Friday, January 20, 2012

‘Small Space Organizing: A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space’ by Kathryn Bechen – Book Review

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Being that it is still January, it is still the New Year (in my opinion)! And one thing we love is to try to make things better in this fresh year! Kathryn Bechen, in her first book, ‘Small Space Organizing: A Room-by-Room Guide to Maximizing Your Space,’ helps those of us who have a small space make the most of that space!

Here is the synopsis of this helpful book:

With a few tricks up your sleeve, small can be the new big! While we may admire the spacious rooms in large homes we see in magazines or on TV, let’s face it: most of us don’t live in rambling estates. Instead, we live in homes, apartments, or condos with small rooms and even smaller closets. But you can enjoy an organized, beauty-filled life no matter what the size of your space. In this practical book, you’ll learn how to

·         perform a room-by-room audit of your space to see if it’s functioning at its best
·         make the most of existing storage space and find clever ways to add more
·         find creative ways to arrange furnishings and accessories that maximize space and bring harmony and style to the home
·         live graciously in a small space with others (especially those who aren’t organized!)

Whether you’re an empty nester who’s downsizing, a newlywed setting up your first nest, or some who just needs some creative new ideas, you’ll love these strategies, tips, and solutions to maximize space and enhance your quality of life.

Here is the biography of the author:

Kathryn Bechen is an award-winning professional lifestyle writer whose articles have appeared in popular national newsstand magazines including Small Room Decorating, Cottage Style, Cottage and Cabins, Country Almanac, Country Victorian, and in regional magazines such as San Diego Style Weddings and Nebraska Wedding Day. Her work has also been published in numerous print newspapers and online.

Quoted repeatedly in the media for her organizing and decorating expertise, Kathryn holds a BA degree in English and Education and a Certificate in Interior Decorating. The lifestyle company she founded – Organized with Ease, Kathryn Bechen Designs, and - have served clients worldwide.

Kathryn has organized and decorated thirteen personal small space residences together with her husband, Steve, during their thirty-plus years of marriage, and they currently reside in their favorite small space ever: a 1,200-square-foot high-rise apartment in beautiful San Diego, California.

To sign up for Kathryn’s free lifestyle e-newsletter and to learn more about her books, e-books, blog, and media interviews, please visit her website at You can also locate Kathryn on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We just visited San Diego in December; I agree that it is one beautiful city and they have a great zoo!! I loved seeing the koalas (one of my favorite animals) and pandas!!

Here is Kathryn introducing her book:

My husband, Fred, and I live in a two-bedroom condominium. I have to admit that I occasionally wish we live in one of the larger homes that are occupied by some of our friends! Then I think about the upkeep that is involved, and I quickly realize that condo living is my preference. We don’t have children (aside from our two adorable Cocker Spaniels, Shelby and Sammy!), so the only reason why we’d need a bigger place is to have room for more stuff. And, believe me, I don’t need an excuse to get more stuff!.....
I especially enjoyed these chapters:

·         Chapter 4: Small Space Wisdom: Special Small Living Spaces
·         Chapter 8: Bathroom Bliss: Organizing Your Small Bathroom for a Spa-Like Experience
·         Chapter 9: Home Office Heaven: How to Organize Your Office for Success
·         Chapter 16: The Great, but Small, Outdoors: Organizing Patios and Terraces

I love this section of Kathryn’s ‘Letter to My Readers:’

I hope you’ll come to think of Small Space Organizing as your lifelong “small space bible” that you can reliably refer to time and time again as you progress through the stages of your life, moving from one home to another. I encourage you to read through it all in one sitting and then go back and refer to specific chapters as you need them. And (unlike your ol’ eight-grade English teacher!) I hope you’ll write in the margins and highlight favorite tips and passages that motivate, encourage, and inspire you along your journey. Take notes on whatever ideas will help you get organized. Get out your colored markers and have fun. Whatever it takes!
So come on, let’s get started! (pp. 13-14)

In the chapter on ‘Kitchen and Dining Delights,’ Mrs. Bechen made this important point about an issue that has plagued me since I’ve lived in a condo – how to entertain in a small space:

Always remember that it’s far more important to have a kind spirit of hospitality and friendship as the emphasis of your home, rather than neglect to invite others to visit you there just because you lack large rooms or expensive furnishings. A true home is really about the size of your heart, not about the size of your space. (p. 95)

Being that I have a home-based business now, I spend more time working at home than I used to. I liked this tip about our home office:

Now that you’ve set up your small home office space in a productive and comfortable way, once again it’s time to treat yourself! Art is a nice way to do so and will further personalize your space. Maybe you’d like to have family pictures on your office walls. You could have your crowning achievements framed and on display. Or perhaps a photo from your favorite family vacation to Fiji enlarged to poster size is more your style. Again, choose something for your walls that will be oh-so-you. (p. 123)

Kathryn closed out her book this way:

My sincere wish for you, my friend, is that you will embrace the fullness of your small space lifestyle, with all the blessings and freedoms it offers. And remember what William Morris once said: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” (p. 218)

If you want to get more organized, I would highly recommend that you pick up this book! Kathryn writes in an engaging and ‘homey’ way; I would love to meet her some day! Another suggestion to get organized is to take a peek at the products I sell as a Consultant with Thirty-One Gifts; we have some wonderful organizing totes, etc….! I am definitely more organized since I signed up in mid 2011!

You can order this book here.

Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was provided by Revell for review purposes. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

'The Keeper' by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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One of my favorite authors is Suzanne Woods Fisher. Although I only know her through Facebook, she seems like a wonderful person! I do hope to meet her one day!

This prolific author's latest release is 'The Keeper,' from the 'Stoney Ridge Seasons' series. I will be reading and reviewing the book soon. In the meantime, please take a peek at what is in store for me and for you!:

A family. A farm. A heart. All in need of repair.

Life on Windmill Farm hasn't been the same since Julia Lapp's father has had trouble with his heart. But that doesn't stop Julia from hoping for a bright future. She has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. But when Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she is determined to change his mind. She knows who is to blame for Paul's sudden reluctance to wed: the Bee Man. Roman Troyer, the Bee Man, travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. A mysterious man who relishes his nomadic life, Roman especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia seriously at odds with him, Windmill Farm is looking decidedly less appealing. 
Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind? 

That sounds terrific!

Here is an endorsement. This really whets my appetite!:

"The Keeper is a keeper. From a fabric of likable and original
characters, Suzanne has crafted a moving story of faith and loyalty, a 
story of hope shining out of the darkest places. A captivating read."--
Dale Cramer, bestselling author, Levi's Will

I will be receiving my copy of 'The Keeper' from Revell Publishers shortly. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be an enjoyable read!

Be sure to join Suzanne at her Facebook party on January 17!

Friday, January 6, 2012

‘7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future’ by Mary Hunt – Book Review

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I like the timing of this latest review! As most of us are hopeful for a better year in the New Year we’re entering, one of the big topics is improving our finances. That is certainly true for me and my husband, Fred. Revell has a new release, ‘7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future’ by the wonderful Mary Hunt.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

Simple Rules. Big Payoff. In her warm and encouraging style, financial expert Mary Hunt shows you how to master the essentials to get your money under control and prepare financially for the rest of your life. She shows you how to master the essentials to get your money under control and prepare financially for the rest of your life. She shows you how to apply each of the 7 Rules, starting today, as well as how to recover from past financial mistakes. With Mary on your side, you’ll learn how to

·         Spend less than you earn
·         Save for the future
·         Give some away
·         Anticipate your irregular expenses
·         Tell your money where to go
·         Manage your credit
·         Borrow only what you know you can repay

Money mastery isn’t hard when you know the rules. Let 7 Money Rules for Life change your future from uncertain to rock-solid – no matter what your income level.

Here is the biography of the author:

Mary Hunt is founder and publisher of Debt-Proof Living, a highly regarded organization consisting of an interactive website, a monthly newsletter, and personal finance tools. Since 1992, DPL has been dedicated to its mission to provide hope, help, and realistic solutions for individuals who are committed to financially responsible and debt-free living. Her books have sold more than a million copies, her syndicated daily newspaper column is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of everyday Cheapskate readers, and her articles appear in such magazines as Women’s Day, Guideposts, Christianity Today, and Bottom Line. Hunt speaks on personal finance and has appeared on shows such as Oprah, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil and Focus on the Family. She and her husband live in California.

Here is Mary explaining her concept of Debt-Proof Living:

In the Introduction to this book, Mary explains the predicament she found herself in:

I banked on the fact that the US economy all but guaranteed an upward spiral of increasing prosperity, better-paying jobs, and appreciating home values. There would always be plenty of jobs, plenty of credit, unending supplies of loans to pay for kids’ education. If we worked hard, bigger and better cars and homes would always be within reach.
And I got away with that kind of attitude for years. But our lifestyle was built on a house of cards that could teeter only before it came crashing down.

I came to the end of the line and had to face just how ignorant and illiterate I was about money, or lose everything. Learning and applying simple, sound principles of money management saved my life. (p. 14)

I can’t say that our straits are that dire, but we definitely need help in this New Year!

I will focus on two of the rules that impact our lives the most: Rule 1: Spend Less Than You Earn, and Rule 7: Borrow Only What You Know You Can Repay.

I loved this section from Rule 1 (Spend Less Than You Earn):

What follows may be the single most important thing you will read in this book, so I hope you are paying attention: choosing contentment as a way of life is the only way to win this battle between needs vs. wants. Contentment is choosing to be happy with what you have, while not always desiring something more. Contentment is not something we achieve, it is a choice we make. It is an attitude we learn. It’s a decision we make to buy what we need and want what we have.
Prosperity does not bring contentment, and poverty cannot take it away. Read that again. If prosperity were the secret for contentment, Hollywood, the NBA, and the National Lottery Winners Association (I made the last one up) would be the happiest places on earth. (pp. 54-55)

I have to admit that discontentment is one of my problems. It is a sin to God, and I want to learn to live with contentment. I am getting there!

The subject of contentment is prevalent throughout the book; it is addressed again the chapter on Rule 7: Borrow Only What You Know You Can Pay:

Debt promotes discontentment. Debt is often what happens when you’re not satisfied with what you can afford to have right now. And once you start pursuing “more,” you’ll always be unhappy with what you have at the moment because, face it, there will always be something more out there that captures your attention. It’s easy to use debt as the antidote for feelings of dissatisfaction and discontentment. Then it become akin to drinking a glass of salty water. It makes you thirsty so you want to drink more, and the more you drink the thirstier you become.
Debt limits your options. This is true of any type of debt, even a secured home mortgage. Debt is like a lead balloon that hold you in one spot…. (p. 130)

I love Mary’s point in the chapter entitled ‘Getting It All Together:’

Once you write a goal, no matter how simple it is, it takes on a power of its own. You have something specific on which to focus. Your thoughts point to it like a laser beam, which leads to another powerful benefit of your human brain: you become what you think about most of the time. (p. 148)

Great point; awesome wisdom!

Another good thing about this book is that she gives each reader the opportunity for a 6 month free membership in her website, Debt Proof Living. I took advantage, and hope to glean a lot more from her after the book has long been finished.

I thank Mary for what she shares with us from her own personal experience. I plan on reading it with my husband, Fred, who has been hounding me for what seems like years to be a little more attentive to financial matters…. I highly recommend this book. Mary’s style is engaging and warm, and she makes financial issues as warm and fuzzy as they can be! She writes from a solid, Biblically based perspective, which is the way I want to live.

You can order this book here.

Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. This book was published by Revell and provided by them for review purposes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guest Blog Post - 3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and What You Should Do Instead if You Want to Succeed in 2012 by B.C. Fleming

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I periodically like to feature guest posts here on my blog. Today is another special! B.C. Fleming is an author and speaker who offers some valuable advice for the New Year! Enjoy!

3 Reasons New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work and
What You Should Do Instead if You Want to Succeed in 2012

By B.C. Fleming
Author and Speaker

In the military we are results oriented, period! And there is no excuse for not producing results. Nobody wants to be known as "that guy" who can't be counted on. I know very few, if any, successful people who take New Year’s resolutions seriously (and I’m blessed to know quite a few, actually). A great number of people who are successful at what they do are successful because they are results-focused and results-oriented, they don’t make excuses for failure, they are go-getters and stubborn in their commitment to not give up and stick with it and they don’t stake the success of their careers or personal lives on short-lived, “feel-good” marketing gimmicks that reappear once a year every January (not to sound harsh, but let’s be honest).

1. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be broken. They don’t work because nobody keeps them. People make their resolutions with the intention of receiving some sort of pleasure or reward and expect it to happen almost instantaneously. When it doesn’t come fast enough they give up. But I can tell you from personal experience that the desire to avoid imminent pain or discomfort will move more people in a given direction faster than any other force, even the promise of pleasure or reward. Most people, when it comes to their resolutions, focus only on what they want to happen. But you will take more consistent action when you have the daunting thoughts of the things you don’t want to happen in the forefront of your mind accompanying those things you do want.

2. New Year’s resolutions do more damage than goodbecause people don’t know how to properly set and actually achieve goals. Most people are half-hearted in their commitments to their New Year’s resolutions because they want the result without the work. Then they feel like failures when they choose to give up in a month or two because they’ve decided that what they thought they wanted isn’t worth the effort. Again, they beat themselves down mentally and feel like failures because they gave up and it’s back to square one.

3. People despise change. People instinctively try to avoid change instead of embracing it. People like their comfort zones and New Year’s resolutions require people to get out of those comfort zones and to stay out of them. Pursuing and reaching a New Year’s resolution typically involves a moderate to major change in a person’s daily lifestyle. Doing something different takes time to develop into a habit—roughly 3 weeks according to some experts. Drastic, sudden changes in personal lifestyle typically won’t last for any extended period of time because most people simply don’t want whatever it is they said they wanted badly enough.


1. Make a list of 3 things you absolutely DO NOT want to have happen in your life this year (in the “resolution areas” as I call them—areas you’re looking to improve in). Underneath that list of things you don’t want to happen, make a sub-list of 3 simple, practical things you are going to do every single day in order to avoid having those things happen. At the end of the paper, write one short, simple phrase stating your ultimate goal or desire in doing these things—and be specific (seeing your end result written down is KEY)—and then write down a specific date as a deadline.

2. Make 3-5 copies of this short, simple list.

3. Tape these on your mirror, next to your toilet, in your car, on your refrigerator, on the backside of your front door—anywhere you will be forced to run into them and look at them on a daily basis. Then do the activities listed which will ultimately lead you to your goal. Success here is in keeping it simple and doable. 

4. Stay consistent! Truth is, if you want something badly enough and are willing to do whatever it takes and stick with it, you’ll get it. Remember… At the end of the day you have nobody to blame and your success is your own fault!

*To INSTANTLY download a FREE copy of “Fleming’s Ridiculously Simple Plan for Achieving Your Goals,” simply go to, scroll to the bottom of the page and click the yellow button that says “GOALS!”

Thanks to Audra at the B&B Media Group for providing this great article!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winner of 'Night of the Living Dead Christian' is!

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We have a winner of 'Night of the Living Dead Christian' by Matt Mikalatos, a wonderfully funny allegory. That blessed person is....


Congrats, Jen! I will be sending you an email to get your info soon!

Thanks to Tyndale House for making this giveaway possible!

For those of you who would like to purchase this wonderful tome, you can do so here.

Please come back soon, as there are more giveaways to come! Thanks!

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