The most wonderful time of the year to purge!

The most wonderful time of the year to purge (to me) is after a holiday season. That is when you have spent time with all the decorations (stuff) and you can easily identify what you are tired of and wish you didn’t have to pack away. Let me backtrack, I think the best time is when you are digging through the containers and putting items back in that you do not feel like finding a place for in the first place. Those items need to go. Don’t put them back in the container to go back in the attic until you pull the containers back out after Christmas and they are staring right back at you when you lift the lid. Yes! I speak from experience. I do it every year just like everyone else – except this year or last year as the season of decorating began. If I put my hands on it and it distressed me, out it went. If it was in good condition, but just didn’t bring me joy (as in Marie Kondo), I donated it so it can bring joy to someone else.

I have a group on Facebook that I am regrouping to focus on simplifying, planning, and organizing our lives. I plan to focus on simplifying by purging our lives of the extras that weigh us down – stuff, busy schedules, people, etc. Nothing will be off limits as the year progresses. The name of the group is Simplifying and Organizing 101 and if you are interested in joining, the group can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/SimplifyandPlan

This is today’s post –

Hi Ladies! Wow! The weather is atrocious! I hope you are all nice and warm. Kestral and the end of the Christmas season gave me an idea. Instead of beginning with cleaning out the closets (I promise we’ll get to them) let’s begin our purge with Christmas decorations and all the extra platters and dishes we used during the holiday season. I have actually done this every year, but like everyone else, I get to the point where I just toss those few last items back into the boxes to deal with “I may use it next year.”

This is the year I DO NOT do that!!! I really simplified my decorating this year (just ask friends). I didn’t put all the greenery around my house (that probably only me noticed) and the door garland stayed in the wagon in the barn, exactly where we rolled it in when it began raining on us while we were decorating the fence. That garland is staying! I think one reason it was never put up was because we screened in the front porch this summer and Hubby wanted to put the garland around the porch door and I wanted it around the house door. Until we screened in, I would decorate the porch rails with lights and garland. When he painted, he took down all of my rusted hooks (bad, bad me) and never replaced them. So, things were a little off balance and I need a new routine. Enough about me! Let’s get started with the Christmas purge. The Epiphany is not celebrated until Sunday, but we can work around it.

First, get yourself a box or a huge bag. The first things to donate or throw away (if they are in sad condition) are the things you put back in the containers and didn’t use. Those items you picked up and nah to; old bulbs, garland, ornaments, figurines, etc. Those are the items that when you held them, just didn’t bring you “joy”.

Second, as you look around your house at the items that made the cut this year, but you were just going through the motions by putting them out will require a little attention. Ask yourself if you really really love these items. Pick it up and hold it (as Marie says). Does it make you feel good? If not, thank it for bringing you joy in the past and being a part of your home, and put it in the box to pass along so it will have the chance to give joy to someone else. Thinking that the item will bring joy to someone else (one man’s junk is another man’s treasure) really helped me to pass along things. Again, just ask my friends! Lol Holidays provide wonderful opportunities to downsize and simplify. As you put away, it easy to purge.

After you’ve purged your decorations (of if you are waiting for Sunday), work on all those serving dishes that seem to accumulate. I put a power cord to something in a “better place” and have yet to locate it. The box was in the same place, but I was too lazy to put the cord back and now it’s somewhere. I was determined to locate it and this led to cleaning out my buffet. I found plates I had forgotten I had. I used to be in a club and each month would be hosted at someone’s house. There were twenty in the group and I found twenty dessert plates and twenty dinner plates in the back of a cabinet. I’m talking in the abyss – at the bottom in the back. No power cord but a load of plates that will be making it’s way to St. Vincent de Paul to bless someone else. I also pulled out a load of other miscellaneous items to donate and give away. I love purging and organizing so much that it was fun and it just spurs me on to do more. So…maybe I’m not the normal person, but purging can be fun and not tedious. Have fun with the memories and pass things along so others can make memories.

This has been long winded. I apologize! Comment and let the group know what you are tackling this week. With all of this cold weather upon us, it’s the perfect time to purge. We want to see your pictures!!

READY! SET! GO PURGE! If you have questions, comment and we’ll help you! These pictures are the bottom drawer of my cupboard that I cleaned out last night.

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Holiday Hop with LOADS of giveaways! Hosted by Aurora Publicity

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It’s the holiday season and everyone loves winning free prizes! This is a wonderful hop with plenty of chances to win those prizes. Enjoy as you follow along!

Hi friends! I’m so thrilled you’ve stopped by my blog today. I’m giving away an Amazon gift card and an ebook, Unexpected Prisoner: Memoir of a Vietnam POW,  to one lucky winner on My Life. One Story at a Time.’s Facebook page! All you have to do to enter to win my prize is LIKE my page https://www.facebook.com/MyLife.OneStoryataTime/ (and leave a comment with your email). My prize is available during each day of the hop!

So now that you’ve entered to win my holiday treat, comment below with your email and your favorite holiday tradition. My favorite tradition is hosting a Cookie Exchange for the last ten years. It has become a wonderful tradition as we begin the Christmas season.

Thanks again for visiting My Life. One Story at a Time., and if you’re new to the Holiday Book Hop you can start over on the event page and hop to all of the 100+ authors, bloggers, and book pages giving out prizes. Happy Holidays! https://www.facebook.com/events/1101537709967416/

AURORA PUBLICITY HOLIDAY HOP SCHEDULE 

Monday, Dec. 12th

Melissa Amster – https://www.facebook.com/chicklitcentral/

Brooke Bumgardner – http://www.facebook.com/BrookeBlogs

Eliza Knight – https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightfiction/

Collette Cameron – https://www.facebook.com/collettecameronauthor/

Victoria Pinder – https://www.facebook.com/victoriapinder1/

J.D.R. Hawkins – https://www.facebook.com/jdrhawkins/

Farah Oomerbhoy – https://www.facebook.com/FarahOomerbhoyAuthor/

NJ Damschroder – https://www.facebook.com/DamschroderFusionSeries/

Jenn Hype – http://www.facebook.com/jennhype

Sarah Nicholson – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=625117724238316

Alexandrea Weis – https://www.facebook.com/authoralexandreaweis/
Patricia Green – https://www.facebook.com/roomwithbooks

Connie Lansberg – https://www.facebook.com/connielansbergbooks/

Amanda Roberts – https://www.facebook.com/TwoAmericansinChina/

Leigh Anderson – https://www.facebook.com/LeighAndersonRomance/

Katie L. Carroll – https://www.facebook.com/katielcarrollauthor

Gary Schwartz – https://www.facebook.com/kingofaverage/

Tuesday, Dec. 13th

Amazeballs Book Addicts – https://www.facebook.com/Amazeballsbookaddicts

Jayne Frost – https://www.facebook.com/jaynefrostbooks/

C. Streetlights – http://www.facebook.com/cstreetlightsauthor

Cait Reynolds – https://www.facebook.com/caitreylove

Jennifer Shirk – https://www.facebook.com/JenniferShirkBooks/

Stephanie Hildreth – https://www.facebook.com/100pagesadaystephaniesbookreviews/

Avelyn Paige – http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAvelynPaige

Rachel Thompson – https://www.facebook.com/RachelThompsonauthor/

Torrie Robles – https://www.facebook.com/torrierobles/?fref=ts

Ashlee Taylor – https://www.facebook.com/AshleeTaylorAuthor

Sarah J. Pepper – http://www.facebook.com/sarahjpepper.author

Andra Watkins – https://www.facebook.com/home.php#~!/andrawatkinsauthor/?ref=bookmarks

Bookjunkie Mom – https://www.facebook.com/BookJunkieMom/?ref=bookmarks

Nikki Lynn Barrett – http://www.facebook.com/nikkilynnbarrettauthor

Tawdra Kandle – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTawdraKandle/

Torie James – https://www.facebook.com/WriterGurl216/

Pembroke Sinclair – https://www.facebook.com/jessicarobinsonauthor/

Wednesday, Dec. 14th

Donna Wolz –http://www.facebook.com/WiseOwlsPR

Alex E. Carey – https://www.facebook.com/elementalcarey/

J.A. Kerr – https://www.facebook.com/JAKerrBRAILLE

Piken Sander – https://www.facebook.com/PikenSanderAuthor/

Aleya Michelle – https://www.facebook.com/aleyamichelleauthor

Cora Kenborn – https://www.facebook.com/corakenborn

Olivia Hardin – https://www.facebook.com/oliviahardin/

Victoria Cabot – https://www.facebook.com/CabotClub/

Juliana Conners – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013622111249

Alex E. Carrey –https://www.facebook.com/elementalcarey/

Mary Frame – http://www.facebook.com/authormaryframe

Donna McBroom-Theriot – https://www.facebook.com/MyLife.OneStoryataTime

Jennifer Snow – https://www.facebook.com/jennifersnowbooks/

Roxanne Snopek – http://www.facebook.com/RoxanneSnopekAuthor

Kelly Wilson – https://www.facebook.com/WilsonWrites/

Debbie De Louise – https://www.facebook.com/debbie.delouise.author

Cassandra Piat – https://www.facebook.com/Cassandra-Piat-1700738916820157

Thursday, Dec. 15th

Samantha Joyce – http://www.facebook.com/SamJoyceBooks

Raine Weaver – https://www.facebook.com/raineweaver.author/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Amber Garr – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberGarr/

Lucky 13 Book Reviews and News – https://www.facebook.com/lucky13bookreviews/

Anna Blake – https://www.facebook.com/AnnaBlake.Author/

CJ Warrant – https://www.facebook.com/cjwarrant

R M Simone – https://www.facebook.com/Author.R.M.Simone/?pnref=storyn

R.L. Weeks – https://www.facebook.com/rlweeksauthor1/

Stephanie Phillips – Http://www.facebook.com/StephaniesBookReports

Jen McLaughlin – https://www.facebook.com/DianeAlberts6

Uzo – http://www.facebook.com/uzocokoye

Laura Chapman – https://www.facebook.com/laurachapmanbooks/

Amanda Mariel – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaMarie1/

Katlyn Duncan – https://www.facebook.com/duncankatlyn/

Hilary Grossman – https://www.facebook.com/HilaryGrossmanAuthor/

Tina Donahue – https://www.facebook.com/DonahueTina1/

Dawn Brower – http://www.facebook.com/AuthorDawnBrower

Friday, Dec. 16th

Anna Markland – https://www.facebook.com/Anna-Markland-Novels-343342275682430/

Elizabeth Rose – https://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Rose-Author-515495781845391/

Mika Jolie – https://www.facebook.com/authormikajolie

Emma Prince – https://www.facebook.com/EmmaPrinceBooks/

Simon French – https://www.facebook.com/Simon-French-Author-189156344837310/

Robin Leigh Anderson – https://www.facebook.com/authorrobinleighanderson/

Decadent Kane – http://www.facebook.com/decadentkane

Jeanne Mackin – http://www.facebook.com/jeannemackinauthor

Booklover Sue – http://www.facebook.com/bookloversue

Lisa Jung – https://www.facebook.com/lisa.book.560

Richelle Robinson – https://www.facebook.com/ShellysBookCorner1

Red Sage Publishing – https://www.facebook.com/Red-Sage-Publishing-Inc-362625268121/

Katherine McIntyre – http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

Nicole Zoltack – http://www.facebook.com/authorNicoleZoltack

Lynn Winchester – https://www.Facebook.com/LynnWinWesterns

Tammy Andresen – http://www.facebook.com/authortammyandresen

Saturday, Dec. 17th

Lauren Jones – https://www.facebook.com/turninganotherpageblog/

Nicole Smith – https://www.facebook.com/nicolebookmusings/

Sylvie Stewart – http://www.facebook.com/SylvieStewartAuthor

Genevieve Raas https://www.facebook.com/genevieveraas/

Hannah Stahlhut – https://www.facebook.com/hstahlhut/

Hayley’s Reviews – https://www.facebook.com/hayleysreviews/

Colleen Charles – https://www.facebook.com/colleencharlesromanceauthor/

SJ Pierce – https://www.facebook.com/SJPiercebooks/

A.M. Willard – https://www.facebook.com/authoramwillard/

Nicola Marsh – http://www.facebook.com/NicolaMarshAuthor

Gina Wynn – http://www.facebook.com/ginawriteswords

Tess Rider – https://www.facebook.com/tessriderauthor/

Kathleen Rovner – https://www.facebook.com/kathleenRovner/

Charly Anderson – https://www.facebook.com/MizzGoodie2/

Valerie – https://www.facebook.com/ValStuckInBooks/

Jesse Teller – https://www.facebook.com/PathtoPerilisc/

Aurora Publicity – https://www.facebook.com/aurorapublicity/

Sunday, Dec. 18th

Dawn Brazil – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDawnBrazil/

Tibby Armstrong – https://www.facebook.com/tibbyarmstrong

Kathy Dinisi – https://www.facebook.com/Author-Kathy-Dinisi-344501769073677/

Eva Devon – https://www.facebook.com/Eva-Devon-1464806663776356/

Kathryn LeVeque – https://www.facebook.com/kathrynlevequenovels

Meara Platt – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMearaPlatt

Barbara Devlin – https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraDevlinAuthor

Julie Johnstone – https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliejohnstone

Alpha Book Club – http://facebook.com/alphabookclub

Autumn Sand – https://www.facebook.com/autumn.sandsauthor

A.L. Vincent – https://www.facebook.com/ALVincentAuthor/

Tabetha Waite – https://www.facebook.com/tabetha.waite

Lynne Barron – https://www.facebook.com/LynneBarronRomanceAuthor/

Layna Pimentel – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaynaPimentel/

Maggie Dallen –  http://www.facebook.com/MaggieDallenAuthor

Shelli Rosewarne – https://www.facebook.com/Shelli-Rosewarne-364962230246715/

CBY Book Club – https://www.facebook.com/cbybookclub/

Incoherant ramblings…of the Holiday Blues

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It’s the Christmas season again. You know the time of year when you are jolly and laugh a lot and wish everyone you come in contact with “Happy Holidays!” For me, it’s the season where I want to crawl under a blanket along with my heated mattress pad and sleep until January or February, maybe even March. Holidays are difficult for me; partly because of decisions I made for self-preservation, but mostly because of lies and manipulation by others.

When my depression hit a really low low, the point where I didn’t even want to put up a tree, I decided to have a Cookie Swap party. For my husband’s sake (bless him, he’s the angel who keeps me going) I made the effort to do this one thing, one normal everyday thing in my un-normal world, to feel some sort of normalcy. This one party began a yearly tradition for about ten years. My dad passed away two years ago the week before my party at which time I stopped the tradition. I wasn’t up to having the party last year and really didn’t have plans to host the cookie party again. As much as my friends looked forward to gathering for fun every year, I just wasn’t feeling up to hosting. I found it easier to hibernate.

Then, to my surprise, I began planning my party without even realizing it. Somewhere between here and there, I decided to take a stab at living again, at being “normal.”  So, my cookie swap tradition carries on this weekend. I actually sat down to plan my tasks for today, tomorrow, and Sunday, not to write a blog post but yet here I am. I haven’t been writing many personal stories as of late. I hesitate at times because there are two people I try not to make angry although at times I feel that my very existence makes them angry. They do not wish to hear about my life or my stories or what I am feeling; they are my daughters.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will have read stories about alienation. Perhaps it is something you understand or have experienced, perhaps not. The trouble with alienation is that those who are victims almost never realize it and anytime someone talks about it, it will make them even angrier and then they don’t want anything to do with you and you walk on eggshells, censoring every word you speak or write but nothing changes and the cycle just keeps going on and on, and sadly never-ending. That is my “normal.”  I wrote a story about an incident that happened about five years ago (not the incident, the story) and (pardon the language) it pissed them off and that has resulted in five years of silence and walking on eggshells. In fact, I am pretty sure that when they get wind of this post, it will give them the excuse they are looking for to spend another five years in silence.

That isn’t why I’m writing. I’m writing because I have a right to express what I am feeling and thinking. I have that right, it’s mine as a living, breathing person. It’s the season, the holidays, and sometimes it brings out the best in us, sometimes the truth, sometimes depression, sometimes hate and anger. Right now, this minute, when I should be busy getting ready for my party, I am feeling anger. I am angry that my daughters do not want to be in my life. I am angry at the person(s) who have caused this. I am angry that I didn’t have the knowledge back then that I do now, maybe things would be different. I am angry that my two children whom I love more than life itself, can’t see past the lies and manipulation and remember the love. I am writing this because it’s the only communication I have with them.

It’s times like this when I’m angry that I want to tell the ugly story no one knows. All of the fighting to be able to give my daughters what they enjoyed growing up, the sleepovers, the music lessons, the parties, the gifts, Catholic schooling. I protected them from all the ugliness. I’m not sorry I did, but perhaps if they had witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly (as a counselor once put it) they would be more understanding. But, I guess that’s neither here nor there, it is what it is. I’m all out of clichés’. Life goes on and normal takes on a new meaning each day.

I’m not looking for sympathy. Sometimes you just have to get real and that’s what I’m doing. This is my life and I plan on writing about it. I truly believe that some of us have experienced the things we have because we are supposed to help others with what we’ve learned. So, with that, I guess it’s time to take a look at my plan of action and begin the preparations for my party…and look for that new normal, at least for today.

An Angel Called Gallagher (Book 4) by MK McClintock – Review

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An Angel Called Gallagher

On a ranch known as Hawk’s Peak, a family celebrates love, joy, and peace at last . . . or so the Gallaghers thought.

Briarwood, Montana Territory–December 1883

Brenna is convinced she hears a woman singing to her son. Eliza and Ethan are unnerved by a sleepwalker, and Isabelle swears Hawk’s Peak is haunted.

Then an unlikely visitor stumbles into their lives.

Enjoy a heartwarming holiday adventure filled with tenderness, hope, and the promise of a better tomorrow for more than one deserving soul. Join us for a Gallagher Christmas at Hawk’s Peak and fall in love with the family all over again.

What could possibly go wrong at Christmas?

An Angel Called Gallagher is available on Amazon

The Montana Gallagher Series (Historical Western Romance Adventures):
Book One – Gallagher’s Pride Amazon

Book Two – Gallagher’s Hope Amazon

Book Three – Gallagher’s Choice Amazon

Book Four – An Angel Called Gallagher Amazon

MK McClintock

MK McClintock is the award-winning author of several books and short stories, including the popular “Montana Gallagher” series, the “Crooked Creek” series set in post-Civil War Montana, and the highly-acclaimed “British Agent” novels. She spins tales of romance, adventure, and mystery set in the 1800s. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, she lives and writes in Montana.

Learn more about MK by visiting her website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com.

My Review – 

By now, I’m sure you know that all I have to hear is that MK McClintock has written another book and you know you can find me standing in the virtual line so I can be the first one to grab it! I have read every one of her books (and you can read the reviews on my blog) and with all honesty, I can say that I have not come across another author whose writing speaks to me as hers does.

Ms. McClintock’s stories are adventurous and full of budding romance that transports you back in to a simpler time where the outside world ceases to exist once you open one of her books.

An Angel Called Gallagher is the fourth book in the Montana Gallagher series and is also considered a stand-alone book. In this book, a young girl named Catie, finds her way into the hearts of all the Gallaghers. Not having much of a past, she is presented with a chance to be part of a wonderful, loving family with hopes for a future that she never dreamed possible.

If you are not yet a fan of the Gallaghers, I’m sure you will be by the end of this book.

5 Stars!

Available on Amazon

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee may be earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

 

Chocolate Fudge Brownies!

Although there have been posts on my blog this past month, I have not been active – anywhere! Today marks the one month mark for me being under the weather. It began with a monster virus. That is the only thing I can think to call it. It just DID NOT fall into the category of just “virus”. That literally whipped my butt. That not only grabbed a hold of me but wouldn’t let go for about a week.

Then, because I did not take my sinus meds for two weeks (with the weather constantly changing between hot-cold-rainy-windy) that led to the current battle of a sinus infection. I literally spent two and a half weeks in my recliner in my pajamas. That has never happened to me before.

So! Now that I am feeling somewhat better (the worst is behind me, I hope) I decided to post something chocolate! I’m not quite up to eating chocolate again, but it doesn’t stop me from drooling over it!

As I was going through the backlog of emails – I didn’t check emails for three weeks either – I found an email from Hershey with a recipe for fudge brownies. I can picture somewhere in the near future (I hope) eating one of these brownies topped with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!

Without further adieu, here is the recipe. Oh! And did I mention how easy it is to make?

Hershey's Kitchens | Fudgey Special Dark Brownies

Fudge brownies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine , melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips

Directions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  • Stir together cocoa and baking soda in large bowl; stir in 1/3 cup butter. Add boiling water; stir until mixture thickens. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining 1/3 cup butter; stir until smooth. Add flour, vanilla and salt; blend completely. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.
  • Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut into squares.
    • Makes about 24 brownies.

I would add one more step! Place brownie in the bottom of a bowl and add a huge scoop of your favorite ice cream!

Enjoy!

Books for Christmas Giveaways! Authors MK McClintock, Catherine Bybee, Genevieve Graham

Welcome
to the final week of our Books for Christmas giveaway event! Featured
this week are authors Catherine Bybee, Genevieve Graham, and MK McClintock.
 
Week Five Giveaway is 12.27.15 – 12.31.15. 
Winners will be announced on 1.1.16


Don’t forget to scroll all the way through to view and enter each giveaway!

TAKE NOTE! Some
giveaways are limited shipping, and others are open internationally (US and worldwide).
Those of you who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, you can still enter.
Each Rafflecopter has a ‘Leave a Comment‘ option. We don’t want to leave
anyone out!  Please also note
that if you leave one comment, you can “mark” that off for all the
entries. You do not have to leave a comment for each giveaway.

 Connect with Catherine!

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 Connect with Genevieve!

 

 

 

 

Connect with MK!

 

 

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Thank you for joining us at 
Books for Christmas 2015.
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Giveaway Disclaimer
Giveaways
ends December 26, 2015 at 11:59 PM EST. Open to anyone who can legally enter.
Prizes cannot be shipped to PO Boxes.  Winners will be selected by
Rafflecopter and be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to respond before
a new winner is selected. Please note that Books & Benches and MK
McClintock are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their
prizes.  I have represented each author with the expectation they will
fulfill their prize and in a timely manner. I will contact the author regarding
your prize(s). The authors, in all cases, are shipping/sending their items to
you directly. I will make every effort to assist you obtaining your
prize.  The books offered for each giveaway are free of charge, no
purchase necessary.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are in no way
associated with this giveaway.  By providing your information in this
form, you are providing your information to me and me alone.  I do not
share or sell information and will use any information only for the
purpose of contacting the winner.

An additional giveaway of an Amazon gift card!

Rafflecopter to enter –
a Rafflecopter giveaway