Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Joy of Less -Amy Newmark and Brooke Burke-Charvet (Giveaway)

About the Book:

Do you have too much stuff? Are you cramming too many activities into each day? Have electronic devices taken over your free time? We all want to reclaim control of our lives—reducing the amount of clutter in our homes, on our calendars, and on our screens! Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Less shows you how, with 101 stories from real people who have figured out how to experience “the joy of less” by simplifying their lives.

These stories will inspire you to get to work on those life-changing projects that you’ve been meaning to do for years. You’ll learn how to de-clutter your homes and experience the liberation of less “stuff.” You’ll be inspired to slim down your calendar and say “no” to commitments you don’t want to make. And you’ll find yourself re-evaluating the amount of time you spend online and in digital relationships with “friends” instead of having experiences and relationships with living, breathing people.

This is a new kind of book for Chicken Soup for the Soul—a new topic for its fans and stories that are
both entertaining but also filled with usable advice and easy-to-implement tips. Key inspirational quotes and tips from each story are also pulled out, magazine style, and featured throughout the book. You can’t help but be inspired to get to work on de-cluttering and simplifying your own life after reading these stories.

My Thoughts:

It's been a while since a book resonated with me as much as this one has. I've long been passionate about living simpler and not having too much stuff. And it's so easy to accumulate stuff and let it clutter our living space and our life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading how people creatively de-cluttered their life and experienced The Joy of Less. I sometimes like to mention a favourite story, but for this book, there were too many. I highly recommend The Joy of Less for everybody who is tired of too much stuff, too many activities, too much tech time, too much TV...and is looking for positive changes. This book will find you nodding in agreement many times, and hopefully inspire you to 'reclaim control of your life'.


In exchange for an honest review Shelton Interactive and Simon and Schuster provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  


I would love to give you to a copy of this book, especially if you'd like to move towards The Joy of LessShelton Interactive has kindly made it possible for me to giveaway copies of this book. So depending on how many responses I get, will help me decide how many books I'll give away. Just leave a comment (along with your email address) and tell me if you've ever thought (or perhaps you did more than think) about de-cluttering your home. I'll decide the winner on June the 3rd, 2016, via and contact that person or persons via email. Good Luck!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

One Year Later... an orchard full of kindness trees!

Hutterite Diaries is one year old today! This time last year was very exciting, my first box of books had arrived and I was enjoying sharing them with people, and I still do. I was also thinking book launches and looking forward to hearing from readers. You can read some feedback by clicking on Hutterite Diaries Feedback above. I still appreciate reading your reviews, so if you've read my book and have not posted a review on places like Amazon or Goodreads, I'd be delighted if you'd consider doing so. I know we sometimes wonder if people actually read those reviews, or find them helpful. Over the past year many people have told me what they had read about Hutterite Diaries. 

Working on Hutterite Diaries gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about the revising and publishing process. During the past year I learned, and am still learning a lot about the marketing aspect. I've had some wonderful opportunities to share my book, some of which have come unexpectedly: book launches, book talks, presenting at workshops, a radio interview, newspaper and magazine articles, blog interviews, reading to students via interactive television, talking about it on my own blog, Twitter and email.

This coming July, More of Our Canada, a magazine, will feature an article about Hutterite Diaries, in their Showcase section. I'm really looking forward to see how people will respond to that. On June the 2nd there's a mini-conference of Hutterite Educators in Watertown, South Dakota. Unfortunately, I'm not able to attend, but one the organizers, Gwyneth Dean-Witte, someone I've never even met, kindly offered to sell my book. It's all arranged. I ordered the books and Herald Press has sent them, so that they'll be available for the teachers attending to buy. I was truly humbled by this offer and am so grateful for people like Gwyneth! I've a growing list of such kind-hearted people.

Recently I was invited to talk about my book at a literacy workshop in Carmen, Manitoba. After meeting Barb Lepp via Twitter, and inviting her to our school for I-Love-to-Read month, she told me about their upcoming workshop. She also asked me to be sure to bring books along for teachers to buy. Through this event quite a few school libraries in Manitoba have my book on their shelves now. A friend of mine, Noaline Hofer in the Prairie Spirit School Division has also been instrumental in promoting my book in her area. There are some things about this publishing journey that were never in my wildest dreams -- like receiving so much support from teachers and people involved in promoting literacy, Hutterites and non-Hutterites alike. Thank you so much, everybody, for your tremendous support. If there's ever going to be another book, it'll be because of people like you!

I got a heartwarming phone call from a  sweet Hutterite grandma in Alberta, Canada, a few days ago. She was reading my book and wanted me to know how much she enjoyed it. "Dear Linda, you have such a gift of storytelling."

"Where did you get my book," I asked her, after thanking her for taking time to call.

 "I was at our school and saw one of our teachers with it," she replied. "I told him right away that I would love to read it and he kindly lent it to me."

Amelia Earhart once said, 'A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees." I recently visited a cherry orchard, which was in full bloom - a magnificent sight! When I think of all the people who have kindly spread the word about Hutterite Diaries over the past year, I envision this orchard in all it's splendor. Indeed, you've helped 'make new trees'.
Thank You! Danke! Merci!


Sunday, 15 May 2016

Busy, Busy - Eileen Spinelli

About the Book:

Mommy's very busy, just like the animals: beaver's building, mole is digging, and spider's spinning. But no matter how busy Mommy is, she will always have time to share her love. This lively, reassuring book is sure to bring smiles and snuggles.

Eileen Spinelli is is the author of numerous children’s books, including Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, God’s Amazing World, and Two to Cuddle. Eileen lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Elina Ellis loves drawing pictures and imagining stories. For her, there is no greater reward than knowing that her creations make people smile. Elina works in both digital and traditional media creating her own books and illustrating for others. She lives and works in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

My Thoughts:

It's been a while since I got the chance to review a children's book, and I really enjoyed this one. There are a number of aspects about this book that young children will find very appealing. (I read it to my nephew and he loved it.) It's just the right size for little hands. It has bright, colourful illustrations and it's written in rhyme. Since this is a board book it will also withstand many hours of being handled by little hands. Furthermore, it has a timely message of the importance of spending time with our children - it's not only time well-spent, but reaps many benefits. This book would make an excellent baby gift.


In exchange for an honest review, Worthy Publishing Group provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Cherry Blossom Time on the Prairies

A few days ago I visited a local cherry orchard. I didn't know the place exists, even though it's just a few miles from our colony.That's right, perhaps I should get out more, cruise around the neighbourhood a bit. (Thanks, Yolanda, for suggesting we stop by to see this place!) A cherry orchard in full bloom is an enchanting sight and has the most heavenly scent. The owner told us they have two types of cherries: Juliet and Romeo from the Romance series. And that this tart fruit makes excellent cherry pie filling, but can also be enjoyed fresh.

Walking down those lovely cherry blossom aisles, I knew Anne Shirley would come up with a beautiful poetic description for this grand view. As for me, I breathed in deeply, dug out my BlackBerry to capture the moment and share it with you. What a lovely spring evening!

Then, this morning we woke to a dusting of snow. Thankfully though, this will not do too much damage to the blossoms. Especially since it was all gone in an hour or so.

"After all," Anne had said to Marilla once, "I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string."

Which blooming wonder is decorating your area these days? Does it bring to mind a song, story, favourite character or some special event in your life? I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Succulents for Mom

It's that time of year when everybody is itching to get their hands dirty in the garden. We had a fabulous afternoon at school today, satisfying that itch. A few months ago we painted cups we were planning to use as Mother's Day gifts. This afternoon, Shea and Candace Doherty from Our Farm Greenhouses came to our school. They brought along potting soil and succulents from their greenhouses. First Shea talked about planting and taking care of plants in a very entertaining manner. Besides being great with plants, he obviously also has a gift doing school presentations. Then each child picked three different succulents and planted them in their cup.  They were so excited about planting flowers in their pretty decorated cups and couldn't wait to present them to their mom's. I know these gifts will make all our moms very happy.

Here's a glimpse of our exciting afternoon:

Shea and Candace helping students plant flowers into their cups.

Our lovely green and growing gifts:

Thank you Shea and Candace! 
You helped put a smile on all our mom's faces (on the student's and teacher's faces as well) and added a lovely 'green and growing' touch to their Mother's Day!

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

For Mom, with Love - Amy Newmark

About the Book:

Enjoy 101 stories from Chicken Soup for the Soul’s library on the celebration of mothers and motherhood. With heartwarming stories by mothers and their children of gratefulness, love, inspiration and laughter, this book does what we so often fail to do – say “I Love You, Mom”, making it a great gift not just for Mother’s Day, but always.

My Thoughts:

Just in time for Mother's Day, a new Chicken Soup book full of beautiful mother-related stories! One of my favourite stories was written by April Knight. She describes a time when she was a teenager and had to spend the summer with her ailing Grandma who she hardly knew and who lived hundreds of miles away. I admired April for agreeing to give up her summer of fun for 'the worst summer of her life'. As much as she hated missing out on all the summer fun with her friends, in the end, her outlook changes when Grandma shares some of her childhood memories. This is just one of the many stories in this collection that almost anybody can relate with or draw some inspiration from.


In exchange for an honest review Shelton Interactive and Simon and Schuster provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

Friday, 29 April 2016

A Hutterite Woman Inducted into Agricultural Hall of Fame

I believe this is a first for Hutterites.

The late, Selma Maendel, who resided at the Fairholme Hutterite colony is one of the 2016 Agricultural Hall of Fame inductees. Knowing Selma, this recognition would not have been something she was striving for. She was more about working diligently, in her usual quiet, but strong way to make a difference at her own colony, and others as well. Selma's giving and friendly nature reached far beyond her Hutterite community. Remembering how selflessly Selma served others, brings to mind, Romans 12:10: Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. It's heartwarming to see that her services to the agricultural community is being recognized.

Selma passed away April 29, 2014, after a brief battle with brain cancer. During her illness, which she faced with patience, courage and grace, a Facebook was set up in her honour.

Selma was involved in many things. One of her projects was operating their long-arm sewing machine, with which she quilted numerous beautiful quilts. She was a guest blogger right here, back in August 2012. You can read her post, Long-Arm Quilting, here. Some of the others activities she was very good at were knitting, sewing and designing patterns, cooking and catering, writing newspaper articles, writing computer programs, soap making, organizing events like, Farm Safety Day Camps, Fairholme Bake Sale,  Hutterite Track and Field Days and High-school Envirothons; all of this while serving as head cook at Fairholme. Selma was an excellent teacher and passed many of her skills on to family and friends. My sister, Elma has fond memories of the day Selma helped finish her quilt. "The way Selma thoroughly explained every step, felt like I taking a min-workshop on quilting with a long arm machine."

One year we hosted a Farm Safety Day Camp here at my colony. Selma was in charge of all the food and organized how and when it will be served. Our head cook still marvels how effortlessly she organized everything, "She was busy all day long and stayed calm and never seemed to tire. She has quite the gift! I know if she hadn't been here, things would have been a lot more hectic."

Here are some articles that give a glimpse into Selma's very full life:

Western Producer - New Products

Herald Leader - Mountain Poetry and Drama Festival

Research Gate - Low Prevalence of Psychosis Among Hutterites   

"True leaders are selfless. 
They have always been servants of the people first.