get valuable information, but you have to have enough self-confidence to decide what to accept and what to reject. It is, after all, your work. It has to please you.

Q: Do you have an agent?

A: At the present time, I don't have an agent. I was lucky enough to attract the interest of an excellent editor and got the contract for Summer's Story that way. I took a seminar with Jonathan Mayberry. He gives a very good seminar on publishing and advertising your book. He is primarily interested in print books and for those you really need an agent. I asked him the question whether ebook authors needed an agent. He said, you don't need an agent at the current state of the industry. Most agents aren't interested unless it's possible to get an advance and few ebook publishers give them. However, when advances are generally available that will undoubtedly change.

Q: Do you have a favorite author?

A: Dorothy Sayers is still my favorite author with Elizabeth George not far behind. I'm afraid I'm addicted to British style mysteries. I'm looking forward to reading Caroline Graham. Her novels have been adapted for television as the Midsomer Murders. So far I'm loving the series. Now I have to try the books.

Be sure to stop back on Friday, May 8th when we share with you the synopsis of Nancy's novel, Summer's Story.

Thanks for stopping by.

For more information on her blogs, and upcoming books go to:


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.