Friday, November 17, 2017

A gift that brings the family together and teaches honor and character

How to start a family tradition that is meaningful and creates memories lasting a lifetime. . . .  

Family Honor Plate

The Family Honor Plate starts as a DIY ceramics-painting project you get to create and bake at home. Then it turns into a fun family tradition and parenting tool to raise our children in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as written in Galatians 5:22. 

I was so excited when I saw this product. I see it as something that can be uised in such a variety of ways. Mom (or Dad) can turn on their own creative juices and make this an "gift" or "artistic offering" to their own beloved family by painting their own design around the rim and then the plate can be used on special occasions.
Kit comes preprinted with text in middle.
You or your family design and paint borders with paints provided.

Or it can be turned into a "kids only" artistic endeavor (guidance recommended, of course) where the kids actually do the artistic work and then it becomes a plate that is utilized by the family in whatever way they benefit most from it.

Whatever the family decides is the best way for them to create their own personal Family Honor Plate, it will become a treasure. (Clue to note: As a grandparent, I have magnets and other little pieces of creativity that my grands have made and they bring joy to my heart.) Find and order plates - click here.

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

These fun questions from the Table Thyme Discussion Cards take conversations to a deeper level and teach everyone in the family how to articulate and share special memories, learn how to voice their opinions, and for some how to even have an opinion. These are skills required for success in relationships and careers.  This is a fun way for children to learn these skills naturally.

This is a concise flip-card-holder that keeps the cards together and easy to use and to store. Helps to get conversations started and expand communication in family and develop skills children need to converse at table. Find and order it - click here.

DISCLOSURE: I received both products to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. I have not actually painted the product myself (I am definitely not artistic) but I do plan to pass it along to my daughter who has a young family. She is definitely artistic and I can hardly wait to see her creation!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Deadly Proof - Atlanta Justice Book 1 by Rachel Dylan (Legal Thriller / Suspense from Bethany House Publishers) [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  I find it fascinating to read about the inner workings of legal procedures as a case comes to trial. It doesn't matter if the main story is about the prosecution's side or that of the defendant. It is interesting. Of course, I don't understand the terms being used, but the author's ability to write about how information is gathered and presented and what is and is not allowed in court is certainly evidenced in Deadly Proof as practicing attorney and author Rachel Dylan takes us into the world where pharmaceutical research and marketing meet the road with attorneys and judges.

I live in an area that has several major  pharmaceutical research and development companies. These are mega corporations with global marketing. I have known marketing people and research scientists personally in some of these companies. There are also a couple of major research hospitals in our area and these play a major role in the development of cutting edge medicines that are marketed by these global corporations. I can see a situation such as the one fictionalized in Deadly Proof easily a reality.

As author Rachel Dylan weaves this story of corporate greed, medical travesty, and thrilling legal expertise the depth to which corporate greed and criminal intent can go lead the reader through scenes terrifyingly rife with nail-biting realism.

Touched by a bit of romance that softens the harshness of a world gone bad, the book concludes on an uplifting and joyful note.

About the book: Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company's dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He's still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything---even commit murder---to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can't help but admire Kate's courage and resolve---but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?
Dylan pin1
About the author: Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at

More book and author information & reviews

Begins November 17
ENDS December 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Giveaway copy is provided to readers of Chat With Vera compliments of Litfuse Publicity Group and the publisher. Winner's copy will be mailed directly to the winner by Litfuse or publisher.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What is currently on the docket at Chat With Vera?

Click image for review & giveaway page. All giveaways are open to USA only unless specifically noted in the review.

GOOD EARTH BEAUTY Naturals National Geographic Kids books for gifting teachers/kids The Beginner's Gospel Story BibleA KING JAMES CHRISTMAS Museum of the Bible Children's books DEADLY PROOF by Rachel Dylan

The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy & Illustrated by Trish Mahoney from New Growth Press [Giveaway]

About the book: Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined!

In The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God's tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God's grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God's love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child's attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
  • Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children---or letting them read it to you!---even the youngest kids will come to know that God's promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
  • Gospel-centered Bible stories expressed in ways that speak to toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Children will learn the good news of God's love for them.
  • Traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories.
  • Brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney highlight each story and add fun elements to keep young children's attention.
  • Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to reinforce the message.
More information, read a sample, and purchase a copy: here

Begins November 15
Ends December 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway Author: Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls---Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church-Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children's ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at and is also the coauthor of Leadership Mosaic and two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the publisher and winner is selected using the Rafflecopter system.

Holiday gifts for kids and teachers from National Geographic Kids [Review & Giveaway]

Let's think about school and the upcoming holidays......

As one who worked in schools for many years, I know the cycle of holiday breaks and I know how students and their parents look forward to these days. Teachers, too! And part of the Christmas holidays is the "gift for teacher" that many families lovingly bestow on their child's classroom teacher.

Most often, these are trinkets and gifts designed for a teacher. We've all seen them in the stores and the teachers usually have a host of them already in their possession. Not that they they don't appreciate your loving gift, but sometimes something a bit more useful is more appreciated.

Have you ever thought of a new book for the classroom bookshelf? All elementary and most middle school teachers have a bookshelf and teacher's own funds usually purchase these books. And the teachers (and students in the class) absolutely love it when a good, quality, fun, and educational book is added. That's where National Geographic fits in so nicely. They have an absolute plethora of wonderful books from which you may choose. Below are just a few that you might want to consider......

They are fun, visually stunning, totally engrossing AND educational (but don't tell kids that last part!).  Here's a brief rundown of a few of the titles  and book covers:

Weird But True! Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays — (ages 8-12, 208 pages)
The PERFECT stocking stuffer! Ready for some totally festive facts? Even Christmas can be weird -- it's true! Did you know that Santa's reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that "Jingle Bells" was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will ho ho ho when they unwrap this book that is chocked full of the most random and fascinating facts about their most favorite holiday.
My thoughts: This is cute. Lots of fun, silly, interesting little bits of information that will entertain kids during Christmas and other times as well. 

Ultimate Dinopedia - (ages 7-10, 296 pages) Attention dinosaur fanatics! This is a big, gift-worthy hardcover that is also the most complete and comprehensive dinosaur reference ever. Although these amazing creatures roamed the Earth ages ago, new dinosaur discoveries are still being made today.  The new edition includes favorites, like the fierce T-rex and the gentle Brontosaurus, plus audacious new finds, like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. Every dino profile is colorfully illustrated and features descriptions of when they roamed the Earth, how they lived, what they ate, and more. There are more than 600 dinos featured in all, including 10 profiles of recently discovered dinosaurs and new entries in the Dino Dictionary. Reports from paleontologists present the latest news and insights from the field.
My thoughts: Another great and interesting book about the species "dinosaur" from the good folks at National Geographic Kids. What was really surprising to me is the huge chart/ table of dinosaurs by name and where they are located. I had no idea there were so many types. 

Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-Out, Fun-tastic Facts - (ages 8-12, 192 pages) “...the whole outing is really tailor-made for dipping and flipping at random....A bodacious wellspring of random knowledge."— Starred review, Kirkus Reviews. BIG, packed with gorgeous photos and illustrations and guaranteed to keep kids occupied for hours and hours, Bet You Didn’t Know is the perfect holiday gift for the fact-lover or for your kid’s favorite teacher’s classroom. Did you know that the first stop signs were black and white? Or that a litter of kittens is called a kindle? Or that butterflies can see more colors than humans can?  Based on a favorite department in Nat Geo Kids magazine, this book is overflowing with fascinating facts, silly stats, and catchy little knowledge nuggets in all kinds of cool categories, from astronomy and sea creatures to revolutions and breakfast. Special features include Extreme Weirdness, Strange Places, Wacky World, and more.
My thoughts: Attention span a wee bit short sometimes? Still you can engage the mind and learn fun and interesting stuff with a book like Bet you didn't know! National Geographic Kids has another slam-dunk with this one.

Just Joking Jumbo — (ages 7-10, 288 pages)  What do you get when you have 1,000 giant jokes and 1,000 funny photos?  A stocking stuffer that adds up to some seriously big laughs! If you have a budding stand up comedian on your list this year - this is the perfect book for them.  Knock-knocks, puns, riddles, tongue-twisters, photos of silly situations and even the craziest info about the history of funny business - it’s all here!
My thoughts: Who ever thought joking around could be fun and tweaked with learning as well? Got 'cha! National Geo Kids, of course. Sprinkled throughout are little bits of information that sneak in unawares. Kind of fun to learn this way.
Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems and Stories from Nature’s Nursery - (all ages, 192 pages) Sweet dreams are made of this! Join National Geographic Kids on a trip around the globe to celebrate nature's nursery.This collection of stunning photography of wee ones of the wild world will inspire, awe and awww. With dynamic profiles, clever poems, time-tested folktales, amazing rescue stories, and unlikely animal friendships, this book will be a favorite with sleepy little ones, new parents and moms-to-be. Featuring everything from wobbly baby bison to teeny turtles, mini-monkeys to fluffy foxes, this is the perfect keepsake book for the baby animal lover in us all.
My thoughts: As always, the babies get our warm fuzzy on and bring joy and smiles to all of us. Learning about these sweet little ones - and such a variety of critters - is such fun. Engaging for any age.
1st Place = Choice of 3 of these books
2nd Place = Remaining 2 books
Begins November 15
ENDS December  1 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of these books to facilitate this spotlight/review. Any opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given. Books provided by National Geographic Kids.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winter is time for Chili - Cooking with Vera offers this version

Here in North Carolina winter comes a little later than our Northern neighbors who have been having snow and frigid temps for more than a month now. But here in the second week of November it has finally gotten to be coat weather and all the pretty flowers froze over with dipping evening temperatures.

So that makes it a good time to break out the wonderful Cuisinart Slow Cooker that my kids gave me and cook up a batch of chili. I love this Cuisinart Slow Cooker because I can sautè in it as well as slow cook. Saves having to use multiple pans. There are only two in our small household now so this batch will last awhile, but it freezes well. So, hey, dinner again in a couple of weeks is ready to go. Best "take out" ever! You know, "take out of the freezer"!

So I decided to snap a few pictures and show you how this Southern Lady makes up a batch of chili. You can tweak it how-some-ever you want to and make it as hot as you wish. We prefer a mild chili that warms, not cooks our tummies. So here we go.....
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I used venison that my son provided. He is a hunter here in North Carolina and provides venison for himself, his son in another city, my husband and I, and families in need. I sautèed the meat in extra virgin olive oil and then added the chopped onion (I use a sweet or a valdia onion) and sautèed it a bit more. Ready to add  are a large can of Muir Glen organic fire roasted tomatoes, a standard can each of light red kidney beans, pinto beans, and great northern beans. I like to use a variety of beans in my chili.

Onion (sweet onion or vidalia) is chopped on my handy small chopping board. Then sautèed a bit more with venison. I use a El Paso mild taco seasoning pack which gives just enough heat. I don't add anything else to season it. Slow cooking enhances the flavor and spices so less is best in my opinion. I also don't add additional salt as the canned beans and tomato have adequate salt.

It is a simple process and a hearty meal. You can vary the beans and this particular slow cooker can hold twice as much. I used one pound venison but beef can be used as well. Just be sure you use lean meat, sautèed in olive oil, and toss the rest into the mix. Larger batches require an additional packet of seasoning and you can choose a spicier variety if that is to your taste.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World edited by Catherine Schuon and Michael Oren Fitzgerald [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781937786038
Hardcover $19.95
My thoughts: I was expecting a "Christmas" book steeped in classic art with accompanying Scripture from the King James translation of the Bible. What it actually is, though, is Christ's birth and early life and a third section on His teachings using famous art from around the world to illustrate compiled portions of Scripture in the King James Version.

This is quite a book. But as with all books, some will like it more than others. Since much of the classic art pieces were executed many years ago when the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches were dominant, there is much focus on the Madonna and Child with accompanying halos around their heads. There is a table of illustrations at the back of the book identifying each of the pieces of art with artist, location, year work was finished and name of piece of art. This is very nice for children and adults who will be visiting locales that display this art but it also works as a tutorial in naming and identifying art. It is amazing to behold art that has existed for 1,000 years or more.

Back to the purpose and splendor of the book..... the real gem to me is that they are using the beautiful King James Version to recount the birth of Christ, His childhood, and His teachings. This even includes a wonderful section of the Sermon on the Mount.

I don't really see this as a children's book, but a family book. One that can be tucked away on the family bookshelf and referred to at special times.

Very nice and worth pursuing.
Begins November 13
ENDS December 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
About the book: Beautifully crafted and presented, A King James Christmas is sure to become a new Christmas classic for the entire family. Excerpts from the Gospels are woven together to form a seamless and easy-to-follow story of Jesus’ birth and infancy, including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the adoration of the Magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the flight into Egypt. Also included is the inspiring Sermon on the Mount. Fully illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass windows from across the globe, A King James Christmas is a feast for the eye and a remarkable celebration of the spirit of Christmas.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Wisdom Tales Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.