Monday, December 31, 2012

December Booking It 2012

Books I Read:

Best Books and Best Blogs of 2012

I really like reading books and blogs and these are my top picks for 2012: 

Hope for the Weary Mom by Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin
She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice
Mother of Pearl by Kellie Coates Gilbert
With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin
Love Finds You in Mackinac Island by Melanie Dobson
Beyond Hope's Valley by Tricia Goyer
Miracle for Jen by Linda Barrick
Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars by Marilynn Chadwick

*She Sparkles- Cindy has a powerful testimony and a Red Hot Bible Study coming Summer 2013
*The Confident Mom- Love Susan's Weekly Household Planner,weekly audio blog talks and 31 Days of Mom Mojo.  She also has a great Opening Act to help moms become calm, cool and confident.
*Good Morning Girls- Excellent women's online Bible study group
*To Love, Honor and Vacuum- Great marriage advice.  (Get 31 Days of Great Sex ebook! by Sheila Gregoire.  I got this for my husband for Christmas and he was ecstatic.  If you buy this from my link, I will not know your name or email.  Go for it!!)
*Cheri Gregory- The Purse-onality Challenge
*Women Living Well- All around excellent blog that helps women to pursue God
*The MOB Society- Help for mothers of boys
*Peak 313 Fitness- Motivating women to get spiritually and physically fit with New Move Monday videos, fitness challenges and more!

*Crockin' Girls- This is my favorite go-to site for crockpot recipes.  I love their Crockin' Monday videos too!
*Together in Ten-Great style in a snap!
*Proverbs 31 Ministries- Daily Devotional, Daily 1 minute radio spot and a monthly magazine (not
*Skinny Ms.-  Excellent ideas for eating healthy, losing weight and getting fit.

Also, I discovered Pinterest which is a really great way to organize all the ideas I need for teaching, cooking, cleaning, marriage, parenting and more!

Well, that wraps it up for 2012.  I hope you check out some of these great blogs and continue to sneak back here to see me a little bit.  I hope to do some different things here in the future.  Have a great New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Organizing Plan for 2013

I am determined this year to make some progress toward having a clean and organized home.  Now before you roll your eyes and think I'm a super neat freak, you got that wrong.  I desire to have a home where I can find things and not have PILES of papers everywhere.  I want to know where things are and not have so much clutter.  I have two small children and their mess does not bother me at all, it's MY mess that bothers me.

I remember when I was single I would clean my house once a week all in ONE evening.  I also decluttered a few times a year.  Now that I am a home manager, I have to upgrade that simple system because life is much more complicated!

I just finished reading The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman and one of the first statements she makes is "being organized means being prepared."  I keep that in my mind often.  Everytime I am rushing out the door trying to grab all the stuff I need I think, I should have been prepared.  That is my focus this year.

I have tried various "systems" of housecleaning and decluttering and I haven't yet found the perfect one, but I'm am going to combine a few different ones to hopefully get me where I want to be.

This year I will be using the Weekly Household Planner from The Confident Mom.  I discovered this planner in August and I am very impressed how I have been able to keep up with the daily chores and also have time for myself as well as play with my kids.  Here is a quick video of why I love this planner.

For more information click: 2013 Weekly Household Planner.

Another book that I really like is 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way.  Although I have never been able to clean my house for 31 days straight I like how Sarah Mae has broken down different areas of the home.  I will be reading this book slowly and focus on ONE area of the home each month. And not only that I want to develop more of a Mary heart as I bless my home in cleaning.

And I'm really excited about Jennifer Tankersley's new ebook 100 Days to a New Year. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and want to organize it ALL in one day, one week or one month.  Jennifer walks you through 100 days and at the end you will have a lot organized!  See my review and giveaway that is happening right now.

Another book that I have used to organize my cleaning schedule is Create Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule by Christine Satterfield.  I love Christine's blog I Dream of Clean where she always has fun and easy ways to making cleaning efficient and effective.

Other websites that I use and find helpful:
*The Flylady- Weekly zones and cleaning ideas
*Clean Mama- Monthly organizing checklists and more!  New ebook- Pulling Yourself Together: Implementing a Cleaning Routine that Sticks
*Household Management 101- House Cleaning Lists (free ebook)
*The Good Wife's Guide by Darlene Schacht- get it free right now by subscribing to her blog
*My Simpler Life- free Declutter Calendar
*Home Storage Solutions 101- Monthly missions
*Spring Cleaning 365- one task. each day. all year.

For January I am going to start cleaning the Master Bedroom.  I might even do the kitchen too.  I will be updating you monthly on my progress.  Stay tuned!

What has been helpful to you for cleaning and organizing?  Do you have any plans for cleaning this year?  Let me know!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blogging Goals for 2013

Oh, my goodness!  What a great year I've had!  I have really enjoyed blogging for the past 4 years, but this year I am going to take more of a rest.  I'm not going away completely, but since my family has grown and my workload as a stay at home has increased I feel that I need to be spending more time off the computer.  One of the things that takes the most time is reading and reviewing books.  Oh, how I love books, but I need to put a limit on that this year.  I will still do about 1-2 book reviews a month as well as have some giveaways, but there will not be quite so many.  I also have a stack of books that I really want to read that are not for review, but for my pleasure.

The description for The Knowlton Nest says "I blog about faith, cooking, books and reviews."  So that is what I will focus on each month.  I will try to do at least one post of each for each month.  I have a few ideas I want to share about cooking.  I'm not very good at coming up with new recipes, but I like to figure out how to organize things better so I will share different ways I do that as well as some recipes that I have made that are worth sharing.

My two little monkeys
One thing I'm really going to concentrate on this year is cleaning and organizing.  I have a whole post I'm going to share about that!

Another thing I will do is clean up my blog, label posts and make sure things are easier to find.  I will have a few other things I will share during the year, but I will be a little bit quieter.  I hope that you will still find time to read what I share and leave me any comments!  As I get more organized, I will be able to start blogging more and see what God has for me to share with you.

Thank you for being my reader and I pray that you have a very happy new year!

If you have children, I have another blog where I share everything that I do with my kids and many fun activities for encouraging spiritual growth.  Visit Milk N' Honey Learn and Grow.  

Many blessings, Shonda

100 Days of a New Year 2013 by Jennifer Tankersley Ebook Review and Giveaway!!

by Jennifer Tankersley of ListPlanIt

Are you ready for the New Year?  I like to have all my ducks in a row before the New Year starts, but I know that is not possible.  So I pretty much give up and limp along and hope to get some sort of order by the end of the year.  But wouldn't it be great, if I had a systematic way to pursue each area of my life one day at a time so that in 100 days of the New Year, I can feel accomplished that I planned and am now prepared to enjoy the year rather than feeling overwhelmed and unproductive?

That's just what 100 Days of  a New Year by Jennifer Tankersley is all about.  It is a "daily dose of inspiration for navigating a new year."  You will spend 100 days tackling areas like goals, habits, budget, cleaning, organizing, fun, relationships and much more.  Each day has a motivational task, activity or event.  There are also additional resources listed at the bottom of the page including one or more of the following links: a list from, a photo board on Pinterest, a link to further discussion on the official 100 Days to a New Year Facebook page, or other resources that may be helpful during new year journey.  There are also 75 downloadable interactive planning pages. 

I am honestly looking forward to taking this year one step at a time.  I can see how I will feel more organized, accomplished and have fun in the process.  Jennifer is very thorough and provides all of the resources you will need to have a Happy New Year!!  This little book is the answer to having a smooth path for a new year.

So check out 100 Days of a New Year today and get started to enjoy a great 2013!!

*This book was provided to me free of charge for purpose of this review. This is my honest opinion of this book and no monetary compensation was received for my opinion.*

Buy it: 100 Days of a New Year is only $5.  Please enter the giveaway, but if you don't win, it's worth it to purchase the book for a great start to 2013!

 Win it:  I will be giving TWO of these 100 Days of a New Year ebooks away.  Giveaway ends Sunday, Dec 30!

To enter: Be sure to click on all the links before filling out the entry form.

1.(NEW)  Make a comment about why you need this book in the comment section below (you must then fill out the entry form for your entry to be counted!)(required)

2. "Like" 100 Days of a New Year on Facebook
3. Be a follower on my blog (The More the Merrier- side bar on blog)
4. Subscribe to my blog by email (link on blog)
5."Like" The Knowlton Nest on Facebook (link on my blog). 
6. Post about this giveaway on another site (your blog, facebook, twitter, etc) (1 entry for every site- see share buttons below) 
DON'T FORGET- fill out the entry form after making a comment!  Comments only count if you have filled out the entry form.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Heavenly Homemakers $5 Gift Certificate just for you!!

Hey, do you love Heavenly Homemakers like I do? Laura is giving $5 gift certificates away to her readers. If you want to check out some of her products, this is a great deal! There are many downloadable items for $5 or less, but you can apply this to any downloadable item.

Check out the Heavenly Homemakers store now! 
Offer ends December 29 at midnight. 
Coupon Code:  CHRISTMAS5

Here are some of my favorites:

Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas from The Knowlton's!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Healthy Snacks to Go by Katie Kimball is now in PRINT!!

My favorite book from Katie Kimball at Kitchen Stewardship, Healthy Snacks to Go, is now in PRINT! You can buy the paperback or get it on Kindle.

From Katie: With over 45 healthy snack recipes including traditional granola bars, iron-packed Popeye bars, and 15 “larabar” style variations, you won’t go hungry when you’re on the go -- and better yet, you won't have to compromise your family's good nutrition in the name of convenience. People often tell me they go back to Healthy Snacks to Go again and again, and I find myself pulling it out at least once a week too. Running between school and dance class, basketball and Sunday school, busy families like mine need to be able to have nourishing food when we're not sitting at the dinner table. My kids love making the simple recipes in Healthy Snacks to Go with me, and they love having real food snacks on hand even more. My favorite part is that when I'm already running late to pick someone up from school, I can grab a few frozen muffins and know that we won't starve as well as being late. ;) It is my hope that you love the recipes in this book and that they become as much a part of your family's history and life experience as they have mine. Let's keep our kitchens stocked with healthy snacks that will make real food on the go a love affair, instead of a stressor. *Allergy Notes* Nearly all the recipes are gluten free, egg free and dairy free or have adaptations for those restrictions. About half are nut free, including a seeds-only version of the reverse engineered Larabars.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Raising a Man of Faith by Sheri Rose Shepherd (Guest Post)

Raising a Man of Faith

By Sheri Rose Shepherd
Bestselling Author and Bible Life Coach

learn more ▶

She made this vow: "O LORD of Heaven's Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime."
1 Samuel 1:11

I was invited to write a book for mothers of sons titled Preparing Him for the Other Woman: A Mother's Guide to Raising Her Son to Love a Wife and Lead a Family. To be honest, this topic intimidated me on many levels. I had my own insecurities and fears of failing as a mom, and I grew up in such a messed-up family that I couldn’t see how I would ever be qualified to write a book on this subject.

As I always do before I write any book, I put this message to the test. I gathered a group of young men ages twelve to twenty and asked them if they felt they would be good husbands when they grew up. Sadly, their comments reflected their fear of women; in fact, they felt marriage was something to be avoided. Many talked as if marriage were a death sentence that caused a lifetime of pain. Others asked why they should get married since marriage usually ends in heartbreak, adultery, or divorce.

My mother's heart broke for these boys and all our sons, and their answers were enough for me to fight my fears and write that book for the sake of the next generation of marriages. As I began writing, I reflected on one of my favorite “mommy memories.” It took place on a gorgeous summer evening on a California beach with my husband, Steve, and our son, Jake, when he was three. As my husband tended the campfire, Jake and I snuggled together under a blanket and watched the sun set over the sea. A young couple walked past us hand in hand, with eyes only for each other. My little boy watched them for a couple of minutes before turning his sweet face toward mine and asking, "Mommy, will you marry me when I grow up?"

I gently explained that mommies can't marry their sons. I'll never forget the ache I felt as I saw tears well up in his big blue eyes and roll slowly down his cheeks. In that moment it hit me: not only was I raising a son, but I was raising someone's future husband. I decided that day to dedicate my time with Jake to helping him become a good husband when he grew up. I knew I needed to stop focusing on my fears that I would fail him and begin to focus on the fact that God appointed me as the first lady in his life, his mother. Later that night I got down on my knees and prayerfully committed my son's life to God once again. I felt a new sense of peace about being a mom as I realized that Jake ultimately belonged to the Lord and that my faithful God would cover my son where I could not.

Years later, just a few weeks before my son would marry his beautiful Southern bride, Amanda, I found myself in a reflective mood. On the one hand, I felt as if I'd done everything I could to encourage him to keep following Christ and to prepare him to be a good husband. I knew I needed to officially release Jake to his new life with his bride-to-be. On the other hand, I wondered, Have I done enough? I feared the years my husband and I struggled in our own marriage might affect Jake's marriage. In my inward battle to believe I had done a good job raising him, God gave me the desire to write Jacob a very personal letter the week before his wedding. With his permission and in my hope to bring some relief to your momma's heart, I want to share it with you now:

To my son, Jake,
This morning as tears fill my eyes, I reflect on the past twenty years of life with you, from Winnie the Pooh, goody plates, and snuggles to late-night talks when you were a teen. I remember when I first heard your heartbeat in the doctor's office and the doctor saying, "You are going to have a son." Joy and fear flooded my heart at that moment.

What kind of mom would I be, coming from a broken home with no foundation? And could I take on the task of raising a son in this perverse world?

I was so afraid of failing you, and I became desperate for God, which kept me in a constant state of prayer for you, knowing that our God would cover you where I could not and cover me where I failed. What I did not know is that I was not just raising a son; I was raising a warrior and a world changer!

Today I look at your fearful heart for your future, and I see a man who seeks God's face with humility, knowing your God is faithful. I see a man who is passionate to do something great for God's Kingdom. I see a hope in your heart that screams, "I will not settle for less than God has for me!"

Jacob, in all my imperfections and insecurities, I am honored God chose me to raise a mighty warrior like you. I know you don't know how your story will be written, and it seems unclear how you will fulfill your calling. Remember, you are not the author of your own life; therefore rest in Him. . . . He is writing your life right now. Any and everything you are about to walk through, good or hard, will prepare you for His ultimate plan.

So as I wipe the tears from my eyes and say good-bye as "Mommy," once responsible for your care, I now give you away to care for your bride. And say hello as a friend. I will always hold the memories of my little son as a hidden treasure in my heart. I pray that all you have seen and heard these past twenty years, "good and bad," will become building blocks, as you will now lay the foundation of faith and life for your new family. Jacob, you will fight the good fight, you will finish your race, and your faith will be passed down to many generations long after you’re gone.

I love you, Son.

For more teaching videos from Sheri Rose, go to

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mama Was the Queen of Christmas by Linda Gilden Book Review

Step back and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas with Linda Gilden in her new book, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas. This book is a special look at how one Mama intentionally kept Jesus first during the busy season.  Linda shares many true and funny stories with creative ideas for involving family members to celebrate Christmas with meaningful traditions.  She shares hundreds of ideas for unique gifts, activities and traditions.  Every chapter begins with a short anecdote and then has a section "For the Queen" on how to apply the truth to your life, "For the King" is for how to deepen your relationship with God and "For the Court" is for how to strengthen family relationships.  The chapter ends with a verse from the Bible and a fitting quote.

I laughed and cried as I read all the amazing stories from Mama.  I was encouraged and inspired to try new ideas to make Christmas special for my family.  Linda has a real gift to share how to make Christmas have purpose for your family.  Her ideas will help keep me going for many years.  I especially liked the sweet way her husband gave her the 12 days of Christmas with his own imaginative ideas.  This book will certainly bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Visit Linda at Queen of Christmas.

*I was given a complimentary copy by the author in exchange for my honest review.**