Thursday, December 23, 2010

33 Habits of a Really Good Man by Yvonne Swinson

Although the title says "man," this is really a book for everyone. Filled with thought-provoking quotes and heart-warming, humorous stories, this little gem of a book is one that will stay on your mind long after you put it down. It will inspire you to think, make you laugh, and motivate you to be better. I loved this book by Yvonne Swinson.

(Check back January 3rd for a chance to win a signed copy of this wonderful book.)

I also wanted everyone to get to know Yvonne Swinson, so I've asked her a few questions:

Me: You're a gymnast instructor, hiker, and homeschooler. Not to mention writer. AND you have five kids. I'm thinking someone could write a book about you entitled, "100 Habits of a Really Awesome Woman." If they were to include a humorous tale about one of your many hiking adventures, which one would they tell?

Yvonne: Actually, I have 6 kids now!! So we'll have to title that "101 Habits of a Really Awesome, Sometimes Desperate Woman."

Probably the most humorous (in hindsight) hike we've ever had would be the hike-with-terrible-directions hike we took in Kanaraville, Utah. I had all five of mine on board, one hitched to my back, plus two neighbors' kids whose parents would have never have let them come had they known what we were in for. Somehow we misunderstood the "when you get to the little electrical box, take to the stream" instruction that we received.

We "took to the stream" about a mile too soon, (that WAS an electrical box, wasn't it???), wading up to our knees, falling to our bums, and scratching our faces on low-hanging branches for two hours before all 7 kids erupted into loud choruses of "Can we PLEASE go home now?" I wanted to see the slot canyon and waterfall. We agreed to ten more minutes. Eleven minutes later, we rounded a turn and found a real live person who encouraged us to endure for about fifteen more yards.... and then the whole nightmare was worth it. Proof that we reached the slot canyon attached. I think the camera battery must've died without a waterfall picture. If you ever want to try this quiet, out-of the way, under-populated hike, call me for directions.

Me: It sounds and looks beautiful, so I make take you up on that one of these years. (Only if you're sure you remember, of course. :)) Now, your book is filled to the brim with WONDERFUL quotes--ones I want to print in vinyl lettering and cover the walls of a room in my house with them. In fact, I scanned through the book to list one of my favorites, but I honestly couldn't pick just one. They are all so good. So I've decided to make you pick instead--I'll let you choose three. Good luck. :)

Yvonne: Perhaps we could just put them all in a row without periods and call it one quote? There are actually hundreds more in Dad's little book and it was tough enough screening it down to the few you find in the pages of the book. Nevertheless, I won't back down from a good challenge, so here you go:
1- "God has created us with two ends: one to think with and one to sit on. Heads you win, tails you lose." Unknown
2- "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, and all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you ever can" John Wesley
3- "I love you" Dad and lots of other good folks

Me: Ooh, I love all of those. Great choices! Now I know you moved around a lot growing up and you enjoy traveling, so if you could choose any one of the places you have lived (or visited) over the years, where would choose to stop and stay for awhile?

Yvonne: WOW, there are so many places I'd like to live - as long as I didn't have to stay forever. The most exciting place I've ever been is to the Holy Land. It was a life-changing experience to visit there this past Spring. My husband gave it to me as a (cough cough) 40th birthday present. I hope someday I can go back and live there for a year or so - right at the BYU Jerusalem Center, thank you (hint, hint). Then on the way home, I'd like to stop in Tortola for another year or so - blue sky, white sand, blue water - my kind of heaven. After that, I think I'd move right back to where I am now. Southern Utah is one of the most beautiful, friendly, wonderful places on earth.

Me: Although I've never met your father, after reading your book, I now think the world of him. In fact, my favorite story had to be when your dad installed a speaker behind the grill of his station wagon and wired it to a CB radio. I still smile every time I think of it. Brilliant! In fact, I now want to do that to my van. Do you think your next book could include instructions on how to do that? Do have plans for anymore books?

Yvonne: If Dad had left instructions, I would probably have my own car wired up, but perhaps I could find out how to do that and publish it on my website ( And, yes, there are more books planned. I actually have one about halfway finished - a sort of challenge issued by a friend to try my hand at fiction - a good clean romance novel. Once that is done, (the new baby has slowed me down a bit), I hope to try my hand at another little inspirational book.

Me: I'm so excited to hear that. I'm a succor for romance novels (so long it has a happy ending) and can't wait to read another inspirational book written by you. I'm definitely a fan! Thanks for answering some questions and writing such a fabulous book!

To learn more about Yvonne and her book, click here.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Neck Nuzzlers - So Cute!

One of these days, I'm going to find the time to make one of these for each of my kids. Aren't they adorable? Perfect for traveling or just playing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Which is better: Real or Fake?

As you can see from the picture, I'm referring to Christmas trees. Tis the season, after all.

So my husband and I have had this ongoing "discussion" every year about which is best: A real, pine-smelling, needle-falling Christmas tree, or an artificial, pre-lit, easy to hang ornaments Christmas tree?

I vote the latter, and my husband, the former.

And every year, I've always won. We pull out our tree from the attic, stack it together, plug it in, and wallah! A little fussing with the branches and it's all set to go.

My sister, on the other hand, allowed her husband to coerce her into purchasing a real Christmas tree this year. They lugged it home, set it up, and literally had to wrap the tree in lights, like a mummy, to keep them in place. By the time they'd hung the ornaments, rashes and scratches covered their arms. And the next day, they heard their oldest son call, "Mom! The Christmas tree just fell over!"

Now I ask you, which is better?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Growing up Gracie Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Jen, on winning a copy of Growing up Gracie! I've sent you an email to let you know, and a big thanks to everyone who entered!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Best I've Read 2010--Giveaways Galore!

It's begun! Nine awesome book review blogs have joined together for a great 2010 best reads giveaway. Throughout the next week there will be a lot of fabulous titles given away each day. Just click on the link to their blogs below and enter to win.

I can't say enough good about these people and their fabulous blogs! Love them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Giveaway for Growing up Gracie and Interview with Maggie Fechner

Growing up Gracie is charm in a book. It was like reading a modern day Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea all rolled into one. Filled with humor, depth, strong bonds of friendship, and yes, romance (my favorite), Maggie takes the reader on an adventure so real and poignant, it will make you wish you grew up in a small town.

And not only is her book wonderful, but she is too.

Me: When I read a book I always wonder how much of the author is in the main character. Are you anything like Gracie? And if so, what are the two biggest similarities?

Maggie: A lot of people who know me now think I am Gracie. But those who knew me growing up know I wasn't at all. I come from a smaller family and I always envied those huge families. My parents are great, but only one of them is a member of the church. At times we weren't completely active when I was growing up.

Also, I often wanted to be with the more popular crowd instead of staying true like Gracie did. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a Chelsea, but I was somewhere in between.

I DID grow up in Cody though, and I do LOVE that place with all my heart. I DID have great friends too and I DID marry an amazing man who was shy as heck until he came out of his shell (and I think he did have some dorky glasses back in high school although I didn't know him then).

Me: Ooohh, I love romantic stories. How did you meet your hubby?

Maggie: We have a fun story. The first time I saw Dan we both lived in Washington. He came driving up to a singles ward canoeing activity in a huge black truck and I thought, "now this looks like a Wyoming guy, I think I could like him." We dated for a few weeks and broke up because he was just so shy he would barely talk. THEN with the pressure of being boyfriend/girlfriend off, his shyness faded away and we became absolute best friends. About six months later I had plane tickets to go into the Americorp in Maryland and was getting ready to go. Dan surprised me by proposing. We weren't even dating! Now that took guts. I said yes and the rest is history.

Me: So cute! It's the perfect love story and your husband sounds as wonderful as you. I love it! Now maybe it's because I grew up in a city, but I have to know, have you ever milked a cow or gone cow-tipping?

Maggie: Never milked a cow. Never gone cow tipping. I have been on pack trips and things like that, but my family was a town family, not a country one. That's another thing I always wished for. Now that I think about it, it seems like Gracie isn't me, but was the me I wished I was when I was a kid. :)

Me: That's what makes writing so fun, isn't it? But you do more than write, don't you? In fact, I've decided that you are far too talented, so if you had to choose between writing and photography, which would it be?

Maggie: Ooh tough one. Photography is definitely more expensive, but also pays a lot better. ha ha. I guess if I HAD to choose I'd write still and give up photography (as a business). But there's no way I'd stop photographing my kids and you couldn't pry my camera from my fingers if you tried. It's one of my babies!

Me: So funny, and I can see why. You are an exceptionally gifted photographer as well. And I'm so glad to hear you'd never give up writing. Do you have any more books in the works? Please say yes.

Maggie: I currently have three projects in the works. One The Letters Never Sent is a mainstream family saga that is currently in revision stages. Second is another book about the All-Mormerican Family the Fremonts! This one will focus on Danielle, one of Gracie's older sisters. I hope to eventually write one on each of the six kids. And last I have a start on another novel called Ever After Emmy that is a mainstream romance based in the 1950s.

Me: I love your titles, and your writing style, and can't wait to read them all. Hurry, hurry, hurry! :) And for anyone who's looking for a wonderful book to curl up and get cozy with, definitely check out Growing up Gracie by Maggie Fenchner. And if you fill out the form below, you can win a free copy.