Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 31)

Thanks to you all, I won!

COTT conqueror Button

 

Protective Custody won Clash of the Titles for February releases! Thanks to all of you who checked out the site and voted. I’ll be popping on various blog sites next week to talk about my book. I’ll let you all know about those here so you can join in on the visits.

A fun way to discover new authors!

Booksweep promo

I’ve teamed up with over 50 fantastic WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel COMING HOME, plus books from authors like WENDY LINDSTROM and KARI TRUMBO, MARGARET BROWNLEY and KAREN WITEMEYER.

Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/western-hist-rom

These contests are a great way to discover new authors that you might enjoy. As always, when there is a large group of authors, these books can range from sweet to spicy. If you decide to try out a new author, please read the book descriptions carefully to ensure you are getting a book that is at your comfort level.

The contest runs from February 6-13, 2017.

Good luck and enjoy!

Protective Custody Is Coming!

My first romantic suspense novel is releasing February 8! And you can get it for a special pre-sale price if you act soon! Click here.

Also, if you sign up for my newsletter, you can read the first TWO chapters now!


Protective Custody presale

Coming Home is free Dec 29-Jan 2

Coming Home is free for 5 days!

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!” R.H., Amazon reviewer

Five days only! Click here to get it!

Giveaway!

Happy New Year!

Most of us look to the new year as a time to start new habits or reboot old ones. If one of your goals includes spending more time with God, I have something that can help you.

Daily Wisdom for Women

I wrote the entries for the month of June in this devotional book from Barbour. The image doesn’t do it justice. The cover is a soft, embossed leather-like material. It’s beautiful to hold and has a ribbon to mark your place.

And I’m giving away two copies to my subscribers. I’ll be drawing names last on January 5, and I’ll notify the winners so I can get their copies mailed out to them. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up using the form to the right. All subscribers get the first chapter of my latest release, other freebies and goodies as I come up with them, and no spam! So even if you don’t win the devotional, you’ll still get free stuff! Share with your friends!

Happy New Year!

Shadows holding hands

Survival Skills for Moms, Part 3

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

Our first two parts (Part 1 and Part 2) discussed getting and cooking food, activities that take up a large part of our over-stretched calendars and budgets. But today we’re talking about you.

As moms, we’re so busy taking care of our families that we routinely put ourselves last on the list. And that’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout. So here are three areas you need to nurture if you want to avoid that.

Time for yourself

I hear you saying, “What’s that? I never have that.” True. You have to make time for yourself. Get out your calendar and block off time for yourself. Whether it’s to do a hobby you love, work out, read, or just be where no one is calling your name. You cannot serve your family out of an empty well. You have got to take time to refill your well.

Time with your spouse

For those of you who are married, I you have to have time alone with your spouse. Regular date nights will feed your marriage. Someday all those little birds will fly the nest. It would be nice to still know the person you’re married to when it’s just the two of you.

Dates don’t have to be expensive. A cup of coffee, an ice cream, a walk all count as dates. What matters is that the two of you have time to connect. A strong marriage reassures your children and gives them comfort and security.

Time with God

Being a mom to boys is exhausting and difficult, fun and crazy. They are quite different creatures from girls. Being a mom to girls brings its own challenges with emotions and identity. We need to regularly go to God with our hopes, fears, dreams, and questions. He is their Maker. He gave them to us. And He loves them more than we do. Let Him refresh your soul and guide you in raising your children.

Hopefully, you’ve found a few useful ideas to try out during this series. Raising young men and women is an adventure, and we need all the help we can get from each other!

 

 

 

Cutting green onions

Survival Skills for Moms, Part 2

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

What’s for dinner?

Has that become a curse word in your house? In Part 1 we talked about grocery shopping, something that’s a huge part of our schedules as moms of teens. But once you get the food, you have to do something with it. You have to prepare it, cook it, and actually make meals out of it.

Trying to figure out what to have for dinner at four o’clock is a recipe for frustration and fast food. I know for me, when I don’t know what to cook and don’t have the energy or think about it, my default is to order out. If you’re trying to save money (kids are so expensive!) then that can be a budget buster. Thinking ahead about meals and doing some planning will save your sanity and budget. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me.

Plan in advance

Planning and cooking in advance is one of the best solutions. Several places like, Emeals, have prepared menu plans you can purchase. Most are fairly inexpensive, have options for specialized diets and family size, and give you a grocery list. You’ll more than save what you spend on these plans by not running out for fast food because there’s nothing to eat.

When you choose one of these plans, look for sample menus. You’ll want the recipes to be easy to make without a lot of ingredients. They shouldn’t take too much time (generally under 30 minutes). The meals should generally fit into your family members’ tastes. And there should be a good variety so you don’t get bored.

What I like about having a weekly menu with recipes is that I post them on the refrigerator. Everyone knows what’s for dinner. And I can even get my children to start helping prep dinner because they know right where to look for all of the information. This also works if your husband gets home before you (or generally does the cooking) or if you have someone helping out in your house. Everyone can be on the same page.

Cooking in advance

Another one of my favorite cooking survival skills is cooking in advance. Pinterest has tons of recipes. I love the Occasional Cook by Cyndy Salzmann, but there are other resources. This may seem overwhelming at first but the rewards far outweigh the work. There’s something very satisfying about a freezer full of meals that only need to be pulled out and warmed up. It’s also great if you want to deliver a meal to a sick friend or someone with a new baby. You have meals already made and ready to go.

I eased into this. I started by making 7 meals, then 14, and finally 21. 21 meals aren’t that much more work than 7, and it’s so worth the effort.

My game plan usually looks like this. I find a day or two when I can shop and cook. I shop on day one, first looking at what I already have in the freezer, then hitting Costco because the large quantities will work really well in this situation. Finally, I go to my local grocery store. Back at home, I put on whatever needs to cook for a long time: stock, marinara sauce, meat.

The next day I follow the plan to start making the meals. While you’re out shopping, buy something for yourself for lunch. You’re not going to want to make a lunch in the middle of cooking.

Finally, I type up a list of the meals I made, the cooking and prep instructions for each meal, and any side dishes that go with them. I print this out and put it on the freezer or fridge. Then I can cross off each meal as we eat it, and I have a great idea of what I have left

When I do this, I make twenty-one meals in about seven hours. It’s tiring, but satisfying to be able to pull something out of the freezer and not have to cook for a month. Try doing it with a friend to make it more fun.

Use your slow cooker

This seems almost too simple to list, but I know I overlook it a lot. In the winter time it’s great to have something warm and yummy for dinner. But in the summer it can also be great if you don’t want to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen. Pinterest, of course, has a ton of Crock Pot recipes. Many subscription meal plans include regular slow cooker meals.

Make your own meal plan

Another great option is to pick the top 15 or so meals that your family enjoys and you eat regularly. You can write out a standard shopping list based on those ingredients and then rotate through those meals every few weeks. This works great if you have picky eaters that only like a few things.

Get your kids to help

Sometimes it hardly seems worth the effort when you can just do it faster yourself. Your kids might not want to help. Or they may find that they really like cooking. Either way, you’re teaching your children valuable skills. Being able to make even a simple meal will make their diet—when they are on their own—consist of something beyond cereal, PopTarts, and pizza.

Plus, boys are more likely to talk when they are doing an activity. There’s a good chance you’ll learn more about their lives if you can get them to help in the kitchen. When my stepchildren come over for dinner, I leave the kitchen so they can have time cooking—and talking—with their dad.

We continue with one more part to this series on survival skills with the ultimate survival skill: time for yourself!

 

Note—I do not receive any compensation from any of the companies listed or linked to here. I’m just a mom sharing with other moms what has worked for me.

 

Fresh veggies

Survival Skills for Moms, Part 1

BY JENNIFER VANDER KLIPP

When your kids were little, they needed you for every little thing. Feeding, clothing, changing diapers, toting them from place to place. I remember thinking that things would be easier when they got older and didn’t need me so much.

They still need me. But in a different way. While I don’t have to spoon feed them anymore, I still spend a lot of time in the car running them around for school activities, sports, hang out times with friends, and—because I have two special needs kids—lots of doctor appointments.

Because I’m naturally a planner, organizer, and project manager by trade, I’ve developed a few survival skills for moms to survive those crazy years. Some you may already know about, some might not work for you at all. But the more we share with each other what’s working for us, the more we help each other out.

Groceries

Moms of teen boys often feel they need to take out a small loan before going grocery shopping. The kids eat a lot and often. In our house, we call them locust (see this post ). Once upon a time, I used the grocery lists like the Grocery Game and Savings Angel to figure out what to buy when and what coupons to use. If you haven’t used them before (or something similar in your area) they are worth checking out to see if they will work for you. Most of them have trial periods.

The idea is that grocery stores work on 12-week cycles. You stock up on what you need during the low prices (combined with coupons when possible) then you make your weekly meals out of what you already have on hand. It’s a great way to save money, particularly on things like paper goods, cleaning products, and toiletries. But it does take time. Additionally, if you don’t buy a lot of prepared or packaged foods, coupons won’t be as valuable to you.

If time is really crunched for you Amazon’s Subscribe and Save and Prime Pantry programs might be for you. With Subscribe and Save, you pick out your items from their Subscribe and Save shop. You get a delivery once a month, pay no shipping, and save 15% on your total order if you have more than 5 items. This is great for supplies like toilet paper and dog food that you need monthly. The prices can be comparable to grocery stores or even warehouse stores, so check the prices. You get an email several days before your order is locked in and you can make changes to it. Then it’s delivered to your door. I get about 50% of my groceries this way.

For fresh food, companies like Door to Door Organics (parts of New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Illinois, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Missouri)and Zaycon Foods (nationwide) can be good sources for produce and meat if they are in your area. Door to Door Organics will deliver a box of fresh fruits and veggies every other week, plus other groceries you might like to add to your order. You will pay more than the grocery store, but many people like the option to choose local farmers, organic produce, and community sponsored agriculture.

Zaycon uses the buying power of its members to make large purchases from local farms. They deliver to a local, central location where you pick up your order. Prices are usually better than what you can get in the store. But you need to have freezer room for the large orders and usually it’s several months between orders.

Another way to get fresh veggies into your family without having to go to the grocery store is through Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) boxes (go here to find them near you) and produce co-ops like Bountiful Baskets. With CSAs you buy a “share” of a farm from a local farmer and each week they provide you with a box of produce. Produce co-ops buy seasonal produce in bulk and distribute it to their members on a regular basis. Both options provide fresh produce for your families and support local farmers, usually at a savings to you.

Bulk shopping

Most people know the advantages of shopping at places like Costco and Sam’s Club. You can get large quantities at lower prices. For things you use a lot of or go through quickly, this is a good option. But check prices. They aren’t always better than the grocery store. And if something goes bad before you can use it up then it’s not a deal. You also have to have room to store extras (closet, garage, basement, under your bed).

Share the load

If you have friends in the same boat as you, consider sharing the load with them by buying in bulk together. Or start a co-op with several families. Door to Door Organics and Bountiful Baskets work particularly well with co-ops.

Most of these tips require a little prep time, but they will save you in the long run. Realize, too, that your sanity is a valuable commodity. IF something makes your life easier, it can be worth the cost.

Stay tuned. Part 2 talks about what to do with all this food now that you have it!

 

Note—I do not receive any compensation from any of the companies listed or linked to here. I’m just a mom sharing with other moms what has worked for me.

Time Traveling with Star Wars

My son as a young jedi fighting the evil Darth Vader at . . . Disneyland

My son as a young jedi fighting the evil Darth Vader at . . . Disneyland

By Jennifer Vander Klipp

I was nine when the first Star Wars movie came out. I distinctly remember kids talking about it on the playground at school before I got to see it. I wasn’t sure I would get to see, it as movies were a luxury our family rarely indulged in. The line snaked around the two-screen movie house, many people sitting in fold-up aluminum lawn chairs with plastic webbing that would scratch the back of your legs when it started to fray. Most of the chatter was about the existence of the line itself, a first for all of us. Waves of heat rolled off the asphalt, and I couldn’t wait to get inside to the air conditioning.

I remember all that, but I don’t actually remember seeing the movie. I do remember countless hours spent re-enacting it with my brothers and creating new storylines. As I moved into junior high, my friends and I would dissect any info we could find on the upcoming installment. We became big fans of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, watching anything of theirs we could, a hard thing to do without Netflix or even video stores.

By the time the “modern” trilogy came out, my passion had fizzled. I had little kids and craved sleep more than anything. I saw Episode I in the theater. The rest I watched with my kids as they got older. At home, on the VCR.

So I wasn’t terribly excited about the newest installment of Star Wars. It was cool that the old characters were back, and I was mildly curious as to what their roles would be and how that would work out. But my kids were very excited. My daughter got online and bought tickets, reserving a seat for herself and her brother for opening night. Apparently, the magic of the force brings out generosity and sibling goodwill.

I heard ravings about the movie from my kids and even Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show. I read interviews with Carrie Fisher and cheered her blunt honesty. Now my curiosity was piqued. I asked my kids if they wanted to go see it again. “Yes!” Once again, the force is bringing out harmony in my family, even if it doesn’t for the characters in the movie.

This time I didn’t have to wait in line for the movie with scratchy lawn chairs. I got to watch it from a comfy recliner in a movie theater that has 20 screens. But the differences ended there.

I wasn’t prepared for the emotional tidal wave that hit me the moment the movie opened with those gold, receding words and that triumphant John Williams score. Suddenly, I was nine again, eagerly anticipating everything I’d heard on the playground.

It was the perfect movie for my generation. I could sum it up simply as more Star Wars. There’s an orphan on the verge of adulthood on a desert planet with some amazing talents. There’s a cute little robot. There are stormtroopers, still as scary looking as ever. The evil guy in black with breathing problems. There’s a capture and an escape. There are strange family dynamics that affect the whole universe.

While you could make the point that the writers of this movie were lazy, resurrecting old themes, I would make the case they knew my generation would feel the way I did: like I’d come home in a way that rarely happens anymore. Which is exactly what we wanted. We didn’t want a new plot line with confusing characters (Episodes I-III proved that). We wanted our old friends back. We wanted those same themes that pulled in George Lucas when he was a boy watching matinee westerns, the same themes all good stories have.

I was happy to see my old friends on the screen, they having aged as much as I have, but still out there doing their thing. And if you’ve seen the movie, you know the “No! That can’t be happening!” moment I’m talking about that still makes my chest hurt to think about. Regardless, I think I’ll be looking forward to seeing what my old friends are doing in three years. And time-travelling back to when I was nine, sitting in an air-conditioned movie theater that was a nice reprieve from our un-air-conditioned home, waiting to see what new magic would appear out of the dark that I could relive over and over.

You Need Goals Too

It’s not only our characters that need goals, writers do too. But I have a secret bone to pick with them too. I’m talking about these things this week over at PencilDancer.

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