Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 15, 2017

Blog Hop

If you look outside, you’ll see that spring is on the way – even though it’s only mid-February!  The temps are soaring (it was 77 here on Sunday!), the trees are blooming three weeks ahead of schedule, the daffodils are blooming (and looking beautiful in a vase on my kitchen table), and … the bees are busy.  My Big Helper found that, with these high temperatures, her bees are zooming through their winter stores, so she fed them pollen patties this weekend.  We’re seeing them everywhere, too, as they excitedly gather pollen and look for food in this spring-like weather. 

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Homeschool Hack:  Unit Studies.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Syncopated Mama: Passport to Fun – China

Running Belt DIY

Sausage Cheese Dip

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 


Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway! So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+. Winners not living in the USA will win a digital prize package, while USA winners will be shipped their prize via the USPS. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

“Still Life” by Dani Pettrey

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Dani Pettrey’s latest is out, and it’s a winner ….

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

Pettrey’s latest work in the Chesapeake Valor series is an action-packed winner!  If you enjoy romantic stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, then Still Life is most definitely for you.  Between the danger that Avery faces as she tries to find her friend, the romantic tension between her and Parker, and morbid photos that keep popping up of dead beauties, you won’t be able to put Still Life down.

Avery is a fascinating main character to me.  With her rough background and gritty determination to overcome it, Avery’s journey to healing and love is a page-turner.  With Parker’s fun Irish accent, who wouldn’t be enthralled? 

I enjoyed the ties Pettrey created between Avery’s past and her present, between the art world and the real one.  As my daughter and I enjoy playing with our cameras and trying to get the ‘perfect’ shot – though only of things like flowers and butterflies – reading about real photographers and their work was a fascinating angle of the story.

Pettrey excels at building suspense, and part of that is the way that she adds suspects to the list and then sorts through them.  She keeps you guessing for much of the story while she drips details into your brain.  I was a good two-thirds of the way through the story before I had even a hope of pinpointing who the killer was, and even then I wasn’t sure I was right.  I love when an author can keep me guessing ’til the end!

If you’re a fan of Christian suspense fiction, hurry and get your hands on a copy of Still Life.  You won’t regret it.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

 

Field Work Friday: Route 11 Potato Chips

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Sometimes it’s possible to stumble onto great educational experiences without really trying, and that’s what happened when we stopped in at the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory.

The Route 11 Potato Chip Company started out on its namesake road, but it has since moved to a newer, bigger location just off Interstate 81 in Mount Jackson, Virginia.  The warehouse is the home to the entire company:  offices, gift shop, and factory itself.

Route 11 welcomes visitors, but what makes the site really unique are the windows built into the walls of the gift shop.  From that vantage point, you can look into nearly every part of the factory and see how the chips are made.  On the day that we stopped in, the kind woman at the counter came out and explained the process to us.  We learned about how the potatoes are purchased from individual farmers across the Eastern seaboard and how they’re turned into yummy potato chips. 

The process is fascinating, and by moving from window to window you can see almost everything (the potatoes are washed and peeled in a separate room).  By moving to a second-floor balcony, you can see into the seasoning room, where we watched two workers salting a batch of lightly-salted chips and turning them by hand. 

The machinery that fries, flips, drains, and bags the chips were was fun to watch.  Conveyor belts move the chips throughout the factory in batches, and although they start with 100 pounds of potatoes, 75 pounds of water cooks out!

The gift shop area includes a sampling table, where you can try many of Route 11‘s unique flavors.  My Little Man loved that part the best!  My Big Helper spent her time in conversation with our tour guide and admiring the t-shirts, jewelry, and other items on display in the shop.

Route 11 employs sustainable business practices, and this was especially interesting to us after touring TS Designs last week.  They, too, recycle their frying oil.  We were particularly excited about the picked-out chips, though.  After frying, the chips are sent along a conveyor belt, where a worker inspects the quality of them all.  If chips are found that are slightly under- or over-cooked, they’re tossed into a bucket.  A nearly farmer comes by at the end of the day and collects those chips, and feeds them to his cows.  I never knew that cows like potato chips!

Field Trip

If you’re ever driving through that section of Virginia, stop in and check out Route 11.

If Route 11 isn’t available in your area, you can try them out here:

 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 7, 2017

We’re having a super busy week here.  The kids are busily working on their unit studies while we prep for a very special book club event tomorrow.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was 11 Fun Valentine Activities for Kids (WTRW).

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Restaurant-Style Chipotle Salsa

Raglan Zippy Pattern Release

Romantic Dinners for Valentine’s Day

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

An InLinkz Link-up

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+. Winners not living in the USA will win a digital prize package, while USA winners will be shipped their prize via the USPS. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

“Conspiracy of Silence” by Ronie Kendig

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Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers–and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague–but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem–but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

Conspiracy of Silence is the fastest paced thriller I’ve read in years!  I couldn’t put it down.  It’s a winner on so many levels – the growth and redemption of Tox, the Biblical artifact mystery, and the team that travels the world trying to save it.

I love that mix.  The combination of military action, good-versus-evil, and Biblical artifacts coming to light is exciting.  It’s like reading a paper version of the best kind of action-adventure movie, and if you’re a lover of books, what could be better?

The depth of character to Tox is exhilarating.  He’s a military man through-and-through, but the faith, regrets, and love interests add multiple facets to his character that make him a wonderful leading man.  You can’t help but cheer for him on all levels even when things are going his way. 

There is a prequel novella to this story.  It’s short but maintains the same high-octane level as this book.  It’s not necessary to read that story before this one, but it will help you to understand the attitudes of the characters in the early chapters.

This is the first Kendig book I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.  I loved this story.  If you’re a fan of Joel C. Rosenberg or other realistic action-adventure stories, you’ll definitely want to read Conspiracy of Silence.

I received a free copy of Conspiracy of SilenceAll opinions expressed here are my own.

Field Trip Friday: TS Designs Makes Revolutionary T-Shirts

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My husband has been fascinated with screen printing for years, and that’s why I was so excited to find that TS Designs would be open to having us come and tour their facility.

We soon learned more than we ever expected.

TS Designs

Eric Michel, Chief of Tech and Logistics, kicked off our tour with a history of the company.  TS Designs started out as a standard screen-printing company back in the late 70s, and business was strong as they printed shirts for companies like Gap and Nike.  When these major companies began taking their business overseas after NAFTA, president Eric Henry knew he had to make changes.  He and fellow founder Tom Sineath changed their focus to what they call the 3 Ps:  People, the Planet, and Profit.  With this as their motto, they jumped on board the green movement.

TS Designs

That’s when the Cotton of the Carolinas line was born. This new line features cotton from local farmers, and it’s processed into shirts locally, too.   Eric passed around samples of the cotton at each stage of the process so the kids could feel and examine it.  There are more steps than I had imagined!

This is a really fascinating process, and TS Designs works with experts.  Want to know more? Watch this clip of their UNC TV Special here.

TS Designs

Now printing for a smaller customer base, TS Designs no longer needed to print hundreds of thousands of shirts at a time.  Instead, they needed to be able to keep a smaller amount of inventory on hand.  Since most screen printers print on the color of the shirt desired, this caused a problem, as TS Designs didn’t want to keep shirts in every color in storage.  Instead, they developed a new technology that would allow them to dye the shirts after being printed.  Even now, they’re the only printers they know of using this REHANCE technology.

TS Designs

Then we were on the move:  out onto the factory floor, where we learned about how the giant screen printing presses operate.  In full production mode, each one takes several people to operate and can print a shirt every six seconds.  Wow!

TS Designs

The kids were full of questions about the printing presses, the screens, and the large drying machines we saw on the floor.  Who knew screen printing required so much equipment?

TS Designs

After that social media queen Jen Busfield took over.  She taught us about the variety of ways that TS Designs employs to keep their company sustainably minded. TS Designs not only prints t-shirts that are completely local, but they use their property to benefit the community in many ways.  They’re a drop-off station for fuel recycling, and they have a garden manned by the staff, too.  Outside of the garden area is a bench that becomes the home for several bee hives come warm weather, and they’re tended by local beekeepers.  The honey they share with TS Designs is then enjoyed by the employees.  While the staff has enjoyed fresh eggs from chickens kept on the property in the past, a new local law made the hens relocate, but they have hopes of returning soon.  They even have solar panels on the roof and an outside patio area for staff!  It is obvious that TS Designs is working hard to be friendly not only to their customers and to their employees, but also to the planet as a whole.

I’ve never heard of a business diversifying in so many ways to be friendly to their environment.  TS Designs might have started making these changes to stay afloat many years ago, but it’s obvious that it’s become a heart decision since that time, and we learned many things from them.  Seeing a business care about its employees and environment in such concrete ways was refreshing. 

TS Designs

Of course, at the very end of our tour, we headed to the Breakroom Boutique, where TS Designs sells extras and overruns for $5 each.  We were able to find some great shirts – some designed by Mindful Supply, which are all super cute, and all featuring the REHANCE technology that makes even the printed area soft and pliable.  This company is definitely doing good, and we’ll be hitting up this shop again.

TS Designs

Where have you field-tripped to learn something new?

While TS Designs is definitely the way to go to print shirts for your youth group, business, or special event, you can learn more about small-batch printing at home!  Check out these resources:

 

 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – February 1, 2017

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It’s been a hard week here, full of celebration and travel and tough stuff.  We drove through snow squalls and bundled against cold wind and returned home to temperatures in the 60s.  We’ve spent the day unpacking and trying to get ready for a busy weekend, when it’s supposed to be cold again, and I’m looking forward to an evening with my family in front of a warm fire.

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Kindle Freebies.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Creative valentines ideas for kids

5 Homemade Valentine’s Day Gifts to Give.

Unique Valentine’s Day Gift – Creating Kilter

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 


The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway! So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Monthly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 

Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop – January 25, 2017

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We’ve had lots of crazy busy days lately, and last Friday I decided we needed a break.  After all, part of this homeschooling adventure is supposed to be great together time, right?  We decided to have an art/lit day, and the kids  created these paintings while I read to them.  I love break-in-the-routine days!

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Favorite Homeschool Posts from Bloggers You Love.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

30 Valentine’s Day Desserts

Road Trip Notebooks keep children busy

VALENTINE’S PINWHEEL COOKIES

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!

The most clicked posts of each week will be entered to win a Monthly Giveaway!

So, be sure to 1) include your email when you link up and 2) share the link to Encouraging Hearts and Home via social media with your readers, fans and followers! 

By linking up you agree that if your blog post is selected to be featured on any of our hosts’ blogs that we can use an image from your post with a link back to your post. 

Montly giveaway winners must be 18 yrs.+ and live in the USA. Winners will be given 48 hours to respond to winning email. Mailing and/or email address will be required to receive giveaway packages. You may only win 1 time in every 6 month period. 


“The Mark of the King” by Jocelyn Green

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After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Jocelyn Green has penned an epic new adventure saga in The Mark of the KingA fantastic and dramatic look at life in the French Louisiana colony in the early 1720s, I couldn’t put it down.

There were so many aspects of history that Green wrote into this book that I was completely unaware even existed; I didn’t realize that any part of North America was ever forcibly populated by criminals; that there were wars between the French and the local Native Americans long prior to the well-known French and Indian War; that New Orleans was a planned city, and much, much more.  Knowing that these true historical facts formed the basis of this story made it even more exciting.

Not that it wasn’t on its own.  Life was hard in New Orleans, and Julianne faced more than any one woman should ever have to endure.  I constantly wondered at her persistence and diligence, because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have her outlook if I lived in her circumstances.  The humidity and mosquitos alone would have done me in!  Her faith and character are to be admired and can teach much.

I loved Green’s smooth writing style, too.  Each time I thought I had something figured out, due to words that stood out or perceived foreshadowing, the story swung into a new direction.  I never saw it coming, but the transitioning was smooth, and the details made it all fit perfectly as events unfolded.  That can’t be easy to do, but it makes for a fabulous story.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction of any kind, definitely give Green’s The Mark of the King a try.

Click here to see more reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 
 
Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning author of ten books to date, including Wedded to War, a Christy Award finalist in 2013; Widow of Gettysburg; Yankee in Atlanta; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. A former military wife herself, her passion for military families informs all of her writing as well as her numerous speaking opportunities. Jocelyn graduated from Taylor University with a BA in English and now lives with her husband and two children in Iowa.
 
 
Want to win your own?  Check out Green’s giveaway!

Jocelyn Green

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

 

Encouraging Heart & Home Blog Hop – January 18, 2017

Encouraging Hearts & Home

Exciting news!  The weekly blog hop formerly known as Hearts for Home has been updated with a new name and logo!  While we’re still dedicated to sharing encouraging and inspiring ideas for your home and family, there are a few new features.  Isn’t the new logo beautiful?

Blog Hop

That’s not the only new feature; the most clicked post each week will be entered to win a monthly prize package!  So share your favorite posts and link up your own to increase your chances of winning these great prizes. 

Tweet: Find encouragement for your heart and home at A Nest in the Rocks. This week’s blog hop is live! https://ctt.ec/epe5O+

All of this excitement is one reason I’m excited that …

A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for the weekly Encouraging Hearts and Home Blog link-up, which means that every Thursday you’ll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post. If you’re a blogger, we’d love to have you link up your posts and join us. You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

The most clicked post from last week was Free Organization Printables.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

Beautiful and Easy DIY Gift idea

100 Super Bowl Sunday Recipes

30 Amazing Winter Science Activities for Kids

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our ‘Featured Blogger’ buttons! Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.

Please share your family friendly posts with us!