25% off Blurb Photo Books

Now through Monday December 17 you can get 25% off with Blurb with the promo code FINALHOLIDAY (and it'll ship in time for Christmas). Creating their photo books is so simple: just upload Instagram or Facebook images with a click.

We made one this fall. It shipped fast and turned out beautifully. Truthfully, it was easier to design than our Christmas cards. What a fun gift idea. (Affiliate.)

UPDATE: I made three books tonight (12/16), and I know they're going to be much-loved. Blurb will still ship in time for Christmas Eve, however, there is an expedited shipping upcharge. If you're ordering multiple books, it's still a great deal.


10 Free Tiny Prints Cards

Anyone can design and receive ten free flat Tiny Prints Holiday Cards (worth $24). Just pay any shipping and upgrades and use code HOLIDAYCHEER. Expires Tuesday November 13 at 11:59 Pacific.

We sent these last year, and they are really beautiful--a significantly higher quality than the ones sold at discount stores. I will have a full holiday card giveaway in the next week or so, but since everyone is eligible to get these now, I wanted to share the love. (I'm an affiliate.)

Free Shipping at Tropical Traditions

I love when Tropical Traditions has a free shipping code. It's 121211 and good through midnight on 11/12/12 for orders of at least $16.

Their coconut oil is delicious (but you can also buy the tasteless expeller-pressed variety). We saute with it and stream it into smoothies, and it's also a great moisturizer and what we use in our deodorant. They also sell body products, flours, and other natural foods, like raw organic honey (currently half price).

[These are referral links.]


And When She Was Good {Book Review}

And When She Was Good, by Laura Lippman, is two stories woven together: one about a suburban soccer mom (who also happens to be a madam) and the other a sad tale of the life that led a teenage girl into prostitution.

It is a compelling novel, and the modern storyline is surprisingly normal and neither sensationalized nor especially provocative. Heloise is a loving mother who most people believe to be a respectable lobbyist. Her firm, supposedly advocating for pay equity for women, employs pretty co-eds as upscale escorts. It's all relayed in a manner most matter-of-fact, neither unseemly nor glamorized either. It is what it is, and the life and business affords Heloise the opportunity to provide very well for her small family.

But then another suburban madam is murdered. The police start asking questions, and Heloise realizes that she knows the woman from their shared and troubled past. Her secrets may be catching up to her, and the normal life she's planned may elude her and her son yet.

It is certainly an interesting mystery and well-woven tale. The only drawback for me was that I didn't resonate with Heloise at all. She wasn't especially sympathetic, but neither was she portrayed as a villain. She was written in a way that made her seem far off, not easy to relate to or cheer on (or despise, for that matter). The story was interesting, but it fell flat for me because I didn't feel particularly invested in Heloise's character. Her son's character was barely developed at all; he's almost a fringe figure, even though we are told how all of Heloise's decisions are carefully measured and made around him. If their characters had been written more warmly, I think I would have enjoyed the book more.

Book provided to me for review by TLC Book Tours.


Ten Years of Tea

Tea Collection is celebrating ten years of fun, globally inspired children's fashion, and they've created a Tenth Anniversary Collection of favorite pieces for your little ones. 10% off with code UAF710. (Affiliate)


God Gave Us Love {children's lit review}

"Choosing love is always right."

God Gave Us Love is a sweet board book written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, with illustrations by Laura J. Bryant. It's less a story than a conversation between a polar bear grandfather and his granddaughter about the nature of  Christian love.

"I think this is God bringing out the best in us," whispered Little Cub.  "I think God is giving us love right now."

It touches on faith and family and choosing love even when we are frustrated.  The narrative lacks, but the teaching is good, and it opens the door to a worthy conversation with preschoolers about what it means to demonstrate God's love to the people around us.

"Grampa, could we ever do something to make God not love us?"
"Nope.  He always hopes for the best in us.  He sees a bit of himself in us.  And that bit is love.

I like that explanation of the imago dei in child-like terms and its reassurance of our worth as God's beloved.  What a fabulous lesson to set in young hearts.

The pictures are playful and appeal to little eyes.  The text engages my four year old, but even a baby would appreciate the animals, and the study board pages will stand up to many reads.

Review copy provided by WaterBrook Multnomah.


When God Created My Toes {children's lit review}

The painted illustrations in When God Created My Toes  are beautiful and the rhymes sweet.  The family in the book appear to be multi-racial, perhaps Asian, which I found to be a welcome departure from the white faces that are standard in much children's media.  The young dad with the hipster-looking glasses was fresh type, too.

The book is appropriate for very young preschoolers.  There is no narrative and the pictures are simple.  The family's home is also simple, which I appreciated.  The rhymes reinforce the idea that God created each of us, and the little girl imagines God delighting in creating each part of her:
When God created my hand
Did my fingers snap?
Did he help me clap?
Did we cheer for angel bands when God created my hands?
It does entertain the apocryphal idea that children originate in heaven, which I found a little off-putting.  I probably wouldn't purchase a copy myself, but my kids are enjoying it.  It is a sweet little story that reminds kids that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a creative God who loves them.

I received a copy from from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group but was not otherwise compensated for this review.