Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Monday.

Or at least, I hope you're having a happy Monday.

While thumbing through the book 1001 Ways to be Romantic by Gregory Godek, I found a page devoted to Christmas.

The author suggested giving your spouse the 12 Romantic Days of Christmas.

The list seemed (to me) to be more of what a husband would give his wife and included:
(And you have to sing the music either aloud or in your head)

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me . . . (etc, etc, etc)

A red rose in a bud vase
2 Bottle of Champagne
3 French Kisses
4 Nights of Dancing
5 Golden Rings
6 Bubble Baths
7 Movie Passes
8 Beanie Babies
9 Coupons for Back Rubs
10 Shares of Microsoft Stock
11 Heart-Shaped Balloons
12 CD's of The Beatles

So I thought I'd go ahead and try to come up with a list of 12 things to do for, or give to, my Hubby for Christmas. Now mind you, our list will be different from what others might want to do because we are broke and struggle to find time alone with three kids as it is.

Next week I will post my list, and I'll just have to ban Hubby from reading the blog until after Christmas.

Now it's your turn to come up with a list of 12 things to do for your spouse for the 12 Romantic Days of Christmas.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Madness

Well, Thanksgiving is this week.

My feelings on the holidays are mixed this year. And lest any family members who happen to read this post become upset with me, let me explain.

I love visiting family on Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year's. Easter. The Fourth of July.

Any reason to get the family together to eat, laugh, and talk . . . I'm in. Regardless of which side of the family it is. Love spending time with Hubby's family as much as my own, and I know that is a rare and wonderful gift.

And I'm lucky because Hubby feels the same way.

Our problems with Holidays begin before we even leave the house. As usual, it's the kids who pose the problem.

As a side note, if you don't have kids yet, or your kids are grown and gone, you might not relate to this post, or you might just have Vietnam-like flashbacks, and not want to read any further.

Hubby and I are tense and angry before we ever get out the door because we spend anywhere from an hour to two hours getting ready to leave, and the kids are screaming and fighting the whole time because they were ready to leave hours ago and we're taking way too long.

We yell at the kids for yelling at us, and then we feel guilty and end up yelling at each other.

Then we sit in the car and stew about who yelled at who first, and what is your (insert spouse's name here) problem anyway. We have a long drive and a long couple of days ahead, and we don't want to spend the whole time arguing.

Then the kids start fighting. The Princess is hitting her brothers because they keep sticking their heads in her face because they are leaning over her trying to fight with each other because someone took someone else's toy, and they had it first, and give it back now.

And the Princess usually steals it from them both, and then screams her head off when they try to take it back, and Hubby and I usually end up screaming for everyone to be quiet, which one of the twins then feels obligated to point out that we're being loud, too. To which Hubby and I revert to six year olds ourselves, and everyone spends five minutes arguing about who yelled at who first.

Once we finally end this cycle of nonsense, Hubby and I are stressed and ticked off, and no one wants to talk to anyone. And then we arrive at our destination, and our families wonder what in the world everyone is so angry about.

And what does any of this have to do with romancing your spouse, you might ask? Well, I'll tell you. This year is going to be different because I am going to make a pointed effort to make it different. I'm going to try my hardest to stay calm in the face of chaos, and stand united with Hubby instead of letting the situation get out of control and turning on each other, too.

We're going to make a point of spending some time alone, even if it's just taking a short walk around the block after we arrive, to take the edge off the trip and enjoy just a moment of alone time.

Or we might do the dishes together.

Peel potatoes . . . together.

Set the table . . . together.

You get the idea. Traveling with kids is stressful. But we can't let it drive a wedge between us. No one wins, and we want to have the most pleasant holiday possible. So ANY time you can spend having a private moment with your honey is important. Take it where you can get it, and be sure to tell your sweetie you love them. And mean it.

I hope your Thanksgiving is a good one. Enjoy each other, and find a few moments alone with your spouse, even if you have to hide in a closet.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

And the winner is...

Congratulations Karen you've won both books; Thirsty by Tracey Bateman & Touched by A Vampire by Beth Felker Jones!

I'll be sending you an email privately to get your mailing address.

Congratulations! Enjoy!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Dinner for two - Pasta Puttanesca

Many of you have asked us to continue the Dinner for Two series and since you are so important to us, we are happy to oblige your love of couple time as you linger over a delicious and easy meal. Here's to you and a happy marriage! Enjoy & God's blessings!

I found this recipe eons ago in a local newspaper when my husband and I first got married and moved to southern California and it's been a staple in our home ever since. Normally I pair this dish with a Caesar salad and of course, garlic bread to help "sop" up all those extra juices!

Pasta Puttanesca

4 servings

1/4 cup olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

6 anchovy fillets, drained and mashed or 1.5 TBSP anchovy paste

3 TBSP. capers

1/8 crushed red pepper flakes - add a pinch more if you like it spicy!

1 handful Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 bunch fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp. dried basil

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

12 ounces spaghetti - cooked and drained - reserving a cup of the pasta liquid

Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheeses


In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and saute garlic and anchovies, cook until dissolved. Stir in the next 5 ingredients and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If the sauce gets thick add in a little of the reserved pasta water. The sauce should not be pasty or runny, just saucy! :) Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and pour over pasta. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Voila! Dinner is served! And as they say in Italy...Mangia! Mangia! Eat! Eat!

As a side note: when I want this dish to be a little heartier, I've sauteed .5 pound of Italian sausage and added it to the sauce. The sausage compliments the sauce nicely and adds that little extra "oomph" factor that we need when my hubby has spent all day working in the garage. :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In sickness and in health

Want to find out how much your spouse really loves you? Just put the “in sickness” part of your wedding vows to the test!

And since this is the cold-and-flu season, we should have plenty of opportunities. I’m snuggled up in my jammies this week with a sore throat and stuffy head. Where is my husband? He’s been on a business trip. Convenient how he so often manages to be out of town while I’m home suffering! For two days I had to fix my own oatmeal for breakfast, heat up canned chicken noodle soup for lunch, zap a Lean Cuisine for supper, and generally take care of myself (and the dogs!).

Seriously, my sweetie doesn’t travel that much, and he’s usually very considerate and attentive when I’m sick. His “love language” is Acts of Service, so he takes great pleasure in doing little things for me even when I’m well.

However, one of my main “love languages” is Quality Time, and since my husband is often so busy doing, he forgets how much I appreciate his just being--his presence, focus, and attention. Especially when I’m sick, I enjoy comforting words, a foot rub, being read to, or just having my sweetie sit with me. The good news is, if I ask him, he usually obliges.

Whether you’re sick or healthy, what speaks love to you? Are some of your spouse’s messages getting lost in translation? Maybe it’s time to sit down together for a “language lesson.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game On!!

The other day as our boys were hanging out with their friends, looked across the room as my husband who had a zombie look pasted on his face and thought, “It’s time for a little fun!” But what’s a couple to do with a houseful of boys under their feet? Hmmm, time for some quick thinking…

Our youngest child is to say the least, a hockey freak! The child lives NHL. In fact, a few years ago, one of his teachers told us in a parent-teacher conference that she’d finally figured out the only way to get him to pay attention in math class was to put the problems into hockey terms, as in … “If a hockey team was sitting on the bench waiting to hit the ice and the Zamboni ran over two of the sticks, how many sticks would be left?” Way to go Teach!

All this to say, our child has an air hockey table in his room. Surprised? Don’t be. In fact, I think our son would much rather sleep on top of the table rather than in his own bed, but a mom’s gotta put her foot down somewhere, don’t you agree? So while the kids were busy burning out their brains on video games with their friends, I grabbed my husband and challenged him to a game of air hockey.

Now to some this may not sound like any fun. However, let me just say, I am a lone woman in a sea of males, and when times get desperate, the desperate play sports! With a wink and a nod he knew not to say a lick about what we were going to go do to the troops laying at our feet, lest they spoil our fun. Ever so quietly we made our way down the hall to our son’s room, quietly locked the door behind us and flicked on the table. Yahooie! Game On!

Now I will say that nothing spurs on my husband like a little healthy competition. He knows he can beat me at well, basically anything sports related and I’m ok with that. Yet having grown up with 2 older brothers, I’d like to think that I could hold my own… at least for a minute or two.

So there we were, jostling for the puck, slamming it down the boards and lovin’ every minute of it. Of course, it took all of 3.2 seconds for the boys to come pounding on the door…thank heavens for locks! They begged, they pleaded, they whined. Naturally we did what every other married couple would do in our situation, we screamed, “Go away! Leave us alone!”

When the kids realized we were not opening the door, they headed back to their video games and we continued our match. Pucks hit the wall, bounced off our son’s dresser and I think we may have chipped some paint off his desk, but…o-well, nothing a little touch-up won’t fix.

For the next half hour we laughed, cheered and taunted each other about one another’s awesome air hockey skills.

When at last the hockey paddles were laid down, we knew we’d built another fun memory. One that included me winning 2 games, I might add. Ok, ok, so we played 10 and he took the other 8 but who’s counting? You’re right; we both are which means there will be a rematch soon, very, very soon!

Spur of the moment games can be lots of fun. If gives you a chance to talk smack, beef up each other’s bravado and simply laugh until your sides hurt. Who says kids get all the fun anyway? So get out there, go hit a bucket of golf balls, play a game of ping-pong or shoot some pucks.

Comedian Victor Borge once said, "Laughter is the shortest distance between two people." Grab your spouse, spark a some laughter and get a little closer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog Tour Continues with a 2 book giveaway!

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope that you’re off to a great week. To help get things started in the right direction, I’ll be posting two reviews with a chance to win a copy of both books. Just read the review, post a comment and we’ll put your name in the hat. Winners will be announced on Sunday! Good luck and happy reading!

Touched by a Vampire – Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga
Beth Felker Jones
Multnomah Publishers

Back Cover:

Examining Twilight through a biblical lens.
People around the world are enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephanie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy – it’s teaching girls about love, sex and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire investigates the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers and youth workers. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.

My take:

Everyone you talk to nowadays has Twilight on the brain. Don’t you just love Bella and Edward? Isn’t he the most romantic guy you’ve ever seen? Wouldn’t you love to be Bella? On and on they rave until you have to read for yourself what all the fuss is about.

Millions of fans are raving about this new series by Stephanie Meyer and everyone seems to have their hands on a copy of these books and have waited in lines to see the movie. But as I was told as a child, everything that glitters is not gold. Such is the case, when you consider loving a vampire or a werewolf.

So what’s a parent or teacher working with teens to do when faced with teenagers who idolize this love story?

Enter in, Touched by a Vampire by Beth Felker Jones. Ms. Felker Jones has clearly done her homework and compared the angst-ridden teenage love story against God’s biblical teaching of what is true, right and pure.

Within in each chapter Ms. Felker Jones gives us the opportunity to talk with our loved ones about God’s love for us through the use of thought-provoking questions. Each chapter uncovers hidden truths that will get your mentee thinking twice about the glamour and the glory of being in love with a vampire.

For example, in chapter 2 titled, Dazzled, Ms. Felker Jones showcases the all-consuming love that Bella has for Edward and is quick to point out, “We shouldn’t view the destructive power of the love between Bella and Edward through rose-tinted glasses. At first glance, it seems passionate and intense to this about loving someone so much that you would die for him or die without him. Death should not be taken so lightly. Death is a terrible enemy, a monster that leaves grief in its wake.”

These types of comparisons are highly important topics that need to be discussed as you talk with your children and even your friends about the truths behind the Saga. Touched by a Vampire is a must-have tool in separating fiction from God’s truth as it applies to true love and how it is truly meant to be.

5 stars

For purchasing information please visit:
***This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review purposes only. No cash or payment of any type was received for this review.***

Blog Tour - Book # 2

Tracey Bateman
WaterBrook Press

Back Cover:


“Hello, I’m Nina Parker…and I’m an alcoholic.”For Nina, it’s not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier—and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone—or something—igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like wildfire.Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina’s feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfolds to its startling, unforgettable end.

My take:

Ok, I have to admit, I’m a chicken. I don’t do horror movies, those paranormal shows scare me and Stephen King is not, I repeat, NOT my friend. So to be honest, I agreed to read and review Thirsty by Tracey Bateman for 2 reasons: first, I really enjoy Tracey Bateman’s writing. She’s an incredible writer with talent galore, especially when it comes to the Westward Hearts series –a few of my all time favorites! Secondly, I grabbed a chance to read her latest book, out of pure curiousity. Christian vampire fiction, really? There exists such a thing? How is that possible? Let’s see…

Nina Parker is a captivating heroine battling to get her life back on track after years of alcohol abuse. She’s lost everything: a thriving career, a gorgeous husband and her 2 sweet children. And when she heads back home after a stint in rehab you’d think she’d be on the road to recovery, right? Well, yes and no. Going home is never easy, especially when you have to face those you’ve hurt and those you’ve lied to. To compound the situation Nina’s teenage daughter has a major attitude problem and the once peaceful small town is being threatened by someone or something that is killing its residents and animals.

Thirsty is a captivating story about a woman who’s made all the right choices only to blow them all to pieces because of her addiction. Nina is a dynamic heroine who learns that she can be stronger than her addiction, one step and one day at a time even when life is hard and there’s a vampire waiting your return.

I have to mention there were two uncomfortable parts to reading Thirsty. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a scaredy-cat and I don’t like things that go bump in the night, so a few of the scenes in the book were a bit too graphic for me. However, for those of you who love horror movies with Freddie, Jason and Chucky, I’m sure you’ll feel right at home with the eerieness that caused me to look over my shoulder more than once. Enjoy!

Now for the tough part. This one area was a sticking point for me as a Christian reader. And while it may not be that important to some, for me, leaving out the God element in this book, left me feeling very disappointed. Thirsty parallels Nina’s thirst for alcohol and the vampires thirst for Nina. Ok, no problem. I also get that the book is a vampire story. No problem. So where’s the problem? No God.

I was able to suspend my disbelief about vampires and enjoy a really good book about struggles, sacrifice and redemption, but I wanted to see Nina understand and accept that God was in her life either because she came to know him because of her alcoholism or by seeing him mirrored in the lives of those she loved. However that did not happen. With one minor exception, there was little to no mention of God throughout the entire book. Now I understand metaphors and the good vs. evil battlefield. Obviously we're given evil by way of the vampire and his adversary, but where was the good? Where was God? I wish it had been clearly spelled out so that I could’ve not only cheered on Nina’s success over addiction, I could’ve read with anticipation as God trampled over evil once again.

Overall, I'd rate this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars for the author's ability to tell an excellent story - I just wish God had been prevelant in this Christian fiction story.

For purchasing information please visit: www.

*** This book was provided by WaterBrook Press for review purposes only, no cash or payment was received for this review.***

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And the winner is...



Thanks to all who stopped by and posted. We, here at Romance Your Spouse appreciate your following and feedback and look forward to many opportunities to hear from you!

Be on the lookout tomorrow for another chance to win a free book. This week I'll be giving away 2 books to one lucky winner! Stay tuned and keep posting!

God's blessings to all,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just The Two of Us

Again. :) The kids all went on a church teen retreat this past weekend. They love going to those and Dan and I love that they do.

Once again we had the house to ourselves and a weekend to just go with the flow--and get some early Christmas shopping in. On Friday evening we went to browse for gifts and out to eat. Dan let me choose and of course I picked one of my favorite places--Olive Garden. The food was great, the time together even greater and we enjoyed talking about what to get everyone.

On Saturday, we left the house early so we could get that shopping done and be back for the football games Dan wanted to watch. We looked again, then made our decisions and I'm happy to say that most of our major shopping is done.

After lunch, we came home and I got in some household chores and a little writing while Dan watched the first of his games. A break for supper at IHop--his choice this time, and we had time to stop at Target before game time once more. Back at home, I hid all the gifts and read a little while the game was on.

It was a great weekend with time to just be together, whether we were talking or just keeping each other company. More romantic than it might sound--it's a blessing to love doing that, still, after all these years. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog Book Tour and Book Giveaway!

This week I have been invited by Water Brook Press to showcase White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner. We invite you to take a moment and read the review and post a comment. Every person who leaves a comment will be automatically entered for a chance to wina copy of White Picket Fences. The winner will be announced on Friday!

White Picket Fences
Susan Meissner
Water Brook Press 2009

Amanda and Neil Janvier and their two children, Delcey and Chase are the Norman Rockwell poster family of the 21st century complete with a proverbial white picket fence. However, when Amanda's brother disappears, leaving behind his sixteen year old daughter Tally, Amanda steps in to offer the normalcy of family life.

Chase and Tally team up to complete a school project interviewing two Holocaust survivors. But as they dig deeper into the history of the survivors they begin to unearth keys that will unlock many truths of the past that will possibly destroy the Janvier family. Can Tally help the Janvier's look for the truth and keep their family from falling apart? Or will long ago secrets destroy this perfect little family?

Author Susan Meissner has once again touched the heart of family relationships in her latest book, White Picket Fences. Through throught provoking characters and situational dynamics we learn the destruction that takes place when secrets are kept hidden. Ms. Meissner show us in White Picket Fences, the harder we try to hide a secret, the more it tends to surface in our lives. And what started out as a way to protect our loved ones, only leads to shame and heartache until, in the end, the truth is told.

For purchase information please visit

***This book was provided by Water Brook Press for review purposes only, no cash, or payment was received for this review.***

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Run for the door!

Like many of you out there, I'm a very busy mother. My life is constantly packed with work, daily chores, running children all over God’s green earth and taking care of my hubby who travels for work. It's not hard to imagine that we, as a couple don’t have much alone time. More times than not, our mantra feels like “seek, conquer and divide,” especially on the weekends when we're busy trying to balance sports and church activities and getting together with family and friends. Now don't get me wrong, we LOVE our family, truly we do, however, there are times when we both need some quality time just the two of us without one of our kids jumping on our very last nerve! {{grin}}

In fact this past month, for one reason or another, our life has been especially challenging. There never seemed to be more than just a scant half hour for meal time before we were being torn in a multitude of different directions. I dread those times, ya know the ones where you simply feel as if you're robots stuck in survival mode, ya those times. No fun, no giggling, just work, work, work. Blah, blah, blah, ugh! It's draining.

So last night as I returned home from gathering kids from school and sports, a lightbulb clicked on…it’s early afternoon, there are leftovers, a microwave and it’s a beautiful day outside AND none of the kids needed to be anywhere. What? How did this happen?! Immediately my mind went into overdrive. I pulled my hubby aside. Could he possibly sneak away from work a little early? Yes? Hot dog! We’re outta here!

Without a second thought, I yanked out the leftover spaghetti for the kids, gave reheating directions, a firm directive to finish their homework, grabbed my hubby and out the door we flew!

A gorgeous evening to ourselves! Wahoo! I think we left tire tracks in the driveway!! We headed to the lake, took a nice long walk and tried a new restaurant.

Let me tell you folks, those few hours were wonderful! Little did we realize just how much we needed a break from our daily grind. We laughed, talked about the kids, plans for vacations and simply kicked back and relaxed. Absolutely wonderful!

The problem for most of us is remembering to enjoy each other’s company. We’re so bogged down with responsibilities that we forget who we were as a couple before mortgages, kids and bills.

Ya know what made this fun? Spontaneity. My husband teased me about how fast I pulled out dinner for the kids and got their homework organized in order to get out the door. He swore there was smoke coming from my shoes from zipping around the house so quickly!

So, if an opportunity to grab a few precious hours alone with your sweetie presents itself don't think twice, just hit the door running!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Holidays On The Way


Normally, I am a plan ahead kind of gal, but rarely do I get the execution taken care of in a timely manner.

With the holiday season gearing up, it is easy to plan where you'll spend your holidays. Which side of the family gets Thanksgiving and who gets Christmas. If you're like us and both sides of the family are within easy driving distance, you might have more of a problem.

Then there are the kids activities this time of year, with school and church programs, class parties, etc.

So how do you and your spouse survive this time of the year with your sanity intact and your sense of romance going strong?

You plan. Just like you plan for the holiday meals and Christmas program, you plan time with your honey.

It may not be uber-romantic. It may not be spontaneous. It may not sweep you off your feet in a wave of soul-stirring passion, but seriously, did it really do that to begin with?

So work in the time whenever and however you can.

Spending an afternoon grocery shopping for a party? Make plans with your spouse to meet for an early lunch. Try not to focus on the stresses of the day when you're talking over the meal. Focus on the positives and the fun of sneaking in some time together.

Plan a wrapping/football watching afternoon together. You need to wrap presents, and he wants to watch the game. Get the kids out of the house (or lock them in their room), pop some popcorn, bake some cookies, and snack and hangout together.

Get the kids in bed a little early (and this may require extra effort during the day to wear them out) and spend the evening cuddled up in front of a fire, or watching the snow fall, or gazing at the stars, and enjoying the drink of your choice (whether it's wine or a Diet Coke).

Just remember, do your best to keep connected during the holiday season, and it will make for even more holiday cheer . . . and keep you from biting each others' heads off when things get stressful.